“We came to the conclusion, on the basis of the facts we found, that there was strong evidence to establish that numerous serious violations of international law, both humanitarian law and human rights law, were committed by Israel during the military operations in Gaza,” the head of the mission, Justice Richard Goldstone, told a press briefing today.
“The mission concluded that actions amounting to war crimes and possibly, in some respects, crimes against humanity, were committed by the Israel Defense Force (IDF).”
“There’s no question that the firing of rockets and mortars [by armed groups from Gaza] was deliberate and calculated to cause loss of life and injury to civilians and damage to civilian structures. The mission found that these actions also amount to serious war crimes and also possibly crimes against humanity,” he said.
The 575-page report by the four-person mission was released today, ahead of its presentation to the UN’s Human Rights Council in Geneva on 29 September.
“The mission finds that the conduct of the Israeli armed forces constitute grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention in respect of wilful killings and wilfully causing great suffering to protected persons and as such give rise to individual criminal responsibility,” the report’s executive summary said. “It also finds that the direct targeting and arbitrary killing of Palestinian civilians is a violation of the right to life.”
It went on to criticize the “deliberate and systematic policy on the part of the Israeli armed forces to target industrial sites and water installations,” and the use of Palestinian civilians as human shields.
On the objectives and strategy of Israel’s military operation, the mission concluded that military planners deliberately followed a doctrine which involved “the application of disproportionate force and the causing of great damage and destruction to civilian property and infrastructure, and suffering to civilian populations.”
On the firing of mortars from Gaza, the mission concluded that they were indiscriminate and deliberate attacks against a civilian population and “would constitute war crimes and may amount to crimes against humanity.” It added that their apparent intention of spreading terror among the Israeli civilian population was a violation of international law.
The report recommended that the Security Council should require Israel to take steps to launch appropriate independent investigations into the alleged crimes committed, in conformity with international standards, and report back on these investigations within six months.
It further called on the Security Council to appoint a committee of experts to monitor the proceedings taken by the Israeli Government. If these did not take place, or were not independent and in conformity with international standards, the report called for the Security Council to refer the situation in Gaza to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
It also called on the Security Council to require the committee of experts to perform a similar role with regard to the relevant Palestinian authorities.
At today’s briefing, Justice Goldstone said the mission had investigated 36 incidents that took place during the Israeli operation in Gaza, which he said did not relate to decisions taken in the heat of battle, but to deliberate policies that were adopted and decisions that were taken.
As an example, he described one such incident: a mortar attack on a mosque in Gaza during a religious service, which killed 15 members of the congregation and injured many others. Justice Goldstone said that even if allegations that the mosque was used as sanctuary by military groups and that weapons were stored there were true, there was still “no justification under international humanitarian law to mortar the mosque during a service,” because it could have been attacked during the night, when it was not being used by civilians.
Justice Goldstone added that the report reflected the unanimous view of the mission’s four members.
The other members of the team are Christine Chinkin, Professor of International Law at the London School of Economics and Political Science at the University of London; Hina Jilani, Advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and former Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Human Rights Defenders; and retired Colonel Desmond Travers, member of the Board of Directors of the Institute for International Criminal Investigations (IICI).
I was rather most disappointed with this article about Judge Goldstone’s report on Israeli war crimes. It was not typical of the Economist’s coverage of the Middle East. As if the reporter was pained by the findings. Look at this sentence: “Unlike Syria, say, Israel is a democracy that claims to live by the rule of law. It needs to make its case by moral force as well as by force of arms.” Clear propaganda. But I like how Goldstone’s daughter defended her father: “Mr Goldstone’s daughter, Nicole, who lived in Israel for many years but now lives in Canada, vigorously defended her father’s report in an interview on the army radio. “If it hadn’t been for him, the report would have been even harsher,” she said, speaking in Hebrew.”
richard falk offers his analysis of the report as well as the zionist entity’s response to it thus far:
Goldstone explains that his reluctance was due to the issue being “deeply charged and politically loaded,” and was overcome because he and his fellow commissioners were “professionals committed to an objective, fact-based investigation,” adding that “above all, I accepted because I believe deeply in the rule of law and the laws of war,” as well as the duty to protect civilians to the extent possible in combat zones. The four-person fact-finding mission was composed of widely respected and highly qualified individuals, including the distinguished international law scholar, Christine Chinkin, a professor at the London School of Economics. Undoubtedly adding complexity to Goldstone’s decision is the fact that he is Jewish, with deep emotional and family ties to Israel and Zionism, bonds solidified by his long association with several organizations active in Israel.
Despite the impeccable credentials of the commission members, and the worldwide reputation of Richard Goldstone as a person of integrity and political balance, Israel refused cooperation from the outset. It did not even allow the UN undertaking to enter Israel or the Palestinian Territories, forcing reliance on the Egyptian government to facilitate entry at Rafah to Gaza. As Uri Avnery observes, however much Israel may attack the commission report as one-sided and unfair, the only plausible explanation of its refusal to cooperate with fact-finding and taking the opportunity to tell its side of the story was that it had nothing to tell that could hope to overcome the overwhelming evidence of the Israeli failure to carry out its attacks on Gaza last winter in accordance with the international law of war. No credible international commission could reach any set of conclusions other than those reached by the Goldstone Report on the central allegations.
In substantive respects the Goldstone Report adds nothing new. Its main contribution is to confirm widely reported and analyzed Israeli military practices during the Gaza War. There had been several reliable reports already issued, condemning Israel’s tactics as violations of the laws of war and international humanitarian law, including by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and a variety of respected Israeli human rights groups. Journalists and senior United Nations civil servants had reached similar conclusions.
Perhaps, most damning of all the material available before the Goldstone Report was the publication of a document entitled “Breaking the Silence,” containing commentaries by thirty members of the Israel Defense Forces who had taken part in Operation Cast Lead (the Israeli official name for the Gaza War). These soldiers spoke movingly about the loose rules of engagement issued by their commanders that explains why so little care was taken to avoid civilian casualties. The sense emerges from what these IDF soldiers who were in no sense critical of Israel or even of the Gaza War as such, that Israeli policy emerged out of a combination of efforts ‘to teach the people of Gaza a lesson for their support of Hamas’ and to keep IDF casualties as close to zero as possible even if meant massive death and destruction for innocent Palestinians.
Given this background of a prior international consensus on the unlawfulness of Operation Cast Lead, we must first wonder why this massive report of 575 pages has been greeted with such alarm by Israel and given so much attention in the world media. It added little to what was previously known. Arguably, it was more sensitive to Israel’s contentions that Hamas was guilty of war crimes by firing rockets into its territory than earlier reports had been. And in many ways the Goldstone Report endorses the misleading main line of the Israeli narrative by assuming that Israel was acting in self-defense against a terrorist adversary. The report focuses its criticism on Israel’s excessive and indiscriminate uses of force. It does this by examining the evidence surrounding a series of incidents involving attacks on civilians and non-military targets. The report also does draw attention to the unlawful blockade that has restricted the flow of food, fuel, and medical supplies to subsistence levels in Gaza before, during, and since Operation Cast Lead. Such a blockade is a flagrant instance of collective punishment, explicitly prohibited by Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention setting forth the legal duties of an occupying power.
All along Israel had rejected international criticism of its conduct of military operations in the Gaza War, claiming that the IDF was the most moral fighting force on the face of the earth. The IDF conducted some nominal investigations of alleged unlawful behavior that consistently vindicated the military tactics relied upon and steadfastly promised to protect any Israeli military officer or political leader internationally accused of war crimes. In view of this extensive background of confirmed allegation and angry Israeli rejection, why has the Goldstone Report been treated in Tel Aviv as a bombshell that is deeply threatening to Israel’s stature as a sovereign state?
Israel’s president, Shimon Peres, calling the report “a mockery of history” that “fails to distinguish the aggressor and a state exercising the right of self-defense,” insisting that it “legitimizes terrorist activity, the pursuit of murder and death.” More commonly Israel’s zealous defenders condemned the report as one-sided, biased, reaching foregone conclusions, and emanating from the supposedly bastion of anti-Israeli attitudes at the UN’s Human Rights Council. This line of response to any criticism of Israel’s behavior in occupied Palestine, especially if it comes from the UN or human rights NGOs is to cry “foul play!” and avoid any real look at the substance of the charges. It is an example of what I call ‘the politics of deflection,’ attempting to shift the attention of an audience away from the message to the messenger. The more damning the criticism, the more ferocious the response. From this perspective, the Goldstone Report obviously hit the bullseye!
Considered more carefully, there are some good reasons for Israel’s panicked reaction to this damning report. First, it does come with the backing of an eminent international personality who cannot credibly be accused of anti-Israel bias, making it harder to deflect attention from the findings no matter how loud the screaming of ‘foul play.’ Any fair reading of the report would show that it was balanced, was eminently mindful of Israel’s arguments relating to security, and indeed gave Israel the benefit of the doubt on some key issues.
Secondly, the unsurprising findings are coupled with strong recommendations that do go well beyond previous reports. Two are likely causing the Israeli leadership great worry: the report recommends strongly that if Israel and Hamas do not themselves within six months engage in an investigation and followup action meeting international standards of objectivity with respect to these violations of the law of war, then the Security Council should be brought into the picture, being encouraged to consider referring the whole issue of Israeli and Hamas accountability to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Even if Israel is spared this indignity by the diplomatic muscle of the United States, and possibly some European governments, the negative public relations implications of a failure to abide by this report could be severe.
Thirdly, whatever happens in the UN System, and at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, the weight of the report will be felt by world public opinion. Ever since the Gaza War the solidity of Jewish support for Israel has been fraying at the edges, and this will likely now fray much further. More globally, a very robust boycott and divestment movement was gaining momentum ever since the Gaza War, and the Goldstone Report can only lend added support to such initiatives. There is a growing sense around the world that the only chance for the Palestinians to achieve some kind of just peace depends on the outcome over the symbols of legitimacy, what I have called the Legitimacy War. Increasingly, the Palestinians have been winning this second non-military war. Such a war fought on a global political battlefield is what eventually and unexpectedly undermined the apartheid regime in South Africa, and has become much more threatening to the Israeli sense of security than has armed Palestinian resistance.
A fourth reason for Israeli worry stemming from the report, is the green light given to national courts throughout the world to enforce international criminal law against Israelis suspects should they travel abroad and be detained for prosecution or extradition in some third country. Such individuals could be charged with war crimes arising from their involvement in the Gaza War. The report in this way encourages somewhat controversial reliance on what is known among lawyers as ‘universal jurisdiction,’ that is, the authority of courts in any country to detain for extradition or to prosecute individuals for violations of international criminal law regardless of where the alleged offenses took place.
Reaction in the Israeli media reveals that Israeli citizens are already anxious about being apprehended during foreign travel. As one law commentator put it in the Israeli press, “From now on, not only soldiers should be careful when they travel abroad, but also ministers and legal advisers.” It is well to recall that Article 1 of the Geneva Conventions calls on states throughout the world “to respect and ensure respect” for international humanitarian law “in all circumstances.” Remembering the efforts in 1998 of several European courts to prosecute Augusto Pinochet for crimes committed while he was head of state in Chile, is a reminder that national courts can be used to prosecute political and military leaders for crimes committed elsewhere than in the territory of the prosecuting state.
Of course, Israel will fight back. It has already launched a media and diplomatic blitz designed to portray the report as so one-sided as to be unworthy of serious attention. The United States Government has already disappointingly appeared to endorse this view, and repudiate the central recommendation in the Goldstone Report that the Security Council be assigned the task of implementing its findings. The American Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, evidently told a closed session of the Security Council on September 16, just a day after the report was issued, that “[w]e have serious concerns about many recommendations in the report.” Elaborating on this, Ambassador Rice indicated that the UN Human Rights Council, which has no implementing authority, is the only proper venue for any action to be taken on the basis of the report. The initial struggle will likely be whether to follow the recommendation of the report to have the Security Council refer the issues of accountability to the International Criminal Court, which could be blocked by a veto from the United States or other permanent members.
There are reasons to applaud the forthrightness and comprehensiveness of the report, its care, and scrupulous willingness to conclude that both Israel and Hamas seem responsible for behavior that appears to constitute war crimes, if not crimes against humanity. Although Israel has succeeded in having the issue of one-sidedness focus on fairness to Israel, there are also some reasons to insist that the report falls short of Palestinian hopes.
For one thing, the report takes for granted, the dubious proposition that Israel was entitled to act against Gaza in self-defense, thereby excluding inquiry into whether crimes against the peace in the form of aggression had taken place by the launching of the attack. In this respect, the report takes no notice of the temporary ceasefire that had cut the rocket fire directed at Israel practically to zero in the months preceding the attacks, nor of Hamas’ repeated efforts to extend the ceasefire indefinitely provided Israel lifted its unlawful blockade of Gaza.
Further it was Israel that had seemed to provoke the breakdown of the ceasefire when it launched a lethal attack on Hamas militants in Gaza on November 4, 2008. Israel disregarded this seemingly available diplomatic alternative to war to achieve security on its borders. Recourse to war, even if the facts justify self-defense, is according to international law, a last resort. By ignoring Israel’s initiation of a one-sided war the Goldstone Report accepts the dubious central premise of Operation Cast Lead, and avoids making a finding of aggression.
and here is sherine tadros’ al jazeera report from gaza about the findings in which she asks the most important question of all: what happens next?:
indeed what to do next? well it is quite the no brainer that the war criminals responsible for this latest savagery from the zionist entity should be tried for war crimes. in an article in ha’aretz the context of goldstone’s report–and his own frame of reference in relation to his judicial philosophy comes from war crimes tribunals from world war ii:
Goldstone spoke about the subject at Jerusalem’s Yakar: Center for Tradition and Creativity, at a lecture attended by former Supreme Court president Aharon Barak. The Israeli jurist introduced Goldstone as “a dear friend” with “very deep ties to Israel.” Goldstone, in turn, said Barak was his hero and inspiration.
In the lecture, concerning international efforts to bring war criminals to justice, Goldstone said the Holocaust has shaped legal protocol on war, adding that it was “the worst war crime in the world.”
He also said the perception of war crimes against humanity should resonate differently to Jewish ears, in light of how the Holocaust shaped conventions relevant to the subject.
Goldstone added that as a jurist, he viewed the Holocaust as a unique occurrence because of how it affected judicial protocol on war, as well as international and humanitarian judicial approaches.
The laws that had been in place before the Holocaust were not equipped to deal with crimes of the Holocaust’s scale and therefore sought to define a new crime, which they labeled a crime against humanity, he said.
These crimes were so great, he explained, they went beyond their direct victims or the countries in which they were perpetrated, to harm humanity as a whole. This definition, he said, meant that perpetrators were to be prosecuted anywhere, by any country.
This rational, he went on to say, constituted the basis for the concept of universal jurisdiction, which is being applied by some countries where Israel Defense Forces officers are charged for alleged violations during their command in the West Bank and Gaza.
The formative event of the universal jurisdiction concept, Goldstone told listeners, was the trial that Israel gave the high-ranking Nazi officer Adolf Eichman in 1961.
The international tribunals that judged Serbian war criminals for their actions in Bosnia, and the establishment of tribunals to review the actions of perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide – in which South Africa-born Goldstone served as chief prosecutor – also relied on lessons drawn from the Holocaust, he said at the lecture.
He noted that no similar courts were set up to look into the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia in the ’70s or Saddam Hussein’s acts against Iraqi Kurds.
The first time such tribunals were set up were for Bosnia, Goldtone said, because this was the first time after the Holocaust that such occurrences happened in “Europe’s backyard.” The war in Bosnia led to the formation of tribunals on crimes against humanity, he said, because European men with “blue eyes and light skin” again carried out actions similar to those observed in the Holocaust.
Israel, he added, was one of the first countries to support the formation of permanent court of law for crimes against humanity – a proposal that came up following the successful performance of the special tribunals on Bosnia.
However, that changed, he said, after Egypt insisted at the Rome conference that the mandate of this permanent court include occupied territories. This prompted Israel to join the six other countries that voted against the formation of the International Court of Justice, including the United States, China and Libya.
of course the united states’ response was typical in spite of all that is said about goldstone and his allegiances to the zionist entity and the lessons of the nazi holocaust listed above:
i’ve been reading various articles and blog posts about the anniversary of the massacre of the palestinian refugee camp shatila and the surrounding neighborhood of sabra (no, sabra is not a refugee camp, but many palestinians live there). pulse media and falasteenyia both had nice posts on the subject. ma’an news posted a reflective piece on the zionist-kata’eb massacre of palestinians in 1982:
No more than 20 meters past the former Israeli watchtower, in an empty lot, is the memorial for the victims of the 1982 Lebanon Civil War massacre. Camp residents say the site was once a mass grave for the slain. The memorial was a single-track dirt path linking a series of billboards with images of the dead.
The massacre’s perpetrators were of the predominantly Christian Phalange party: supplied, supported and supervised by onlooking Israeli soldiers.
The Phalangist pogrom was clear. What was not, however, was the extent of the crime. At the time of the massacre, the Director of Israeli Military Intelligence said that between the days of September 16 and 18, 1982, a minimum of 700 “terrorists” had been killed. Yet, reporter for the Independent Robert Fisk wrote in his book, Pity the Nation, “Phalangist officers I knew in east Beirut told me that at least 2,000 ‘terrorists’ — women as well as men — had been killed in Chatila.” The real number, according to Fisk, is thought to be higher.
Leaving the mass grave memorial and moving into the open-air market of the Sabra camp, a bullet-ridden wall stands separating a camp dump from its market. In all likelihood the half-block dumping ground was once on the fringes of the camp, but not anymore. The camp had no urban planner, so it grew until the market fully encircled the awful collection of stench, sewage and a sore reminder that nobody really intended to be living in the Sabra camp some sixty years after the Nakba, the Palestinian exodus of 1948.
At the far end of the bullet-chafed wall stood a child of about ten years, a refugee. With little hesitation he immersed himself into the filthy heap, heaving his woven sack of valued rubbish over the rotting mounds. For all the archetypes of the poverty-ridden Palestinian refugee that exists in a foreigner’s consciousness, this is surely it. There was to be no school for this boy. No passport, no rights and no state.
Beyond the heap hung layers of political propaganda posters: A keffiyehed militant with the bold letters of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine plastered next to a green-tinted portrait of Hamas’ founder Sheik Yassin with the party logo “Martyrs of Freedom & Victory;” a weathered PLO poster of Arafat; even one of a masked fighter on a tank, clutching a Kalashnikov with the brand of Islamic Jihad. And the posters were not just of Palestinian parties, but of the Lebanese Amal and Hezbollah as well. As a nearby shopkeeper who sold Hezbollah DVD’s put it, “The camp is mixed now… mixed with Palestinians and [Lebanese] Shias… United by resistance…”
Despite appearances, however, inside the Lebanese Army’s encirclement of the camp a surprisingly calm business-as-usual air prevailed. The streets weren’t crowded, but populated. The buyers, the sellers, and of course the children, were everywhere, looking to relieve the gnawing boredom of a lifetime’s confinement to the camp. “We are not allowed to leave [the camps],” one of the sellers said, “No papers.”
United resistance aside, the camp was in shambles. Everything the Lebanese government might do in Sabra and Shatila—urban planning, paving streets, coordinating an electrical grid, sewage—was left to the Palestinian residents. At the beginning, however, the camp played host to the bigwigs of the Palestinian leadership in the Palestine Liberation Organization, who organized camp life and connected the residents to the Palestinian struggle.
The powerful PLO, back in 1982, provided the motive of the massacre’s perpetrators, the Christian Phalange militia, who sought to take revenge against PLO leaders—which had in fact already fled Lebanon—for the alleged assassination of the Lebanese President-elect Bashir Gemayel. But the only people who remained in the camps that summer of 1982 were unarmed Palestinians.
What happened at Sabra and Shatila is still considered the bloodiest single event in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is also among the most egregious and underreported aspects of the Palestinian calamity to date.
On the anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacres, 16 September, the issue of the refugees and the right of return reaches again for the surface of Palestinian politics. With the newly-charged peace process being pushed by the United States, and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s recently released strategy to establish Palestinian state in two years, the issue of returnees has been subsumed by talk of settlements in the West Bank.
American efforts, and Fayyad’s plan focus more on securing infrastructure and borders than focusing on the estimated 500,000 refugees without rights in Lebanon, or the hundreds of thousands of others in Jordan, Syria, Iraq and in the Gulf.
Palestinians in the camps have a precarious relationship with the current peace initiatives, particularly the older generation who still recall the villages they fled in 1948 and 1967.
“Sure I would support Obama’s plan,” an old man reflects on the US President’s push for a two-state solution. “But what kind of solution is it? I have nothing in this West Bank… it would make me a foreigner in my own land… I would only go back to my village. And I don’t even know what is there now.”
He picks up an old hatchet from his coffee table and continues, “They [the Zionists] chased us and hit us on the head with these. I left my small village near Acre [Akko] because of it.”
ah yes the selling out of the palestinian refugees like those in shatila who everyone loves to remember on occasions such as this one, but who never fight for their rights (read: fayyed among others). but a different piece in ma’an news was a bit more interesting–about george mitchell’s visit to lebanon which coincided with the anniversary of the massacre:
Michell told Suleiman that Lebanon, whose Phalangist faction 27-years earlier entered two Palestinian refugee camps and slaughtered thousands of civilians with Israeli support, would not bear the brunt of the refugee issue.
“US efforts toward peace would not come at the expense of Lebanon,” a statement from Suleiman’s office said following the meeting. Mitchell made no comment.
The two discussed the latest developments in Mitchell’s pursuit to halt Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and, according to the Lebanese press, stressed “continuous US support and aid to Lebanon on all levels and in all areas.”
Suleiman reportedly told Mitchell that all Lebanese factions refused the option of naturalizing Palestinian refugees “on the basis of the constitution.” He also stressed his desire that Israel retreat from its occupation of Lebanese lands.
what i find especially disturbing about all of this is how everyone remembers the anniversary of the sabra and shatila massacre but no one seems to remember the destruction of nahr el bared refugee camp. it is rather convenient that mitchell and his lebanese cohorts discussed palestinian refugees, but of course did not reveal any tangible information about their right of return. for palestinian from nahr el bared this right of return is now two-fold: first to their camp and then to palestine. if only that first step could be eliminated and they could return home immediately.
this is why i am feeling like i am against anniversaries. anniversaries, ideally, should be a time when you reflect upon the person/people/event. it should make you act in a way that honors that memory. the only real way to honor the memory of the massacre in 1982 or the destruction of nahr el bared in 2007 is to fight for the right of return for palestinian refugees. but no one is talking about that. nor are they talking about reconstructing narh el bared. except a few people. my friend matthew cassel attended the protest in trablus the other day and took this photography among others:
كان من المفترض أن يُقفل مجلس شورى الدولة، اليوم، أبوابه أمام المطالعات القانونية المتعلقة بالطعن بقرار إيقاف طمر الآثار في البارد القديم. فقد أجّل محامي النائب ميشال عون، وليد داغر، تقديم مطالعة يحدد فيها صفة النائب عون كمستدعٍ إلى الاثنين المقبل. ويعود سبب التأجيل إلى رغبته في ضم رد التيار على مطالعتين تقدمت بهما وزارة المال في 18 آب الماضي والدولة اللبنانية في 21 منه، وتبلّغ بهما داغر في العاشر من الجاري.
وحسب المحامي داغر، تطالب هاتان المطالعتان مجلس شورى الدولة بالرجوع عن قرار إيقاف الطمر، استناداً إلى «المعطيات التي تفيد بأن طمر الآثار تم وفقاً للمعايير الدولية». وأكثر من ذلك، تستند الوزارتان في مطالعتيهما إلى «اعتبار صفة عون ومصلحته لا تتطابقان مع شروط المادة 77 من نظام مجلس الشورى». وهي المادة التي تنص على أنه «يفترض لوقف تنفيذ القرار المطعون فيه أن تكون المراجعة مرتكزة على أسباب جدية ومهمة وأن يكون الضرر المتذرَّع به ضرراً بليغاً».
طعن داغر بالمطالعتين، سلفاً، حتى قبل التقديم إلى مجلس الشورى، لأنه «لو لم يكن لعون صفة مباشرة لما كان مجلس شورى الدولة قد أوقف قرار الحكومة، كما إن الضرر لحق به كمواطن ذلك أن الآثار ليست ملكاً عاماً، بل هي ملك إنساني». لا يكتفي داغر بهذه الحجة، بل يستند إلى الاجتهاد القانوني الصادر عام 2000، والذي «لا يشترط لتوفر المصلحة أن يكون المدعي صاحب حق مباشر».
من تظاهرات طرابلس، الناس باتت لا تصدق موضوع الآثار (عبد الكافي الصمد)من تظاهرات طرابلس، الناس باتت لا تصدق موضوع الآثار (عبد الكافي الصمد)إذاً، من المفترض أن يتقدم داغر صباح الاثنين المقبل بمطالعتين: أولى تتعلق بتحديد صفة عون كمستدعٍ، والتي حددها داغر بصفة مواطن، وثانية يرد بها قانونياً على مطالعتي المال والدولة. بعد ذلك كله، يقوم مجلس الشورى بمطابقة الصفة والمصلحة قبل إصدار القرار المتوقع في 13 تشرين الأول المقبل.. و«ربما قبل هذا التاريخ، إذا لم تتطابق الصفة والمصلحة مع شروط المادة 77، بحيث يصار إلى إبطال القرار فوراً»، حسبما يرجّح رئيس مجلس الشورى القاضي شكري صادر.
لكن، إذا فاز عون بصفته والمصلحة، ينتقل أعضاء مجلس الشورى إلى «الأساس»، الذي يتعلق بدراسة مطالعتي عون المتضمنة مبررات الحفاظ على آثار البارد، والحكومة اللبنانية التي تشرح فيها موجبات الإعمار. ويحصر رئيس لجنة الحوار اللبناني الفلسطيني خليل مكاوي هذه الموجبات بثلاثة «تعهّد الدولة بإعادة المخيم كما كان والتزامات الحكومة تجاه المجتمع الدولي والدول المانحة، إضافة إلى الحفاظ على الأمن القومي».
إما استكمال طمر الآثار بحسب المعايير الدولية وإما إيقاف الإعمار «واستملاك الأراضي
إذاً، يتعلق مصير المخيم القديم بالمطالعتين المذكورتين، فإما استكمال طمر الآثار بحسب المعايير الدولية، كما يرجح مكاوي، وإما إيقاف الإعمار «واستملاك الأراضي القائم عليها المخيم الجديد وبعض ما حواليه»، كما جاء في بيان لجنة الدراسات في التيار الوطني الحر الأسبوع الماضي. غير أن ما تعوّل عليه لجنة الدراسات يواجه بعض الرفض من جهتين: الأولى فلسطينية، إذ يخاف هؤلاء من ضياع حقوقهم، وخصوصاً أن غالبية البيوت مسجّلة باسمهم، وأن ببعض تحايل (قبل صدور قانون التملك اللبناني عام 2001)، والثانية غالبية الأقطاب السياسية التي ترى في استملاك أراضٍ جديدة بداية مشروع التوطين.
ما بين المطالعتين، يضيع سكان المخيم القديم. يتساءل هؤلاء عن سبب إثارة هذه القضية الآن بالذات، تزامناً مع بدء إعادة الإعمار. يخاف الأهالي من أن تتكرر تجربة المخيمات المسحولة هنا في البارد. خوفهم هذا يدفعهم إلى «الهلوسة» في بعض الأحيان، إذ يذهب البعض إلى القول إنه «لا وجود للآثار بدليل أن الأعمدة هي قنوات صرف صحي مركبينا جدودنا اعتبروها رومانية، وبعض الفخارات من إيام أبوي». يستند الرجل في تكهناته إلى أن الحفر التي قام بها المهندسون من مديرية الآثار لم تتعدّ الثمانين سنتمتراً، «فكيف ستكون المدينة على هذا العمق؟».
يستغرب آخرون، ومنهم لطفي محمد الحاج، عضو الهيئة الأهلية لإعادة إعمار البارد، سبب التفات الدولة اللبنانية إلى هذه الآثارات رغم أنها هي التي أتت باللاجئين إلى تلة البارد رغم معرفتها بوجود الآثارات منذ العشرينيات من القرن الماضي. ويستغرب الحاج أيضاً سبب الاهتمام «الذي لا مثيل له»، على الرغم من «أن الآثار المحيطة بنا مهملة»، ويعطي مثالاً على قوله: «مثلاً، قلعة حكمون على جنب المخيم عاملينا مزرعة بقر وتلة عرقة وغيرها». لا يحتاج الرجل إلى أكثر من رؤية منزله مجدداً، ويطالب مجلس الشورى بالعودة عن قرار الإيقاف، مبرراً مطالبته بالقول: «احنا هون مش سوليدير، هون ناس ساكنة ما عادت تحمل تهجير». أكثر من ذلك، يضيف أبو خالد فريجي، أحد سكان القديم: «إحنا رمينا البارود لنساعد الجيش، اليوم ما عدنا قادرين ما نحمل البارودة».
مقابل هذه التعليقات للأهالي، يضع بعض الأطراف القضية في خانة التجاذبات السياسية. هذا ما يقوله المسؤول عن ملف إعادة إعمار البارد مروان عبد العال. ولئن كان لا حول ولا قوة من إدخال الفلسطيني بهذا التجاذب، يسأل عبد العال: «لماذا لم تُرسل فرق للتنقيب عن الآثار منذ تسعين عاماً؟ وليش الرسائل ما بتوصل إلا من صندوق بريدنا؟».
البراكسات التي يعيش فيها السكانالبراكسات التي يعيش فيها السكانيؤمن عبد العال بقداسة الآثار. وهي، من وجهة نظره تضاهي قداسة هوية الفلسطيني. لكن، السؤال الكبير الذي لا بد منه هنا هو «أنه إحنا مش آثار؟ ما بنمثل خصوصية؟ مش ولاد نكبة عمرها 61 عاماً وإلنا هويتنا كما الآثار؟ أكثر من ذلك، يسأل عضو الجبهة الشعبية في البارد سمير اللوباني: «ما هو الثمن السياسي الذي يجب أن يدفعه الفلسطيني من أجل إعادة البارد؟
لكن، كل هذا لن يأتي بنتيجة. فالنتيجة الوحيدة في مجلس شورى الدولة، وبانتظار صدور القرار، يعمل الفلسطينيون على رفع سقف الاحتجاجات الجماهيرية، وخصوصاً أنه لا يحق لهم مثل «أهل الفقيد» تقديم مطالعة قانونية، كونهم جهة غير معترف بها في القانون اللبناني. يضاف إلى ذلك أن الأونروا أيضاً لا تستطيع تقديم مطالعة قانونية لمجلس شورى الدولة، لذلك تعمل على إعداد مطالعة تشرح فيها موجبات الإعمار للحكومة اللبنانية فقط.
بالعودة إلى سير عملية الإعمار في البارد، كانت شركة «الجهاد» المتعهدة من قبل الأونروا قد طمرت في الرزمة الأولى حيث وجدت الآثار موقعين من أصل 5 مواقع قبل أن تثار القضية. وتلفت الناطقة الرسمية باسم الأونروا هدى الترك إلى «أننا انتهينا من تنظيف 95% من الركام، باستثناء جزء من الرزمة 2 وآخر من الرزمة 4». وأكدت أن الأونروا لا يمكنها الإعمار إلا بالتسلسل، أي من الرزمة 1، «والعملية متوقفة الآن بانتظار قرار مجلس شورى الدولة».
there is also a new article about the situation in nahr el bared in as-safir newspaper:
يستطيع المخيم أن يكون من شقين،
أو أن نبحث عن قطعة أرض بديلة للمخيم..
لكن لا نستطيع أن نجد ارتوزيا في مكان آخر.
الجنرال ميشال عون
(17 حزيران 2009)
في مخيم نهر البارد مدينتان.
المدينة الأولى بقايا أثرية اكتشفت تحت أنقاض المخيم القديم الذي سُحق بالكامل. هذه البقايا اسمها أرتوزيا. يستميت العونيون في الدفاع عنها، وقد رفعوا طعناً إلى مجلس الشورى جمّد إثره طمر آثار المدينة المكتشفة، ريثما يتخذ قراره. ولجنة الدراسات العونية لا تنفك تصدر بيانات بلغة أكاديمية رصينة تعلّل فيها أسباب دفاعها عن المدينة وتدفع عن نفسها تهمة العنصرية وتشدد على أنها ضد التوطين.
المدينة الثانية هي مدينة «البركسات». هي النقيض التام لكل الآثارات على وجه الأرض. هي صناديق «عصرية» من حديد وبلاستيك وإسفنج، وغيرها من المواد المثيرة لغثيان عالم الآثار إذا سقط مكبره عليها. وعلى العكس من القلاع والاعمدة والمدرجات الخالدة خلود الآلهة، فإن مدينة البركسات بلا أعمدة ولا فخامة ولا تاريخ، وهندستها رتيبة ومقيتة.
وهي عرضة للتلف أسرع بمليون مرة من مدينة أرتوزيا. عناصر الطبيعة الجميلة، الشمس والمياه والهواء، هي أوبئة دائمة تفتك بالمدينة الهشة المقامة على عجل لإيواء النازحين في بلاد لجوئهم.
هناك فارق أساسي بين المدينتين: البركسات مأهولة. ارتوزيا غير مأهولة. وأن نقول إنها مأهولة، فلأننا قررنا، كلبنانيين، مواجهة الإرهاب بطريقة فريدة من نوعها، هللت لها قوى سياسية شرسة في «حبها» للفلسطينيين، وتغاضت عنها قوى أخرى كانت قد نادت يوماً بأن المخيم خط أحمر. تلك الحرب ستبقى، بأي حال، «إنجازاً ناصعاً» في تاريخنا اللبناني، وإن طُمرت خطاياها بكل ما فيها كرمى لعناوين كبيرة وفارغة.
وأن نقول إن البركسات مأهولة منذ نحو سنتين. أن يضطر لاجئون، قصمنا ظهورهم سياسياً واجتماعياً واقتصادياً، إلى حياة منسية كهذه التي يعيشونها في علب الصفيح المكتظة تتساقط الصراصير من أسقفها الاسفنج المبقورة بسبب الحرارة والمياه، أو تنبت الجرذان من أرضها، أو تصير مستنقعات وحول عند كل مطر. أن يضطر لاجئون سحقنا حيواتهم إلى يوميات طويلة في هذه المجمعات الحديدية الأقرب إلى مجمعات عزل المصابين بأمراض معدية قاتلة. أن تضطر عيون اطفالهم إلى العتمة ليل نهار وانفاسهم إلى الرطوبة وآفاقهم إلى ممرات ضــيقة خانقة. وأن يضطر الفلسطينــي إلى هــذه العقوبة المستمرة عليه لذنب ليس ذنبه، فإنه عــيب هائــل يتدلى من عنق لبنان جرســاً فاضحاً يرن كيفــما هزّ هذا البلد عنقه.
أما أن يقال للفلســطيني إن أرتــوزيا أهم من الأرض التي ولد عليها، وإن علــيه أن يبـحث عن مكان آخر يقيم عليه مخيمه، فهذا يفوق خيال الكوابيس التي يراها.
ثمة افتقاد تام لحس إنساني بسيط: المكان، مهما كان مؤقتاً، له قيمة رمزية ترتبط بقيمة المجتمع الذي يقيم فيه منذ ستين سنة. هم لاجئون لكنهم ليسوا بضاعة يمكن وضعها في أي مكان، بانتظار شحنها إلى فلسطين. المثل قاسٍ، لكنه الاقرب إلى المنطق الذي تتعاطى به الغالبية اللبنانية العظمى مع الشأن الفلسطيني. هناك سخرية مرّة في أن يضطر الواحد إلى الشرح بأن المخيم الفلسطيني ليس نزهة كشفية بين أحراج الصنوبر، تقام وتفك ثم تنتقل إلى مكان جديد. المخيمات الفلسطينية هي مثل مدننا وقرانا وأحيائنا. مثل حي السلم والحمرا والاشرفية والرابية. قد نكرهها وقد نحبها، لكن فيها شكّلنا ذكرياتنا وتفاصيلنا وأحزاننا وافراحنا. وإذا كان الفلسطيني يعيش في مؤقت مفتوح، فهذا لا يعني أن حقائبه موضبة طوال الوقت. هذا لا يعني أنه بلا ذاكرة. من السخرية المرّة تذكير لجنة الدراسات وغيرها، بأن الفلسطينيين مثلنا، نحن اللبنانيين أحفاد الأرتوزيين العظام.
وكما لا يحق لأحد أن ينقّلنا كيفما شاء، لا يحق لنا أن ننقلهم كيفما شئنا. معادلة بسيطة.
إذا كانت إعادة الإعمار بهذا الحجم من التعقيد، وإذا كان هناك خلاف حتى على اسم المخيم الجديد من البارد حدا بالجيش اللبناني إلى أن «يأمل» من الإعلام تسميته بالبقعة المحيطة بالمخيم، فأين سيجد الفلسطينيون النازحون مخيماً آخر؟ فلتنكب لجنة الدراسات العونية على درس فكرة الجنرال وجعلها حجر أساس لدراسة متكاملة تلحظ موقع المخيم الجديد على أرض لبنان، ومساحته وكيفية استئجاره أو تملكه للبدء بإعادة الإعمار بسرعة كي ينتقل الفلسطينيون إليه. وربما على اللجنة زيارة البركسات والنزول في غرفها لأيام تستفتي خلالها رأي المنكوبين فرداً فرداً بموقع جديد للمخيم. كما ينبغي عليها لاحقاً أخذ موافقة جيرانهم الجدد من اللبنانيين. هذا جهد يمكن للجنة الدراسات أن تقوم به بالطبع، لما يعرف عنها من عمق وقدرة. غير أن الفلسطينيين ليسوا قضية اللجنة. قضيتها أرتوزيا.
المصائب تأتي دفعة واحدة. نزلت على المخيم فدمرته، ثم صعدت من أسفله، فزادت على معوقات إعماره معوّقاً جديداً. الأولوية الآن هي في طمر مدينة البركسات، وهذه لن تطمر إلا إذا طمرت آثار ارتوزيا، بغض النظر عن أي أهمية لها. من أقل حقوق فلسطينيي مخيم نهر البارد على هذا البلد هو ألا يجعلهم ينتظرون أكثر. بقاء الفلسطينيين على حالهم هناك جريمة بحق الانسانية واللبنانيين، وليس طمر ارتوزيا هو «الجريمة بحق الإنسانية والشعب اللبناني» كما قالت لجنة الدراسات.
أما أرتوزيا العونية فيمكن لها أن تنتظر. يكفيها فخراً أنها أثبتت عمق تجذرها في الأرض اللبنانية وعنادها وتحديها للزمن. هي خالدة وشامخة شموخ الجبال والأرز. ولا شك بأنها ستطلع من بين الركام ثانية، يوم يغادر الفلسطينيون هذه البلاد التي لا تفعل منذ عقود إلا معاقبتهم على وجودهم القسري فيها.
of course, it is not surprising that al akhbar and as safir would publish articles on nahr el bared. these are the only two newspapers who have consistently covered the story. that can be counted on. not just because it is an anniversary, but because it matters. but who else will cover the refugees from nahr e bared and their rights? their right of return. and i’m thinking not only of the people i care about from nahr el bared and other camps in lebanon who want to return to their original villages, but also dear friends in falasteen who want to return to their villages. this summer when we did the al awda camp with kids from deheishe refugee camp, two of the kids who i adore returned home and produced a new rap song (here is my post on taking them to beit ‘itab, which i did for a second time after the camp). the song includes hisham’s grandfather at the beginning, talking about their village of beit ‘itab. here is a description of their song and a link to the mp3 file you can listen to:
Badluck Rappers – اغنية جديدة بعنوان
تم نشر إغنية مؤخراً من فرقة الـ Badluck Rapperz من قلب مخيم دهيشه , بيت لحم
بعنوان رحلة لبلادي تحكي قصة كل لاجئ فلسطيني عايش داخل و خارج فلسطين ,
وتعودنا نسمع اغاني كثيرة عن اللاجئين من الفرقة لانها من قلب المخيمات , اكبر المخيمات
الفلسطينية للاجئين داخل فلسطين , واكتر اشي بميز الاغنية , بدايتها الجميلة المختارة
الي ببداها لاجئ فلسطيني بحكي قصة قريته الهاجر منها
It will be the largest-ever resettlement of Palestinian refugees into the US – and welcome news to the Palestinians who fled to Iraq after 1948 but who have had a tough time since Mr. Hussein was deposed in 2003. Targeted by Iraqi Shiites, the mostly-Sunni Palestinians have spent recent years in one of the region’s roughest refugee camps, Al Waleed, near Iraq’s border with Syria.
“Really for the first time, the United States is recognizing a Palestinian refugee population that could be admitted to the US as part of a resettlement program,” says Bill Frelick, refugee policy director at Human Rights Watch in Washington.
Given the US’s past reluctance to resettle Palestinians – it accepted just seven Palestinians in 2007 and nine in 2008 – the effort could ruffle some diplomatic feathers.
For many in the State Department and international community, the resettlement is part of a moral imperative the US has to clean up the refugee crisis created by invading Iraq. The US has already stepped up resettlement of Iraqis, some who have struggled to adjust to life in America.
al awda is asking for people to help with their resettlement:
The first Palestinian family of the year from Al-Waleed will be arriving in San Diego on Wednesday September 16, 2009. This family, as with all the refugees who will be relocated to the US from Al-Waleed, will arrive with essentially nothing. Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, is therefore conducting an urgent fund raising campaign to help all the Palestinian refugees arriving in the US soon with their transition to a new life in this country.
An estimated 19,000 Palestinians, out of an initial population of 34,000, fled Iraq since the American invasion in 2003. Of these refugees, approximately 2500 have been stranded, under very harsh conditions, some for more than five years, in three camps, Al-Tanaf, Al-Waleed and Al-Hol. These camps are located in the middle of the desert far from any population centers. Al-Tanaf camp is located in no-man’s land on the borders between Iraq and Syria. Al-Waleed is located on the Iraqi side of the border with Syria, and Al-Hol is located in Syria in the Hasaka region. The camp residents had fled largely from Baghdad due to harassment, threats of deportation, abuse by the media, arbitrary detention, torture and murder by organized death squads. They thus became refugees again, originally as a result of the Zionist theft and colonial occupation of Palestine beginning in 1948. Some became refugees also when they were expelled from Kuwait in 1991 by the US-backed Kuwaiti government. Now, after years of waiting, many of the refugees stranded in the camps on the borders of Iraq are being relocated largely to Europe and the US, which continues to occupy Iraq to this day.
The first Palestinian family from Al-Waleed this year will be arriving in San Diego on September 16, 2009, a few days before the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, with 1350 more Palestinians to follow in the months ahead. According to the Christian Science Monitor most of these will be resettled in Southern California and possibly Pennsylvania and Omaha.
Al-Awda is asking all its activists, members and supporters to contribute to help our sisters and brothers in their move to the US.
Please donate today!
Address your tax-deductible donation via check or money order to: Al-Awda, PRRC, PO Box 131352, Carlsbad, CA 92013, USA – Please note on the memo line of the check “Palestinians from Iraq”
Alternatively, please donate online using your credit card. Go to http://www.al-awda.org/donate.html and follow the simple instructions. Please indicate that your donation is for “Palestinians from Iraq” with your submission.
Drop off locations
We will also need furniture, cars, computers, tv’s, clothes, toys for the kids etc. The following are the current drop off locations:
8531 Wellsford pl # f, Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670
Te: 562-693-1600 Tel: 323-350-0000
1773 West Lincoln Ave., Anaheim, CA 92801
For Southern California residents, an emergency meeting is being called for Sunday September 13, 2009 starting at 2 PM at the Al-Awda Center, 2734 Loker Avenue West Suite K, in Carlsbad CA 92010.
Our sisters and brothers need all the help they can get after having suffered from the death squads in Baghdad, and more than five years stranded in the camps. We need our people to feel at home as much as possible. We can not disappoint them.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR GENEROUS SUPPORT
Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
PO Box 131352
Carlsbad, CA 92013, USA
i’ve been reading the selected writings of eqbal ahmad this week. there are some excellent, insightful essays about palestinian politics and resistance strategies in this volume, which are especially interesting given ahmad’s history–as someone who lived in algeria and tunisia during the algerian revolution that kicked out the french colonists and although he was born in bihar, india his family had to move lahore after the 1947 partition of india and his family was split by the new border. so he has a particularly interesting take on things. but he also has an essay entitled “iran’s landmark revolution: fifteen years later.” the essay was published in 1994 and given the situation in iran right now and all the comparisons i see people making between the current situation in iran and previous events in iranian history i find the essay a useful read. ahmad starts by reminding us that it was “the first fully televised revolution in history” (81). He opens the essay by comparing the french and iranian revolutions in the sense that both marked a new era regionally. he says:
…the Iranian was like the French a unique and perhaps seminal revolution for the postcolonial era as the French had been for the industrial age. The uprising that began in January 1978 and ended successfully on February 11, 1979, was the first major break in the postcolonial world from the revolutionary model of protracted armed struggle experienced in China, Algeria, Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, Angola, Mozambique, and Guinea-Bissau. Iran’s, by contrast, was a mass insurrection, by far the most popular, broad-based, and sustained agitation in recent history. During a single year–1978–some thirty thousand protestors were killed in Iran while its economic institutions and public services were intermittently shut down. The movement was quite unparalleled for its militant but nonviolent character and for its discipline and morale in the face of governmental violence. As such, it deserves to be studied for its lessons in mass mobilization and agitational politics.
The Iranian Revolution pointed toward a shift in the focus of revolutionary struggle in the so-called Third World from the rural to the urban sector. Until 1978, almost all Third World revolution had been primarily peasant revolutions, centered in rural areas and involving guerrilla warfare. Even in those countries (e.g., Algeria and Cuba) where support of the urban population held great importance in revolutionary strategy, the rural population was from the outset viewed as being central to the revolutionaries’ success.
The Iranian Revolution represented the first significant departure from this pattern. It was predominantly urban in composition and entirely so in its origin and initiation. Its cadres came from the middle, low middle, and working classes. Its following was swelled by the lumpenproletariat, mostly rural migrants driven to the cities by the shah’s “modernization” of agriculture. The capital-intensive commercial farm strategy of economic development which the shah initiated in the 1960s–and which Ms. Bhutto’s “agricultural task force” has now recommended for Pakistan–led to rapid urbanization, cultural dislocation, and grossly augmented and visible inequality. These conditions created the mass base for the uprising, and increasingly they are appearing in other Third World countries, especially in those which are seeking links with the commercial market as uncritically as they once sought to imitate socialism.
Iran yielded a textbook example of the general strike as a primary weapon in revolutionary seizure of power. The strike, which lasted nearly six months in Iran, was one of the longest and by far the most effective in history. The turning point in the struggle against the shah came during September and October 1978, when the oil workers in Abadan and Ahvaz proved the weapon of the general strike to be powerful beyond the dreams of the nineteenth-century Marxists and syndicalists, who had viewed it as the lynchpin of revolutionary strategy. Subsequently, events in South Korea, South Africa, Nicaragua, and Brazil, among others, suggested that what we witnessed in Iran was a trend….
The fall of the shah revealed that, in the Third World, deployment of advanced weapons promotes internal contradictions and subjects the state apparatus to unbearable strains. When confronted by a sustained popular uprising, Iran’s 450,000 strong, superequipped military establishment disintegrated. Significantly, the noncommissioned officers and technicians, whose numbers had swelled since 1972 as a result of large infusions of sophisticated arms, were the first to defect en masse; their defection proved crucial in the disintegration of Iran’s armed forces. The military’s open and mass defections, which began in December 1978, were spearheaded by technicians and cadets of the air force and armoured divisions. They sealed the Pahlavis’ fate.
Herein lies an extraordinary irony. In terms of intensity, scope, and the social forces which were involved in it, the Iranian was by far the most modern and objectively advanced revolution in the Third World. Yet revolutionary power in Iran was seized by a clerical leadership of theocratic outlook, medieval culture, and millenarian style. Most scholars have attributed this remarkable phenomenon to the shah’s repression (only in the mosque one found the freedom of association and speech…) and to Iran’s Shia traditions (of martyrdom and clerical power). (81-84)
the events of 1979 is, of course, one of the flashpoints being used as a point of comparison right now. so is the 1953 american coup which led to the overthrow of mohammed mossadgh, and the installment of the shah as the american puppet in iran, which of course led to the 1979 events that ahmad discusses above. here is chris hedges reminding of the american coup in 1953:
Iranians do not need or want us to teach them about liberty and representative government. They have long embodied this struggle. It is we who need to be taught. It was Washington that orchestrated the 1953 coup to topple Iran’s democratically elected government, the first in the Middle East, and install the compliant shah in power. It was Washington that forced Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, a man who cared as much for his country as he did for the rule of law and democracy, to spend the rest of his life under house arrest. We gave to the Iranian people the corrupt regime of the shah and his savage secret police and the primitive clerics that rose out of the swamp of the dictator’s Iran. Iranians know they once had a democracy until we took it away.
in all of the news going on in iran i have been thinking about one of the most insightful statements i read on as’ad abukhalil’s blog early on in relation to a statement barack obama made:
the image above is a screenshot i took of the white house website. if you click on the link you can watch a video of obama’s press conference and read a transcript in english, farsi, and arabic. if obama did not want to seem to be meddling last week, this week he is blatantly meddling. what i find most hypocritical about his remarks are on the subject of justice:
The Iranian people can speak for themselves. That’s precisely what’s happened in the last few days. In 2009, no iron fist is strong enough to shut off the world from bearing witness to peaceful protests [sic] of justice. Despite the Iranian government’s efforts to expel journalists and isolate itself, powerful images and poignant words have made their way to us through cell phones and computers, and so we’ve watched what the Iranian people are doing.
This is what we’ve witnessed. We’ve seen the timeless dignity of tens of thousands of Iranians marching in silence. We’ve seen people of all ages risk everything to insist that their votes are counted and that their voices are heard. Above all, we’ve seen courageous women stand up to the brutality and threats, and we’ve experienced the searing image of a woman bleeding to death on the streets. While this loss is raw and extraordinarily painful, we also know this: Those who stand up for justice are always on the right side of history.
While it is hardly surprising that the US has its operatives in Iran, it is unusual to see a figure in a position to know state this on the record. New Yorker journalist Seymour Hersh and Former Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter both have claimed for years that the US has regularly engaged in covert operations inside of Iran aimed at destabilizing the government. In July 2008, Hersh reported, “the scale and the scope of the operations in Iran, which involve the Central Intelligence Agency and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), have now been significantly expanded.”
In the Al Jazeera interview, Scowcroft defended President Obama’s position on Iran, which has been roundly criticized by Republicans as weak and ineffective with some characterizing Obama as a “de facto ally of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.”
Scowcroft tells Al Jazeera: “We don’t control Iran. We don’t control the government obviously. There is little we can do to change the situation domestically in Iran right now and I think an attempt to change it is more likely to be turned against us and against the people who are demonstrating for more freedom and, therefore, I think we need to look at what we can do best, which is to try to influence Iranian behavior in the region, and with nuclear weapons.”
the video footage of the interview can be seen here (though it is josh rushing and not avi lewis doing the interview as scahill claimed):
and why exactly might the u.s. be meddling? to what end? here is abukhalil’s “abcs of iranian developments”:
but it is not just the meddling that is disturbing. it is also the hypocrisy. obama goes off about people fighting for justice being on the right side of history. the palestinians have been doing this for over 61 years and yet where is obama when it comes to speaking about their rights and justice here? abukhalil’s takes this a step further with some important observations:
The hypocrite in speech is invoking an argument that he himself so blatantly ignores and will continue to ignore to the last day of his presidency. Does he really believe in that right for peoples? Yes, but only in countries where governments are not clients of the US. Will he invoke that argument, say, in Saudi Arabia or Egypt or Morocco or Tunisia or Libya or Jordan or Oman, etc? Of course not. This is only an attempt to justify US imperial policies. And even in Iran, the Empire is nervous because it can’t predict the outcome. But make no mistake about it: his earlier statement to the effect that the US can’t for historical reasons “appear to be meddling” sets the difference between the Bush and the Obama administration. The Bush administration meddled blatantly and crudely and visibly, while the Obama administration meddles more discreetly and not-so-visibly. Tens of thousands of pens equipped with cameras have been smuggled into Iran: I only wish that the American regime would dare to smuggle them into Saudi Arabia so that the entire world can watch the ritual of public executions around the country.
my friend matthew cassel also commented on the western media coverage of the protests in iran in electronic intifada today as compared to other parts of the world this week–namely georgia and peru–as well as to palestine to unveil this american hypocrisy:
However, Iran is different than both Georgia and Peru. Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad has probably overtaken Osama Bin Laden as the most hated individual in the US. Over the past several years, many officials in Washington have called for more aggressive actions to be taken against Iran. More recently, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave US President Barack Obama an ultimatum that the US president better take care of Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program, or else Israel would. It’s no coincidence then that the protests in Iran are receiving around-the-clock media coverage and are also one of the only examples in recent years where US government officials have showed support for demonstrators like Obama did when he called on Iran to “stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people.” They are certainly not the only protests that have been met with violent government repression.
For years, Palestinians have organized weekly nonviolent demonstrations against Israel’s wall in the West Bank. Each week protestors face the heavily-armed Israeli military and are beaten and shot at with rubber-coated steel bullets and tear-gas canisters, sometimes fatally. Yet, during his recent speech in Cairo to the Muslim world, Obama made no reference to these protests and instead called on Palestinians to “abandon violence” and adopt nonviolent means. Days after the speech a Palestinian was killed and a teenager wounded during the weekly protest, yet there has been no call by the US administration for Israel to “stop all violent and unjust actions” against the Palestinian people. And the media has followed and remained silent, even though covering the demonstrations would be as easy as a 30-minute drive from most Jerusalem-based news bureaus on any given Friday.
and here is another important moment of hypocrisy that abukhalil pointed out on his blog:
i do not claim to be an expert on iran. but post-1979 revolution i found my home town of los angeles suddenly populated with iranians. these iranians, many of whom i went to school with and some of whom i was friends with, were decidedly pro-shah. this community gave me a very distorted view of iran growing up. but as i got older and met other iranians in the u.s., and the later around the world, and then began reading more i started to understand more. in the u.s. i hear about media reports on the mainstream news that feature the shah’s family members as abukhalil noted:
aside from this american media distortion machine there are a number of bloggers and scholars speaking about iran from a variety of perspectives. there are some good tweeters out there who are reporting responsibly, but the fact that new media is one of the vehicles for getting information out about iran means that there is all sorts of noise one must filter out. maximillian forte has a great long post on the use of twitter that is worth reading. forte offers some important analysis including on the subject of tweeters from the zionist entity:
That the U.S. government has an active interest in the unfolding of the “Twitter revolution” for Iran, is an established fact. The U.S. State Department intervened to ask Twitter to delay a scheduled maintenance break so as to not interrupt tweets about Iran — “Ian Kelly, a state department spokesman, told reporters at a briefing that he had recognized over the weekend the importance of social media ‘as a vital tool for citizens’ empowerment and as a way for people to get their messages out’. He said: ‘It was very clear to me that these kinds of social media played a very important role in democracy – spreading the word about what was going on’” (see “US urges Twitter to delay service break,” by Chris Nuttall and Daniel Dombey, Financial Times, 17 June 2009, and “U.S. State Department speaks to Twitter over Iran,” Reuters, 16 June 2009). What the U.S. State Department is also doing, of course, is reinforcing the unproven claim that this is important to Iran, while careful not to specify whose citizens are being empowered, whose word is being spread, and “out” from where. At the same time, the Obama regime claims that it is not meddling in Iranian affairs.
scahill has been particularly annoyed by the discourse of the so-called “twitter revolution” that even al jazeera has used. here is his entertaining rant on the subject:
I’m really sick of people in the US talking about the “twitter revolution” in Iran. I especially hate when it’s US liberals who would NEVER get off their asses and away from their computers to protest anything in their own country. They’d never face down tear gas or baton-wielding thugs at home. Some of these liberals (you know who you are) were poo-pooing activists protesting at the Republican and Democratic Conventions and scorn activism in general. This whole commentary about the “twitter revolution” when it comes from these lizards is narcissistic crap.
but even more importantly, i love scahill’s short post on this phenomenon i’ve seen on facebook and twitter with people turning their avatar green to support iran:
On a personal angle, that the perception of fraud has become much more important than the actual existence of fraud has revealed some major complexities about solidarity. Now as ever I’m with the people of Iran: not only with cousins, friends, and fellow Tehranis facing enormous consequences to their protests and arrests, but also the people who voted for the incumbent, people who cannot butter their bread and face even graver livelihood injustices in other regions of Iran.
How could anyone dismiss the protests, especially in the past few days when there have been deaths? Who is not revolted by riot cops? (The majority of the violence against unarmed protesters–and many of them women, who are leading so many of the protests–are by the armed and plain-clothes Basiji militiamen.) The right of assembly got suspended (and again, the dance: reinstated) many times and in reactive and preventative fashion. I am extremely glad people are openly disobeying permit orders: they should be disobeyed anywhere in the world where they are illegitimate.
But in the U.S. almost every protest large and small requires a permit, and in my own participation at anti-capitalist demos like the World Economic Forum in New York or the FTAA meeting in Miami, military riot gear/tear gas/tanks/undercover officers were unleashed on ‘permitted’ protests to zero accountability. The Republican National Convention in New York in 2004, where I shot video for Steve Stasso’s film Situation Room #2, saw almost 2000 people arrested, beaten, and jailed (the highest number at a political convention to date) with the near-total silence of the favorite ‘non-governmental’ liberal newspaper, the New York Times.
on the monthly review zine website there is another interesting take on the protests by arshin adib-moghaddam which picks up where the ahmad bit i quoted at the beginning of this post left off:
In all of this, the current civil unrest in Iran is historic, not only because it has already elicited compromises by the state, but also because it provides yet more evidence of the way societies can empower themselves against all odds. These brave men and women on the streets of Tehran, Shiraz, Isfahan, and other cities are moved by the same utopia that inspired their fathers and mothers three decades ago: the utopia of justice. They believe that change is possible, that protest is not futile. Confronting the arrogance of the establishment has been one of the main ideological planks of the Islamic revolution in 1979. It is now coming back to haunt those who have invented such slogans without necessarily adhering to them in the first place.
And yet the current situation in Iran is profoundly different from the situation in 1978 and 1979. First, the Islamic Republic has proven to be rather responsive to societal demands and rather flexible ideologically. I don’t mean to argue that the Iranian state is entirely reflective of the will of the people. I am saying that is it is not a totalitarian monolith that is pitted against a politically unified society. The fissures of Iranian politics run through all levers of power in the country, which is why the whole situation appears scattered to us. Whereas in 1979 the bad guy (the Shah) was easily identifiable to all revolutionaries, in today’s Iran such immediate identification is not entirely possible. Who is the villain in the unfolding drama? Ahmadinejad? Those who demonstrated in support of him would beg to differ. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei? I would argue that he commands even stronger loyalties within the country and beyond. The Revolutionary Guard or the Basij? Mohsen Rezai, one of the presidential candidates and an opponent of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who is contesting the election results, used to be the head of the former institution.
The picture becomes even more complicated when we take into consideration that some institutions of the state such as the parliament — via its speaker, Ali Larijani — have called for a thorough investigation of the violence perpetrated by members of the Basij and the police forces in a raid of student dormitories of Tehran University earlier this week. “What does it mean that in the middle of the night students are attacked in their dormitory?” Larijani asked. The fact that he said that “the interior ministry . . . should answer for it” and that he stated that the “parliament is seriously following the issue” indicate that the good-vs-bad verdict in today’s Iran is more blurred than in 1979.
There is a second major difference to 1979. Today, the opposition to Ahmadinejad is fighting the establishment with the establishment. Mir Hossein Mousavi himself was the prime minister of Iran during the first decade of the revolution, during a period when the current supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, was president. Mohammad Khatami, one of the main supporters of Mousavi, was president between 1997 and 2005. Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, another political ally, is the head of the Assembly of Experts and another former president. They are the engineers of the Islamic revolution and would never devour their project. When some commentators say that what we are witnessing is a revolution they are at best naive and at worst following their own destructive agenda. The dispute is about the future path of the Islamic Republic and the meaning of the revolution — not about overthrowing the whole system. It is a game of politics and the people who are putting their lives at risk seem to be aware of that. They are aware, in other words, that they are the most important force in the hands of those who want to gain or retain power.
Thus far the Iranian establishment has shown itself to be cunningly adaptable to crisis situations. Those who have staged a revolution know how to sustain themselves. And this is exactly what is happening in Iran. The state is rescuing its political power through a mixture of incentives and pressure, compromise and detention, due process and systematic violence. Moreover, when push comes to shove, the oppositional leaders around Mousavi would never question the system they have built up. As Mousavi himself said in his fifth and most recent letter to the Iranian people: “We are not against our sacred regime and its legal structures; this structure guards our independence, freedom, and Islamic Republic.”
and an iranian reader of abukhalil’s blog had this to say about the reactions to the elections early on, which is also revealing on a number of levels:
Alexander sent me this (I cite with his permission): “As an Iranian and avid reader of your blog, I wanted to share my thoughts on your “Iranian developments” post with you. First of all, your point about Western coverage of Iranian democracy vis-a-vis other countries in the region is spot-on. I think you are right to criticize the impact of Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric on Palestine, and I would like to explain a little about that. In the past, Palestinian liberation was a cause championed by the Iranian secular left, but nowadays it is strongly associated with the religious right. This is not due only to Ahmadinejad (every Iranian leader since Khomeini has expressed the idea that Palestine is a “Muslim issue” that Iranians should be concerned about) but it has gotten worse under Ahmadinejad. It’s not just the statements he makes in international settings, but more importantly the way the issue is used domestically in order to distract people from their own issues. People are told not to protest economic stagnation, repressive government, etc. because they shouldn’t complain when Palestinians have it so much worse. “Pray for Gaza” is shoved down their throats in the same breath as “fix your hijab.” In addition, many people resent the fact that the Iranian state spends so much money on Palestinian and Lebanese affairs when there is such poverty and underdevelopment at home. Incidentally, one of the popular (and hyperbolic) chants at the protests that are going on right now is “mardom chera neshastin, Iran shode Felestin!” (People, why are you sitting down? Iran has become Palestine!”).
Finally, I am glad that you are defending neither Ahmadinejad nor Mousavi. It is frustrating that everyone I talk to from Pakistan to Egypt loves Ahmadinejad and is shocked to hear that many Iranians think he is ineffective and embarrassing. Meanwhile every Westerner seems to think that Mousavi is a great reformist or revolutionary, and some kind of saintly figure beloved by all. He’s an opportunist crook. That being said, I support the students and protesters in Iran, even the ones chanting Mousavi’s name. I believe they are putting their lives on the line to fight for greater freedom, accountability, and democracy within the Islamic Republic, and they have to couch that in the language of Islam and presidential politics in order to avoid even greater repression than that which they already face. A friend who is in Iran right now confirms: “half the kids throwing rocks at the police didn’t even vote.” To me, that means that they are not fighting for a Mousavi presidency, but for more freedom, which they must hide under a green Mousavi banner in order to have legitimacy in the eyes of the state.”
on democracy now! today amy goodman spoke with professor hamid dabashi about his take on the situation in iran, which he frames in a civil rights context:
It’s based on my reading of what I believe is happening in Iran. This, in my judgment, is a post-ideological generation. My generation was divided into third world socialists, anti-colonial nationalists and militant Islamists. These are the three dominant ideologies with which we grew up. But if you look at the composition of Iranian society today, 70 percent of it is under the age of thirty—namely, born after the Islamic Revolution. They no longer are divided along those ideological lines.
And if you read their newspapers, if you watch their movies, if you listen to the lyrics of their underground music, to their contemporary arts, etc., which we have been doing over the past thirty years, this, to me, is a civil rights movement. They are operating within the Constitution of the Islamic Republic. They don’t want to topple the regime. If you look—come outside, from the right of the right, in the US Senate to the left, is waiting for yet another revolution to happen. I don’t think this is another revolution. This is a civil rights movement. They’re demanding their civil rights that are being denied, even within the Constitution of the Islamic Republic. From their chants that they are doing in the streets to their newspapers, to their magazines, to their websites, to their Facebook, to their Twitters, everywhere that you look, this is a demand for civil liberties and not—
There are, of course, underlying economic factors, statistically. The unemployment in the age cohort of fifteen to twenty-nine is 70 percent. So this is not a class warfare. In other words, people that we see in the streets, 70 percent of them, that a majority of them are young—70 percent of them do not even have a job. They can’t even rent a room, let alone marry, let alone have a family. So the assumption that this is a upper-middle-class or middle-class, bourgeois, Gucci revolutionaries on the side of Mousavi and poor on the side of Ahmadinejad is completely false.
finally one of the most brilliant posts i’ve seen online over the last week or so comes from mo-ha-med’s blog in which he responds directly to meddlers who become “experts” overnight and begin to write about iran entitled “to you, the new iran expert”:
Who, until this morning, thought that ‘Shiraz’ was just the name of a wine
Who’s beaming with pride you can now write ‘Ahmadinejad’ without copy-and-pasting it from a news website
Who only heard of Evin prison when Roxana Saberi was there (Roxana who?)
Who changed your Facebook profile picture to a green rectangle saying “Where’s my vote?” even though you don’t actually vote in Iran
Who actually thinks that Mir-Hossein Mousavi is a secular
And that his election means that Iran will give up its nuclear claims
And allow you to visit Tehran for Christmas
Who joyfully makes Azadi/Tiananmen square comparisons
Who first heard of Azadi square last Sunday
Who’s quick to link to articles you haven’t read, debunking other articles you’ve barely heard of
Who has just discovered that Iran has a (quasi-)democracy, and elections, and the like
Who blinked in disbelief at the images of women – oh, they have women! and they’re not in burkas! – demonstrating
Who has never heard of Rezai or Karroubi before (hint: they ran for election in a Middle-Eastern country last Friday)
Who staunchly believes that the elections have been stolen – either by ballot box stuffing, (14 million of them!) or by burning some ballots, or both (somehow?), regardless of the absence of any proof (yet)
… But who nevertheless
Has been tweeting, and re-tweeting, and polluting cyberspace with what is essentially hearsay, rumours, and unconfirmed truncated reports or falsification coming from people who actually know about the realities of Iran’s political world and have an agenda:….
I hear your objection though:
Yes, you are entitled to an opinion, to formulating it, to blog it, and to discuss it. I do that too. (this my blog after all).
But do everyone, and you first and foremost, a favour.
Learn from the people who know a thing or two about the issue at hand.
Be selective about you read, listen to, and watch. A simple way is to follow an Iranian friend’s updates and the links they put up.
(Even the State Dept is reading tweets from Iranians.)
Ask questions more than you volunteer answers.
And when you get a tweet that says UNCONF or ‘can anyone confirm?’, for Pete’s sake, that says “This is potentially bulls&^%”. Don’t spread nonsense. Don’t spread unconfirmed or unsourced information.
And rather that getting all excited following live some current events taking place in a country you probably cannot place on a map, read analysis of what it means, what the candidates actually stand for, and what the result will mean for the Iranians and the world.
Then, I would be delighted, truly, to read what you have to say.
Until then, please, pretty please – SHUT UP.
As for what I think? I don’t know. I think the results could be fake – and they also could be real. We probably will never know.
And I don’t think we’re watching a Ukraine ’04 redux or a ‘Green revolution’.
And I think that the people on the street will tire of getting beaten up by a government that is currently revoking foreign media licenses and will forfeit. We’re – well, Iran is – likely stuck with Ahmadinejad for four more years.
And while the troubles on the street are unlikely to lead to a change of government, they’d have had the benefit of showing the Iranian people in a new light – they’re normal people, only with more courage than most of us have.
The most prominent alternative they are pushing is the so-called “three-state solution” or “Jordanian option”, in which the West Bank would be returned to Jordanian control and the Gaza Strip to Egyptian control.
Although calls for a “three-state solution” have cropped up periodically over the years and have been dismissed by most Middle East experts as unrealistic, in recent weeks the three-state approach has received an unusual amount of attention and support on the right.
perhaps in keeping with that idea that more and more of palestine will belong to usurping entities, this morning also saw 180 palestinian bedouin losing their homes due to israeli terrorist forces demolishing those houses as a part of their sixty-one year ethnic cleansing project:
According to UN officials monitoring events on the ground, 20 Israeli military jeeps, a bulldozer and a container arrived at the Bedouin community of Ras Al-Ahmar at 7:30 on Thursday morning and began destroying homes. The residents of the community evacuated the area on Tuesday, setting up makeshift camps nearby, after demolition orders were issued on Monday.
The military issued demolition orders for Bedouin homes belonging to 34 families, a total of 304 people in Ras Al-Ahmar and nearby Al-Hadidiya. The military gave the residents 48 hours to evacuate on the basis that the area is a “closed military zone”
Al-Hadidya is located near the Israeli settlement of Roi, whereas Ras Al-Ahmar is located north of Hamra military checkpoint east of Tammun.
All of the community of Al-Hadidya received demolition orders except for one family, putting the community’s very existence at risk. In Ras Al-Ahmar, 17 out of 45 families received the orders, some of which are labeled eviction notices and other demolition orders.
President Obama should not have decided to come to Egypt. The visit is a clear endorsement of President Hosni Mubarak, the ailing 81-year-old dictator who has ruled with martial law, secret police and torture chambers. No words that Mr. Obama will say can change this perception that Americans are supporting a dictator with their more than $1 billion in annual aid.
The Western press is clearly excited about Mr. Obama’s “significant” choice of Egypt, and his destination, Cairo University, which the news media seem to consider a symbol of enlightenment, secularism and freedom.
The truth is that for years, Cairo University students have been demonstrating against the rising cost of education, demanding the university subsidize expensive text books, only to be rebuked by the authorities, who claim no funds are available. Yet the university somehow managed to find the money to polish up the building dome that will shine above Mr. Obama’s head when he delivers his address.
As for the other host of the president’s visit, Al Azhar University, one of its students, Kareem Amer, is languishing in prison after university officials reported his “infidel, un-Islamic” views to the government, earning him a four-year sentence in 2007. In advance of the visit, Egyptian security forces have rounded up hundreds of foreign students at Al Azhar.
We do want allies in the West, but not from inside the White House. Our real allies are the human rights groups and unions that will pressure the Obama administration to sever all ties to the Mubarak dictatorship. Their visits to Egypt are more meaningful, even if unlike Mr. Obama, they do not get a lavish reception.
a number of open letters to obama were published today, too, from various groups starting with the cairo institute for human rights studies which outlined how they would like to see him put his money where his mouth is:
Secondly, the new US administration must realize that the failure of the previous administration to address the Palestinian issue fairly and justly has been the primary source of an increasing sense of humiliation among the Palestinian people and other peoples in the Arab and Muslim worlds. Certainly the new administration’s adoption of the right of the Palestinian people to an independent state side by side with Israel is a step in the right direction, but your administration must translate this general principle into real-life policies, first and foremost by abandoning America’s absolute political and diplomatic support for Israel and the war crimes and aggression committed by the this state, the sole remaining example in the world today of a racist, colonial occupation. Your administration must adopt decisive and immediate policies to stop the expansion of settlements, which swallow more land every day and thereby make the two-state solution you advocate impossible.
Thirdly, giving respect and support for human rights and democratic freedoms in this area of the world is the principal avenue by which to foster a sense of dignity for peoples in the Arab and Muslim worlds who are no different from other people in the world. While we affirm that the destiny of these peoples ultimately depends on their own struggles and sacrifices to achieve these rights and liberties, an American foreign policy that embodied and represented human rights and democratic values and ended US support for allied authoritarian regimes in the Arab and Muslim worlds would give a substantial boost to these struggles, given that the majority of ruling regimes in this region are much more sensitive to the international community’s views than they are to public opinion in their own countries.
Hamas called on Obama to lift the siege on the Gaza Strip, and to stop the ongoing construction of settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The letter called on Obama to communicate with Hamas to prove the seriousness of his administration, and called on him to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as the first step towards positive relations between the United States and the Arab and Muslim worlds.
In the letter, Hamas welcomed Obama’s visit to the region and considered it a positive towards bridging the gap between the US and the Arab world.
It added that it is unfortunate the Obama would not be visiting the Gaza Strip to listen to the opinions of Hamas, and observe the conditions in the coastal region.
“We recently received several delegates, congress members, EU parliamentarians, several solidarity groups and Mr. Richard Goldstone, head of the investigation committee of the United Nations, in addition to the Code Pink group”, Hamas says in its letter.
“It is essential to visit Gaza in order to observe the destruction Israel caused during its 22-day offensive, several groups came to Gaza such as AMNESTY international”, the letter reads, “the killing and destruction could not have happened without US support to Israel, weapons and financial support paid for by US taxpayers”.
“You are the owners of the weapons, and the financial support to Israel, you should observe how Israel violated the International Law, and used those weapons against our people”, the letter adds.
“Mr. President, before you took office, you were a very distinguished Law teacher, and your administration said it would boost the role of law in the Arab and Islamic worlds” the letter states, “The International Court ruled in 2004 that all of the Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, are occupied territories, and that those territories belong to the Palestinians”.
“The court recognized the Palestinian right of self determination, and independence. Israeli settlements are illegal and not a single judge of the 15 judges of the International Court of Justice, ever objected to this ruling”.
The Hamas letter also states that the United Nations, the General Assembly, and every human rights group agree that the Israeli siege is illegal, and violates the international law because it is a form of collective punishment.
“We at the government formed by Hamas, are committed to a just solution to the conflict, a solution that is coherent with the internal law and the basic principles of human rights, we are willing to hold talks with all parties, with respect, and without any preconditions”.
“What the people are looking for is real change, a change the ends the construction of settlements, a change that adopts a parallel and non biased policy that respects the international law”.
the free gaza movement also published an open letter to obama echoing some of the above concerns:
Israel’s ongoing occupation and colonization of Palestinian land and the United States’ unquestioned financial, military and political support for Israel is at the heart of the negative perceptions and bitter anger that many Arabs and Muslims have of the United States. Tomorrow, we hope to hear from you a commitment to aligning U.S. policy in the Middle East with U.N. Resolutions and international law.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights gives everyone the right to freely enter and exit one’s own country. You will exercise this right when you arrive in Egypt tomorrow and then return to the United States. This is a right that Palestinians–particularly those trapped in Gaza–are routinely denied.
* Over 200 Palestinian medical patients in Gaza, many critically ill, are unable to seek adequate treatment because Israeli authorities regularly deny Palestinian patients the right to travel abroad to receive the medical treatment that is not available in Gaza; at the same time import of many medicines and medical equipment into Gaza is prevented by Israel.
* Over 700 Palestinian students in Gaza, many with scholarships, are unable to attend their universities abroad because Israel regularly denies them this right.
* Thousands of Palestinians abroad are unable to visit their families because Israel will not allow them to re-enter their own country.
When you arrive in Egypt you will travel to your accommodations in a car maintained with spare parts banned to Palestinians, powered by gasoline denied to the people of Gaza. You will use electric lights that do not often work in Gaza, because Israel blocks the fuel needed to run Gaza’s electrical grid. You may enjoy a cup of coffee or tea during your visit – commodities Israel will not allow into Gaza.
The truth is that Israel lets in less than 20% of the ordinary supplies needed in Gaza, and allows no reconstruction materials whatsoever to enter. As a consequence over 95% of all industries have collapsed, creating massive unemployment and poverty. The purpose of the Israeli blockade is to punish and break an entire people. Collective punishment is strictly prohibited under international law, yet it remains Israel’s primary policy in regards to the Palestinian people.
On June 25th, the Free Gaza Movement sets sail on our eighth voyage to challenge the brutal Israeli blockade of Gaza. Though we have been threatened and our ships rammed by the Israeli navy, we will not be deterred. We sail in the spirit of the Freedom Riders who, in the year you were born, risked their lives so that African-Americans could travel freely in the United States. We sail in the spirit of international cooperation that helped create the United Nations, in the spirit of the international civil resistance that overcame Apartheid.
President Obama, you have based your political career on what you call the “audacity of hope” – the faith that each of us, individually and collectively, can change things for the better. But faith without action is dead. We too believe in hope, but from our experience we know that hope alone will not change the world. Like you, we know that the price and promise of our mutual humanity demands that each of us treat one another with dignity and respect, and that all of us strive to insure that our sisters and brothers around the world are free to make of their lives what they will, and pursue their full measure of happiness.
Mister President, you led the fight in the U.S. Senate to insure that aid was actually delivered to people after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. A man-made disaster continues to devastate the people of Gaza; due to Israel’s ongoing hermetic closure of the Gaza Strip over 80% of the population there require food assistance just in order to survive. We hope your speech tomorrow in Egypt is successful but, at a minimum, you must use your privilege to demand and secure open access to Gaza for all international humanitarian, reconstruction, and developmental supplies. Words matter, but words are not enough.
We in the Free Gaza Movement will sail to Gaza again and again and again, in vigorous unarmed resistance, until the Israeli blockade is forever shattered and the Palestinian people have free access to the rest of the world.
Please recognize that the fact that we even have to ask (let alone risk our lives) to be allowed to provide food to the hungry, medicine to the sick, and shelter to the homeless is in itself an obscenity. We look forward to hearing from you an uncompromising commitment for the immediate end of the criminal siege of Gaza, as well as an assurance that respect for the human rights, dignity and equality of the Palestinian people will be at the core of your administration’s policy toward the Israeli-Arab conflict.
if you read through the above open letters you will no doubt get a sense of the issues at stake here in palestine as well as in egypt and also for muslim americans. and if you compare these desires and requests above to the text of his speech (see below) you will see the hot air spewed from obama’s lips. it is hot air because whatever small things he may have said that some people in this region may read as hopeful, he will do nothing. nothing will change for the majority of the muslims who live under america’s bombs and who live under american and/or zionist colonialism and occupation. below are excerpts from his speech with my commentary mixed in.
So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, and who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. This cycle of suspicion and discord must end.
I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles – principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.
I do so recognizing that change cannot happen overnight. No single speech can eradicate years of mistrust, nor can I answer in the time that I have all the complex questions that brought us to this point. But I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly the things we hold in our hearts, and that too often are said only behind closed doors. There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground. As the Holy Koran tells us, “Be conscious of God and speak always the truth.” That is what I will try to do – to speak the truth as best I can, humbled by the task before us, and firm in my belief that the interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the forces that drive us apart.
Part of this conviction is rooted in my own experience. I am a Christian, but my father came from a Kenyan family that includes generations of Muslims. As a boy, I spent several years in Indonesia and heard the call of the azaan at the break of dawn and the fall of dusk. As a young man, I worked in Chicago communities where many found dignity and peace in their Muslim faith.
As a student of history, I also know civilization’s debt to Islam. It was Islam – at places like Al-Azhar University – that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment. It was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation; our mastery of pens and printing; our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed. Islamic culture has given us majestic arches and soaring spires; timeless poetry and cherished music; elegant calligraphy and places of peaceful contemplation. And throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.
who does he think he is speaking to? is he really addressing muslims? does he really think they do not know this history?
I know, too, that Islam has always been a part of America’s story. The first nation to recognize my country was Morocco. In signing the Treaty of Tripoli in 1796, our second President John Adams wrote, “The United States has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Muslims.” And since our founding, American Muslims have enriched the United States. They have fought in our wars, served in government, stood for civil rights, started businesses, taught at our Universities, excelled in our sports arenas, won Nobel Prizes, built our tallest building, and lit the Olympic Torch. And when the first Muslim-American was recently elected to Congress, he took the oath to defend our Constitution using the same Holy Koran that one of our Founding Fathers – Thomas Jefferson – kept in his personal library.
what obama fails to mention here is that the first mulism in the united states were brought over from africa to serve as white colonists’ slaves.
So I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed. That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn’t. And I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.
But that same principle must apply to Muslim perceptions of America. Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire. The United States has been one of the greatest sources of progress that the world has ever known. We were born out of revolution against an empire. We were founded upon the ideal that all are created equal, and we have shed blood and struggled for centuries to give meaning to those words – within our borders, and around the world. We are shaped by every culture, drawn from every end of the Earth, and dedicated to a simple concept: E pluribus unum: “Out of many, one.”
it is interesting how he seems to forget how he played into this islamophobia by allowing rashid khalidi to be tarred and feathered during the election campaign. how soon they forget.
Much has been made of the fact that an African-American with the name Barack Hussein Obama could be elected President. But my personal story is not so unique. The dream of opportunity for all people has not come true for everyone in America, but its promise exists for all who come to our shores – that includes nearly seven million American Muslims in our country today who enjoy incomes and education that are higher than average.
Moreover, freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one’s religion. That is why there is a mosque in every state of our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders. That is why the U.S. government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab, and to punish those who would deny it.
So let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America. And I believe that America holds within her the truth that regardless of race, religion, or station in life, all of us share common aspirations – to live in peace and security; to get an education and to work with dignity; to love our families, our communities, and our God. These things we share. This is the hope of all humanity.
Of course, recognizing our common humanity is only the beginning of our task. Words alone cannot meet the needs of our people. These needs will be met only if we act boldly in the years ahead; and if we understand that the challenges we face are shared, and our failure to meet them will hurt us all.
For we have learned from recent experience that when a financial system weakens in one country, prosperity is hurt everywhere. When a new flu infects one human being, all are at risk. When one nation pursues a nuclear weapon, the risk of nuclear attack rises for all nations. When violent extremists operate in one stretch of mountains, people are endangered across an ocean. And when innocents in Bosnia and Darfur are slaughtered, that is a stain on our collective conscience. That is what it means to share this world in the 21st century. That is the responsibility we have to one another as human beings.
This is a difficult responsibility to embrace. For human history has often been a record of nations and tribes subjugating one another to serve their own interests. Yet in this new age, such attitudes are self-defeating. Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. So whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners of it. Our problems must be dealt with through partnership; progress must be shared.
That does not mean we should ignore sources of tension. Indeed, it suggests the opposite: we must face these tensions squarely. And so in that spirit, let me speak as clearly and plainly as I can about some specific issues that I believe we must finally confront together.
The first issue that we have to confront is violent extremism in all of its forms.
notice as he lists “violent extremist” elements below he fails to mention zionist extremism and american extremism, which primarily targets muslim countries and people.
In Ankara, I made clear that America is not – and never will be – at war with Islam. We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security. Because we reject the same thing that people of all faiths reject: the killing of innocent men, women, and children. And it is my first duty as President to protect the American people.
The situation in Afghanistan demonstrates America’s goals, and our need to work together. Over seven years ago, the United States pursued al Qaeda and the Taliban with broad international support. We did not go by choice, we went because of necessity. I am aware that some question or justify the events of 9/11. But let us be clear: al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on that day. The victims were innocent men, women and children from America and many other nations who had done nothing to harm anybody. And yet Al Qaeda chose to ruthlessly murder these people, claimed credit for the attack, and even now states their determination to kill on a massive scale. They have affiliates in many countries and are trying to expand their reach. These are not opinions to be debated; these are facts to be dealt with.
Make no mistake: we do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan. We seek no military bases there. It is agonizing for America to lose our young men and women. It is costly and politically difficult to continue this conflict. We would gladly bring every single one of our troops home if we could be confident that there were not violent extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can. But that is not yet the case.
That’s why we’re partnering with a coalition of forty-six countries. And despite the costs involved, America’s commitment will not weaken. Indeed, none of us should tolerate these extremists. They have killed in many countries. They have killed people of different faiths – more than any other, they have killed Muslims. Their actions are irreconcilable with the rights of human beings, the progress of nations, and with Islam. The Holy Koran teaches that whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind; and whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind. The enduring faith of over a billion people is so much bigger than the narrow hatred of a few. Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism – it is an important part of promoting peace.
We also know that military power alone is not going to solve the problems in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That is why we plan to invest $1.5 billion each year over the next five years to partner with Pakistanis to build schools and hospitals, roads and businesses, and hundreds of millions to help those who have been displaced. And that is why we are providing more than $2.8 billion to help Afghans develop their economy and deliver services that people depend upon.
translation: the u.s. is somehow making amends because in addition to the massacres of pakistanis and afghans–not to mention the unprecedented number of refugees the u.s. has created, it will put band-aids on the wounds of these people with “aid.”
Let me also address the issue of Iraq. Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq was a war of choice that provoked strong differences in my country and around the world. Although I believe that the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, I also believe that events in Iraq have reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible. Indeed, we can recall the words of Thomas Jefferson, who said: “I hope that our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us that the less we use our power the greater it will be.”
Today, America has a dual responsibility: to help Iraq forge a better future – and to leave Iraq to Iraqis. I have made it clear to the Iraqi people that we pursue no bases, and no claim on their territory or resources. Iraq’s sovereignty is its own. That is why I ordered the removal of our combat brigades by next August. That is why we will honor our agreement with Iraq’s democratically-elected government to remove combat troops from Iraqi cities by July, and to remove all our troops from Iraq by 2012. We will help Iraq train its Security Forces and develop its economy. But we will support a secure and united Iraq as a partner, and never as a patron.
And finally, just as America can never tolerate violence by extremists, we must never alter our principles. 9/11 was an enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our ideals. We are taking concrete actions to change course. I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States, and I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year.
if you have been following the news or even my blog you know from journalists like jeremy scahill that this is 100% bull*&$# as americans are going to maintain dozens of permanent military bases and the private contractors are going to be increased. is this what obama means by unique?
So America will defend itself respectful of the sovereignty of nations and the rule of law. And we will do so in partnership with Muslim communities which are also threatened. The sooner the extremists are isolated and unwelcome in Muslim communities, the sooner we will all be safer.
The second major source of tension that we need to discuss is the situation between Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab world.
America’s strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.
Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust. Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich. Six million Jews were killed – more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, ignorant, and hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction – or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews – is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.
this is the most deeply offensive part of his speech. he wants to address muslims and he lectures muslims about jewish suffering when most muslims are suffering because of the zionist entity and jewish supremacist ideology forced upon arabs in the region? is he serious here? if he must delve into history why not focus on an nakba? or if he wants to focus on the present how about gaza? is he really incapable of understanding the issues? the jewish problem is a european problem. his logic fails to demonstrate that arabs and muslims should not have to pay the price for europe’s sins.
On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people – Muslims and Christians – have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations – large and small – that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.
is it really that difficult to say the words: an nakba? to say the words ethnic cleansing? to say the words un resolution 194 and the right of return?
For decades, there has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive. It is easy to point fingers – for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought by Israel’s founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history from within its borders as well as beyond. But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth: the only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security.
That is in Israel’s interest, Palestine’s interest, America’s interest, and the world’s interest. That is why I intend to personally pursue this outcome with all the patience that the task requires. The obligations that the parties have agreed to under the Road Map are clear. For peace to come, it is time for them – and all of us – to live up to our responsibilities.
no that is not in the palestinian people’s interest. it may be in the interest of the zionist-american collaborationist palestinian authority, but it is not in the interest of the 7.2 million palestinian refugees who have the only roadmap they need: un resolution 194.
Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America’s founding. This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia. It’s a story with a simple truth: that violence is a dead end. It is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That is not how moral authority is claimed; that is how it is surrendered.
let me get this straight: obama wants us to think there are two equal sides here (of course, there are not) and yet only palestinians are being asked to not use violence to fight for their liberation. from south africa to india armed resistance is precisely what helped people to liberate their land. to pretend that this history does not exist is to read it through a very narrow lens.
Now is the time for Palestinians to focus on what they can build. The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern, with institutions that serve the needs of its people. Hamas does have support among some Palestinians, but they also have responsibilities. To play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, and to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, and recognize Israel’s right to exist.
At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel’s right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine’s. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.
Israel must also live up to its obligations to ensure that Palestinians can live, and work, and develop their society. And just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel’s security; neither does the continuing lack of opportunity in the West Bank. Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be part of a road to peace, and Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress.
Finally, the Arab States must recognize that the Arab Peace Initiative was an important beginning, but not the end of their responsibilities. The Arab-Israeli conflict should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems. Instead, it must be a cause for action to help the Palestinian people develop the institutions that will sustain their state; to recognize Israel’s legitimacy; and to choose progress over a self-defeating focus on the past.
America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs. We cannot impose peace. But privately, many Muslims recognize that Israel will not go away. Likewise, many Israelis recognize the need for a Palestinian state. It is time for us to act on what everyone knows to be true.
Too many tears have flowed. Too much blood has been shed. All of us have a responsibility to work for the day when the mothers of Israelis and Palestinians can see their children grow up without fear; when the Holy Land of three great faiths is the place of peace that God intended it to be; when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed (peace be upon them) joined in prayer.
The third source of tension is our shared interest in the rights and responsibilities of nations on nuclear weapons.
This issue has been a source of tension between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran. For many years, Iran has defined itself in part by its opposition to my country, and there is indeed a tumultuous history between us. In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically-elected Iranian government. Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians. This history is well known. Rather than remain trapped in the past, I have made it clear to Iran’s leaders and people that my country is prepared to move forward. The question, now, is not what Iran is against, but rather what future it wants to build.
It will be hard to overcome decades of mistrust, but we will proceed with courage, rectitude and resolve. There will be many issues to discuss between our two countries, and we are willing to move forward without preconditions on the basis of mutual respect. But it is clear to all concerned that when it comes to nuclear weapons, we have reached a decisive point. This is not simply about America’s interests. It is about preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that could lead this region and the world down a hugely dangerous path.
I understand those who protest that some countries have weapons that others do not. No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons. That is why I strongly reaffirmed America’s commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons. And any nation – including Iran – should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That commitment is at the core of the Treaty, and it must be kept for all who fully abide by it. And I am hopeful that all countries in the region can share in this goal.
i don’t think obama does understand: when the bullies of the world, principally, the u.s. and the zionist entity, get rid of their nuclear arsenal then perhaps we can talk.
The fourth issue that I will address is democracy.
I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq. So let me be clear: no system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other.
That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people. Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election. But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.
There is no straight line to realize this promise. But this much is clear: governments that protect these rights are ultimately more stable, successful and secure. Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them. And we will welcome all elected, peaceful governments – provided they govern with respect for all their people.
This last point is important because there are some who advocate for democracy only when they are out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others. No matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who hold power: you must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.
so ironic given that obama decided to deliver this speech in a country that suppresses democracy like no other. and that obama refuses to recognize the democratically elected government in palestine.
The fifth issue that we must address together is religious freedom.
Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance. We see it in the history of Andalusia and Cordoba during the Inquisition. I saw it firsthand as a child in Indonesia, where devout Christians worshiped freely in an overwhelmingly Muslim country. That is the spirit we need today. People in every country should be free to choose and live their faith based upon the persuasion of the mind, heart, and soul. This tolerance is essential for religion to thrive, but it is being challenged in many different ways.
Among some Muslims, there is a disturbing tendency to measure one’s own faith by the rejection of another’s. The richness of religious diversity must be upheld – whether it is for Maronites in Lebanon or the Copts in Egypt. And fault lines must be closed among Muslims as well, as the divisions between Sunni and Shia have led to tragic violence, particularly in Iraq.
Freedom of religion is central to the ability of peoples to live together. We must always examine the ways in which we protect it. For instance, in the United States, rules on charitable giving have made it harder for Muslims to fulfill their religious obligation. That is why I am committed to working with American Muslims to ensure that they can fulfill zakat.
you gotta love this massive hypocrisy in the face of the united states sentencing 5 men (the holy land five) to 65 years in prison for collecting money for palestinians in the holy land foundation.
Finally, I want to discuss economic development and opportunity.
I know that for many, the face of globalization is contradictory. The Internet and television can bring knowledge and information, but also offensive sexuality and mindless violence. Trade can bring new wealth and opportunities, but also huge disruptions and changing communities. In all nations – including my own – this change can bring fear. Fear that because of modernity we will lose of control over our economic choices, our politics, and most importantly our identities – those things we most cherish about our communities, our families, our traditions, and our faith.
But I also know that human progress cannot be denied. There need not be contradiction between development and tradition. Countries like Japan and South Korea grew their economies while maintaining distinct cultures. The same is true for the astonishing progress within Muslim-majority countries from Kuala Lumpur to Dubai. In ancient times and in our times, Muslim communities have been at the forefront of innovation and education.
This is important because no development strategy can be based only upon what comes out of the ground, nor can it be sustained while young people are out of work. Many Gulf States have enjoyed great wealth as a consequence of oil, and some are beginning to focus it on broader development. But all of us must recognize that education and innovation will be the currency of the 21st century, and in too many Muslim communities there remains underinvestment in these areas. I am emphasizing such investments within my country. And while America in the past has focused on oil and gas in this part of the world, we now seek a broader engagement.
On education, we will expand exchange programs, and increase scholarships, like the one that brought my father to America, while encouraging more Americans to study in Muslim communities. And we will match promising Muslim students with internships in America; invest in on-line learning for teachers and children around the world; and create a new online network, so a teenager in Kansas can communicate instantly with a teenager in Cairo.
just wondering: for palestinians in gaza who want to study, how exactly are they supposed to leave gaza given that egypt and the zionist entity maintain it as a prison?
On economic development, we will create a new corps of business volunteers to partner with counterparts in Muslim-majority countries. And I will host a Summit on Entrepreneurship this year to identify how we can deepen ties between business leaders, foundations and social entrepreneurs in the United States and Muslim communities around the world.
On science and technology, we will launch a new fund to support technological development in Muslim-majority countries, and to help transfer ideas to the marketplace so they can create jobs. We will open centers of scientific excellence in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, and appoint new Science Envoys to collaborate on programs that develop new sources of energy, create green jobs, digitize records, clean water, and grow new crops. And today I am announcing a new global effort with the Organization of the Islamic Conference to eradicate polio. And we will also expand partnerships with Muslim communities to promote child and maternal health.
All these things must be done in partnership. Americans are ready to join with citizens and governments; community organizations, religious leaders, and businesses in Muslim communities around the world to help our people pursue a better life.
The issues that I have described will not be easy to address. But we have a responsibility to join together on behalf of the world we seek – a world where extremists no longer threaten our people, and American troops have come home; a world where Israelis and Palestinians are each secure in a state of their own, and nuclear energy is used for peaceful purposes; a world where governments serve their citizens, and the rights of all God’s children are respected. Those are mutual interests. That is the world we seek. But we can only achieve it together.
you cannot drop bombs on muslims every day and then pretend like you’re going to help with economic development. it just doesn’t work. your words reveal your deep hypocrisy.
I know there are many – Muslim and non-Muslim – who question whether we can forge this new beginning. Some are eager to stoke the flames of division, and to stand in the way of progress. Some suggest that it isn’t worth the effort – that we are fated to disagree, and civilizations are doomed to clash. Many more are simply skeptical that real change can occur. There is so much fear, so much mistrust. But if we choose to be bound by the past, we will never move forward. And I want to particularly say this to young people of every faith, in every country – you, more than anyone, have the ability to remake this world.
All of us share this world for but a brief moment in time. The question is whether we spend that time focused on what pushes us apart, or whether we commit ourselves to an effort – a sustained effort – to find common ground, to focus on the future we seek for our children, and to respect the dignity of all human beings.
It is easier to start wars than to end them. It is easier to blame others than to look inward; to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share. But we should choose the right path, not just the easy path. There is also one rule that lies at the heart of every religion – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. This truth transcends nations and peoples – a belief that isn’t new; that isn’t black or white or brown; that isn’t Christian, or Muslim or Jew. It’s a belief that pulsed in the cradle of civilization, and that still beats in the heart of billions. It’s a faith in other people, and it’s what brought me here today.
We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written.
The Holy Koran tells us, “O mankind! We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another.”
The Talmud tells us: “The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace.”
The Holy Bible tells us, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God’s vision. Now, that must be our work here on Earth. Thank you. And may God’s peace be upon you.
for a quick, witty summary of obama’s speech here is what as’ad abukhalil had to say about it:
As President George Bush often did, Obama affirmed that it is only a violent minority that besmirches the name of a vast and “peaceful” Muslim majority. But he seemed once again to implicate all Muslims as suspect when he warned, “The sooner the extremists are isolated and unwelcome in Muslim communities, the sooner we will all be safer.”
Nowhere were these blindspots more apparent than his statements about Palestine/Israel. He gave his audience a detailed lesson on the Holocaust and explicitly used it as a justification for the creation of Israel. “It is also undeniable,” the president said, “that the Palestinian people – Muslims and Christians – have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation.”
Suffered in pursuit of a homeland? The pain of dislocation? They already had a homeland. They suffered from being ethnically cleansed and dispossessed of it and prevented from returning on the grounds that they are from the wrong ethno-national group. Why is that still so hard to say?
He lectured Palestinians that “resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed”. He warned them that “It is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That is not how moral authority is claimed; that is how it is surrendered.” (Note: the last suicide attack targeting civilians by a Palestinian occurred in 2004)
Fair enough, but did Obama really imagine that such words would impress an Arab public that watched in horror as Israel slaughtered 1,400 people in Gaza last winter, including hundreds of sleeping, fleeing or terrified children, with American-supplied weapons? Did he think his listeners would not remember that the number of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians targeted and killed by Israel has always far exceeded by orders of magnitude the number of Israelis killed by Arabs precisely because of the American arms he has pledged to continue giving Israel with no accountability? Amnesty International recently confirmed what Palestinians long knew: Israel broke the negotiated ceasefire when it attacked Gaza last November 4, prompting retaliatory rockets that killed no Israelis until after Israel launched its much bigger attack on Gaza. That he continues to remain silent about what happened in Gaza, and refuses to hold Israel accountable demonstrates anything but a commitment to full truth-telling.
Some people are prepared to give Obama a pass for all this because he is at last talking tough on Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. In Cairo, he said: “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.”
These carefully chosen words focus only on continued construction, not on the existence of the settlements themselves; they are entirely compatible with the peace process industry consensus that existing settlements will remain where they are for ever. This raises the question of where Obama thinks he is going. He summarised Palestinians’ “legitimate aspirations” as being the establishment of a “state”. This has become a convenient slogan to that is supposed to replace for Palestinians their pursuit of rights and justice that the proposed state actually denies. Obama is already on record opposing Palestinian refugees’ right to return home, and has never supported the right of Palestinian citizens of Israel to live free from racist and religious incitement, persecution and practices fanned by Israel’s highest office holders and written into its laws.
He may have more determination than his predecessor but he remains committed to an unworkable two-state “vision” aimed not at restoring Palestinian rights, but preserving Israel as an enclave of Israeli Jewish privilege. It is a dead end.
There was one sentence in his speech I cheered for and which he should heed: “Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail.”
abunimah rightly pointed out the outrageous logic of lecturing muslims on the european actions during world war two. personally, i find it beyond shocking that this afternoon he headed towards germany to visit sites of that historic war in europe while continuing to refuse to visit gaza just a desert away. medea benjamin’s article in electronic intifada called on obama to visit gaza instead:
The Israeli invasion of Gaza began on 27 December 2008, when Obama had just won the election but had not yet taken office. While he spoke out against the 26 November Mumbai terrorism attack, he refused to even call for a ceasefire in Gaza, saying coldly, “When it comes to foreign affairs it is particularly important to adhere to the principle of one president at a time.”
Once inaugurated, Obama appointed former Senator George Mitchell as a special peace envoy and immediately sent him on a “listening tour” to key places in the Middle East — except Gaza. Mitchell returned for a second trip to the region in late February, visiting Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Israel and the West Bank but once again bypassing Gaza. The same thing happened on his third trip in April.
Hillary Clinton has never visited war-torn Gaza. She promised $300 million for rebuilding, but the aid won’t get to Gaza as long as the administration insists on dealing only with Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority in the West Bank while shunning Hamas, which controls Gaza and was democratically elected.
one egypian blogger and tweeter اشتراكي ثوري pulled together his responses from the speech in a blog post that gives one a way better sense of what people are thinking and feeling here about his speech (in spite of the insane people al jazeera has been putting on–even marwan bishara seems to have lost his mind calling this speech “historic” today):
Just finished watching Bushama’s booooooooooring speech, you can read the full text here. My expectation that Obama would just recycle old bulls*&^ obviously came true, and if anyone calls his speech “historic” or a “new beginning” they obviously have lost touch with reality. This speech was so bad I thought even from a linguistic standpoint, I mean I could come up with a more articulate speech off the top of my head, but then again, despite what some people say, Bushama is not a good speaker. And he managed to pronounce every arabic word he included wrong.
Here are my tweets about Obama’s speech:
* RT: @DailyNewsEgypt: Obama says Mubarak has “decades of experience,” thanks president for “hospitality” #cairospeech
* mubarak does have years of experience in obeying his american and israeli masters, he also has a lot of “experience” in torture #cairospeech
* el azaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar? whats that obama??? #cairospeech
* mentioned “extremists” within a minute of starting #cairospeech
* obama will fight stereotypes against islam…er while killing as many muslims as possible #cairospeech
* RT: @amansour87: RT @3arabawy RT @wael : NDP Stooges must stop clapping in #cairospeech
* how many people has the us killed in the last 7 years? at least in the millions #cairospeech
* “military force will not solve the problem alone”…er but we will try #cairospeech
* why do americans always have to go on and on about the holocaust and 9/11?? #cairospeech
* have some courage coward and mention zionist holocaust of palestinians #cairospeech
* “the pain of dislocation” ah I think the pain of death, torture and beating would be more accurate #cairospeech
* “shoot rockets at children” so what the US and israel do every day? #cairospeech
* Israel has no “legitamacy” bushama! #cairospeech
* “this is not simply about america’s interests” yes it is, if it isn’t give up a few million of ur nuclear weapons, bushama #cairospeech
* oooooh democracy how exciting #cairospeech
* “we will support them everywhere” except if the dictators are our puppets #cairospeech
* no the us does not respect dissenting voices #cairospeech
* of course obama takes the white man stance: must preach those ayrabs about women’s rights #cairospeech
* RT: @norashalaby: Obama’s speech is completely patronizing #CairoSpeech
* Now: capitalism, obama will surely praise it #cairospeech
* “the issues I have addressed” will be solved through brutal capitalism and bloody imperialist violence #cairospeech
* stop with the religious crap! If he mentions “god’s children” again I am going to go insane #cairospeech
* “if we choose to be bound by the past we will never move forward” how clever! how original! #cairospeech
* RT: @mar3e: i know more muslim students who deported from usa for supportting the resistance in lebanon , afghanistan, palestine
* RT: @3arabawy: Obama will promote child and maternal health. This means more money for Mama Suzi the guardian of Egyp Motherhod #Cairospeech
* now the talmut! and the bible! stop with the religious crap! #cairospeech
* speech definitely was horrible even worse than I thought it would be, if anyone says tom it was good or even ok they are insane #cairospeech
* RT: @3arabawy: IS that it??!!!! What a historical speech indeed?!! #Cairospeech
as’ad abukhalil had an additional, lengthy response to the speech and here is part:
So Obama is asking for a bargain: to end Western racism (but not wars) against Muslims, Muslims need to stop attacking US foreign policy and wars. This is chicanery–don’t you like those old fashioned words? He talks about the US as a force of “progress.” How untrue for Obama’s audience: the US has consistently opposed forces of progress and advancement in the Middle East: in every conflict between an oil Sheikh or a polygamous prince against progressive socialists or Arab nationalist secularists, the US has always sided with the polygamous princes who have been in alliance with religious kooks and advocates of “holy wars.” Hell, he just came from Saudi Arabia where he praised the wisdom of the Saudi king and he wants to talk to me about “force of progress”? Maybe if you can bring up the issue of Wahhabi fanaticism I would believe you. He said that his personal story as an African American (with an African Muslim name) who was elected president is not unique. Yes, it is: and it was not easy: and his name was mocked during his campaign, and he made his best to distance himself from anything Muslims. So here, Obama is assuming that his Cairo audience are a bunch of idiots who did not follow his campaign and the reactions that it generated. He adds that Muslims in America enjoy education and income above average Americans. Yes, that is true, and I hate when people say that: the reasons is due to the racist/classist rules for the immigrants from Muslims/Middle East countries: only those who high degrees are allowed into the country, while poor people from other countries are allowed. If you are in the Middle East, your chances of being allowed into the US are related to the high degrees you hold. He said that there are mosques in the US but does not mention that many communities fight tooth and nail against those mosques. His references to Iraq and Afghanistan are largely apologetic: and he does not mention that his past critiques of the invasion of Iraq was asking to the criticisms of the Israeli occupation of West Bank and Gaza in Tikkun: that it is based on what is good or bad for Israel, and not for what it does to the victims. He talks about Taliban and Al-Qa`idah’s killing of Muslims (and Muslims know that they have killed Muslims) but he does not mention that Bush administration and Obama administration have also been killing innocent Muslims: if anything, the rate of bombing from the air may have increased over Afghanistan under Obama: the advocate of the surge in Afghanistan versus Bush, the advocate of surge in Iraq. What a difference. I was offended by his lecturing to Muslims about Jewish suffering: as if the audience is entirely anti-Semitic. There are anti-Semites in the US and he does not lecture to them. He spoke about the repugnant practice of Holocaust denial but did not mention that the literature is entirely Western in that regard. And he then moves from a discussion of the Nazism to the Arab-Israeli conflict. What is his point here: that because of Nazi crimes, the Palestinians need to accommodate Zionist crimes on their lands? This is the most offensive section of course: he talks about the Palestinians without identifying who was doing those bad things to them. Look at this sentence: “have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation.” So their suffering is due to their pursuit of a homeland: so they should stop the pursuit and the suffering will go away. He then mention the “pain of dislocation.” What is that o Obama? Is that like a shoulder dislocation? He refers to Palestinian reference to “for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought by Israel’s founding” but never mentions Israeli wars, attacks, and invasions and yet he makes specific references to Palestinian violence thereby making it clear that adheres to White Man standards: that only Israeli lives matter. I mean, if you compare the killing and terrorism between the two sides, the Israeli side clearly comes out on top in terrorism, wars, and aggression. He then lectures the Palestinians: “Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed.” I read that and thought: wait. Did you not in the early part of the speech bragged about how the US fought (non-violently, I may add) against British Empire? I should lecture Obama here: why didn’t the US resort to non-violent resistance against the British Empire? How could he speak about nuclear weapons without even mentioning the Israeli arsenal? That was another insult to the intelligence of the audience: maybe Jeffrey Feltman and Daniel Shapiro told him that Arabs don’t know that Israel has nuclear weapons.
there will be more responses in the coming days, i’m sure. but this is enough to give you a sense of the deeply offensive, deeply hypocritical speech by bushama.
when i was teaching the play my name is rachel corrie this semester the subject of anti-semitism came up. there is a part of the play where rachel talks about how difficult it is for non-jews to speak about palestine in the u.s. because of the way that people silence you and say you’re anti-semitic. in the process of discussing this monologue it came up that many of my students think that the nazi holocaust is something that is fabricated. i had not encountered such a view in palestine before, but i understand why it exists and where it comes from. given the ways in which the nazi holocaust has been used against palestinians both as a pretext to steal their land, massacre palestinians, and ethnically cleanse them, i can understand how such thinking might emerge. given that the nazi holocaust has been used to silence those who speak about palestine, i can understand why people may doubt it or question it. but here is the thing. by questioning something that is factually based one only plays into those zionist hands and allows them to say, “oh, see, palestinians are anti-semitic.” also, by quibbling over numbers about how many people were killed in the nazi holocaust you are doing exactly what you don’t want done to you. those who know the facts about palestine, for instance, don’t want people to quibble over the historical facts about the 531 villages that were destroyed or the 750,000 palestinians forcibly removed from their homes during an nakba.
this is not, of course, a majority view in palestine. i think it speaks to the weak education that i have encountered in nablus as well as the lack of access to reading materials here. but at the same time zionists themselves initiated the abuse of and distortion of the nazi holocaust. at the recent aipac (american israel public affairs committee) meeting in washington dc the key item up for discussion was iran as the new germany, ahmadinejad as the new hitler. just check out this speech given there by republican congressman from virginia eric cantor for a glimpse into how this rhetoric pairs the two together in ways that defy logic, history, and reality:
notice cantor remarks at the beginning “at what moment was it too late” in reference to hitler. then he moves into iran with his completely baseless propaganda that “amhadinejad dreams of finishing hitler’s work.” he speaks as if this is true and it is 100% false. i’ll offer an example in a moment, but first look at this discussion on al jazeera’s “inside story” a couple of nights ago with imran garda. he hosted three speakers: imad gad from the al ahram center in cairo, former deputy assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs david mack, and israeli terrorist colonist dan diker with the jerusalem centre for public affairs. here is the episode:
from the outset of the debate you can see diker move right in sync with the new aipac policy agenda:
Both Egypt and Israel are being directly threatened by the Islamic Republic of Iran and their proxies Hezbollah and Hamas, which have now threatened the life of Mr. Mubarak and threatening the Egyptian regime. And they are threatening Israel through their surrogate Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in the north, and Iranian proxies in the West Bank including Islamic Jihad and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. So both leaders had a very strong set of interests to discuss that both include the Palestinian issue and twinned with the much larger strategic threat that Iran poses to both nations and indeed the entire Sunni establishment in the Middle East.
divide and rule. the big picture. uri avnery, a colonist in the zionist entity, refutes these claims at least in part in an article on anti-war.com:
However, all these lies are nothing compared to trivializing the Holocaust.
In some countries, that is a criminal offense, punishable by prison. The trivializing has many guises. For example: the assertion that the gas chambers never existed. Or: that not 6 million Jews were killed, but only six hundred thousand. But the most dangerous form of minimizing is the comparison of the Holocaust to passing events, thus turning it into “a detail of history,” as Jean-Marie Le-Pen infamously put it.
This week, Shimon Peres committed exactly this crime.
Like a lackey walking in front of the king, strewing flowers on the road, Peres flew to the U.S. to prepare the ground for Netanyahu’s coming visit. He imposed himself on a reluctant Barack Obama, who had no choice but to receive him.
Posing as a new Winston Churchill, the man who warned the world against the rise of Nazi Germany, he informed Obama with solemn bombast: “As Jews we cannot but compare Iran to Nazi Germany.”
About this sentence at least three things must be said: (a) it is untrue, (b) it trivializes the Holocaust, and (c) it reflects a catastrophic policy.
Does Iran really resemble Nazi Germany?
I don’t like the regime there. As a committed atheist who insists on total separation between state and religion, I oppose any regime based on religion – in Iran, in Israel, or in any other country.
Also, I don’t like politicians like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. I am allergic to leaders who stand on balconies and declaim to the masses below. I detest demagogues who appeal to the base instincts of hatred and fear.
Alas, Ahmadinejad is not the only leader of this type. Indeed, the world is full of them; some are among the staunchest supporters of the Israeli government. In Israel, too, we do not lack this sort.
But Iran is not a fascist state. According to the evidence, there is quite a lot of freedom there, including freedom of expression. Ahmadinejad is not the only candidate for president in the present election campaign. There are a number of others, some more radical, some less.
Nor is Iran an anti-Semitic state. A Jewish community, whose members are refusing to emigrate, is living there comfortably enough. It enjoys religious freedom and has a representative in parliament. Even if we take such reports with a grain of salt, it is clear that the Jews in Iran are not being persecuted like the Jews in Nazi Germany.
And, most important: Iran is not an aggressive country. It has not attacked its neighbors for centuries. The long and bloody Iraq-Iran war was started by Saddam Hussein. It may be remembered that at the time Israel (contrary to the U.S.) supported the Iranian side and supplied it with arms. (One such transaction was accidentally disclosed in the Irangate affair.) Before the Khomeini revolution, Iran was our most important ally in the region.
Ahmadinejad hates Israel. But it has been denied that he has threatened to annihilate Israel. It appears that the crucial sentence in his famous speech was mistranslated: he did not declare his determination to wipe Israel off the map, but expressed the opinion that Israel will disappear from the map.
Frankly, I don’t think that there is such a great difference between the two versions. When the leader of a big country predicts that my state will disappear, that makes me worry. When that country appears to do everything possible to produce a nuclear bomb, that worries me even more. I draw conclusions, but about that later.
Moreover, Ahmadinejad – unlike Hitler – is not the supreme leader of his country. He is subject to the real leadership, composed of clerics. All the signs indicate that this is not a group of adventurers. On the contrary, they are very balanced, sophisticated, and prudent. Now they are cautiously feeling their way toward dialogue with the U.S., trying to reach an accord without sacrificing their regional ambitions, which are quite normal.
In brief, the speeches of one demagogic leader do not turn a country into Nazi Germany. Iran is not a mad country. It has no real interests in Israel/Palestine. Its interests are focused on the Persian Gulf area, and it wants to increase its influence throughout the Arab and Muslim world. Its relations with Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas mostly serve this purpose, and so does the anti-Israeli incitement of Ahmadinejad.
In brief, the comparison of Iran to Nazi Germany lacks a factual basis.
you can read the entire article if you click the link, but avnery like a typical israeli or jew devolves into the nazi holocaust is unique bulls*&^ that is part of the problem to begin with. norman finkelstein famously refutes this mythology in his groundbreaking book, the holocaust industry:
Two central dogmas underpin the Holocaust framework: (1) The Holocaust marks a categorically event; (2) The Holocaust marks the climax of an irrational, eternal Gentile hatred of Jews. Neither of these dogmas figured at all in public discourse before the June 1967 war. (41-42)
and why was it only after 1967? because they needed that argument to rationalize their colonial expansionist project in the west bank and gaza strip. after that deviation, avnery concludes his article as follows:
Does the comparison of Iran to Nazi Germany serve Israeli interests?
Iran is there. It was our ally in the past, and may be our ally again in the future. Leaders come and go, but geopolitical interests are more or less constant. Ahmadinejad may be replaced by a leader who will see Iranian interests in a different light.
The nuclear threat to Israel will not disappear – not after a (bad) speech by Peres nor after a (good) speech by Netanyahu. All over the region, nuclear installations will pop up. This process cannot be stopped. We all need nuclear energy to desalinate water and to produce electricity without destroying the environment. As an Israeli professor, a former employee in the nuclear center at Dimona, said this week: we must reconsider our nuclear policy. It may well be to our advantage to accept the demand of the American spokeswoman that Israel (as well as India and Pakistan) join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and a regime of strict supervision.
President Barack Obama is now saying to Israel: Put an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That is a precondition for the elimination of the threat to Israel. When the Palestinians, and the entire Arab world, make peace with Israel, Iran will not be able to exploit the conflict for the furthering of its interests. We were saying this, by the way, many years ago.
The refusal of Netanyahu-Lieberman-Barak to accept this demand shows the insincerity of their arguments about Iran. If they really believed that Iran posed an existential menace, they would hurry to dismantle the settlements, demolish the outposts, and make peace. That would, after all, be a small price to pay for the elimination of an existential danger. Their refusal proves that the entire existential story is a bluff.
and it seems as though they are willing to go it alone whether or not the americans help them as daniel luban and jim lobe explained in their article for ips:
But the new Israeli government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is pushing the U.S. to confront Iran over its nuclear programme, and his allies in the U.S. have similarly argued that Iran should be a top priority.
For the moment, the Iran hawks have mostly expressed muted – if highly sceptical – support for Obama’s diplomatic outreach to Tehran. But they have warned that this outreach must have a “short and hard end date”, as Republican Sen. Jon Kyl put it at the AIPAC conference, at which point the U.S. must turn to harsher measures.
AIPAC’s current top legislative priority is a bill, co-sponsored by Kyl and key Democrats, that would require Obama to impose sanctions on foreign firms that export refined petroleum products to Iran.
In recent Congressional testimony, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the administration would support such “crippling” sanctions against Tehran if diplomacy did not work, but she declined to say how long the administration would permit diplomatic efforts to play out before taking stronger action.
While sanctions seem to be the topic du jour, the possibility of military action against Tehran remains on everybody’s mind, as does the question of whether Israel would be willing to strike Iranian nuclear facilities without Washington’s approval.
In March, Netanyahu told The Atlantic that “if we have to act, we will act, even if America won’t.”
Asked at the AIPAC conference whether Israel would attack Iran without a “green light” from the U.S., former Israeli deputy defence minister Ephraim Sneh joked that in Israel, stoplight signals are “just a recommendation.”
and paul craig roberts’ piece in counterpunch last week explains some of the dangers of privileging the nazi holocaust in all its so-called uniqueness in order to shield the zionist entity’s massive war crimes:
To monitor anti-semitism, it has to be defined. What is the definition? Basically, as defined by the Israel Lobby and Abe Foxman, it boils down to any criticism of Israel or Jews.
Rahm Israel Emanuel hasn’t been mopping floors at the White House.
As soon as he gets the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 passed, it will become a crime for any American to tell the truth about Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and theft of their lands.
It will be a crime for Christians to acknowledge the New Testament’s account of Jews demanding the crucifixion of Jesus.
It will be a crime to report the extraordinary influence of the Israel Lobby on the White House and Congress, such as the AIPAC-written resolutions praising Israel for its war crimes against the Palestinians in Gaza that were endorsed by 100 per cent of the US Senate and 99 per cent of the House of Representatives, while the rest of the world condemned Israel for its barbarity.
It will be a crime to doubt the Holocaust.
It will become a crime to note the disproportionate representation of Jews in the media, finance, and foreign policy.
In other words, it means the end of free speech, free inquiry, and the First Amendment to the Constitution. Any facts or truths that cast aspersion upon Israel will simply be banned.
Given the hubris of the US government, which leads Washington to apply US law to every country and organization, what will happen to the International Red Cross, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, and the various human rights organizations that have demanded investigations of Israel’s military assault on Gaza’s civilian population? Will they all be arrested for the hate crime of “excessive” criticism of Israel?
This is a serious question.
A recent UN report, which is yet to be released in its entirety, blames Israel for the deaths and injuries that occurred within the United Nations premises in Gaza. The Israeli government has responded by charging that the UN report is “tendentious, patently biased,” which puts the UN report into the State Department’s category of excessive criticism and strong anti-Israel sentiment.
Israel is getting away with its blatant use of the American government to silence its critics despite the fact that the Israeli press and Israeli soldiers have exposed the Israeli atrocities in Gaza and the premeditated murder of women and children urged upon the Israeli invaders by rabbis. These acts are clearly war crimes.
It was the Israeli press that published the pictures of the Israeli soldiers’ T-shirts that indicate that the willful murder of women and children is now the culture of the Israeli army. The T-shirts are horrific expressions of barbarity. For example, one shows a pregnant Palestinian woman with a crosshairs over her stomach and the slogan, “One shot, two kills.” These T-shirts are an indication that Israel’s policy toward the Palestinians is one of extermination.
It has been true for years that the most potent criticism of Israel’s mistreatment of the Palestinians comes from the Israeli press and Israeli peace groups. For example, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz and Jeff Halper of ICAHD have shown a moral conscience that apparently does not exist in the Western democracies where Israel’s crimes are covered up and even praised.
Will the American hate crime bill be applied to Haaretz and Jeff Halper? Will American commentators who say nothing themselves but simply report what Haaretz and Halper have said be arrested for “spreading hatred of Israel, an anti-semitic act”?
Many Americans have been brainwashed by the propaganda that Palestinians are terrorists who threaten innocent Israel. These Americans will see the censorship as merely part of the necessary war on terror. They will accept the demonization of fellow citizens who report unpalatable facts about Israel and agree that such people should be punished for aiding and abetting terrorists.
A massive push is underway to criminalize criticism of Israel. American university professors have fallen victim to the well organized attempt to eliminate all criticism of Israel. Norman Finkelstein was denied tenure at a Catholic university because of the power of the Israel Lobby. Now the Israel Lobby is after University of California (at Santa Barbara,) professor Wiliam Robinson. Robinson’s crime: his course on global affairs included some reading assignments critical of Israel’s invasion of Gaza.
The Israel Lobby apparently succeeded in convincing the Obama Justice (sic) Department that it is anti-semitic to accuse two Jewish AIPAC officials, Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, of spying. The Israel Lobby succeeded in getting their trial delayed for four years, and now Attorney General Eric Holder has dropped charges. Yet, Larry Franklin, the DOD official accused of giving secret material to Rosen and Weissman, is serving 12 years and 7 months in prison.
The absurdity is extraordinary. The two Israeli agents are not guilty of receiving secrets, but the American official is guilty of giving secrets to them! If there is no spy in the story, how was Franklin convicted of giving secrets to a spy?
Criminalizing criticism of Israel destroys any hope of America having an independent foreign policy in the Middle East that serves American rather than Israeli interests. It eliminates any prospect of Americans escaping from their enculturation with Israeli propaganda.
To keep American minds captive, the Lobby is working to ban as anti-semitic any truth or disagreeable fact that pertains to Israel. It is permissible to criticize every other country in the world, but it is anti-semitic to criticize Israel, and anti-semitism will soon be a universal hate-crime in the Western world.
Most of Europe has already criminalized doubting the Holocaust. It is a crime even to confirm that it happened but to conclude that less than 6 million Jews were murdered.
Why is the Holocaust a subject that is off limits to examination? How could a case buttressed by hard facts possibly be endangered by kooks and anti-semitics? Surely the case doesn’t need to be protected by thought control.
Imprisoning people for doubts is the antithesis of modernity.
there has been a very interesting war of words brewing on twitter the past couple days, which began in response to the egyptian regime’s crackdown on resistance against the zionist entity. what began as a war of words between the moral and just hassan nasrallah and the american-zionist tool hosni mubarak has been replicating itself on twitter. at the center of it was @waelabbas, an egyptian blogger, who was recently arrested and beaten up by the egyptian authorities (along with his mother). here is one screenshot of the argument:
the tweets pictured above were his directed at particular people and written in general. you have to click on the various @ links to see the replies. the extreme venom this blogger was spewing at nasrallah and anyone else who supports him was deeply disturbing. nasrallah’s speech and what nasrallah was calling for is for arab support for palestinians in gaza, and more generally. but, of course, mubarak has shown his true colors. we know where he stands. there were other bloggers debating, however, in a way that seems more hopeful and helpful: mostly with respect to thinking about panarab unity in support of palestinians. 3arabawy is one such egyptian blogger. another such blogger is a socialist in egypt.
this resistance in egypt against the regime and in ways that supports arab unity more generally is important as egypt seems to be deteriorating daily into more and more of a tool of the zionist-american empire. today, for instance, they confiscated fuel from palestinians:
The police arrested drivers of four trucks carrying fuel and is said to be chasing two other drivers who left their trucks and escaped.
The arrested drivers were identified as Samir Mohammad Suleiman, Nasser Abdul-Wahab, Al Dosouqy Mohammad Al Dosouqy, and Rashid Mohammad Hasan, the Maan News agency reported.
Also, the Egyptian police confiscated a truck the contained clothes meant to be sent to Gaza.
Sand was placed over the clothes for camouflage purposes. The police located the truck and arrested its driver, Adel Sbeih Oweidh.
Furthermore, the Egyptian police confiscated a truck filled with cement and was parked close to the entrance of a tunnel of the border with Gaza. The driver and others who were with him apparently escaped through the tunnel.
Earlier on Tuesday, Egyptian security sources said that two tunnels were located in the border area, in addition to the tunnel that was used for smuggling cement and concrete.
and now the egyptian zionist regime is harassing the families of those they have arrested because they are accused of working with hezbollah:
Officers from Egypt’s domestic intelligence agency, State Security Investigations, telephoned family members and warned them against attending a meeting with rights lawyers in the north Sinai town of al-Arish, according to Sayed Fathi, a lawyer with Cairo’s al-Hilali Foundation for Human Rights.
Fathi, who said he was seeking to represent some of the detainees, told the German Press Agency dpa that family members had planned to meet at the al-Arish headquarters of the leftist Tagammu Party, a local centre for opposition, on Tuesday night.
However, family members had cancelled the meeting following warnings from security officers not to attend.
In remarks published in the independent daily al-Masri al-Youm on Wednesday, Islamist lawyer Montasser al-Zayat said that a purported confession from his client, Lebanese national Sami Shehab, had been false.
i find it fascinating that the mubarak regime is so willing to attack people who are willing to risk their lives to help palestinians resist. but there are other bloggers like antoun issa who gives us a sense of the bigger picture including its shameful use of all that american aid that it never uses to help its own people, many of whom are impoverished:
The vast majority live below the poverty line, and are hungry and restless. Falling into line with most Arab dictators, Mubarak has splashed his extraordinary wealth on resorts, villas, palaces and an extensive security service that is effectively keeping 80 million Egyptians from storming the Presidential Palace.
The infrastructure is crumbling, and to cut even further at the heart of Egyptian pride, the country’s natural gas deposits are being sold to arch rival Israel at a lower-than-market rate. Freedom is nonexistent, torture and kidnappings are rampant, and the Egyptian people are struggling to put food on their plates. The country’s middle class has dwindled.
To compare with another Arab dictator, such as Saddam Hussein, Mubarak is among the worst. For all his shortcomings, Saddam invested in the country’s infrastructure, and had developed Iraq long before Dubai’s first skyscraper. The Iraqi tyrant also ensured a healthy middle class kept the economy afloat, most of which currently reside in Syria and Jordan awaiting their return. Of course, Saddam wasn’t perfect, his treatment of Shi’ites and Kurds was abhorrent, but Iraq was, economically to say the least, a healthy state before his wild adventures brought the world crashing down upon him. Certainly, Iraq’s growing wealth, economically and militarily, was worrisome for all around it. Fortunately for Iraq’s alarmed neighbours, Israel had a buddy named the US, who successfully lured Saddam into Kuwait and destroyed him.
Mubarak, on the other hand, has showed no interest in developing Egypt’s economy nor investing in its people.
On the regional level, Egypt has gone from discreetly co-operating with Israel to taking public photo shots with Israeli leaders. Its public support of Israel against Lebanon in 2006, and again against the Palestinians earlier in the year riled the Arab public. Hizballah, Syria and Iran took advantage, and made sure every angry finger in the Arab and Muslim world was pointed squarely at Mubarak.
The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and other angry dissenters in the country, took to the streets and joined the chorus of condemnation of Egypt’s suffocation of Gaza.
Mubarak, suddenly, felt paranoid. I noted in a lengthy feature piece during the Gaza War that public condemnation between Arab leaders is rare. Hizballah’s criticism of Mubarak during the war not only highlighted a change in dynamics, but also signalled a dangerous intent … Iran’s eyes are on Egypt. Well, at least that’s what Mubarak currently fears.
So when Egypt’s intelligence successfully captured Hizballah operatives, it was quick to point out Iran’s grand scheme to subject Arab Sunnis to Shi’ite domination as a justification for its alliance with the country most Arab Sunnis hate … Israel.
But Arab operators are everywhere in the Middle East, including those of non-state actors. Fatah, for example, was caught out spying on Saudi Arabia and Jordan on behalf of the US when Hamas took over its police compound in the Gaza counter-coup. It would be fair to say that Hizballah has been operating networks in fellow Arab countries for years, and most Arab regimes are aware of it.
Hizballah even has operatives in Israel, which prove useful during times of conflict when these cells provide the Shia movement with intelligence on IDF positions. Certainly, that was the case in 2006.
Egypt’s capture of Hizballah operatives, and its public parade, is more a PR stunt to take the heat off its back re Gaza. Nasrallah didn’t seem too concerned when he confirmed the capture over the weekend, calmly stating that Hizballah was providing arms to Hamas, has been doing so for a while, and will continue to do so.
However, the need of Egypt to parade this capture speaks volumes of its paranoia and insecurity. Mubarak knows he sits atop a boiling Egyptian bubble waiting to burst. He fears an Iranian-style and provoked revolution. No doubt, the Egyptian people are capable of it and are perhaps pondering means to depose of their highly detested leader.
Mubarak also knows that his succession plan to pass the presidency to his son, Gamal Mubarak, is a vulnerable point that can be exposed by his foes, domestic and regional. His succession plans have caused much anger in Egypt, and a persisting fear that Mubarak’s rivals may attempt a coup are mounting.
The Sunni Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt stated during the Gaza War that they have no issue with Iran proselytising Shi’ite Islam. In other words, the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest opposition movement, has now cemented its links with Iran.
Is Hizballah trying to destablise Egypt? No, I don’t think so, and I believe the Egyptians know that too. What bothers Mubarak, however, is that Hizballah can destabilise Egypt, and have the team already placed on Mubarak’s turf, awaiting the orders.
when we compare how the egyptian regime deals with lebanese leaders like nasrallah to leaders from the zionist entity we see something quite different. they are unwilling to meet the most visible racist fascists in the zionist entity’s government, but not the others (all of whom are equally racist and fascist):
In an interview with Russian television on Wednesday Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, warned that his country would not welcome Lieberman so long as his divisive positions remained unchanged.
“When a man speaks he must be aware that the words traveling from his brain to his tongue will have consequences,” said Aboul Gheit, speaking from Cairo.
“Therefore, we will work with the government of Israel but not through the Israeli foreign minister. I do not imagine that he will set foot on Egyptian soil so long as his positions, which we have seen before, remain as they are.”
to understand why lieberman is not any different from any other israeli terrorist politician one must read jonathan cook’s excellent assessment of the ways in which they all overlap (this is from an older article in electronic intifada):
Where he is seen as overstepping the mark is in arguing that the state should strip up to a quarter of a million Palestinians living inside Israel of their citizenship and seal them and their homes into the Palestinian ghettoes being created inside the West Bank (presumably in preparation for the moment when they will all be expelled to Jordan). He believes any remaining Arab citizens should be required to sign a loyalty oath to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state” — loyalty to a democratic state alone will not suffice. Any who refuse will be physically expelled from Israel.
And, as a coup de grace, he has recently demanded the execution for treason of any Arab parliamentarian who talks to the Palestinian leadership in the occupied territories or commemorates Nakba Day, which marks the expulsion and permanent dispossession of the Palestinian people in 1948. That would include every elected representative of Israel’s Arab population.
These are Lieberman’s official positions. Apparently unofficially he wants even worse measures taken against Palestinians, both inside Israel and in the occupied territories. In May 2004, for example, he told a crowd of his supporters, in Russian, that 90 per cent of the country’s Arab citizens should be expelled. “They have no place here. They can take their bundles and get lost.” His speech could have had second billing with one by Adolf Hitler at a Nuremberg Rally.
Despite Lieberman’s well-known political platform, Olmert has been courting him ever since Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel is Our Home) upset the expected three-way struggle between Olmert’s Kadima party, Labor and Likud in the March elections. Lieberman romped home with 11 seats in the 120-member Knesset, making his party a sparring partner of both Likud and the popular religious fundamentalist party Shas.
According to opinion polls, [Lieberman] is now the most popular politician in Israel after Binyamin Netanyahu. According to reports in the Israeli media, Lieberman has not joined the coalition until now because he has been playing hard to get, making increasing demands of Olmert before agreeing to sign up for the government. His hand has grown stronger too: according to opinion polls, he is now the most popular politician in Israel after Binyamin Netanyahu, leader of the Likud party.
In the newly established post of Minister for Strategic Threats, Lieberman — the self-avowed Arab hater — will shape Israel’s response to Iran, leading the chorus threats being made by Israel that it is only a hair’s breadth from dropping bombs, possibly nuclear warheads, on Tehran. After that, he will presumably help the government decide what other “strategic threats” it faces.
While Olmert enthuses over Lieberman, most in the Labor party seem quietly resigned to his inclusion. Labor’s elder statesman and former leader, Shimon Peres, says he has no objections, so long as Lieberman does not challenge the core policies agreed by Kadima and Labor. This, of course, is precisely what Lieberman is doing — it was the price of the bargain he struck with Olmert. Lieberman wants no peace overtures to the Palestinians, and favours the hardline neoliberal economic policies pursued by Kadima.
On Wednesday the Labor leader Amir Peretz, a supposed socialist and former head of the Israeli trade union movement, accepted Lieberman’s entry to the coalition, as Olmert surely knew he would. In typical Labor style, Peretz bought off his conscience by insisting on a package of modest benefits for Arab citizens, the same Arab citizens Lieberman wants expelled. The last time the government made a similar promise to its Arab minority back in late 2001 — when the prime minister of the day, Ehud Barak, needed their votes — the $4 million pledge was broken immediately after the election.
So why are Israel’s politicians, of the left and right, so comfortable sitting with Lieberman, the leader of Israel’s only unquestionably fascist party? Because, in truth, Lieberman is not the maverick politician of popular imagination, even if he is every bit the racist — a Jewish Jorg Haider or Jean Marie Le Pen.
In reality, Lieberman is entirely a creature of the Israeli political establishment, his policies sinister reflections of the principles and ideas he learnt in the inner sanctums of the Likud party, a young hopeful immigrant rubbing shoulders with the likes of Ariel Sharon, Binyamin Netanyahu and, of course, Ehud Olmert.
From their political infancy, the latter three were schooled in the minor arts of Israeli diplomacy: feel free to speak plainly in the womb of the party; speak firmly but cautiously in Hebrew to other Israelis; and speak in another tongue entirely when using English, the language of the goyim, the non-Jews.
But Lieberman, who arrived in Israel as a 21-year-old immigrant, was not around for those lessons. He imbibed nothing of the principles of hasbara, the “advocacy for Israel” industry that has its unpaid battalions of propagandists regularly assaulting the phone lines and email inboxes of the Western media. He tells it exactly as he sees it, even if mostly in Russian.
Inside the Likud party, his political training ground, that hardly mattered. He rapidly rose through the ranks to become director-general of Likud from 1993-96 and soon afterwards to head the office of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. For many years he was the darling of the Likud, a party that today exists in two halves: its original incarnation, once again led by Netanyahu; and the renovated, sleeker model, Kadima, founded by Sharon.
But it was in breaking from Likud and founding his own party, Yisrael Beiteinu, in 1999 that Lieberman finally found his voice outside the Likud’s smoke-filled rooms. The audience for his message was as untutored in the deceits of Israeli politicking as Lieberman himself.
Lieberman immigrated to Israel from Moldova in 1978, leading the vanguard of a wave of immigration from Russia and its satellite states that reached a peak in the early 1990s as the Soviet empire broke up. By the time most Russian speakers began pouring into Israel, Lieberman was already well ensconced in the Israeli political system.
Yisrael Beiteinu’s openly racist agenda spoke to the darkest instincts of the one million newly arrived Russian speakers. Many of them poor and struggling to adapt to Israeli culture, they live far from the prosperous centre of the country in their own neglected ghettos, Little Moscows, where the signs and street language are more than a decade later still in Russian. They feel little affinity for the Jewish state — apart from a loathing for everything Arab.
The state has found it easy to manipulate these immigrants’ emotions. They have little understanding of the historic reasons for Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians, and like other Israelis learn almost nothing more at school. With no context for appreciating why the Palestinians might carry out suicide attacks, Russian speakers assume the Palestinians are simply the hate-filled barbarians as described to them by their politicians.
When young Russian men do three years of active duty in the occupied territories, all these prejudices are confirmed. One of the largest blocs of Israel’s citizen army, the Russians are assigned some of the toughest spots in the West Bank and Gaza, often their first experience of meeting “Arabs”.
When they return home, they find it hard to make sense of Israeli officialdom’s lip service in distinguishing between Arab citizens, who have some rights in the Jewish state, and the “Arabs” of the occupied territories, who have none. Many Russian speakers wonder why Israel does not simply kill or expel the lot of them.
And this is where Lieberman steps in. Because usefully this is exactly what he not only believes but also openly declares. Lieberman can tap the support of nearly a million voters, a huge reservoir of support for any prime ministerial hopeful trying to assemble the coalition needed to form a government under the fractious Israeli political system.
Neither Olmert nor Netanyahu can afford to say what is really on their minds: that they want to cleanse the region of as many Palestinians as they can manage — most certainly those in the occupied territories, and later the even bigger nuisance of the ones who have citizenship and undermine Israel’s Jewishness.
But instead they can let a Lieberman, the charismatic leader of a popular party who does dare to say these things, join the government with minimal damage to their own reputations.
They can also let him use the platform provided by a cabinet position to shape a new coarser political language in which ideas of expulsion and transfer become ever more mainstream. Until one day the policies Lieberman advocates, reflections of the values he imbibed during his long years spent in Likud, become acceptable enough that a Prime Minister — Olmert or Netanyahu or Lieberman himself — will be able to put them in the government’s programme.
Instead of using words like “disengagement”, “convergence” or “realignment”, Israel’s politicians of the near future may simply call for the expulsion of Arabs, all Arabs.
Even now they do little to conceal the fact that such thoughts are uppermost in their minds. Netanyahu, currently Israel’s most popular politician and the leader of the opposition, has repeatedly called the 1.2 million Arab citizens of the country a “demographic timebomb”. Back in 2002, for example, he told an audience of policymakers: “If there is a demographic problem, and there is, it is with the Israeli Arabs who will remain Israeli citizens … We therefore need a policy that will first of all guarantee a Jewish majority.”
Unlike Lieberman, Netanyahu never spells out what policies he is advocating. But most Israelis understand that in practice, if he felt free to speak his mind, his platform would not look much different from Yisrael Beiteinu’s.
Olmert too uses code words readily understood by his Israeli audiences. In late 2004, in an interview with the Haaretz newspaper, he said: “There is no doubt in my mind that very soon the government of Israel is going to have to address the demographic issue with the utmost seriousness and resolve. This issue above all others will dictate the solution that we must adopt.” He added that he feared the Palestinians would soon be a majority in the area comprising both the occupied territories and Israel, and that then they could launch a “dangerous” struggle for “one-man-one-vote” similar to the one against apartheid in South Africa. He concluded: “For us, it would mean the end of the Jewish state.”
What “solution” was Olmert referring to? Israelis know only too well. Every year since 2000 Olmert, Netanyahu, Peres and other senior policymakers have been meeting at the Herzliya conference, near Tel Aviv, to draw up ideas about how to deal with the demographic threat: the rapidly approaching moment when the Palestinians, either those with Israeli citizenship or the non-citizens living under military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza, will outnumber Jews.
The solutions they have proposed have been similar to Lieberman’s. Both the disengagement from Gaza and the planned limited withdrawals from the West Bank came out of Herzliya. But so did a range of measures to deal with the country’s Arab citizens: land swaps to lose areas of Israel densely populated with Arabs in return for the settlements in the West Bank; loyalty oaths as a condition of citizenship; stripping the Arab population of their right to vote; and forcing all political parties to subscribe to Zionist ideals.
Israel already has legislation requiring all parties running for the Knesset to support Israel remaining a “Jewish and democratic state.” These are not fanciful ideas; they are now firmly in the mainstream. Israel already has legislation requiring all parties running for the Knesset to support Israel remaining a “Jewish and democratic state”. Technically, the only non-Zionist parties — two Arab parties and the small joint Jewish and Arab Communist party — could quite legally be disqualified from all general elections under the current legislation. They expect that at some point in the near future they will be too.
The two previous prime ministers, Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon, both secretly favoured land swaps in which large numbers of Arab citizens would be removed from the Jewish state. Barak proposed such a scheme at Camp David in the summer of 2000, as several participants later confirmed. And in February 2004 Sharon floated the same idea during an interview in the Maariv newspaper. When it caused a storm, he backtracked, but investigations by the paper revealed that he had been formulating a land swap for some time with his advisers and had even consulted the then Labor leader and his foreign minister, Shimon Peres, on its feasibility.
At the top of Lieberman’s list of demands before agreeing to enter Olmert’s coalition are major changes to Israel’s constitution, including the introduction of a presidential system to replace the current parliamentary system. Israel already has a President, currently Moshe Katsav, who is facing a string of rape and sexual harassment allegations, but the post is entirely symbolic.
Lieberman wants a president who has the authority to make major legislative changes, even constitutional ones, without having to make the backroom compromises to keep together the coalition governments that characterise Israel’s current political system. The president Lieberman has in mind would be more on the lines of an autocratic ruler.
Olmert is apparently sympathetic to Lieberman’s plans to change the political system. It is not difficult to understand why.
and yet somehow egyptian ministers think they are saving face when they say they won’t meet with lieberman, but they will meet with netanyahu. they are the same. the net result for palestinians is the same.
interestingly while the egyptians try to outzion the zionists, it seems that the world zionist organization is quite upset with coca-cola in egypt and is launching a boycott campaign of coca-cola there:
The Bigios owned property near Cairo, Egypt since the early 1900’s; Coca-Cola had been leasing the property and contracting with the Bigios, until the property was illegally taken from the family by the Egyptian government in 1964 during a campaign of anti-Semitism. In 1979, the Egyptian government ordered that the Bigios’ property be returned to them, but the Egyptian courts refused to enforce the order. In 1994, Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Egypt “purchased” the property when it was “privatized.” When the Bigios contacted Coca-Cola to remind the company of the family’s right to the property and requested to be justly compensated, top Coca-Cola officials cavalierly brushed the family aside.
The Bigios brought a federal court action against Coca-Cola in 1997. Since then, Coca-Cola’s lawyers have used numerous legal maneuvers to avoid reaching the merits of the Bigios’ case. All of their procedural objections have failed – twice in the U.S. Court of Appeals and once in the U.S. Supreme Court.
ironically this is the reason many of us boycott companies like johnson & johnson, nestle, and yes coca-cola: because they are on the land of destroyed palestinian villages in 1948 palestine (as in photograph above). but those of us involved in boycott also boycott coca-cola. here is why (from the boycott campaign in lebanon):
According to Coca-Cola’s Hebrew web-site, Abe Feinberg’s Central Bottling Company (CBC) was granted in 1968 the license to sell Coke in Israel as a way to support the Zionist state, despite the losses that an Arab boycott of Coke would mean for the company.
Coca- Cola’s Hebrew web-site details how the company operates in Israel economically, socially, and politically, to enact a Zionist state.
Coca-Cola bought the Golan Heights Winery in 2002 and uses it to distribute wines throughout Europe.
Coca-Cola sponsors Israel’s national basketball team, “in which it invests great amounts of money annually” as well as Israeli national marathons, tennis competitions, etc.
While the local Israeli market is small and unable to generate significant tax revenue, approximately 40% or more of government expenditure goes to military. Thus, little money is left over for other social services. Social giving literally saves the state money.
In 2003, Coca-Cola paid $8.4 million to the Israel Land Administration for land on which to build a Coca-Cola factory in Askalan. To capture Askalan for Jewish-only settlement, Israelis ethnically-cleansed the Palestinian villages of Al-Khisas, Al-Jura, and Al-Ni’ilya of their 5000+ inhabitants in Operation Yo’av on Nov. 4 -5, 1948. The inhabitants fled to Gaza, and their land was confiscated as national Israeli property.
Furthermore, in July 2002, Coca-Cola announced that, in return for millions of dollars in tax breaks from the Israeli government, it will build a new plant in Kiryat Gat where it will employ 700 more Israelis. Kiryat Gat is built on land of Iraq al-Manshiyya and al-Faluja whose inhabitants were expelled through force in 1949, in contravention of the Egyptian-Israeli armistice which guaranteed the safety of the residents and their property. By international law, the land still belongs to those Palestinians, but Coke paid the rent to the occupiers not the lawful owners.
Likewise, Coca-Cola’s investment in the Golan Heights Winery helps make the occupation economically viable and put economic pressure on the Israeli government not to return the Golan to Syria. Thus, Coca-Cola helps build “facts on the ground” intended to preclude return of occupied lands to the rightful owners.
On October 11th 2001, Coca-Cola hosted at its headquarters in Atlanta, the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce Eagle Star Awards Gala at which awards were given out by Israel’s Economic Minister to North American companies that had invested in Israel. In turn, Coca-Cola USA was itself honored by the Israel Economic Mission at the Israel Trade 1997 Award Dinner.
Money received from licensees is given by Atlanta headquarters to the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, a branch of the United Jewish Charities (UJC). Coca-Cola USA’s donations to the UJC are made by the corporation, not its individual employees. Part goes to finance lobbies that are “strongly proactive and vocal in support of Israel,” and to “send solidarity missions to Israel, allowing thousands of North American Jews to show their support … speaking out on Israel’s behalf when they return.” And “part goes to meet overseas needs through our partners, the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (AJJDC). These dollars help build the Jewish homeland and rebuild strong Jewish communities in over 60 countries around the world….” “Assisting immigration to Israel claims a significant portion of JAFI’s budget, with services such as pre-immigration preparation, absorption centers…and resettlement programs. “JDC also works to help strengthen the social service system as a whole … by offering leadership and management training programs …”
Thus, while Palestinians are denied the right of return and social equality by Israel, money donated by Coca-Cola USA enables Jews to live in Israel as if they really were “the chosen people.”
“…the Jewish Agency for Israel [has been a] full partner in setting up and supporting the Confrontation Line communities, rescuing Jews from countries in distress and helping them settle in the region…” Since 2000, “Recognizing the urgency of the [post-withdraw] situation, the Jewish Agency has already contributed to the rural settlers of the Confrontation Line by forgiving $40 million in debts.”
if those are not enough reasons to boycott coca-cola (and this is aside from the horrible health consequences from drinking such beverages) i don’t know what is. but there is more. because palestinians think that coca-cola is palestinian because a palestinian businessman set up coca-cola in al bireh here. however here are some startling facts that palestinians should consider before they purchase coca-cola products (aside from the fact that portions of the proceeds go to the same exact places as stated above after giving its portion of the proceeds to its u.s. owner):
Until 1998, Israeli company Central Bottling Company owned the license for marketing Coca-Cola throughout Palestine. Zahi Khoury led Palestinian investors in buying the license for marketing Coca-Cola products in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and in 1998 re-designed the National Beverage Company located in Betounia Industrial Park to produce Coca-Cola products.
The venture cost $20 million. The contract gave Coca-Cola International 15% ownership of the venture and the Palestine National Authority another 15%.
Moving the management of sales to Palestinian to a Palestinian businessman was seen to be in Coca-Cola’s best interests according to Ian Shackleton, Coca-Cola’s Israel manager because, “Sales to the territories have dropped over the past few years, with the decline beginning already from the  Intifada.”
The opportunity for Coca-Cola was not only in Palestine but in the Arab world at large, which had been boycotting Coca-Cola until 1993 for its support for Israel. As it looked to invest $200 million in Arab regional ventures to surpass Pepsi in regional popularity, Coca-Cola needed Palestinians to overcome the long popular objections to the company. However, the venture implicates Palestinians in an important political compromise because East Jerusalem remains under the jurisdiction of the Israeli supplier. In this act, a private company has imposed a political vision that counters international agreement about the legitimacy of Israel’s occupation of Jerusalem. Indeed, this act should be seen as part of Coca-Cola’s wider corporate support for Israeli occupation.
Some questions to consider: Prior to being purchased by Coca-Cola the factory in Ramallah was the site of production for Club refreshments. How many workers were employed by it? How many local competitors are there to Coca-Cola now (beyond the toot, jallab, and other refreshments producers) — we have heard of Star Cola as one locally made competitor? Do you have a sense of how many people they employ? In terms of Palestinian economic productiveness, what would be wrong with people simple switching to these products and their eventually hiring people formerly employed by Coca-Cola?
these are strange bedfellows here with respect to the boycott coca-cola campaign to be sure. but if the zionists want to help us boycott coca-cola more power to them. and there are so many more reasons to boycott coke for its horrible practices in other parts of the world. see killer coke’s website for more of these reasons.
and just to be sure that i am not picking on egypt, but rather its refusal to help palestinians and its collaboration with the zionist-american regimes, clearly jordan is acting up today too:
A Jordanian judicial source said that Thabet Abu Al-Haj, 37, Azzam Jaber, 36, and Salim Al-Husani, 27, were accused of collecting information about Jordanian military and government installations for Hamas.
The three were convicted of spying on military posts along the Israeli border and the Israeli embassy in Amman.
The court reduced what was originally a ten year sentence, taking into consideration that the three are relatively young and have families.
Two other suspects, Muhammad Al-Khujah, 43, and Taleb Abdallah, 46, were charged in connection to the same activities, but were released in early October.
The five were arrested by Jordan between early August and 25 September 2007. The public prosecution also accused them participated in military and security training in a neighboring country.
The Islamic Front, the political wing of Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan claimed that four of the men were affiliated with the movement.
and the zionists are trying to get in on the action today too by claiming that israeli terrorists who smoke marijuana are supporting hezbollah:
In one poster, Nasrallah’s head appears rising like a genie on smoke from a bong.
The poster reads: (In red) “Nasrallah aims at destroying Israel entirely.” The campaign is based on the allegation that Hizbullah funds its activities in Lebanon and alleged activities in Palestinian areas through drug trafficking.
In white font the poster reads: “Hizbullah has the obvious purpose of flooding Israel with venom which forms a strategic danger against Israel. We should not give him the chance to destroy Israel and we should counter drugs internally and externally.”
Hizbullah is the Lebanese resistance group thought to be responsible for forcing Israel to end its decades-old occupation of southern Lebanon in 2000. In 2006 Israel launched an unsuccessful war against organization after it seized two Israeli soldiers.
an op-ed in the new york times this week, which was only posted online (it was not printed in the newspaper itself), by roger cohen highlights some important hypocrisies in the u.s. media and in american foreign policy. particularly significant is the discussion of the zionist entity’s hypocrisy when it comes to its nuclear arsenal and the the obama administration continuing to turn a blind eye towards this as with all u.s. administrations before. what cohen shows, for one thing, is the fact that this new government in the zionist entity is little different from previous administrations there, too. here is cohen’s op ed (thanks tam tam):
Benjamin Netanyahu 2009? Try again. These words were in fact uttered by another Israeli prime minister (and now Israeli president), Shimon Peres, in 1996. Four years earlier, in 1992, he’d predicted that Iran would have a nuclear bomb by 1999.
You can’t accuse the Israelis of not crying wolf. Ehud Barak, now defense minister, said in 1996 that Iran would be producing nuclear weapons by 2004.
Now here comes Netanyahu, in an interview with his faithful stenographer Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, spinning the latest iteration of Israel’s attempt to frame Iran as some Nazi-like incarnation of evil:
“You don’t want a messianic apocalyptic cult controlling atomic bombs. When the wide-eyed believer gets hold of the reins of power and the weapons of mass death, then the entire world should start worrying, and that is what is happening in Iran.”
I must say when I read those words about “the wide-eyed believer” my mind wandered to a recently departed “decider.” But I’m not going there.
The issue today is Iran and, more precisely, what President Barack Obama will make of Netanyahu’s prescription that, the economy aside, Obama’s great mission is “preventing Iran from gaining nuclear weapons” — an eventuality newly inscribed on Israeli calendars as “months” away.
I’ll return to the ever shifting nuclear doomsday in a moment, but first that Netanyahu interview.
This “messianic apocalyptic cult” in Tehran is, of course, the very same one with which Israel did business during the 1980’s, when its interest was in weakening Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. That business — including sales of weapons and technology — was an extension of Israeli policy toward Iran under the shah.
It’s also the same “messianic apocalyptic cult” that has survived 30 years, ushered the country from the penury of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, shrewdly extended its power and influence, cooperated with America on Afghanistan before being consigned to “the axis of evil,” and kept its country at peace in the 21st century while bloody mayhem engulfed neighbors to east and west and Israel fought two wars.
I don’t buy the view that, as Netanyahu told Goldberg, Iran is “a fanatic regime that might put its zealotry above its self-interest.” Every scrap of evidence suggests that, on the contrary, self-interest and survival drive the mullahs.
Yet Netanyahu insists (too much) that Iran is “a country that glorifies blood and death, including its own self-immolation.” Huh?
On that ocular theme again, Netanyahu says Iran’s “composite leadership” has “elements of wide-eyed fanaticism that do not exist in any other would-be nuclear power in the world.” No, they exist in an actual nuclear power, Pakistan.
Israel’s nuclear warheads, whose function is presumably deterrence of precisely powers like Iran, go unmentioned, of course.
Netanyahu also makes the grotesque claim that the terrible loss of life in the Iran-Iraq war (started by Iraq) “didn’t sear a terrible wound into the Iranian consciousness.” It did just that, which is why Iran’s younger generation seeks reform but not upheaval; and why the country as a whole prizes stability over military adventure.
Arab states, Netanyahu suggests, “fervently hope” that America will, if necessary, use “military power” to stop Iran going nuclear. My recent conversations, including with senior Saudi officials, suggest that’s wrong and the longstanding Israeli attempt to convince Arab states that Iran, not Israel, is their true enemy will fail again.
What’s going on here? Israel, as it has for nearly two decades, is trying to lock in American support and avoid any disadvantageous change in the Middle Eastern balance of power, now overwhelmingly tilted in Jerusalem’s favor, by portraying Iran as a monstrous pariah state bent on imminent nuclear war.
A semblance of power balance is often the precondition for peace. Iran was left out of the Madrid and Oslo processes, with disastrous results. But that’s a discussion for another day.
What’s critical right now is that Obama view Netanyahu’s fear-mongering with an appropriate skepticism, rein him in, and pursue his regime-recognizing opening toward Tehran, as he did Wednesday by saying America would join nuclear talks for the first time. The president should read Trita Parsi’s excellent “Treacherous Alliance” as preparation.
The core strategic shift of Obama’s presidency has been away from the with-us-or-against-us rhetoric of the war on terror toward a rapprochement with the Muslim world as the basis for isolating terrorists.
That’s unsustainable if America or Israel find themselves at war with Muslim Persians as well as Muslim Arabs, and if Netanyahu’s intense-eyed attempt to suck America into a perpetuation of war-on-terror thinking prevails.
The only way to stop Iran going nuclear, and encourage reform of a repressive regime, is to get to the negotiating table. There’s time. Those “months” are still a couple of years. What Iran has accumulated is low-enriched uranium. You need highly-enriched uranium for a bomb. That’s a leap.
Israeli hegemony is proving a kind of slavery. Passage to the Promised Land involves rethinking the Middle East, starting in Iran.
but it is not only this nuclear arms race to which the zionist entity is holding the world hostage in spite of most in the american media who remain silent about its nuclear weapons. it is also, of course, the larger issue of zionist colonialism and occupation of palestinian, syrian, and lebanese land. ira glunts reported in the palestine chronicle some statements made by benjamin netanyahu’s father in an israeli terrorist newspaper:
The elder Netanyahu is known for his outspokenness and extreme right-wing views–and he did nothing to contradict his reputation. He decreed that the only solution to the conflict with the Palestinians is the use of military force. He stated that he would not return the Golan Heights to Syria because “you do not return land.” He also explained that in his view it is impossible to compromise with Arabs. The Prime Minister’s father further opines that the Turks used brutal deadly force to suppress the Arab population and that should be an example to Israel in dealing with Arabs whose nature dictates that they live in a state of perpetual war.
right. they don’t return land. they merely continue to steal and conquer land. and homes and people. in counterpunch this week ellen cantrow reveals precisely how what many americans may perceive as giving up land is merely code for ethnic cleansing (“transfer” in zionist speak):
So he should be denounced by all means, but it is certain that the problems attaching to his name are not going away. On the contrary — particularly given President Obama’s repudiation of Lieberman during the President’s speech in Ankara, Turkey, and his avowed loyalty to a ‘two-state solution’ – these problems will appear in a different form, specifically in regard to the nature of the “two states” under the guidance of Obama, Netanyahu & Co.
If the Lieberman appointment wasn’t specifically designed to have him play bad cop to everyone else’s good cop, it’s certainly turning out that way. A recent J Street petition urges me and thousands of on-line others to denounce Lieberman as a threat to “our community’s values,” and also to endorse J Street’s offer of “our best wishes and congratulations . . . pledging to help Benjamin Netanyahu’s government where possible, and push when necessary, to achieve the goal of real peace and security for Israel, the Palestinians, and the whole Middle East.”
This is truly a dangerous path. Three years ago, Lieberman proposed annexing to the northern West Bank parts of the Galilee with large Arab populations. At the heart of this region is Wadi Ara, described in a US media account a few years ago as “a seasonal riverbed adjacent to the West Bank.” With a majority Arab population, Wadi Ara has been Israel’s ever since Ben-Gurion wrenched an agreement from Jordan’s King Abdullah that he cede the land as part of the post-war armistice agreement.
The area’s story goes back farther. During a 2005 US trip, Shimon Peres suggested to American listeners that US “disengagement funds” (your tax dollars at work after the famed Gaza “pull-out”) should be employed to “develop” Wadi Ara – that is, to resettle the “dispossessed” Gaza settlers there. This echoed Irving Howe’s suggestion in The New York Times Book Review (May, 16,1982), that more Jews be sent to the “under-populated Galilee” – “under-populated,” that is, in the sense that New York was “under-populated” by whites until the gentrification projects of the housing “boom years.”
Lieberman set the Peres idea on its head with his “land-swap” notion but both proposals have in common their preoccupation with the “the demographic issue.” On this, just about all of Israel – and much of so called “liberal Jewish” America – is united, extreme-right through left, the devil being only in the details how to resolve it for good.
Lieberman’s suggestion was deemed “illegal” by Israeli scholars, but it has found sympathetic supporters ever since. As it stands now, it could easily trot forward as a “two-state solution” under US-Israeli aegis. This is what is ignored in the hysteria about Lieberman’s actual appointment: “transfer,” long an Israeli option, may actually take place in the near future. (Lieberman’s has been called “soft transfer”)
In the Washington Post February, 2006, Henry Kissinger enthusiastically endorsed the idea without mentioning Lieberman by name: “The most logical outcome would be to trade Israeli settlement blocs around Jerusalem . . . for some equivalent territories in present-day Israel with significant Arab populations. The rejection of such an approach . . . which would contribute greatly to stability and to demographic balance reflects a determination to keep incendiary issues permanently open.”
Incendiary issues” no doubt include Wadi Ara Arabs’ bitter resistance to the “land swap” notion. “Stability” and “demographic balance” are code for the purity of the Jewish state, once it’s been relieved of its “demographic problem,” and once potentially fractious Arabs have come under the boot of the Palestinian Authority, the US-Israel regional puppet.
Around the same time Kissinger wrote his commentary, Israel National News reported that Knesset member Otniel Schneller of Kadima, “considered to be one of the people closest and most loyal to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert,” had proposed something similar to Lieberman’s “swap” idea. Schneller’s plan was “more gradual.” The annexed, former Israeli Arab citizens would still be of the Jewish state. Their land, however, would belong to the Palestinian Authority and they wouldn’t be allowed to resettle anywhere else in Israel.
i’m glad she mentions j street here as a part of the problem. because so many americans seem to be deluded into thinking that they are the anti-israeli lobby, when in fact they are invested in the zionist entity just as much. this group is not against zionist colonialism of palestinian land. part of the problem is that even though some u.s. lawmakers seem to be waking up a bit they characerize everything as if it is about a humanitarian crisis, as with gaza, but never as a political crisis, as in colonialism. see, for example these quotes by two congressmen in ben hubbard’s article in which hamas is still painted as “terrorist” and the context of palestinians is solely related to a “humanitarian” situation:
Lynch, a Democrat from Massachusetts, said the world must find a way to address a “legitimate humanitarian crisis” in Gaza.
“We need to act with some urgency here. There is a humanitarian crisis going on and we can’t dawdle,” Lynch told the Associated Press.
it is decidedly not “humanitarian.” it is political. and refusal to see this will keep the same cycles of land confiscation and negotiation in play indefinitely. which is just what israeli terrorists want. it gives them time to steal more land, create facts on the ground with americans looking the other way. it gives them more opportunities to murder with american weapons and then american congressmen can come back and say it’s a humanitarian crisis.
none of this will change until there is a just solution for palestinians: meaning their stolen land is returned and palestinian refugees return home. helena cobban shows us a different route, however, one that allows refugees their right of return and one that liberates all of palestine. her article historicizes how we got to this point, but here is her conclusion:
Many ‘occupied’ Palestinians are returning to the key defensive ideas of steadfastness and “just hanging on” to their land. But new energy for leadership is now emerging between two other key groups of Palestinians: those in the diaspora, and those who are citizens of Israel. The contribution those groups can make to nationwide organising has been considerably strengthened by new technologies – and crucially, neither of them has much interest in a two-state outcome.
Not surprisingly, therefore, discussions about the nature of a one-state outcome – and how to achieve it – have become more frequent, and much richer in intellectual content, in recent years.
Palestinian-Israeli professor Nadim Rouhanna, now teaching at Tufts University in Massachusetts, is a leader in the new thinking. “The challenge is how to achieve the liberation of both societies from being oppressed and being oppressors,” he told a recent conference in Washington, DC. “Palestinians have to… reassure the Israeli Jews that their culture and vitality will remain. We need to go further than seeing them only as ‘Jews-by- religion’ in a future Palestinian society.”
Like many advocates of the one-state outcome, Rouhanna referred enthusiastically to the exuberant multiculturalism and full political equality that have been embraced by post-apartheid South Africa.
Progressive Jewish Israelis like Ben Gurion University geographer Oren Yiftachel are also part of the new movement. Yiftachel’s most recent work has examined at the Israeli authorities’ decades-long campaign to expropriate the lands of the ethnically Palestinian Bedouin who live in southern Israel – and are citizens of Israel. “The expropriation continues – there and inside the West Bank, and in East Jerusalem,” Yiftachel said, explaining that he did not see the existence of “the Green Line” that supposedly separates Israel from the occupied territory as an analytically or politically relevant concept.
but how do we get to this place where the land is liberated and palestinians control the land that is rightfully theirs? paul grenville’s article in palestine think tank this week gives some clues as to how one might achieve this goal of liberating the land:
However such tactics do not even elicit a pause from Israel’s political leadership, Right and Left, in the ongoing war on the Palestinians, the Zionist project of clearing the land of Arabs, and the continued illegal settlement by Jews of the Palestine’s West Bank. Clearly Hamas and other resistance organizations are quite powerless by themselves to stop Zionism in its tracks. In a defensive struggle the Shi’ite organization Hezbollah did succeed in throwing the IDF out of Lebanon in the year 2000, and successfully frustrated Israel’s attempt to reoccupy the Southern Lebanon in 2006. Israeli expansionism was thus contained.
At no point in the last sixty-one years have Arab armies succeeded in crossing Israel’s 1967 borders, or even in invading the annexed West Bank. Israel’s wars, including that of 1948, have been fought on the territory of other countries. The Yom Kippur War of 1973, although a partial defeat for the Arabs, did eventually lead to the return of the Sinai to Egypt (under American pressure) during the Carter administration. The regional military balance has been shifting in Israel’s favour for the last sixty years (Ref. “Plowshares Into Swords: From Zionism to Israel” by Arno J Mayer, Verso, 2008). Talk of Hamas’ “victory” in Gaza in 2009 (http://news.antiwar.com/2009/01/18/hamas-leader-declares-victory-in-gaza-war) is in my view self-deluding and misplaced. An unopposed massacre of over 1,400 civilians is not a victory.
I do not want to see the Palestinian resistance reduced to the equivalent of the Native American “ghost dances” of the 1880s, as the last resistance of the aboriginal inhabitants of Palestine is vanquished. I do not think for a moment that this will happen, because the Palestinian Diaspora now numbers more than 7 million, but the weakness of the opposition to the Zionist colonisation of Palestine within Israel is very concerning, and a helping hand from an international citizens’ boycott of Israeli goods and services is its chief, but not its only hope. Arab resistance and Arab demography are other reasons for hope.
Resistance as enshrined in the UN charter is legal; Israel is not, as the renowned Irgun terrorist Menachem Begin and future Israeli Prime Minister remarked the day after the UN vote on the partition of Palestine in November 1947: “The Partition of Palestine is illegal. It will never be recognized …. Jerusalem was and will forever be our capital. Eretz Israel will be restored to the people of Israel. All of it. And forever.” In order to be accepted as a member state in the United Nations, in 1949, Israel was required to endorse General Assembly Resolution 194, which recognizes the right of return of the Palestinian refugees and commits itself to the return of all “the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours” (700,000 in total at the time), to its sovereign territory. Israel accepted, was made a member state and immediately after announced it had no intention of implementing the UN resolution. Israel thus announced its illegitimacy as a member state of the UN. The Security Council, dominated by the imperialist states of the West, who helped to implant Israel in the Middle East in the first place, went along for the ride.
Israel’s key vulnerability lies in its being a trading state with a highly skilled workforce but few natural resources. The boycott of Israeli products, coupled with divestment in Israeli companies and a cultural embargo has to be a key way of supporting the Islamic and secular Palestinian resistance (PFLP), as well as a way of applying pressure to the Zionist establishment to moderate its penchant for atrocities, encouraging dissent within Israel and the deepening of existing fissures within Israeli society. If an international boycott can be linked to the issue of the Right of Return for the Palestinians and the cancellation of the Jewish Right of Return, an uncontroversial strategic goal in support of the Palestinians can be flagged up for the movement.
In January 2009 479 Israeli citizens signed a document called “A Call From Israeli Citizens” (at www.kibush.co.il) calling for the boycott of Israeli products, divestment from and sanctions against Israel as the only way forward to begin the Civil-ization (in both senses – demilitarisation as well – Occupied Palestine to become a civilian society once again rather than a garrison state) of the Zionist military machine and stop the ongoing war on the Palestinian population.
In the 1980s Meron Benvenisti, an Israeli writer and the ex-deputy mayor of Jerusalem, ran the West Bank Data Project, which analyzed the interaction of the Israeli and Palestinian economies in the Occupation. The resulting study concluded that the West Bank had effectively been annexed by Israel, not merely occupied (Ref: Intimate Enemies, Jews and Arabs in a Shared Land, 1995). As pre-1967 Israel was also an annexation by military force, accompanied by some strong arming of Truman and the infant United Nations by Zionist elements in the American Jewish community, the term “Occupied Palestine” correctly refers to the whole of the land between the river Jordan and the sea. Any other designation fudges the evidence, which suggests that the military occupation of the West Bank will remain until the post-1948 colonial regime itself is either brought down or collapses under the weight of its own internal contradictions, to be replaced by a non-colonial political order and the re-establishment of political and economic equality between Arab and Jew.
Before 1967, Palestinian civilians of Israel also lived under a military occupation, and were in a similar position politically to those of the West Bank and Gaza now. The Palestinian American writer Rashid Khalidi uses the term “helot” (a term from the Greek of Ancient Greece to designate an indeterminate status between that of a slave and that of a citizen) to designate the position of Palestinian civilians who have neither civil rights nor any political opportunity to influence the behaviour of the state that dominates and controls their lives in endlessly demeaning and demoralising ways.
Those who do not like equality before the law and citizenship for all will leave, just as the Algerian French did together with some of the pieds noirs in 1962, helping to solve the problem of housing some of the Palestinian refugees from Occupied Palestine at a stroke. Frantz Fanon’s two most important books, Black Skin, White Masks, and The Wretched of the Earth, have now been translated into Hebrew (2004). I am sure that they have been available in Arabic for a long time, but the political culture of the Hebrews is backward and inward looking, which is to be expected in a colonial state. Were the champion of the Algerian liberation struggle Fanon alive today (he would be 82 years old) he would certainly support the Palestinians. It is our privilege and duty as free citizens of the international community to do the same.
yes, economic resistance is one form we must use. and a recent news item on the bbc is a clear sign of what israeli terrorists–and their american corporate sponsors–will be up against after the fall of the zionist entity:
They argue that the firms supplied equipment used by the South African security forces to suppress dissent.
The companies affected have not yet responded to the judge’s ruling.
US District Judge Shira Scheindlin in New York dismissed complaints against several companies but said plaintiffs could proceed with lawsuits against IBM, Daimler, Ford, General Motors and Rheinmetall Group, the German parent of an armaments maker.
“Corporate defendants accused of merely doing business with the apartheid government of South Africa have been dismissed,” she said.
The plaintiffs argue that the car manufacturers knew their vehicles would be used by South African forces to suppress dissent. They also say that computer companies knew their products were being used to help strip black South Africans of their rights.
The judge disagreed with IBM’s argument that it was not the company’s place to tell clients how to use its products.
“That level of wilful blindness in the face of crimes in violation of the law of nations cannot defeat an otherwise clear showing of knowledge that the assistance IBM provided would directly and substantially support apartheid,” she said.
More than 50 companies were initially sued, but after a court demanded more specific details, the plaintiffs decided to target fewer companies.
The US and South African governments supported the companies’ efforts to get the complaints dismissed.
They argue that the legal action is damaging to international relations and may threaten South Africa’s economic development.
resistance is the key: all forms of resistance. and as to the one state solution or binational state depending on which terminology you choose, it should be a palestinian state. what palestinians choose to do about the colonists who live on stolen land is for palestinians to decide. but anything short of liberating the land from the river to the sea is unworkable. unjust.
and just for a bit of inspiration the never before campaign has a new video:
having lived in jordan i spent much of my time working with refugees. at the beginning, it was just palestinian refugees living in camps. some had fled in 1948 and some had fled in 1967 when they were ethnically cleansed from their land in palestine. but midway through my year in jordan i read about another refugee camp–a new one–that had a significant number of palestinian refugees in it. this new camp was for people fleeing iraq. and in this camp there were palestinian refugees among them, all of whom had fled their homes for a 3rd or 4th time. al ruweished refugee camp, which also housed a number of other people, including kurds from iraq and iran, is now gone. the families have largely been resettled in canada, northern europe, and south america (there is an electronic intifada article about the resettlement in chile). (i have written about this at length on this blog in earlier posts when i was going to the camp regularly you may search to find out more about this. you can also click here to see more photographs from the camp.) but i was struck by these twin refugees: iraqi and palestinian, both of whom were trapped in jordan under a regime that treated them with hostility. a regime that, for many palestinians, has always conspired against them with the british and then with the zionists. one of my students shared a poem with me today about this. he wrote a poem that talked about jordan as the real enemy of palestinians. but the important thing that both sets of refugees demand their right of return. the sad thing is that both groups who remain in jordan–and elsewhere for that matter–seem to be in despair over whether that right will be something they see in their lifetime. nisreen el-shamayleh did a report for al jazeera from gaza camp in jerash, jordan today on palestinian and iraqi refugees in jordan:
of course there are so many other parallels between the iraqi and palestinian refugees. both are subjected to governments, for instance, that are puppet regimes serving the american and israeli terrorist interests not theirs. neither group is a priority for the regimes in their home countries. and yet here are the puppet presidents meeting today in iraq one promising the other protection. as if!
The assurance was given on Sunday during his first visit to the country since the US-led invasion in 2003, which toppled Saddam Hussein from power.
Abbas said that the Iraqi officials he met consider Palestinians living in Iraq to be “part of the Iraqi people, so we believe that they are in safe hands”.
He praised Iraq’s pledge to support Palestinians, but did not publicly mention reports of human-rights abuses against Palestinians living in Iraq.
“We would like to thank the Iraqi government for its concern about Palestinians living in Iraq,” Abbas said after a meeting with Jalal Talabani, his Iraqi counterpart.
Abbas also met Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, in a trip that marked a major step in improved ties between the Baghdad government and the Palestinian leadership.
of course they did not talk about the perilous state of palestinians in iraq or their flight from iraq, or the palestinians still in refugee camps in syria because they had to flee iraq. (see human rights watch’s report on palestinian flight for background on this.) the letter below is one of the reasons for the flight of many palestinian refugee families i met in al ruweished camp. but of course iraq doesn’t protect palestinians in iraq what makes abbas think that maliki is going to protect palestinians in palestine or anywhere else for that matter?
there is a great article about palestinian refugees displaced from iraq in electronic intifada by anaheed al-hardan. here is some of the article that provides context for palestinians in iraq, though the rest of the article is worth reading, too:
Like most Palestinian refugees in Iraq, their families were originally from villages in the Haifa district that were ethnically cleansed between May and July 1948 and later wiped off the face of the earth. Furthermore, their families too had first sought refuge in the Jenin, Nablus and Tulkarm areas in the West areas before the retreating Iraqi army withdrew with approximately 5,000 refugees in 1949. However, unlike the fate of the villages of most of the refugees who found themselves in Iraq, Umm Nawras and Suhaila’s families hail from a village that was not demolished owing to its architectural appeal to some in the unit that occupied it: Ayn Hawd today is an “artists’ colony.” The implications and injustice of 1948 could not be crueler, especially when some of the original inhabitants of Ayn Hawd as well as their descendants are languishing in tent-camps yet again.
“When they first brought them to Iraq from Palestine, they put them in Basra, in a place they used to call al-Shuaybah camp,” Umm Nawras explained, referring to where her family, alongside the rest of the new Palestinian arrivals, were first placed in Iraq. Shuaybah was an abandoned British military barrack in the desert south of Basra where the Palestinians were placed under military jurisdiction. Two years later they came under civil jurisdiction and their welfare was relegated to the newly-created Refugee Affairs Department of the Ministry of Interior. They were issued Iraqi travel documents for Palestinian refugees and allowed equal access to health, education and public sector employment. These conditions were generally consistent, with a few exceptions during the various regime changes of Iraq’s post-independence history.
Under civil jurisdiction, the Palestinians were moved between Mosul, Basra and Baghdad, although the overwhelming majority then, as in 2003, were placed in the capital. In Baghdad, the Palestinians were housed in various public buildings until most were placed in complexes: al-Baladiyyat and al-Durra in the 1970s and 1980s, respectively. Some families did remain in the various public buildings and the more affluent rented at their own expense. Later on, the housing issue would be one of the main catalysts of Iraqi resentment toward Palestinians that exploded after 2003 due to their perceived preferential treatment under Saddam Hussein’s regime.
“I came of age in [the area of] al-Za’faraniyya where we used to live in huge blind peoples’ homes … It was a huge complex with many rooms; it had huge halls around which every family was allocated a room,” Umm Nawras told me after I probed about life in pre-2003 Iraq. “I remember that whenever we would write our postal address, we would write: the former blind peoples’ homes, the Palestinians’ houses.” In the late 1980s, the women’s families were allocated a private apartment in the purpose-built al-Durra complex and shared the fate of other residents of the country who lived through the Iran-Iraq war and later the UN-imposed siege after the first Gulf War.
all of this got me thinking about an episode of jassem azzawi’s “inside iraq” this week on al jazeera featuring anas al tikriti (who is one of the most eloquent and powerful speakers) and some israeli terrorist professor named mordehcai kedar (who, thankfully, sucks when it comes even to serving up his own propaganda). the episode looks at the zionist entity’s role in creating the invasion and occupation of iraq. it is well known that
don’t you love how the israeli terrorist tries to goad al tikriti into thinking that iran is iraq’s greatest enemy. blatant attempt at divide and rule there. but al tikriti’s response is beautiful and apt: no, of course, not the zionist entity is the greatest enemy of everyone in this region. in this episode you will also hear the israeli terrorist pretend like mossad is not operating in iraq, but here is an interview with seymour hersh and amy goodman on democracy now! from 2004 (and i can tell you from friends who have been in kurdistan that israeli terrorists are all over the place, some rather obviously so):
SEYMORE HERSH: Obviously acquiescence. At the minimum, acquiescence. We certainly didn’t lean on them. There is a high level—i think the chief of staff of the Turkish armed forces, there is a very high level military dell investigation of Turkish military officials in Washington now. They arrived over the weekend I think. They are certainly here now, leading generals, to talk just about this issue. What are we going to do with Israel? I asked add senior C.I.A. Intelligence official about this last week. And his comment, which I think is really pretty accurate, he said really how much control do we have over Israel. They will do what’s in their best interest no matter what we say. This is a complicated one. Because Richard Perle, a Neocon, was really a great champion of the Turkish-Israeli relationship and now that move into Kurdistan is destabilizing that. What the Israelis did, which is remarkable stupid, I think, and I understand has caused enormous problems inside the Israeli government on just the issue of how dumb they are is when the Turks began to raise questions about the obviously growing Israeli presence in Kurdistan, and Kurdistan, Iran has got great intelligence and so does turkey. It is not hard to penetrate. Kurds are, you know, they’re great bargainers and buyers and sellers. And one can easily buy information there. In any case, turkey learned quite a bit earlier this year and asked the Israelis their great buddies about this. And Israel said officially to them that there is nothing there and the people that are there, Israelis are there as private citizens doing their own work. And I can tell you I was an anchor and I did see—I can’t quote him, but it’s clear from my story, very senior people in the government and they are really angry about this. They will not tolerate an independent Kurdistan. They will simply go to war immediately and they won’t even tolerate the idea that the Kurds are getting closers and edging—in their public statements, the Kurds are saying more and more that if things go badly in Iraq, they will consider going independent. So, Israel sort of screwed the pooch with its own ally and then they put themselves in a terrible position with a journalist like me of having to issue these stringent and strong denials, which, between you and me, people in the government acknowledge are just pro forma. They stuck themselves. They said we don’t have anything there. What happened is some of the intelligence people and some of the military people, obviously don’t go into Kurdistan and run operations in Iran with Israeli passports or anything connected to Israel. So, they wash them. We use the word sheep dip for taking in a military person. In America, when you take in a military officer and redress them as a civilian and send them into a war zone, that’s called sheep dipping. Same thing happened with the Israeli Mossad and their military people. They went in undercover.
in theory any palestinian and iraqi leader should be and would be partners in fighting colonialism and neocolonialism in their countries, in the region. but the american-israeli colonial tactic of divide and rule is making that rather impossible. al-tikriti’s point in the “inside iraq” interview, however, is important: the people are completely in solidarity with one another. it is their governments that continue to make deals with and be controlled by the devil.
and in the interest of solidarity here is one of my favorite poems by one of my favorite poets, mohja khaf, entitled “Snowfall on the Colossal Ruins” from 2000. it is about iraqi refugees in amman.
In the Roman amphitheater in Amman,
life is beautiful and sad. Unexpected snow
falls like a gift from heaven, settles
slowly on the hillocks,
curves, and rumps of bodies
strewn across the steps. The human floor
stirs. Thousands of Iraqis sleep here
nightly, this winter of the year 2000,
this tenth winter of the sanctions.
The proud, the dignified,
the ones you might have met in gracious homes
by appointment, bringing with you flowers,
fruit, or any small token,
to avoid arriving empty-handed,
you will find them here, roseate cheek
laid against the subzero stone.
You will find them curled against each other
in piles so that a walker must step watchfully
not to tread on wrist or groin.
You will find minds trained
in the construction of buildings and poems
wrapped around a crate of unsold chewing gum.
You will find them here, parentless girls
and boys, who in former days were carefully forbidden
to stay out past a certain hour.
You will find them here now, some ready
to sell to you for next to nothing
anything they still own,
to their lush Iraqi lashes, a bare leg
here and there gleaming golden in moonlight.
There is not cover enough to go around
in the Roman coliseum in Amman.
You will find them here coughing
in the air of this winter, turning
from one side to the other, exposed
to whatever is to fall upon them next,
and not upon us, not tonight. (79-80 in E-mails from Scheherazad
of course iraqis are not the only people in the region made refugees by the americans or israeli terrorists. there are uncountable afghan refugees, including some children found by italian police today:
The dead and injured included foreign militants, but women and children were also killed when two missiles hit a house in the village of Data Khel, near the Afghan border, according to local officials.
As many as 1m people have fled their homes in the Tribal Areas to escape attacks by the unmanned spy planes as well as bombings by the Pakistani army. In Bajaur agency entire villages have been flattened by Pakistani troops under growing American pressure to act against Al-Qaeda militants, who have made the area their base.
Kacha Garhi is one of 11 tented camps across Pakistan’s frontier province once used by Afghan refugees and now inhabited by hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis made homeless in their own land.
are we to expect iranian refugees to be next? how many millions of people will be rendered homeless at the hands of these rogue states? if jonathan cook’s latest report is any indication we might be seeing such a fate as a strike on iran in the near future, which of course would have refugees following right behind:
But since Benjamin Netanyahu was sworn in as Israeli prime minister on Tuesday, he has preferred to highlight the military option as a way to prevent what Israel and the United States have claimed are Iranian plans to acquire a nuclear warhead under the guise of a civilian energy programme.
Statements from Mr Netanyahu and his officials over the past few days have been designed to suggest that Israel is preparing to launch such a strike, even if it contravenes the wishes of the White House.
The public differences between Israel and the United States on Iran have accelerated since Israel’s military intelligence chief, Amos Yadlin, published an assessment last month that Tehran had passed the “point of no return” in developing nuclear technology.
He concluded that sanctions had failed and that, if Tehran gave the go-ahead, its scientists had the technology to assemble a warhead within a year or so. The US director of national intelligence, Dennis Blair, has dismissed such claims as a “worst-case” scenario.
you can spend the next 30 minutes with this episode of al jazeera’s inside story. normally maryam nemazee is okay when interviewing her subjects, but given her background in investigating particular topics i find it strange that she ignored things like the israeli terrorist state’s possession of nuclear weapons. her guests are dan schueftan, an israeli terrorist professor from haifa university who makes me ill and who should be banned from al jazeera i feel; amer hamzawi; and robert fisk, who did a horrible job responding to nemazee’s questions–especially in the 2nd half when he had a golden opportunity to challenge the mofo on nuclear weapons. here is a sample of that nutcase israeli terrorist said:
you’re misrepresenting the issues here because when we’re speaking about the arab peace initiative, israel responded to it saying it had very positive elements in it and israel is willing to negotiate it. the problem is what the arab states are saying is that israel will have to accept refugees according to 194 and then they want to sign on the dotted line before negotiations even start. the real issues in the middle east have very little to do with the palestinians. palestinians are a negligible issue. everyone deals wtih it. the real problem is the nuclearization of iran. everybody in the region is concerned about it. for egypt it’s a major threat. the whole region may become nuclear after the iranians become nuclear.
point one: yes, this is true. the israeli terrorists should be forced to sign any agreement BEFORE negotiations start, though the arab initiative is flawed. not only that but they should show us they actually will make good on their signature. unfortunately, racist white south africans keep their word better than zionist colonists. we know from every single second of the last 122 years that zionists/israelis never tell the truth and their words can never be honored.
fisk responds to this nimrod by saying that the real issue is pakistan with regards to the nuclear threat. which leads me to point two: fisk completely ignores the nuclear issue. the real threat is not pakistan it is the israeli terrorist state. period. many of us have known this for a long time because we read credible sources. others (read: the u.s.) find this information to be somehow new:
“In effect, there is a growing arc of nuclear powers running from Israel in the west through an emerging Iran to Pakistan, India, and on to China, North Korea, and Russia in the east,” JOE 2008 stated (pdf, at page 37) in a discussion of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
The unusual reference to Israel’s nuclear status was noticed by Amir Oren in Ha’aretz, who explained that “Israel’s nuclear program is rarely, if ever, explicitly mentioned in public, unclassified U.S. official documents.” See “U.S. Army document describes Israel as ‘a nuclear power’,” Ha’aretz, March 8.
and on a related note, point 2.5, the real danger with respect to pakistan is not nuclear weapons (though they should be banned everywhere to be sure), but rather the united states of terrorism. david sanger and eric schmitt report in the new york times that it seems likely the u.s. war in pakistan will not only continue, but expand:
Many of Mr. Obama’s advisers are also urging him to sustain orders issued last summer by President George W. Bush to continue Predator drone attacks against a wider range of targets in the tribal areas. They also are recommending preserving the option to conduct cross-border ground actions, using C.I.A. and Special Operations commandos, as was done in September. Mr. Bush’s orders also named as targets a wide variety of insurgents seeking to topple Pakistan’s government. Mr. Obama has said little in public about how broadly he wants to pursue those groups.
A spokesman for the National Security Council, Mike Hammer, declined to provide details, saying, “We’re still working hard to finalize the review on Afghanistan and Pakistan that the president requested.”
No other officials would talk on the record about the issue, citing the administration’s continuing internal deliberations and the politically volatile nature of strikes into Pakistani territory.
“It is fair to say that there is wide agreement to sustain and continue these covert programs,” said one senior administration official. “One of the foundations on which the recommendations to the president will be based is that we’ve got to sustain the disruption of the safe havens.”
the point of the show was actually avigdor lieberman who is slated to become the zionist entity’s next foreign minister. here is what one palestinian in 1948 asks us to do about this:
The Iraqis produced the hateful Saddam, the Iranians created the crackpot Ahmadinejad – for reasons of sanity, I leave out the weird ruler of Libya – and now the Israelis have exalted a man, Avigdor Lieberman, who out-Sharons even Ariel Sharon.
A few Palestinians expressed their cruel delight that at last the West will see the “true face” of Israel. I’ve heard that one before – when Sharon became prime minister – and the usual nonsense will be trotted out that only a “hard-line extremist” can make the compromises necessary for a deal with the Palestinians.
This kind of self-delusion is a Middle East disease. The fact is that the Israeli Prime Minister-to-be has made it perfectly clear there will be no two-state solution; and he has planted a tree on Golan to show the Syrians they will not get it back. And now he’s brought into the cabinet a man who sees even the Arabs of Israel as second-class citizens.
but what really pissed me off is what fisk says in the episode about palestinians giving up on un resolution 194. nope, sorry to inform you, robert, but they have not given up this right. nor is it for you to say what rights they do and do not give up. i thank god that they have never given up this right and i hope that they never do. indeed, while i agree with as’ad on the fact that every leader of the israeli terrorist state has been an extremist terrorist, the difference with lieberman is he is more vocal about it. but what i hope this does is energize a new base, a new liberation movement that ends the zionist entity once and for all. lieberman in office, if he outrages people enough, i hope would once again lead this region to stand up not only to the colonial regime here, but the neo-colonial regimes in the rest of the region.
as long as whatever israeli terrorist that is in power of colonized palestine helps to embolden the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement, i’m all for it. apparently the zionist terrorists are looking so bad right now that they are “rebranding” themselves because of the ever expanding boycott movement as the zionist shmuck ethan bronner reports in the new york times:
Examples abound. Its sports teams have met hostility and violent protests in Sweden, Spain and Turkey. Mauritania has closed Israel’s embassy.
Relations with Turkey, an important Muslim ally, have suffered severely. A group of top international judges and human rights investigators recently called for an inquiry into Israel’s actions in Gaza. “Israel Apartheid Week” drew participants in 54 cities around the world this month, twice the number of last year, according to its organizers. And even in the American Jewish community, albeit in its liberal wing, there is a chill.
and let’s actively work to make this process continue. we must mobilize…it’s the only solution if you want to stop banging your head against the wall. the zionist entity is clearly worried and spending millions of dollars because of that. so while we work on bds, insha’allah we can bankrupt them too.
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.