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Gaza and the Threat of World War
“There is a taboo,” said the visionary Edward Said, “on telling the truth about Palestine and the great destructive force behind Israel. Only when this truth is out can any of us be free.”
For many people, the truth is out now. At last, they know. Those once intimidated into silence can’t look away now. Staring at them from their TV, laptop, phone, is proof of the barbarism of the Israeli state and the great destructive force of its mentor and provider, the United States, the cowardice of European governments, and the collusion of others, such as Canada and Australia, in this epic crime.
The attack on Gaza was an attack on all of us. The siege of Gaza is a siege of all of us. The denial of justice to Palestinians is a symptom of much of humanity under siege and a warning that the threat of a new world war is growing by the day.
When Nelson Mandela called the struggle of Palestine “the greatest moral issue of our time”, he spoke on behalf of true civilisation, not that which empires invent. In Latin America, the governments of Brazil, Chile, Venezuela, Bolivia, El Salvador, Peru and Ecuador have made their stand on Gaza. Each of these countries has known its own dark silence when immunity for mass murder was sponsored by the same godfather in Washington that answered the cries of children in Gaza with more ammunition to kill them.
Understanding the sophistry and power of liberal propaganda is key to understanding why Israel’s outrages endure; why the world looks on; why sanctions are never applied to Israel; and why nothing less than a total boycott of everything Israeli is now a measure of basic human decency.
The most incessant propaganda says Hamas is committed to the destruction of Israel. Khaled Hroub, the Cambridge University scholar considered a world leading authority on Hamas, says this phrase is “never used or adopted by Hamas, even in its most radical statements”. The oft-quoted “anti-Jewish” 1988 Charter was the work of “one individual and made public without appropriate Hamas consensus …. The author was one of the ‘old guard’ “; the document is regarded as an embarrassment and never cited.
Hamas has repeatedly offered a 10-year truce with Israel and has long settled for a two-state solution. When Medea Benjamin, the fearless Jewish American activist, was in Gaza, she carried a letter from Hamas leaders to President Obama that made clear the government of Gaza wanted peace with Israel. It was ignored. I personally know of many such letters carried in good faith, ignored or dismissed.
The unforgivable crime of Hamas is a distinction almost never reported: it is the only Arab government to have been freely and democratically elected by its people. Worse, it has now formed a government of unity with the Palestinian Authority. A single, resolute Palestinian voice – in the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court – is the most feared threat.
Resistance is humanity at its bravest and most noble. The resistance in Gaza is rightly compared with the 1943 Jewish uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto – which also dug tunnels and deployed tactics of subterfuge and surprise against an overpowering military machine. The last surviving leader of the Warsaw uprising, Marek Edelman, wrote a letter of solidarity to the Palestinian resistance, comparing it with the ZOB, his ghetto fighters. The letter began: “Commanders of the Palestine military, paramilitary and partisan operations – and to all soldiers [of Palestine].”
Dr. Mads Gilbert is a Norwegian doctor renowned for his heroic work in Gaza. On 8 August, Dr. Gilbert returned to his hometown, Tronso in Norway which, as he pointed out, the Nazis had occupied for seven years. He said, “Imagine being back in 1945 and we in Norway did not win the liberation struggle, did not throw out the occupier. Imagine the occupier remaining in our country, taking it piece by piece, for decades upon decades, and banishing us to the leanest areas, and taking the fish in the sea and the water beneath us, then bombing our hospitals, our ambulance workers, our schools, our homes.
“Would we have given up and waved the white flag? No, we would not! And this is the situation in Gaza. This is not a battle between terrorism and democracy. Hamas is not the enemy Israel is fighting. Israel is waging a war against the Palestinian people’s will to resist. It is the Palestinian people’s dignity that they will not accept this.
“In 1938, the Nazis called the Jews Untermenschen – subhuman. Today, Palestinians are treated as a subhuman people who can be slaughtered without any in power reacting.
“So I have returned to Norway, a free country, and this country is free because we had a resistance movement, because occupied nations have the right to resist, even with weapons – it’s stated in international law. And the Palestinian people’s resistance in Gaza is admirable: a struggle for us all.”
The jargon is “controlling the narrative”. In his seminal Culture and Imperialism, Edward Said was more explicit: the western media machine was now capable of penetrating deep into the consciousness of much of humanity with a “wiring” as influential as that of the imperial navies of the 19th century. Gunboat journalism, in other words. Or war by media.
Yet, a critical public intelligence and resistance to propaganda does exist; and a second superpower is emerging – the power of public opinion, fuelled by the internet and social media.
The false reality created by false news delivered by media gatekeepers may prevent some of us knowing that this new superpower is stirring in country after country: from the Americas to Europe, Asia to Africa. It is a moral insurrection, exemplified by the whistleblowers Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange. The question begs: will we break our silence while there is time?
The chickens of western colonialism are coming home to roost.
Excerpt from “The Guns of August” – by Matthew Stevenson via Counterpunch
“Doubts about the sincerity of Americans in Iraq probably began when President Ronald Reagan dispatched his former national security advisor Robert C. “Bud” McFarlane to Tehran in 1986 with a cake and a Bible and proposed swapping arms for American hostages in Lebanon.
Until that moment, in the long war between Iran and Iraq, Saddam was our man, a bulwark against Shiite expansion in the Gulf, a non-fundamental (i.e., someone not adverse to girls or gin) Muslim willing to do the West’s bidding.
Bud’s cake and Bible alerted Saddam to the fickleness of Western support, and he repaid the favor in 1990 when he invaded Kuwait and let his troops drive all those looted Mercedes back to Baghdad.
The Iraqi occupation of Kuwait led to the first Gulf War and Saddam’s alleged death threat against President George H.W. Bush, cited in 2003 when his son, President George W. Bush, decided to overthrow Saddam’s regime.
Driving Saddam into a hole near Tikrit (where he was captured and later hanged) wasn’t the hard part of the blitzkrieg. The biggest challenge was deciding who should run Iraq once Saddam was swinging from the gallows.
Remembering the Mesopotamia, Churchill had faced the same conundrum in 1921, and at the Cairo Conference he went with an invented, cereal-box monarchy, an air campaign to subdue rebels, and a cadre of loyal Sunnis to keep the majority Shiite population on their knees.
In one form or another, that unholy coalition lasted until the 2003 American invasion, when the Bush administration decided to turn the country over to the Shiite majority.
Never mind that such a government would align Iraq more closely with Antichrists in Tehran.
* * *
By suppressing the Sunnis, the U.S. hoped to keep al-Qaida sympathizers in Iraq away from the oil fields. Under this partition, Shiites would get the government, the U.S. would get the oil, and Sunnis, especially those with Osama bin Laden posters on their kitchen walls, would get the shaft.
The problem with this division of Iraqi spoils is that it required the Bush administration to disband the Iraqi army and Saddam’s Baathist party infrastructure, two centers of power not solely identified with either Sunni or Shiite interests.
At the same time (mid-2000s) the U.S. army withdrew its forces into frontier stockades. Iraq fell into anarchy until Gen. David Petraeus took time out from his amorous counter-insurgencies and paid Sunni warlords, especially in western Iraq, some $300 million to fight on the American side.
The rent-an-army surge worked until the Obama administration stopped payment on the Petraeus incentive compensation and left it to the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to explain to the opposition the fine print of the American victory, what in the Vietnam War President Nixon called “peace with honor.”
Speaking of peace with honour; the IS is bringing neither to the region as this Vice News clip illustrates.
The following article reproduced in its entirety from Altnet.org.
August 7, 2014 |
Amid all the horrors unfolding in the latest Israeli offensive in Gaza, Israel’s goal is simple: quiet-for-quiet, a return to the norm.
For the West Bank, the norm is that Israel continues its illegal construction of settlements and infrastructure so that it can integrate into Israel whatever might be of value, meanwhile consigning Palestinians to unviable cantons and subjecting them to repression and violence.
For Gaza, the norm is a miserable existence under a cruel and destructive siege that Israel administers to permit bare survival but nothing more.
The latest Israeli rampage was set off by the brutal murder of three Israeli boys from a settler community in the occupied West Bank. A month before, two Palestinian boys were shot dead in the West Bank city of Ramallah. That elicited little attention, which is understandable, since it is routine.
“The institutionalized disregard for Palestinian life in the West helps explain not only why Palestinians resort to violence,” Middle East analyst Mouin Rabbani reports, “but also Israel’s latest assault on the Gaza Strip.”
In an interview, human rights lawyer Raji Sourani, who has remained in Gaza through years of Israeli brutality and terror, said, “The most common sentence I heard when people began to talk about cease-fire: Everybody says it’s better for all of us to die and not go back to the situation we used to have before this war. We don’t want that again. We have no dignity, no pride; we are just soft targets, and we are very cheap. Either this situation really improves or it is better to just die. I am talking about intellectuals, academics, ordinary people: Everybody is saying that.”
In January 2006, Palestinians committed a major crime: They voted the wrong way in a carefully monitored free election, handing control of Parliament to Hamas.
The media constantly intone that Hamas is dedicated to the destruction of Israel. In reality, Hamas leaders have repeatedly made it clear that Hamas would accept a two-state settlement in accord with the international consensus that has been blocked by the U.S. and Israel for 40 years.
In contrast, Israel is dedicated to the destruction of Palestine, apart from some occasional meaningless words, and is implementing that commitment.
The crime of the Palestinians in January 2006 was punished at once. The U.S. and Israel, with Europe shamefully trailing behind, imposed harsh sanctions on the errant population and Israel stepped up its violence.
Read the rest of this entry »
Some results of the latest Israeli raid :
* Destroyed tunnels, most often used to smuggle into Gaza household items that Israel, in violation of international law, prevents from being imported.
* Massacred nearly 2,000 people, including hundreds of children as young as newborns; injured thousands more.
* Destroyed hundreds of homes, leaving thousands of men, women and children homeless.
* Destroyed power plants, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without electricity or running water.
* Destroyed factories that produce such dangerous items as pretzels, cheese and biscuits.
* Targeted and murdered journalists.
Israeli officials have stated that, in Gaza, they periodically need to ‘mow the lawn’, meaning to destroy infrastructure, and bomb that beleaguered area back as close to the Dark Ages as possible. So one might add that to a list of Israel’s ‘accomplishments’.
Ah, the benefits of collective punishment continue to accrue for Israel.
“There are, however, some unintended results to this latest genocidal bombing of Palestinians.
* Unexpected international criticism of Israel. While this hasn’t been universal, Israel has seen ambassadors recalled, and even the U.S., which provides Israel with a blank check to do whatever it pleases on the world stage, has dared to timidly issue criticism of its puppet-master. It’s unfortunate that it took the repeated bombings of United Nations schools, which were being used to house thousands of Palestinians driven from their homes, for the U.S. to dare to speak up to Israel, but at least some mild criticism was expressed. The resignation of Sayeeda Warsi, a senior minister in Britain’s Foreign Office, who accused Prime Minister David Cameron’s government of taking a ‘morally indefensible’ approach to the conflict between Israel and Hamas, is also a striking statement against Israel.
* International demonstrations in support of Palestine. Even Israel has seen thousands of its own people protesting the carpet-bombing of the Gaza Strip. London has seen tens of thousands of demonstrators demanding that the British government stop supporting Israel.
* The social media storm that slammed into Israel. Apartheid Israel last ‘mowed the lawn’ in Gaza two years ago. At that time, Twitter had approximately 20 million users. Today, it has over 120 million, and Twitter users have spread around the globe graphic pictures and information that the news media didn’t dare report. This, at least in part, resulted in huge demonstrations in front of London’s BBC headquarters, causing that organization to announce it would review its policies to see if it was, in fact, reporting in a manner biased towards Israel.
* Greater motivation for the BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction) movement. As people see graphic photos of young children playing on a beach being targeted and blown to bloody bits by IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) terrorists, someone basically apathetic becomes motivated.
* Further overall isolation of Israel from the international community. This may not actually be a separate category, since those listed above all contribute to it. The demonstrations, cancellations of Israel-sponsored events, the growing BDS movement and the increasing awareness, thanks in large part to social media, of Israel’s horrific crimes, cannot forever be ignored by the governments of the people who show their opposition to Israel by supporting these actions.
Perhaps some good has come out of this tragedy after all.
“Although the U.S. will oppose it every step of the way, the U.N. looks poised to investigate possible war crimes committed by Israel. Its findings will probably not be surprising, since the U.N. has issued more resolutions critical of Israel than it has of all other nations combined. But until the citizenry awakens from its public-relations induced sleep, and sees that the U.S. is financing genocide, nothing will change. There is evidence from the last few weeks that perhaps a large crack in the wall of U.S. and Israeli public relations has appeared. Those shocked by Israel’s crimes must widen it.”
Just doing what I can to make the crack a little wider.
The US is doing it again.
“In February, the US mounted one of its “colour” coups against the elected government in Ukraine, exploiting genuine protests against corruption in Kiev. Obama’s national security adviser Victoria Nuland personally selected the leader of an “interim government”. She nicknamed him “Yats”. Vice President Joe Biden came to Kiev, as did CIA Director John Brennan. The shock troops of their putsch were Ukrainian fascists.
For the first time since 1945, a neo-Nazi, openly anti-Semitic party controls key areas of state power in a European capital. No Western European leader has condemned this revival of fascism in the borderland through which Hitler’s invading Nazis took millions of Russian lives. They were supported by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), responsible for the massacre of Jews and Russians they called “vermin”. The UPA is the historical inspiration of the present-day Svoboda Party and its fellow-travelling Right Sector. Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok has called for a purge of the “Moscow-Jewish mafia” and “other scum”, including gays, feminists and those on the political left.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States has ringed Russia with military bases, nuclear warplanes and missiles as part of its Nato Enlargement Project. Reneging on a promise made to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990 that Nato would not expand “one inch to the east”, Nato has, in effect, militarily occupied eastern Europe. In the former Soviet Caucasus, Nato’s expansion is the biggest military build-up since the Second World War.
A Nato Membership Action Plan is Washington’s gift to the coup-regime in Kiev. In August, “Operation Rapid Trident” will put American and British troops on Ukraine’s Russian border and “Sea Breeze” will send US warships within sight of Russian ports. Imagine the response if these acts of provocation, or intimidation, were carried out on America’s borders.”
Go read the full article on counterpunch.org.
Have you ever wondered about some of the shared traits of humanity? One could prosaically think of Love, Compassion and Happiness and one would be correct. If the similarities ended there, I wouldn’t be writing, nor would you be reading about the prevalence of torture across the globe.
“The report titled Torture in 2014 – 30 Years of Broken Promises read: “Although governments have prohibited this dehumanising practice in law and have recognised global disgust at its existence, many of them are carrying out torture or facilitating it in practice.”
“Three decades from the convention and more than 65 years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights torture is not just alive and well. It is flourishing,” according to the report.
Amnesty said 155 countries have ratified the 1984 UN Convention Against Torture but many governments were still “betraying their responsibility” with at least 79 countries continuing to engage in the outlawed practice in 2014.
“It’s almost become normalised, it’s become routine,” Amnesty Secretary General Salil Shetty told reporters at the launch of the “Stop Torture” campaign in London. The campaign focuses on Mexico, the Philippines, Morocco and Western Sahara, Nigeria and Uzbekistan.”
Awesome. It is infuriating to see that people understood their situation and attempted to rectify the sad state of affairs – we *are* capable of being decent human beings, yet today we turn away from the lessons learned so long ago.
“The group notes how the UN Convention made torturers “international outlaws” and prompted governments worldwide to denounce the practice. But it warns that in reality many are endorsing or at least failing to tackle the issue head-on.
“Governments have broken their promises, and because of these broken promises millions of people have suffered terribly,” said Shetty.”
No country should be above international law, the existence of jurisdictions ‘outside’ the International Court of Justice’s purview make tackling issues, like Torture, that stretch across national boundaries difficult, if not impossible to resolve. But hey, we’re past that whole ‘torture thing’ right? Right??
“As I interviewed an ever-increasing number of the victims of 21st century American torture, I began to research the historical antecedents of each revolting method. The zealous acolytes of Vice-President Dick Cheney were talking about ‘Enhanced Interrogation Techniques’ as if we were being kinder and gentler now. Consider one favourite of CIA interrogators much used in the early days of the Afghanistan invasion: someone who dared talk to another detainee held in the frigid mid-winter cages of Bagram air force base would be hung up by his wrists, handcuffed to the metal fence so that he could barely stand on the tips of his toes.
Does that sound like torture? Perhaps not, until a doctor explains how the shoulders gradually dislocate, amid intense pain. The method is so effective that a recalcitrant prisoner could be persuaded to give a confession that might end in his own execution. For this reason, it was employed by the Spanish Inquisition, who called it Strappado. I began to use this word, and was gratified some months later when The New York Times adopted my use of the term.
Next, I took a small historical liberty in describing a second technique as Reverse Strappado – I am not sure that the Spanish ever truly differentiated, though it is even more excruciating: this time, the prisoner’s hands are tied behind his back before he is hung from the wrists.
Waterboarding has a particularly ironic history when we trace the 21st century US practice. It is sometimes described as simulated drowning, yet this is misleading: it is a process of actual drowning. It may or may not be carried through to the point of death, at the election of the practitioner. Most commonly (what a tragedy to think that it has been common!), a cloth is placed over the face and water is poured over the victim so that he cannot breathe. Waterboarding has been widely used for several centuries, by the Spanish Inquisition, the Gestapo, Japanese torture squads, the Khmer Rouge, the Soviet secret police, Pinochet’s death squads, Mugabe’s hired thugs and, latterly, the democratically-elected government of the United States of America.
Yet, perhaps it is the terminology that betrays the ultimate evil: the Inquisition were brutal but honest, calling it tortura del agua (‘water torture’). The Americans dressed it up when waterboarding Abu Zubaydah scores of times, referring to it as one of many ‘Enhanced Interrogation Techniques’. That was doubtless designed to sound less savage, and give the Bush administration wriggle room to pretend that it was not actually violating the UN Convention against Torture.
But where did this Orwellian description originate? Did Dick Cheney coin the term? No. Indeed, when Adolf Hitler’s Gestapo waterboarded their victims, they referred to it as Verschärfte Vernehmung, which literally translates as ‘Enhanced Interrogation Technique’.
These specialised torture techniques should not obscure the purported utility of a good old-fashioned beating. Of course, the sophisticated sociopath will not call it anything so pedestrian. One Guantanamo euphemism is Forcible Cell Extraction (FCE), where half a dozen goons in Kevlar armour burst into a prisoner’s cell with batons and riot shields and pound him into the concrete floor. As recently as 2013, this was happening almost every day – and sometimes more than once – to my client Shaker Aamer, the last British resident held in the prison.”
Ah, The vaunted Progress of Humanity! – a rancidly perfumed recipe written with the tears, blood and ruined bodies of the tortured. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling *very* modern here in the 21st century.
No one should have to live in fear. Death by airstrike, death by rocket. Same result. I cannot even imagine having to deal with every day life in Gaza, especially if I had children.
“I am used to the bombings, but my children are worried. So I have to keep reassuring them.” Explaining what is happening in the skies to children sometimes proves difficult for some Palestinian parents. “When my child becomes scared I try to pacify her,” said Yasir Fatih. “I tell her the noise is far away and it’s not dangerous. Or sometimes I tell her it’s not real, it’s a game.”
One hell of a bogeyman no?
Of course the situation is complex, of course there is aggression from both parties. The violence being perpetrated though, should not be thought as a war between equals. If there ever was a case of David vs Goliath it would be the situation of Hamas versus the IDF.
We have different labels for similar situations…this comment from DierYassin summarized nicely how varied the world stage is.
“Facing international opprobrium over apartheid, Pretoria angrily asked why the world was focusing on them when far more serious atrocities abounded elsewhere.
They boasted of the better living conditions of blacks under white rule. And of how they were a “beacon of civilization” in a backward continent surrounded by countries wanting their “destruction”. They labelled armed resistance as terrorism and gave blacks truncated enclaves ruled by powerless chieftains and called it self-determination.
Ah, but we in North America are ardent supporters of Israel so obviously, this cannot be the case…