Thursday, December 30, 2004
URGENT: what are they spraying on Palestinians?
I translate an urgent dispatch recieved this afternoon from Palestina Libera:
Gas chambers for Palestinians
Dear all, I am writing you about something quite urgent and in my view, worrying… excuse me if there are no accents in this letter, but my computer at Ramallah doesn't have Word in Italian.
Yesterday morning I left from Amman for Ramalalah, and after having passed the first Israeli point of control (the electronic gate) within the Allenby Bridge (the bridge that we Palestinians use to reace the Occupied Territories and is located between Ghour in Jordan and Gericho in the Occupied Territories) there was a new procedure to undergo;
They installed a sort of room where only one person is placed at a time, it must be something measuring half a metre by half a metre and full of mirrors and above there is a videocamera that films the faces. People are made to enter one at a time while they spray in continuation a sort of gas while every person must remain for a full minute while they continually spray a sort of gas on him that we must absolutely discover what it is and there is an electronically recorded voice that says things in Hebrew which I do not understand. The chamber has been installed this month and I asked the soldiers what they were spraying on us and they did not want to reply. When I said that it is against human rights to do something of the sort, a female soldier responded that this is a special country! I have sent an email to the Europarliamentarian Luisa Morgantini, and if anyone is able to have action on this take, I would be very grateful,
Thank you, Ruba
Iraqi war is a disaster.... opinion of Pentagon pundits
Summing up several interventions, with some serving and former Administration officials (many speaking behind anonymity) and several military analysts, it seems that what is underway is the result of US policy of pitting one ethnic group against another. This was precisely what the Soviets did in Afghanistan when they realised they were losing the war, and it hastens the process of losing the war as well.
The US policy in Iraq has been to unleash historical enemies against one another. There have been reports of mass assassinations, of ethnic cleansing and of expulsion of those belonging to ethnic groups which are seeking control of one area or another, or purely out of acts of vendetta for crimes committed in the Saddam era, as is the case with the Shiites who had been the numerical majority but bereft of political power.
A major mistake was the disbanding of Iraq's 400,000-man army. "At a stroke, we went from a liberator to an occupier," one of the officials said. This was especially dramatic for Iraqi society, because the army had been a respected institution and a focal point for national identity.
The Iraqi Middle Class is almost entirely anti-American. They had been economically strangulated by the UN sanctions, and their expectations of the war aftermath were far too rosy for the reality which has befallen them. They are not contributing to sustaining US forces.
Those whose point of reference are religious groups, which comprise the vast majority of the Iraqi population, are against the occupation and want the US to leave Iraq immediately. They believe that security is the major problem, and in light of the current state of affairs, believe that this is a task best left to themselves.
Prospects for the future are extremely bleak, including the Kurds declaring independence or that the chasm between the Shiites and the Sunnis could widen. The new Iraqi State could fail completely and not guarantee even territorial integrity or unity. All of which points to a civil war.
Summing the situation up, former senior CIA Iraqi analyst Judith Yaphe said, "Elections will not solve anything -- we are grasping for events that will enable us to get out of Iraq, but there are no such thing. Democracy is not an event but a process."
The al-Zarqawi legend
"Rather than extremist foreign fighters battling to the death, the marines are mostly finding local men from Falluja who are fighting to defend their city from what they view as an illegitimate occupier. The motivations of these fighters may well be anti-American, but they are Iraqi, not foreign, in origin.
There is, indeed, evidence of a foreign presence. But they were not the ones running the show in Falluja, or elsewhere for that matter. As a result, the US-led assault on Falluja may go down in history as the tipping point for the defeat of the US occupation of Iraq.
Reflecting back, one cannot help but wonder if al-Zarqawi was used as a lure to trap the Americans into taking this action. On the surface, the al-Zarqawi organisation seems too good to be true. A single Jordanian male is suddenly running an organisation that operates in sophisticated cells throughout Iraq. No one man could logically accomplish this. But there is an organisation that can - the Mukhabarat (intelligence) of Saddam Hussein.
Another factor was to shift the attention of the US military away from the true heart of the resistance - Saddam's Baathist loyalists - and on to a fictional target that could be manipulated in an effort to control the pace, timing and nature of the US military response.
According to my contacts, the goal in creating a foreign Islamist face for the violence taking place in Iraq is to get the Iraqi populace to turn away from Iyad Allawi and the US military as a source of stability, and endorse the return of the Baathists (under a new guise, to be sure), who would then deal with the Islamists by shutting down an operation the Mukhabarat thinks they control."
Monday, December 27, 2004
Lying About Israel And Apartheid by Joh Domingo
In this article, long, but definitely worth the read in order to glean some new insights, Joh Domingo tells us about the roles that journalists and activists played. Many claimed that they were against Apartheid all along, but there is much documentation that demonstrates the contrary. And, worse, many will not recognise that the oppression of the Palestinian people is different and much more heinous in nature, notwithstanding the evidence.
Joh Domingo is a South African born Muslim with roots in the full spectrum of the varied racial mix that makes up the South African milieu. His background traverses the divide between his traditional African tribal kin and the rich cultural influences of colonial East Asia. His maternal grandfather was the sibling of a Methodist Scottish priest, and was a Methodist priest himself. His paternal grandfather was an indentured Indian sugar cane worker from Madras, India who provides him his religious background. He married a South African born Chinese/African Christian and has two adult daughters and a teenaged son.
Joh cut his political teeth during the upheaval of 1970's South African revolution. He was the inaugural President of the Black Students Society at the University of the Witwatersrand, in 1974 and held that post until 1977. During this period he also served as editor in chief of the society's magazine "By Ministerial Consent" (a reference to the Government permission required for a Black Person to attend a White University in Apartheid South Africa.). He was a member of both the South African Students Organisation and the Black Peoples Convention. His studies were cut short in 1977 after his consent to attend university and his Scholarship were withdrawn. In 1980 he married his childhood sweetheart and in 1985 they left South Africa after being granted permission to migrate to Australia. Joh is a Building Contractor in Brisbane, Australia. He still believes that the "Black Consciousness" Soweto Uprising of 1976 was the defining moment in the demise of the Apartheid System, paving the way for the broader based African National Congress, which had been rendered moribund by ideological battles, to re-energize itself and exert its more experienced political leadership. There is little doubt in his mind that political change begins at the grassroots level.
Benjamin Pogrund, Director of the Israeli Yakar Center for Social Concern, is invariably introduced as a former journalist of the 'Anti-Apartheid' Morning Newspaper 'The Rand Daily Mail', Johannesburg that closed its doors in the Mid 1980's. (It must be after 1985, because it was still going strong in 1985, when I left South Africa). He is also the author of How Can Man die Better: Sobukwe and Apartheid. He has recently published War Of Words, a History of Journalism in Apartheid South Africa. Pogrund makes much of the fact that he was 'anti-Apartheid' whenever he presents his advocacy for Israel's 'Right to Exist', and has consistently campaigned against equating Zionism and Racism. At the Conference against Racism in Durban in 2001, he lobbied extensively against the Zionism=Racism resolution, and today provides much of the rhetorical subject matter for Zionist lobby groups to utilize in their campaign to 'debunk' the Zionism=Racism argument. On October 24th 2004, he published a piece in the Guardian entitled "Israel and the Apartheid Lie" which is not online. However, a reprint in the sister Newspaper The Taipei Times is, and is available here.
A little background about the liberal press in Apartheid South Africa is in order, because it seems that the title 'anti-Apartheid' is being bandied about as if all liberal Newspapers in Apartheid South Africa were equal; indeed, that all 'anti-Apartheid' reporters and Editors were the same. If 'Apartheid' is used as a 'swear word' according to Pogrund, then the word 'anti-Apartheid' is being used to veil what was entirely a pro-White discourse; except that 'White' in this case really meant liberal 'White' people. They were decidedly anti-White Nationalists - 'Good' Whites as opposed to 'Bad' Whites. They were opposed to the 'Bad White' man's Apartheid, but never supported 'One Man, One vote'. Not even liberal icon, Helen Suzman, despite the perception, supported 'One Man, One Vote'.  The kindest interpretation that could be placed on it is that they were against the worst manifestations of Apartheid. Benjamin Pogrund is today in the same camp he has always been in; he is for a kinder, gentler version of Apartheid; just don't call it 'Apartheid', it is a swear word.
The White liberal Press, with one notable exception, were entirely Eurocentric in their opinions. The exception being the 'Daily Dispatch' in the Eastern Cape under the Editorship of Donald Woods, who published the opinion of Steve Biko under a pseudonym, after he was 'banned' and political activity became unlawful for him. There also existed several 'Black' Newspapers, owned by Whites, who published severely censored Daily Editions that mainly dealt with Sport, and 'Township' news. Around 1978, The Rand Daily Mail produced a 'township edition', which in 1981 lead to the sacking of its editor, Allister Sparks, after the White Board decided that they wanted to focus exclusively on a White readership.
Pogrund, whose bio incessantly repeats that 'he brought the words of Nelson Mandela and Robert Sobukwe to the Rand Daily Mail', is a FRAUD. I grew up in South Africa and lived the struggle from 1969 to 1985, and NEVER came across the words of Nelson Mandela and Robert Sobukwe in any newspaper whatsoever. It was prohibited since 1961 and before. The only publications in South Africa that carried quotes from the Rivonia Trails were underground publications of the ANC, and more frequently, by the pamphlets that were mass-produced by the Black Consciousness Movement. Hundreds of BC activists served jail terms for possession of these pamphlets; it was grounds for extended detentions without trail, and de facto evidence that you were ANC. No Jewish Journalist published a word of it in their White Newspapers. No picture of Nelson Mandela was ever published in a newspaper during and after the Rivonia Trails. Until he was released in 1991. Black people in South Africa did not know what he looked like. There was no such a thing as an 'Anti-Apartheid' White newspaper in Apartheid South Africa.
Pogrund copyrights all his work, and maintains an archive of information that relates to his work in South Africa. But he also maintains an online collection of mainly public domain information; mainly about the Jewish 'Black Sash' anti-apartheid group, and information about the ANC and the Rivonia Trails. There seems to be no online record of his daily Journalistic work, and I cannot remember any of it. While I can still recall his byline in the Rand Daily Mail after all these years, it did not at the time strike me as being particularly 'anti-Apartheid', and reading him today, one can still decipher his 'political opposition' tone. It was 'progressive', only in the loosest interpretation of the term. From a Black point of View, it was firmly in the 'establishment' camp. 'Establishment' in Apartheid South Africa was for White privilege, and if it sought the dismantling of the 'system', it was for doing it in a way that did not threaten white privilege. Pogrund, today, is more focussed; he wants to preserve Jewish privilege. White privilege in South Africa is a lost cause, and it explains his residence in Israel, where he can lobby for compassionate Zionist Racism.
It is also important to recognize the role of South African Jewish liberalism in the dismantling of the Apartheid System; it is worse than negligible. While they have an impressive and carefully documented record of opposition to Apartheid, they have no record of actual achievements. The South African Regime, while Racist, had a clearly defined policy of compassionate Apartheid. They sincerely believed in it, and were perplexed that Black people did not see that they had their best interests at heart. They were often dismayed at the practical effects of Apartheid. If there were some way to avoid its practical effects, and its worst effects, they would not have hesitated to make it policy. If they were a majority, as Jews are within the green line in Israel, the system would probably not have mirrored Zionism. A fundamental difference between liberal and White Nationalist opinion was that the former saw their subjects as human, while the latter saw them as sub-human, incapable of rational thought. Both saw them as being incapable of civilized behavior.
This mirrors the major difference between the Likud/Labor wing on the one hand, and the Tikkun factions on the other. Black rioters threw rocks through the windscreens of the Nationalist 'bakkies' and liberal BMW's (Break My Windows) without distinction. The symbolic target defended by the South African Defense forces was not the working class Afrikaner neighborhoods, but the mansions of Houghton, Helen Suzman's Jewish neighborhood (and, I would hazard a guess, Benjamin Pogrund's).
South African Zionists furtively use the revolutionary credentials of people like Ronnie Kasrils as cover for their extensive revisionism when it comes to the anti-Apartheid struggle, while obliquely denouncing him in the Jewish press for his consistent views about Israel. They also play on the sentimentality of the old-guard of the ANC, who eschew anti-Semitism precisely because of the involvement of Jewish people like Kasrils, Ruth First and Joe Slovo, and who formed the backbone of the Communist wing of the ANC, in the liberation movement. But, the younger generation ANC leaders, in the main, cut their teeth in the Black Conscious Movement within South Africa, and are not inclined to view South African Jewish liberal revisionism so tolerantly. They know the sacrifice made by their colleagues, and know that internal liberalism played a negligible role in the dismantling of Apartheid. 
Zionism within Israel follows the predictable path of any Apartheid system, and Pogrund dissimulates excessively when he attempts to use his anti-Apartheid 'credentials' as apologia for it. Iqbal Jassat, in an article in Mediamonitors about Pogrun, makes the observation:
"he (Pogrund) goes even further by claiming that anyone who says that Israel is apartheid does not appreciate what apartheid was. Well, was there anyone better qualified than the architect of apartheid, Hendrik Verwoerd to recognize similar socio-political constructs in other countries? He observed that the Zionists "... took Israel from the Arabs after the Arabs had lived there for a thousand years. In that, I agree with them, Israel, like South Africa, is an apartheid state." [Rand Daily Mail, 23 November 1961]". 
The Rand Daily Mail is Pogrunds main claim to fame; surely he could not have missed the article?
Pogrund makes a play at suggesting that the Zionism=Apartheid rhetoric posits Israel as an 'emerging Apartheid', when clearly, as suggested by the architect of Apartheid in 1961, it was already an Apartheid system, and emerged simultaneously with Apartheid in South Africa. Both emerged directly from a British Colonial situation: Israel in 1947, Apartheid in 1948. They both emerged as a response to Native reaction to colonial conquest. In the case of South Africa, it was the inexorable migration of Africans to the cities, which threatened to 'overwhelm' White society. In Israel, it was to establish a regime that protected the right of Jews to rule themselves in the face of a democratic threat from the non-Jewish population. Jews may be a majority within Israel today, but there is demographic parity within the area of the British Mandate. In 1947, Jews were a distinct minority in Israel, even within the Jewish partition area. The parallels are uncanny.
'Revisionism' has become a dirty word, yet, if the record is being distorted, it should be put right. Falsifying the record, however, is dirty, especially when you proclaim yourself to be at the center of a major historical event. The Jewish community in South Africa has shown itself to be partial to arranging the historical record so as to present themselves as being front and center of the liberation movement in South Africa. There is no denying that many Jews, often representing the Jewish Community, did their level best to alleviate the suffering of Black People during the Apartheid era. Some even went so far as to treat their domestic servants humanely. The Black Sash and Parliamentarians like Helen Suzman made careers out of criticizing Apartheid. But an examination of the record reveals a sordid particularism, and their apologia for Zionism exposes the hypocrisy of their opposition to White Afrikaner Nationalism (aka Apartheid). Benjamin Pogrund's revisionism is particularly dirty, because he uses his documented opposition to White Afrikaner Nationalism, in order to defend Jewish Social Nationalism in Israel. In doing so he exposes the extent of his opposition to Apartheid; one should merely reflect on what effect Afrikaner Nationalists angry denunciations of the comparisons of Apartheid to Nazism had. Did he also denounce the linkage? He constantly uses the technique of comparing the vilest manifestations of Apartheid, with Israel's supposed saving graces. He compares Israel's anomalous Democracy with South Africa's anomalous Democracy, seemingly impervious to their parallel development. Through it all, we detect a desperate muddying of the waters. Is parliamentary accountability democracy? Is democracy the only system that holds parliamentarians and members of the government accountable? Pogrund seems to believe so, and uses the wand of democracy to provide a kosher sticker for one of the vilest social systems the west has ever produced.
Apartheid was a 'democracy', every bit as 'democratic' as Israel was. Apartheid was merely the natural democratic progression of the colonial regime that went before. In 1948, the ruling United Party (from which the Jewish dominated 'Progressive Liberal Party' emerged as a breakaway faction in 1959) went to the election with a platform based on the report of the Native Laws Commission chaired by Judge Henry Fagan. This Commission argued that because of the mass migration of Africans to the cities, and the impoverishment of the Native reserves (the building block of the Apartheid Bantustan policy), total segregation was impossible. But they never called for social and political integration. The National party, led by Daniel Malan won the elections on a platform of total segregation.
If we are do a direct comparison between the development of Apartheid, and the development of Zionism, we can compare, in the first instance, the unity of representative political parties in each. The political parties in each country shared a unity of policy regarding the non-represented people. In both countries, non-represented people were to remain disenfranchised: a policy of both government and opposition representative parties. In Israel, as well as in South Africa, native people were excluded from the political process. Africans did not vote in parliamentary elections until 1994, after Apartheid voted to dismantle the system. Vast majority of Palestinians does not vote in parliamentary elections - only children of 1948' survivors have the right, while the refugees, and the native population of the West Bank and Gaza have no right to vote in Israeli elections.
Benjamin Pogrund makes much of this supposed distinction between Zionism (as represented in Israel) and Apartheid.
"A crucial indicator of the status of Israel's minority is that Arabs have the vote black South Africans did not."
Pogrund is utilising the legal sham of 'occupied territories' versus 'real Israel'; but all these territories are ruled by the Jews and majority of non-Jews has no right of vote. And in the South Africa, Blacks voted in 2002, as they did in 1994 and 1998. Timing is crucial. Jewish parliamentarians, amongst others, became the de facto representatives of Africans in the Apartheid parliament. In 1972, Mixed Race and Indian Parties were allowed to contest elections for representation in separate 'parliaments' - 'Tri-Cameral parliament'. In 1994, the ANC became the governing party in Apartheid South Africa, thereby abolishing Apartheid; Israel is still an Apartheid Zionist State. But, give the dog a bone, at least some Israeli Arabs can now vote.
It is quite possible to compare Israel with South Africa, in 1972 say, and find minute differences in Israel's favor. But compare Israel and South Africa during the period 1948-2004, and there is significant weighting in favor of Apartheid South Africa. In fact, on balance, South African Apartheid comes out significantly better on a number of indicators: freedom of movement, housing, education, medical benefits, employment, transport, property ownership and freedom of religion. South Africa's Apartheid Civil Rights record is abysmal, with wide disparity between the upholding of the civil rights of Blacks as opposed to Whites; but, there are many South Africans who count their blessings when they finally understand exactly what the Palestinians had been going through.
Pogrund uses deceptive and misleading statistics to bolster his case when doing his comparison on a number of these indicators, and I will deal with them in order.
BANTUSTANS: "The situations inside and outside the Green Line, the borders determined by the 1967 war, are intertwined but separate. First, the West Bank and Gaza. Israel is the occupier and no occupation is benign. Everyone is suffering -- Palestinians as victims and Israelis as perpetrators. Everyone suffers deaths and maimings."
Here Pogrund attempts to gloss over the most glaring example of the politicide exposed by Israel's Apartheid system. The West Bank and Gaza, are not 'occupied territories' but an extension of Israel's colonization of the entire British mandated area. They are only 'occupied' in the sense that Israel wants the land, without the people. It varies from Apartheid's bantustans only by virtue of the fact that Israel is geographically small, while South Africa is large. If Israel was larger, it would have its bantustans, and there would not be an Arab in Israel. As it is, the clamor in Israel is to make Jordan its bantustan.
He goes on to detail the differences between the 'occupied territories' and the Bantustans. Apartheid invented the bantustans to pen the Africans into 'defined reservoirs of labor'. Israel uses the 'occupied territories' to 'keep Palestinians out’.
But is that really the reason Apartheid invented the bantustans? A shortage of Labor was never, and is not now, a problem in South Africa. South Africa, and Israel, maintained a regime of separation for precisely the same reason: demographics. South Africa created the bantustan concept in order to deprive Black South Africans of South African citizenship. Israel maintains it is to prevent Palestinians in Palestine, from a common citizenship with Jews in Palestine; thereby nullifying the idea of Israel as a 'Jewish State'.  South Africans were deluded, but yet they still held out hope that it would somehow work. Israel is quite convinced they can pull it off, although I wonder how? I can't suppose they will use a bogus 'anti-Apartheid' journalist from a white South African newspaper to pull the wool over our eyes, can I?
SOCIAL SEPARATION: " ... Israel inside the Green Line. In South Africa pre-1994, skin color determined every single person's life: Where you were born, where you lived, which school you went to, which bus, train, beach, hospital, library, park bench and public toilet you used, with whom you could have sex, what you could study, which jobs you had and hence how much you could earn and ultimately, where you were buried."
Apartheid was renowned for the regulations forbidding social interaction between the races. In many ways elements of this social separation persist today. But, Apartheid did not work … because Apartheid does not work. You could not separate the races; you could only separate racists. Most South Africans were not racists to the extent that they required minute regulation to enforce the pettier aspects of it. Pogrund should be aware that by the 1970's, South Africa began abandoning many of its 'Petty Apartheid' regulations. The Immorality Act, forbidding miscegenation, was abandoned in the late 1970's. The Group Areas Act was repealed in 1988. Blacks and Whites continued to freely intermingle in the streets, at parties, at work and in educational institutions. Far from being an integrated nirvana, South Africa was nevertheless an interracial society. It was not unusual to find Black people in numbers on the streets of the most exclusive White suburbs; even during the worst violence of the nationwide uprising; ongoing since 1976. Africans were never prevented from leaving Soweto, and formerly exclusive White inner suburbs saw an influx of Black residents by 1980. This, even though planted bombs was a way of life and regularly killed White people.
This tortured list of distinctive differences provided by Pogrund, becomes even more so when one is forced to compare Israeli society against it. Surely he is not suggesting that they are inapplicable in Israel? Surely he is not suggesting that it matters not, whether one is born Palestinian, or Jewish, in the Jewish State?
DEMOGRAPHICS: Apologists for Israel often refer to the differences between the demographics of Israel and South Africa to suggest that one is worse than the other. Palestinians in Israel are a minority: "In Israel, Arabs are approximately 20 percent of the population. In theory they have full citizenship rights but in practice they suffer extensive discrimination".
South Africa's then Prime Minister, John Voster, in 1966, also claimed that 'Apartheid' was merely 'Separate Development’. "Separate but equal." The whole world laughed to his face. Zionists claim that it is 'unequal' but 'not separate.' It is a distinction without a difference, and equally laughable. It would not be 'unequal', if it were not 'separate'. Setting aside this consequential argument, is it really better, when a majority oppresses a minority, or worse? Is it a recommendation that you oppress, when there is no requirement for it? It is still an open challenge for purported Israeli Jewish Human Rights Champions, to champion the Right of Return for those Israeli Arabs, 'legally equal citizens', to their former homes within Israel. It is the least they can do to salve their conscience.
"Anyone who says that Israel is apartheid does not appreciate what apartheid was." Iqbal Jassat puts it well: ". Archbishop Desmond Tutu in a commentary published by the Guardian, observed that Israelis were 'treating Palestinians in the same way the apartheid South African government treated blacks.' Testimonies from both the oppressor as well as the victim, provided separately over a time span of four decades, cannot be dismissed by suggesting that they knew nothing about apartheid!" Pogrund continues along similar lines with: "Israel has a Jewish majority and they have the right to decide how to order the society, including defining citizenship."
Because Jews are a majority in Israel, they have the right to exclude the minority. It is a demand to leave the geopolitical order of things in Israel as it is, and an argument to preserve the racist characteristics of the Jewish State, which Pogrund, while admitting to it, insists is not like Apartheid's racism. According to him, Israel is a democracy, and democracies vote on things like abandoning State Racism. He conveniently ignores that by this yardstick, the Apartheid regime was infinitely more democratic than Israeli Zionism, despite the ability of the minority Arabs to vote, because they actually voted to abandon the Apartheid regime. There seems to be absolutely no possibility that Israel will vote to abandon Zionism.
To further bolster his argument, he uses the example of Saudi Arabia, which restricts citizenship. Presumably, we are to assume that Saudi Arabia restricts citizenship to Muslims, which is patently not the case. Saudi Arabia has thousands of non-Muslim workers, who have recently been granted the right to Saudi citizenship, if they have resided in the country for more than 10 years. The exceptions, of course, are Palestinians, and Jews. This does not make Saudi Arabia a beacon of tolerance and democracy; but it must hurt when canards are shown to be just that, and you are fond of utilizing them. His equivalence falls short even when he utilizes such a poor example: Israel just does not stack up, even against the worse examples.
He does not run out of bad examples: "as Burundi and Rwanda, or India in 1947, erupt into terrible violence. Greece has an estimated 200,000 Roma who enjoy almost none of the benefits that other Greeks take for granted. Christians are targeted for attack in Nigeria, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Indonesia and China" But, "A crucial indicator of the status of Israel's minority is that Arabs have the vote black South Africans did not."
And a crucial difference is that South Africa did not practice genocide on their Black people.
"One (bad) example: Mosawa (The Center for Equal Rights for the Arab Population in Israel), acting on a recent law banning discrimination, has launched court action against a Web site offering jobs to Jews only."
Benji, my man, South Africa abolished job reservation in 1979. Surely you know that! It makes little difference, if an employer really wants to employ a member of a particular race. All this 'democracy' only matters if the voters vote to abolish inequality and in the case of Israel, if they vote to dismantle the 'Jewish State'. Blacks in South Africa were winning anti-discrimination lawsuits in the 1970's. They had the right to unionize by 1979. It made little difference, as it was the balance of power and the monopoly of resources that determined who was in charge. There was class, as well as racial politics at work.
His life expectancy comparison is a monumental fraud. Manipulating such figures is a national pastime in Israel. Here, he posits that the difference between the life expectancy between Arabs and people in European countries is a negative 4.8 years (74.4 years as opposed to 69.6). The evidence suggests that it is despite Israel, rather than because of Israel. Life expectancy in the West Bank is now 71 years from a 1967 low of 44 years, despite a concerted campaign by the IDF to lower it. Jordan's is 75 years. Arab mortality in Israel 7 per thousand, and 33 per thousand in the West Bank. These figures would be significant if there were a wide discrepancy, absent that they signify nothing. South Africa used similar comparisons to veil the widespread Kwashiorkor and malnutrition in African communities. They always compared them to the most impoverished African States. A striking similarity between the apologist for Apartheid, and the apologist for Israel.
SEPARATION (APARTHEID) BARRIER: Here Pogrund is more or less on the mark, the barrier has no comparison to anything found in the Apartheid regime. It is nevertheless an Apartheid wall. The worst that can be said is that is something that the Apartheid regime would have invented, if they had thought of it, or had a use for it; which, is hardly a recommendation for Zionism. Israel justifies it on the grounds that it 'saves Jewish lives'. But, the White population of Apartheid South Africa stood at approximately 6 million people; roughly equivalent to Israel's Jewish population (more or less) and suffered casualties which are as significant, if not worse, than those suffered by Israel. Yet, penning Black people into vast open-air prisons was never contemplated as a possible policy.
It has become fashionable for people to proclaim themselves to be 'anti-Apartheid' and one would be hard-pressed to find anybody today, who was not 'anti-Apartheid' in the South African Apartheid era. One merely had to exist, to have an opinion of it, one way, or another. But Apartheid had its champions, and could not have survived for so long without significant support. Not least of all was the support it received from Israel.
The true test is the test of time, and time has exposed many of the 'anti-Apartheid' activists for what they are. 'Anti Apartheid' campaigner Peter Hain is now a champion of colonial exploitation and intervention in Iraq, and a vital cog in Tony Blair's neo-colonial regime. Helen Suzman believes in confronting racism, except when it means confronting Israeli racism. Alana Mercer decries racism in her former homeland, and she does not mean Israel. Pogrund revises history, to portray himself as the champion that liberated Black people in South Africa. He pretended to do so then, and he pretends to be a humanitarian champion in Israel now. But, he is part of the problem, not part of the solution.
 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/05/16/wsuz16.xml.. Suzman made her name criticizing the Apartheid regime, but were never heard her detailing precisely what her 'liberal' beliefs entailed. She never directly champions 'equal' political representation. This is one of the few instances where she reveals what she had in mind: "I used to be a fan of proportional representation, but I am not at all now I have seen it in action." Proportional representation is another form of 'group rights', on which Apartheid was based. For decades she basked in the limelight as the de facto 'proportional' representative' of Black rights in a White Parliament.
 http://journ.ru.ac.za/rjr/Berger_story2.html First alluded to in the Movie 'Cry Freedom', this detail is often left out of biographies of Donald Woods. It was revolutionary in the 1970's South Africa to present black opinion in White Newspapers. But Biko was nothing, if he was not a revolutionary. Donald rapidly evolved from a 'bleeding heart liberal' and became that most dangerous of individuals: a White Revolutionary Sympathizer. Pogrund was nothing of the sort; he gave his White liberal views, on Black opinion.
 http://www.theglobalist.com/DBWeb/AuthorBiography.aspx?AuthorId=436 Rand Daily Mail Editors seem to all fall under the spell. On the June 2001, another former Rand Daily Mail Editor, Raymond Louw commented on the Racism in Israel being worse that the most extreme excesses of Apartheid. Allister Sparks caused a uproar when he similarly compared the situation in Israel to South Africa. http://www.indcatholicnews.com/haretz.html He also wrote an article proposing a Single State Solution on 24th May 2004 based on the South African experience.
 http://chicago.indymedia.org/newswire/display/38771/index.php The link is tongue in cheek. Liberals claim nothing less than being the linchpin that underpinned liberation of Black South Africa. They did not actually do anything, except annoy the Conservative National party with their incessant nagging. No prisoners were released, no laws were changed; not one liberal reform was implemented until the total surrender of the Apartheid regime to the historical imperative. It is always argued that 'International opinion' caused the capitulation, but sometimes, some things are just not worth the bother. The country was becoming ungovernable.
 http://www.shmuley.com/index.php?section=article&id=62Jews as the personification of perpetual, pre-eminent victims: "Want to see Apartheid? I'll show you Apartheid"
"At a conference in South Africa, State Minister Ronny Kasrils, himself a Jew, condemned Israel's treatment of Palestinians and said it was actually worse than the Apartheid government's treatment of blacks in South Africa had been."
 http://www.tau.ac.il/~reinhart/political/27.5.94_TheEraOfYellowTerritories.html ... The obvious similarities do not escape the observant. Tanya Reinhart has an irritating habit on insisting on her perceptiveness. "All blacks were considered citizens of Bantustans, making them "foreigners" in South Africa and deprived of their electoral and social rights. The situation created by the Gaza and Jericho agreement, signed this May (1994) in Cairo, is almost identical."
 http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa081.html "With the Industrial Conciliation Acts of 1979 and 1981, South African labor law was largely deracialized."
Thursday, December 23, 2004
Christmas Message of Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem
"I am listening. What is God's message? God's message is peace for his people, for his faithful, if only they renounce their folly" (Psalm 84:9).
1. A Blessed and Joyous Christmas to all who seek peace and justice in this Holy Land. May the peace and joy of Christmas fill your hearts and minds. With all of you, and with the psalmist, "I am listening. What is God's message? God's message is peace for his people, for his faithful, if only they renounce their folly" (Psalm 84:9).
We celebrate Christmas and we rejoice so as to renew our energies, learn patience, and conquer the forces of evil in our land. As we celebrate Christmas, we pray, we pray more than ever, we fast, and we purify our hearts and our intentions so that we might be filled with the holiness, life, love and strength of spirit that are needed to build the peace that seems so difficult, if not impossible, to attain.
2. At this time, there seem to be prospects of peace. We are hopeful that peace will indeed come about, after so many prayers, so many lives sacrificed, so many tears, and so much suffering. We hope that the political leaders will have the courage needed to sign a just and definitive peace and to accept the painful sacrifices this might entail either for themselves personally or for their people.
Each one of us has surely drawn lessons from the past violence that has destroyed the image of God in both the perpetrators and the victims, the oppressors and the oppressed. Though, in recent years, there have been many victims, much fear, many homes demolished, and much agricultural land devastated, we are still at the same point. Israelis are still looking for security, and Palestinians are still yearning for an end to the occupation, for their freedom and for their independence.
Yet, both peoples are destined to live together in peace. This is our conviction, and we believe that it remains possible.
3. However, the people must be freed from fear and given reasons to hope. It is the role of the leaders to facilitate this process. Palestinian leaders are now preparing for their elections with great calm and have adopted plans for peace. Israeli leaders are invited to do likewise by putting an end to their military interventions and by stopping the construction of the wall as well as the hunt for the wanted, which only increases the number of prisoners and dead. Peace cannot be held hostage to those who still see violence as a means of obtaining justice and peace.
For its part, the wall of separation will really never separate or protect. Quite to the contrary, it will only increase hate, ignorance of the other, and, therefore, hostility toward the other and, as a further consequence, violence and insecurity. What is needed is a search, in all humility, for the underlying causes of the violence. In all humility and sincerity, the cries of the poor and the oppressed must be heard. Ending the oppression and the humiliation of the Palestinians would at the same time put an end to the fear and insecurity of the Israelis. It would also put an end to those who are exploiting the attendant oppression and the poverty.
The wall of separation will not produce secure borders. Only friendly hearts can produce them. With friendly hearts, all borders will become pure symbols and disappear before the life and joy that will come from being able to live in peace and fraternity.
4. Religious leaders have a double role at this time: to continue insisting on justice, on the dignity of the human person, on security, and on the end to occupation. But at the same time, they must point out the paths to peace. Neither of the two peoples is condemned to continue offering up its youth to death. Each one has the desire and the right to see its young people live like their counterparts elsewhere in the world. The Israelis are not condemned to live eternally in insecurity and war. Likewise, the Palestinians are not condemned to live eternally asking for an end to the occupation and to remain on the road to death.
5. We have seen the life and we have heard what says the Lord. God says "peace for his people, for his faithful, if only they renounce their folly" (Psalm 84:9).
The Christian significance of Christmas is this: the Word of God has made his entrance into the world and has brought us life. Christmas is a promise of life, joy, and dignity in the presence of God who has chosen our land to be his dwelling: "No one has ever seen God. It is the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known. From his fullness we have all of us received" (John 1:18,16). Only in this perspective and in the presence of God can the peace of Jerusalem and of the Holy Land be built. To all, a Blessed Christmas filled with Peace, Justice and Joy.
+ Michel Sabbah, Patriarch
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
Suicide Bombing - Crime against Humanity?
by Mary Rizzo
The presentation of the Parliamentary Motion in the Italian Senate which aims at classifying suicide bombing as a crime against humanity has followed an interesting bureaucratic course. It started as an observation by the Human Rights Watch, then had become the campaign of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, and now, is finding its way into the international forum by way of a European government proceeding. All of this, in the hopes of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, is just the prelude to the formal presentation of the motion by a European country to the United Nations itself. The Centre has been on the lookout for some State, any State, (preferably not the United States for questions of expediency), to assume the responsibility of this call to broaden the list of crimes against humanity. It is the belief of the Centre that the "tyranny of the majority" of the UN is actually the essence of the problem in promoting such an initiative. It would never pass if it looked like it was really about what it is about, undermining the image of Arab resistance to occupation while weakening the structure of Palestinian administration.
What would be the outcome of this shift in consideration of a terrible act of terrorism into a crime against humanity? In the first place, it would remove it from the sphere of conflict limited to a specific area and specific purpose and create the internationalisation of the affair. In international law, crimes, murder and acts of violence of various nature are ideally dealt with by undertaking criminal investigation. This means that the burden of assuring that justice prevails, and that exclusively those suspected of committing a crime stand trial and are punished if the evidence demonstrates that they are guilty, falls solely upon the injured party or the State which represents it. With crimes that fall into the category of crimes against humanity, this burden no longer exists. In fact, the victim of the crime is exempt from the obligation of investigation and merely assumes the role of accusation. The statute of limitations is removed as are elements of contingency and justification. The perspective in which this crime has developed is completely de-contextualised. It stands alone without any history behind it, or any meaning whatsoever. It is condemned to remain a mysterious division between "the culture of life" and "the culture of death".
This sort of arrangement is very convenient for Israel, as it refuses to undertake criminal investigation, opting for the more rapid and less troublesome solution of immediate retaliation. Israel has consistently ignored the burden of creating a case providing evidence to bring those it suspects to trial. As far as I know, only Barghouti has had the courtesy of being charged and subsequently facing the courts of justice for terrorism. Others have not had such luck. Yassin, Rantissi and dozens of others have been assassinated, which, in any court of law is considered to be a serious criminal act. Notwithstanding the fact that accompanying them on their journey out of this world, were their families, neighbours and others who were guilty of the crime of living in the wrong open air prison. Retaliation itself is considered unlawful in international jurisdiction, and it is aggravated by that fact that it is virtually impossible to avoid harming innocent people in the process. Blowing oneself up in a crowded street is a horrible crime. Dropping a 10 tonne bomb on a sleeping city, a crowded intersection or a marketplace does nothing to spare the lives of civilians, and is in itself a ferocious action of systematic State terrorism against an entire population. Israel might be getting tired of this system and wants to lose the status of pariah state that such actions cause in the international public opinion. Thus, releasing any culpability for neglecting to fulfil the obligations of investigation and trial by shifting it to the international arena would make for astute political gain.
But more important of a gain would be that of eliminating the political symbolism of the act of suicide bombing. As it currently stands, the person who undertakes the mission of destroying himself while at the same time destroying other lives, is not acting out of hatred of a people, but of a system. The Shahidi is operating under the impression that he or she is committing an act that will rectify or at least in some way serve as a loudspeaker to an enormous injustice that is being endured. It is not the worship of some "death cult" as stated in the document of the Italian Senators, literally copied almost word for word from the press release of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre http://www.wiesenthal.com/mailings_swc/swc_dec0903.htm, but rather, it is an act which seeks to in some way bring attention to and to cause a change in the system which is oppressing the fellow members of the community of the suicide bomber.
The question that arises from this would be, "Is there a moral or political justification for such acts?" The answer which immediately comes to the minds of those who are interested in the pacific resolution of the crisis which is at the core of these violent acts is, "No! They can't be justified." The loss of innocent life is always a tragedy. The utilisation of suicide bombing can be considered to be inhumane, as well as ineffective. But, the problem is not the nature of the crime, rather, is this crime capable of being justified by those who undertake it, or is it a resignation to the "death cult" which is mentioned in these documents, therefore removing it from a justifiable political arena ?
Not all suicide bombers are driven by religious motivation, although some are. Yet, all of them are driven by the certainty that their people are the victims of oppression. Many of the suicide bombers happen to be in nations that have been living under foreign occupation, and have seen the results of extremely violent military aggression against unarmed people in their communities. In their eyes, the loss of their own lives only gains context if it is considered as a weapon against others. They see it as a form of resistance. Are we entitled to judge whether or not it is more legitimate to devastate a village and destroy the homes and lives of innocent people in the search for suspects or to run towards a checkpoint with the intention of killing and at the same time take one's own life? All of these acts are heinous, and it is a common trap to attempt to make those who oppose a repressive regime justify suicide bombing. The tragic nature of these acts is not in question. What is however, being transformed is the symbolic nature, and therefore, its political meaning.
Differing from acts of arbitrary violence, such as drive by killings and serial murder, the suicide bomber is equipped with an attitude. Most of those in his group may not approve of his methods, for whatever reasons, but it is difficult to imagine that they do not comprehend the ideological significance of his act. It is not targeted against people, but against a symbol. This may be hard to comprehend for those who do not recognise the community approval on a moral basis of the cause itself. To eliminate the crime, the cause has got to be addressed. Removing contingency and justification does not move towards viewing the situation from the eyes of the perpetrator and the group he intends upon representing and addressing the cause of these acts. And, that is the very goal of internationalising the problem and eliminating the statutes of limitations, and other guarantees. Persons living under occupation, who have no strong operative legal structures of their own should welcome such an opportunity to present their grievances in an international court of law. But, the development of this juridical situation would neither serve as deterrent nor would it provide true justice. It presents the oppressor as the sole victim.
It is natural that injured parties, the families and the States that represent them seek justice for the loss of their loved ones, for the loss of a sense of security that they need to live a healthy existence. Many of these parties do actually seek justice. They would want the criminal to stand trial. Others only are interested in revenge, vendetta, which is a perfectly human reaction. When tragedy strikes, people react in desperate ways and often want to take justice in their own hands. States should be beyond this law of the jungle, though, and Israel, the coalition nations in Iraq, the United States in Afghanistan, the Russians in Chechenya and many other examples, defy this basic code of international legality.
The Israeli government conducts massive operations of house demolitions in the aftermath of a strike. Regular praxis is curfew, raids and round-ups, arrest without charge, occupation of buildings in strategic position as lookout posts, withholding of foodstuffs, detention at checkpoints and firing on demonstrations. All of these are acts that are in violation of international law. None of this has had court follow up. The atrocities committed against the Palestinians are just "business as usual".
Following the tragic events of 11 September, rather than undertake investigation and seek to bring justice through law, the use of force by the United States military was adopted. Thousands of innocent Afghani victims have been killed because they had the enormous misfortune of being born in Afghanistan. They had the enormous misfortune of being ruled by the tyrannical Talibans, and they paid for it with their lives. The Iraqi population has been paying for decades now for the misfortune of being Iraqis under Saddam. The United States is seeking justice there too, but not in the courts of law. Thousands of innocent victims are the result of an illegal "liberation" that has become an illegal occupation. It is not difficult to recognise that large segments of the population have suffered from this aggression and believe that they must resist. Resistance takes many forms, and all acts of resistance can not be classified as terrorism, just as all acts of terrorism can not be classified as resistance. Time will dictate what approach has been the wisest, but meanwhile, the violence only escalates, because resolution of the cause is being avoided.
There must be a widespread impression in the Arab world that the courts don't exist. If they are starting to do so, they are only formed as a way to institutionalise the cultural clash (Western impression) and injustice (Arab impression), and not as an instrument used to achieve justice. And, what kind of justice can the families of the victims of the suicide bomber hope for? If justice means that the perpetrator of the crime is punished, it seems clearly obvious that this person has already paid the highest price imaginable, and can no longer stand trial and face the death sentence. The sentence has been meted out. Yet, in order to achieve some political gain from this event, while avoiding the necessity of resolution of the cause, the groups who claim responsibility are attacked militarily while those who legally assume responsibility for the crime are the government or those in authority who are held accountable. It is not necessary to demonstrate that they even played an active part. As a matter of fact, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, while endorsing the principle of suicide bombing being changed to a crime against humanity, in the case of Palestine failed to find evidence that the government was either accomplice to these acts or able to exercise effective control over the groups. Yet, those in authority would be held accountable for failing to take preventive action for failing to punish the perpetrators. Even if they condemned the acts of violence, they would have to stand trial as the defendant.
In the case of Palestine, the ultimate irony would be created: the State of Israel, whose policies of oppression are the cause of these acts, would be viewed in this court as the victim of this system, and the Palestinian government as the aggressor.
BERLUSCONI, THE UN AND THE WIESENTHAL CENTRE
The idea that the Californian centre is undertaking was begun at the end of last year by a group of American academics: Berlusconi could be the right leader to present it within a few days at the General Assembly of the UN in a short resolution consisting of three paragraphs to declare that suicide bombs are a crime against humanity.
The desire of Rabbi Abraham Cooper, for almost thirty years right arm of Simon Wiesenthal at the Simon Wiesenthal Centre of Los Angeles is very simple. Berlusconi, he explains, could be the right leader to present within a few days at the General Assembly of the UN a short resolution of three paragraphs to declare that suicide bombs are a crime against humanity. "We are in need of" he says, "a country that takes the initiative in order to set the process in motion".
The idea that the Californian centre has undertaken was begun at the end of last year by a group of American academics. Since December, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, a Jewish organisation established to assure justice to the Nazi criminals, has made it officially one of its battles.
"Our reason is double," explains Rabbi Cooper, "the first is an act of solidarity on behalf of all countries with the affirmation that this sort of behaviour is unacceptable and criminal. The second is to give to the victims, to their families and even to States a legal mechanism to prosecute whoever promotes these actions".
"International law, as it is now", stresses the Rabbi, "is directed against those groups who can be legally linked to governments that sponsor them. But this, in the current situation, is no longer the case. It is not the way Al Qaeda operates, nor of those sheiks who send their message throughout the world from Qatar via internet or Al Jazeera. Yet it is they who are creating the culture of hate", he says.
To promote the initiative, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, has been actively moving now for months, its representatives have met the Pope in Vatican, the representative of the European Union, Xavier Solana, the Foreign Affairs ministers of 18 different nations.
"The Pope acted very quickly and he has been very useful", says Abraham Cooper, "we met him, I believe, at the beginning of December and that same day he received in Vatican a group of Christians and Muslims and told them in very simple terms that this type of action could not be justified invoking the name of God".
In almost a year, however, the road towards a UN resolution has run into a series of obstacles that are as ambiguous and evasive as they are difficult to overcome.
"That which we need is a State. We tried in Latin America, we are in contact with Turkey, the Prime Minister has just written us, we have written even to Bush and Kerry, even if we don't believe that the United States are the right nation, Turkey or a European nation would be better. We hoped, considering also that numerous victims are Muslims, that something would have moved, but so far it hasn't happened", the Rabbi admits. "There has to be political will, the determination to trace a line. On the other hand, after that which has happened in Russia, if the international community doesn't find an agreement when it meets in several days in the UN, that means that we are headed at great speed to a new obscurantism".
Keeping the hands of the international community tied, in the opinion of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, is especially that which Cooper defines as "the tyranny of the majority" within the United Nations Building. The perception, in other words, that the block of the Islamic nations will end up blocking the idea. "I don't think that's the right perception," asserts the Rabbi, "only that in the past few days a significant part of the Arab public opinion has made a stance against that which has happened in the Russian school. And then this question has nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The crime had its beginning in Sri Lanka and now it is meting out even more Muslim victims in the world". The solution, therefore, could come from an Italy indignant and courageous. "If Berlusconi or another important Italian politician could raise the question, even from behind the scenes, it could succeed in giving for the first time a legal arm to the victims of terrorism. Or it could take the word to the UN or to the EU. It would take only three minutes to present a resolution just three paragraphs long." That is the hope of Abraham Cooper.
ITALIAN PARLIMENTARY MOTION
the horror of a terrorist violence without precedent in history has imposed, correctly or incorrectly, the expression, "Kamikaze Terrorism";
in the opinion of Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize winner of 1986, founder of the "Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity", differently from the Japanese soldiers who, at the end of the second World War, choosing to sacrifice themselves attacking strictly military objectives, the suicide terrorist of our times prefers to attack helpless civilians, unarmed children, defenceless women, with the goal of feeding in the individual conscience and that of the masses, an absolute counter-position, in many ways more than racist, regarding the "enemy-infidel" and to determine the dishumanisation of the entirety of the world's conflicts;
its goal, therefore, is to kill and to massacre, to die while killing is better, to practice the cult of death, to live one's own desperation or even one's own hopes only in death, adored as one's own God, the God of death;
some figures at the summit of the terrorist aggregations (Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Army of Iraq and so forth) approve, promote and exalt the realisation of such mass homicides, not hesitating to accredit to them the value also and above all to the standard of an interpretation which is hateful and distorted of some sacred texts;
in particular - notwithstanding that the Muslim community, in its generality, as has emerged in a document recently complimented by the President of the Republic, has always shown itself to refuse every form of violence and fanaticism - a growing number of persons, often very young, are induced to rethink the Koranic commandments in the light of the mystique of suicide terrorism, in such extraneous to the Koran and to Islam;
added without a doubt in this disquieting prospective are the most sanguinary terrorist attacks perpetrated in the world in the recent past years: from the enormous tragedy of New York and Washington of 11 September 2001, up until the very serious strikes accomplished in various localities of the State of Israel, Russia, the Philippines, India, Pakistan, Iraq, and the strikes of Bali, Casablanca, Istanbul, Jakarta;
even our nation has been tremendously hit by this vile practice of death, in such that last 12 November, four suicide bombers aboard two vehicles packed with explosives devastated the buildings which housed the Italian military contingent present at Nassiriya, in Iraq, killing 19 of our fellow countrymen: fifteen State Police, two soldiers of the Army and two civilians working in humanitarian activities;
the incessant series of terrorist strikes which have been undertaken, even in Europe, by cells which are traceable to the Al Qaeda signature confirms - such as is stressed in the last "Report on informational politics and on security", regarding the first semester of 2004, presented in Parliament by our Intelligence apparatus last 30 July - "realisation and actuality of the threat related to the activity of International Jihadism" (page 13);
authoritative institutional subjects have for a long time addressed a strong call to the international organisms and to the single governments so that, in the respect of human rights, more incisive instruments are adopted for the immediate contrast to international terrorism and, specifically, so that the international community works towards interrupting the sanguinary series of suicide strikes of a terrorist matrix;
the situation of political paralysis which has been registered, during the Iraq crisis, within the UN Security Council has fed into the sensation of a credibility gap in the UN;
the divisions which have been produced at that time in Europe have on the other hand contributed to reinforce that American unilateralism, which is denounced as unfit;
a firm warning against terrorism was significantly pronounced by His Holy Father Pope John Paul II who, on several occasions, has affirmed that "whoever kills with terrorist acts cultivates sentiments of contempt towards humanity, manifests desperation regarding life and the future" (Message of Pope John Paul II for the celebration of the World Day of Peace, 1 January 2002);
in this same prospective, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, for decades committed to the promotion of religious tolerance and for the struggle against anti-Semitism, has become the explicit promoter of a campaign of mobilisation so that the international community recognises suicide strikes of a terrorist matrix as configuring as a true "crime against humanity";
adhering to this appeal, in our nation at this time, by initiative of the newspaper "Il Riformista" exponents of culture and journalism of various political collocations, as well as diverse secular and religious associations and organisations (Union of the Italian Jewish Communities, ACLI, Legambiente, Movimento dei Focolarini, Comunità di Sant'Egidio, Focsiv);
as such, it is not comprehensible how the Parliament and the Italian government can remain indifferent to such a solicitation of public opinion that is so vast and significant;
The suicide strikes of a terrorist matrix integrate criminal conduct which offends the international community in the patrimony of values which are universally shared, upon which it is founded and which it cannot be consented to abdicate;
Such practice of death presupposes an evident lesion of the most elementary human rights and of international juridical order, bringing about intolerable violations of the "general principles of rights recognised by civilised nations" (art. 38, paragraph I, lett. C, of the Statute of the International Court of Justice of the UN) under which human life finds universal tutelage;
the Statute of the International Penal Court (approved with the Treaty of Rome on 17 July 1998) has signalled an important aim in the historical process of juridical determination of the concept of crimes against humanity as a category separate from others, affirmed by more than half a century as part of consuetudinary international law, such crimes that are comprised of the so-called jus cogens;
these constitute a thus intransgressible norm, subject to universal jurisdiction, so that all States have the duty to make the guilty stand trial or to extradite them, independently of the nationality of the guilty or the place where the crime was committed;
the norms of guarantee are not in vigour for political crimes nor those norms on prescription, on immunity or justifications;
such a Statute has nevertheless not expressly pronounced the inclusion in such a category as acts such as those of terrorism, for contingent contractual reasons of political-diplomatic nature;
such contractual reasons, although respectable, are however, contingent;
even by the same standards of that which was solemnly sanctioned by the Statute of the International Penal Court, it must be convened that the suicide strikes of terrorist matrix constitute "crimes against humanity" in so far as they are knowingly committed "as part of an extended or systematic attack directed against civilian populations" (art. 7, paragraph I, Statute of the International Penal Court) which takes place through the reiterated killing of helpless civilians, "in execution or in ulterior actuation of the political design of (.) an organisation having as its objective such an attack" (art. 7, Constitutional Elements of the Crimes Adopted, ex art. 9, paragraph I, of the Statute of Rome, from the Assembly of the Partner States at New York on 8 September 2002);
further, the "norms of closure" contained in letter k of the mentioned article 7 of the Statute of the International Penal Court include, among crimes against humanity, "other inhuman acts of analogous character directed at intentionally provoking great suffering or great damages to the physical integrity or physical or mental health".
commitment of the Government
to research new agreements, in European spheres and among all the interested States, suitable to reinforce the initiatives of battle against terrorist violence, favouring in particular the perfection of operative instruments and of the apparatus of contrast as well as the homogenisation of the national and international norms which in this very delicate material reveal themselves to be, still today in many senses, lacunose and ineffective;
to work through the General Assembly of the United Nations so that as soon as possible, in a clear and unequivocal form, it is recognised that even terrorist action perpetrated through suicide strikes constitutes, to all effects of international dispositions in force, a very serious and imprescriptible "crime against humanity", of which the leaders of the States and the aggregations who have promoted or favoured the enactment must respond before the international judicial organisms to which is entrusted the repression of universal crimes.
Sen. Luigi Compagna
Sen. Giorgio Tonini
Rome, 13 September 2004.
Italian Foreign Affairs Minister in Israel
while Palestinians are denied freedom of movement
Gianfranco Fini, the man who said that Mussolini was one of the world's greatest Statesmen, and who currently is also Italy's Vice President and leader of Alleanza Nazionale, the modern version of Mussolini's Fascist party made his first visit to Israel as Foreign Affairs minister, but certainly not his first to Israel as a representative of Italy. I find the letter to Al-Awda Italia by Susanne very interesting, and want to translate it and pass it on:
"The news of the public network, RAI, is transmitting the news that the Foreign Affairs minister, Gianfranco Fini, has begun his visit to Israel. In such a context, they claimed that he declared that Italy would be ready to help the Palestinians to resolve their major problem, that of (Israel's) security, in the concrete way of training Palestinian policement by "our specialised personnel". Strangely enough, this news does not appear on any of the numerous sites - American, English, German, Arab or Iranian - that I have trawled through in order to find news on Fini's visit to Palestine. No one seems to have noticed the presence of Gianfranco Fini in the Middle East.
The Chinese site Xinhuanet rather, informs us today that Fini invites the Palestinians to combat their endemic terrorism, the Zionist occupation forces have completely closed the seaside road that runs from Gaza City to the south of the Gaza Strip. According to Xinhuanet, this morning, some bulldozers left the Israeli settlement of Netzarim and have destroyed portions of this road. As a consequence, the Palestinians who are residents can no longer go to Gaza City and the other towns along the way as well as the refugee camps and vice versa and no one knows how those who pass from the Egyptian confines towards the Strip can reach their destinations within the Strip. In order to inform the public that for the category of Palestinians, the right to movement has been abolished, the Israeli armoured tanks are alligned along the perimetre of Netzarim and they are shooting at anyone who tries to pass using the seaside road.
See it to believe it:
Monday, December 20, 2004
My bias is better than your bias
I often take part in letter writing campaigns against media bias, which is obscenely favourable to Israel, even in the light of evident misdeeds and crimes. I think that accurate and fair reporting is the fundamental condition so that the "fourth power" retains any vestiges of objectivity or usefulness. Yet, true objectivity is a panacea. Any event that takes place is going to be reported by a human being. Each person carries with him- or herself a series of all too human qualities such as sensitivity, perception and perspective. Whatever he or she sees, hears or reads is of course going to be processed using the tools of judgment, placing events in context and attempting to present them to those who are not first hand witnesses or who are not busy reflecting on the material.
So, it is no wonder that such a condition as "bias" exists. When one continually witnesses a certain act, or there is a trend which always points in the same direction, a sense of purpose arises in the chronicler whose duty is to inform and to create consensus.
Yet, in these days, I have been focussed on the campaign to remove Neil MacDonald from the CBC which has been launched by HonestReporting. They say they are agains bias… Yup, sure……. take a look at their about us page if you are an unbeliever:
"Israel is fighting an uphill battle and needs all the help it can get. Much has been achieved, yet there is much more yet to do. One person alone may not make a difference, but thousands united can...
Join HonestReporting.com and help Israel win the media war.
Why is the fight against media bias so important?
The media sways public opinion, which directly affects foreign policy - and, ultimately, the outcome of the conflict.
Since October 2000, in addition to fighting an anti-terror war, Israel has been fighting a media war. In news outlets around the globe, journalists regularly misrepresent Israel as the aggressor and Palestinians as the victims.
In response, HonestReporting was established to scrutinize the media for anti-Israel bias, then mobilize subscribers to respond directly to relevant news agencies.
HonestReporting's seminar, "Israel's Battle Against Media Bias," has been presented to groups throughout North America and Israel, and is a key component of the Hasbara Fellowships program to train college students in pro-Israel activism."
So, someone please explain to me the difference between "anti-Israel bias" and "pro-Israel activism" which HonestReporting actually has developed seminars to train college students about? If it's bias for the goose, it's bias for the gander, or no?
Omar Barghouti: Why Boycott Israel?
Just as a curiosity; today my country, Italy, had just undersigned an Accord of Collaboration between the Weizman Institute of Israel for researchers in Bio-medicine (staminal cells, mainly). Don't tell me there wasn't some sort of coincidence in timing.
Omar Barghouti: Towards an Academic Boycott of Israel
"The most urgent type of support the international community can provide to the Palestinian academy is to adopt various forms of boycott against Israel’s academic institutions, forcing them to disengage themselves from their direct and/or indirect collusion in their state’s oppression. This will serve not only the Palestinians, but also, in the longer term, the moral left in Israel, academics included. Challenging the fanatic, militaristic establishment may strengthen its grip on power in the short run -- extreme populism and the rise of fascist tendencies in Israel today attest to that; but in the longer run it will weaken that establishment, just as in South Africa. Repression under apartheid did not die down in a smooth downwards spiral, after all.
Some sincere advocates of Palestinian rights have argued that boycotting Israel is a self-righteous act that ignores the pressing need to alleviate the immediate suffering of Palestinians under occupation. But, as I have argued elsewhere, regardless of all intentions, this type of logic is not only patronizing -- claiming to better know what’s best for Palestinians -- but also based on an unconscious premise that Palestinians have somewhat less than normal human needs. Implied in it is the supposition that food, shelter and basic services -- which would be better served without boycott, the argument claims -- are considered by Palestinians to be more profound or dear than their need for freedom, justice, self-determination, dignified living and the opportunity to develop culturally, economically and socially in peace.
From an entirely different angle, some argue that, in spite of all the above, it is still necessary for Palestinian academics and intellectuals of all people to maintain and foster open communication channels with their Israeli counterparts, to debate, to share, to convince, to learn, to overcome the "psychological barriers" and ultimately to reach a common vision and a common struggle for peace.
I beg to differ. Those who imagine they can wish away the conflict by suggesting some forums for rapprochement, détente, or "dialogue" -- which they hope can lead to authentic processes of reconciliation and eventually peace -- are either clinically delusional or dangerously deceptive.
How can an ethno-religious supremacy that is also a colonial power ever qualify as a democracy? Israel may be a democracy for its Jewish citizens, but it is an apartheid for its Palestinian citizens, as argued earlier. New York University professor Tony Judt, for instance, calls Israel a "dysfunctional anachronism," categorizing it among the "belligerently intolerant, faith-driven ethno states."
-----Unlike in South Africa during apartheid, the majority in Israel is opposed to sanctions.----(an argument "against sanctions that Mr Barghouti debunks)
Of all the anti-boycott arguments, this one reflects either surprising naiveté or deliberate intellectual dishonesty. Are we to judge whether to apply sanctions on a colonial power based on the opinion of the majority in the oppressors’ community? Does the oppressed community count at all?"
I urge you to read the entire article if you have serious doubts about the utility or the ethical nature of an academic boycott of Israel.
Sunday, December 19, 2004
Reasons to be Tearful (part three)
Thanks to Eric for forwarding this outstanding Evildoers here we come by Pepe Escobar, about the neo-con strategy to engage the entire natural resources producing countries in wars. Nevermind that the consequences of this warplanning are catastrophic (for the US) and they know it:
"Both the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency have extensively war-gamed the possible consequences of a pre-emptive strike (against Iran). The results were disastrous. The neo-cons dismiss it as perceptions of the so-called "reality-based community"."
What the basic problem entails is simply a question of organisation and other practial matters. There are only so many munitions and troops to move around the chessboard of "over there", and the problem is more of a nature of when the game will start, not actually IF it will start.
Why are these nations such a threat????
It is interesting to note that not every nation on earth has "problems" with Syria, Iran, Sudan, etc… There are actually reasons to believe that arch-enemies such as Iraq were on the road to healthy diplomatic and commercial relations. Iran is currently beginning a new series of trade negotiations with the European Union. This is quite a threat to the United States.
"Both Iran and the EU have a tremendous stake in the success of the new round of negotiations, which started this week and will, according to European diplomats, last for many months. For Iran, a deal with the EU is a major twofold strategic victory: it amplifies the political abyss between Washington and Brussels, and from the point of view of Iranian consumers, it's good for business. For the EU, it's above all good for big business in the oil and gas industry. A who's who of European majors - Royal Dutch-Shell, Total-Fina-Elf, Agip, British Gas, Enterprise, Lasmo, Monument - already has and looks forward to expanding Iranian contracts. Not to mention the Chinese, who last month assured the Iranians in Beijing, after signing a major oil-and-gas deal, that they would block any move by the International Atomic Energy Agency to take the nuclear impasse to the UN Security Council."
In other words, a NORMAL Iran is bad for business. And the neo-cons, and the theo-cons keep pushing it:
"Ideologues like Reuel Marc Gerecht of the AEI are unfazed, and keep pushing heavily for a pre-emptive strike. Gerecht boasts that "you have to be crystal clear with them that whatever they dream up, we can dream up something much, much worse". These ideologues are obviously unaware of the fact that a strike will inevitably alienate the fiercely nationalistic Iranian population, will lead them to rally en masse in support of the government, and will be disastrous for business from a oil major/corporate American point of view."
Just so we're all clear about that and don't start talking about WMDs, Dictators, Liberation and immenent nuclear threat to Europeans and Americans.
Saturday, December 18, 2004
Some generous offers are just hot air
In a Ha'aretz article by Lili Galili, Lieberman: Transfer Arab areas of J'lem to Palestinians, former minister Avigdor Lieberman (National Union Party) said he supports the transfer of some of Jerusalem's Arab neighborhoods and Israeli Arab communities over to Palestinian control in conjunction with the establishment of a Palestinian state.
"Lieberman's position on the transfer of Arab areas over to Palestinian control is part of his recently-formulated vision for a Jewish state based on ethnic separation from the Palestinians.
-I don't want to pay national insurance to residents of these neighborhoods. The Palestinians should provide them with national insurance, labor representation and the right to strike,- Lieberman said.
Lieberman also said that, unlike left-wing activists back the People's Voice and Geneva Initiative, he is not seeking peace but security and is not seeking a partner for the creation of a Palestinian state but rather a partner for the resolution of what he called "the problem of Arabs in the Land of Israel.
-I don't want to be part of the 'New Middle East,' I want to be a representative of Europe in this region. I am not excited by eating hummus in Damascus but rather prefer walking around in Paris and London.-"
Well, I ask how one can represent Europe if one is in the Middle East? But, the real issue is not whether or not such an event will take place. We all know that is will not. The problem will be the internal Israeli acceptance of two concepts: transfer of Arabs, or in lieu of that, to accept the idea that Arabs within Israeli society are a foreign element and "eating hummus" is something which really cultured and refined people don't do.
Another idea is that there will be "some" concessions to be made, and since Jerusalem will probably gain international status should ever a Palestinian State be created, there is a statement on record for the willingness to concede EVEN PARTS OF JERUSALEM!
If any areas are "given" over to Palestinian governance, we will be certain that they are someplace in the Negev.
Friday, December 17, 2004
Terrorism? Resistance? Censorship!
"When states target civilians or use military force with wanton disregard for civilian populations, it is a war crime. There is black-letter law against it. The UN report points that out, and suggests that an international definition of terrorism might be more acceptable if it contained "recognition … that State use of force against civilians … if of sufficient scale, constitutes a war crime by the persons concerned or a crime against humanity."
The trouble is that such wording would be hollow, and everyone knows it. War crimes are almost never actionable. Powerful nations have seen to that. There are only two specific tribunals at the moment set up to deal with war crimes: the Arusha tribunal, to deal with the genocide in Rwanda, and the tribunal in The Hague dealing with the Yugoslavian civil war.
The International Criminal Court itself is not empowered to act against states that have elected not to participate. And several have done just that. The United States, for example. It is also a safe bet that the five real powers at the UN – the U.S., France, Russia, China and Great Britain – are never going to agree to an anti-terrorism strategy that might eventually condemn their military tactics or those of their client states. And, of course, as long as states can evade responsibility for war crimes, "non-state actors," as the UN labels groups like al-Qaeda, will be able to claim they are merely doing what governments the world over do.
The second argument standing in the way of an international definition of terror, says the UN, "is that peoples under foreign occupation have a right to resistance and a definition of terrorism should not override this right." What the report is talking about here, although it avoids naming names, is Israel. That second argument is the argument of the Palestinians, who have for decades waged diplomatic war with Israel at the UN, with the majority of member states taking their side.
The UN report suggests finally taking a stand against that sort of thinking: "there is nothing in the fact of occupation that justifies the targeting and killing of civilians." Which would seem a simple enough truth. (Although one suspects that if Texas were occupied by a foreign power, its citizens would pull out their guns and start shooting at any enemy target that presented itself, civilian or not).
But the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not as easy to characterize as the UN report might wish. The Israeli soldiers who enforce the occupation kill a great many Palestinian civilians. If Palestinians have committed terror, the Israelis have certainly committed war crimes."
Well, there's some follow up to that op-ed. Read the piece in B'nai Brith Canada's website, excerpted below:
"When HRC (Honesty in Reporting Canada) contacted the Middle East Institute, (someone MacDonald interviewed on a previous occasion) it was told the Institute’s funding comes primarily from the following sources: Abdul Latif Jameel Corporation in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Chevron Texaco; Conoco Phillips; Exxon; Raytheon; Saudi Aramco and Shell International. (In May, Macdonald’s story on the Abu Ghraib prison abuses quoted a known anti-Israel lobbyist who falsely implicated Israeli agents in the affair.)
Smith, HRC’s executive director, said the group asked its membership to petition the CBC to drop Macdonald from The National for his obvious and repeated anti-Israel bias. The action call generated "the most intense, well-articulated and intelligent" letter-writing campaign in HRC’s history, Smith said.
He said, "People have really thought about this and many writers specifically pointed out that they aren’t even Jewish.
"We take pains to avoid extreme positions, but in cases of obvious bias, we feel that there is no other choice but to ask news organizations to drop the offenders."
After Macdonald’s May report, Tony Burman had said ". . . we have modified our editorial processes and procedures to ensure that this situation is never repeated."
Bazay found that while he did not find Macdonald guilty of bias, "Under CBC journalism policy reporters, editors and producers must not only avoid bias; they must avoid the appearance of bias."
Now it's your turn to call the shots: If you agree that Neil Macdonald's reporting is valuable, please send a note of support/appreciation to the CBC:
Here is a sample letter:
I wish to express my esteem and support for Neil MacDonald, whose articulate and measured analysis of the relationship between war crimes and other beligerant actions undertaken by non-State entities which can run the gamut between terrorism (to be condemned, and which he obviously does not approve of) and resistance (which is a right guaranteed to all occupied peoples by UN Charters and International Conventions) is an example of excellent editorial journalism.
Please do not be influenced by pressure groups who seek to silence this journalist.