American academics stand up to be counted


Joining a growing list of people who are protesting the Israeli genocide in Gaza, American members of academe have come out to call for a cultural boycott of Israel, with five goals it wants to achieve.

“Refraining from participation in any form of academic and cultural cooperation, collaboration or joint projects with Israeli institutions that do not vocally oppose Israeli state policies against Palestine,” “promoting divestment and disinvestment from Israel by international academic institutions,” and “supporting Palestinian academic and cultural institutions directly without requiring them to partner with Israeli counterparts as an explicit or implicit condition for such support.”

The group’s press release continues,

“We believe that non-violent external pressure on Israel, in the form of an academic, cultural and economic boycott of Israel, can help bring an end to the ongoing massacres of civilians and an end [to] the occupation of Gaza and Palestine” — with “Palestine” referring to the West Bank land occupied by Israel since the 1967 war

explained David Lloyd, a professor of English at the University of Southern California.  I am glad to see Americans joining in the initiative and I note that they very clearly say they are interested ina  non-violent form of protestation, not something that is designed literally to exterminate the Jewish state.  What this boycott is asking for is a modification of Israeli behavior that will ensure its existence as well as that of its neighbors, the Palestinians.  It is NOT a zero sum game but you can expect the Israelis will portray it that way.

My heroes of the day


I want to congratulate two men who took a principled  stand at the risk of their careers and even their lives when you look at who they are and what they represent, to categorically denounce positions taken that were detrimental to the people suffering in Gaza.

Tayyip Erdogan, whose country Turkey is trying to get admitted into the European Union as well as NATO probably jeopardized those chances when he made an impassioned plea at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland against the Israeli aggression and genocide in Gaza.  He criticised the audience of international officials and corporate chiefs for applauding Peres’s emotional defence of Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza, which left more than 1,300 Palestinians dead. Not sparing any measure, Erdogan said what needs to be said to an Israel that seems to think it is above reproach.  You can view his comments, translated into English, here

Imagine all the things in store for Turkey now that he, its prime minister, did what he did?  Threats will be made against the country’s application to the world bodies it wants to enter, as well as against Erdogan himself and the usual cries of anti-semitism will come from every corner of the world, but the substance of his remarks, that Israel engaged in wholesale slaughter of a population, much like that which occured between Turkey and Armenia which will be thrown in Erdogan’s face, will be ignored.  Nevertheless, kudos for Tayyip Erdogan for being principled.

My other hero is Mohammad Baredei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), who said a BBC decision not to air an aid appeal for victims in Gaza violates the rules of basic human decency which are there to help vulnerable people, irrespective of who is right or wrong.  The BBC said it wasn’t airing the appeal because, now hold on to your seats, it would get in the way of their objectivity in covering the events in Gaza.  Several other channels in England aired the appeal, but the BBC and SkyNews, owned by James Murdoch, son of Rupert Murdoch, *ahem* refused to do so.  As a result Baradei has cancelled planned interviews with the BBC, without mentioning how long such a boycott would last.  Kudos to him as well.  He too chose principle over political expediency, taking a position in light of today’s news which is necessary to stem the Israeli juggernaut that refuses to accept any criticism or consequences of and for its actions.   Here is the highly milquetoast ad the BBC refused to air.

We are not talking about the destruction of Israel


ghaziand with that simple declaration by Ghazi Hamad, peace between Israelis and Palestinians should be close at hand, right? Wait, there’s more.

Senior officials in the Islamic group Hamas are indicating a willingness to negotiate a long-term truce with Israel as long as the borders of Gaza are opened to the rest of the world.

“We want to be part of the international community,” Hamas leader Ghazi Hamad told The Associated Press at the Gaza-Egypt border, where he was coordinating Arab aid shipments. “I think Hamas has no interest now to increase the number of crises in Gaza or to challenge the world.”

*snip*

“A dialogue with Hamas as a terror organization would be a strategic mistake, because Israel advocates dialogue with the moderates and displaying toughness against the extremists,” Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told the Maariv daily this week.

Israel’s position is based on the fact that Hamas refuses to recognize its right to exist. However, the three Hamas leaders interviewed said they would accept statehood in just the West Bank and Gaza and would give up their “resistance” against Israel if that were achieved.

“We accept a state in the ’67 borders,” said Hamad. “We are not talking about the destruction of Israel.”

How long will it take to derail this show of goodwill from Hamas?  What kind of conditions will be placed on them that would not be worthy of consideration by any nationalist movement, forcing them to reject the idea of peace with their implacable opponent, Israel?  At first glance this should signal the end of all hostilities between the two parties, but in reality, this is only the beginning.

America’s Iran jones


What is it with US policy makers that they have to go off and antagonize Iran at every chance they get, even when it’s not necessary?  Two threads have appeared in news stories today centered around Iran with this trend as if to anticipate and undermine what Obama is going to say in a letter he’s putting together to send to that country’s leaders.

Before getting onto those two themes, let me say I’ve always been distressed at how government has this seamy undercurrent that works to under cut what official Washington is doing, and both the official and unofficial seem to like the give and take in this relationship of setting, revising, ignoring, cancelling policy.  It would seem to me once you get  your marching orders from the CiC you take them and run with them, not go off and rub his nose in them with your own pronouncements, but that’s what it seems Robert Gates, Defense Secretary has done.

When U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates accused Iran of “subversive activity” in Latin America Tuesday, it raised the question whether he is trying to discourage President Barack Obama from abandoning the hard-line policy of coercive diplomacy toward Iran he has favored for nearly three decades.

In his Senate armed services committee testimony Tuesday, Gates said Iran was “opening a lot of offices and a lot of fronts behind which they interfere in what is going on.” Gates offered no further explanation for what sounded like a Cold War-era propaganda charge against the Soviet Union.

Gates has made no secret of his skepticism about any softening of U.S. policy toward Iran. In response to a question at the National Defense University last September on how he would advise the next president to improve relations with Iran, Gates implicitly rejected what he called “outreach” to Iran as useless.

Gates’ 1992 sabotage of the Bush plan for reciprocating Iran goodwill relied in part on making public charges against Iran that created a more unfavorable political climate in Washington for such a policy.

It will be interesting to see what Obama’s reaction to all this political posturing Gates is making so early in the Administration’s efforts towards rapprochement with Iran. We will  be able to take measure of Obama depending on his response; if he lets Gates continue with his “subversive” activity he can be viewed as a weak President undeserving of a second term, the nation’s trust, or respect of his “underlings”.  If he kicks Gates out so soon after asking him to stay on as Defense Secretary he’ll find himself facing criticism for not being a stable administrator or able to hold his people in check, preferring to give in to his impetuous side and getting rid of them whimsically.  The perfect damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

The second salvo against Obama comes from of all places the Likud party’s boisterous and wrong Benjamin Netanyahu who says the Iranian nuclear weapons are more a problem than the global economy.  Netanyahu is great for hyperbole, probably something he picked up as a result of his public school education in Cheltenham, Pa. back in the day.  This we expect from Bibi who likes to somehow challenge the masculinity of America’s leaders by questioning their ability to take on his enemies for his benefit.  Using his typical adroit slight of foot maneuvers he turns everything that has to deal with anything into Iranian nukes.

Asked about achieving peace in Gaza, Netanyahu swiftly turned his answer to Iran, which he said is in a “100-yard dash” to get nuclear weapons.

*snip*

“We have had two wars with two Iranian proxies in two years and Persia has now two bases on the eastern Mediterranean,” said Netanyahu, referring to this month’s brutal fighting in Gaza against Hamas and Israel’s 2006 war with Hezbollah in Lebanon.

“I think we are going to have to deal with neutralizing the power of the mother regime,” he said. “The Hamas stronghold would be about as important, if Iranian power was neutralized, as Cuba was when the Soviet Union became irrelevant.”

What Netanyahu doesn’t tell you about his metaphor  is while the Soviet Union became irrelevant because American ideas triumphed a military dictatorship without the US having to fire a single shot at the Soviet Union, Iran’s leadership and in fact all of that country has to be laid to waste militarily, according to the Netanyahu school of thought in order for his enemies, Hamas and Hezbollah, to become irrelevant. Typical.  In any event, this kind of bluster is to be expected from this quarter, and Obama would do well to ignore it and press on with his agenda, not that of an intractable and petulant “ally”.  Unfortunately, he can’t so easily dismiss Netanyahu, and if Gates continues with his own agenda as well, it might be even more difficult.  Bush may be gone, but the neocons are still lurking and haven’t given up hope of re-establishing themselves in policy making  positions or of somehow influencing policy.

Like shooting fish in a barrell and other analogies


The Israelis are continuing to pound the defenseless population of Gaza and there’s little hope that will stop short of any international intervention.  The reasons for the continued attacks are the operation that left one Israeli soldier dead earlier this week, when a mine or IED went off killing him and wounding others.  It’s significant to point out that Hamas did NOT claim responsibility for this breach of the truce, but that wasn’t enough to stop the Israelis from keeping the borders closed and bombing southern Gaza for this latest breach.  Moreover another added benefit of this return to hostilities is Israel gets to implore the mantra of being a victim and or self righteous indignation at those who question their retaliation in order to  keep headlines such as these off the main pages of newspapers.

The Israeli military failed to meet its obligation under international humanitarian law to care for and evacuate the wounded. The rescue team found four small children next to their dead mothers in one of the houses. They were too weak to stand up on their own. One man was also found alive, too weak to stand up. In all there were at least 12 corpses lying on mattresses.

However, all that is not enough to obscure the reality of what Israel has done and is now doing.  In a very well written essay by Norman Finkelstein entitled, Foiling Another Palestinian “Peace Initiative”,  the reasons and motivations for the continuing violence against the Palestinians is laid out in rather stark detail with quite alot of foresight into what is driving the Israelis.

The fundamental motives behind the latest Israeli attack on Gaza lie elsewhere: (1) in the need to restore Israel’s “deterrence capacity,” and (2) in the threat posed by a new Palestinian “peace offensive.”

Israel’s “larger concern” in the current offensive, New York Times Middle East correspondent Ethan Bronner reported, quoting Israeli sources, was to “re-establish Israeli deterrence,” because “its enemies are less afraid of it than they once were, or should be.”

As Israel targeted schools, mosques, hospitals, ambulances, and U.N. sanctuaries, as it slaughtered and incinerated Gaza’s defenseless civilian population (one-third of the 1,200 reported casualties were children), Israeli commentators gloated that “Gaza is to Lebanon as the second sitting for an exam is to the first—a second chance to get it right,” and that this time around Israel had “hurled [Gaza] back,” not 20 years as it promised to do in Lebanon, but “into the 1940s.

Electricity is available only for a few hours a day”; that “Israel regained its deterrence capabilities” because “the war in Gaza has compensated for the shortcomings of the [2006] Second Lebanon War”; and that “There is no doubt that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is upset these days….There will no longer be anyone in the Arab world who can claim that Israel is weak.”

The justification put forth… in the pages of the Times for targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure amounted to apologetics for state terrorism. It might be recalled that although Hitler had stripped Nazi propagandist Julius Streicher of all his political power by 1940, and his newspaper Der St?rmer had a circulation of only some 15,000 during the war, the International Tribunal at Nuremberg nonetheless sentenced him to death for his murderous incitement.

Beyond restoring its deterrence capacity, Israel’s main goal in the Gaza slaughter was to fend off the latest threat posed by Palestinian moderation.  For the past three decades the international community has consistently supported a settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict that calls for two states based on a full Israeli withdrawal to its June 1967 border, and a “just resolution” of the refugee question based on the right of return and compensation.  The vote on the annual U.N. General Assembly resolution, “Peaceful Settlement of the Question of Palestine,” supporting these terms for resolving the conflict in 2008 was 164 in favor, 7 against (Israel, United States, Australia, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau), and 3 abstentions.  At the regional level the Arab League in March 2002 unanimously put forth a peace initiative on this basis, which it has subsequently reaffirmed.

Hamas was “careful to maintain the ceasefire” it entered into with Israel in June 2008, according to an official Israeli publication, despite Israel’s reneging on the crucial component of the truce that it ease the economic siege of Gaza.  “The lull was sporadically violated by rocket and mortar shell fire, carried out by rogue terrorist organizations,” the source continues. “At the same time, the [Hamas] movement tried to enforce the terms of the arrangement on the other terrorist organizations and to prevent them from violating it.” Moreover, Hamas was “interested in renewing the relative calm with Israel” (Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin).

The Islamic movement could thus be trusted to stand by its word, making it a credible negotiating partner, while its apparent ability to extract concessions from Israel, unlike the hapless Palestinian Authority doing Israel’s bidding but getting no returns, enhanced Hamas’s stature among Palestinians.  For Israel these developments constituted a veritable disaster. It could no longer justify shunning Hamas, and it would be only a matter of time before international pressure in particular from the Europeans would be exerted on it to negotiate. The prospect of an incoming U.S. administration negotiating with Iran and Hamas, and moving closer to the international consensus for settling the Israel-Palestine conflict, which some U.S. policymakers now advocate, would have further highlighted Israel’s intransigence.  In an alternative scenario, speculated on by Nasrallah, the incoming American administration plans to convene an international peace conference of “Americans, Israelis, Europeans and so-called Arab moderates” to impose a settlement.  The one obstacle is “Palestinian resistance and the Hamas government in Gaza,” and “getting rid of this stumbling block is…the true goal of the war.”

In either case, Israel needed to provoke Hamas into breaking the truce, and then radicalize or destroy it, thereby eliminating it as a legitimate negotiating partner.  It is not the first time Israel confronted such a diabolical threat—an Arab League peace initiative, Palestinian support for a two-state settlement and a Palestinian ceasefire—and not the first time it embarked on provocation and war to overcome it.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni stated in early December 2008 that although Israel wanted to create a temporary period of calm with Hamas, an extended truce “harms the Israeli strategic goal, empowers Hamas, and gives the impression that Israel recognizes the movement.” Translation: a protracted ceasefire that enhanced Hamas’s credibility would have undermined Israel’s strategic goal of retaining control of the West Bank.  As far back as March 2007 Israel had decided on attacking Hamas, and only negotiated the June truce because “the Israeli army needed time to prepare.” Once all the pieces were in place, Israel only lacked a pretext.  On 4 November, while the American media were riveted on election day, Israel broke the ceasefire by killing seven Palestinian militants, on the flimsy excuse that Hamas was digging a tunnel to abduct Israeli soldiers, and knowing full well that its operation would provoke Hamas into hitting back. “Last week’s ‘ticking tunnel,’ dug ostensibly to facilitate the abduction of Israeli soldiers,” Haaretz reported in mid-November was not a clear and present danger: Its existence was always known and its use could have been prevented on the Israeli side, or at least the soldiers stationed beside it removed from harm’s way.  It is impossible to claim that those who decided to blow up the tunnel were simply being thoughtless.  The military establishment was aware of the immediate implications of the measure, as well as of the fact that the policy of “controlled entry” into a narrow area of the Strip leads to the same place: an end to the lull.  That is policy—not a tactical decision by a commander on the ground.

After Hamas predictably resumed its rocket attacks “[i]n retaliation” (Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center), Israel could embark on yet another murderous invasion in order to foil yet another Palestinian peace offensive.

The historical context of this conflict is illuminating; that Israel repeatedly has foiled every attempt at peace with its neighbors the Palestinians is clear today, despite the elaborate claims and provocations to the contrary.  It’s for this reason I have chided the present Obama administration by saying this handwriting is on the wall; unless a strong Western government says to the Israelis it won’t fall for or accept their spin in the face of repeated attempts by the Palestinians towards peace  Israel must face being outed for the pariah it really is…if such an unequivocal statement isn’t made, Israeli genocide and atrocities against the Palestinians will continue and even escalate.  The present escalation of the conflict is a clear example.

Backbiting in Islam and on the web


I came across a thread  on several blogs that disturbed me somewhat and I responded.  At the risk of being vague, and it’s done intentionally, I will not identify the blogs because it would defeat the purpose of this post about backbiting.

I noticed a lot of bloggers, Muslim and non Muslim alike seem to delight in using terms and expressions that are meant to hurt and verbally defeat a perceived opponent.  Muslim bloggers have clear injunctions in their deen,or way of life, that this type of behavior is not acceptable. There is no doubt what is considered backbiting in Islam; the words of the Last Messenger of God are quite clear and succinct:

‘Do you know what backbiting is?’ They replied, ‘Allah and His Messenger know best’. He said, ‘It is saying something about your brother which he would dislike’. Someone asked, ‘What if I say something about my brother which is true?’ The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) replied, ‘If what you say of him is true, it is backbiting and if it is not true you have slandered him.’

The implication of the above is clear: backbiting is defined by the object of the statements, not by the one uttering them.  That is to say if one doesn’t like what is being said about one’s self, then what is said is considered backbiting, a most grievous sin.

O you who believe! Shun suspicion; for lo! some suspicion is a crime. And spy not, neither backbite one another. Would one of you love to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would abhor that. And keep your duty (to God). Lo! God is Relenting, Merciful.

It would seem the above are enough to keep the level of discussion from falling  into backbiting, the likes you can find available on the ‘net these days. Regrettably it isn’t.  The notion of discussing  ideas and not personalities is one that will be strictly adhered to here on the pages of Miscellany101.  If I have somehow not followed the guidelines of backbiting that were clearly enunciated in the voluminous pages of prophetic tradition and the clear verses of Quran Kareem, I apologize and promise to do better.  I will hold comments made to Miscellany101 to the standard that don’t allow for backbiting so don’t go there, here.  As long as comments are in English and not abusive or profane they will end up here.



Quote of the day


We possess several hundred atomic warheads and rockets and can launch them at targets in all directions, perhaps even at Rome. Most European capitals are targets for our air force.

Our armed forces, however, are not the thirtieth strongest in the world, but rather the second or third. We have the capability to take the world down with us. And I can assure you that that will happen before Israel goes under.

Martin van Creveld – professor of military history – Hebrew University in Jerusalem

Nothing more indicates the suicidal nature of the Israeli zionist government and their complete disregard for international law and opinion than this obscure quote by a rather mainstream Israeli historian. It also explains both the reason for Israeli actions in the occupied territories and the silence of the world community towards them.  It lays to rest the notion that Israel is a client state of the US and instead confidently asserts the premise that America, along with most other western powers is a client state of Israel and can be threatened to pursue the Israeli program with military force or retaliation at the slightest hesitation on their part.  It’s an indication of the brazeness of that supposition that von Creveld make this statement to a western audience without any reservation or reluctance.

From the ‘more things change the more they remain the same’ department


We’ve seen how the Israelis have deployed almost every kind of munition against the Palestinians of Gaza, short of a nuclear bomb.  Genotoxic, chemical, and now flechette rounds have been chronicled used against civilians in Gaza.

Flechettes are 4cm long metal darts that are sharply pointed at the front, with four fins at the rear. Between 5,000 and 8,000 are packed into 120mm shells which are generally fired from tanks. The shells explode in the air and scatter the flechettes in a conical pattern over an area about 300m wide and 100m long.

An anti-personnel weapon designed to penetrate dense vegetation, flechettes should never be used in built-up civilian areas. The Israeli army has used them in Gaza periodically for several years. In most cases their use has resulted in civilians being killed or injured.

Amnesty International’s fact-finding team in Gaza first heard about the use of flechettes in the most recent conflict some ten days ago. The father of one of the victims showed the team a flechette which had been taken out of his son’s body.

In its latest post on Amnesty International’s Livewire blog, the team described how on Monday it visited towns and villages around Gaza and found more hard evidence of the use of flechettes.

I’ve ceased being indignant about Israeli atrocity, they are simply too many and the international community seems unwilling to hold Israelis accountable for them.  Flechette rounds were more egregiously mentioned and documented  in the death of the Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana who photographed his own death at the hand of that munition.  The video below clearly depicts the effectiveness of the round.

As is customary with Israeli atrocities exposed, the investigation into this young man’s death exonerated the tank crew and business returned to usual on the part of Reuters, who by the way along with other media, was barred from entering Gaza during the latest Israeli incursion. The revelation of this latest use of flechettes will be equally ignored by the Israelis and forgotten by the international community until the next offense is recorded by a complacent and indifferent media.  What needs to happen, if it hasn’t happened already, is each offense documented should be taken before the International Court and charges of crimes against humanity be lodged against Israel until there is a sufficient body of evidence before a world body which will then pursue charges against Israeli leadership and cite the Israeli government as the pariah it has become.  Short of that, Amnesty International’s mention of such crimes in and of itself  is meaningless and only fodder for bloggers’ cannons.

Quote of the day


Over the last four weeks the powerful Israeli propaganda machine has been churning out lie after lie about Hamas in order to excuse its own inexcusable onslaught. Israel stopped journalists going into Gaza, preventing any independent reporting on the war crimes its forces were committing. Truth is usually the first casualty in war. Gaza was not even a war in the conventional sense of the word; it was one-sided carnage.

Hamas is the democratically elected government of the Palestinian people, not the corrupt regime led by Mahmoud Abbas. Second, Hamas spokesmen have repeatedly declared their readiness for a long-term ceasefire. Khalid Mish’al recently did so on these pages (Comment, 6 January). Third, Hamas has a solid record of observing ceasefires, while Israel has a consistent record of sabotaging them. Fourth, even during the ceasefire Israel did not lift its economic blockade of the 1.5 million inhabitants of Gaza, a form of collective punishment forbidden by international law. Fifth, the offensive unleashed in Gaza was illegal, immoral and unnecessary. If all Israel wanted was to stop rocket attacks from Gaza, all it had to do was to observe the ceasefire brokered by Egypt in June 2008.
Professor Avi Shlaim
Oxford

Cynthia Mckinney is mad as hell and isn’t gonna’ take it anymore!


Another voice of conscience speaking out against the inhumanity taking place in Gaza.  Of course, such people as McKinney are considered on the fringe and not worthy of consideration so it comes as no surprise her side of the story hasn’t appeared in any major media, but the episode she mentions in the above speech can be found here.

Mr. President, listen up!


I salute all people of good conscience and courage. The author of this video, apparently an Israeli woman, is right up there among them.

No comment


APTOPIX MIDEAST ISRAEL PALESTINIANS

The Horror!


I’ve been watching and reading some pretty spectacularly horrific stories of how the Israelis treated the Palestinians of Gaza and ask myself we want to be allied with this kind of (in)human behavior?

The Israeli soldiers came to their house at about 5.30am, after the house had been shelled for 15 hours, and immediately opened fire on the family, killing Amer’s father with three shots. Then they told the family to leave. Amer had called an ambulance (which had to turn back after being shot at) and was refusing to leave his father’s body but the soldiers said they would shoot him if he stayed, so they fled 300 yards up the dirt track behind their house, at which point they were shot at again by another group of soldiers. This time Amer’s brother Abdullah was shot, Amer and Shireen’s 6 year old daughter Saja was shot in the arm, and their 1 year old daughter Farah was shot in the stomach. They spent the next 14 hours sheltering behind a small hill of dirt, while the wounded bled, and were not allowed to access help though the soldiers were aware of the injuries. Having no other way to comfort her small daughter, whose intestines were falling out, Shireen breastfed Farah as the little girl slowly bled to death.

After 14 hours, at about 8 in the evening, the soldiers sent dogs to chase them out of their shelter and dropped phosphorous bombs near them, but due to the wounded family members and having bare feet in an area of broken glass and rubble, escape was difficult. The army took the three wounded and put them behind the tanks, and captured Amer, but the rest of the family managed to get away and call the Red Crescent. The ambulance that eventually reached the injured people 7 hours later (driven by my medic friend S) took an hour to find them, and by this time Farah was dead.

(Hat tip to TellsToTale) But I was jolted back to reality upon reading this headline on one of the wire services. Rabbi told Israeli troops ‘to show no mercy’ in Gaza

Yesh Din said it had written to both Defence Minister Ehud Barak and Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, urging them to “take this incitement seriously and fire Chief Military Rabbi” Brigadier General Avi Ronzki.

It said a pamphlet distributed to soldiers taking part in Operation Cast Lead stressed that the troops should show no mercy to their enemies, and that the pamphlet borders “on incitement and racism against the Palestinian people.”

“When you show mercy to a cruel enemy you are being cruel to pure and honest soldiers. These are not games at the amusement park where sportsmanship teaches one to make concessions. This is a war on murderers,” Yesh Din quoted the pamphlet as saying.

It said the pamphlet quotes at length statements by Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, a spiritual leader of the Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank who opposes any compromise with Palestinians.

“The Palestinians claim they deserve a state here, when in reality there was never a Palestinian or Arab state within the borders of our country,” the pamphlet quoted Aviner as saying.

The rights group said the pamphlet contains “degrading and belittling messages that border on incitement and racism against the Palestinian people. These messages can be interpreted as a call to act outside of the confines of international laws of war.”

The Haaretz newspaper reported on Monday that far right-wing groups also gave out pamphlets bearing racist messages on military bases.

It said one urged soldiers to “spare your lives and the lives of your friends and not to show concern for a population that surrounds us and harms us…”

“Kill the one who comes to kill you. As for the population, it is not innocent,” the daily quoted the pamphlet as saying.

and it makes all the sense in the world why Israelis see their enemy as subhuman.  It is an indoctrination that allows them to commit all manner of war crimes against the Palestinians, an ideology far worse than communism or fascism, and it threatens the lives of all who are near it. I wish those in governments around the world had the strength and courage to say as much and to hold the Israeli government accountable. It doesn’t look like that will happen anytime soon however, despite the election of Obama to President.

Just what is it about Guantanamo Bay?


Remnants of the Bush administration’s fascination with Gitmo Bay keep rearing their ugly heads at Obama’s announcement Gitmo will be closed.  First the argument was there is no place to house those who have yet to be released, or that there are no facilities sufficient to hold them, or that we don’t want them housed in our midst, as if they’ll be our  next door neighbor. This argument, meekly advanced has been rather quickly disarmed and has dropped off the political discussion.

A more sinister argument with accomplices has taken its place, and this is the argument of recidivism, or terrorists released from Guantanamo Bay who have “returned” to terrorism.   The first point to make is if they were indeed terrorist why were they released by our government?  Does this mean the US is  NOT able to determine, even under the most draconian and loosely structure  means, those who are terrorists and who are not? But to underscore this point comes this news.

Two men released from the US “war on terror” prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba have appeared in a video posted on a jihadist website, the SITE monitoring service reported.

One of the two former inmates, a Saudi man identified as Abu Sufyan al-Azdi al-Shahri, or prisoner number 372, has been elevated to the senior ranks of Al-Qaeda in Yemen, a US counter-terrorism official told AFP.

Three other men appear in the video, including Abu al-Hareth Muhammad al-Oufi, identified as an Al-Qaeda field commander. SITE later said he was prisoner No. 333.

A Pentagon spokesman, Commander Jeffrey Gordon, on Saturday declined to confirm the SITE information.

At first glance this seems rather ominous until you discover who the players are and the last sentence in the quote above really gives away what is being said/done with this “news”.   SITE is a group with an agenda, like all the other groups that have sprung up post 911 and that agenda is not even close to US interests.  Rather it appears it’s one based on settling old scores.   A terrorist cottage industry has risen on the US political landscape and it seems to have been given free hand, with the provision or understanding  that the US government won’t always rubber stamp what that industry produces.  This seems to be the meaning of the last sentence, “A Pentagon spokesman, Commander Jeffrey Gordon, on Saturday declined to confirm the SITE information”, because frankly under closer inspection the government has been burned by these self-appointed, government anointed terrorist experts.

However, what’s even sadder and more dastardly is the lies, damned lies and statistics game being played by the US when it comes to Gitmo Bay and who was once housed there.

The Seton Hall Center for Policy and Research has issued a report which rebuts and debunks the most recent claim by the Department of Defense (DOD) that “61, in all, former Guantánamo detainees are confirmed or suspected of returning to the fight.”

Professor Denbeaux of the Center for Policy & Research has said that the Center has determined that “DOD has issued ‘recidivism’ numbers 43 times, and each time they have been wrong—this last time the most egregiously so.”

Denbeaux stated: “Once again, they’ve failed to identify names, numbers, dates, times, places, or acts upon which their report relies. Every time they have been required to identify the parties, the DOD has been forced to retract their false IDs and their numbers. They have included people who have never even set foot in Guantánamo—much less were they released from there. They have counted people as ‘returning to the fight’ for their having written an Op-ed piece in the New York Times and for their having appeared in a documentary exhibited at the Cannes Film Festival. The DOD has revised and retracted their internally conflicting definitions, criteria, and their numbers so often that they have ceased to have any meaning—except as an effort to sway public opinion by painting a false portrait of the supposed dangers of these men.

“Forty-three times they have given numbers—which conflict with each other—all of which are seriously undercut by the DOD statement that ‘they do not track’ former detainees. Rather than making up numbers “willy-nilly” about post release conduct, America might be better served if our government actually kept track of them.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself!

Israel and its unholy alliances


abu_nidal_2The Obama administration has shown a willingness to work and negotiate with the Palestinians to coexist with their Israeli neighbors and that’s not a good thing for the Israelis  who believe in war and territorial expansion as instruments of state power.  Look for the Israeli  government to reach back into its old bag of dirty tricks and form partnerships with people to sabotage Obama’s efforts using terror attacks against people in any place in the world, or by forming groups that will challenge the Palestinian status quo and  offer the Israelis the opportunity to work with them at the expense of and in anticipation of  the demise of the present Palestinian leadership.

The Israelis have always set up and used one group of Palestinians against another in order to sow dissension and keep the movements for peace off balance.  Despite what they say, the Israeli government is NOT interested in a peaceful coexistence with Palestinians or any other Arab neighbor state, so turmoil is necessary to justify a militarily strong and aggressive Israeli state.  Abu Nidal is an example.  A  Palestinian terrorist who was fronted by several states, and this observer believes one of them being Israel, Nidal engaged in acts of terror and later confronted and challenged the political leadership of Yasser Arafat.

Nidal’s attempted assassination of Israeli ambassador to the  UK, Shlomo Argov was all the pretext Ariel Sharon needed to invade Lebanon and occupy that country for several years while reaping death and destruction on a scale not seen until Gaza, 2008.  Later Nidal went on to kill several members of Fatah, or so it was made to seem Nidal was responsible for their deaths, and set back  the nascent Fatah movement’s political legitimacy.  Israel was more than happy to see its enemies preoccupied with one another, or appear an existential  threat to Israel so that military action against them was justified.

There are other examples where Israel used militant groups to commit acts of terror to which they, Israel, responded with the foreknowledge of the attacks, how they would be executed, the intended outcome and how they would be concluded.  Political fortunes were built on such episodes of intrigue that until today remain dominant in Israeli politics.

An extraordinary claim that Israeli intelligence may have had a hand in an airline hijacking before sending in commandos to rescue the hostages at Entebbe was made to the Foreign Office….

*snip*

……the attack was carried out by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine with help from the Israeli Security Service, the Shin Bet.

It was designed to torpedo the rival Palestine Liberation Organisation’s standing in France and to prevent what they saw as a growing rapprochement between the PLO and the Americans.

Fast forward to today, where Hamas, a group that was aided by Israel during its infancy is now the target of Israeli aggression.  Hamas too was formed to challenge the legitimacy of Arafat’s Fatah, and since its inception has been the excuse for several Israeli military incursions.

“Hamas, to my great regret, is Israel’s creation,” says Mr. Cohen, a Tunisian-born Jew who worked in Gaza for more than two decades. Responsible for religious affairs in the region until 1994, Mr. Cohen watched the Islamist movement take shape, muscle aside secular Palestinian rivals and then morph into what is today Hamas, a militant group that is sworn to Israel’s destruction.

Instead of trying to curb Gaza’s Islamists from the outset, says Mr. Cohen, Israel for years tolerated and, in some cases, encouraged them as a counterweight to the secular nationalists of the Palestine Liberation Organization and its dominant faction, Yasser Arafat’s Fatah. Israel cooperated with a crippled, half-blind cleric named Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, even as he was laying the foundations for what would become Hamas.

A look at Israel’s decades-long dealings with Palestinian radicals — including some little-known attempts to cooperate with the Islamists — reveals a catalog of unintended and often perilous consequences. Time and again, Israel’s efforts to find a pliant Palestinian partner that is both credible with Palestinians and willing to eschew violence, have backfired. Would-be partners have turned into foes.

The consequences for Israel have been anything but perilous. Israeli political fortunes and the sympathy it has been able to attract with a minimal amount of damage to itself have been built on their overtures to Palestinian suitors who seemingly have had no interest in the Jewish state, and Hamas is no different.  That Hamas, after much Israeli grooming, has become a foe is precisely what the Israelis wanted.

Having tried to paint Hamas as the aggressor in the days preceeding an Obama administration and failed, the Israelis no doubt will resort to even larger operations they hope to pin on the Palestinian group to make it unpalatable to the new American administration.  If that doesn’t work, look for them to set up group(s) that will challenge Hamas’ authority in Gaza and leave Americans wondering with whom they should negotiate.  These are tricks that have been tried before with amazing success.  There is no reason to think, by Israeli standards, they can’t work again.  You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, or so the saying goes.

Faces to go with the names


Please, go here to check out some of the civilian young killed or maim by the Israeli killing machine.  I’m glad someone has put a face to the names of the many people killed by the IDF, in an attempt to humanize their tragedy and that of their families.  Hat tip to Desertpeace.

Israeli leaders love to lie!


olmert1You can’t hide your lyin’ eyes
And your smile is a thin disguise
I thought by now you’d realize
There ain’t no way to hide your lyin eyes

First there was this regarding white phosphorous in Gaza


The Israeli military has denied using white phosphorus during the assault on Gaza, but aid agencies say they have no doubt it has been used.

“It is an absolute certainty,” said Marc Garlasco, a senior military analyst at Human Rights Watch. He had seen Israeli artillery fire white phosphorus shells at Gaza City, Garlasco said.

Israel initially claimed that it was not using white phosphorus. It later explained that shells being loaded for a howitzer, identified from photographs as phosphorus rounds, were empty “quiet” shells used for target marking.

The M825A1 rounds, which are the kind identified as being fired by Israeli forces, are made primarily for use as a smokescreen in a way that limits their effect as an incendiary weapon, experts say.

Then came images like this

wp

and with them came this admission

After weeks of denying that it used white phosphorus in the heavily populated Gaza Strip, Israel finally admitted yesterday that the weapon was deployed in its offensive.

The army’s use of white phosphorus – which makes a distinctive shellburst of dozens of smoke trails – was reported first by The Times on January 5, when it was strenuously denied by the army. Now, in the face of mounting evidence and international outcry, Israel has been forced to backtrack on that initial denial. “Yes, phosphorus was used but not in any illegal manner,” Yigal Palmor, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, told The Times. “Some practices could be illegal but we are going into that. The IDF (Israel Defence Forces) is holding an investigation concerning one specific incident.”

Palmor can even lie and backtrack in the same sound bite and seem convincing to the uninitiated.  There will be no investigation of substance, of course, no charges will be forthcoming against ANYONE in the Israeli government, despite this because  such talk has been making the rounds since 2006 when Israel decimated Lebanon during its homicidal rampage in that country.

Imagine how hard I laughed when I read,

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Friday that he wept upon hearing a Palestinian father calling for help live on television after his children were killed during Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip. “I cried when I saw this. Who didn’t? How could you not?,” Olmert told the Israeli newspaper Maariv in an interview..

because Israel has been dropping a new munition researched and developed in the US, called DIME, Dense Inert Metal Explosive, a  LCD (“low collateral damage”) weapon developed to  produce an unusually powerful blast within a relatively small area, spraying a superheated “micro-shrapnel” of powdered Heavy Metal Tungsten Alloy (HMTA). Scientific studies have found that HMTA is chemically toxic, damages the immune system, rapidly causes cancer, and attacks DNA (genotoxic).  This produces the ultimate in collateral damage, altering the genetic makeup of people not initially killed in the blast and affecting generations of civilians.  Perhaps, what happened to the children of the Palestinian doctor Olmert supposedly wept for was merciful, they died quickly but Olmert would have you believe he was concerned for the children.  It’s the doctor who must worry for himself and any surviving members of his family for years to come.  So, to put it mildly, Olmert is full of it and this weeping business  is just another in a series of lies he/they made.  You can tell when they lie, because  their lips move.

Four people died here, all women, shot!


Hat tip to Lenin’s Tomb.

Erroneous analogies


Kudos to the Washington Times for publishing this viewpoint which makes mince meat of analogies that are floating around government circles in the US and Israel about the genocide which took place in Gaza.  I’m encouraged to see that the author, himself Jewish, places the analogies  in proper context.

In the wake of Israel’s invasion of Gaza, Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak made this analogy: “Think about what would happen if for seven years rockets had been fired at San Diego, California from Tijuana, Mexico.”

Within hours scores of American pundits and politicians had mimicked Barak’s comparisons almost verbatim. In fact, in this very paper on January 9 House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor ended an opinion piece by saying “America would never sit still if terrorists were lobbing missiles across our border into Texas or Montana.” But let’s see if our political and pundit class can parrot this analogy.

Think about what would happen if San Diego expelled most of its Hispanic, African American, Asian American, and Native American population, about 48 percent of the total, and forcibly relocated them to Tijuana? Not just immigrants, but even those who have lived in this country for many generations. Not just the unemployed or the criminals or the America haters, but the school teachers, the small business owners, the soldiers, even the baseball players.

What if we established government and faith-based agencies to help move white people into their former homes? And what if we razed hundreds of their homes in rural areas and, with the aid of charitable donations from people in the United States and abroad, planted forests on their former towns, creating nature preserves for whites to enjoy? Sounds pretty awful, huh? I may be called anti-Semitic for speaking this truth. Well, I’m Jewish and the scenario above is what many prominent Israeli scholars say happened when Israel expelled Palestinians from southern Israel and forced them into Gaza. But this analogy is just getting started.

What if the United Nations kept San Diego’s discarded minorities in crowded, festering camps in Tijuana for 19 years? Then, the United States invaded Mexico, occupied Tijuana and began to build large housing developments in Tijuana where only whites could live.

And what if the United States built a network of highways connecting American citizens of Tijuana to the United States? And checkpoints, not just between Mexico and the United States but also around every neighborhood of Tijuana? What if we required every Tijuana resident, refugee or native, to show an ID card to the U.S. military on demand? What if thousands of Tijuana residents lost their homes, their jobs, their businesses, their children, their sense of self worth to this occupation? Would you be surprised to hear of a protest movement in Tijuana that sometimes became violent and hateful? Okay, now for the unbelievable part.

Think about what would happen if, after expelling all of the minorities from San Diego to Tijuana and subjecting them to 40 years of brutal military occupation, we just left Tijuana, removing all the white settlers and the soldiers? Only instead of giving them their freedom, we built a 20-foot tall electrified wall around Tijuana? Not just on the sides bordering San Diego, but on all the Mexico crossings as well. What if we set up 50-foot high watchtowers with machine gun batteries, and told them that if they stood within 100 yards of this wall we would shoot them dead on sight? And four out of every five days we kept every single one of those border crossings closed, not even allowing food, clothing, or medicine to arrive. And we patrolled their air space with our state-of-the-art fighter jets but didn’t allow them so much as a crop duster. And we patrolled their waters with destroyers and submarines, but didn’t even allow them to fish.

Would you be at all surprised to hear that these resistance groups in Tijuana, even after having been “freed” from their occupation but starved half to death, kept on firing rockets at the United States? Probably not. But you may be surprised to learn that the majority of people in Tijuana never picked up a rocket, or a gun, or a weapon of any kind.

The majority, instead, supported against all hope negotiations toward a peaceful solution that would provide security, freedom and equal rights to both people in two independent states living side by side as neighbors. This is the sound analogy to Israel’s military onslaught in Gaza today. Maybe some day soon, common sense will prevail and no corpus of misleading analogies abut Tijuana or the crazy guy across the hall who wants to murder your daughter will be able to obscure the truth. And at that moment, in a country whose people shouted We Shall Overcome, Ich bin ein Berliner, End Apartheid, Free Tibet and Save Darfur, we will all join together and shout “Free Gaza. Free Palestine.” And because we are Americans, the world will take notice and they will be free, and perhaps peace will prevail for all the residents of the Holy Land.

Bush made the UN irrelevant


It’s easy to see why.

“Judicially speaking, the United States has a clear obligation” to bring proceedings against Bush and Rumsfeld, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak said, in remarks to be broadcast on Germany’s ZDF television Tuesday evening.

He noted Washington had ratified the UN convention on torture which required “all means, particularly penal law” to be used to bring proceedings against those violating it.

“We have all these documents that are now publicly available that prove that these methods of interrogation were intentionally ordered by Rumsfeld,” against detainees at the US prison facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Nowak said.

“But obviously the highest authorities in the United States were aware of this,” added Nowak, who authored a UN investigation report on the Guantanamo prison.

The irony in this is it’s being exposed on German television, the very same country whose leaders we expunged with public show trials and executions for their war crimes, who are now asking, begging, suggesting, we do the same.  Not a word of these allegations on American media, however, and that is as chilling for us as it was for Germany in the 30s and 40s. Bush ushered in the era of American fascism; Obama’s biggest challenge will be in undoing it.

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