USC Students for Justice in Palestine

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Matt Peppe in CounterPunch: Israeli Aggression as Self-Defense?

Posted by uscsjp on March 17, 2015

Last July, shortly after the outbreak of war in Gaza, President Barack Obama declared that “Israel has the right to defend itself against what I consider to be inexcusable attacks from Hamas.” To demonstrate the general moral applicability of this position, he said that “no country can accept rocket [sic] fired indiscriminately at citizens.” Obama’s claims provided ideological cover for Israel to carry out wholesale slaughter over the next six weeks in which nearly 2,200 Palestinians were killed.

Obama also conveniently turned reality on its head by ignoring the fact that it wasIsrael that was responsible for nearly three times as many cease fire violations as Hamas since December 2012. Israel’s violations of the 2012 cease fire caused the deaths of 18 people, while Palestinian violations caused none. Since the end of the 51-day war in August 2014, Israel predictably has gone on violating the most recent cease fire even more brazenly and with complete impunity.

The latest cease fire agreement stipulated that Hamas and other groups in Gaza would stop rocket attacks, while Israel would stop all military action. As with past truces, Hamas has observed the conditions. On the rare occasions that individuals or groups have fired rockets from Gaza, Hamas has arrested them. (See also here and here.)

Israel, on the other hand, has failed to live up to its end of the bargain. This is consistent with past practice. Israel has continued its illegal siege on the Gaza strip, while indiscriminately harassing and shooting at the local population. Fishermen and farmers, who are trying to subsist amid dire economic conditions, have born the brunt of the aggression.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights documented 18 instances of Israeli soldiers firing on Palestinian fishermen operating within internationally recognized Palestinian waters in September 2014 alone.

By December, Humanity for Palestine reported 94 total cease fire violations since the August truce. In addition to the many attacks on fishermen, Israeli border guards targeted “protesters;” “fired sporadically at Palestinian homes and agricultural property with machine guns and ‘flashbang’ grenades;” and “seriously injured” a teenager who was shot near the Kerem Shalom crossing.

The first months of 2015 have seen more of the same. According to International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC):

*On February 25, “Israeli forces opened fire at farmers in the central Gaza Strip.” The previous day, farmers near Khan Younis had been fired on. Two days prior farmers near Rafah were fired on.

*On February 27, Israeli forces “opened gunfire on Palestinian houses in the Central Gaza strip.”

*On March 2, “Israeli gunboats again opened fire … towards fishermen’s boats in the Gaza strip.” The Israeli forces reportedly “chased some fishing boats off the coast.”

*On March 7, fisherman Tawfiq Abu Ryala, 34, was killed when he was shot in the abdomen by Israeli navy ships. Several attacks in previous days were reported in which Palestinian fishermen were injured. “All took place while the boats were in Palestinian territorial waters.”

*On March 11, “several armored military vehicles and bulldozers carried out … a limited invasion into an area east of the al-Maghazi refugee camp, in central Gaza, and bulldozed farmlands.”

On March 13, Palestine News Network reported that “Israeli Soldiers Open Fire on Palestinian Lands and Farmers East of Khan Younis Again.” The articles states that “witnesses reported that the Israeli soldiers in the borders towers opened their guns [sic] fire on the the [sic] shepherds and farmers near the security line east of Al Tuffah neighborhood east of Khan Younis.”

The vast majority of the rampant Israeli cease fire violations are not reported by the American and the Western press. When they are, the Israeli military is given the opportunity to provide self-serving rationalizations which serve as the authoritative account of what transpired.

When a fisherman was killed on March 7, a Reuters article cites an Israeli military spokesperson claiming that “four vessels had strayed from the fishing zone and that the Israeli army opened fire after the boats did not heed calls to halt.” Of course, the fishermen is not able to tell his side of the story because the organization Reutersquotes killed him.

There is no mention in the article of any of the multiple attacks on Palestinian fishermen that happen routinely in Gaza. In many similar shootings, surviving victims and witnesses can attest that fishermen are within the agreed-upon six-mile nautical limit, and certainly well within the 20-mile limit guaranteed by the Oslo accords.

In a December article in the New York TimesIsabel Kershner writes that “Retaliating for a rocket fired into Israel on Friday, the Israeli military said it carried out an airstrike on a Hamas site in southern Gaza.” She begins the sentence by stating it is Israel retaliating against Palestinian actions. Whoever fired the rocket presumably was not “retaliating” for the dozens of Israeli military cease fire violations over the previous months, but was implicitly initiating aggression.

More importantly than this biased framing of the narrative, Kershner buries the lead at the bottom of the story: “Also on Friday, six Palestinians were wounded by Israeli gunfire near the border fence in northern Gaza.” She obsequiously follows this statement with Israeli military rationalizations that “soldiers first fired into the air to try to disperse protesters approaching the fence then fired at the legs of some of them.”

Someone who commits a violent action is obviously not a partial source for an honest account of the facts. Would a journalist report on a shooting by only repeating the side of the suspect who claims self-defense?

Six months after repeated, documented Israeli breaches of the cease fire agreement – without any by Hamas – New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof claimed in an Op-Ed that “Hamas provokes Israel.” He provides no evidence for this assertion. As the record clearly shows, Kristof has it backwards.

If no country can accept rockets fired at its population, then surely neither can they accept M16s fired at them. Or tanks and bulldozers invading their land. But perhaps Obama was deliberate in choosing his words. He stated that no country can accept rockets “fired indiscriminately at citizens (italics mine).”

Since Palestinians live under Israeli sovereignty but are denied citizenship, they are not technically covered by Obama’s moral truism. But assuming what he says should apply to all people - even those who are politically subjugated by racist regimes – Obama’s words would apply equally to Palestinians.

But when asked by a reporter whether Palestinians in Gaza have the right to defend themselves, an Obama administration spokesperson denied Palestinians this right. She did not explicitly say so, but by evading and refusing to respond to a simple yes or no question, she gave the equivalent of a direct denial. “I think – I’m not sure what you’re getting at,” she said. After the reporter restated his crystal-clear question, she replied “What are you specifically referring to? Is there a specific even or a specific occurrence?”

In the same way that omission of material facts may constitute fraud, refusing to answer a question about whether a person enjoys a right constitutes a direct refusal to recognize that right.

Obama did not only pervert the issue of the right to self-defense by falsely pretending it was a moral truism that he clearly and demonstrably does not extend to Palestinians, he also misrepresents the applicability of self-defense to Israel in the first place.

As Noura Erakat explained in her July 2014 article “No, Israel Does Not Have the Right to Self-Defense in International Law Against Occupied Palestinian Territory,” Israel is “distorting/reinterpreting international law to justify its use of militarized force in order to protect its colonial authority.” Obama willingly enables Israel’s lawless actions by accepting their rewriting of international law to justify their aggression.

What Obama is really saying when he talks about self-defense is that as the leader of one rogue nation, he supports the right of his rogue client state to violate the rule of law and make fraudulent claims that are neither morally nor legally justified.As John Quigley explains in The Six-Day War and Israeli Self-Defense, failing to challenge Israel’s bogus claims of self-defense in the 1967 war – as the United States has done by providing a diplomatic shield, vetoing more than 40 U.N. Security Council resolutions condemning Israel – has had disastrous consequences for Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the system of international law in general.

“The flawed perception of the June 1967 war serves to perpetuate conflict in the Middle East. It also serves to promote the expansion of the concept of self-defense and thereby to erode the prohibition against the use of force,” Quigley writes.

The United States government under the Obama administration continues to carry this even further. Undoubtedly the situation will only get worse in the future. Last month in Haaretz, Gideon Levy wrote that there will inevitably be another war in Gaza.

“Israel knows this war will break out, it also knows why – and it’s galloping toward it blindfolded, as though it were a cyclical ritual, a periodical ceremony or a natural disaster that cannot be avoided. Here and there one even perceives enthusiasm,” Levy writes.

This will mean more death, more destruction, and more Palestinian lives destroyed as the world looks on and does nothing. Sadly Levy is right. When the next war comes and Israel succeeds in baiting Hamas to start firing rockets into Israel, all the talk will be about Israel’s right to defend itself. Obama (or the next American President) will repeat the same charade. He will frame the narrative in terms of Israel’s victimization and Israel’s rights, while denying this treatment to the Palestinians.

The media and the public will uncritically support the position of American and Israeli power. Thousands of Palestinians will be indiscriminately killed, but not because Israel is defending itself. Palestinians will be killed because the U.S. government refuses to protect them from a belligerent and aggressive regime, and refuses even to recognize their right to protect themselves.

Matt Peppe writes about politics, U.S. foreign policy and Latin America on his blog. You can follow him on twitter.

–CounterPunch, March 17th, 2015

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/03/17/israeli-aggression-as-self-defense/

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Democracy Now!: Netanyahu Vows Not to Allow Palestinian State If Re-elected

Posted by uscsjp on March 17, 2015

Voting is underway in Israel, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces a tight race for re-election. Polls show Netanyahu’s Likud Party lagging slightly behind the Zionist Union Coalition, led by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Yitzhak Herzog. Netanyahu has emphasized his right-wing positions in recent days, visiting the Har Homa settlement in occupied East Jerusalem and vowing to ramp up settlement construction, deemed illegal under international law. In an interview with a website owned by U.S. casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, one of his leading backers, Netanyahu unequivocally vowed never to allow a Palestinian state, if he is re-elected.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “I think that whoever moves to establish a Palestinian state or intends to withdraw from territory is simply yielding territory for radical Islamic terrorist attacks against Israel. This is the genuine reality that was created here in the past few years. Those who who do not understand that bury their heads in the sand. The left-wing parties do it, bury their heads in the sand, time and again.”

The Obama administration has pressed for a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians which includes a Palestinian state. Netanyahu’s closest rival, Yitzhak Herzog, has sought to capitalize on public frustration with Netanyahu’s hardline policies.

Yitzhak Herzog: “The public is genuinely frustrated. The public want a change, the public ask for a change, and the public aspire for hope and is revolted by and fed up with the status quo. I am the only one who can change the country’s situation. I am the only one who can get a mandate from the president (to form a government). To get a mandate from the president, I need to lead a clear majority over the Likud and Netanyahu.”

Running third place in Israeli polls is the Joint List, a coalition of four Arab parties which could be decisive in forming a new coalition that would unseat Netanyahu.

 

–Democracy Now!, March 17th, 2015

 

http://www.democracynow.org/2015/3/17/headlines#3171

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Democracy Now!: Palestinian Activist Rasmea Odeh Sentenced to 18 Months for Immigration Fraud

Posted by uscsjp on March 13, 2015

A Palestinian activist accused of immigration fraud has been sentenced to 18 months in prison. A U.S. judge in Detroit called Rasmea Odeh a terrorist as he sentenced her for concealing her conviction on bombing charges by an Israeli military court more than 40 years ago. Odeh says her confession to the bombings was obtained through torture and sexual assault in Israeli custody. Her supporters say she was targeted by U.S. authorities over her support for Palestinian liberation. Odeh served as associate director of the Arab American Action Network in Chicago and has lived in the United States for 20 years. She will be deported after her prison term.

–Democracy Now!, March 13th, 2015

http://www.democracynow.org/2015/3/13/headlines#31311

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Medea Benjamin: “In Busting Peace Efforts, Israel Lobby Group May Be Sabotaging Itself”

Posted by uscsjp on March 13, 2015

Early in the morning of March 3, on AIPAC’s national lobby day and just hours before Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was set to address the joint session of Congress, AIPAC President Robert Cohen, along with the group’s Policy Director and two associates, briskly approached the Congressional office of Speaker of the House John Boehner. To their horror, they found the office locked and surrounded by crowd of CODEPINK activists staging a sit-in to protest the Netanyahu speech. After trying unsuccessfully to get in a side door, the AIPAC officials scurried away. But a CODEPINK swarm followed through the maze of Congressional halls, thrilled at the unique opportunity to confront the powerful AIPAC officials [3] about their efforts to quash a nuclear deal with Iran.

When finally cornered after seeking refuge in the office of Congressman Stivers, the policy director agreed to talk to the CODEPINK group. But he kept repeating the mantra that Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism and as such, cannot be trusted in a nuclear deal.

This is the AIPAC line, and its strategy is to sabotage the negotiations. It pushes for greater sanctions on Iran through the Kirk-Menendez [4] bill knowing that—as Secretary of State John Kerry has said—additional sanctions would likely drive Iran from the table. It is also promoting the Corker bill, which would give Congress a chance to veto any deal the administration makes with Iran. And there is speculation [5] that AIPAC was behind the letter by 47 Republican senators to the Iran government insisting that any deal signed with President Obama could be overturned by the next president.

AIPAC’s underhanded efforts to scuttle talks with Iran threaten to move us down a dangerous path towards war. But it’s not just AIPAC’s position on Iran that poses a threat to peace. AIPAC tries to undermine any attempts by the Palestinians to take their grievances to the international community. AIPAC describes the United Nations as a body hostile to the State of Israel and has pressured the US government to oppose any resolution holding Israel accountable or granting Palestine statehood at the UN. Incensed by Palestine’s request for membership at the International Criminal Court (ICC), AIPAC pushed the Obama administration to pull funding from the Palestinian Authority.

AIPAC has consistently supports Israel’s military incursions in Gaza, claiming Israel is simply defending itself against Hamas. AIPAC supported the Israeli offensive during the summer of 2014 that resulted in thousands of Palestinian deaths (including over 500 children), six UN schools and hospitals flattened, 18,000 housing units destroyed and 108,000 people displaced from their homes. While the bombs were raining down mercilessly on civilians in Gaza, AIPAC President Robert Cohen [6] told Congress that Hamas was responsible for the death of its own citizens. AIPAC also supported the prior two invasions of Gaza and the siege that has so devastated the lives of the strip’s 1.8 million residents.

As part of its efforts to influence Congress, AIPAC takes US representatives on free, sugar-coated junkets to Israel, trips considered almost obligatory for every new member of Congress. The congresspeople see precisely what the Israeli government wants them to see. It is illegal for lobby groups to take elected officials on trips, but AIPAC skirts the law by creating a bogus educational group, AIEF (American Israel Education Foundation), to “organize” the trips for them. AIEF has the same office address as AIPAC and the same staff. These trips help cement the ties between AIPAC and Congress, furthering their undue influence.

To judge AIPAC’s grip on Congress, look no further than how itboasts [6] about its policy conference, i.e. that it is “attended by more members of Congress than almost any other event, except for a joint session of Congress or a State of the Union address.”

AIPAC keeps a careful record of how members of Congress vote and this record is used by donors to make contributions to the politicians who score well. Congresspeople who fail to support AIPAC legislation have been targeted for defeat, including Senators Adlai Stevenson III and Charles H. Percy, and Representatives Paul Findley, Pete McCloskey, Cynthia McKinney, and Earl F. Hilliard.

More recently, AIPAC supporters vowed to use their wealth and extensive resources to punish Democrats who skipped Prime Minister Netanyahu’s March 3 speech before Congress. A representative of billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson said [7]that “if these Democrats would rather put partisan politics ahead of principle and walk out on the prime minister of Israel, then we have an obligation to make that known.”

The bottom line is that AIPAC, which is a de facto agent for a foreign government, has influence on US policy out of all proportion to the number of Americans it represents. When a small group like this has disproportionate power, it hurts everyone—from Palestinians and Iranians to Israelis and American Jews.

If we are to stop a catastrophic war with Iran or finally solve the Israel/Palestine conflict, an essential element is breaking AIPAC’s grip on U.S. policy. That may well be happening right now. In the past, AIPAC fiercely guarded its bipartisan reputation. But its ultra-hardline stance on Iran puts it squarely on the side of Obama’s most ferocious Republican detractors.  This is making many liberal Jewish AIPAC supporters jittery and diminishing AIPAC’s power among Democrats in Congress and the White House.

AIPAC, in its strong-arm attempts to blow up the talks with Iran, may well be losing its grip and careening towards its own demise. And that’s one implosion worth rooting for.

Medea Benjamin is the cofounder of www.codepink.org [8] and www.globalexchange.org [9]. She is the author of Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control.

 

–Alternet, March 11th, 2015

 

http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/busting-peace-efforts-israel-lobby-group-may-be-sabotaging-itself

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“Noam Chomsky: Why Israel’s Netanyahu Is So Desperate to Prevent Peace with Iran” (Alternet)

Posted by uscsjp on March 2, 2015

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has arrived in the United States as part of his bid to stop a nuclear deal with Iran during a controversial speech before the U.S. Congress on Tuesday. Dozens of Democrats are threatening to boycott the address, which was arranged by House Speaker John Boehner without consulting the White House. Netanyahu’s visit comes just as Iran and six world powers, including the United States, are set to resume talks in a bid to meet a March 31 deadline. “For both Prime Minister Netanyahu and the hawks in Congress, mostly Republican, the primary goal is to undermine any potential negotiation that might settle whatever issue there is with Iran,” says Noam Chomsky, institute professor emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “They have a common interest in ensuring there is no regional force that can serve as any kind of deterrent to Israeli and U.S. violence, the major violence in the region.” Chomsky also responds to recent revelations that in 2012 the Israeli spy agency, Mossad, contradicted Netanyahu’s own dire warnings about Iran’s ability to produce a nuclear bomb, concluding that Iran was “not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons”…

NOAM CHOMSKY: For both president—Prime Minister Netanyahu and the hawks in Congress, mostly Republican, the primary goal is to undermine any potential negotiation that might settle whatever issue there is with Iran. They have a common interest in ensuring that there is no regional force that can serve as any kind of deterrent to Israeli and U.S. violence, the major violence in the region. And it is—if we believe U.S. intelligence—don’t see any reason not to—their analysis is that if Iran is developing nuclear weapons, which they don’t know, it would be part of their deterrent strategy. Now, their general strategic posture is one of deterrence. They have low military expenditures. According to U.S. intelligence, their strategic doctrine is to try to prevent an attack, up to the point where diplomacy can set in. I don’t think anyone with a grey cell functioning thinks that they would ever conceivably use a nuclear weapon, or even try to. The country would be obliterated in 15 seconds. But they might provide a deterrent of sorts. And the U.S. and Israel certainly don’t want to tolerate that. They are the forces that carry out regular violence and aggression in the region and don’t want any impediment to that.

And for the Republicans in Congress, there’s another interest—namely, to undermine anything that Obama, you know, the Antichrist, might try to do. So that’s a separate issue there. The Republicans stopped being an ordinary parliamentary party some years ago. They were described, I think accurately, by Norman Ornstein, the very respected conservative political analyst, American Enterprise Institute; he said the party has become a radical insurgency which has abandoned any commitment to parliamentary democracy. And their goal for the last years has simply been to undermine anything that Obama might do, in an effort to regain power and serve their primary constituency, which is the very wealthy and the corporate sector. They try to conceal this with all sorts of other means. In doing so, they’ve had to—you can’t get votes that way, so they’ve had to mobilize sectors of the population which have always been there but were never mobilized into an organized political force: evangelical Christians, extreme nationalists, terrified people who have to carry guns into Starbucks because somebody might be after them, and so on and so forth. That’s a big force. And inspiring fear is not very difficult in the United States. It’s a long history, back to colonial times, of—as an extremely frightened society, which is an interesting story in itself. And mobilizing people in fear of them, whoever “them” happens to be, is an effective technique used over and over again. And right now, the Republicans have—their nonpolicy has succeeded in putting them back in a position of at least congressional power. So, the attack on—this is a personal attack on Obama, and intended that way, is simply part of that general effort. But there is a common strategic concern underlying it, I think, and that is pretty much what U.S. intelligence analyzes: preventing any deterrent in the region to U.S. and Israeli actions…

 

To read the rest of the interview, visit: http://www.alternet.org/world/noam-chomsky-why-israels-netanyahu-so-desperate-prevent-peace-iran

 

Interview orignally posted on Democracy Now!

March 2, 2015

 

http://www.democracynow.org/2015/3/2/noam_chomsky_opposing_iran_nuclear_deal

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Alternet: Obama Is Right: Christian Violence Is Just as Bad as Muslim Violence—Or Worse

Posted by uscsjp on February 6, 2015

This week, President Obama met with Muslim leaders in a private political meeting for the first time in his six-year presidency. The meeting set off predictable angry reactions from the political right, with Fox News’s Sean Hannity even saying [3] that he wished Obama had demanded that the leaders assembled publicly denounce radical Islam. Obama further raised the hackles of the Christian right when he said at the National Prayer Breakfast that no religion has a monopoly on violence, saying [4]:

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#weather_the_storm

Posted by uscsjp on January 27, 2015

#WEATHER_THE_STORM

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Robert Barsocchini: Facts All US Citizens Need to Know About Israel and Palestine

Posted by uscsjp on January 19, 2015

This blog post from several months ago during the height of the Israeli bombardment continues to resonate urgently in 2015. We re-print it in its entirety. –USC SJP Blog Editor

Facts All US Citizens Need to Know About Israel and Palestine

  • Gaza (along with the West Bank and East Jerusalem) is occupied Palestinian territory underinternational law, determined by the vast majority of the world, as well as the highest court in the world, the UN’s International Court of Justice. Gaza cannot commit aggression against Israel, since Israel is in constant and continual commission of illegal aggression against Palestine by occupying it (illegally and sadistically blockading it and frequently committing terrorism against its civilians, including by targeting them with chemical weapons provided by US taxpayers – see “Rain of Fire” by Human Rights Watch). As documented by Amnesty Int’l, Human Rights Watch, and many others,Israel intentionally targets and murders civilians, including children, en masse.
  • But, even ignoring international law and that Gaza is under illegal Israeli occupation, Gaza did not initiate this current round of violence; Israel did:
    • Western/US/Israeli propaganda says the violence started with the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli youths on June 12th. That is a lie:
    • On May 20th, the Israeli government murdered 2 unarmed Palestinian teens, one on video, and wounded a third.
    • The firing of pathetic scrap metal rockets from impoverished Gaza, which have killed no one, were in fact launched in response to earlier Israeli bombings, killings, assassinations, and arrests of Palestinians, including children.
  • Since the year 2000, Israel has killed 1,500 Palestinian children, while Palestinians have killed 132 Israeli children. That means Israel has killed over 1,000% percent more Palestinian children than vice versa.
  • According to a landmark, comprehensive study of all of Israel’s wars, by Zeev Maoz, Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Davis, former head of the Graduate School of Government and Policy and of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, and former academic director of the M.A. Program at the Israeli Defense Forces’ National Defense College:
    • “. most of the wars in which Israel was involved were the result of deliberate Israeli aggressive design . None of these wars – with the possible exception of the 1948 War of independence – was what Israel refers to as Milhemet Ein Berah (war of necessity). They were all wars of choice . ” – Defending the Holy Land, pg. 35, (bold added)
    • “I review a number of peace-related opportunities ranging from the Zionist-Hashemite collusion in 1947 through the collapse of the Oslo Process in 2000. In all those cases I find that Israeli decision makers – who had been willing to embark upon bold and daring military adventures – were extremely reluctant to make even the smallest concessions for peace . I also find in many cases Israel was engaged in systematic violations of agreements and tacit understandings between itself and its neighbors.” – Defending the Holy Land, pg. 40
  • Israel has violated more UN resolutions than any other country. That includes Iraq under Hussein.
  • Hamas is the government elected by Gaza in elections that Jimmy Carter (and many others) observed and said were completely fair and free. Israel constantly says Hamas uses human shields. But in Israel’s biggest massacre of Gaza, the one in 2009, all the human rights organizations, including Amnesty, HRW, and the jurist Richard Goldstone, found that Hamas DID NOT use human shields. On the contrary, Israel used human shields, which is a regular practice for Israel. Israel uses civilians as human shields.
    • Israel forced Palestinian civilians to dig and lay naked in trenches around Israeli tanks. See hereat 6:45.
      • XIV. THE USE OF PALESTINIAN CIVILIANS AS HUMAN SHIELDS
      • “The Mission received allegations that in two areas in north Gaza Israeli troops used Palestinian men as human shields… The Mission found the foregoing witnesses to be credible and reliable. It has no reason to doubt the veracity of their accounts and found that the different stories serve to support the allegation that Palestinians were used as human shields.”
  • Noam Chomsky: “Hamas is regularly described as ‘Iranian-backed Hamas, which is dedicated to the destruction of Israel.’ One will be hard put to find something like ‘democratically elected Hamas, which has long been calling for a two-state settlement in accord with the international consensus’—blocked for over 30 years by the US and Israel. All true, but not a useful contribution to the Party Line, hence dispensable.”
  • In the history of all rocket and mortar fire into Israel, 26 people, total, have been killed. And remember, Palestine breaks ceasefires far less often than Israel, as documented above.
    • This number of 26 is in contrast to the minimum number of 1,400 people who were murdered by Israel in a single one of its terrorist atrocities, the 2009 Gaza Massacre.
    • Noting that in the current massacre, zero Israelis and over 100 Palestinians have thus far been killed, and noting that Gaza is a concentration camp – Israel allows no one to enter or leave – Dan Sanchez gives a perfect description of the disparity in arms between the US/Israeli war machine and Palestinian scrap metal projectiles: “They [the Gazans] are like fish in a barrel, being blasted by a shotgun from above. It’s like some of the fish in the barrel pathetically spitting water at the gunman, and [US media calls] that a “shooting battle.”
  • The rhetoric and tactics of Hamas and other groups resisting Israeli occupation and colonization can be brutal (though far less so than Israel). Propagandists try to attribute this to anti-Semitism, to distract from the fact that these groups are resisting having their country stolen and their people dispossessed and annihilated. Native American resistance to European colonizers was sometimes extremely brutal, as was their rhetoric, but everyone universally recognizes that this was not because of “anti-White-ism”, or “anti-European-ism”, but because they were having their land stolen and their people massacred, the same thing that Israel is doing to the Palestinians.
    • Palestinians have the right under international law to resist occupation, ethnic cleansing, colonization, aggression, and annexation. Miko Peled, son of an Israeli general, recently statedthat if Israel doesn’t Like rockets, they should decolonize Palestine. Dr. Norman Finkelstein notesthat “The Palestinians have the right to use arms to resist an occupation . However, the fact that morally and legally they have that right doesn’t mean that it’s the most prudent strategy. In my opinion, a national Palestinian leadership committed to mobilizing nonviolent resistance can defeat the Israeli occupation if those of us living abroad lend support to it.”
  • In 1948, the people who wanted to form a Jewish state carried out a massive terror and ethnic cleansing campaign against the occupants of Palestine, expelling about half of them (750,000) from their land and into concentrated areas (Gaza and West Bank). Israel has slowly continued colonizing even those areas, which were specifically reserved by the UN for Palestinians. Israel takes all the best land and resources, such as water. Here is a visualization of what has happened, and is currently happening with massive support from Obama:

  • Israeli settlement building in Palestine is a war crime under international law. Under Obama, Israeli settlement building is up over 130%.
  • For about 40 years, there has been an international consensus that Israel must stop colonizing territory outside its 1967 borders. The consensus has been blocked by the United States, in isolation from the international community (much like the USA’s isolated, strong support for South African Apartheid). Every year there is a UN vote on the issue, and every year it goes about 165 to 2, the world against the US and Israel. This continues under Obama. All human rights groups support the consensus, as does Hamas, the Arab League, Iran, the Organization of the Islamic Conference… Virtually everyone, except the US and Israel. (More details on this page.)
  • Palestinians are brutalized, repressed and impoverished by Israel. To get a quick visual understanding of the difference between Gaza and Israel, take a look at the images of people and cities being wantonly pummeled by Israeli terrorism when you search the word “Gaza“, and the images of opulence, wealth and luxury that come up when you search “Tel Aviv“.
  • Israel, whose government intentionally targets, tortures, and murders civilians, including children, including with chemical weapons, and whose government uses Palestinian civilians as human shields, and whose government is the last entity on Earth carrying out old-style ethnic cleansing and colonization of foreign countries, is the single biggest recipient of US aid, at over three billion dollars a year and huge amounts of lethal weaponry such as attack helicopters and white phosphorous chemical explosives.
  • To reiterate, Obama requested more military aid for Israel than any president ever. This is not because Obama and the USA love Jewish people. Obama was recently an accomplice in a literal neo-Nazi-led coup d’etat in Ukraine, and is currently fully supporting the junta-integrated Ukrainian government, which is staffed with several neo-Nazis in high ministries, and which uses neo-Nazi paramilitaries to carry out massacres (and possibly genocide) against people resistant to the junta. The actual reason the US supports Israel is discussed below.
  • As Amnesty International has noted, all aid to Israel is illegal under international (and US) law, because Israel is a consistent violator of human rights.

Amnesty International also noted that Israel’s 2009 massacre of Gaza would not have been possible without the illegal funding (money and weapons) and support Israel gets from the USA.

This is also true of the current massacre Israel is committing in Gaza.

However, in a way, that is good news.

That means US citizens can STOP the massacres.

If we stop our money and weapons-flow to Israel, which is illegal anyway, we stop Israeli terrorism! All we have to do is stop committing a crime, and we will stop more crimes! That’s great news.

Here is a previous example of how this has worked: When the USA cut its funding for Indonesia’s genocide against East Timor, which the USA was funding almost exclusively, Indonesia was forced to stop and withdraw. All it took was cutting off our illegal flow of money and weapons to the criminals.

The same thing would happen if we cut our illegal funding for Israel’s genocides and acts of terrorism, ethnic cleansing, colonization, and annexation against Palestine.

But since the USA is an anti-democratic country, the only way to stop US plutocrats from using our money to fund Israeli terrorism is to force it through massive, non-violent pressure.

One way it happens is when it becomes too politically costly for the plutocracy to keep funding genocide and terror, meaning the costs of their illegal support outweigh the benefits, as in Indonesia. In that case, massive publicity and indigenous resistance accomplished the goal.

But Israel is the USA’s main imperial – and nuclear – base for controlling the Middle East, which US planners, in 1945, called the greatest material prize in world history, due to the oil and gas. Thus, it might require more, as in non-violently making our country into a democracy so that people control their own institutions and money, and thus the way we operate as a society and interact with the world.

Last note: To be clear, Israel is a legal state, but only within the borders allotted to it by the United Nations – the Pre-1967 borders, which existed before Israel started eating away, through terror, ethnic cleansing, colonization, and annexation, at the areas reserved by the United Nations for Palestinians, as well as areas of other countries, such as Syria (the Golan Heights).

Per international law, US domestic law, and common sense, Israel doesn’t deserve any support until it abandons isolationism and accepts that it can’t steal other people’s countries, and stops blockading and withdraws its soldiers and settlers, all there illegally, from those countries.

Israel is, militarily, the most powerful country in the Middle East, by far. Removing our support for the Israeli government (which we are legally required to do) will not put Israelis in danger. It will pressure the Israeli government to stop doing what endangers Israelis, which is committing aggressive acts against Israel’s neighbors.

If Israel ends its status as a consistent violator of human rights, decolonizes Palestine, and respects its neighbors, it could be a pleasure – and legal – to work with and support Israel.

Germany, Japan, and South Africa went from being the most reviled countries on Earth to being some of the most admired. Maybe Israel could undergo the same transformation, but not unless we, US citizens, help by ceasing to enable Israeli terrorism and war crimes by illegally supporting them.

 

— Robert Barsocchini, July 12, 2014.

 

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/07/facts-us-citizens-need-know-israel-palestine.html

Posted in Analysis, Opinion/Editorial | Leave a Comment »

George Monbiot: “Why stop at Isis when we could bomb the whole Muslim world?”

Posted by uscsjp on January 12, 2015

Humanitarian arguments, if consistently applied, could be used to flatten the entire Middle East


By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 1st October 2014

Let’s bomb the Muslim world – all of it – to save the lives of its people. Surely this is the only consistent moral course? Why stop at blowing up Islamic State, when the Syrian government has murdered and tortured so many? This, after all, was last year’s moral imperative. What’s changed?

How about blasting the Shia militias in Iraq? One of them selected 40 people from the streets of Baghdad in June and murdered them for being Sunnis(1). Another massacred 68 people at a mosque in August(2). They now talk openly of “cleansing” and “erasure”(3), once Islamic State has been defeated. As a senior Shia politician warns, “we are in the process of creating Shia al-Qaida radical groups equal in their radicalisation to the Sunni Qaida.”(4)

What humanitarian principle instructs you to stop there? In Gaza this year, 2,100 Palestinians were massacred: including people taking shelter in schools and hospitals. Surely these atrocities demand an air war against Israel? And what’s the moral basis for refusing to liquidate Iran? Mohsen Amir-Aslani was hanged there last week for making “innovations in the religion” (suggesting that the story of Jonah in the Qu’ran was symbolic rather than literal)(5). Surely that should inspire humanitarian action from above? Pakistan is crying out for friendly bombs: an elderly British man, Mohammed Asghar, who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, is, like other blasphemers, awaiting execution there after claiming to be a holy prophet(6). One of his prison guards has already shot him in the back.

Is there not an urgent duty to blow up Saudi Arabia? It has beheaded 59 people so far this year, for offences that include adultery, sorcery and witchcraft(7). It has long presented a far greater threat to the west than Isis now poses. In 2009 Hillary Clinton warned in a secret memo that “Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qa’ida, the Taliban … and other terrorist groups.”(8) In July, the former head of MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove, revealed that Prince Bandar bin Sultan, until recently the head of Saudi intelligence, told him: “The time is not far off in the Middle East, Richard, when it will be literally ‘God help the Shia’. More than a billion Sunnis have simply had enough of them.”(9) Saudi support for extreme Sunni militias in Syria during Bandar’s tenure is widely blamed for the rapid rise of Isis(10,11). Why take out the subsidiary and spare the headquarters?

The humanitarian arguments aired in parliament last week(12), if consistently applied, could be used to flatten the entire Middle East and West Asia. By this means you could end all human suffering, liberating the people of these regions from the vale of tears in which they live.

Perhaps this is the plan: Barack Obama has now bombed seven largely-Muslim countries(13), in each case citing a moral imperative. The result, as you can see in Libya, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan,Yemen, Somalia and Syria, has been the eradication of jihadi groups, of conflict, chaos, murder, oppression and torture. Evil has been driven from the face of the earth by the destroying angels of the west.

Now we have a new target, and a new reason to dispense mercy from the sky, with similar prospects of success. Yes, the agenda and practices of Isis are disgusting. It murders and tortures, terrorises and threatens. As Obama says, it is a “network of death”(14). But it’s one of many networks of death. Worse still, a western crusade appears to be exactly what it wants(15).

Already Obama’s bombings have brought Isis and Jabhat al-Nusra, a rival militia affiliated to Al Qaeda, together(16). More than 6,000 fighters have joined Isis since the bombardment began(17). They dangled the heads of their victims in front of the cameras as bait for war planes. And our governments were stupid enough to take it.

And if the bombing succeeds? If – and it’s a big if – it manages to tilt the balance against Isis, what then? Then we’ll start hearing once more about Shia death squads and the moral imperative to destroy them too – and any civilians who happen to get in the way. The targets change; the policy doesn’t. Never mind the question, the answer is bombs. In the name of peace and the preservation of life, our governments wage perpetual war.

While the bombs fall, our states befriend and defend other networks of death. The US government still refuses – despite Obama’s promise – to release the 28 redacted pages from the Joint Congressional Inquiry into 9/11, which document Saudi Arabian complicity in the attack on America(18). In the UK, in 2004 the Serious Fraud Office began investigating allegations of massive bribes paid by the British weapons company BAE to Saudi ministers and middlemen. Just as the crucial evidence was about to be released, Tony Blair intervened to stop the investigation(19). The biggest alleged beneficiary was Prince Bandar, mentioned above. The Serious Fraud Office was investigating a claim that, with the approval of the British government, he received £1bn in secret payments from BAE(20).

And still it goes on. Last week’s Private Eye, drawing on a dossier of recordings and emails, alleges that a British company has paid £300m in bribes to facilitate weapons sales to the Saudi National Guard(21). When a whistleblower in the company reported these payments to the British ministry of defence, instead of taking action it alerted his bosses. He had to flee the country to avoid being thrown into a Saudi jail. Smirking, lying, two-faced bastards – this scarcely begins to touch it.

There are no good solutions that military intervention by the UK or the US can engineer. There are political solutions in which our governments could play a minor role: supporting the development of effective states that don’t rely on murder and militias, building civic institutions that don’t depend on terror, helping to create safe passage and aid for people at risk. Oh, and ceasing to protect and sponsor and arm selected networks of death. Whenever our armed forces have bombed or invaded Muslims nations, they have made life worse for those who live there. The regions in which our governments have intervened most are those which suffer most from terrorism and war. That is neither coincidental nor surprising.

Yet our politicians affect to learn nothing. Insisting that more killing will magically resolve deep-rooted conflicts, they scatter bombs like fairy dust.

http://www.monbiot.com

References:

1. http://www.theguardian.com/guardianweekly/story/0,,1818778,00.html

2. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/22/shia-attack-sunni-mosque-iraq

3. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/24/iraq-frontline-shia-fighters-war-isis

4. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/24/iraq-frontline-shia-fighters-war-isis

5. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/29/iran-executes-man-heresy-mohsen-amir-aslani

6. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/29/stand-up-for-blasphemers-like-mohammed-asghar-frankie-boyle

7. http://www.amnesty.se/upload/apps/webactions/urgentaction/2014/09/23/52302414.pdf

8. http://www.theguardian.com/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/242073

9. http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/iraq-crisis-how-saudi-arabia-helped-isis-take-over-the-north-of-the-country-9602312.html

10. http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/06/isis-saudi-arabia-iraq-syria-bandar/373181/

11. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/islamic-state-us-failure-to-look-into-saudi-role-in-911-has-helped-isis-9731563.html

12. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm140926/debtext/140926-0001.htm#1409266000001

13. https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/09/23/nobel-peace-prize-fact-day-syria-7th-country-bombed-obama/

14. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm140926/debtext/140926-0001.htm#1409266000001

15. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/26/west-isis-crusade-britain-iraq-syria

16. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/28/isis-al-qaida-air-strikes-syria

17. http://www.haaretz.com/news/middle-east/1.616730

18. http://nypost.com/2013/12/15/inside-the-saudi-911-coverup/

19. http://www.theguardian.com/world/bae

20. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/feb/05/bae-saudi-yamamah-deal-background

21. Richard Brooks and Andrew Bousfield, 19th September 2014. Shady Arabia and the Desert Fix. Private Eye.

–George Monbiot, September 30th, 2014

Posted in Analysis, Opinion/Editorial | Leave a Comment »

The Economist: Will joining the International Criminal Court further Palestine’s cause?

Posted by uscsjp on January 10, 2015

THE “nuclear option” was how American and Palestinian officials described the application by Mahmoud Abbas, Palestine’s president, to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. His move follows a vote against a Palestinian attempt to have the UN Security Council set a deadline for Israel to end its occupation of territories it captured in 1967. It might open Israel—or Palestine—to charges of committing war crimes. Ban Ki-moon, the secretary general of the UN, said Palestine would join the court on April 1st.

Before Mahmoud Abbas applied on January 1st to join the ICC, Israeli officials promised it would result in an appropriate “Zionist response”: the expansion of settlements that would in effect bisect the West Bank near Jerusalem. Moreover, said officials, an application would also effectively spell the end of talks to establish an independent Palestinian state: never again, they said, would Israel negotiate with Palestinians over the future of Jerusalem, an issue that would have to be the cornerstone of any agreement since both sides claim it as their capital.

Given such hyperbole, the response of Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, looks fairly mild. For now he has acted as in past rows, by withholding customs revenues that Israel collects on behalf of the PA on Palestinian imports, a sum of $127 million that comprises two-thirds of Mr Abbas’s monthly budget. Even that act earned Mr Netanyahu copious reprimands. A spokesman for the Obama administration ticked him off. So did Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, the veteran if maverick hardliner from Mr Netanyahu’s own party, Likud, who has turned into Israel’s leading advocate of Israeli-Palestinian coexistence. Threatening Mr Abbas with bankruptcy and the Palestinian Authority (PA) with collapse, Mr Rivlin said, was bad not just for Palestinians, but for Israel too.

He has a point. Israel’s retention of tax revenues has left Mr Abbas unable to cover this month’s salaries for 160,000 state employees. The president’s men insist that Mr Abbas’ critics, who always thought the old man was bluffing about joining the ICC, will now cheer rather than stir up the street. But unions representing PA employees are smarting from previous pay cuts. Banks might have the reserves to cover their salaries for only a couple of months.

A Palestinian businessman asks: once the money dries up, for how long will PA security forces remain quiet before they start selling their guns to make ends meet? On a previous occasion when that happened in 2006, Hamas’s military wing was a willing buyer of weapons. Shortly thereafter it took over Gaza. Israel’s freeze on tax receipts, therefore, seems likely to be thawed just as previous ones were.

Israel is appealing to a sympathetic Congress to withhold the $400m it gives the PA each year when Palestine brings its first petition to the ICC. But Palestinians hope that will not happen. “Will the Americans really topple one of the last secular rulers,” asks a Palestinian official, “while IS is itching to take over next door?” In any case, Saudi Arabia, which has chipped in cash before, sounds more sympathetic than normal.

Now that Mr Abbas has followed through, the question is whether the ICC will do much. Israeli officials fret that soldiers travelling abroad may be subject to arrest. Qatar and Saudi Arabia are already said to be paying lawyers in western capitals to prepare the writs. Palestinians and their supporters abroad, meanwhile, hope to seek the prosecution for war crimes of any Israeli accused of occupying Palestinian territories. Among those that could be targeted is Uri Ariel, the settler housing minister who is driving the expansion of settlements on the West Bank.

Yet both sides seem to invest the ICC with powers that it has never hitherto shown itself to have. And it could take many years for an investigation to reach conclusion. “Look at Africa,” says a sober Israeli official, in reference to investigations that have stalled in Kenya and Sudan.

Just a few days after the Palestinian application, Israel’s Supreme Court (which prides itself on keeping on the right side of international law) prevented the government from building its separation barrier through Battir, a delightful West Bank village set on a gorge through which the old Ottoman railway line to Jerusalem passes.

The monks of Cremisan, whose monastery is also threatened by the barrier, wonder whether Israel’s judges will similarly spare their property. If not, they could turn out to be among the first applicants to head for the international court.

–The Economist, 10 Jan, 2015

 

http://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21638151-will-joining-international-criminal-court-further-palestines-cause-see-you

Posted in Analysis, News | Leave a Comment »

 
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