USC Students for Justice in Palestine

history, analysis, news, and event updates on the struggle for justice in palestine

Archive for the ‘Opinion/Editorial’ Category

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

Advertisements

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

“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

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

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]:

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

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 »

Amy Goodman Interviews Chomsky after his Address to the UN General Assembly

Posted by uscsjp on October 24, 2014

…AMY GOODMAN: What do you think is the most—the single most important action the United States can take? And what about its role over the years? What is its interest here?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, one important action that the United States could take is to live up to its own laws. Of course, it would be nice if it lived up to international law, but maybe that’s too much to ask, but live up to its own laws. And there are several. And here, incidentally, I have in mind advice to activists also, who I think ought to be organizing and educating in this direction. There are two crucial cases.

One of them is what’s called the Leahy Law. Patrick Leahy, Senator Leahy, introduced legislation called the Leahy Law, which bars sending weapons to any military units which are involved in consistent human rights violations. There isn’t the slightest doubt that the Israeli army is involved in massive human rights violations, which means that all dispatch of U.S. arms to Israel is in violation of U.S. law. I think that’s significant. The U.S. should be called upon by its own citizens to—and by others, to adhere to U.S. law, which also happens to conform to international law in this case, as Amnesty International, for example, for years has been calling for an arms embargo against Israel for this reason. These are all steps that can be taken…

–Democracy Now!, October 22, 2014

 

http://www.democracynow.org/2014/10/22/noam_chomsky_at_united_nations_it

 

 

 

 

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

Naomi Shihab Nye: On growing up in Ferguson and Palestine

Posted by uscsjp on September 5, 2014

I grew up in Ferguson, Mo. No one ever heard of it, unless you lived elsewhere in St. Louis County.

Then my family moved to Palestine – my father’s first home. A friend says, “Your parents really picked the garden spots.”

In Ferguson, an invisible line separated white and black communities. In Jerusalem, a no-man’s land separated people, designated by barbed wire.

* * *

My father and his family became refugees in 1948, when the state of Israel was created. They lost everything but their lives and memories. Disenfranchised Palestinians ended up in refugee camps or scattered around the world. My dad found himself in Kansas, then moved to Missouri with his American bride. He seemed a little shell-shocked when I was a child.

Ferguson was a leafy green historic suburb with a gracious red brick elementary school called Central. I loved that school, attending kindergarten through sixth grade there. All my classmates were white, of various derivations – Italians, French-Canadians, etc. My father was the only Arab in Ferguson. But he ran for the school board and won.

At 12, I took a berry-picking job on “Missouri’s oldest organic farm” in Ferguson. I wanted the job because I had noticed that the other berry-pickers were all black boys. I’d always been curious about the kids living right down the road whom we hardly ever got to see.

We had contests to see who could pick the most in the searing humidity. I had obliterated Ferguson’s “line.” I felt a secret pride.

My mom often warned, “Be your best self.” This seemed odd.

It would be 1968 before the Supreme Court ordered U.S. states to dismantle segregated school systems and Ferguson began mixing it up. We were gone by then.

In 1966, my father took our family to the West Bank. I was the only non-Armenian attending the ancient Armenian school in Jerusalem’s Old City. It was fine to be “the other” for a change, but I wished we could have Jewish friends too. And I wished the Jewish Israelis we weren’t seeing across that line could know the families of Palestine as we did, sharing their humble parties under blossoming almond trees.

Our father said that, when he was a boy, Jews and Arabs had been mixed together, neighbors. Now there was power and domination at stake.

Dominate – to exercise control over. Black kids in streets. Thousands of Palestinian families.

In 1967, with the Six Day War brewing, my family left Jerusalem. We settled in San Antonio, a majority Latino city, which felt like a relief. White and black people were minorities. There weren’t any lines. Maybe in the air, and in history. But people kept crossing them.

My father, a newspaper journalist, eventually left San Antonio for another paper, I ended up attending college here and have remained until now. We have our first African American female mayor in history.

Back in Israel/Palestine, nothing improved for the Palestinians and they were always blamed for it. A gigantic ominous “Separation Wall” was built. Americans elected a half-and-half president twice, which gave many of us great hope.

Summer 2014, the news exploded.

Massacres in Gaza – not the first time – people who looked exactly like our Arab families. Regular people. Kids. Sleeping kids. No tanks, no army, no due process of any kind, but they were blasted out of their lives.

Was anyone civilized? A Jewish friend sent me a one-word message that he seemed to be sending out to everyone he knew: STOP!  

What could we do?

Of course, we wished Hamas would stop sending reckless rockets into Israel, provoking oversized responses. Why didn’t the news examine those back stories more? Oppression makes people do desperate things. I am frankly surprised the entire Palestinian population hasn’t gone crazy. If the U.S. can’t see that Palestinians have been mightily oppressed since 1948, they really are not interested in looking, are they? And we keep sending weapons and money to Israel, pretending we’d prefer peace. 

We send weapons to Ferguson, too.

After unarmed teenager Michael Brown was shot, quiet old Ferguson took over the news. Citizens marching, chest placards, “I’M A MAN TOO” “DON’T SHOOT.” It’s easy to see how delusions of equality in Ferguson – where a white officer might raise a gun against an unarmed black kid – are simply wrong.

Why is that harder for people to see about Gaza? 

People in Gaza actually sent messages of solidarity to Ferguson – Internet petitions signed by Gazan citizens. I thought I was hallucinating. What if they could all march together? 1.8 million Gazans would really clog old Florissant Avenue. 

To my knowledge, Israelis have never yet been called militants by the American press, even when they blast whole families to oblivion.  It’s just “defense.” A newscaster described Ferguson as “a series of stings and hurts.” Try the open-air prison enclave of Gaza for stings and hurts.

On the news, a Kuwaiti running a Ferguson grocery says his store has been looted. I think, “He’s the Arab there now.”

Things will change again in Ferguson. Historic inequities in that community will be reexamined, no one will be able to pretend they don’t exist. But will we examine them in other communities too?

Will things change for Gaza? If they don’t, this nightmare of worst selves will keep happening and happening. Look, it already has. And what gets better? Will the United States ever speak out in solidarity with scores of exhausted people burying their dead, staring up with stunned eyes, mystified?

–Naomi Shihab Nye, The Washington Post, August 28, 2014

Posted in Opinion/Editorial | Leave a Comment »

Jonathan Cook: Partisan reporters criticise Gaza coverage

Posted by uscsjp on September 1, 2014

I have noted in several previous articles the unusual, possibly unique, problem relating to media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The reporting corps is awash with “partisan reporters” – that is, Jews who have an ideological, social or familial connection and sympathy with one side, the Israeli side.

I have no objection to reporters having views, even strong ones, about this conflict, or any other issue in the news. I do myself. In fact, I believe journalists cannot be “objective”, as I have explained at length elsewhere.  But in the case of Israel-Palestine, many reporters are being chosen precisely for their partisanship – and these reporters are being selected because they are partisan in one direction only. Just check how many Palestinian reporters (I don’t mean glorified fixers or undervalued stringers) report for the US media on the conflict.

Editors possibly justify their policy to themselves by assuming that Jewish reporters, especially ones with family in Israel, will improve their access to Israeli elites. Given the rampant chauvinism in Israel, this may be so. But it means only one side of the elite debate is being accessed – the Israeli one.

Illustrations of the partisan reporter’s mindset have been thrown up afresh in a debate about media responsibility during Israel’s attack on Gaza. A prime example is Matti Friedman, who worked for many years at the US news agency Associated Press. AP has a pretty terrible record in its coverage of the conflict, as well as documented examples of its local staff censoring stories that reflect badly on Israel.

Preposterously, Friedman asserts in his essay for the Tablet magazine that the media’s disproportionate interest in Israel-Palestine reflects an unhealthy and “hostile obsession with Jews”. In fact, it indicates something else entirely: the West’s long and unhealthy interest in supporting the Zionist movement’s dispossession of the Palestinian people in their homeland, and a deep sense by Western elites of their political and military investment in the Jewish state project.

The media’s obsession with Israel results both from Israel’s place at the heart of the West’s perceived strategic interests in the region and from a need to pander to influential domestic Jewish readerships. There is a reason, after all, why the New York Times is probably the most Israel-obsessed newspaper in the world outside Israel itself – and it has nothing to do with anti-Semitism.

Most of Friedman’s article is so patently one-sided, and detached from reality, it barely warrants addressing. One only needs to read his claim that the big story overlooked by the media is: “The fact that Israelis quite recently elected moderate governments that sought reconciliation with the Palestinians”. Yes, in your dreams, Matti.

Similarly, Friedman apparently also knows enough Palestinians to argue that the real story they want covering is corruption within their own society. Maybe the two Palestinians you befriended think like that, Matti, but I guess that may be a rather self-selecting group. Why do you think they befriended you?

As someone who has lived among Palestinians for more than a decade, I can assure you that, however much corruption there is in Palestinian society (and there certainly is), it is considered a far less pressing concern than the occupation of the West Bank, the siege of Gaza, the continuing dispossession of Jerusalem, and the abandonment of the refugees. You may think Palestinians have their priorities wrong, Matti, but there is no disputing that those are their priorities.

Friedman also wants the conflict recharacterised as a Jewish-Muslim one rather than Israeli-Palestinian. The media apparently collude in this mistaken framing. Thus, Friedman argues:

A knowledgeable observer of the Middle East cannot avoid the impression that the region is a volcano and that the lava is radical Islam, an ideology whose various incarnations are now shaping this part of the world. Israel is a tiny village on the slopes of the volcano. Hamas is the local representative of radical Islam and is openly dedicated to the eradication of the Jewish minority enclave in Israel.

Except the conflict existed well before anyone had heard of Hamas, al-Qaeda or Isis. Religion was never at the root of the conflict, though Israel – hoping to exploit Western prejudices about a clash of civilisations – has been working hard to make it so.

Friedman again:

Jerusalem is less than a day’s drive from Aleppo or Baghdad, and it should be clear to everyone that peace is pretty elusive in the Middle East even in places where Jews are absent. But reporters generally cannot see the Israel story in relation to anything else.

But Western interests, and the resulting Western interference, Western-backed puppets, and the West’s fair-weather, Islamic allies, are never far away from wherever one is in the Middle East. That is why peace is and remains elusive. Israel is one central prong in this Western policy of interference. The real story is that reporters like Friedman – in fact, all reporters in the mainstream – are either oblivious to the West’s indelible impact on the region, or career-minded enough to avoid mentioning it.

Today in a Haaretz commentary, a former partisan reporter for the BBC, Richard Miron, added his support to this heavily distorted picture of media malfeasance. Being a former BBC journalist, he tries to be a little more “balanced” in his views than Friedman, but finds nothing in Friedman’s screed to distance himself from.

As if confirming Friedman’s claims, Miron lambasts reporters for “emoting” on the Palestinians’ behalf, citing Jon Snow of Britain’s Channel 4.  Whatever one thinks of Snow – and I think he ultimately failed his viewers by chiefly packaging Palestinian suffering in Gaza in humanitarian terms – Miron, like Freidman, is grossly misrepresenting the true picture of Western media coverage of Gaza. That rare bout of soul-searching from one prominent presenter was but a drop in the ocean of wall-to-wall sympathy for Israel in the US media. The story there echoed the assumption of President Barack Obama that Israel has a right to defend itself from … Palestinian resistance to decades of Israel’s belligerent occupation and an eight-year siege of Gaza. That part of the story was hardly ever mentioned, even by Snow.

Miron does make one sensible observation:

Knowing Gaza’s physical geography, it’s safe to conclude that if Hamas operatives did come out from the territory’s packed urban confines, they would have been quickly struck by an Israeli drone or aircraft fire.

But blinded by his partisanship for Israel, he then wants to use this observation to support Israel’s story that Palestinians in Gaza were being used as “human shields”. In fact, he specifically criticises BBC Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen for writing that “he saw no evidence … of Israel’s accusation that Hamas uses Palestinians as human shields”. But contrary to Miron’s assumption, avoiding committing suicide (on a battlefield determined by Israel’s siege policy) is not the same as turning other Palestinians into human shields. At least Bowen understands that point, even if Miron, blinded by his partisanship, cannot.

–Jonathan Cook, The Blog from Nazareth, September 1, 2014

 

http://www.jonathan-cook.net/blog/2014-09-01/partisan-reporters-criticise-gaza-coverage/

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

Democracy Now! “Stop the Violence from Ferguson to Gaza: 90-Year-Old Holocaust Survivor Arrested in St. Louis”

Posted by uscsjp on August 26, 2014

Just days after her 90th birthday, Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein was arrested Monday in St. Louis when she was part of a protest outside Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s office. Epstein was born in Germany and left in 1939 on a Kindertransport to England. Her parents died in Auschwitz. Epstein is a co-founder of the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee and St. Louis branch of Jewish Voice for Peace. In 2011, she was part of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and was a passenger on the U.S.-flagged ship, The Audacity of Hope. Over the years, she has made many solidarity trips to the West Bank. Epstein criticizes the police handling of protests in Ferguson. “It’s the same kind of violence that I’ve observed when I was in the Israeli-occupied Palestine,” Epstein says. “I know what it feels like to be discriminated against, to be oppressed, and I can’t stand idly by when I see there are problems.”

TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We end today’s show with Hedy Epstein. She is a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor who was arrested on Monday in St. Louis when she was part of a protest outside of Governor Jay Nixon’s office. Hedy Epstein is co-founder of the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee and St. Louis branch of Jewish Voice for Peace. In 2011, she was part of the Gaza freedom flotilla and was a passenger on the U.S.-flagged ship, The Audacity of Hope. Over the years, she has made many solidarity trips to the West Bank. She joins us here now in Ferguson.

Hedy Epstein, welcome back to Democracy Now!

HEDY EPSTEIN: Good morning, Amy, and thank you for having me on your program.

AMY GOODMAN: We speak to you as tear gas has been in the streets of Ferguson and the Israeli assault on Gaza has just resumed. Your feelings today? And talk about why you got arrested on Monday.

HEDY EPSTEIN: On Monday, several of us gathered downtown, and then we marched to the Wainwright Building, where the office of Governor Nixon is. And we wanted to speak to him and ask him to de-escalate the violence that’s going on in Ferguson. And there were police and security people in front of the building, and they would not let us in. There is a large plaza in front of the building, and so we congregated there. There were some people speaking about their experiences. And at one point, a police lieutenant informed us that the governor is not there—I just learned that he was at the fair—and that his staff is not there, and asked us to disperse. And when we didn’t disperse, within seconds almost, the police arrested those of us who refused to disperse. There were nine of us. I was one of them. We were handcuffed, taken to the paddy wagon and to the nearest police substation.

AMY GOODMAN: What concerns you most about what’s happening here?

HEDY EPSTEIN: The ongoing violence and the ongoing oppression that has been taking place in Ferguson of the African-American community. And that has to end. The whole structure of oppression there has to end. And right now, that’s the long-range problem. But at present now, the violence has to de-escalate. Instead of it, it’s being escalated. And the police chief of Ferguson has been trained in Israel how to mishandle, I’m sorry to have to say—

AMY GOODMAN: You’re saying Police Chief Jackson?

HEDY EPSTEIN: Right, how to mishandle a large group of people. And this is what he’s doing. And it’s the same kind of violence that I’ve observed when I was in the Israeli-occupied Palestine. It’s just abominable, what’s happening.

AMY GOODMAN: Where were you born?

HEDY EPSTEIN: I was born in Germany, and I left in May 1939 on a Kindertransport, or Children’s Transport, to England. I came to this country in May 1948.

AMY GOODMAN: So, what fuels you, keeps you going? By the way, happy birthday. You just celebrated your 90th birthday.

HEDY EPSTEIN: Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: You’re wearing a black T-shirt with white letters that say, “STAYHUMAN.” What fuels you in your activism, from Gaza and the West Bank to Ferguson, Missouri?

HEDY EPSTEIN: I know what it feels like to be discriminated against, to be oppressed, and I can’t stand idly by when I see there are problems. I can’t solve every problem, I probably can’t solve any problem, but I have to do whatever it is possible for me to do. I just cannot stand idly by, because if I did—and anyone that stand idly by becomes complicit in what is going on.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you have a message, as you stand here in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu?

HEDY EPSTEIN: Stop the violence. Go to the table and honestly discuss what might happen, that it’s—if peace ever can be there in that area. That violence there has to end. I mean, it’s terrible, what’s been going on there. Not just now, but it’s been an ongoing thing. But Netanyahu has no intention, really. He talks about peace, but he doesn’t really want peace.

AMY GOODMAN: And a message for your own president here, President Obama, who’s been dealing both with Ferguson, Missouri, and what’s happened in Israel and Palestine?

HEDY EPSTEIN: I know he’s on vacation right now, but come here to Ferguson. Show your face. Talk to the people here. Talk to the young people here. They need you.

AMY GOODMAN: Hedy Epstein, I want to say thank you so much for being with us, our last guest today here in Ferguson, Missouri, as we broadcast each day the voices of people in the streets, and we’ll continue to do so…

 –Democracy Now!, August 20, 2014

 

Posted in News, Opinion/Editorial | 1 Comment »

“B’Tselem strongly condemns the abduction and killing of the three Yeshiva students”

Posted by uscsjp on July 1, 2014

B’Tselem strongly condemns the abduction and killing of the three Yeshiva students, Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar, and Eyal Yifrah, and offers its condolences to the families. Deliberate targeting of civilians undermines all moral, legal and human principles. The deliberate killing of civilians is defined as a grave breach of international humanitarian law, and cannot be justified, regardless of the circumstances.

–B’Tselem, June 30th, 2014

 

http://www.btselem.org/press_releases/20140630_abduction_and_killing_of_three_yeshiva_students

 

See Also:

The Guardian: “Israeli jets pound Gaza as Netanyahu blames Hamas for teenagers’ deaths

Bodies of three abducted students found in a shallow grave near Hebron, but Hamas denies involvement in murders”

–The Guardian, July 1st, 2014

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/01/israeli-jets-gaza-netanyahu-hamas-teenagers-deaths

Posted in Opinion/Editorial | Leave a Comment »