Saturday, March 29, 2008
Weapons used by Israel against Lebanon
Three expert witnesses gave scientific testimony about the weapons that were used by Israel against Lebanon in the war that lasted 33 days, as well as the effects these armaments had on people and objects. Lebanese nuclear physicist and expert in nuclear radiation measurements, Mohammed Ali Kobeissi, Italian Geneticist Paola Manduca and British Work Psychologist and independent weapons researcher Dai Williams each presented the results of their research, complete with corroborating data.
Dr. Kobeissi premised his testimony with these words, “I am a scientist that was part of the scientific committee to investigate the state of things after the war. I don’t play politics and I keep the committee out of the declarations, but I know what I witnessed and the results of the research and I am here, speaking in my own name and assume full responsibility for what I say. I am not under the influence of any organization to declare anything but the facts.”
The scientist was called to measure data in various places, but one in particular, the Khaim crater, showed measurements of uranium in the bottom of the crater fourteen times higher than the measurements on the edges. One of the first things he made clear that his independent testing needed to be verified in another laboratory so that his results could be confirmed. It was the necessary to send samples out of Lebanon for testing, since no other laboratory in Lebanon had the equipment necessary to measure the data. “We had to bring samples out, using soil samples and urine samples.
"In its turn, and upon the request of the Lebanese Government, UNEP used something that is called a “smear”, which is a collection of dust samples. These smear samples were brought by UNEP to the research laboratories of the Swiss Army and they are connected to those of the NATO. To take samples, you have to be clever, because dust can be anything. What is relevant as far as weapons go is a specific type of dust which might be uranium dust or not.
"Because uranium is the most dense metal of them all, at certain temperatures it is able to melt everything that it is in contact with and it actually serves as a guide, transforming everything around it to dust." Kobeissi collected two kilograms of soil material from a crater at Jallahieh, which was likely to have been hit by a bomb with a Uranium head, given the damage. "Our soil samples and urine samples were sent to Harwell Laboratory in the UK for uranium measurements."
Kobeissi had made some of his own measurements, including testing the water that collected in one of the craters, and he had gathered enough information to be quite sure that this crater was indeed caused by the use of unconventional weapons, precisely those missiles with depleted uranium heads.
When the report by UNEP came back from Switzerland and was published, he was very shocked at the results. “I read the report and what I was reading was poetry, not science! It was very descriptive regarding the case of uranium. The numbers obtained from the smear dust were far too small, compared to the analysis and measurements I made on the soil samples.” At this moment in the testimony, the scientist shook his head and perhaps recalled the thoughts he had at the time, looking at the devastation caused by the missile, “I pity the founding fathers of America that today this country is lead by Bush. To make weapons like this and use them against civilians and their homes is something I cannot come to terms with.” Later, Dr Williams would explain with more precision what these weapons were intended to do, but for the time being, we listened to a scientific presentation that was almost like the telling of a moral fable.
“(Bernard) Kuchner came to Lebanon after the war and it happen he was visiting the town of Khiam. To convince himself he went down with me to this crater, because in a war that is conducted in inhabited zones where people are going to hopefully return to live, dirty bombs can’t be used. There are reasons for it, it will bring damage to the land and people for who knows how long. When I told Kuchner that dirty bombs were used, he said, ‘Impossible!’ but as soon as he saw the crater with radiation and he was witnessing that, what did he say? 'Well, C’est la guerre’.”
This kind of disregard for the impact of the bombs being used in southern Lebanon, and the possibility that they contained radiation, was indicative of much of the attitude of the international community when it was mentioned that these weapons were utilised. The physicist explained that a bit of uranium is present in nature anyway, but beyond a certain level, it is extremely dangerous. Uranium is used to increase the power of thermonuclear missiles. Few nations have the capacity to produce these weapons, and as a matter of fact, the largest weapons used in the war were American made. In order to extract the uranium for these weapons, a process is carried out which results in the creation of another toxic substance that is known as Depleted Uranium. “This is the dirty bomb. It is the result of the trash that comes out of making other bombs or for nuclear use and it is disposed of generally by being used in other weapons. America gives or sells this trash to others, and the others use it against their enemies.”
The next expert witness explained the effects of the unconventional weapons. Dr Paola Manduca is a Geneticist specialised in the effects on the human body of these new weapons, and in the past had also investigated the wounds from other victims of Israeli weapons, the people of Gaza. “Weapons of this sort do not distinguish between their victims. They are aimed at an area and those who are in that area are subject to the effects, whether they are military, civilian, adults or children. In this way, since these new weapons strike indiscriminately, we can also think that they have an ideological use. They leave wounds that are different than any kind we are used to. When the body is subject to the old kind of traditional weapons, the material that harms the body has an entry place, a bullet wound, cuts and abrasions that come from objects that are in disintegration, or foreign bodies that one can identify and possibly extract. In the case of these weapons, there are simply entrance holes in the body, internal damage, but no exit wound and no presence of shrapnel either. The wounds we have here are invisible wounds that give no clear answers to what they are. They cause dramatic effects on the body, spots, burns, incapacity for muscles to react, pain and so forth, but they do not have a clear cause, there is no specific ‘entry point’ at times and the variation of types of wounds on a single individual is also great. These wounds do not indicate how they can be treated. Psychologically, this is another effective weapon against whoever might be in an area where weapons like this are used.”
She showed us many photos of the kinds of effects by these ‘new’ weapons, which she nominated as ‘experimental’ ones. “They represent a new development in the strategy of war.” Some of them are thermobaric, which means that they explode and reach high temperatures. DIME, Dense Inert Metal weapons cause extreme and intense heat which can be localised even to certain parts of the body. She showed pictures where one side of the torso was scorched and charred, and the other was unharmed. The damage from these bombs includes alteration of the DNA and reproductive damage, in addition to the severe tissue damage and deformation as from burning. “Then there are the bombs using Depleted Uranium but not only. There are bombs with Enriched Uranium. These weapons are deadly even though the period it takes to bring about their full effects is not yet known. They are still ‘experimental’ weapons, and therefore, not permitted to be used by international rules of war.” She showed examples of the effects of cluster bombs, white phosphorus, the use of microwaves and the bombs that were responsible for the damage of the crater that Dr Kobeissi had focused much of his specific presentation on, the Bunker Buster.
“There has been lack of institutional response to the wounds that the victims had. As if they were simply caught in the crossfire of a standard battle. But this is not what happened to them. From within their homes and in shelters they were exposed to these weapons and their wounds are inexplicable, if not by deducing that Israel had used unconventional weapons that penetrated in ways that normal weapons are incapable of doing. I saw bodies covered with black powder, a kind of dust that darkens the bodies and when tested, the skin is tested as positive for the presence of iron. While some people were being evacuated from Bint Jbeil and Tyre, they were wounded, and I examined them. It is clear that they were exposed to unconventional weapons and it was a mystery as to the precise nature of these weapons. Three of the more seriously wounded people in this attack were brought to Israeli hospitals for treatment. They spent one month in the hospital.” When asked what the clinical reports were following the admission and treatment, Dr Manduca told us that they came back with no clinical reports whatsoever. “Whether or not any serious clinical investigation took place is unknown to me or to those in Lebanon. The fact is, that one may not obtain information from Israel. Whatever secret weapon was used against these people, we will never get information from anyone in the country that used it. Doctor or not.”
The third expert witness, Dr Dai Williams, stated that he was only going to make statements that could be backed by evidence, and he wished to qualify any interpretation he might make as being supported by scientific and photographic evidence. All of it, however, pointed to his conclusion that Israel had indeed made use of illegal weapons in the war.
“One has to understand what a weapon is used for. There are certain weapons used for specific purposes. In fact, weapons are developed according to the aim that is defined by the military strategy of the conflict. Arms control legislation is ten years behind technology. I have been researching uranium weapons since 1999, focusing on the aspects of health and safety, and all of these weapons, since they are not allowed by any country as legal and acceptable weapons, are all classified as ‘secret weapons’. Not only are there uranium weapons, which are guided bombs having a warhead that is considered to be a ‘magic metal’ for its destructive capacities, but there are many other kinds of secret weapons; pressure waves, vacuum bombs and a combination of the two, weapons using depleted uranium, including a one ton bomb with a US patent dating from 1947, and high temperature bombs.”
Dr Williams described in great detail the Bunker Buster, which is a bomb that has a specific explosion pattern and devastating results. Both of these were documented by a series of photographs and by testing the soil and water in the craters which occupied the space where buildings previously stood. “There is a military reason to use a Bunker Buster. It is because the military aim is to penetrate deeply into that space. In the case of southern Lebanon, they were certain that Hezbollah was located under the buildings and that there were stocks of WMDs or missiles, or else, they wanted to kill the people who were down that low, in the most sheltered part of the buildings, which the Israeli strategists claimed were Hezbollah militants. These bombs are not ordinary bombs. In fact, they are so large that only several places have the capacity to produce them, including the US. These are guided bombs produced in the US, which travelled via the UK and arrived in Israel to be used.”
The Bunker Buster has a particular explosion pattern which Dr Williams called a ‘blast profile’. First there is an intense explosion and fire, followed by a subsequent explosion generally creating a great amount of dust. He showed photographs where it was clear that two distinct explosions with visibly different characteristics were used on some targets. “Then there are thermobaric weapons that use heat and cause physical wounds that actually show exposure to different kinds of temperatures that are registered on a single body. There are ‘flash burns’ where one side of the body is burnt, as Dr Manduca had already said. An unknown number of different kinds of weapons were used in these 33 days of war, and the estimates range from 50 to 100 varieties of weapons. On the 11th of August I went to the Human Rights Council, because the wounds that I had seen caused me to wonder about the nature of the weapons and I asked them to investigate not only the illegal weapons, but also to investigate the use of uranium weapons such as the Spike or Hellfire Missiles. What is important in these cases is to investigate the targets and I have to say that the International forces worked very quickly to clean most of the sites. In fact, what this did was remove much of the evidence that is needed to do a proper investigation of the sites. I asked for tests to be carried out not only on depleted uranium, but also uranium. The UN Environmental commission did not take the reports into account that I had carried out on the terrain, where I had evidence of uranium far above normal levels. As a matter of fact, and this is what is so sad, the tests that were carried out used unsound methods and only one site was tested. The site was declared ‘clean’ and therefore, the case was closed as far as they were concerned.”
Dr Williams stressed the fact that there was no doubt that Israel had used weapons containing uranium. One of the ways of measuring the material that remains after a bombardment is to measure the chemical composition of the dust. A colleague of Dr Williams, Dr Chris Busby, had suggested that the best automatic dust collecting device is an automotive filter, so a filter that was in immediate proximity of a bombardment was sent for analysis. It was from a semi-destroyed ambulance that was bombed at Khaim. “There was a small amount of low enriched uranium in it. It is unusual to have uranium in dust, and this was definitely the consequence of a bombardment with bombs containing uranium. The quantity was enough to be an absolute fingerprint, small but legally sufficient. It was present in two of the locations that I tested, in Beirut and Khaim.” 200 samples underwent Gamma testing in Geneva. “It is logical that they came up with the wrong analysis, because they used the wrong test. This is not the appropriate test to analyse the presence of depleted uranium. Mass Spectroscopy should have been used.” He also showed the results of tests analysing samples of human urine of the people who were in the vicinity of the bombing there and the concentrations of uranium were high.
Robert Fisk published the report made by Dr Williams, and it received a very negative reaction from the UN and Israel. “There was some collaboration with the UNEP (United Nations Environmental Program) scientists and Achem Steiner, but so much misinformation started to circulate that the inquiry was actually forced to be stopped.” The conclusions drawn from that by Dr Williams are unequivocal: “There are still the effects of the dirty bombs that were used on Lebanese soil and there are consequences of this that unfortunately we will not know as long as we do not continue investigation. One thing is certain, new arms control discussions are needed. Weapons are being used against people without any kind of control or adequate safety measures. We don’t know all the harmful side effects that can still be triggered, and this also reflects upon a negligence of the Lebanese government in not doing anything to investigate.”
>When asked for more details by the Lebanese barristers present, he mentioned that these weapons produce a fine dust that has the consistency of pepper. Since the heat is so great, most of it goes straight up, but then it gets blown by the wind very far away and it can spread. In some areas it is concentrated. “Most of the bombs used in the war were conventional ones, and the amount of unconventional weapons used in Lebanon is very small when compared to those used in Iraq or Afghanistan. But, the problem is that radiation is forever, even if in very small amounts. There was not adequate human or environmental testing done, and the damage was indiscriminate and permanent in some cases.” He suggested that there was the possibility of a variety of bombs being used, containing both enriched uranium and depleted uranium, and that perhaps the sites had themselves been cleaned or altered between various moments of testing. He also pointed to the variation in the results (between the determination that the bombs used depleted uranium or enriched uranium) as being explained in the hypothesis that at least two bombs were dropped on each site. He indicated that once enriched uranium is burnt, it becomes indistinguishable from uranium present in nature – but of extreme rarity – and test results can be politically charged by stating that these things are not the result of bombs, or even that the machines used to test were not properly cleaned, something quite absurd to state about a laboratory with the reputation of Harwell.
After his talk, I had the opportunity to speak with Dr Williams. Being a psychologist, he is very concerned with the emotional or psychological impact of communication, and we spoke at length about the importance of the ‘human filter’ when listening to this kind of information. Actually, to the profane in material, the difference between a conventional and unconventional weapon is marginal, if the result is destruction. Yet, Dr Williams mentioned that there is an element that makes informing about these weapons complicated, and that is the will to inform tempered by the desire to not cause undue stress and worry. “These bombs can cause damage in the future, since they operate at a genetic level. This means we don’t know what effects there are going to be, and this can cause a level of alarm that, in the end, is psychologically just as critical. Where does one draw the line about saying the possible effects and assuring people that perhaps things are not as bad as we fear? How do we inform without creating panic? Not getting any information about the weapons leaves us in that condition. As scientists and investigators, we are not even allowed to make any genuine conclusions because we are denied the possibility of having a scientific response.”
If this is indeed the case, the Israeli war against Lebanon had as its most damaging and pervasive weapon the psychological one of fear, fear that would remain intact for generations.
Friday, March 28, 2008
technical improvements underway
I'll be back as soon as the wiring is done, estimates vary, but don't worry, Pepa will be back on line!
In the meantime, will be busy working on some editorial projects, so I salute all the faithful readers and ask them to visit all the great sites on the sidebar.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Khalid Amayreh - The Vatican must show goodwill toward Muslims
The problem, of course, doesn’t lie in the conversion itself. People after all should be free to choose their faith and way of life without coercion. The Quran itself declares that “let there be no compulsion in religion.” The way Muslims ought to relate to disbelievers is engraved in Sura (or chapter) 9 of Islam’s holy scriptures, which reads:
Say : O ye that reject Faith!
I worship not that which ye worship,
Nor will ye worship that which I worship.
And I will not worship that which ye have been wont to worship,
Nor will ye worship that which I worship.
To you be your Way, and to me mine.
But the problem lies in the vindictive atmosphere surrounding the conversion ceremony, including the anti-Islamic allusions and insinuations.
Magdi Allam, who an Israel newspaper once called a “Muslim Zionist” admitted that he had always been a nominal Muslim, that he had never really practiced Islam and never prayed in his life. Yet, we have been told ad nauseam by a wantonly ignorant or dishonest Western media that Allam was “a prominent Muslim.”
Well, the truth is that he was neither Muslim nor prominent. How could a person who praises and glorifies Israel’s genocidal crimes against his fellow human beings (Christian and Muslims alike) be a man of faith? Morality, honesty and candor are the ultimate signs of faith, characters that Allam conspicuously lacks.
So, it is highly doubtful that a man who believes Zionism represents true righteousness and genuine civility will be a righteous individual, let alone a good Catholic.
In the context of his baptism at the hands of the Pope of the Vatican, Allam made a series of provocative lies against Islam.
The man who had written a book titled “Long Live Israel” was quoted as saying that “the root of evil is innate in an Islam that is physiologically violent and historically conflictual."
This is a cardinal mendacity, because all religions, ideologies, and isms are by definition “conflictual.” Indeed, in order for an idea, any idea, to be un-conflictual, it has to be completely “morally neutral” between good and evil. Christianity itself was conflictual from day one.
In Matthew 10-34-39, Jesus is quoted as saying that:
"Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it."
In the Gospel of Thomas 16, (SV), Jesus said:
"Perhaps people think that I have come to cast peace upon the world. They do not know that I have come to cast conflicts upon the earth: fire, sword, war. For there will be five in a house: there'll be three against two and two against three, father against son and son against father, and they will stand alone."
The above shows beyond doubt that Allam doesn’t know what he is talking about when he faults Islam for being “historically conflictual.”
As to the issue of violence, Allam is being equally ignorant of historical facts, because if a religion is to be judged solely by the behavior of its followers, then Christianity stands out as the main candidate for being the most violent religion under the sun.
Let us consider some of the following historical facts pertaining to the relationship between Christianity and violence. In the past century alone, Western “Christians” killed more than a hundred million people, mostly other Christians. In just two essentially ‘Christian' World Wars, as many as 70 million people were killed. Indeed, the numerous crusades, holocausts, pogroms, inquisitions, gulags and ethnic cleansings that the White man committed in the name of Jesus make Muslim violence and wars look utterly negligible in comparison.
In the Middle Ages, Catholics spread death, terror and havoc through Europe, Asia Minor and the Levant. The Franks not only slaughtered Muslims and Jews en masse, but targeted their Orthodox coreligionists, destroying and desecrating their churches, murdering their priests and raping their women.
In North America, South America and Australia the White man murdered millions in the name of Christ and Manifest Destiny.
To be sure, Muslims, too, indulged in violence, including unjustified violence. However, stigmatizing Islam with this calumny, as if the hands of Catholics and other western Christians were clean, constitutes a pornographic deviation from historical truth and honesty.
Samuel P. Huntington is one of the West’s most prominent contemporary intellectuals. He argued that “the west won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion, but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence.”
“Westerners,” he said, “often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do.”
One Vatican official, Cardinal Giovanni, told an Italian newspaper following the conversion ceremony that “conversion is a private matter, a personal thing and we hope that the baptism will not be interpreted negatively by Muslims.”
Well, one might give Giovanni the benefit of the doubt were it not for the purposefully high profile the Vatican gave this conversion. In the final analysis, the Vatican can’t hope for good relations with Muslims and at the same time continue to incite hatred and racism against a religion that has as many as 15 hundred million followers, including millions of Europeans and hundreds of thousands of Italians.
Millions of erstwhile Christians converted to Islam in Europe and North America in recent years. However, unlike the Vatican, the Muslim religious authorities have chosen not to turn every conversion into a trial of Christianity.
Finally, it is imperative to remember that Muslims and Christians are neighbors and compatriots all over the world. This fact alone, which is not going to disappear, necessitates that each community be sensitive to the sensibilities and feelings of the other.
Mutual respect, we are told, is the essence of religious faith.
I add a comment below:
To read excellent opinion pieces in Italian on Allam, see Sherif's blog. To add my own commentary, I want to mention that 4 and a half years ago, Allam came to my town to promote his book on Saddam Hussein (which had as bibilographical references nothing more than Allam's own articles and pages were dedicated to the style of moustache and hair colouring of Saddam...) and one of the conclusions he came to was that the War never would really have happened if people had not protested for "peace". He said that this gave Saddam the false confidence that he could win, and that the war then became inevitable. In essence, protesters were blamed for fanning the flames of war. Also at that presentation, two Palestinians who tried to speak had the microphone taken from them before they could even finish their question. As soon as they said negative comments about Israel, the "security" force ran to them and shut them up. There were about 20 people who protested this, and we were asked to leave. The host of the event, who is a bookseller and who knows me later apologised to me for it but said that there were strict rules set by Allam and his own bodyguards that they did not want any agitators. The list of topics that would not be addressed were Palestine and Israel and when these words came out, the security staff were ordered to remove the microphones. The fact that calling most of us sitting there agitators because we protested the war is evidence of the kind of person Allam is.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Families of Victims of the Lebanon War Testify
At the Bruxelles Tribunal, several people represented the victims of the war. It was very interesting to note how different these people were from one another, judging by the type of presentation they wanted to share with us. Yet, at the moment of questioning by the lawyers and judges, they all came to the same conclusions about their experiences.
The first witness was a gentleman named Mohammed Shokr. The story of his family was an incredible odyssey of seeking refuge in a moment when the family was being reunited after much time spent far from one another. His family lives in Belgium and what should have been a simple family holiday when the grandparents and aunts and uncles could spend time with the children living in Europe became a nightmare of death and total devastation. They were in the village of El Nabi Chit, near Baalbeck in the Northern area, and when the bombing started to be frequent, thought that it would be a good idea to leave and go to their house near the Beirut Airport. Belgium had already asked her citizens to leave Lebanon entirely, but this possibility, as the days passed, was growing ever more remote. When they arrived in Beirut, they were once again victims of shelling, and the decision was made to go to a Christian village where a family member lived. “We thought this would be the safest place after our other homes had been shelled.”
Mr Shokr is a man who demonstrates a very direct kind of character. He knew that he assumed the responsibility for the safety of his extended family, and what was very sad was seeing that he realised that even the most reasonable and wise choices were turning out to be foiled by what Israel had decided to dish out. This man represented not only a pater familias, but by listening to his testimony, I could feel that his situation was a macroscopic example of the impossible search for refuge in a country that was targeted as a whole, with every inch of Lebanon being a potential front.
“We were looking for shelter, but on the road we could see that there were no military targets anywhere, just things that served people were bombed. Things such as petrol stations, bridges, roads. It was like being in a trap.” And, the worst trap of them all turned out to be the home in the Christian village in the south. “All of a sudden, the sky was raining nails and rockets.” The family sought protection in the deepest part of the house, underneath the staircase, yet that too was disastrous. “We didn’t know that American bombs can go everywhere.” As a matter of fact, Mr Shokr brought fragments that he took from within the house. They were large bits of rockets and fragments of shrapnel. “This bomb was an American present signed by Israeli children and sent to our children in Lebanon.”
It is apparent that bombs that penetrate and do not simply explode (as later in the day and the following morning we were able to witness three presentations on the weapons potential) and break apart what they are hitting. These bombs dig deeply and then erupt in their full force, and they are considered to be unconventional weapons. The meaning of this, I will explore in the articles that explain more fully the weapons used in the Israeli war against Lebanon, yet generally, they are weapons that are differentiated from those that are “recognised”. They may differ in the materials used and in the effects that are different from traditional weapons. Often their impact is unpredictable and very often they violate standard rules of war by their force that is not proportional to the type of target they are used against. When Mr Shokr was asked if they were unconventional weapons he answered with clarity and wisdom, “We are civilians. We don’t know the difference between what is conventional and what is not. If a bomb comes inside your home, you know that this is wrong. Morally, we also know that if one is capable of killing one person can kill a group of people or kill everyone.”
He wrote a book on the destruction of Baalbek and El Nabi Chit which told of the tragedies of his hometown. He summed up the situation of his own family in this way, “We had to decide to run, and then to start running. We took the car at night, without any lights because we understood that we would be moving targets. Then we had to keep running, seeking shelter. When there is fear, you run, but you may never find the shelter, no matter where run.”
A second witness was Hassan Al-Akhrass, a citizen of Canada whose flight was to leave for Lebanon allowing him to join his family the day before all flights had been cancelled. This spared him his own life, but tragically, it did nothing to save the others precious to him as they were crushed under the rubble of their own home in Aytaroun, destroyed by Israeli bombs. He lost 12 family members in the war, including his father, his uncle, his cousin and his wife and four small children and their grandmother. Other family members were wounded. He decided to bring photos of his loved ones in happier moments, days before their lives were taken. There were pictures of them by the sea, babies in the arms of their mother, children being cuddled by their grandparents, beautiful smiling faces that no longer exist if not in the memories of this man, and whose story he put on a DVD called “In the Line of Fire”. In the composition here, we see some of the victims. To spare older family members the grief of learning the fate of their loved ones, it was decided to not reveal the news of the deaths to those who might not be able to handle such pain. Frequent questions about the family’s whereabouts could not be kept unanswered forever, and that compounded the sense of helplessness. “My real hope is that there will be justice for them.” Looking at the innocent faces of these people, and considering the tragedy of the loss of their lives, it is the least that we should expect, and all of us owe them this much.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Shraga, My Karma ran over your Dogma: spoiling your smear campaign with honesty
So, he went to his Buddy Shraga to do the work. "There's Gilad's and Uri Avnery's translator there, a Gush Shalom member... Oh! There's Hajo Meyer, the writer who also was a survivor of Auschwitz. THEY MUST BE REMOVED!"
So, Shraga decided to go to work. For days he circulated misleading emails suggesting I was a Judeophobe affiliated with Nazi sites! (Remember, he actually circulates from them, but for some reason he can't see that his pulpit is quite a few metres too low). Scaring his first two victims sufficiently, they were sure that they had not signed any Neo-Nazi or Anti-Semitic petition! In fact, they had not, they signed the petition that was in support of Gilad Atzmon and Mary Rizzo.
I insisted again that I knew that Hajo had signed it and not only that, he had stated on phone to another person that he had signed it and stood by that. I mentioned this, so Shraga started sending a series of ever more aggressive emails to an ever-growing list of persons, as if the gang bullying could somehow make lies turn into truth.
But I have forgotten totally. I'm 80 - so it is normal that the memory in this age is not the best for things 5 weeks ago ....
But I see that there are persons, blocks, internetsides I don't know. Please delete my name from this petition, from all the blocks or internetsides - I don't want any trouble.
This is my last word in this issue - please no more emails. There will be no more an answer to it. I have to do more important things than this unpleasant disbute.
And... It doesn't end there. There is indeed a conclusion to this second round of Public Lapidation. The other signatory that he has so far targeted....
the text below starting with ‘dear friends’ is fully mine. I wrote it and I send it to Adib S. Kawar of Palestinesomoud. I signed the petition which you find attached. It was sent to me by my friend Guenter Schenk. There is not one word in it which I regret. When you find my name under any other text, that can only be stolen or faked.
Hajo G. Meyer
For me, as a survivor of 10 month of Auschwitz, one thing is clear, there is a fundamental flaw in Zionism. At least in the form in which it expresses itself in political reality. It has not accepted one of the fundamental truths of the Enlightenment: the essential and fundamental equivalence of all human beings.
Therefore, due to this fundamental flaw, political Zionism in its present form will eventually perish. Unfortunately, you the Palestinians will have to mobilise a lot of somoud. So far, you have been able to show that you can do it. Don’t despair, the enlightened world is with you.
Dr Hajo G. Meyer, Heiloo, the Netherlands
Don't hold your breath!
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Gilad Atzmon - The Right to Self-Determination - A Fake Exercise in Universalism
The right to self-determination is a luxurious approach at conservation of power reserved for the rich, strong and privileged. Since Zionists hold the reigns on international political power through their influence in important positions as well as the military might to maintain their ‘right to self-determination’, any current political debate on the legitimacy of this concept would lead inevitably to a dismissal of what we have come to accept as the Palestinian right of self-determination. Yet, instead of demanding this right, which is currently impractical, we should fight for the Palestinian and Arab right to rebel against the Jewish State and against global Zionist imperialism. Instead of wasting our time on rhetorical fantasies, we better expose Jewish tribal politics and praxis for what it is. To support Palestine is to be courageous enough to say what we think and to admit what we see.
A Citizen of the World, A Cosmopolitan and an Atheist
Last year in a little community church in Aspen, Colorado, at the question time following my talk, a middle-aged person at the back of the room stood up, presenting himself as follows:
“I am a citizen of the world, I am a cosmopolitan and an atheist. I would like to ask you something Mr Atzmon…”
“Hang on,” I stopped him, “please do not be offended by me asking, but are you by any chance a Jew?”
The person froze for a second, he couldn’t stop his face from blushing, everyone in the room turned around. Maybe they were curious enough to want to see what a 21st century self-loving cosmopolitan looks like. I, on my part, felt a bit guilty about it all, I didn’t have any intention to embarrass the man. However, it took him a few good seconds before he could get his act together.
“Yes Gilad, I am a Jew, but how did you know?”
“I obviously didn’t know,” I said, “I was actually guessing. You see, whenever I come across people who call themselves ‘cosmopolitans’, ‘atheists’ and a ‘citizens of the world’, they somehow always happen to be ‘Jews’ of the so-called ‘progressive’ assimilated type. I can only assume that ‘non-Jews’ tend to live in peace with whoever they happen to be. If they are born Catholic and decide to move on at a certain stage, they just dump the church behind. If they do not love their country as much as others do, they probably pack a few things and pick another country to live in. Somehow ‘non-Jews’, and this is far from being a scientific law, do not need to hide behind some vague universal banners and some artificial righteous value system. However, what was your question?”
No question followed. The ‘cosmopolitan, atheist and citizen of the world’, couldn’t remember what his question was. I assume that following the tradition of post-emancipated Jews he was there to celebrate his right to ‘self-determination’ in public. The man was using question time to tell his Aspen neighbours and friends what a great human being he was. Unlike them, local patriotic believers and proud Americans, he was an advanced humanist, a man beyond nationhood, a godless non-patriotic subject. He was the ultimate ‘self determined’ rational product of enlightenment. He was the son of Voltaire and the French revolution.
Self-determination is a modern Jewish political and social epidemic. The disappearance of the Ghetto and its maternal qualities led towards an identity crisis within the largely assimilated Jewish society. Seemingly, all post-emancipated Jewish political, spiritual and social schools of thought, left, right and centre were inherently concerned with issues to do with the ‘right to self-determination’. The Zionists would demand the right to national self-determination in the land of Zion. The Bund would demand national and cultural self-determination within the East European proletarian discourse. Matzpen and the ultra Israeli leftists would demand the right to self-determination for the ‘Israeli Jewish nation’ in the ‘liberated Arab East’, Anti Zionist Jews would insist upon the right to engage in an esoteric Jewish discourse within the Palestinian solidarity movement. But what does that very right to self-determination stand for? Why is it that every modern Jewish political thought is grounded on that right? Why is it that some ‘progressive’ assimilated Jews feel the need to become citizens of the world rather than just ordinary citizens of Britain or France or Russia?
The Pretence of Authenticity
It should be said that though identity search and self-determination are there to convey the pretence of a final march towards an authentic redemption, the direct result of Identity politics and self-determinative affairs is the complete opposite. Those who have to self-determine who they are, are those who are far removed from any authentic realisation to start with. Those who are determined to be seen as ‘cosmopolitans’ and ‘secular humanists’ are those who fail to see that human brotherhood needs neither an introduction nor a declaration. All it really takes is a genuine love for one another. Those who initiate and sign humanist manifestos are those who insist upon being seen as humanists while at the same time spreading some Zionist tribal evil around. Clearly, real genuine cosmopolitans do not have the need to declare their abstract commitment to humanism. Real citizens of the world, similarly, just live in an open world with no boundaries and borders.
I am surrounded, for instance, by jazz musicians of all colours and ethnic origins. People who live on the road, people who sleep every night in a different continent, people who make a living out of their love of beauty. Yet, I have never seen a Jazz artist who calls himself or herself either a citizen of the world or a cosmopolitan or even a beauty merchant. I have never met a Jazz artist who adopts an air of egalitarian importance. I have never met a Jazz musician who celebrates his or her right to self-determination. The reason is simple, authentic beings do not need to self determine who they are, they just let themselves and others be.
The right to self-determination
The right to self-determination is often cited as the acknowledgment that "all peoples have the right to freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” This very principle is often seen as a moral and legal right. It is also well embedded in the philosophy of the United Nations. The term self-determination was used in the UN Charter and has been defined in various declarations and covenants.
Though we all tend to believe that every human is entitled to celebrate his or her symptoms, the right to self-determination is in fact significantly meaningful only within the Western liberal discourse which accepts such a right and premises it on the notion of enlightened individualism. Moreover, the right to self-determination can be celebrated only by the privileged who can mobilize enough political power or military might to make this right into a practical reality.
However, it must be mentioned that even within the Western liberal discourse, it is only Jews who premise their political power on the ‘right to be like others’. The reason is simple, though liberated Jews insist upon being ‘like others’, it is rather clear that others prefer actually to be ‘like themselves’. This obviously means that the Jewish demand to be like others is futile and doomed to failure.
It must be mentioned also that within oppressed societies, the right to self-determination is often replaced with the right to rebel. For a Palestinian in the occupied territories, the right for self-determination means very little. He doesn’t need to self-determine himself as a Palestinian for the obvious reason that he knows who he is. And just in case he happens to forget, an Israeli soldier in the next roadblock would remind him. For the Palestinian, self-determination is a product of negation. It is actually the daily confrontation with the Zionist denial of the Palestinian right of self-determination. For the Palestinian, it is the right to fight against oppression, against those who starve him and expel him from his land in the name of the Jewish rather-too-concrete demand to be ‘people like other people’.
As much, as the right to self-determination presents itself as a universal liberating political value, in many cases it is utilised as a divisive mechanism that leads towards direct abuse of others. As we happen to learn, modern Jewish demand for the right to self-determination is rather too often celebrated at the expense of others whether these are Palestinians, Arab leaders, Russian proletariats or British and American soldiers who fight the last pocket of Israeli enemies in the Middle East. As much as the right to self-determination is occasionally presented has a ‘universal value’, scrutinising the pragmatic sinister utilization of the very right within the Jewish political discourse reveals that in practical terms, it is there to serve the Jewish tribal interests while denying and even dismissing other people’s elementary rights.
The Bund and Lenin’s Criticism
It would be right to say that the Bund and the Zionists were the first to eloquently insist upon the Jewish right to self-determination. The Bund was the General Jewish Workers' Union of East Europe. Like the Zionist movement, it was formally founded in 1897. It maintained that Jews in Russia deserved the right to cultural and national self-determination within the Soviet future revolution.
Probably, the first to elaborate on the absurdity in Jewish demand for self-determination was Lenin in his famous attack on the Bund at the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. (1903). “March with us” was Lenin’s reply to the Bund, rejecting their demand for a special autonomous ethnic status amongst the Russian workers. Lenin obviously spotted the tribally divisive agenda within the Bund philosophy. “We reject,” said Lenin, “all obligatory partitions that serve to divide us”. As much as Lenin supported “the right of nations to self-determination”, he was clearly dismissive of such a Jewish right which he correctly identified as divisive and reactionary. Lenin supported the right of oppressed nations to build their national entities, however he resisted any bigoted, narrow nationalist spirit.
Lenin raised three main reasons against the Bund and its demand of cultural self-determination:
First. Raising the slogan of cultural-national autonomy leads to splitting the nations apart, and therefore destroying the unity of the proletariat within them.
Second. Lenin saw that the intermingling of nations and their amalgamation was a progressive step, while turning away from that is a step backwards. He criticized those who "cry out to heaven against assimilation."
Third. Lenin did not regard the ‘non-territorial cultural independence’ advocated by the Bund and the other Jewish parties as advantageous, practical, or practicable.
Lenin’s approach to the Bund is rather significant and should be reflected upon. Using his sharp political common sense, Lenin doubted the ethical and political grounds of the right of Jews to self-determination, as much as the Bund demanded that Jews should be treated as a national identity like all other nationals. Lenin’s answer was strictly simple: “Sorry guys, but you aren’t. You are not a national minority just for the reason that you are not attached to a piece of geography.”
Matzpen and Wolfowitz
“The solution of the national and social problems of this region can come about only through a socialist revolution in this region, which will overthrow all its existing regimes and will replace them by a political union of the region, ruled by the toilers. In this united and liberated Arab East, recognition will be granted to the right of self-determination (including the right to a separate state) of each of the non-Arab nationalities living in the region, including the Israeli-Jewish nation” (Matzpen Principles http://www.matzpen.org/index.asp?p=principles)
Seemingly, Lenin’s criticism has never been properly internalised by Jewish so-called ‘progressive’ ideologists. Abuse of others and dismissal of elementary rights has become inherent to Jewish ‘progressive’ political thinking. Reading the principle document of Matzpen, the legendary ultra leftist Israeli group may leave one perplexed.
Already in 1962 Jewish Matzpenists had a plan to ‘liberate’ the Arab world. According to Matzpen’s principles, all you have to do is “overthrow all (Arab) existing regimes” so “recognition will be granted to the right of self-determination of each of the non-Arab nationalities living in the region, including (of course) the Israeli-Jewish nation.”
It doesn’t take a genius to grasp that at least categorically, Matzpen’s principles are no different from Wolfowitz’s Neocon mantra. Matzpen had a plan to ‘overthrow’ all Arabs regimes in the name of ‘socialism’ so Jews can ‘self-determine’ who they are. Wolfowitz would do exactly the same in the name of ‘democracy’. If you take Matzpen’s Judeo-centric ‘progressive’ text and replace the word ‘Socialist’ with ‘Democratic’ you end up with a devastating Neocon text and it reads as follows:
“The solution of the national and social problems of this region, can come about only through a democratic revolution in this region, which will overthrow all its existing regimes and will replace them by a political union of the region …Recognition will be granted to the right of self-determination of each of the non-Arab nationalities living in the region, including the Israeli-Jewish nation.”
Seemingly, both the ‘legendary’ progressive Matzpen and the reactionary despised Neocons use a similar abstract concept with some pretence of universality to rationally justify the Jewish right to self-determination and the destruction of Arab-grown regional power. Seemingly, both Neocons and Matzpen know what liberation may mean for Arabs. For the Matzpenist, to liberate Arabs is to turn them into Bolsheviks. The Neocon is actually slightly more modest, all he wants is for Arabs to drink Coca Cola in a westernised democratic society. Both Judeo-centric philosophies are doomed to failure because the notion of self-determination is overwhelmingly Euro-centric. Both philosophies are premised on an enlightened notion of rationality. Both philosophies have very little to offer to the oppressed, instead they are there to rationalise and provide the colonialist with some fake ‘universal’ legitimacy.
Clearly, Matzpen has never had any political power, it never had any political significance since it has never been in any proximity to Arab people, not to say Arab masses. Consequently, Matzpen could never affect Arab people’s lives nor could it destroy their regimes. However, Matzpen is seen by Jewish Leftists around the world as a significant chapter in the Israeli left. It is seen as a singular moment of Israeli ethical awakening. Thus, it is actually embarrassing or even devastating to find out that the most enlightening and refined moment of Israeli-left moral awakening produced a political insight that is no different categorically to George Bush’s infamous attempt at Liberating the Iraqi people. It should be clear beyond doubt that Jewish ultra leftists (a la Matzpen) and Zionised Anglo-American interventionism (a la Neocons) are in fact two sides of the same coin or may I allow myself to say two sides of the very same Shekel. They are very close theoretically, ideologically and pragmatically. Both political thoughts are Judeo-centric to the bone yet, they both pretend to premise themselves on universalism and aim towards ‘liberation’ and ‘freedom’. But at the end of the day they aim toward Jewish self-determination at the expense of others.
The Right to be Like Others -The Zionist Logic
The following is a collection of extracts taken from a document submitted to the United Nations COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS in 2005.
It was composed by the Coordinating Board of Jewish Organizations (CBJO) and B'nai B'rith. It helps to grasp how Jewish organisations implement political power around the claim for self-determination.
As a point of historical departure of its statement, the CBJO chooses the ‘end of the Holocaust’ and the creation of the UN. The link is rather clear and intentional. The role of the UN is set as one that will save the Jews from any further genocidal attempts.
“As the world marks the 60th anniversaries of the end of the Holocaust and the creation of the United Nations this year, we in the human rights community have the opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to the principles contained in the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other foundation documents of the international human rights regime. One of the most fundamental of these rights is that of self-determination. This right guarantees other human rights, such as the right to life, liberty and security of person, preservation of honor, equality under the law.”
It can be seen that at this stage the right to self-determination is conveyed in universal terms. But do not let yourself be misled just yet. It won’t take long before the Zio-centric twist will reveal itself.
“The events revealed sixty years ago when Allied forces entered and liberated the Nazi concentration camps could have been prevented if only the Jewish people's right to self-determination had been protected and fostered…. As the history of the Jewish people in the 20th century demonstrates, without a State of their own – the fulfillment of the right to self-determination – the Jewish people were at risk of discrimination, isolation, and ultimately, extermination.”
Slowly but surely, we can now see the shift from the universal ethical approach to a Judeo-centric self-centred argumentation. However, it is crucial to mention that prior to the big war western and American Jews were emancipated and enjoyed rights to self-determination, yet not many Jews thought that such a right should be celebrated in Palestine at the expense of the Palestinian people. Moreover, thinking in retrospective terms makes it rather clear that the ‘Jewish right to self-determination’ has brought Holocaust on the Palestinian people. In other words, the Jewish right to self-determination has very limited positive impact on humanity and human reality. Something the UN Human Rights Commission better take into account.
“As we reflect on this history, we must note the resurgence of anti-Semitism, and its new manifestation – anti-Zionism. In various intellectual circles, on university campuses and in the media, the Jewish people’s basic human right to self-determination is being eroded on a daily basis through misrepresentations and false equations. These anti-Zionists portray the Jewish people’s self-determination as excluding Palestinian self-determination. Some wish to turn back the clock of history by advancing a "one-state” solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a proposal that was rejected by the General Assembly in 1947 precisely because it would have denied the Jewish people their right of self-determination…. Anti-Zionism is a dangerous path, for it hinges on the destruction of the Jewish State. As such it runs counter to the Charter of the United Nations, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights….”
Interestingly enough, the gifted people at the CBJO do realise that sooner or later someone is about to question the ethical validity of the ‘Jewish right to self-determination’. In fact this is exactly what I myself plan to do within a page or two. Zionists are clever enough to grasp the possibility that their ‘carte blanche’ to ruin millions of lives in the Middle East in the name of fake universal concept may expire one day.
However, the CBJO are aiming towards an optimistic resolution of the Israeli Palestinian conflict. This is at least what they want us to believe:
“Today, we see remarkable progress in the Middle East between Israel and the Palestinians. The Palestinian people have elected a government – one that has pledged to reject terrorism as a political weapon in favor of democracy and peace. This path of promoting peaceful co-existence with the Jewish people marks an important turning point from the Palestinian policy of violence. …All resolutions passed by this body under this agenda item should seek to affirm the right to self-determination for the Jewish people alongside that of other peoples…. Only then will the Commission on Human Rights be true to its founding principles. Only then will the CHR be part of the solution, instead of exacerbating the problem. Only then will this body demonstrate that it has retained the lessons that should have been learned 60 years ago, upholding and defending the basic right of the Jewish people to self-determination alongside a democratic Palestinian State.”
As we can see, the CBJO is there to tell the Palestinians who they are and what they should be. i.e., democratic and secular. Wrongly enough, the right-wing CBJO is no different to the legendary ‘progressive’ Matzpen and the implications must be clear from now on. There is no left and right within modern secular Jewish politics but rather self-centric tribal orientation which produces fake images of political diversity for obvious reasons.
One State, Two States or Just a State Of All Its Citizens
Not many Palestinians and Arab intellectuals take part in the One State/Two State debate. The reason is pretty obvious, Palestinians and Arabs do realise very well that issues to do with the future of the region are not to be determined by academic institutes or Palestinian solidarity conferences but rather on the ground. The impact of a single Qassam rocket hitting in the Western Negev is far greater than any form of intellectual conclusive discussion to do with ‘conflict resolution’. As it seems, the demand for ‘one State’, be it secular, democratic or Islamic is theoretical and rhetorical and has no implication whatsoever on the Israelis who still possess the political power and military might to maintain the Jews-only State.
As much as the notion of self-determination has zero significance on Palestinian people, the same is so for the verbal demand for one State. At a time of starvation in Gaza and genocidal plans announced by the Israeli Government, debates regarding the future of the region seem to be a luxurious endeavour explored by the privileged.
If anything, the debate over the one State solution is there to maintain the Israeli and Jewish hegemony within the Palestinian solidarity discourse. The reason is pretty simple, every discussion that aims at political resolution naturally takes into account the ‘Jewish right to self-determination’. This would be the case forever unless we allow ourselves to introduce a radical political and intellectual shift into the discourse. Like Lenin in 1903, we must call into question the true validity of the notion of the right to self-determination. Following Lenin, we should allow ourselves to admit the possibility that the Jewish right to self-determination is actually divisive or may even be a false call. It is there to be celebrated by the rich and colonial and the privileged at the expense of the weak and the oppressed.
We should stand up and ask openly why exactly Jews or anyone else deserves a right to self-determination. Isn’t it true that the right to self-determination always comes at the expense of someone else? We should stand up and ask, what moral right entitles a Brooklyn Jew to self-determine oneself as a Zionist and a future occupier of Palestine? We should openly ask what exactly entitles an Israeli born Jew the right to dwell on Palestinian land at the expense of the indigenous Palestinian? Am I entitled to demand the right to self-determine myself as a NASA Astronaut, or alternatively as a heart surgeon? Would you let me fix your heart based on my false self-inflicted recognition as a heart surgeon?
These questions are far from being easy to answer. Yet, we shouldn’t stop ourselves from raising them. Like Lenin, I tend to dismiss the Jewish legitimacy of the right to self-determination as a false divisive call. Instead, I would suggest an alternative ethical approach, which I borrowed from Ex MK Azmi Bishara (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azmi Bishara), the Palestinian intellectual who had to run for his life from Israel in spite of being a Parliament member. Bishara moved beyond the one State/ two State debate or the Judeo-centric right to self-determination. He coined a brilliant political notion, namely ‘a State of all its Citizens’. Rather than a State of the Jews, Bishara suggested to make it into a State of the people who dwell in it.
Azmi Bishara is a vigorous intellectual and a well-known critic of the Israeli State. In numerous writings and public appearances, he has maintained that the Israeli State's self-definition as ‘Jewish and democratic’ is discriminatory. Bishara calls for an Israel that would be a ‘State of all its citizens.’ Bishara has openly pointed to a direct conflict between the Jewish majority and the Palestinian minority over the definition of nationality in Israel. He articulates a trend among the Arab-Palestinian minority that poses a demand for socio-economic and political equality not only in formal law, but in civic citizenship and nationality. It would be right to say that Bishara’s approach is a political exercise in the Palestinian right to self-determination. Consequently, however, it didn’t take long before Bishara had to run for his life and search for a shelter out of Israel.
As we have seen, the right to self-determination is a luxurious approach at conservation of power. It is not going to be celebrated by any group but those who are already rich, strong and privileged. Zionists can boast all these qualities, as well as possessing the necessary power and military might to maintain their ‘right to self-determination’. However, given the reality on the ground, instead of demanding some rhetorical rights, we should fight for the Palestinian and Arab right to rebel against the Jewish State and against global Zionist imperialism. Instead of wasting our time on rhetorical fantasies and academic exchange, we better expose Jewish tribal politics and praxis. To support Palestine is to be courageous enough to say what we think and to admit what we see.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Zionists walked into a well-known center for left activists in Boston this week and managed, with a single complaint, to take away an already agreed-upon meeting space for an April conference on Palestine organized by the New England Committee to Defend Palestine. Around March 9, the local branch of a national group called the Jewish Labor Committee told the director of Encuentro 5 and the landlord of the building that houses Encuentro that the New England Committee to Defend Palestine is a "hate group" and demanded that it not be allowed to hold the conference in Encuentro' threats.
Beneath the facts of the case lie a number of ironies:
* Attacks like this are exactly the subject of the disputed conference. The purpose of the conference, whose title is "Zionism and the Repression of Anti-Colonial Movements," is to expose attacks on activists as they have been carried out historically by zionist forces. Activists scheduled to speak have been involved in the Native American struggle against European genocide on the North American continent, the Black liberation struggle in the US from slavery onward, the struggle against US imperialism in Central America, the movement against apartheid in South Africa, the struggle against US imperialism and genocide in Iraq, and the struggle against US-Israeli genocide in Palestine.
* Encuentro bills itself as "a space for progressive movement building" in Boston (http://www.encuentro5.org/ ).
Massachusetts Global Action -- the organization that runs Encuentro--argued the need for a "tactical retreat" and offered us $400 and help finding another venue if we would consent to leave. We told them that this would undermine the meaning of our conference, their own work, and the movement as a whole. Our suggestion to Encuentro was to take this matter to the activist community -- to the people who use the space -- to tell them what was taking place and invite them to help organize a struggle to defend the integrity of our collective work.
Zionist organizations like the JLC have more material and political power than perhaps at any time in the past. But this power is increasingly hollow, since it must increasingly assert itself by shutting down a discussion about that power--a discussion that is growing and moving into the mainstream. The JLC did not succeed by persuading Encuentro 5, but by threatening them through the building's owners. These are clearly threats that they have the power to carry out--a fact that proves what critics of zionism are saying.
But this also demonstrates that while they have more material power than ever before, they have less ideological support than ever before. The legitimacy of the zionist project--the passive consent given to US support for "Israel"--is collapsing. That collapse must come before the serious fight over material power--a fight that is coming.
We are disappointed that Encuentro 5 and Mass Global Action decided that it was not strategic for them to challenge this abuse of power now. We know that the repercussions might well have been severe, and recognize that this would affect a great deal of effort and work that has gone into building their organization. We offer the following as a challenge--not so much to them, but to the movement as a whole, since finally the question is not about any of our specific, struggling organizations:
Can we build a movement against imperialism, or against social injustice in the United States, if the limits of our discussion can be set by organizations like the JLC--organizations that are committed to ensuring that billions of dollars in US military and economic support are given yearly to one of the most militarized colonial states in the world?
There is widespread discontent with zionist power. This discontent will not turn itself into a meaningful response until it becomes organized around specific battles. This can only take place if at some point people are willing say "it stops here."
* "Progressives" are not progressive. The "progressives" are the Jewish Labor Committee, which calls itself "the Jewish voice in the labor movement." The JLC did not come in from the outside but actually has an office in Encuentro's own space. The Jewish Labor Committee's web site http://www.jewishlabor.org/ shows its president, Stuart Applebaum, standing proudly with war criminal Shimon Peres in February in Jerusalem. The JLC has put out a statement condemning the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against "Israel." The JLC statement asserts that Israelis, who have brutally occupied Palestine for 60 years, carrying out a program of genocide ever since, should not be seen as "victimizers."
The progressives are UNITE-HERE, the brave union for oppressed garment and hotel workers, which acted in this fiasco as a landlord bully threatening to kick out tenants for political speech.
The progressives are leftists who support resistance in Palestine, but not resistance that uses measures of a kind used by its enemy -- namely, armed struggle. The leadership of the resistance in Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan today is Islamic. Progressives in the US support secular political movements, so they don't support the people who are actually carrying out the resistance in these countries which the US and "Israel" are busy devastating. Support for resistance by oppressed people should be given without qualification.
* The criminal has accused his victim of the crime. The real hate groups are those who support genocide in Palestine. The Boston Jewish Labor Committee's accusation that the conference organizers are a "hate group" comes right out of the manual of the Anti-Defamation League which has gone to great pains to define political speech and action as good or bad in terms favorable to the zionist project. The ADL is a "progressive" organization -- it seems to be for the right thing, except when it comes to criticism of "Israel." Criticism of "Israel" is anti-Semitism -- that's hate speech, that's against the law. The ADL was part of a recent attack on a mosque being built in Boston. It was exposed for lobbying Congress against a bill that condemns the Armenian genocide. During the late '70's and early '80's, it spied on organizations in the U.S. that supported the struggle against white supremacist apartheid in South Africa. This do-good "no place for hate" organization is actually a front group for a racist foreign power.
The limits of political speech on the left are now being defined by the very organizations who say they're working for the good. There is no open debate. The idea is to simply prevent political speech. Why is support for a nasty racist state in occupied Palestine driving so much of US and international politics? And the question goes beyond Palestine, since these same organizations have the power to set limits on the discussion of "social justice" and racism here inside the US. This includes a history of demonizing black nationalists like Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, and the Black Panthers as "anti-Semites." In many cases people's careers have been ruined and their reputations smeared by forces who never came out in the open. Joseph Massad, Tony Martin, Ward Churchill, and most recently Catherine Wilkerson, are examples. Ward Churchill will be among the speakers at the conference.
The New England Committee to Defend Palestine assures all those who have been invited to and registered for the April 12 and 13 conference that we have secured another venue and will be announcing it soon. We couldn't have provided a better example of zionist interference in anti-imperialist activism than the one that just happened here. We have great speakers coming from many different movements. We hope that supporters of the struggle in Palestine, and all those who recognize the need to build a truly independent opposition to oppression inside the US, will join us for this event.
New England Committee to Defend Palestine http://www.onepalestine.org
On the 60th Anniversary of the Nakba
the New England Committee to Defend Palestine presents
Struggle for the Land:
Zionism and the Repression of Anti-Colonial Movements
An Education and Strategy Conference
Saturday, April 12 to Sunday, April 13
Location to be announced.
Suggested Donation: $15
Confirmed speakers include:
Amer Jubran, Palestinian activist and former political detainee
Saja Raoof, Iraqi anti-war activist
Kali Akuno, Executive Director of the People's Hurricane Relief Fund in New Orleans and Malcolm X Grassroots Movement National Organizer
Marta Rodriguez, Puerto Rican independence activist and member of the NECDP
Ward Churchill, American Indian Movement activist and author
Dara Bayer, Palestine solidarity activist
Jihad Abdul-Mumit, former Black Liberation Army political prisoner
Nada Elia, Palestinian activist, and member of the INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence national collective
Jeffrey Blankfort, anti-Zionist journalist and activist, co-plaintiff in a lawsuitagainst the ADL for spying on left organizations
as well as
Photography Exhibition from Gaza
Palestinian political artwork, and art by Brazilian Artist Carlos Latuff
This year commemorates the sixtieth anniversary of the Nakba (Arabic for 'catastrophe') in Palestine. While this past January saw an escalation of the already brutal strangulation of Gaza, as well as continued colonization throughout historic Palestine, Palestinians have continued to resist in all of their historic land. In Gaza, under starvation conditions, Palestinians broke the siege by destroying the wall at Rafah crossing and continue to defend their land through armed resistance against settlers.
In spite of a wider public awareness of the brutal policies of colonial settlement in Palestine, the "United States" continues to provide the main economic, political and military aid to the Zionist settler colony. While every major presidential candidate pledges undying support for "Israel," there is a growing public discussion about the role of Zionism in the "US" political system, and especially of its relationship to the war in Iraq.
Zionism has played a role not only in defining "foreign policy," but also in the suppression of anti-colonial movements here-not least of all, because these movements have recognized the Palestinian struggle as part of a common global struggle against colonialism. In order to suppress the emergence of a serious pro-Palestinian bloc of oppositional power, Zionists have attacked genuine leaders and organizations, while at the same time cultivating less radical alternatives.The combination of "Israeli" political ties to imperialist policies abroad and Zionist opposition to anti-colonial liberation movements here, has led to a repressive collaboration between Zionist political organizations, "Israeli" and "US" police and intelligence forces, mercenaries, and corporations in the private "security" sector.Confronting Zionism is crucial to any movement forward against militarism and internal oppression.Bringing together representatives of several movements, our conference will focus on two themes: Zionist disruption of anti-colonial movements and land as the basis of struggle and solidarity.
For more information and to pre-register, go to www.onepalestine.org Co-sponsored by Jericho Boston http://www.jerichoboston.org
NECDPPO Box 681East Boston, MA 02128
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Dealing with Death and Destruction: in Southern Lebanon and in Beirut
(in the photo, Salam Daher and one of the victims of the Qana Massacre)
Salam Daher has been a relief worker in Southern Lebanon since 1985, practically his entire adult life. He has seen his share of misery and catastrophe, but nothing prepared him to face what the Israeli acts of war would force him to witness. Mr Daher is an attractive and rugged man who exudes a sense of humility and strength, exactly the qualities that are required for one who has to remain “grounded” in order to respond to the wounded in the best way. Himself a victim of the war, hospitalised for 55 days and still undergoing rehabilitation treatment, he is a living example of the motto of the Lebanese Red Cross, “Sacrifice without limits”. “No matter what it might bring to us,” he said, “we have to be ready to sacrifice ourselves, whatever the price.”
In the Bruxelles Tribunal, he presented a testimony of a number of events that he was involved in. All of them show an extreme gravity in the kind of situations that the citizens and the rescue crews were dealing with. Listening to the testimony, I could not help but think of the urgency and the shock, but also of the stress of knowing that the lives of other people depend on one’s competence in extreme situations. So many of the events were things that are not considered to be acceptable even according to rules of war. One of the first events he mentioned was the killing of Layal Najib, a photojournalist murdered by Israeli bombs on the road between Siddiqine and Qana. Her vehicle was clearly marked as carrying a journalist, but this did not spare her life.
In the photos, the young photojournalist, with all her life before her, and after the Israelis decided she's lived long enough.
In another day, at the start of the war, he was attempting to ask UNIFIL to allow a group of people to leave the area and seek refuge in presumably safer zones. Mr. Daher recounts that while he was on the phone with UNIFIL authorities, asking how to proceed in rescuing those who were arriving to the Red Cross after having been the survivors of a previous attack, their convoy was bombed. He surmised that the idea behind this might be to leave no witnesses of the first attack.
On another occasion, the UN was aware that a building was going to be bombed. They hastily departed, leaving the Lebanese people to their own devices. At the Marwaheen Massacre, when a convoy of civilians were refused shelter by the French UN forces in the area and were subsequently bombed. (In the photo, some of the vitims of the bombing from F16 fighter planes.) All of this, the International Red Cross were aware of, but they themselves provided no instruments and were not allowed to intervene. They permitted one ambulance and one escort per day in specific areas. Yet, only one patient could be rescued, and the bombings always had multiple victims and seriously wounded. When an ambulance was provided, the coordination was such that a 48 hour time period passed between the moment permission was given and the moment of the rescue action.
“There was a deliberate aim to obstruct relief actions. They wanted to oblige people in the areas of bombardment to leave, but then, Israel wanted to bring about as much damage and death as it could in order to undermine the resistance. It was deliberate. I say this because even after permission was given, and it had to be coordinated with UNIFIL and the Israeli authorities, the areas and roads were bombed.”
One of the lawyers asked if a formal complaint was made to the ICRC. “No, we did not follow up after the war. If you complain, you get nothing. We are used to it and besides, our objective was the people, rescuing the people, and the people know it.” While it might seem odd to some that a rescue worker would give a political motivation to the events, in the situation of the Israeli war against Lebanon, the question “why?” was always in the forefront.
“Why?” was one of the questions the world asked following the Qana massacre, where two extended families were exterminated. Mr Daher was there, and the horror of seeing civilians, especially infants, killed in such a way left an indelible sign. In fact, there are a few very strange Zionist blogs that attempted to accuse the Qana massacre of being staged, and indeed, they pointed out that Mr Daher was in various rescue missions in the South, therefore, he must be some kind of propaganda tool. What seems very interesting to note, when faced with the reactions of the world public to the massacre of Qana, Israel’s Foreign Affairs Minister Dan Gillerman replied at a pro-Israel rally in New York, “To those countries who claim that we are using disproportionate force, I have only this to say: You're damn right we are.” It is evident that Israel knew what they were doing, so why would they think others would be oblivious to it, especially those who were in the zone responding to the calls for ambulances and paramedics? Furthermore, it is not unreasonable that rescue workers go from one town to another. My husband is a volunteer for the Red Cross and they make themselves available for very considerable amounts of territory, if the need arises.
Another witness who gave a testimony at Bruxelles was Dr. Hayder Decmak, a Beirut physician. “It was 33 days of total medical emergency,” he stated. “Five hospitals were bombed. The Israeli Air Force acted to stop the Hospitals from working. Seventy-seven percent of the people who came to be treated and should have had hospital stays could not find shelter. Israel was monitoring everything and they gave their Air Force permission to hit hospitals. But it did not stop there, as we know. Many of the patients who came to us were bombed while on the road. The Air Force had the permission, or they were ordered, to hit anything that moved.”
When asked about the personnel to treat the wounded he replied, “We tried to do all we could, but conditions were dramatic. During the war we could not even depend on the international organisations that should have been there for us because they were never given any security cover and therefore could not move effectively enough. I must say that we saw few humanitarian workers, especially in the south and in Southern Beirut.”
He described the dramatic situation also in other terms, “There was a constant sound of destruction, which caused great psychological stress and in many cases, permanent trauma. Part of the dramatic nature was the fact that there was no way to escape. People could flee, in theory, if they had someplace to go, people living in faraway places, but there was also the prohibition of travel and enormous damage to infrastructure, making the seeking of refuge impossible even for those who might have this as an option. Everyone was a target, to be quite clear. Even the Lebanese Red Cross was targeted. There was a particularly grave incident in the north, near the Syrian border, where many were fleeing, in which men were murdered by Israeli bombs. They were clearly targeted and killed.” One of the judges asked if they were members of the militia. “No, they were distributing bread to those on the road.”
When asked about the aftermath, the Doctor concluded in this way, “A serious matter was the fact of not knowing the whereabouts of people’s loved ones. Everyone was aware that someone they loved, family members, could be dead, but it was also true that many found out about it only days and weeks after the fact and this prolonged and deepened the suffering. It is something that normally would destroy a society, this kind of tension, but in fact, it did the opposite. The Lebanese did not turn against one another, and in spite of the problems that our country faces, our civil society, together with the NGOs, will do what it can. Together, we take responsibility to see that there is justice for our people.