Friday, June 30, 2006
AIPAC v. Norman Finkelstein: A Debate on Israel's Assault on Gaza
Democracy Now! 06.29.2006
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We host a debate on the situation in Gaza with Norman Finkelstein, a professor of political science at DePaul University in Chicago and author of "Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History" and Josh Block, the Director of Media Affairs for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). [includes rush transcript]
Norman Finkelstein, professor of Political science at DePaul University in Chicago. His latest book is "Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History."
Josh Block, director of Media Affairs for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)
This transcript is available free of charge. However, donations help us provide closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing on our TV broadcast. Thank you for your generous contribution. Donate - $25, $50, $100, more...
AMY GOODMAN: As we continue our coverage, we're joined now by two guests. Here in our Firehouse studio, Norman Finkelstein, Professor of Political Science at DePaul University in Chicago. His latest book is called Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History. And on the telephone, we're joined by Josh Block, Director of Media Affairs for AIPAC -- that's the American Israel Public Affairs Committee -- speaking to us on the line from Connecticut. Josh Block, let's begin with you. Your response and the latest, the last thing that Chris McGreal said, saying human rights groups, the Palestinian leadership, Mahmoud Abbas talking about this as collective punishment and a crime against humanity.
JOSH BLOCK: Well, clearly the concern is the reaction from those same folks when it comes to the murder and kidnap of Israeli citizens. From many perspective, American or otherwise, an attack inside Israel, unprovoked, that resulted in the murder of two Israelis and not the capture, Amy, but the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier is, in and of itself, an act of war.
And clearly the Israelis tried for several days, 48 hours, 36 hours, of intense diplomacy with the aid of the United States, the French -- and I should add that this young man who has been kidnapped is also a French citizen -- to secure the release from Hamas, the terrorist group that has him. And by the way, in high irony, the government of the Palestinian Authority, run by the same terrorist group, so a government that's charged with fighting terrorism is itself a terrorist group that's responsible for his kidnapping. So after 48 hours and 36 hours of difficult and unproductive diplomacy, clearly the Israelis felt that they needed to act in their own defense.
And I think the question is what is the reaction from these same human rights groups when it comes to the condemnation of terrorism or other acts? And clearly -- and I don't speak for the Israelis, but they must have felt that this was an important thing to do to help isolate and prevent the movement of this terrorist groups from moving the captive or kidnapped Israeli soldier around the Gaza Strip.
AMY GOODMAN: Professor Finkelstein?
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: I think it is useful to begin with what the human rights groups have to say about this. Let's leave aside the background for a moment and look narrowly at the incident that triggered the Israeli invasion. Let's see what Hamas did not do, what the Palestinian militants did not do. Number one, they did not liquidate the corporal, which Israel routinely does, namely its political assassinations. That's a war crime under international law. Israel routinely does that. Hamas did not do that to the corporal.
Number two, they didn't kill the corporal while trying to arrest him. Israel routinely does that. If you look at July 2005, B'Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, they put out a very hefty report entitled "Take No Prisoners." And the report shows Israel routinely, during so-called arrest operations, kills Palestinians, documents a case of a Palestinian who was wounded, on the ground, no weapon. Israel killed him. Hamas didn't do that to the corporal.
It said by this – by [inaudible], it said that they took him hostage, they kidnapped him. Okay. Israel routinely takes Palestinians, Lebanese hostage. In fact, Israel was the only country in the world, in 1997, which legalized hostage-taking. The liberal head of the Israeli High Court, Aharon Barak, he said it's legal, legitimate, under international law to take what he called bargaining chips in order to get prisoners, Israeli prisoners being held by the Lebanese. The decision was reversed in 2000, but Israel continued to hold Lebanese hostages until 2004. So, at worst, Hamas is being accused of what Israel legalized and routinely does.And finally, let's talk about those 9,000 Palestinians who are effectively hostages being held by Israel. 1,000 of them are administrative detainees.
AMY GOODMAN: You're talking about prisoners.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Yes. Administrative detainees who are being held without any charges or trial. And the other 8,000 are being held after military courts have convicted them, almost always on the basis of confessions which were extracted by torture. So if we're going to look simply at the numbers, we have one hostage on the Palestinian side, and effectively we have about 9,000 on the Israeli side.
AMY GOODMAN: We're talking about the siege in Gaza. Our guests are Josh Block, a spokesperson for AIPAC, which is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, speaking to us from Connecticut; and Professor Norman Finkelstein, teaches political science at DePaul University in Chicago, is in our Firehouse studio. Juan?
JUAN GONZALEZ: Josh Block, before break, Norman Finkelstein was talking about the lack of proportionality in looking at the issue of prisoners and hostages on both sides. Your response to that?
JOSH BLOCK: Well, I think the first thing that he said was that we should ignore the context in which this attack took place, and I think that's a major flaw with his commentary over time. I'm not surprised to hear him talk about things in those terms, considering he's called Hezbollah, which is the number one killer of Americans outside of al-Qaeda, a heroic organization.
You know, ultimately, the question for Israel is, what is its responsibility as a government? And any government, whether it's our or theirs, has the duty to protect its citizens. Hamas and Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, other terrorists groups, have been conducting an unremitting campaign of terrorism against Israeli citizens. Hamas is an organization that fundamentally believes, deep in its core, that Israel does not have the right to exist. When they talk about an occupation, they're talking about Tel Aviv. That's why when this terrorist attack took place, it took place not in the Gaza Strip or in the West Bank, but inside Israel itself.
They infiltrated Israel, digging a tunnel from underneath a home into the country of Israel, where they attacked soldiers who were not engaged in an offensive operation against any Palestinian. They murdered two of them, and they kidnapped one of them. And they're holding him captive, hostage. That is an act of war. It's a provocation. And it comes as a culmination of months and months of terrorist attacks and rocket attacks against Israeli citizens, who were not engaged in any offensive effort, who are simply going ahead and living their lives. And that kind of terrorism is unacceptable, and forces a response from any responsible government.
The Palestinian Authority has the responsibility to secure the release of this individual, this soldier. And failing that, the international community has to continue to put pressure on the Palestinian Authority to fulfill those obligations. Again, Hamas is the government of the Palestinian Authority, and it is sanctioning and conducting terrorism. That's not an acceptable situation, and it cuts against the entire grain of fundamental international conduct.
AMY GOODMAN: Norman Finkelstein, I'd like to you respond to that and also the timing of this operation, coming hours after Fatah and Hamas announced that they had agreed on a document that implicitly recognized Israel within its 1967 borders.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, I want to first take note that Josh didn't respond to any of my claims about Israel taking hostages, about 9,000 –
JOSH BLOCK: That's because they're ludicrous claims. They don't merit a response.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: I respected your time, Josh. I respected your time. Please do the same for me. He didn't respond to any of my claims about Israel taking hostages, routinely killing Palestinians taken prisoner, and so on and so forth.
So let's turn to the issue that Josh wants to address, namely the context. I'm very happy to do so. Let's look at the context. Since Israel withdrew from Gaza in September 2005 'til today, the estimates run between 7,000 and 9,000 heavy artillery shells have been shot and fired into Gaza. On the Palestinian side, the estimates are approximately 1,000 Kassam missiles, crude missiles, have been fired into Israel. So we have a ratio of between seven and nine to one.
Let's look at casualties. In the last six months, approximately 80 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza due to Israel artillery firing. Now, on the Israeli side, we hear all of these terrible things about these Kassams. Even Shlomo Ben-Ami, yesterday on your program, who I respect, he said what's Israel to do about these Kassams? What does the record show? I mentioned a moment ago, 80 Palestinians killed in six months. There have been exactly eight Israelis killed in the last five years from the Kassam missiles. Again, we have a huge disproportion, a huge discrepancy.
Now, Josh says Israel has a responsibility to protect its citizens. I totally agree with that. But Hamas is the elected government of the Palestinians. They have a responsibility to protect their citizens. They have a responsibility to get back their 9,000 hostages. They have a responsibility to protect their Palestinian civilians, who are being daily attacked by Israel. Josh says that the --
JOSH BLOCK: If I might, Amy, I'm ready to respond to that.
AMY GOODMAN: Josh Block of AIPAC.
JOSH BLOCK: Yeah, first of all, the folks that have been arrested for participating in terrorist activity against innocent Israeli civilians have been arrested for criminal activity. They were not kidnapped because they were doing their responsible civic duty and no offensive position against the Palestinians. In fact, those who, again, are in Israeli jail are there for conducting terrorist activity. Among the people that he mentions that have been killed, were killed because they were participating in terrorist activity, shooting missiles, planning terrorist attacks against Israel. Those folks were not innocent civilians who were killed in suicide bus bombings or have had missiles fall on their kindergartens. There's a moral equivalency that your guest is drawing that is fundamentally out of proportion.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: May I ask Josh a question?
JOSH BLOCK: It's totally disproportionate and fundamentally incorrect.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: May I ask Josh -- I'd like to ask you a question, Josh. 1,000 of those Palestinian prisoners being held by Israel, according to B'Tselem, the Israeli human rights organization, 1,000 of them are administrative detainees. That is, there have been no charges leveled against them. How do you know what they're being held for?
JOSH BLOCK: Fundamentally --
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: No, answer that question. There have been no charges and no trials.
JOSH BLOCK: I'm about to, if you would give me a second to answer --
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: How do you know what they're being held for?
JOSH BLOCK: But instead you're trying to filibuster the question. Fundamentally, the Israeli army and the Israeli government arrest Palestinians who are engaged in terrorist activity. That's a proven fact.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: No, I don't think that's a proven fact. It would be a proven fact if there were court trials.
JOSH BLOCK: It is. It is a proven fact.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: How do you know what administrative detainees are being held for? Israel doesn't say, so how do you know?
JOSH BLOCK: I fundamentally understand the facts, which clearly you do not, which are that Israel takes fundamental legal action to arrest individuals who are engaged in terrorist activity directed against its citizens. There is no moral equivalency to be drawn between a country acting in defense of its citizens and those engaging in terrorist activity in an effort to stabilize and destroy that free and peaceful society.
Look, Amy and Juan, as a Liberal Democrat who is a long-time listener of this program, I fundamentally believe that the audience and you are in a position to understand that liberal fundamental values, which are celebrated in Israel -- freedom of the press, women's rights, gay rights, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion -- are denied to those living in Palestinian areas and throughout the rest of the Arab world. There's an asymmetry that's involved in the Middle East, which is a country of Israel that is based on fundamental free values, that is not replicated in the Arab world, where education systems inculcate children with hatred and teach them that martyrdom and death is preferred over science and math and education.
And fundamentally, after Israel's disengagement from Gaza less than a year ago, when the Palestinian people and the Authority that leads them had the chance to build a better life for their citizens, they chose not to do that. They destroyed the greenhouses, the economic infrastructure that was provided. They then took the opportunity not to fight terrorism and to provide security for their people and went the other direction. That's why when these attacks take place through the very arteries, the crossing points and the cargo points that benefit the Palestinian people, Hamas is intentionally harming their own society. That is the fundamental dynamic, none of the other speciousness that we're hearing from our other guest today.
JUAN GONZALEZ: But, Josh Block, I'd like to ask you, on the targeted assassinations that Israel has often participated, has often executed in Palestinian territories, we hear repeatedly of innocent civilians. Putting aside the fact whether the people who were targeted were actually terrorists or not, because we have Israel's reporting that they are, but the innocent civilians that are inevitably killed in these missile attacks, how is that justified as not terrorism against a civilian population?
JOSH BLOCK: You're absolutely right. Those incidents are deeply regrettable. I think any one of us would say that. And I think any American, any Israeli, would say that innocent people who are killed as a result of a military action unintentionally, that's a tragedy. But there's, again, a moral difference between an army -- Israel's military goes to great lengths to prevent those kinds of incidents, and if you look at the number of preventative attacks that Israel has carried out with the number of those who have been incidentally and unfortunately killed in those incidents, there's a tremendous preponderance of occasions when, in fact, Israel has gone to great lengths not to harm innocent civilians.
AMY GOODMAN: We just have a minute. We gave Josh Block the first word. Professor Norman Finkelstein, the last.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, the question is whether or not there is a significant difference between what Israel does and what the Palestinians do, apart from the fact that Israel does it in a much higher proportion than Palestinians. If you indiscriminately fire on a civilian population, which Israel routinely does, under international law -- and here I can quote the president of Tel Aviv University, Yoram Dinstein, who's one of the leading international experts on these matters; he says, "There's no difference whatsoever between intentionally targeting civilians and indiscriminately firing into a civilian crowd."
JOSH BLOCK: Fair enough.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: He says both of them are terrorism. So if Hamas --
JOSH BLOCK: If terrorist were attacking --
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: So if Hamas blows up a bus, as it used to do in Tel Aviv, that's terrorism. If Hamas were to say, "We didn't intend to kill the civilians. We intended to blow up the bus," people would laugh. But if Israel drops --
JOSH BLOCK: If terrorists attack --
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Allow me to finish. Allow me to finish. If Israel drops a one-ton bomb on a densely populated neighborhood in Gaza, as it did in July 2002, and it said, "Oh, we didn't intend to kill the civilians. We can just intended to kill a Palestinian terrorist --
JOSH BLOCK: And later apologized for the incident.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: It would be considered as preposterous as if Hamas said "We only intended to blow up the bus."
JOSH BLOCK: I'm sorry. First of all, there has been no apology from Hamas for those incidents. Israel apologizes when things like that happen.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Israel didn't apologize. As a matter of fact, Ariel Sharon hailed the bombing of Gaza City --
JOSH BLOCK: That's another specious lie.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: -- that time as one of the greatest acts in Israeli history.
JOSH BLOCK: Again, a lie.
AMY GOODMAN: We're going to have to leave it there. I want to thank you, Josh Block, for joining us, spokesperson for AIPAC, American Israel Public Affairs Committee, in Connecticut; and Professor Norm Finkelstein, here in New York, teaches at DePaul University in Chicago. His book is called Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History.
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Wednesday, June 28, 2006
STOP ISRAEL NOW!!!
While the media focus on Olmert's words warning that "a large-scale military operation is approaching", with no comment about what the consequences of such action will be for the Palestinian people, and as they relate the concern for the Israeli soldier being held prisoner by Palestinian fighters - the media expresses no concern about the thousands of Palestinian political prisoners held by Israel.
The actions of the racist Israeli state and that of their supporters, which includes the BBC, illustrate their total disregard and contempt for Palestinian lives. Rabbi Moshe Levinger, the worst kind of Zionist extremist, founder of the settlements in Hebron, could be the spokesperson for Olmert, Bush, the BBC and our very own government and great leader Tony Blair when, in response to a question about the massacre of Palestinians carried out by one of his followers in Hebron 1994, he says he is "sorry not only about dead Arabs but also about dead flies". It is nothing new that Israel prefers the word 'operation' to massacre as a poll carried out by Israeli TV showed following the massacre of Palestinians in 1994. The poll "established that at least 50% of Israeli Jews would approve of the massacre, provided that it was not referred to as a massacre but rather a 'Patriach's Cave Operation'". In Hebron today there is a monument to the mass murderer 'Saint Baruch Goldstein'. Whether carried out by a far right extremist settler or by the Israeli government, massacre of Palestinians seems to be acceptable through the eyes of the media and by the 'British values' our government wishes us all to adopt.
Our media will not speak of Palestinians and certainly not about the men, women and children being held as political prisoners by Israel, they will not speak about the humiliation, continued dispossession and ethnic cleansing carried out by Israel on a daily basis against Palestinians, never mind the torture of Palestinian prisoners - no matter that they include women and children.
Contact the Bureau Chief's of BBC and CNN in Palestine to tell them to cover what is going on right now in Gaza as fully as possible, so that the millions of people they reach see the ongoing violence of Israeli missile strikes. Demand also that they break their silence on the story of thousands of Palestinians detained and tortured by Israel.
CNN Bureau Chief Thomas Fenton
+972 (0)2 500 9500
BBC Bureau Chief Simon Wilson
+972 (0)2 537 4199
What can we do?
1. Boycott Israel - support the call from Palestinian civil society for boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel.
2. Join the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign. There are many people in Scotland, the UK and beyond who are sympathetic to the Palestinian struggle, many people already do what they can to support the Palestinians. We must all continue to do this but at the same time we will only make our solidarity effective when we join together, co-ordinate our activities and carry out some actions collectively. As long as individual support for the Palestinians remain isolated the crimes against the Palestinians will continue.
3. Support Palestinian cultural resistance - The Freedom Theatre Palestinians resist the illegal military occupation and ethnic cleansing every day. The children face the harsh reality of Israeli occupation - their fathers, brothers, mothers and sisters face daily humiliation, their homes are demolished, and their days are spent in fear of Israeli military invasion and attack. Many also face detention and torture in an Israeli prison.
In Jenin refugee camp The Freedom Theatre works to empower the children through cultural activities. The Theatre provides space for dance therapy, music and psychodrama to strengthen the children through their struggle. The Theatre was destroyed by the Israelis in 2002 during an invasion of the camp when the Israeli Occupation Forces carried out war crimes, once again, against the people of the camp. The Theatre has been rebuilt and is led by, amongst others, Juliano Mer Khamis. Juliano is an actor and the director of Arna's Children. Juliano was involved in his mother Arna's theatre project in Jenin. He is a Palestinian Arab from 1948, whose father, the late Saliba Khamis, was a great writer and political leader who spent his life struggling against Israeli hegemony and discrimination against Palestinians in 1948 lands.
Juliano will be in Scotland to raise support and much needed funds for The Freedom Theatre. You can provide some practical help and support to this project. Please attend the events detailed below and bring your neighbours and friends so they can learn more about the lives of a people under occupation. Despite the military might of the Israeli state, and continued silence of the 'international community', the Palestinians endure with strength and courage as they have done for decades - we must do all we can to come together, join their struggle and take on our government and the institutions in this country who give political, diplomatic and financial support and cover to the terrorist state of Israel.
Saturday 1 July, EDINBURGH, 2-8pm
St Georges West Church, Shandwick Place
2.00pm - Introduction
2.30pm - film showing of 'Arna's Children' followed by discussion with Juliano Mer Khamis
4.30pm - break - food available
5.00pm - rehearsed reading of 'Perdition' with Scottish actors including Andrew Dalmeyer & Tam Dean Burn, followed by discussion.
The CCA in Glasgow (microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /> 350 Sauchiehall Street) is showing Arna's Children on Saturday 1 July, 7.30pm, followed by discussion with Juliano Mer Khamis.
Sunday 2 July, GLASGOW, 2pm-1am
Carnival Arts Centre, 34 Albion Street
Writers Tom Leonard, Alasdair Gray, Liz Lochead, Music till late (Glasgow) with Punk Floyd, Zak Ware of the Proclaimers, Paul Napier Food & Bar ; 'Perdition'
The Freedom Theatre needs all the support you can give - come along to the Edinburgh or Glasgow event this weekend and bring your friends, family, neighbours and workmates!! Ask them for a donation to the Freedom Theatre and you can deliver it to Juliano on Saturday in
Edinburgh and in Glasgow on Sunday.
4. Keep informed about the situation in Israel/Palestine Don't rely on the BBC - here are some excellent articles & news sources on the current situation:
June 26, 2006, Another Escalation from the Palestinians - Israeli "Retaliation" and Double Standards By JONATHAN COOK
Palestine: A War on Children, John Pilger, 15 June 2006
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Hans Lebrecht - The Right to Resistance According to International Law
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Let me quote and freely translate into English from a book, I wrote 15 years ago in Hebrew, HaPalestinaim - Avar veHoveh (The Palestinians- Past and Present, Tel-Aviv University Publishers, 1987). On page 219, regarding the Palestinian resistance against the Israeli occupation, I reminded my readers:
According to international law, the people of a country, occupied by a foreign power, has the full right to fight for their liberation. The Palestinian people, inhabitants of the territories, Israel has conquered and is occupying by military means since June 1967, too have this briefed right. This right is based, among other reasons, also upon the guiding lines set for the International Tribunal in Nuremberg, which, after World War II, had been established to judge the main Nazi criminals. And let us never forget this fact!
The statutory argument in article 2 of the indictments (concerning transgressions against the laws on conducts of war) at the Nuremberg Tribunal was based upon the Den-Hague International Convention of 1907. Article 6 (b) of the Tribunal's rules relies upon articles 1 and 2 of the accompanying letters of the said Den-Hague Convention, which particularly lie down the right to popular resistance against military occupation, within the occupied territories themselves, as well as outside them. Further on is said there, that all the means of this resistance, political as well as military ones, are valid (as far as they do not hurt civilians who have no part whatsoever in the occupation regime and its forces). This determination was, at the time, important to forestall any claim by the Nazis that the partisans, Ghetto fighters, and other underground resistance forces in the territories occupied by them had allegedly been bandits and terrorists. In the Nuremberg Tribunal it was unequivocally set down, that resistance fighters, such as the partisans and underground activists (also such who struggled within Germany itself), Ghetto fighters etc., acted in accordance with the regulations of international law, and in case of their detention by the occupation forces or the police of the occupying power, have to be considered to be Prisoners of War.
International law - and the matter was upheld by the Nuremberg Tribunal - outlaws any expropriation of property, houses and landed property included, in the occupied territories, with the exception of property needed for defensive security needs of the occupying army. However, also such expropriations are only temporarily ones, and any such property has to be returned after the war, with any damages occurred to be compensated. Particularly, the law also forbids any form of collective punishment for resistance against the occupation, such as house demolitions, curfew upon whole populated locations and geographic areas (article 2 and 3 of the attached letters to the Hague Convention). The Nuremberg Tribunal considered all kind of those measures taken by the occupying power as serious violations of international laws and conventions, as crimes against humanity.
The sentences passed by the Nuremberg Tribunal particularly stated too, that not only those who designed and ordered such crimes against humanity, but also anyone who executed those crimes, are guilty for executing such illegal orders given by their superiors. In no case, the Tribunal accepted any kind of such arguments by defendants. It should not been forgotten that the rules and determinations of that International Nuremberg Tribunal of 1945/46 have been ratified in December 1946 by the UNO General Assembly and became part and parcel of the Charter of the United Nations with the Israeli representative voting for this decision.
At other pages of that book, I also condemned the establishment by the occupying power of settlements on soil, illegally expropriated in the occupied territories, as being obstacles to any effort to achieve peace with our Palestinian neighbors.
Until here quotations from my book. And please, let no-one come up with the idiotic remark that I try to equal the present Israeli regime with that of the Nazi criminal regime! I heard it before and reject it by all means.
Let me tell you that I was an active member of the anti-fascist underground movement against the Hitler regime already before WW II, at the age of 21-22 in 1936 through 1938 in Germany proper - and did my share. Furthermore, I am a Vice President of the International Federation of Resistance Fighters with headquarters in Vienna, and know precisely well to differentiate between all kinds of regimes. In my opinion, born out of experience of almost nine decades, most of them dedicated to political activity in Germany, Palestine and Israel, no regime, be it democratic, pseudo-democratic, dictatorial or fascist, does equal any other one. Every regime has its own particular characteristics.
With best regards to all of you,
Sunday, June 25, 2006
Remi Kanazi - Missing the Point and the Target
Since the start of the month, Israeli forces have killed nearly 50 Palestinians, the majority of them being innocent civilians. In May, the killing of more than 40 Palestinians by Israeli forces was scarcely reported in the US media. The recent artillery barrage on Gaza left many children under the age of ten dead. The number of Palestinian children killed in the last three weeks by Israeli forces is equal to the number of Israeli children killed by Palestinian groups over the past two years. Palestinian rocket fire, which has put Israeli towns in the Negev such as Sderot “under siege,” rarely wounds civilians or causes deaths. According to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign affairs, Palestinian rocket fire killed seven Israeli civilians in the last three years. These attacks, however, are futile, counterproductive and only strengthen Israel’s excuse to rein terror on the Palestinian population.
The killing on June 20 follows the liquidation of three children on June 19. Although extrajudicial assassinations (which kill many innocent civilians and frequently miss the target) are against international law, Israel has continued this policy with virtual impunity. The Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, reported comments made by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, “The lives and the welfare of the residents of the Sderot are more important than those of the residents of Gaza.” One could argue, however, that the excessive and disproportionate bombardment of Gaza puts the protection of Israeli Jews in jeopardy by unnecessarily fanning the flames of the conflict. While every nation has the right to protect its citizens, the disregard for the safety of innocent civilians is unconscionable. Firing on a crowded city, marketplace or beach does not constitute precision or the value of innocent life, as Olmert makes clear in his comments.
The apathy for the loss of innocent Palestinian life continues in the US media. On June 20, CNN.com, Yahoo, and the online of edition of The New York Times did not report the killing of a woman and one her relatives in her home on the front page of their respective publication. The BBC, Le Monde, Haaretz and most online news sites based outside the US did cover the killing on their front page. Media bias pertaining to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is not a new occurrence. In March, I discussed a study by If Americans Knew:
“In 2004, If Americans Knew—an American organization that exposes and examines the facts of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict—reported that 808 Palestinian conflict deaths occurred while 107 Israelis conflict deaths occurred. The study, however, found that The New York Times covered Israeli deaths in the headline or the first paragraph in 159 articles—meaning in some cases they covered the same death numerous times. In contrast, The New York Times only covered about 40 percent of Palestinian deaths—334 of 808—in the headline or in the first paragraph of the articles. Nearly eight Palestinians died for every one Israeli.”
Unfortunately, The New York Times is one of the more liberal and “fair and balanced” of the outlets.
Onlookers in the West should not be surprised by the recent Israeli assault. Although the initial coverage of the killing of the family members picnicking on a Gaza beach two weeks ago was PR disaster for the Israeli military and government—both tried to spin the bad press and cover up the situation. While the first proclamation by the Israeli government was an apology for the killings, the Israel Occupation Force (IOF) backed off from the initial account attributing blame to the Israeli Air Force. The IOF, after an “investigation” that concealed the evidence it was using, said that the deaths were caused by a mine planted by Hamas. The mine theory was passed off to the media as fact, without any evidence to back up the claim. The IOF finally admitted that the deaths could have been caused by an old Israeli shell that was at the beach site. Palestinian medics, human rights groups and bystanders at the site corroborated the initial evidence—that the deaths were caused by an Israeli shell. Nonetheless, every major US media outlet covered the story, including CNN, The New York Times and most of the other outlets that “forgot” to cover the latest liquidation of Palestinian civilians.
Historically, Israel (including Labor, Likud and Kadima) has instituted a method of slow ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. This strategy, however, was only effective when combined with the appearance of Israel having the moral upper hand. A PR victory would ensure the notion that Israel acted in self-defense. This methodology continues today. Americans should know better than anyone else that the truth rarely matters (i.e. weapons of mass destruction in Iraq); rather it is how an event is presented or spun. Over the last five years, nearly 4,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces while more than 30,000 have been injured—the majority of them being unarmed civilians. Israel has known for sometime that it can continue its policies under the radar as long as the attacks do not become “newsworthy.” Tanya Reinhart addressed this issue in her book Israel/Palestine: How to End the War of 1948, in which she stated,
“The reason for this strategy is clear: Massive numbers of Palestinians killed every day cannot go unnoticed by even the most cooperative Western Media and governments. [Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud] Barak was explicit about this. ‘The prime minister said that were there not 140 Palestinian casualties at this point, but rather 400 or 1,000, this…would perhaps damage Israel a great deal.’1 Apparently, he believed that with a stable average of five casualties a day, Israel could continue undamaged in the media, as, in fact, it has.”
The implementation of this course of action has reinforced Israel’s position of victimization; as attacks on Palestinians go unreported, attacks on Israel are extensively covered. This policy further shields Israel from criticism regarding its action of Judaizing Jerusalem, appropriating Palestinian land, strangulating the Palestinian economy and securing the matrix of control over the Occupied Territories. When Israel has been criticized, it has habitually played the security card. For example, Israel’s construction of the Apartheid Wall has not been limited to the internationally recognized 1967 borders; rather its invasive route usurps Palestinian land and resources well beyond the Green line. If the Apartheid Wall was for security purposes only, Israel could easily build the monstrous barrier on the internationally recognized border. This does not even address the ruling by the International Court of Justice, which deemed the Wall illegal, or the Shin Bet’s (Israel’s internal security service) assertion that the Wall is not a significant mechanism in reducing attacks on Israel.
The killings in Gaza over the last three weeks have sparked verbal condemnation from the UN, while the IOF chief issued a probe concerning the latest string of civilian deaths. A couple weeks will pass however, more Palestinian civilians will be killed, and the words of discontentment from UN will not bring justice. Theoretically, the UN could pass a resolution chiding Israel’s latest strikes in Gaza, but the US, as a member state with veto power, would no doubt exercise its right to reject the resolution to protect its ally, Israel. The probe of the IOF will attribute the strike to “miscalculations” and the “unfortunate” and “non-deliberate” costs of fighting a war against “terrorists.” But this rhetoric is becoming obvious and old—at some juncture international law and the protection of human rights must be applied.
The focus of media attention will go back to Israeli Prime Minister Olmert’s convergence plan, internal fighting between Hamas and Fatah, and Israel’s quest to find a “partner for peace.” The media will all but forget Hamas’ call for a renewed cease-fire, Hamas’ persistent moderation, and the “diet” Palestinians have been put on by Israel and the international community. The closing of the Rafah border, which used to make headlines, has become the status quo in Gaza. The closing furthers malnutrition among children, hunger throughout the general population, depletion in wages, a spike in unemployment, and a severe reduction in trade. Israel’s creation of unilateral facts on the ground in the West Bank and East Jerusalem will forge on. This is the world Palestinians live in. Most appallingly, it is the world the international community has created for them.
1 Jerusalem Post, October 20, 2000.
**Remi Kanazi is the primary writer for the political website www.PoeticInjustice.net He lives in New York City as a Palestinian American freelance writer, poet and performer and can reached via email at email@example.com
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Leibowitz corrects himself
Monday, June 19, 2006
Calipari case: for the Roman courts “it is a political crime”
The Death of Nicola Calipari, which took place on the evening of 4 March 2005 while the Secret Service agent of the SISMI (Military Secret Service of Italy) was reaching the Baghdad airport with Giuliana Sgrena who had just that moment been liberated by the Iraqi kidnappers, is an “objectively political act because it had damaged the security of the State.”
The Investigative court of Rome has thus affirmed in their request of placing on trial the American soldier Mario Lozano, accused of voluntary homicide and double attempted homicide, in relation to the wounding of the journalist of il manifesto and of the Major of the military secret service Andrea Carpani, who was driving the car they were travelling in. The death of the intelligence agent of the SISMI, according to the public magistrates Franco Ionta, Pietro Saviotti and Ermilio Amelio and the Public Prosecutor Giovanni Ferrara who have today signed the request to try the accused, “had offended the political interest of the State,” in basis of Article 8 of the Penal Code, for which a trial can be held even in absence of the investigated party on our territory.
Lozano, the soldier at the American checkpoint who had fired at the Italians’ car, has been declared irreparable by the Roman judges, who had to acknowledge the refusal of the United States’ authorities to officially furnish the personal particulars of the investigated party.
Rosa Calipari: I put my trust in the magistracy
“I put my trust, as always, in the Italian magistracy, awaiting with faith and serenity for the developments of the judiciary episode,” Rosa Calipari said, Senator and widow of the Functionary of the SISMI killed in Iraq by “friendly fire.”
Originally published in Italian on: http://www.rainews24.rai.it/Notizia.asp?NewsID=62399 Translated from Italian by Mary Rizzo, member of Tlaxcala (www.tlaxcala.es) the network of translators for linguistic diversity.
More on the Calipari case:
Italian Judges will charge with Volontary Attempted Homicide in Calipari Killing
Widow of Italian Intelligence Agent Killed by GIs Demands Truth about his Killing
Calipari Case: Word was "Beware of the Americans
Sgrena Interview on Democracy Now
Italians refuse to sign conclusion on Calipari killing
US GIs Cleared in Friendly Fire Killing
On the Road to Nowhere: Sgrena's Car on Road Prepared for Negroponte
US bars Italians from examining victim's car
Mysteries surrounding killing of Italian Agent Calipari
Killing your friends: Implications of the Assassination of the Italian 007
Italian 007 shot by US Marines while rescuing hostage
Thursday, June 15, 2006
JPUKers, "roles", and unilateral decisions (Olmert Redux)
Yet, it seems that power is pretty damn important there. Take a look at the abuse of power that the moderator Rony Cohen engages in. Here is the message on the board which, without explanation, warning or justification, was used to tell me that I was cancelled from the mailing list: (no personal letter, just on the board, of course).
You were aware of the roles. I wonder what drive you break them.
see you on other lists.
Notwithstanding the questionable prose, (a board moderator should at least be capable of managing elementary English), it is an abuse of power for a moderator to unilaterally determine who is in and who is out, especially since I have no idea what rules (I presume) he is even talking about! What rules/roles are there? I have never seen any posted! If he is referring to Tony Greenstein and I playing nice to one another, I simply posted an exchange between Gilad Atzmon and TG that Greenstein had allowed to be aired, fully consenting to it. This unilateral move, neither consulting the group, nor communicating to me what boundary I was crossing reminds me very much of Sharon and Olmert and their way of doing business. You don’t NEED to listen to the other party, you don’t NEED to find a way to communicate or to coexist. YOU UNILATERALLY DECIDE! You have the power, you feel totally justified and righteous, and you act like a dictator. How very Olmertian of him!
Taken further, “see you on other lists” is not that far removed from the typical pro-Israeli statement to the Palestinians who insist upon living in Palestine and nowhere else; “You have so many other Arab countries to go to, why do you insist upon here where you are not wanted? Get out.”
What IS this JPUK list anyway??? Who do they allow to discuss and over what? Yes, there are certainly some fine people there, and I have made friendship with a couple of brilliant activists who I still work closely with on a few important projects, but if you take a look at some of the frequent posters, you have Linda Grant and John Strawson, who not only are totally opposed to any economic pressure being used against Israel to encourage them to loosen the grip around the necks of the Palestinian people, but they accuse people who are against Zionism as being anti-Semitic. For them, it is the same thing. There are others who insist that they are troubled that they are “banned” from the disgusting and supremacist Engage list, that discourse should be open, but have no problem defaming me for racist statements that THEY CANNOT EVEN DISCLOSE, insisting that “the Guardian had to ban people from my blog…” Uh, right Linda, sure. Just like the mainstream press, compliant with Israeli crimes, it is enough that you smear, no matter how far removed from reality or absurd it is, get your cohorts to join in, from the right and from the left, no one will bother to check, and when the person being smeared enters into discussion and says, “Now you have accused me, you have the obligation to corroborate your smear,” they simply say, “I have no time to waste on you.”
Sure! That is because their smears are lies! Am I banned because I support free speech, because I have never asked anyone to be banned anywhere, because I encourage discussion and promote especially that the first, second and last word doesn’t come from Europeans, no matter how well-intentioned, but from the Palestinians? Is that what the problem is? Am I banned because I posted something from Gilad Atzmon and a letter Tony Greenstein said could be diffused? Is there an Anti-Atzmon rule that no one knows about and I am the first victim of? Elf banned me for the same thing. Is Atzmon carrying the bubonic plague in his written words and I am infecting anyone in reading range? Are we sure we are adults? Or is someone finally getting his sweet revenge for having been picked on as a boy?
Yet, I’m starting to think that there is something terribly, terribly sick and damaging with these E groups. On a now defunct One State E list, When a Swiss person says it is time to dismantle the PA, immediately following the overwhelming victory of Hamas in the most democratic election that the Middle East has ever seen, despite the fact that Westerners were complicit in not wanting to involve exiled and absent Palestinians to participate, that is considered to be a justified position by the true progressives and supporters of a One State Solution. I have debated this concept, and in all of these Western and primarily Jewish E groups, I have been told that I was naïve for being involved in a campaign to attempt to register Palestinians abroad in the voting, and further, that I had no place in a One State group if I did not condemn the possibility that the Palestinians might select to live in a State with laws that do not put secularism as the central principle. For them, One State means State where the Jews in practice still control most everything, or at least, that Western Secular Values absolutely must be the basis for any formation of the State at all, never mind actually finding out what the majority of the people living there might want! In the absence of commitment to secularism above all else, (calling only that democracy, obviously completely ignorant of what this term means), they would prefer two ethnically separate States. Amazing. Anyone who questions this line of thinking is not allowed to utter it. That is the bottom line. As a matter of fact, even in that group, action was taken to put a gag over my mouth.
I'm coming to the conclusion that it is lecit for these moderators to invent a rule in their heads, no one is going to challenge that invention, because it is just better that you don’t even have to discuss the possibility that things are slightly different than what you wish they would be. If you don’t have anyone to discuss with, that leaves you as the master of discourse, and, when it comes down to it, that seems to be the entire point. European, American, Israeli people know what is best and they are the ones who dictate it to everyone else. That is why these lists are 99% Westerners who then protest when another Westerner questions the correctness of this groupthink and asks for deep reflection in the light of reality.
Just like all the settler lists that have abused me, complete with death threats, a al Treppenwitz, who even abused my email box, or Lisa Goldman who, when challenged to demonstrate some of her most outrageous claims, decides to sick the entire Aliyah club on me, it’s another flavour of the same hounding. The fear of Jewish voices losing dominance and power, of becoming lost in the growing thunder of Palestinians who are speaking out, or voices that support them and want to hear them. I don’t care about being abused by those settlers and usurpers of other people’s land. They are my enemies, they are at the antipodes of what I believe is known as decency and humanity, and they are violating international law, above all else, as well as justifying crimes against humanity, JPUK falls into the exact same tendency. If you do not acquiesce with the idea that meaning well is more than enough, you are an agent of evil, you support terrorism, you are breaking rules of some sort. You must, absolutely, be made to shut up. This is the most important thing. And, let no one challenge that way of acting either. It is beyond them that this is unethical and actually, antidemocratic to the hilt.
Too bad for them, I have hundreds of faithful readers, and some of them are beginning to question what these groups are really standing for. I used to be deluded myself, thinking they promoted coexistence and peace. They don’t do that. That is at least, not their primary concern. Listening to others, especially others who question the righteousness of Jewish centrality to the discourse, is not at all what they can tolerate. It is clear that my voice, like the others who had been ostracised from time to time, and some of them are the best campaigners that have ever been seen, makes them uncomfortable. They won’t debate when they disagree with any of us. It is enough for them to decide that we are beyond the pale and then take action to defame us and then silence us. They will have a rude awakening, unless they recognise the inconsistencies in their position, and how they do little to nothing to support any cause but a “feel good” one. Too bad, they actually could have been part of an international movement to affect change in the Middle East, but they are far too self-absorbed and self-righteous to see how they actually are helping the cause of the Zionists.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Just Peace UK "peace and nonviolence" group shows its colours again
Yes, Engage founders and supporters John Strawson, Linda Grant and many others who fight like mad against measures that might pressure Israel into changing its radically oppressive politics such as boycotts, are card-carrying members, because they have the same enemies in the anti-Zionist camp. Frequent visitors to this site don't need all the names, but there are quite a few others whose major activity is to defame and defile anyone who does not see eye to eye with them, and rather than seriously debate them, decide to call them racists. When asked to provide evidence, these boys and girls disappear into the woodwork, never feeling obligated to substantiate their defamatory words. And, what has been my sin that has cast me out of the email group without warning (and mind you, they have tried to do this to me for ages, unsuccessfully, because their efforts are pure and simple censorship)? It was posting the following intervention by Gilad Atzmon. You can read it on his site as well, but since they claim they don't go there, (or here either, although my site metre tells me the opposite is true) I will publish it for the readers of Peacepalestine.
Peace may as well prevail - Gilad Atzmon
As bizarre as it may sound, Tony Greenstein, a Jew Against Zionism, the man who launched a smear campaign against me, calling me an “anti-Semite” as well as a “Holocaust denier”, is now experiencing a radical change of heart. Less than a year after the man himself organised a picket against me at the SWP bookshop (see here), he has recently sent me a personal email stating: “Dare I say it, some of your remarks re the holocaust were spot on re the Zionist collaboration with the Nazis.” (Tony Greenstein). Hang on, fellow human being, could you make up your mind, am I a “Holocaust denier” or a producer of some “spot on remarks re the Holocaust”?
Unlike Greenstein and his Jewish ‘comrades’ (JAZ), I would never dare publish personal correspondence without the permission if its author. I asked Mr Greenstein for authorisation to publish his email on my site and he approved as long as I publish it in its full entirety see here
I wonder what led Mr Greenstein towards such a complete turnaround. Is it possible that Mr Greenstein himself has become an ‘anti-Semite’ or even a ‘Holocaust denier’? I doubt it. Alternatively, it is rather possible that Mr Greenstein has decided to spend some time reading my published materials about the subject. If indeed this is the case, he probably is starting to understand what I have to say and realised that my views may actually make a lot of sense. I may as well mention that it is rather possible that Mr Greenstein is convinced that “my views re the Holocaust are spot on” just because he seems to be convinced that I fell out with Mr Israel Shamir. Regardless of my relationship with Shamir, if this is indeed the case, and I want to believe it isn’t, then it is rather clear that Mr Greenstein suffers a severe lack of ethical integrity. He accuses people of being anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers by association.
If indeed Mr Greenstein believes that my ‘ideas are spot on’ just because I may have had a spat with Shamir, then it means that Mr Greenstein learned a thing from his failed campaign against the SWP and myself. It means that he is still operating as a classic non-ethical 3rd category Jew. And this is rather a shame, because what we really need is Jews who come forward and cross the divide; Jews who go beyond narrow rabbinical tribal thinking; Jews who endorse humanism and ethical thinking.
When that happens, peace will prevail.
Benni Zipper - Let's admit right away: We are bad. Very, very bad.
Conclusion: The artillery shells that turned seven vacationers who ate corn on the cob at the Gaza beach to pieces of bleeding flesh fell from the sky and were not launched by the IDF. I came to that conclusion without waiting for any decision of a Commission of Inquiry because, simply, the IDF is such a humane and considerate army, and not cruel like the terrorist Palestinians damned their name and memory, that its not possible that it would do such a thing. The Palestinians are capable of anything and what the Commission of Inquiry must check is whether the mother of the family who died in such an extreme manner, did not pretend to be dead and whether this whole show on the part of the girl who ran like a mad woman on the sand was not just a year-end play of the theater club of her school. After all we already experienced such things coming from them, when they staged funerals. Today one can stage anything or carry out tricks through the computer and convince the entire world that this is the whole truth.
Another conclusion. (I reached it yesterday after watching Amir Peretz in a direct broadcast from the Southern Command Headquarters): It is entirely possible that the man who spoke yesterday on TV was not the real Amir Peretz but rather an actor from Beit Tzvi who impersonates him perfectly and parrots what he needs to parrot in cases of such calamities, all this in order to enable to real Peretz to devote, at least on the weekend, quality time with his family members who love him and who miss him so during weekdays.
To me it was clear that this was not the real Peretz because he, continuously, repeated the same identical three sentences as a response to any question that was not asked of him. He , once again, said that the IDF avoids the use of many means at its disposal in order not to hurt civilians. Also, that he personally thinks that it is not right to hurt civilians. We could see that the moustache of this actor pretending to be Peretz was pasted. I'm telling you. Ask the Military Reporter, Carmela Menashe who was the closest to him from the side whether what I am saying is not correct.
And another conclusion, and this time completely seriously: I stopped believing, a long time ago, that there is someone who is more right or less right in this entire story about the conflict. All this sanctimoniousness piety of ours simply does not work on anybody except ourselves. So, as the first step, let's stop relying so much on the formalistics of IDF investigating committees and instead admit that we are bad, very, very bad and that our lack of intention to do bad things does not cancel the fact that we commit bad and repeatedly so, all day long. It stems mainly from the fact that our means of destruction are not toys but rather are designed to process human flesh: to kill, disintegrate and grind exactly like these tools do when they belong to others, and when we use these means of destruction they necessarily do their job.
After we admit that we are bad, very, very bad, we will discover suddenly that from a badness point of view we have an enormous advantage over our bad neighbors. The advantage of our badness over their badness is that our badness is sophisticated and theirs primitive. We always mean not to kill, but we still kill. While they mean to kill, these idiots, and they don't even hide their intention. Their badness comes from their guts and our badness comes from the brain.
The problem is that because of the Holocaust and all that, we are not capable of believing, even in our most cynical dreams, that there is a Jewish soldier who is capable of killing just for the sake of killing. The problems that rises out of all this is that every time that someone gets killed just like that we find some rationalization for it as if it was not just like that. It just doesn't enter our heads that among our people there are persons without conscience or with an underdeveloped conscience compared to the typical Jewish merciful norm, who can do bad or stupid things just like that. We nurtured this great illusion and now we are eating it and by doing so cause ourselves to be self righteously uppity so much so that no one believes anymore in the sincerity of our intentions even when they are sincere. Let's admit: It is a fact that we do bad indeed. It doesn't matter whether the circumstances forced us to be bad. The fact is that we are bad.
There is another thing that should finally be admitted: We are equally bad on the Left as on the Right, enough with the illusions. Fact: A Leftist Minister of Defense acts exactly like a Rightist Minister of Defense and there is no difference between Left or Right, and that the entire elections were in fact Bull-Shit supreme, and conversely, Amir Peretz, at the bottom of his heart is even proud that he does not fall behind in his performance from previous Ministers of Defense and that he is lacing into the Palestinians as they deserve, and by doing so lifts the morale of the blood thirsty from among our people. This is good in order for Labor to be strengthened and return to full time ruling when the day will come.
Final conclusion, but one that should remain among us: Its actually not bad at all that this family got killed on the beach in Gaza. With its death it bequeathed life to the Labor party and its leader, who now can present himself as a man's man, both compassionate and rigid when necessary, in the best Israeli tradition of shooting and weeping. Please admit it, isn't he cute, this Amir Peretz when he is acting as the principled man of the people? More power to you, Peretz. Shoot and then weep. We love you, you are proving slowly that you deserve us, that you are as bad as necessary, bad but with a moral backing as needed. Such clean badness, that thinks that you can take off the badness like a dirty shirt and throw into the laundry and the machine will clean it. Not like the Palestinians, who as you saw, are dirty, they eat with their hands, in the sand, without a minimal hygiene and then they are surprised that they die.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Israel introduces new travel restrictions
Palestinian families have accused Israel of taking draconian measures, further restricting their freedom of movement.
According to Palestinian human rights organisations, the new restrictions involve barring Palestinians carrying foreign passports, including those married to a Palestinian spouse, from re-entering the West Bank after leaving for their adopted country of citizenship, even for a brief visit. The new measures also affect long-time foreigners residing in the West Bank such as college professors, NGO employees, religious figures and naturalised spouses of Palestinian residents in the West Bank.
Adel Samara is a noted Palestinian economist residing in Ramallah. His American wife wants to go the US for a visit. However, because she is married to a Palestinian, she is worried that the Israeli authorities wouldn't allow her to return to her family once she left the West Bank. "I really don't know why they are doing this to us. I am sure there is a special think-tank in Israel specialised in devising and inventing creative ways to make us suffer," said Samara.
Right to bar
Samara believes Israeli military authorities were targeting ordinary people, most of whom are not politicised and leading a normal lives with their families and friends. "There are hundreds of cases. You see, I am barred from travelling abroad for so-called security reasons and my wife won't be allowed to return to Ramallah if she left the West Bank even for a brief visit to Jordan next door."
Aljazeera.net tried repeatedly to get the Israeli army spokespersons to clarify policy with regard to foreigners staying in or wanting to enter theWest Bank. A spokeswoman for the Israeli interior ministry said Israel had the right to bar whoever it wanted from entering the "territories". She said: "Those wishing to enter must apply for a permit and their application could be either accepted or rejected."
According to sources at the Bir Zeit University (BZU) in the West Bank, Israeli measures are also targeting academics and lecturers working at Palestinian universities, whether foreigners or Palestinians carrying foreign passports. At least two professors and an administration official at BZU have been barred from returning to the West Bank without any explanation. One of the three is Sumaydi Abbas, who holds Swedish citizenship. Aljazeera.net could not locate Abbas, but Ghassan Andouni, public relations officer at BZU, said the Israeli military authorities refused to allow the Palestinian professor to return "because he didn't have residency rights".
"You see, they wouldn't even give him a tourist visa to enter his own country, his own homeland. They view Palestine, including the West Bank, as Israeli territory and us as foreigners." Bahjat Tayyem, who holds US citizenship and teaches at the BZU political science department, was recently turned back at the Jordan border while trying to enter the West Bank at the Allenby Border crossing. "I think Israel wants to effect a total siege on us, a total isolation. They are not content with physical isolation which this evil concrete wall embodies," said Anduni.
Andouni accused the Israeli military administration of trying to "empty the West Bank of foreigners", especially those working at NGOs as well as peace activists. "They want to reduce our towns and villages to inaccessible detention camps and large open-air prisons until we succumb to their bullying or implode from within."
Israeli authorities have also barred international peace activists which they consider sympathetic to the Palestinians from entering the West Bank.
The International Solidarity Movement (ISM), which brings to the West Bank peace activists from around the world to encourage Palestinians to adopt non-violent means in their struggle against the Israeli occupation, seems to have been blacklisted. ISM activists have been for years holding peaceful demonstrations and sit-ins against Israeli repression of Palestinians, including the construction of the separation wall and the bulldozing of Palestinian groves and farms.
Some Israeli officials, especially within the foreign ministry, believe ISM activities have been instrumental in getting a British union of university teachers and a Canadian workers' union to boycott Israel.
Last week, Israeli interior ministry authorities at the Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv incarcerated Paul Larudee, an American peace activist, barring him from entering Israel and the Occupied Palestinian territories. According to Larudee's lawyer, Gabi Lasky, the Israeli authorities gave no explanation why her client was incarcerated. However, according to the Jerusalem Post, Larudee's name appeared on a Shin Bet [Israel's main domestic intelligence agency]-compiled blacklist of foreigners identifying with the Palestinian struggle. Danger to state
The paper quoted unnamed Israeli security officials as saying that Larudee was an ISM leader who took part in anti-Israeli demonstrations during the Israeli army assault on the West Bank between 2002 and 2004.
"This person is a danger to the state. He is one of the ISM leaders who had been involved in anti-Israeli activities and therefore will not be allowed into the country," the security official was quoted as saying. Lasky said Larudee visited Israel and the occupied territories four times and had never been arrested. She dismissed the security official's explanation as "dubious".
"To blacklist non-violent peace activists as 'person non grata' raises questions regarding the sincerity of Israel's intentions to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians through dialogue and non-violence," an ISM statement given to Aljazeera.net said.
Sunday, June 11, 2006
Tlaxcala - Articles in Translation
new feature on peacepalestine... Gabbly Chat
have fun! it's at the bottom of the page for the time being.
Friday, June 9, 2006
The Courage to Resist: A US Lieutenant Refuses Deployment to Iraq
by Sarah Olson
Ehren Watada is a 27-year-old First Lieutenant in the United States Army. He joined the Army in 2003 during the run-up to the Iraq war. He turned in his resignation to protest the war in Iraq in January 2006. He expects to receive orders to deploy in late June and will become the first Lieutenant to refuse orders to deploy to Iraq, setting the stage for what could be the biggest movement of GI resistance since the Vietnam War. He faces a court-martial, up to two years in prison for missing movement by design, a dishonorable discharge, and other possible charges. He says speaking against an illegal and immoral war is worth all of this and more.
Journalist SARAH OLSON spoke with Watada in May.
SARAH OLSON: When you joined the Army in 2003, what were your goals?
LT. EHREN WATADA: 2003 was a couple of years after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. I had the idea that my country needed me and that I needed to serve my country. I still strongly believe that. I strongly believe in service and duty. That’s one of the reasons I joined: because of patriotism.
I took an oath to the US Constitution, and to the values and the principles it represents. It makes us strongly unique. We don’t allow tyranny; we believe in accountability and checks and balances and a government that’s by and for the people. The military must safeguard those freedoms and those principles and the democracy that makes us unique. A lot of people, like myself, join the military because they love their country, and they love what it stands for.
OLSON: You joined the Army during the run-up to the Iraq war, but you had misgivings about the war. How did that happen?
WATADA: Like everybody in America and around the world, I heard what they were saying on television about the stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, and the ties to al-Qaeda and 9/11. I also saw the millions of people around the world protesting and listened to the people resigning from the government in protest. I realized that the war probably wasn’t justified until we found proof of these accusations the President and his deputies were making against Iraq.
But I also believed we should give the President the benefit of the doubt. At that time, I never believed—I could never conceive of—our leader betraying the trust we had in him.
OLSON: What was your experience in the military?
WATADA: My first duty assignment was in Korea. It’s hard learning to be an officer, and it was hard being stationed overseas. It is a different kind of situation that you’re put in. You’re not just being told what to do and execute. As an officer you are constantly leading by example. You have to do the right thing even when you don’t necessarily want to. When you go into the field, it’s not like a civilian job where you go home at the end of the day, take a shower, relax, and eat a nice meal.
OLSON: So you got the order to go to Iraq after you returned from Korea. What were your thoughts at the time?
WATADA: Back in Korea we trained for a separate mission but we all knew what was going on in Iraq. Our commanders were telling us to be ready for war and to start training for it.
When I came back I still had doubts about the war and why we were in it. When they told me I was going to deploy, I said, “OK. I’m going to start training for it, and I’m going to start training the guys under me. And I’m going to do that to the best of my ability.”
OLSON: So what changed?
WATADA: I realized that to go to war, I needed to educate myself in every way possible. Why were we going to this particular war? What were the effects of war? What were the consequences for soldiers coming home? I began reading everything I could.
One of many books I read was James Bamford’s Pretext for War. As I read about the level of deception the Bush Administration used to initiate and process this war, I was shocked. I became ashamed of wearing the uniform. How can we wear something with such a time-honored tradition, knowing we waged war based on a misrepresentation and lies? It was a betrayal of the trust of the American people. And these lies were a betrayal of the trust of the military and the soldiers.
My mind was in turmoil. Do I follow orders and participate in something that I believe to be wrong? When you join the Army you learn to follow orders without question. Soldiers are apolitical and you don’t voice your opinion out loud.
I started asking: why are we dying? Why are we losing limbs? For what? I listened to the President and his deputies say we were fighting for democracy; we were fighting for a better Iraq. I just started to think about those things. Are those things the real reasons why we are there, the real reasons we are dying? But I felt there was nothing to be done and this administration was just continually violating the law to serve their purpose and there was nothing to stop them.
The deciding moment for me was in January of 2006. I watched clips of military funerals. I saw the photos of these families. The children. The mothers and the fathers as they sat by the grave, or as they came out of the funerals. One really hard picture for me was a little boy leaving his father’s funeral. He couldn’t face the camera so he was covering his eyes. I felt like I couldn’t watch that anymore. I couldn’t be silent anymore and condone something that I felt was deeply wrong.
OLSON: You made the decision to refuse orders to deploy to Iraq. What happened next?
WATADA: I alerted my commander this January and told him I would refuse the order to go to Iraq. He asked me to think it over. After about a week, I said, “OK, I’ve made my decision. I’ve come to believe this is an illegal and an immoral war, and the order to have us deploy to Iraq is unlawful. I won’t follow this order and I won’t participate in something I believe is wrong.”
My commanders told me that I could go to Iraq in a different capacity. I wouldn’t have to fire a weapon and I wouldn’t be in harm’s way. But that’s not what this is about. In my resignation letter I said that I would rather go to prison than do something that I felt was deeply wrong. I believe the whole war is illegal. I’m not just against bearing arms or fighting people. I am against an unjustified war.
OLSON: You’ve had about six months to think about this. It’s a pretty heavy revelation that you’re quite possibly facing prison time. How are you feeling now?
WATADA: A lot of people, including my parents, tried to talk me out of it. And I had to tell them, and I had to convince myself first, that it’s not about just trying to survive. It’s not about just trying to make sure you’re safe. When you are looking your children in the eye in the future or when you are at the end of your life, you want to look back on your life and know that at a very important moment, when I had the opportunity to make the right decisions, I did so, even knowing there were negative consequences. OLSON: What is your intellectual and moral opposition to the Iraq war? What is that based in?
WATADA: First, the war was based on false pretenses. If the President tells us we are there to destroy Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, and there are none, why are we there? Then the President said Saddam had ties to al-Qaeda and 9/11. That allegation has been proven to be false, too. So why are we going there? The President says we’re there to promote democracy and to liberate the Iraqi people. That isn’t happening either.
Second, the Iraq war is not legal according to domestic and international law. It violates the Constitution and the War Powers Act that limits the President in his role as commander in chief from using the armed forces in any way he sees fit. The UN Charter, the Geneva Convention, and the Nuremberg principles all bar wars of aggression.
Finally, the occupation itself is illegal. If you look at the Army Field Manual 27-10, which governs the laws of land warfare, it states certain responsibilities for the occupying power. As the occupying power, we have failed to follow a lot of those regulations. There is no justification for why we are there or what we are doing.
OLSON: One of the common criticisms of military resisters is that you have abandoned your colleagues and that you are letting others fight a war in your place. What’s your response to this?
WATADA: My commander asked me, “If everybody like you refused to go to Iraq, what would that leave us with?” And I guess he was trying to say we wouldn’t have an army anymore, and that would be bad. But I wanted to tell him, “If that happened, the war would stop because nobody would be there to fight it.”
When people say, “You’re not being a team player,” or, “You are letting your buddies down,” I want to say that I am still fighting for my men, and I am supporting them. But the conscionable way to support them is not to drop artillery and cause more destruction. It is to oppose this war and help end it so all soldiers can come home. It is my duty to not follow unlawful orders and not participate in things I find morally reprehensible.
OLSON: Are your feelings common among people in the military?
WATADA: The general sentiment of people within the military is that they’re getting a little sick and tired of this war. You can tell with the recent Zogby poll that said more than 70 percent of people in the military want to withdraw at the end of this year. That’s a powerful statement from people within the military who aren’t really given the chance to speak out publicly.
OLSON: What do you think the US should do in Iraq now?
WATADA: I think the US should pull out all troops immediately. The outbreak of the civil war is something that we caused with our invasion and our war. I don’t think it’s at a point right now where we can fix it.
OLSON: You’ve mentioned your sense of betrayal. Can you explain this?
WATADA: The President is the commander in chief, and although he is our leader, there must be a strong relationship of trust. Anybody who’s been in the military knows that in order to have a cohesive and effective fighting force, you need to have a certain level of trust between leaders and soldiers. And when you don’t, things start to break down.
I signed a contract saying I will follow orders and do what I’m told to do. There are times when I won’t be able to question it and evaluate the legality of these orders, so I have to have the ultimate trust in my leader. I have to trust the President’s word and trust him to do what’s right. I have to trust him to sacrifice our lives only for justified and moral reasons. Realizing the President is taking us to a war that he mislead us about has broken that bond of trust that we had. If the President can betray my trust, it’s time for me to evaluate what he’s telling me to do. I’ve realized that going to this war is the wrong thing to do.
OLSON: What do you make of the growing anti-war sentiment in the country?
WATADA: I don’t see it manifest. Soldiers that come back from Iraq say they get the impression many people don’t know a war is going on; they say even friends and family seem more involved in popular culture and American Idol. People are not interested in the hundreds of Iraqis and the dozens of Americans dying each week.
OLSON: How does Iraqi civilians’ plight impact your decision not to go?
WATADA: Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator. He was repressive. He did use torture. But the torture and the killing haven’t stopped since we’ve been there. It’s something I don’t think I or anybody else in this country should be a part of.
In war, each side dehumanizes the other. American soldiers dehumanize Iraqis to the point where Iraqi civilians are nothing to them. And that’s how these atrocities occur. You have a lot of young American men and women doing things, killing a lot of innocent civilians without thinking. The Iraqis are probably worse off than they were before we invaded the country.
OLSON: Now that you’ve submitted your resignation, what’s next for you?
WATADA: I submitted a resignation packet, which was disapproved. My commander asked me again if I was still going to go along with this. And I said yes of course. I still believe the same things that I did six months ago. And he said he couldn’t charge me until I violate an order. So I’ve been given an order to deploy in late June. When I refuse, the chain of command will charge me and court-martial me.
OLSON: As people learn about your story, are there things you especially want people to hold in their minds and their hearts about what you’re doing and why?
WATADA: I think that we are all given freedoms and liberties by the Constitution, but I think the one God-given freedom and right that we really have is freedom of choice. The moment we tell ourselves that we no longer have that choice is the moment we take that one freedom away. The only freedom we have. And I just want to tell everybody, especially people who doubt the war, that you do have that one freedom. And that’s something that they can never take away. Yes, they will imprison you. They’ll throw the book at you. They’ll try to make an example out of you, but you do have that choice. And that is something that you’ll have to live with for the rest of your life.
SEE ALSO: http://www.thankyoult.org/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1