For the past couple of nights I’ve noticed a new commercial on English language television in India. It seems that Israel is currently promoting tourism on occupied land while hiding their reality of their almost 70-year long colonisation of the land. It seems that now that Indians no longer have a stamp in their passport preventing them from travelling to the world’s 2 apartheid states–South Africa and Israel–they’re pushing tourism, making it appear as if it were any European country. It was shocking to see such a commercial, knowing how many Indians will fall for it, travel there, and never even have a glimpse of what life is like for Palestinians in historic Palestine or the West Bank and Gaza Strip. (Here is my response to a similar piece in The Hindu acouple of years ago).
What bothers me about false reporting on water in India is that so many Indians–Indians who I expect to know better–will repeat this fib about Israel being some agricultural, water genius nation that India should look to as a model. And the Indian government is indeed stepping up its work in that area with collaborative ventures in the agricultural sector.
Israel’s water lies go far back to their early colonisation in the 1940s, but after they accelerated the colonisation of the West Bank, the theft quickened, as Charlotte Silver explains:
In Gaza, because of the ongoing siege of the world’s largest open air prison, the water situation is even worse than in the West Bank, which is why the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) has been actively involved in helping to create solutions to the lack of drinking water:
In the West Bank and Gaza, the Israeli Occupation systematically denies Palestinian adequate quality and quantities of water. Palestinian communities inside the state of Israel have less access to water than their Jewish counterparts, as well. Water is diverted from Palestinian resources the West Bank (and previously in Gaza) to illegal Israeli settlements and into Israel. Israel denies materials, fuel, and permits to sustain and expand water systems. Military attacks predictably—and often deliberately—destroy wells, water tanks, pipes, treatment plants, and sewage systems. Widespread poverty prevents people from purchasing clean water or repairing their wells and plumbing. The health and well being of virtually every Palestinian child and adult is affected by the shortage of clean, safe water.
The water crisis in Gaza is extreme. When the state of Israel was established in 1948, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were driven from their homes in what is now southern Israel to the small and arid Gaza Strip. At the same time, Israel cut off access to water sources around Gaza. The only source available, the Gaza Aquifer, could not support the huge and sudden rise in population, and the water it generates has been steadily deteriorating for more than sixty years. It is currently estimated that 95% of water from the Gaza Aquifer is unfit for human consumption.
What will it take for Indians to understand the truth, the reality of what really goes on with water in Palestine? Perhaps a trip, but not to Israel; one to the occupied territories where tourists also get first-hand experiences with inequity and water as well as all the other visible and less visible forms of apartheid.
One of the main homegrown board exams in India is the CISCE (Council for the India School Certificate Exams). The eleventh and twelfth standard years require students to study both Indian and global history. While the syllabus doesn’t stipulate which textbook teachers should adopt, many high schools in India seem to use Norman Lowe’s Mastering Modern World History. What the syllabus does delineate is the particular periods or events in history that students should cover in these grades. Of course, how any given teacher chooses to approach the textbook or the syllabus will vary.
Over the course of two years, students learn about the following main events:
1. World War One (with some emphasis on colonialism and imperialism)
2. The Great Depression and Roosevelt’s New Deal
3. The Development of Communism (USSR and China)
4. Japan’s Parliamentary Democracy
5. Fascism and Nazism
6. The Collapse of International Order
7. World War Two (which covers some theatres of war most students don’t learn about, like battles between the Allies and Axis in Egypt, but much of the war’s relationship to Indians and Indian soldiers, like Churchill’s man-made famine, is covered in Indian history not in the world history section)
8. Post World War Two and the Cold War
9. The Middle East
It is this last section that I will explore here as there are some serious problems with Lowe’s text (at least the third edition, published in 1997, which is the one I’ve read) as it attempts to cover West Asia. Although it should be said that the absence of lessons about Africa and Asia more generally–especially given India’s relationship to these places, for example forced migration and labour under the British that affected relations between East Africans and Indians–are troubling. One would hope that a post-independence syllabus would explore not focus so much on imperial and neocolonial powers and their history to the exclusion of the global south. To know further details, follow links embedded in the lines below.
As for the Middle East the ISC syllabus detains what students should know after studying this unit:
(i) Post War conflict in Palestine after World War I, till the formation of the state of Israel. A brief background of Arab nationalism and Zionism in the late 19th century. Impact of World War I: the conflicting promises made to the Arabs, the Jews (Balfour Declaration) and the Sykes-Picot Agreement. All these need to be understood clearly. A general outline of events from 1919 to the Arab Revolt of the late 1930s (the increased immigration of Jews under the mandate and the resultant conflict). The impact of World War II and the intensification of the conflict against Britain’s decision to withdraw – the UNO’s plan. Creation of Israel and the War of Liberation (a chronological account should suffice here).
(ii) The Arab-Israeli Wars from 1948 to Camp David Accord. The following conflicts should be studied – (1948-1949), the Suez Crisis (1956), the Six Day War (1967), the Yom Kippur War (1973), Sadat and the Camp David Accord (1979). For each of these events, the causes and results should be done in some detail. Events to be done very briefly.
(iii) The war in Lebanon. A general account of the war.
There are some distinct problems with the language in this description, which appears to give a so-called balanced view between the British-Zionist colonial project and the indigenous Arab population of the region. Yet the language betrays this illusion by calling the nakba (the catastrophe that befell Palestinians when they were expelled from their land and massacred by Zionist forces) “the war of Liberation”. Additionally, the 1973 war is identified as “the Yom Kippur War”, even though a neutral party would call it the October War (it is also known as the Ramadan War).
It is also striking to see such language given the aims for the course that the syllabus states:
5. To develop the capacity to read historical views in the light of new evidence or new interpretation of evidence.
7. To encourage diminution of ethnocentric prejudices and to develop a more international approach to world history.
8. To develop the ability to express views and arguments clearly using correct terminology of the subject.
9. To familiarise candidates with various types of historical evidence and to provide some awareness of the problems involved in evaluating different kinds of source materials.
These goals are important to keep in mind as one reads through and evaluates Lowe’s textbook. The chapter in his book on the Middle East is called “Conflict in the Middle East”, already setting up a particular way of viewing the region as if fighting of some kind or the other is intrinsic to the place. He begins by defining the geographical region and the states it includes before explaining Israel’s placement in the region:
The Middle East also contains the small Jewish state of Israel which was set up by the United Nations in 1948 in Palestine. The creation of Israel in Palestine, an area belonging to the Palestinian Arabs, outraged Arab opinion throughout the world…. (221)
Israel is the only state that gets the adjective “small” to describe it even though states like Lebanon are smaller. This is one of the oldest Zionist tactics–to emphasise the size of Israel in order to suggest its vulnerability.
The introduction continues by continuing to highlight Arab sentiments about the Jewish state:
The Arab states refused to recognize Israel as a legal state and they vowed to destroy it. Although there were four short wars between Israel and the various Arab states (1948-9, 1956, 1967 and 1973), Arab attacks failed, and Israel survived. The Arab desire to destroy Israel tended for much of the time to overshadow all other concerns. (221)
This a-contextual summary of the region spends a great deal of energy characterising Arab people as if there are no distinctions among the various peoples and cultures or the regimes governing them (they are all stubborn: “refused”; violent: “destroy”). The book treats all “wars” the same even though the nakba in 1948 was certainly not one and in 1956 and 1967 Israel instigated those wars.
Lowe feigns neutrality by illustrating that viewing history is subjective, without, of course, revealing his point of view:
Interpretations of the Middle East situation vary depending on whose viewpoint one looks at. For example, many British politicians and journalists regarded Colonel Nasser (Egyptian leader 1954-1970) as some kind of dangerous fanatic who was almost as bad as Hitler. On the other hand, most Arabs thought he was a hero, the symbol of the Arab people’s move towards unity and freedom.
To be sure, nowhere in the book does Lowe make a similar statement about Winston Churchill. Indeed, elsewhere in the book, he never suggests that Churchill is anything other than a statesman valiantly fighting the Axis powers. By omitting anything about his role in creating and exacerbating the Bengal famine, Lowe secures Churchill’s position in a Eurocentric version of history. Meanwhile, the mere suggestion of Nasser’s comparison to Hitler helps readers, if reading chronologically will have just finished learning about World War Two, to equate the two leaders. Moreover, throughout the book Lowe never refers to Nasser as President. He only ever calls him “Colonel”, as if to suggest he was a military dictator. Of course, nowhere in the book does Lowe intimate that one might have a different point of view about Palestine or Israel.
In the next section of the book Lowe begins with a factual error, one that conveniently feeds into a Zionist tactic of making the world seem as if there is a battle between Jews and Muslims:
They all speak the Arabic language, they are all Muslims (followers of the religion known as Islam, except for about half the population of Lebanon who are Christian and most of them wanted to see the destruction of Israel so that the Palestinian Arabs could have back the land which they feel is rightfully theirs. (223)
When Lowe describes what he calls “interference in the Middle East by other countries”, he leaves quite a bit out, including the Sykes-Picot agreement:
Britain and France had been involved in the Middle East for many years. Britain ruled Egypt from 1882 (when British troops invaded it) until 1922 when the country was given semi-independence under its own king. However, British troops still remained in Egypt and the Egyptians had to continue doing what Britain wanted. By the Versailles Settlement at the end of the First World War, Britain and France were given large areas of the Middle East taken from the defeated Turks, to look after as mandates…Although Britain gave independence to Iraq (1932) and to Jordan (1946), both remained pro-British. France gave independence to Syria and Lebanon (1945) but hoped to maintain some influence in the Middle East. (223)
Once again, it is through his diction that Lowe misleads readers. He accurately states that Britain “invaded” Egypt, but it’s an aside–as if it is not as important as the fact of them ruling that country. It also doesn’t attribute any responsibility to France or Britain for their unilateral take over of land and makes it seem like it’s benign–they “look after” these countries and “gave” them independence. The fact that some Arab countries maintain strong relations with Britain or France is not contextualised either and thus it merely gives credence to the illusion that Britain and France was just a kind, if paternalistic, overseer, taking care of things until they were capable of independence. In reality, both countries partitioned the region and divvied it up between themselves, with careful attention paid to borders that would likely cause future problems so that they could maintain their control. This is especially ironic given U.S. President Woodrow Wilson’s speech about nations having the right to self determination just a short time before carving up West Asia. Moreover, this partition ignored promises the British made to Arabs in the region who fought on behalf of the British during World War One in exchange for help creating their own independent states. Instead, the British installed puppets who could be relied upon to uphold British policy in the region.
A theme perpetuated throughout the chapter is that Arabs lacked unity, but it never says why because that would implicate the British and French colonial powers for using divide and rule tactics to maintain that instability. Similarly, the book continues with its negative characterisation of Arab states by saying:
Most of the Arab states had nationalist governments which bitterly resented Western influence. one by one, governments which were thought to be too pro-West were swept away and replaced by regimes which wanted to be non-aligned; this meant being free to act independently of both East (communist bloc) and West. (224).
The desire to be nationalistic and also not under the thumb of another nation should make sense to most Indians; and of course India occupied a similar position during this same period. To make sure readers don’t think this is a positive trait in a state, the tone here is quite negative. One by one Lowe moves on to illustrate how such regimes fell starting with Egypt:
At the end of the Second World War, British troops stayed on in the canal zone (the area around the Suez Canal). This was to enable Britain to control the canal, in which over half the shares owned by the British and French. (224)
Lowe continues explaining how army officers, led by Gamal Abd el Nasser, nationalised the Suez Canal for the Egyptian people. But his language, Egypt “seized power”, makes it seem as if that power didn’t belong to them. Nowhere is any mention of the British desire to create or maintain this canal because of its colonial holdings around the globe, which were also quickly decolonising–especially across Africa as many people across the continent were inspired by Nasser.
For Jordan, Lowe offers little to no context for King Abdullah’s overthrow:
King Abdullah had been given his throne by the British in 1946. He was assassinated in 1951 by nationalists who felt that he was too much under Britain’s thumb. (225)
With Iran, the only non Arab state discussed in this chapter, much more detail is provided, although not much context and serious key facts are left out:
The Western-educated Shah (ruler) of Iran, Reza Pahlevi, resisted the Russians and signed a defence treaty with the USA (1950); they provided him with economic and military aid, including tanks and jet fighters. The Americans saw the situation as part of the Cold War–Iran was yet another front on which the communists must be prevented from advancing. However, there was a strong nationalist movement in Iran which resented all foreign influence. This soon began to turn against the USA and against Britain too. This was because Britain held a majority of the shares int he Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and its refinery at Abadan. it was widely felt that the British were taking too much of the profits, and in 1951 the Premier of Iran, Dr. Mussadiq, nationalized the company (took it under control of the Iranian government). However, most of the world, encouraged by Britain, boycotted Iran’s oil exports and Mussadiq was forced to resign. (225)
Reza Shah Pahlevi ran a dictatorship that was financially supported by the U.S. Meanwhile Britain controlled the money from Iran’s primary natural resource: oil. What upset Britain, at first, was the fact that the people of Iran democratically elected Mossadegh and then he proceeded to nationalise Iranian oil for the Iranian people. Britain was incensed by this and enlisted the help of the U.S. to overthrow Mossadegh. Kermit Roosevelt, for the CIA, worked tirelessly to make that happen in the first CIA coup. Language like Mossadegh was “forced to resign” leaves out quite a crucial detail, such as the U.S. role in making that happen. Likewise, as with Egypt’s Suez Canal, Lowe paints a picture as if the canal and the oil fields somehow rightly belong to Britain because they invested money in it. The reimposition of the Shah, furthermore, led to more American control over Iran, which ultimately led to the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Not unsurprisingly, Mossadegh’s actions ultimately inspired Nasser in Egypt and Nasser would also be subjected to a violent reaction from Britain in the form of a war in 1956.
When it comes to narrating the history of Israel, Lowe fails yet again as all he seems to be able to offer is a biblical one:
The origin of the problem went back almost 2000 years to the year AD 71, when most of the Jews were driven out of Palestine, which was then their homeland, by the Romans. (226)
Lowe jumps, as most Zionists do in their historical accounts, from AD 71 to 1897 when Theodor Herzl founded the modern Zionist movement. He explains a narrow context for its creation:
Zionists were people who believed that Jews ought to be able to go back to Palestine and have what they called “a national homeland”; in other words, a Jewish state. Jews had recently suffered persecution in Russia, France, and Germany, and a Jewish state would provide a safe refuge for jews from all over the world. The problem was that Palestine was inhabited by Arabs, who were alarmed at the prospect of losing their land to the Jews. (226)
Here a combination of misinformation and obfuscation through language makes this paragraph above sound quite reasonable. But there are problems. First, throughout this chapter, Lowe uses the word Arab to refer to Palestinians, something Zionists do because it makes it seem like, according to their narrative, that they have a number of places to live and the Jews have nowhere, so why not just give up their homeland for the European and Russian Jews. Second, Palestinians didn’t have a problem with their land being taken over because the people doing it were Jews; indeed there were many Palestinian Jews at that time residing in Palestine. They had a problem that anyone would take over their homeland. Lowe also fails to mention the depths to which Herzl’s endeavour was a colonial one. Both his admiration for Cecil Rhodes and his desire to make a Jewish homeland in Uganda or Argentina (because they were both controled by the British), makes this point clear. Finally, the desire for a specifically Jewish state, in a country where there were several religious groups living side-by-side, also reveals the problem of this project. However, Lowe’s reminder of oppression Jews faced at the hands of Europeans and Russians seems to somehow rationalise this (in the same way British Puritans who colonised North America rationalise their theft of indigenous land).
Lowe continues his attempt at explaining the history of Israel by distorting it further:
The British hoped to persuade Jews and Arabs to live together peacefully in the same state; they failed to understand the deep religious gulf between the two. Nazi persecution of Jews in Germany after 1933 caused a flood of refugees, and by 1940 about half the population of Palestine was Jewish. In 1937 the British Peel Commission proposed dividing Palestine into two separate states, one Arab and one Jewish, but the Arabs rejected the idea. (226)
To his credit, Lowe does reveal that there was a Zionist terrorist campaign targeting Palestinians and British alike once the British, under pressure from the increasing conflict, limited the Jewish immigration numbers:
The Jews, after all that their race had suffered at the hands of the Nazis, were determined to fight for their “national home”. They began a terrorist campaign against both Arabs and British; one of the most spectacular incidents was the blowing up of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, which the British were using as their headquarters; 91 people were killed and many more injured. (226)
In spite of these facts, Lowe amplifies his Zionist sense that it was some kind of extraordinary feat that Israel won the so-called war:
Most people expected the Arabs to win easily, but against seemingly overwhelming odds, the Israelis defeated them and even captured more of Palestine than the UN partition had given them. (227)
He gives only a cursory and vague nod to the Zionist-created Palestinian refugee problem:
After some Jews had slaughtered the entire population of an Arab village in Israel, nearly a million Arabs fled into Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria where they had to live in miserable refugee camps. Jerusalem was divided between Israel and Jordan. The USA, Britain and France guaranteed Israel’s frontiers, but the Arab states did not regard the ceasefire as permanent. They would not recognize the legality of Israel, and they regarded this war as only the first round int he struggle to destroy Israel and liberate Palestine. (227-228)
It is likely that Lowe is referring to Deir Yassin, a Palestinian village in Jerusalem, which has become infamous for the Zionist massacre there. However, this massacre was committed on 9 April–a good month before Israel declared its statehood and before its so-called “war of independence” began. Deir Yassin is an important milestone in Palestinian history, mostly because it scared other Palestinians into flight. But it was by no means the only massacre committed by Zionist militias (all of which became folded into the Israeli army after independence).
Finally, Lowe reiterates the idea that the Arab states are being difficult, stubborn, and defiant for not recognising Israel like Western states did. Once again, in the absence of context as to why people were so appalled at the take over of Palestinian land is conveniently left out.
After this section rooted in 1948, Lowe skips ahead to 1956 and the Suez War. Here, too, his theme continues of demonising Arabs, especially Nasser:
Colonel Nasser, the new ruler of Egypt, was aggressively in favour of Arab unity and independence, including the liberation of Palestine from the Jews; almost everything he did irritated the British, Americans or French: He organized guerrilla fighters known as fedayeen (self-sacrificers) to carry out sabotage and murder inside Israel, and Egyptian ships blockaded the Gulf of Aqaba leading to the Israeli port of Eliat. (228)
The use of the adverb “aggressively”, something Lowe never does when describing Israelis, posits Nasser once again as an unreasonable and dangerous man. But this paragraph also pieces together bits of history from different historical moments, none of which are related to the war in 1956. He blockaded the port in the Gulf of Aqaba in 1967. Palestinian freedom fighters made a much more powerful dent in their struggle during the 1960s–both after this particular war. Through his tone and cherry-picked events, Lowe also suggests Nasser was a problem for helping Algerians in their anti-colonial war against France and for siding with Russia in order to obtain weapons at the height of the Cold War.
Lowe does accurately portray the origin of the war as a “planned Israeli invasion of Egypt”, which he thinks “was a brilliant success” while British and French forces bombed Egyptian airbases (230). He mentions the U.S. demanding the war be halted, signaling a win for Egypt, and the positive effect the war had on Algerians who were fighting for independence, but he doesn’t mention Nasser’s triumphant influence from Ghana to India and everywhere in between.
The next war Lowe skips ahead to is the June 1967 War, which Israelis call the Six Day War. He claims that leading up to this war, a newly independent and left-leaning Iraq wanted to “wipe Israel off the map” (231). He says:
The Arab states had not signed a peace treaty at the end of the 1948-9 war and were still refusing to give Israel official recognition. In 1967 they joined together again in a determined attempt to destroy Israel. The lead was taken by Iraq, Syria and Egypt. (231)
Lowe also characterises the growing Palestinian armed resistance movement in Syria, which “supported El Fatah, the Palestinian Liberation Movement, a more effective guerrilla force than the fedayeen” (231). Fatah was very much a part of the fedayeen whether in Syria or Jordan. While he does reveal that “The Israelis decided that the best policy was to attack first rather than wait to be defeated”, because troops amassed “along their frontiers” (232).
Pressure was brought to bear on the Arab states by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) under its leader Yasser Arafat, for some further action. When very little happened, a more extreme group within the PLO, called the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, embarked on a series of terrorist attacks to draw world attention to the grave injustice being done to the Arabs of Palestine. (232)
This statement, which opens this section of the chapter, is extremely vague, although when one reads on it is clear that he is referring to Palestinians having to resort to new strategies to call attention to their plight. But in relation to what action or what did or didn’t happen, it remains unclear. Interestingly, like many Zionists, it is after the PFLP’s attacks that the word Palestine began, finally, to appear in the mainstream media. As if to reinforce Lowe’s opinion of painting Palestinians as terrorists here, he includes a photograph of Palestinian children whom he describes as follows:
The child soldiers of the Palestine refugee camps; trained from the age of 7, these boys and girls would be ready for front-line service by the age of 15. (234)
Note: there are no photographs of Israeli soldiers in training nor are there any photographs of Israelis except for Menachem Begin signing a peace treaty with Jimmy Carter and Anwar Sadat. Thus, through images Lowe is able to show Israelis as those who are striving for peace, and Palestinians as desiring to maintain a state of war.
Israel won this war, too, largely because of its increasing arsenal gifted from the American government. But it sparked an important response from oil producing countries, creating an oil embargo that resulted in a global energy crisis.
The next jump in history moves to the peace accord signed between Egypt and Israel in 1979, a treaty that would cost President Sadat his life for isolating Palestinians and the rest of the region. Lowe tells readers that “Sadat’s successor, Hosni Mubarak, bravely announced that he would continue the Camp David agreement” (236).
the Palestinians were to be given limited self-rule in Jericho (on the West Bank) and in part of the Gaza Strip, areas occupied by Israel since the 1967 war. Israeli troops would be withdrawn from these areas. (237)
The last three sections cover other wars: Lebanon’s civil war, the Iran-Iraq war, and the U.S. invasion of Iraq. In its section on Lebanon, Lowe brings up the issue of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon in ways that is both confused and quite uninformed:
The presence of Palestinian refugees from Israel: This complicated the situation even more. By 1975 there were at least half a million of them living in squalid camps away from the main centres of population. The Palestinians were not popular in Lebanon because they were continually involved in frontier incidents with Israel, provoking the Israelis to hit back at the Palestinians in southern Lebanon. In particular, the Palestinians, being left-wing and Muslim, alarmed conservative and Christian Maronites who looked on the Palestinians as a dangerous destabilising influence. By 1975 the PLO had its headquarters in Lebanon, and this meant that Syria, the chief supporter of the PLO, was constantly interfering in Lebanon’s affairs. (240)
But throughout this section, Lowe represents the Lebanese Civil War in highly sectarian ways. While part of the issue is certainly Lebanon’s sectarianism, it is not as simplistic as Lowe makes it out to be. Because he sees Palestinians as mainly Muslim and Lebanese as mainly Christian, here is how he characterises the fighting:
In the south, bordering on Israel, fighting soon broke out between Palestinians and Christians; the Israelis seized this opportunity to send troops in to help the Christians. A small semi-independent Christian state of Free Lebanon was declared under Major Haddad. The Israelis supported this because it acted as a buffer zone to protect them from further Palestinian attacks. (240)
Instead of truthfully explaining that Haddad’s army–known as the South Lebanese Army–was not independent because it was a proxy militia for Israel, Lowe merely tells readers it was a Christian group wanting to protect themselves and the border. Moreover, to further complicate the sectarian nature of Lowe’s book, SLA ran Khiam prison, in cahoots with the Israelis, where freedom fighters such as Soha Bechara, a Lebanese Christian communist woman, were held and tortured for years.
Elsewhere Lowe continues to take plays from Zionists by rationalising attacks on Palestinians by calling it a “reprisal”:
In 1982, in reprisal for a Palestinian attack on Israel, Israeli troops invaded Lebanon and penetrated as far as Beirut. For a time the Gemayels, supported by the Israelis, were in control of Beirut. During this period the Palestinians were expelled from Beirut, and from then on the PLO was divided. (240).
In the final two sections of the chapter, Lowe covers up more key points as he glosses over the conflict between Iran and Iraq and later the U.S. and Iraq. But the conclusion to the chapter seems to be the one place where some truth emerges as well through both his tone and language:
The war and its aftermath were very revealing about the motives of the West and the great powers. Their primary concern was not with international justice and moral questions of right and wrong, but with their own self-interest. They only took action against Saddam in the first place because they felt he was threatening their oil supplies. Often in the past when other small nations had been invaded, no international action had been taken. For example, when East Timor was occupied by neighbouring Indonesia in 1975, the rest of the world ignored it, because their interests were not threatened. (244)
While this is just a small response to one chapter in a history book, I could certainly continue examining and pointing out inconsistencies, omissions, and false statements throughout the volume. It should be a reminder that we cannot accept any text at face value and that we should question what we read.
I’ve been meaning to write about this for over a month now, but a variety of circumstances has made it impossible for me to find the time. For those who don’t know, a friend and colleague, Steven Salaita, has been fired (by the Chancellor, not the faculty) from a tenure-track position in American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign because of a few tweets that he wrote expressing the rage that he felt at Israel for the genocidal rampage it unleashed on Gaza over the past couple of months. This is, of course, goes against the norms of how universities operate and the freedoms they are supposed to uphold (namely the freedom of speech).
Tomorrow the trustees will be meeting to discuss this once more so the university has an opportunity to do the right thing. I sent them the following letter today:
10 September 2014
Dear Chancellor Wise and the Board of Trustees at the University of Illinois:
For the past month I’ve been following the news about Professor Steven Salaita with great interest. He is a tremendous colleague and scholar, one who I feel fortunate enough to have worked with in various academic contexts over the past several years—from American Studies to organising with the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.
Although I am no longer an academic, I want to lend my support to Professor Salaita’s case because I think that the teachers and students alike will suffer without his presence on campus. His congenial and collegial nature—which only a brief meeting can reveal—make him an important asset to any academic institution. Moreover, Professor Salaita an invaluable scholar—indeed he single-handedly created this subfield of indigenous studies in which he compares Palestinian and American Indian histories and cultures.
When I did teach and conduct research I found his scholarship to be quite influential, especially The Holy Land in Transit: Colonialism and the Quest for Canaan, which I taught in my American Zionism course at the American University of Beirut. His work was deeply appreciated by my students and they certainly gained a new framework for understanding the dual contexts of colonialism in West Asia and North America.
As a public intellectual, I find his writing deeply moving and significant. He’s one public intellectual I continue to read and follow in my post-academic life. From his online presence on Twitter to his active life as a voracious book reader and reviewer on Goodreads, he helps spread knowledge and ideas in a variety of venues. It is refreshing to see an academic speaking freely about issues affecting real people’s lives, whether in Palestine or in the U.S., in ways that illuminate the nuances and contextual aspects of whatever issue he lends his pen to. How ironic that Professor Salaita’s fearless behaviour led to his firing from an institution that is obligated to uphold the values of free speech.
I urge you to reconsider your decision to fire Professor Salaita. At this juncture maintaining your stance will only harm your institution, as you must be aware of the petitions and boycott campaigns already receiving tremendous support. But as Professor Salaita stated so eloquently in his address at UIUC yesterday, the issue is far larger than him if you proceed down this path. You are sending a dangerous precedent for academia as a whole. Please do the right thing and reinstate Professor Salaita.
WHEREAS, any official position of the City of Los Angeles with respect to legislation, rules, regulations, or policies proposed to or pending before a local, state or federal governmental body or agency must first have been adopted in the form of a Resolution by the City Council with the concurrence of the Mayor; and
WHEREAS, “human shields” refer to the use of civilians, prisoners of war, or other noncombatants whose mere presence is designed to protect combatants and objects from attack; and
WHEREAS, since 9 July (only one day into Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge”) Israeli Occupation Forces charged with terrorising the civilian population in Gaza, dropped “400 tonnes of bombs and missiles on the Gaza Strip” where no one is allowed to seek refuge since Israel has imposed its 7 year long siege on the 1.5 million people in Gaza; and
WHEREAS, opposition to the use of human shields is consistent with international law to preserve the rights of innocent bystanders in armed conflicts, especially children;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, with the concurrence of the civilian population of Los Angeles, that by the adoption of this Resolution, the City of Los Angeles hereby includes in its 2013-14 Federal Legislative Program SUPPORT for a NEW RESOLUTION that condemns Israel’s state terrorism and the U.S. government’s state-sponsored terrorism in violation of international humanitarian law.
Last month I started the summer off with a vacation in Dharamsala, in the northern part of India. I went there for the same cliched reason many other foreigners go there–for yoga and meditation. I’ve been meditating and practicing yoga for about 17 years. But for the past several years, since I first went to Palestine, I’ve struggled with this practice a bit. It’s been hard for me to reconcile the idea that working on one’s own inner peace, as it were, could lead to any global kind of peace. Moreover, the pessimist in me doesn’t believe that anyone in power would ever commit to such a practice, which is what would have to happen for such a change to emerge. True, it has happened in history–most notably with Ashoka who changed quite radically after his conversion to Buddhism. And there are others, too. In spite of my reservations, I’ve returned to these practices little by little in the past few years.
I recalled a demonstration against Israeli theft of Palestinian agricultural land for their settlements and apartheid wall, which I attended in Bil`in in 2005. There was a Buddhist monk who joined us, although I recalled him as Tibetan, looking at the photographs now he’s clearly not. Still, I found it striking watching him beating his drum while the soldiers began to open fire on us. I never had a chance to speak with him because I was arrested that day.
I remembered this image, though I hadn’t seen it in some time, because the more I explored Dharamsala and Tibetan history, the more I saw lucid parallels to Palestinian struggles. Just one glimpse of the images around McLeod Ganj, the main area where Tibetans, especially Tibetan monks, reside shows clearly an ongoing struggle for freedom, and not only in the Buddhist sense of liberation. At the Tibet Museum this resonated even more because I learned of the Tibetan resistance movement–I had not known that there had ever been armed struggle against the Chinese. But there are many similarities I noticed:
1. The time frame: Palestinians commemorate the nakba (catastrophe) on 15 May 1948, although the ethnic cleansing of Palestine began long before that and continues until this day. A year later, in 1949, China invaded Tibet.
the flag of a united Tibetan resistance movement, the Tensung Danglang Maggar (‘Volunteer Freedom Fighters for Tibet’), was hoisted for the first time in Driguthang, Lhoka. Andrug Gompo Tashi was nominated as our chief commander. Many recruits from all parts of Tibet joined us and we soon had more than 5,000 members. Fighting began soon after. At Nyemo we faced our biggest battle, Less than 1,000 of us successfully fought against a much bigger Chinese force. (25)
3. Both Israel and China have led ongoing campaigns to destroy cultural religious buildings, among other structures, in Palestine and Tibet respectively. Israel also regularly destroys Palestinian homes (often forcing Palestinians to destroy their own homes and/or pay the fees for that process) and does not permit them to build or rebuilt as the case may be. In Tibet, according to the museum,
The systematic eradication of Tibetan culture and religion saw the destruction of over 6,000 monasteries and temples. The handful still standing today are used as tourist attractions, army barracks, or public toilets. Precious scriptures and sculptures were destroyed or sold in international art markets. The Chinese used scriptures as shoe soles and monks and nuns were forced to desecrate religious objects. (29)
4. Just as Israel practices Judaisation, China practices what Tibetans call Sinicisation, which is includes the erasure of Tibetan identity and the inculcation of a Chinese one–starting with language. The museum explains:
The Chinese language is given priority in education and administration, thus marginalizing Tibetans in every sphere of life. Even more worrying are the population transfers that are diluting our culture and are reducing Tibetans to a minority in our own country. China is actively engaged in denials of our history, culture–our very identity. (37)
6. Of course, when one is faced with forced expulsion one becomes a refugee. Approximately 750,000 Palestinian refugees were expelled in 1948 and many more since then including internally displaced people. Because this process is ongoing (and because of normal population growth) that number is 7.2 million today. In the case of Tibet:
Since 1959, about 100,000 Tibetans fled to neighboring countries. Many died on the way as a result of Chinese attacks and harsh conditions. Thousands continue to escape oppression and persecution in Tibet each year. (40)
7. Recent struggles for both Tibetans and Palestinians have included boycotting products made in China and Israel respectively. Additionally, Tibetans have resorted to self-immolation to call attention to their plight.
I lay out all of these comparisons here because while in Dharamsala I read a book called A Jew in the Lotus by Rodger Kamenetz (1995). The book is not worth quoting, but essentially it is the tale of a variety of Jewish people–Orthodox, Conservative, Reform–primarily from the U.S. and Israel who come to Dharamsala to participate in a Buddhist-Jewish interfaith dialogue. From what I gleaned in the book, that dialogue was motivated by the Jewish delegation because of the great many Jews who leave their faith for Buddhism. There were so many odd concerns they held about joining this group and interacting with people who, for example, don’t keep kosher or who are formally addressed as “His Holiness.”
In the book, there didn’t yet seem to be an Israeli colony in Dharamsala yet. This is likely because relations between India and Israel were just beginning to publicly thaw in the early 1990s. But today there are many such colonies, (see here and here) most notably in this mountain top hill station and in Goa. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I went to explore these two areas, pretty far removed from each other–one on top of the mountain in Dharamkot and the other in a valley a few kilometres below, Bhagsu Naag. In Dharamkot there is a Chabad House (an Orthodox Jewish prayer house–the tall brick building, which is the tallest in the area). It’s a bit odd to see that here given that stories I hear and read about often detail the way in which Israelis come after their three (men) or two year (women) compulsory army service, trash the area, smoke a lot of hashish, and have a lot of sex. It doesn’t exactly seem like the type who would frequent an extremely religious space. The photographs above are from Dharamkot and those below from Bhagsu Naag.
The most disturbing aspect of this Israeli take over of this previously Indian and Tibetan community is the inclusion of what restauranteurs call “Israeli cuisine” (hummus, felafel, etc.) with no sense of irony. There are several photographs of menus above that illustrate this. Unfortunately none of the restaurant owners (most seemed to be Indian, not Tibetan) are aware that what they are serving is Arabic cuisine originating in the Levantine countries of Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria. This cultural theft is akin to what I listed above as one of the many ways Israel Judaises Palestine, often taking on Arabic or Palestinian culture and claiming it as its own. This would be akin to Chinese restaurants serving momos and tsampa and claiming it as their own. Of course, they do that too. Also, I find it odd that just because a group of foreigners frequents another country that “their” cuisine must be readily available. Why travel if you’re not going to eat local food. Seriously! Likewise why is there a need for all the signage to change from Tibetan, Hindi, and English to just two foreign languages: English and Hebrew?
i posted some writings by ketih harmon snow a week or so ago on sudan, the congo, and rwanda while thinking through who counts as a war criminal in light of the international criminal court’s (icc) arrest warrant for omar al bashir. snow has a new piece in the san francisco bay view that is directly related to why the icc is after the wrong guy:
Why hasn’t George W. Bush been indicted? Or what about Donald Rumsfeld? Dick Cheney? Henry Kissinger? Ehud Olmert? Tony Blair? Vadim Alperin? John Bredenkamp?
Following on the heals of the announcement that the ICC handed down seven war crimes charges against al-Bashir, a story broadcast over all the Western media system and into every American living room by day’s end, President al-Bashir ordered the expulsion of 10 international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in Darfur under the pretense of being purely “humanitarian” organizations.
What has not anywhere in the English press been reported is that the United States of America has just stepped up its ongoing war for control of Sudan and her resources: petroleum, copper, gold, uranium, fertile plantation lands for sugar and gum Arabic – essential to Coke, Pepsi and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. This war has been playing out on the ground in Darfur through so-called “humanitarian” NGOs, private military companies, “peacekeeping” operations and covert military operations backed by the U.S. and its closest allies.
However, the U.S. war for Sudan has always revolved around “humanitarian” operations – purportedly neutral and presumably concerned only about protecting innocent human lives – that often provide cover for clandestine destabilizing activities and interventions.
Americans need to recognize that the administration of President Barack Obama has begun to step up war for control of Sudan in keeping with the permanent warfare agenda of both Republicans and Democrats. The current destabilization of Sudan mirrors the illegal covert guerrilla war carried out in Rwanda – also launched and supplied from Uganda – from October 1990 to July 1994. The Rwandan Defense Forces (then called the Rwandan Patriotic Army) led by Major Gen. Paul Kagame achieved the U.S. objective of a coup d’etat in Rwanda through that campaign, and President Kagame has been a key interlocutor in the covert warfare underway in Darfur, Sudan.
During the presidency of George W. Bush, the U.S. government was involved with the intelligence apparatus of the Government of Sudan (GoS). At the same time, other U.S. political and corporate factions were pressing for a declaration of genocide against the GoS.
Now, given the shift of power and the appointment of top Clinton officials formerly involved in covert operations in Rwanda, Uganda, Congo and Sudan during the Clinton years, pressure has been applied to heighten the campaign to destabilize the GoS, portrayed as a “terrorist” Arab regime, but an entity operating outside the U.S.-controlled banking system. The former campaign saw overt military action with the U.S. military missile attacks against the Al-Shifa Pharmaceutical factory in Sudan (1998): This was an international war crime by the Clinton administration and it involved officials now in power.
The complex geopolitical struggle to control Sudan manifests through the flashpoint war for Darfur and it involves such diverse factions as the Lord’s Resistance Army, backed by Khartoum, which is also connected to the wars in the Congo and northern Uganda. Chad is involved, Eritrea and Ethiopia, Germany, the Central African Republic, Libya, France, Israel, China, Taiwan, South Africa and Rwanda.
There are U.S. special forces on the ground in the frontline states of Chad, Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, and the big questions are: 1) How many of the killings are being committed by U.S. proxy forces and blamed on al-Bashir and the GoS? And 2) who funds, arms and trains the rebel insurgents?
United States Agency for International Devastation
Rebels? Insurgents? The drumbeat of Western propaganda portrays the conflict as a one-sided affair: a “genocidal counter-insurgency by the GoS” – in the words of Eric Reeves – versus the good Samaritans of the “humanitarian” NGO community … and throw in a few (non-descript) rebels.
“Sudan ordered at least 10 humanitarian groups expelled from Darfur on Wednesday after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for the country’s president,” wrote Associated Press reporter Ellen M. Lederer. “Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the action ‘represents a serious setback to lifesaving operations in Darfur’ and urged Sudan to reverse its decision, U.N. deputy spokeswoman Marie Okabe said.”
However, when Ban Ki-moon met with Rwandan strongman Paul Kagame recently, he never called for Kagame’s arrest, no matter the findings of two international courts of law that have issued indictments against top RPA officials. Instead Ban Ki-moon praised Kagame and called for African countries to hunt down and arrest Hutu people purportedly involved in the now specious “genocide” in Rwanda in 1994.
The non-governmental aid groups ordered out of Darfur by President al-Bashir on March 4 were Oxfam, CARE, MSF-Holland, Mercy Corps, Save the Children, the Norwegian Refugee Council, the International Rescue Committee, Action Contre la Faim, Solidarites and CHF International.
Of course, the Western media is all over the expulsion of any big “humanitarian” moneymaker from Darfur – the moral outrage is so thick you can almost wipe it. The NGOs and the press that peddles their images of suffering babes complain that hundreds of thousands of innocent refugees will now be subjected to massive unassisted suffering – as opposed to the assisted suffering they previously faced – but never asks with any serious and honest zeal, why and how the displaced persons and refugees came to be displaced or homeless to begin with. Neither do they ask about all the money, intelligence sharing, deal making and collaboration with private or governmental military agencies.
Large “humanitarian” NGOs (and “conservation” NGOs) operate as de facto multinational corporations revolving around massive private profits and human suffering. In places like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Darfur these NGOs also provide infrastructure, logistical and intelligence collaboration that supports U.S. military and government agendas in the region. Most are aligned with big foundations, corporate sponsors and USAID – itself a close and long-time partner for interventions with Africom and the Pentagon.
Refugees and displaced populations are strategic tools of statecraft and foreign policy just as “humanitarian” NGOs consistently use food as a weapon and populations as human shields. The history of the U.S. covert war in South Sudan is rich with examples of the SPLA and its “humanitarian” partners, especially Christian “charities,” committing such war crimes and crimes against humanity. (See: Keith Harmon Snow, “Oil in Darfur? Special Ops in Somalia?” Global Research, Feb. 7, 2007.)
CARE International has received funding from Lockheed Martin Corp., the world’s largest and most secretive producer of weapons of mass destruction, and both CARE and Save the Children are tied up with weapons and extractive industries in other ways. A peak at the board of directors of Save the Children makes it clear why the U.S. media is so devoid of truth about Darfur.
Similarly, the International Rescue Committee does not work with refugees, per se, but serves as a policy and pressure group involved in funneling private profits from the West back to the West. The IRC has also been cited for involvement in military operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo and it has deep ties to people like Henry Kissinger.
The AID (read: misery) industry in Sudan was by the mid-1990s the largest so-called “humanitarian” enterprise on the planet, Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) – a form of managed inequality and a temporary and mobile economy of white privilege, adventurism and, of course, good will (sic). The misery industry shifted its focus from South Sudan to Darfur after a pseudo peace “treaty” was organized to end the decades old war between the SPLA and GoS; the U.S. and Israel backed the SPLA from 1990 onward and continue to do so at present. The result of more than 12 years of illegal U.S. covert low-intensity warfare in Sudan resulted in the creation of the independent and sovereign state of South Sudan in circa 2005 – a state dominated by Jewish and Christian faith-based interests and Western multinational corporations.
Much of the AID infrastructure in Sudan has at one time or another been used as a weapon through the use of human shields, food deliveries to refugee populations inseparable from insurgents and shipments of weapons by “humanitarian” NGOs. This is both incidental and deliberate policy. Christian “relief” NGOs played a huge role in supporting the covert Western insurgency in South Sudan. One notable “humanitarian” NGO involved in weapons deliveries was the Norwegian People’s Aid (known affectionately in the field as the Norwegian People’s Army).
In Darfur, Sudan, the U.S. government agenda is to win control of natural resources and lever the Arab government into a corner and, at last, establish a more “friendly” government that will suit the corporate interests of the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and Israel.
Several major think tanks – read: propaganda, lobbying and pressure – behind the destabilization of Sudan include the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy, Center for American Progress, Center for Security Policy, International Rescue Committee and International Crisis Group. Individuals from seemingly diverse positions of the political and ideological spectrum run these organizations, which are ultra-nationalist capitalist organizations bent on global military-economic domination.
The former Clinton officials most heavily focused on the destabilization of Sudan include Susan Rice, Madeleine Albright, Roger Winter, Prudence Bushnell, Hillary Clinton, John Podesta, Anthony Lake and John Prendergast. Carr Center for Human Rights co-founder Samantha Power, now on the Obama National Security Council, has helped to whitewash clandestine U.S. involvement in Sudan.
John Prendergast has continued to peddle disinformation disguised as policy and human rights concerns through the International Crisis Group (ICG) and through its many clone organizations like ENOUGH, ONE and RAISE HOPE FOR CONGO. Prendergast has been a pivotal agent behind the hijacking of U.S. public concern and action through the disingenuous – and discredited – SAVE DARFUR movement.
Other notable agents of disinformation on Sudan include Alex de Waal and Smith College Professor Eric Reeves. It is through these and other conduits to the corporate U.S. media that the story of “genocide” in Sudan is cast as an Africa-Arab affair devoid of Western interests.
In 1992, human rights researchers Rakiya Omaar and Alex de Waal established the London-based NGO African Rights. In August 1995, African Rights published “Rwanda: Death, Despair and Defiance,” one of many pivotal “human rights” reports that falsely represented events in Rwanda, set the stage for victor’s justice at the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda, and began the process of dehumanizing millions of Hutu people and protecting the true terrorists: Yoweri Museveni, Paul Kagame, the Rwandan Patriotic Army and their Western backers.
the article is much longer and should be widely read, especially as he gets into various aspects of international and american complicity in sudan and the region more generally. and as referenced in the snow piece, sudan is hardly the only country the u.s. is complicit in not only creating massive war crimes and crimes against humanity, but also in blaming their proxies, letting them take the fall. there was a demonstration this week in washington dc calling for hands off sudan–here is the crux of what the demonstrators were asking for:
but it is not just in sudan that we need to halt american imperial interests. in the congo this is true too, though in different ways. ann garrison, also writing in the san francisco bay view this week offers somewhat of a blueprint on why we should act and what we should do to stop the u.s. involvement in the congo:
The stakes in the Congo War are enormously high. They include:
Cobalt is essential to the manufacture of anything requiring high grade steel.
Shocks in cobalt’s supply and price during the 1970s and early ‘80s led to a 1982 Congressional Budget Office document warning that the U.S. would have to be prepared to go to war to secure cobalt reserves so as to secure the power to manufacture for war, especially in time of war.
2) An ongoing African holocaust, the systematic destruction of the Congolese people. Six million have died, according to widely acknowledged sources including the International Relief Commission and the U.N. Forty-five thousand Congolese continue to die every month, with no end in sight; many die in refugee camps of starvation and easily curable disease, and one third of these are children.
3) Barack Obama’s legacy, and our legacy, as the Americans who elected him. Will our legacy be an ongoing African holocaust, another 6 million African Congolese lives? Will it be the expansion of Africom, the U.S. Africa Command, throughout Africa and the further plundering of Africa’s resources?
Some, including Black Agenda Report editor Glen Ford, say that Barack Obama is “U.S. corporate empire in Black face” or that corporate America desperately needed a Black face now. This is arguable, especially given that, in 2007, Africa surpassed the U.S. wartorn Middle East as a source of U.S. oil imports.
However, though huge corporations generously filled Obama’s campaign coffers, so did many everyday Americans, who also organized and rallied for Obama with high hopes of peace and change. Many now at least seem to have a place at the table that they didn’t have before.
garrison offers various things you can do, but the last one is the one that i think is the most important:
4) Call on Barack Obama to close the U.S. military base in Kigali, Rwanda, and end all U.S. military support to its authoritarian African puppet regimes, including those of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Rwandan President Paul Kagame and now Congolese President Joseph Kabila.
to be sure more activism and pressure needs to be put on the u.s. not on african leaders. as i have said before, we need to get to the root of the problem and the root is clearly american imperialism. and it is not only in africa, of course. it is also in iraq and afghanistan. jeremy scahill asks some important questions on alternet about the ways in which obama is funding mercenaries like blackwater, which is one of the u.s. imperial arms:
The Washington Times (as described below) reported on a $22 million payment to Blackwater on February 2. Combined with the $45 million payment I discovered, that’s nearly $67 million in 72 hours. Not bad for a company supposedly going down in flames.
With the U.S. economy in shambles and millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet and keep their homes, Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton need to explain to U.S. taxpayers how they justify these mega-payments to a scandal-plagued mercenary company. (At the very least, someone should ask Robert Gibbs about it).
george bush’s recent trip to canada seems to have proved unsuccessful in terms of arresting him for beginning and continuing some of these american war crimes. but the problem is that those imperial war crimes that the u.s. foments in africa are always left off the list. americans, canadians, etc. always want to protest iraq and afghanistan as if it is disconnected from the u.s. so-called “war on terror” that it claims it is fighting in africa (read: theft of natural resources among other things). in any case, it seems canadians offered some decent protesting, though it would have nicer if someone arrested him…:
Ahead of the visit, a group called Lawyers Against the War sent a letter to the RCMP war crimes section requesting the police force bar Bush from entering Canada, citing torture and other war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay committed under his watch.
“We are now very sure that the crimes were committed,” said Gail Davidson, author of the letter and co-founder of the Canadian-based international organization of jurists. “The Bush administration planned, authorized, directed and funded those crimes.”
and it seems that canadians threw their shoes at bush, though like muntadher al zaidi, they missed:
The footwear was tossed at an effigy of the 43rd US president outside a Calgary conference center where Bush was to speak to some 1,500 people at a luncheon, said Colette Lemieux of the Canadian Peace Alliance.
no one was arrested, but i wonder when the real criminals will be behind bars so we can free the current prisoners. everywhere. whether they are imprisoned by colonialism and imperialism or by racism and hegemony.
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:
“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”:
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:  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;  Museveni’s half-brother Salim Saleh;  then Colonel James Kazini; and  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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
We now need you to write again about an even more crucial and urgent issue relating to the upgrading of EU relations with Israel.
Although the postponement was important, the vote was not related to the upgrade agreement recently signed by the foreign ministers of all the Member States (the EU Council) This was a crucial step in the upgrading of relations with Israel and one over which the European Parliament has no control.
The new EU-Israel Action Plan is currently being drafted by the European Commission for discussion by the Member States at the beginning of the next year. So far, it does not include any concrete actions that will end Israel’s blatant disregard for human rights and International law. It does not even require Israel to meet its own obligations under the so-called ‘peace process’.
Inside the EU, it is feared that the Commission will not face sufficient objections from the public, MEPs and NGOs and will draft a weak document without any reference to human rights.
It is therefore vital to use this brief opportunity during late December/early January, while the document is being drafted, to use all means possible to force the EC to include concrete objectives regarding human rights and International Law
Please write urgently to your MEPs urging them to make your objections to the Action Plan known to the External Relations Commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner (firstname.lastname@example.org), and/or write to her yourself copying your letters to your MEPs.
You will find a briefing document attached that explains more about the process of the upgrading and its significance and a sample letter. Below is a list of additional points you may want to include.
Please do let the Palestine Solidarity Campaign know the details of any replies you receive.
It is vital that the European Commissioner in charge receives scores of letters from MEPs, MPs and Ministers of Member States pressing her to include detailed points on human rights and the peace process by early January.
+ Include Article 2 of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, which says that “Relations between the parties, as well as all the provisions of the Agreement itself shall be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles, which guides their internal and international policy and constitutes an essential element of this Agreement”
+ Include specific concrete actions that should be included (remove the settlements, end the siege of Gaza, signing up to the Additional Protocols of the Fourth Geneva Convention etc)
+ Refer to the fact that agreements with other countries under the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) include extensive actions that these states have to take on issues like human rights. For example, the EU-Morocco Action Plan devotes more than two pages to democracy, rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms and includes concrete objectives to be achieved in the short term and in the medium term.
+ The new EU-Israel Action Plan will have a knock-on effect on the other ENP members. It will be difficult to convince them to improve their human rights records, if the EU does not require the same from Israel.
+ The 1948 Declaration of Universal Human Rights is being weakened by EU’s refusal to apply the same standards on human rights to all the states within the ENP
+ The current EU-Israel Action Plan initiates almost no concrete actions related to resolving the Israel/Palestine conflict and does not require Israel to abide by its obligations under the current peace process. The new EU-Israel Action Plan therefore demonstrates the EU’s failure to deal with both sides in an even handed way.
+ The agreed establishment of the subcommittee for human rights between EU and Israel does in no way substitute for human rights commitments in the Action Plan that should provide the basis for effective functioning of the subcommittee.
+ The Action Plan also needs to include a safeguard clause is necessary to prevent Israel’s application of the benefits of cooperation to settlement activities
The PSC Office is now closed until January 5th 2009.
We would like to take this opportunity to offer Seasons Greetings from all the staff at Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) aims to raise public awareness about the occupation of Palestine and the struggle of the Palestinian people. PSC seek to bring pressure on both the British and Israeli government to bring their policies in line with international law. PSC is an independent, non-governmental and non-party political organisation with members from communities across the UK. Join PSC today!
Palestine Solidarity Campaign
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somehow this news item slipped passed me when it first hit in april: an israeli adapted ghassan kanafani’s novella return to haifa into a play that is now being performed in yaffa. there is something deeply disturbing about kanafani’s writing being adapted by a colonizer who lives his former land that he will never be able to return to because israel’s mossad murdered him along with his niece lamees. not only that it was altered in at least one way and who knows how else kanafani’s narrative was distorted:
New Jewish immigrants Miryam and Ephraim, who lost a son of their own in the Holocaust, move into the house, find the child, and raise him as their own. Two decades later, the five of them meet, and are forced to confront each other’s histories.
“At the beginning it seems impossible that these people would sit down to have a dialogue,” said Peter. “But the child is a sort of allegory. Who does he belong to? And there is a moment of grace where perhaps they could become one family.”
The original novella ends with Said, the Palestinian father, lamenting that only another war will settle the Israeli-Palestinian problem — a sentiment writer Gaon felt was inappropriate for the modern version.
His ending is far from rosy, but it opens the door to the chance of a more peaceful future.
“The last thing I wanted was for people to leave the theatre and rush to the front — we’ve exhausted that option,” he said. “I wanted to offer an opening for something else to happen.”
i discovered this play today because al jazeera did a piece on it:
it is so disturbing that this beautiful, eloquent, powerful story is being twisted in this way and being used by israelis. and i suspect that they have not acquired rights from his widow, anni, who once told me that people often adapt kanafani’s writings without going through the proper legal channels to acquire the rights. if this is true, then the adaption of this play goes along with the usual zionist modus operandi of theft. theft of the work of one of the most beautiful resistance writers who ever lived. a writer who was killed by the zionists for his artistic creations. a writer who was known as the “commando who never fired a shot.” a writer who was dedicated to the right of return for all palestinian refugees.
i had forgotten that this week was the anniversary of united nations resolution 194. the document is important in its entirety, but for me what is most important is its eleventh point:
Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible;
The National Report that was submitted by Israel to the Human Rights Council falls short from reflecting the reality and totally ignores the human rights situation in the 1967 Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), while justifying its violations of international humanitarian law by security reasons.
By 2008, and always under the pretext of “security and self-defense,” Israel has displaced 70% of the Palestinian people, now living as refugees and internally displaced persons; confiscated and/or de facto annexed some 60% of the occupied West Bank, including eastern Jerusalem, and established a system of institutionalized discrimination affecting Palestinians within Israel, in the OPT, and refugees worldwide.
Badil, together with other Palestinian, Arab, Israeli and international NGOs, provided information to the Human Rights Council, encouraging particular state scrutiny of Israel’s self-definition as a “Jewish and democratic state”, and its system of institutionalized racial discrimination against the indigenous Palestinian citizens (almost 20 % of Israel’s population) in resource allocation and political decision-making. These human rights organizations also argued that Israel’s regime of institutionalized racial discrimination has been expanded into the 1967 OPT as a tool for more colonization of land and oppression of the Palestinian people.
israel’s response to the sixty-year long list of gross human rights violations was that there was “room for improvement” (that’s the understatement of the year):
another missed opportunity last week came from the european union, which upgraded israel’s status when it could have made a bold move to cut the zionist state out entirely because the zionist regime’s deplorable record on human rights violates the european union’s constitution. david morrison explains these violations and its context within this e.u. agreement in electronic intifada:
The signatories also entered into a number of specific obligations in respect of their “partners” in the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. This included:
(1) Refrain, in accordance with the rules of international law, from any direct or indirect intervention in the internal affairs of another partner;
(2) Respect the territorial integrity and unity of each of the other partners;
(3) Settle their disputes by peaceful means, call upon all participants to renounce recourse to the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity of another participant, including the acquisition of territory by force, and reaffirm the right to fully exercise sovereignty by legitimate means in accordance with the UN Charter and international law.
In 1995, when Israel signed the Barcelona Declaration and undertook to abide by these principles, it was occupying southern Lebanon and had annexed the Syrian Golan Heights. By no stretch of the imagination could it be said that Israel was refraining from intervention in the internal affairs of its Lebanese and Syrian partners, or respecting their territorial integrity, or settling disputes with them by peaceful means. Manifestly, when it signed the Barcelona Declaration, Israel was openly contravening the agreement’s three core obligations.
At that time, Israel was also in breach of the general obligation in the Barcelona Declaration to “act in accordance with the United Nations Charter.” As an occupying power in the West Bank and Gaza, it remains in violation of Articles 2.4 of the UN Charter. It is also in violation of the requirement in Article 25 that UN member states “accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council.” Indeed, by 1995, Israel was in violation of some 25 Security Council resolutions requiring action by it and it alone. These included demands to: cease the building of Jewish settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, reverse its annexation of East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, and open its nuclear facilities to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA).
these developments in the un and the eu this week are disturbing for so many reasons. the siege of gaza has not changed. nor has the situation in the west bank or 1948 palestine for that matter. and yet the zionists still, quite literally, continue to get away with murder and theft. and not just surreptitiously either–as always they do so in broad daylight. one example of this is their so-called idea of “peace” which is really code for stealing more land, denying more human rights, and evading international law even further:
Israel proposed a swap of some of its own territory in return for the annexed area but the Israeli land was not an equal trade in size and quality, Ahmed Qurei said, adding that the Palestinians rejected the offer.
Tel Aviv has also said it would allow 5,000 Palestinian refugees to return to the territories as part of the plan to take the land in the West Bank, Qurei said on Friday.
The latest peace efforts were launched a year ago at a US-hosted conference in Annapolis, Maryland, where George Bush, the US president said he wanted to see a deal by the end of his presidency in January 2009.
so this is the state of affairs today. a sad state of affairs. i was chatting with a friend in gaza tonight. he said things were “fine” there–meaning they are “adapting,” though not “surrendering.” i cannot imagine what it must be like to “adapt” to a life of siege. to ever increasing, tightening restrictions.
and yet creative methods are continually being invented to make people remember–to never let them forget the history and this siege in its many forms from gaza to 1948 palestine to refugees. un escwa created a series of animated cartoons on the subject which are quite brilliant. they are in arabic, but other people can probably glean the main idea from watching (thanks muna) :
i just finished watching my dear friend rania on press tv’s “middle east today.” it was tedious to watch because some delusional zionist was on the show. he–with the help of the show’s host i might add–effectively silenced dr. naji shurab the one voice living in gaza who was on the show. it’s so hard to watch–and it is so hard to be on–this program. i honestly don’t understand why they think they need to air both “sides of the story.” you can read rania’s take on why there are not two sides to this story by clicking on the link above. i have also written about it at length here so i will not repeat myself, except to say there are not two sides to this story about palestine, about gaza. but i will say this: why is it that when it is so difficult to get information out about gaza that we have to hear the voice of a man whose words ooze hate and deceit?
but i want to think further about something rania said and relate it to something norman finkelstein said in shatila refugee camp last winter. rania mentioned the words of miguel d’escoto brockmann to the united nations last week, these are words that are worth repeating:
Israel’s actions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip were like “the apartheid of an earlier era,” said Brockmann, of Nicaragua, speaking at the annual debate marking the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
He added: “We must not be afraid to call something what it is.”
Brockmann stressed that it was important for the United Nations to use the heavily-charged term since it was the institution itself that had passed the International Convention against the crime of apartheid.
okay, brockmann said it. that is significant. it is important. but what does it mean if that language is not transformed into action. the world continues to be silent not only about gaza, but also about palestinians more generally. how can we transform that language now into action? one of the poets who influences my life very deeply is audre lorde (a chapter of my book on breast cancer, which is about lorde, is downloadable on the selected publications tab above). in particular words she spoke at a modern language association meeting, which later became a part of her moving memoir, the cancer journals reads:
For those of us who write, it is necessary to scrutinize not only the truth of what we speak, but the truth of that language by which we speak it. For others, it is to share and spread also those words that are meaningful to us. But primarily for us all, it is necessary to teach by living and speaking those truths which we believe and know beyond understanding. Because in this way alone can we survive, by taking part in a process of life that is creative and continuing, that is growth.
language has power. and it has certainly been made to work against palestinians on so many levels. but the converse can be true if we all actively work on it. collectively. finkelstein talked about how zionists have been skilled at using what should be nothing pieces of paper (e.g., the balfour declaration) and turning a meaningless letter into a state on someone else’s land. he asked people in the audience how can palestinians use the myriad united nations resolutions to get their land back. on the level of international law palestinians have won the battle in so many ways. but the world remains silent in the face of these words. these words that are laws. international laws that the world ignores.
“Twelve assassinations, Eleven homes demolished, Ten wells obstructed, Nine sniper towers, Eight gunships firing, Seven checkpoints blocking, Six tanks a-rolling, Five settlement rings, Four falling bombs, Three trench guns, Two trampled doves, And an uprooted olive tree!”
these words are powerful. they can be used: but they must be used to a particular effect. to render the zionist state a pariah state. to use these words–especially those words that carry weight–to end this siege on gaza and the siege over the rest of palestine and all palestinian refugee camps in the region more generally. this language must be used to enunciate the increasing devastation in gaza like the flour and electricity shortages:
According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, as a direct result of Israel’s siege, 65 percent of households in Gaza struggle to obtain basic needs such as food, clothing and medicine. Among those struggling is Fouzan Salah, a 35-year-old father of four. Fouzan, who owned a tailoring factory with his brother, began selling his sewing machines in January of this year in order to feed his family. Since Israel began restricting the entry of goods and raw material into Gaza, an estimated 55 percent of private sector establishments have shut down and 97 percent of industrial establishments ceased their operations. Such was the fate of Fouzan’s factory, which received all of its fabric from Israel. The family now has no income and is in danger of losing its home. They Salahs currently rely on charity and the assistance of others, surviving on one, sometimes two small meals a day.
Consequently, Fouzan suffers from severe depression. Despair, worthlessness, incapacitation and emasculation is how Fouzan described the feelings he carries within him each day to the next. “I wasn’t worried when the siege first began,” he said. “I was just like everyone else and it was absurd to think that Israel would continue to enforce the siege on an entire population. It was unimaginable to even conceive that they would take away the livelihoods of all of us civilians. But I was wrong, we were all wrong. And now I’m still like everyone else, living a nightmare. It didn’t take me that long to reach this realization, and that’s when the depression hit me hard.”
the language must be bold and loud like brockmann’s not muted like un secretary general ban–but it must also be backed up with action not merely muted complaints:
The Kerem Shalom crossing was last open on 27 November, the Nahal Oz fuel pipelines and Karni conveyer belt last functioned on 26 November, and the crossings at Sufa have been closed since 13 September, the Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) reported.
UN officials, from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on downwards, have repeatedly called on Israel to urgently permit the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza’s civilians. At the same time, Mr. Ban has reiterated his condemnation of rocket attacks by Palestinian militants in Gaza against Israeli civilian targets, which Israel has cited as a reason for the closures.
this language may be written in reports, but it then must be backed up by action. yet again another united nations report, more findings that support palestinians: but what will the un do exactly? what will we pressure them to do?
Israel will be examined on its human rights record by the Council on Thursday under the “Universal Periodic Review” process which puts every UN member state under the spotlight.
“Institutionalised racism and discrimination on the grounds of nationality, ethnicity, race and religion are root causes of the ongoing forcible internal displacement and dispossession of the Palestinian people,” seven Palestinian rights groups said in a report submitted to the Council.
“In conjunction with Israel’s self-identification as a Jewish and democratic state, the Palestinian citizens of Israel are afforded no constitutional protection against racial discrimination. By this Israel is failing to comply with its obligations under international human rights law,” the report said.
the word must make states like the zionist regime (and yes other states including the u.s. on the list below) into pariah states with loud language that shames them into dissolution for doing things like refusing to sign the ban on cluster bombs, cluster bombs that continue to maim and kill people in southern lebanon:
At the Oslo signing ceremony, Norway, which has led the efforts to ban cluster munitions, was the first country to sign. It was followed by Laos, where cluster bombs dropped by US planes more than 30 years ago are still killing civilians; and Lebanon, which was attacked with the weapons by Israel.
By the end of tomorrow, around 100 of the United Nations’ 192 members will have signed up. Once 30 countries have ratified the convention, it will become part of international humanitarian law.
There are a number of notable absentees, including the US, China, Russia, India and Pakistan, as well as Israel, which fired cluster bombs during the 2006 Lebanon war.
there are so many other reasons to speak out, to speak loudly, to shout, to scream, to push for action. and there is momentum building in the united nations. we must put pressure, we must insist that they take action. here is one idea from snorre lindquist and lasse wilhelmson:
The 1976 Nobel peace prize laureate, Mairead McGuire from Ireland, recently suggested a popular movement demanding that the UN revoke Israel’s membership. The international community now needs to put tangible pressure on Israel in order to stop its war crimes.
Not once, during the past 60 years, has Israel shown any intention of living up to the requirements stipulated by the UN, in connection with the country’s membership in 1948, namely that the Palestinians who had been evicted from their homes should be allowed to return at the earliest possible opportunity. Moreover, Israel holds the hardly flattering world record of ignoring UN resolutions.
It can be questioned from the aspect of human rights legislation whether Israel is a legitimate state. Established practice between states usually requires borders that are legally maintained and a constitution, neither of which Israel has. These requirements are also named in the UN resolution (181) Partition Plan for Palestine, approved by the General Assembly in November 1947. The plan was accepted by the Zionists Jews in Palestine but rejected for excellent reasons as unjust by the Arab states. Only decisions made by the UN Security Council are mandatory. Later on, Israel unilaterally laid claim to a considerably larger portion of land than that suggested by the UN.
The eviction of eighty per cent of the Palestinians who lived west of the 1947 armistice line, and Israel’s refusal to allow them to return is the human rights argument for expelling Israel from the UN. Not only has Israel played the Partition Plan false but has, by its actions, thwarted the grounds – fragile from the start – for its UN membership.
Israel makes use of various strategies to achieve its goals, the same goals as for over a hundred years ago: As few and as well controlled and weakened Palestinians as possible in areas as small as possible between the Mediterranean and the River Jordan. And to try and get acceptance worldwide for the theft of land that is vital to the “state” that calls itself “Jewish and democratic”. This obviously bears no similarity to a peace process.
Why does nobody ever comment on the fact that Israel’s prime minister never misses an opportunity to harp on about how important it is that the rest of the world and the Palestinians recognise Israel, not as a democratic country for all its citizens, but as a “Jewish state”?
What would we have said if South Africa’s Prime Minister, in a similar way, had demanded recognition of South Africa as a “white and democratic state”, thus de facto accepting the racist apartheid system that allowed non-whites to be classified as lesser human beings?
In the article The end of Zionism, published in the Guardian on September the 15th 2003 the Jewish dissident and former speaker of Knesset, Avraham Burg wrote:
“Diaspora Jews for whom Israel is a central pillar of their identity must pay heed and speak out … We cannot keep a Palestinian majority under an Israeli boot and at the same time think ourselves the only democracy in the Middle East. There cannot be democracy without equal rights for all who live here, Arab as well as Jew … The prime minister should present the choices forthrightly: Jewish racism or democracy.”
No support can be found in The UN recommendation concerning a Jewish and a Palestinian state for unequal rights for the citizens of each country. Neither is there any indication as to how a “Jewish” state could become Jewish. There is support, however, for the intention that demographic conditions should be held intact at partition. Interpreting into the text an intention concerning characteristics of a “Jewish state” tailored to the ideology of Zionism is wholly in contradiction with the text of the resolution.
Even the Balfour Declaration, which entirely lacks human rights status, notes that the Jewish national home in Palestine should in no way encroach upon the rights of the Palestinians. Neither did US President Truman recognise Israel as a Jewish state. On the contrary, he ruled out precisely that formulation before making his decision to recognise Israel.
Thus, the legitimacy of a “Jewish state” so urgently sought by Israel lacks support in international documents that concern the building of the state. Israel’s government is, of course, fully aware of this. Why else would it keep on searching for this recognition?
The UN should now embark on a boycott of the apartheid state of Israel and, with the threat of expulsion from the UN, demand that Israel allows the evicted Palestinian refugees to return in accordance with the UN resolutions 194 and 3236.
With this done, meaningful peace talks can proceed and various solutions be reached for co-habitation with equal rights for all people between the Mediterranean and the River Jordan. No such solution can be compatible with the preservation of a Jewish apartheid state.
now here is some language we can use. yes, let’s work to hold the un accountable to its language, to its words. to boycott the zionist state. to force it to comply with these un resolutions which would force it to cease from being a jewish state once refugees are allowed to return. this is the key to a lasting solution. and we cannot let these words wither away. we must act now.