Posts tagged Israel
Posts tagged Israel
Side Note: What?!
The New York Police Department opened its Israeli branch in the Sharon District Police headquarters in Kfar Saba. Charlie Ben-Naim, a former Israeli and veteran NYPD detective, was sent on this mission.
You don’t have to fly to New York to meet members of the police department considered to be the best in the world — all you have to do is make the short trip to the Kfar Saba police station in the Sharon, where the NYPD opened a local branch.
Behind the opening of the branch in the Holy Land is the NYPD decision that the Israeli police is one of the major police forces with which it must maintain close work relations and daily contact.
Ben-Naim was chosen for the mission of opening the NYPD branch in Israel. He is a veteran detective of the NYPD and a former Israeli who went to study in New York, married a local city resident and then joined the local police force. Among the things he has dealt with in the line of duty are the extradition of criminals, the transmitting of intelligence information and assistance in the location of missing persons, both in the United States and in Israel.
It was decided, in coordination with the Israeli police, that the New York representative would not operate out of the United States embassy but from a building of the Sharon District Police headquarters, situated close to the Kfar Sava station. The NYPD sign was even hung at the entrance to the district headquarters, and Ben-Naim’s office is situated on the first floor of the building. One of the walls bears the sign: “New York Police Department, the best police department in the world.”
“I will continue the struggle until the end of my term, with no compramises,” Yishai continued, stating that he would use “all the tools to expel the foreigners, until not one infiltrator remains.”
Side note: Israel is a racist, apartheid state and that is all there is to it.
In the latest scandal involving the Israeli military, soldiers stand by and refuse to intervene as extremist Jewish settlers open fire on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.
Go to Google and type in “H.R. 4133.” You will discover that, apart from a handful of blogs and alternative news sites, not a single mainstream medium has reported the story of a congressional bill that might well have major impact on the conduct of United States foreign policy. H.R. 4133, the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012, was introduced into the House of Representatives of the 112th Congress on March 5 “to express the sense of Congress regarding the United States-Israel strategic relationship, to direct the president to submit to Congress reports on United States actions to enhance this relationship and to assist in the defense of Israel, and for other purposes.” The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) reportedly helped draft the bill, and its co-sponsors include Republicans Eric Cantor and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Democrats Howard Berman and Steny Hoyer. Hoyer is the Democratic whip in the House of Representatives, where Cantor is majority leader. Ros-Lehtinen heads the Foreign Affairs Committee.
The House bill basically provides Israel with a blank check drawn on the U.S. taxpayer to maintain its “qualitative military edge” over all of its neighbors combined. It requires the White House to prepare an annual report on how that superiority is being maintained. The resolution passed on May 9 by a vote of 411–2 on a “suspension of the rules,” which is intended for non-controversial legislation requiring little debate and a quick vote.
A number of congressmen spoke on the bill, affirming their undying dedication to the cause of Israel. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas was the only one who spoke out against it, describing it as “one-sided and counterproductive foreign policy legislation. This bill’s real intent seems to be more saber-rattling against Iran and Syria.” Paul also observed that “this bill states that it is the policy of the United States to ‘reaffirm the enduring commitment of the United States to the security of the State of Israel as a Jewish state.’ However, according to our Constitution, the policy of the United States government should be to protect the security of the United States, not to guarantee the religious, ethnic, or cultural composition of a foreign country.” Paul voted “no” and was joined by only one other representative, John Dingell of Michigan, who represents a large Muslim constituency.
It is interesting to note what exactly the bill pledges the American people to do on behalf of Israel. It obligates the United States to veto resolutions critical of Israel, to provide such military support “as is necessary,” to pay for the building of an anti-missile system, to provide advanced “defense” equipment (including refueling tankers, which are offensive), to give Israel special munitions (i.e., bunker-busters, which are also offensive), to forward deploy more U.S. military equipment to Israel, to offer the Israeli air force more training and facilities in the U.S., to increase security- and advanced-technology-program cooperation, and to extend loan guarantees and expand intelligence-sharing (including highly sensitive satellite imagery). Actually, there’s even more included, and I may have missed the kitchen sink. But the objective is to provide Israel with the resources to attack Iran, if it chooses to do so, while tying the U.S. and Israel so closely together that whatever Benjamin Netanyahu does, the U.S. “will always be there,” as our president has so aptly put it.
But the scariest bit of the bill is its call for “an expanded role for Israel within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), including an enhanced presence at NATO headquarters and exercises.” If Israel becomes part of NATO, which is clearly Congress’s intent, the U.S. and other members will be obligated to come to the aid of a nation that is expanding its borders and is currently engaged in hostilities with three of its neighbors. Israel has also initiated a series of regional wars. Whether NATO membership for Israel would benefit anyone is questionable, but it is something the neocons have been seeking for years, to turn Israel’s wars into a new crusade against the Muslim world.
Golden Platform Side Note: You have GOT to me kidding me… Anyway: Is calling Netanyahu the “king of Israel” similar to calling him the ‘King of the Jews’?
Editor’s note: Aaron David Miller is a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and served as a Middle East negotiator in Democratic and Republican administrations. He is the author of the forthcoming book “Can America Have Another Great President?” Follow him on Twitter
Washington (CNN) — With 30-plus governments since independence (average length less than two years), Israeli politics rarely surprises. But Monday’s agreement between Benjamin Netanyahu and Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz did precisely that.
In a pre-emptive strike — against his critics, a cynical Israeli press, and, last but not least, an American administration that keeps hoping he’s a short-timer — Netanyahu bought himself another 16 months of challenge-free politics, co-opted his main opponent for the price of a deputy premiership, and broadened and legitimized his government for the turbulent period ahead.
While Mofaz looks unprincipled (two weeks ago he said he’d never join a Netanyahu-led coalition), Bibi Netanyahu looks like a veritable statesman and political genius who, for the sake of the country’s unity and stability, did the right thing. With U.S. President Barack Obama facing an uncertain political future, Netanyahu has secured his — at least over the short term.
What difference will the new coalition of 94 Knesset members — a virtually unassailable majority — have on the core issues facing Israel?
Peace process: Already comatose, the Israeli-Palestinian issue may be revived slightly as a result of the new politics. Mofaz has made resolution of the Palestinian issue a key theme; but the result will be motion without real movement.
Since Mofaz is committed to pursuing the existing government’s policies until the end of 2013, it’s unlikely there will be major changes. Netanyahu didn’t invite Kadima into the coalition only to go to new elections over a deal with the Palestinians that could split his own Likud party. But the change in tone will relieve the pressure of being saddled with a right-wing government that many claimed had no constituent group which was at all interested in negotiations.
Iran: Some analysts argue that early elections would have reduced the chances for an Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear sites, and that the unity government has now increased them.
That’s what Netanyahu would like to make the world believe. But Netanyahu’s decision-making on striking Iran has always been shaped by three factors; the unity government changes none of them. In fact, given Mofaz’s caution on Iran, the odds of a strike before the American elections may actually be reduced.
First, there’s Netanyahu’s read of Iran’s intentions. That hasn’t changed. Netanyahu believes the mullahs want the capacity to produce a nuclear weapon and ultimately to possess the weapon itself. The P5+1 international talks on Iran, in Istanbul last month and later this month in Baghdad, haven’t persuaded him otherwise; but they do make an attack much less likely while the process is in train.
Second, there’s the degree of difficulty of the operation. Israel would like to avoid a unilateral strike and make Iran America’s problem. Without firing a shot in the past year or so, the Israelis are well on their way to success here. And Mofaz will reinforce this approach now that his bloc of 28 Kadima Knesset members is part of the coalition.
Finally, what America thinks is critical to Israeli calculations. Should the Israelis strike, the United States needs to be in their corner to deal with the mess afterward. And Obama has made it as clear as any American president can that Israel acting now, with negotiations ongoing, is a bad idea. Clearly, Obama doesn’t want an Israeli strike or an American strike before the elections and probably not this year.
And the new unity government reinforces the obvious: no war with Iran in 2012 and likely no deal on the nuclear issue either. This new government in Israel isn’t about upsetting the status quo and getting ready for war; on the contrary, it’s about preserving the status quo — at least for now.
Netanyahu thinks of himself in historic and potentially transformative terms — leading Israel at a moment of great challenge, particularly freeing the Israelis from the shadow of the Iranian bomb.
We’re constantly underestimating him. Obama thinks he’s a con man, or at best a speed bump confronting a peace process he’d like to see move forward. The Europeans would like him gone — yesterday. The Palestinians and the Arabs can’t stand him.
But the fact is, for now Netanyahu is the only Israeli political leader that can do and have it all — maintain close ties with Washington; settle the West Bank; avoid negotiations with the Palestinians; use the threat of an Israeli attack to keep the international community pressing Iran; and now, dominate Israeli politics.
He’s the king of Israel, and we may just have to get used to it.
May 3, 2012
Loai Odeh is a former political prisoner who was released from Israeli prison in the prisoner swap deal last year and forcibly transferred from Jerusalem to Gaza; before his release, Loai took part in the 22-day mass hunger strike launched at the end of September 2011 to protest cruel conditions and an escalating series of punitive measures against Palestinian prisoners.
Loai has published on Facebook very expressive, moving and informative diaries chronicling the experience of a hunger striker (see my translation of the first eight installements of Loai’s hunger strike diaries, pubilshed on 24 April). His last status update was on the 15th day of the hunger strike, just before he went on open hunger strike along with fifty other people on the 16th day of the mass hunger strike. They have taken the sit-in tent in Gaza as their shelter, which they say they will not leave unless our prisoners stop suffering. They couldn’t stand watching our prisoners going through slow death without doing anything in solidarity, so they have gone on a symbolic hunger strike that aims to draw attention locally and internationally to the prisoners’ just cause.
I took the initiative to translate the rest of Loai’s diaries from Arabic, hoping to inspire everyone who reads it, just like they inspired me.
On April 25, Loai wrote:
Today is the ninth day of heroism. Our strikers have already endured a long time of suffering and loss of weight. The provocative practices of the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) keep escalating. The searches get more intensive and violent. But we should keep in mind that “search” policy according to Israel’s oppressive administration involves different processes.
During ordinary days, the purpose of searches is to find the contraband that our prisoners managed to smuggle in to ease their difficult lives. However, during a hunger strike, the only purpose of a search is to tire our strikers physically and psychologically. Soldiers burst into strikers’ rooms aggressively as if they were confronting armed fighters on a battleground, not hunger strikers with feeble bodies that can barely stand. Knowing that strikers are intolerant of noise, soldiers break into their rooms with loud screams and initiate a hand search in a way that one feels that he’s being beaten rather than searched. Whoever refuses to undergo these “searches” gets beaten up and is plunged directly into solitary confinement. The prisoners are then left in a yard outside with no place to sit for hours while their rooms are turned into a complete mess. The contents of the rooms are heaped into a single pile, indiscriminate of who they belong to, disheartening the prisoners when they return and discover the pile that they are faced with sorting through and straightening out. Moreover, they tear off their mattresses’ cover sheets that take strikers a long time to put back or replace. Even during ordinary days these searches are tiring, so imagine how they are during hunger strikes. Jailers subject prisoners to these searches several times a day, leaving them for hours under the burning sun or in the cold night air while conducting the searches.
However, our heroes’ determination and their solid commitment help them to neglect the guards’ provocative and humiliating practices as they realize that challenging is a needed weapon to go on and win over the IPS’s oppression. Solidarity movements have to use all the means available to help them have fewer days of suffering.
On 30 April, 2012, Israeli ambassador to the United States Michael Oren gave a speech at George Washington University’s Elliott School for International Affairs. Michael Oren served in the IDF during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, served again as the IDF spokesman during Israel’s brutal assault on Lebanon in 2006, and was the media relations officer during the massacre of over 1,200 Palestinians in Gaza in 2008-2009. Now, as the Israeli ambassador to the United States, Oren continues to fill the role of whitewashing Israel’s war crimes and illegal occupation—be it in US news stations churches, or universities.
But the close relationship between Israel and the American public (particularly the Christian community) that Oren speaks of in the video below was recently challenged by a CBS special. Oren was deliberate in mentioning his and his wife’s [alleged] Sunday ritual of going to churches to speak to congregations, most recently an African American church to which they were welcomed. However, as we saw in Bob Simon’s interview, Oren’s storytelling is only loose and free when he is in control of the conversation; attempts to present the Palestinian perspective are categorically denied and censored.
On 8 February, 2010, students at the University of California-Irvine interrupted his speech, protesting his propaganda justifying Israeli atrocities. Though these students left the auditorium peacefully, they were arrested, tried, convicted of misdemeanors, and sentenced to community service and a three-year probation period for exercising their right to free speech. Since the actions by these students, now commonly referred to as the “Irvine 11,” activists across the country have made it a point to walk out, protest, or in some manner disrupt the visits of Michael Oren, IDF soldiers, and others to American university campuses—sending a clear message to their universities that war criminals are not welcome.
Several months ago, George Washington University hosted a speaker from the IDF on campus. A university event publicist shared the news of the event on Twitter, declaring that it was open and that students were encouraged to attend.
Yet, upon overhearing an Arabic-speaking student approaching the door, two Israeli security guards communicated to each other in Hebrew that this student should not be allowed to enter. No evidence that registration was required was shown to the student and her peers; instead, the door was shut in their faces and campus police were called to the scene to have them removed on the assumption that they may protest, although no evidence of this other than the ethnicity of a few members of the group was given. Despite reporting this incident to the relevant authorities, no apology or explanation was given to the students involved. University administrators at the scene admitted that, according to protocol and the lack of a registration or legitimate filtering mechanism, the students should have been allowed to attend.
This incident caused increased trepidation in many of the organizers for this week’s walkout, who were unsure if they would even be allowed to enter, or, given the Irvine 11 case, if they could be prosecuted. Nevertheless, students continued with their plans with the strong conviction that Michael Oren and Israel’s narrative should not go unchallenged.
The walkout and protest in the video below were organized and attended by students and activists from the DC area, with representatives from Georgetown University, George Washington University, Howard University, American University and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP). Since the walkout, Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post have both reported the action, as well as coverage of the walkout on C-SPAN’s online boradcast of the event.
Discrimination is the sophisticated, less blunt, distant cousin of racism. It has the same effects as racism − ranking people by birth − without, necessarily, the same intentions, which is why discrimination is mostly and most often an invisible mechanism. This is also the reason why some legal provisions suggest evaluating discrimination on the basis of facts. But facts alone do not scrutinize the mindset of people working in organizations. If, for example, women represent 50 percent of the population, Arabs and Mizrahim constitute 60 percent of the population and if all three groups have almost never been represented among the rectors, presidents and deans, or been recipients of scientific awards of Israeli universities, we need not enter the minds of the people who make these decisions to suspect discrimination. The proof is in the famous pudding.
What is interesting − sociologically − about discrimination is that it produces racist or sexist effects without being necessarily connected to racist beliefs, at least not explicit ones. Universities and many cultural institutions are particularly good places to examine this phenomenon because they are full of liberal, well-intentioned, broad-minded people who want to promote equality, yet fail at it. Therefore, the question of how places full of liberal and broad-minded people end up being full of Ashkenazi men is puzzling. Here, gender and ethnicity should be viewed in similar terms, because mechanisms of exclusion in both cases are often similar (with the proviso that Ashkenazi women are doing much better in Ashkenazi cultural institutions than Mizrahim and Arab men or women). Even if women and Mizrahim constitute large groups, each of these groups – despite their increasing visibility and presence in Israeli society – are still “minorities,” because historically they have been deprived of rights, privileges and resources that men have enjoyed. (For example, when you understand the importance of the army for networking in many Israeli institutions, you realize why women and Arabs have been kept outside many centers of power.) In fact, we may go further: the “majority” that now controls so many institutions is largely made up of Ashkenazis (among them a majority of men), and close to 60 per cent (Arabs and Mizrahim) are the minorities left outside many centers of power. The fact that this situation has improved over time should not prevent us from asking why it is not improving faster.
Inbal Bitton (a fictional name) was born and raised in Kiryat Shmona. She went to a very mediocre school, where she learned a lot about Jewish holidays, the Holocaust, Zionism and the Torah, but very little about Athenian democracy, the difference between idealism and materialism in philosophy, the comparative study of the rationality at work in the Guide for the Perplexed and Arab civilization’s contribution to modern sciences. Still, thanks to her hard work, she studied at university, earned a degree in social work and geography, and now works in the urban planning department in the municipality of a large Israeli city. She is hard-working, meticulous, intelligent, and after a few years has become very competent at her job.
One day, she arrives at a meeting with the director of an international philanthropic organization who wants to contribute to the construction of public projects in Israel. In addition to the director, two other men are present; one grew up in Rehavia, the other in Haifa. The meeting gets off to a good start: The three men tell each other army jokes and learn that they have mutual acquaintances among the officers. The meeting progresses and some important decisions are made. At the end of the meeting, the three men stay on to chat; Inbal feels a bit of an outsider, so she politely leaves. During that final informal chat, the director of the philanthropic organization learns that he shares musical tastes with one of the other men, and that they both have a subscription to the Israeli Opera. One week later, the director of that same large philanthropic organization is asked by the Minister of Infrastructure to recommend someone for a prestigious position at his ministry that requires a great deal of experience in urban planning. Who do you think he will remember from the meeting held a week ago?
This fictional, yet realistic, anecdote serves to illustrate many phenomena all at once: Men do not exclude this woman because she is a woman, but because they can bond naturally − they all shared the same military humor, learned in the barracks. They do not exclude her because she is Mizrahi, but rather because all three of them grew up in similar Ashkenazi neighborhoods and could recognize in each other a common and similar style. In no way did they hold the a priori racist opinion that Mizrahim or people who grew up in Kiryat Shmona are less worthy than people who grew up in large urban centers. They simply inferred from her clothes, accent perhaps, last name, and her discomfort that she is not “sophisticated,” “representative” or “well-groomed.” Finally, in evaluating her style, the men confused two things: how competent she is at her job, and her “cultural capital” – how much high culture she knows and displays. They viewed cultural knowledge or capital as a sign of professional competence, which it is not.
The one who got the phone call was the one who also had a subscription to the opera. He got the call not because he was more competent in urban planning, but because he had the same upbringing, the same army experiences, the same way of speaking, the same manners, the same physical appearance, and the same musical taste as the one who called him. (It also turns out that this style is congruent in general with the style of many who make important decisions.) This is, in a nutshell, the story of discrimination.
This anecdote says something important: much discrimination does not feel like discrimination at all; in fact, most of the time it feels like something else. It feels like the trust and respect we have for some and not for others; it feels like the bonds of camaraderie we create with others through the army, the university, the kibbutz, the youth group or the tennis club. Mostly it feels like an honest, objective evaluation of someone else’s competence and personality.
The reason why discrimination is so hard to fight, even in ourselves, is that it is very hard to identify because it happens behind our backs, so to speak − it almost always comes in the form of something else, like trusting someone from our group, or evaluating “objectively” someone as more competent or sophisticated, or preventing a “difficult” person from being promoted. In fact, quite often discrimination comes subtly packaged with qualities that many people value − such as being loyal to old friends; recognizing in others what makes us feel comfortable and on familiar terrain; promoting only “nice people,” those who do not question the privileges and entitlements we have. In the example above, discrimination is not a nasty and brutal way to exclude. It feels, and in some ways it is, natural and friendly. Nothing could be more natural than to be friendly to those who are like us and gentle to us.
Let me thus make a blunt sociological statement: What makes us feel good as members of a group usually plays out very badly in the overall politics of equality. Group cohesion does not go along with a capacity to integrate people who differ. A truly meritocratic society cannot be based on groups, because groups demand first and foremost loyalty, and loyalty is not an egalitarian or meritocratic virtue.
Nor does discrimination mean that we dislike members of minority groups (this is where it differs from racism). In fact, women are liked so much that they are regularly discriminated against through courtship and sexual harassment in the workplace. Discrimination is a set of invisible strategies, the effect of which is to exclude minorities from available resources. Discrimination is about sharing power, not about our capacity to have women or Mizrahim or Arabs as friends, as lovers, or as our domestic workers. We can love Mizrahi women and discriminate against them in the workplace. The question of discrimination arises only when a man and a woman, a Mizrahi and an Ashkenazi, an Arab and a Jew, a native and a foreigner, are competing for the same resources, such as power, money, prestige, leadership.
How egalitarian are we?
Prominent Palestinian activist and writer Salameh Kaileh was arrested overnight at his home in Damascus by Syrian authorities, human rights lawyer Anwar Bunni said on Tuesday.
“The security services entered Kaileh’s home in the suburb of Barzeh at 2:00 am (2300 GMT Monday) and arrested him without explanation,” said Bunni.
He said Kaileh’s detention was clearly intended to “muzzle freedom of expression.”
The 57-year-old author, born in Birzeit in the West Bank, is a well-known leftist who has authored a number of books on subjects ranging from Marxism to Arab nationalism.
He was imprisoned by the Syrian government in the 1990s for eight years.
Bunni, who heads the Syrian Centre for Legal Studies and Research, called for Kaileh’s immediate release.
He accused the regime of also targeting doctors known to be providing aid to those wounded in the government crackdown against a 13-month revolt that has left more than 9,000 people dead according to the United Nations.
“The Syrian authorities are not content to violate human rights on all levels, or to pursue and arrest those who denounce their violations, they also are working to stop all who treat the victims of those violations,” the lawyer said.
The number of hunger-striking Palestinian political prisoners, held by Israel in various prisons, detention camps and interrogation facilities around the country, will likely reach 3,000 persons as waves of detainees intend to join the strike, demanding their rights guaranteed under international law.
Dozens of detainees are currently on hunger-strike that officially started last Tuesday. The strike, described as “the battle of empty bowels”, aims at ending Israel’s illegal administrative detention polices, halting all violations against the detainees and their families, and improving the living conditions of the detainees.
Head of the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS), Qaddoura Fares, told the Ma’an News Agency that the first group of detainees, held under administrative detention without charges, have reached the “no return point” as they have been on hunger-strike since 56 days, and insist on not breaking their strike until they are released.
Fares added that the second group of detainees have been on hunger strike for seven days now, and are demanding Israeli to improve their living conditions, allowing visitation rights, halting violations against their visiting family members, ending all solitary confinement policies, allowing them the right to education, and ending all night raids, and searches, targeting them and their rooms.
“The current number of detainees who are on hunger-strike is 1,400-1,600, and will likely increase to 3,000 in the coming few days” Fares said and added that it is unlikely that all 4,700 detainees will join the strike, but could hold solidarity hunger strikes, such as two days a week.
Fares said that the striking detainees are from different political factions and groups, and that they are all united in their legitimate demands regardless of their political affiliation.
It is worth mentioning that Israel conducted punitive measures against 1,200 Palestinian detainees by denying their visitation rights, and isolating them from the detainees who are not part of the protests yet.
Furthermore, a spokeswoman of the Israeli Prison Administration, stated that all “privileges” have been taken away from the detainees, including family visitations, and all electrical equipment has been removed.
The Obama administration has declared that the “War on Terror” is officially over, but this move only signifies a change in public terminology, not official U.S. policy.
Many of the war on terror’s secret objectives will be pursued regardless of the new public language that will be deployed by U.S. officials to sell the idea of perpetual warfare to the American people and the rest of the world.
One of the main objectives of the falsely advertised “War on Terror,” was to allow U.S. government agencies and international banks to reap the profits from the global drug trade while appearing noble and lawful. Despite the brand change, the war on terror will still be waged in order to preserve the global drug economy. The continuation of covert CIA and military operations in the heroin fields of Afghanistan is a certainty.
As many experts on reality have noted, a sharp rise in heroin cultivation in Afghanistan occurred when America and NATO invaded the country illegally in 2001. U.S. officials, intelligence officers, and soldiers have been trafficking drugs out of Afghanistan under the radar for the last decade. Journalist Patrick Henningsenreported earlier this month that both the Army and the DEA are trafficking drugs into the United States.
The global trafficking of drugs by the U.S. government is not done to keep the government budget afloat and finance the banks. It is pure corruption. As Catherine Austin Fitts wrote in 2001, “New technology blesses us with the potential tools we can use to radically increase productivity in a way that can “jump the curve” on our narco dollar addiction.”
In the past decade, the National Security State’s crimes such as drug trafficking and arms dealing were committed under the cover of War on Terror, but this label is being dropped in favour of more sophisticated and nuanced language.
The Obama administration is trying to maintain the corrupt status quo by adopting a new vocabulary to cover-up the criminal activities and policies of the U.S. security state and Wall Street/Federal Reserve Banksters.
So, contrary to the claims of the Obama propaganda machine, the evil transnational and secret financial-intelligence-political-security-media Empire has been strengthened and stimulated anew under the Obama administration.
In the run-up to the 2012 presidential election, the Obama administration is trying all kinds of tricks to regain popular credibility which it had lost because of its defense of the Wall Street bandits and Bush-era torturers. Whether provoking a race war, falsely declaring the end of U.S. wars abroad, or exploiting the grievances of the poor, the aim is the same: re-elect the puppet Obama.
The aircraft carrier Enterprise has moved into the Persian Gulf, although it’s an antique, slow-moving target and a potential lightening rod for war on Iran. As a retired Navy man told me last month, “A couple of torpedoes would stagger the thing, and then you’ve got the Alamo, the Maine, the Lusitania, Pearl Harbor, the Gulf of Tonkin and 9/11 all over again,” he said, “with Iran in the crosshairs.”
Enterprise needlessly joins the strike group of the 100,000-ton carrier Lincoln with its crew of 3,200 already in the Gulf. TV-Novosti reported April 10 that in March President Obama sent his second amphibious assault group to the Gulf. Those gun boats include a nuclear submarine, a Marine helicopter squadron and more than 2,000 Marines.
At 51, Enterprise is the oldest ship in the Navy, having seen action since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. From the bombing of Laos in 1973 and the 1986 bombing of Libya, to the 800,000 pounds of munitions it fired into Afghanistan in 2001, Enterprise has helped maintain a string of atrocity producing situations that has no end in sight.
Set for retirement and decommissioning this fall, Enterprise’s Gulf deployment is its last. But it has no purpose whatsoever as a war machine when 11 newer and more sophisticated carriers are available. Indeed Enterprise is a hugely expensive liability, a deadly heap of hazardous scrap. Its fiercely radioactive reactors and waste fuel require dangerous and costly removal and long-term isolation from the ecosphere as nuclear waste material.
So Enterprise, the first ever nuclear-powered carrier,parades through the Gulf with lots of gunpowder. Its “strike group 12” consists of: Carrier Air Wing 1; the guided-missile cruiser Vicksburg;and Destroyer Squadron 2, comprising guided-missile destroyers Nitze, Porter and James E. Williams. Enterprise is 1,123 feet long, weighs 94,000 tons, has 8 propulsion reactors, four 35-ton rudders, two gyms, a crew of at least 3,100, a television station and—no doubt demonstrating a free press— a daily paper.
The government knows its loss at sea would be cheaper than retirement, and if it can scare the country into yet another shooting war, our munitions makers and weapons merchants continue swimming in billions of tax dollars defending freedom and peace. In January, when Sec. of Defense Leon Panetta first said he would send Enterprise to the Gulf “to send a direct message to Iran,” the price of gas shot up and stayed up. You’d almost think the oil giants like war. The privatized DoD contractor corporations certainly do.
To get public opinion and NATO behind war on Iran, the war party needs to both sideline our Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan Syndromes and to flabbergast Russia, China and India. How better than to make it look as if Iran started it? Deployment of the Enterprise is hair-raising in the context of previous “false flag” provocations in the region. Like the Lavon Affair before it, Israel actually attacked the U.S. spy ship Liberty June 8, 1967 — using unmarked jet fighters and torpedoes — initially blaming Egypt in an attempt to draw Washington into the war. Israel later claimed it attacked what it thought was an Egyptian ship, yet no one was charged or disciplined. Ward Boston, the U.S. Navy Senior Counsel for the Court of Inquiry, says in a 2002 affidavit, “Both [lead investigator] Admiral [Isaac] Kidd and I believed with certainty that this attack, which killed 34 sailors and injured 172, was a deliberate effort to sink an American ship and murder its entire crew.”
Today the Enterprise has nothing to do but act like the greasiest sitting duck in history. No one should believe that Iran is dumb enough to take the bait.
Have you heard much lately about the 1.5 million Palestinians illegally imprisoned by the Israeli government in the world’s largest open-air Gulag? Their dire living conditions, worsened by a selective Israeli siege limiting the importation of necessities of life – medical items, food, water, building materials, and fuel to list a few – has resulted in an 80 percent unemployment rate and widespread suffering from unlawful punishment, arbitrary arrests and imprisonment in Israeli jails.
The horrific conditions were a result of the Israeli invasion of Gaza in late 2008, ignited by Israel’s breaking of a truce with Gaza on November 4. Fourteen hundred people died, nearly three hundred of them children, and thousands were injured. The terror bombing of the Gazan population smashed into homes, hospitals, schools, ambulances, mosques, subsistence farms, UN facilities, and even the American International School. Israeli bombers destroyed over 30 members of one extended family in their home. That toll alone was three times the amount of Israeli fatalities, which included friendly fire.
The humanitarian crisis in crowded Gaza – about twice the size of the District of Columbia – “is now more dire than ever.” That is the judgment of Norwegian physician and professor of medicine, Dr. Mads Gilbert, who just finished a ten-day speaking tour in the U.S. Dr. Gilbert, returning from a recent visit to Gaza, was one of the only two foreign doctors inside Gaza during the massacre of December 2008 to January 2009.
He says: “During the Israeli attack, I saw the effects of new weapons including drones, phosphorous and also DIME [Dense Inert Metal Explosives], which leave no shrapnel, but I witnessed their capacity to cut a child in two; they also leave radioactive traces.”
Today, anemia and protein deficiency are widespread, reports Dr. Gilbert, especially among little children. UN and other relief supplies are inadequate, and UN humanitarian relief staff is often harassed by Israeli officials. Rebuilding pulverized Gaza is seriously obstructed by Israel blocking the imports of building materials.
Dr. Gilbert comments that he has “worked in other desperate situations in other places and Gaza is unique in a number of respects. It’s a captive population – usually if civilians are being attacked, there’s a safe place they can take refuge and then come back to their homes when the fighting has stopped. That doesn’t exist for the people in Gaza since they are effectively imprisoned by the Israeli siege.”
Writing in the prestigious British medical journal “The Lancet” in early 2009, Dr. Gilbert provided clinical details of the slaughter, including the destruction of ambulances and medical facilities that tend to the dying and the wounded.
He described a “shattered, attacked, and drained health-care system trying to help an overwhelming amount of casualties in a war between clearly unequal powers, where the attacker spares no civilian lives – be it man, woman, or child – not even the much-needed health workers of all professions.”
It is no wonder the Israelis banned all foreign reporters, including those from the U.S. – the very country that provided the weaponry – thereby preventing the world from seeing the carnage as it happened.
Two years ago, Dr. Mads Gilbert (right) told me that his experience in Gaza during Israel’s assault in 2009 was the “most horrific experience” of his life, a grim honor previously held by Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon, which Gilbert also witnessed. Gilbert spent over two weeks as one of the only foreign doctors in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead, and worked at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.
Currently a professor of medicine at the University of North Norway, Gilbert is the co-author of the book Eyes in Gaza, which chronicles what he witnessed during the Israeli assault and invasion.
Today, Gilbert says Gaza remains in ruins, betrayed by the international community. The blockade of Gaza remains, and Israeli air strikes continue to kill civilians.
Gilbert, who is known for his deeply personal and riveting presentations on the Gaza Strip, recently concluded a speaking tour in the United States.
I caught up with Gilbert before his talk at Columbia University. We discussed his recent impressions of Gaza, the decision by the International Criminal Court to reject a probe into war crimes committed during Cast Lead, and much more.
Alex Kane: So, what brings you back to New York?
Mads Gilbert: Actually, it’s my sixth invited speaking tour on Gaza since Operation Cast Lead. This time, it’s a speaking tour of ten days to Washington, obviously New York, up north, to Madison and a number of universities. The tour is organized by Jennifer Loewenstein and the Carol Chomsky Memorial Foundation. So they are the ones that invited me, actually. So I think it’s interesting that I’ve been here six times on speaking tours, speaking at a large number of universities, in church groups, at the Sabeel conference, and so forth, and I’ve been twice to Canada on a week-long stretch of tours and twice to the UK on week-long speaking tours. So it amounts to, all together, ten speaking tours on Gaza.
AK: And have you been back to Gaza since your time spent during Cast Lead?
MG: Yes. In fact in August 2009, with the manuscript for the families to review and to review the pictures. And I was back in January. I came the same route in and out as I did during Operation Cast Lead. So I traveled in through Rafah on New Year’s Eve, to follow the footsteps of the mission during Operation Cast Lead, and went up to Shifa Hospital, met with my colleagues, did some clinical work, had meetings, gave lectures, and most importantly, met many of the patients that I had treated.
AK: What are your most recent impressions of Gaza?
MG: My impressions as of 2012—that’s what I’m going to speak about tonight. The human rights abuses of the Israeli government, of the Israeli army, continues.
There is widespread lack of human security, ongoing killings, military attacks, week by week people are getting killed and injured. The siege is as brutal as it has been, resulting in lack of everything, from construction materials, to power—the power cuts are more extensive than they have been in a long time because of the lack of diesel and gasoline to fuel the generators. The lack of solid waste trucks makes it almost impossible to collect the solid waste. In Gaza City, they have contracted 280 donkey cart drivers to manually handle the solid waste. Many of the sewage cleaning installations are not working because they lack spare parts and maintenance, so sewage is pumped into the Mediterranean. And of course there is widespread deficiencies in nutrition. The malnutrition is well documented, and it causes anemia and stunting in children, not only in Gaza but also in the West Bank, but it’s more pronounced in Gaza.
The people of Gaza maintain their dignity and their humanity, I would say. I was well received with great hospitality. People don’t weep, they don’t beg, they don’t complain, but of course life is exceedingly difficult. Many are so tired and sick of the siege and the ongoing bombing, and they really want to see an end to that. Also, they want to see Palestinian unity. Many of the patients that participated in the treatment, they need follow-up, they need rehabilitation. Some of them need surgery. And of course the health care system in Gaza is quite overburdened by the number of people needing medical support, and the siege takes its tool on equipment, maintenance, spare parts, everything you can imagine. So, taken all together, the situation has not become easier. The attacks continue, but the people will not give up. The 600 tunnels are the lifelines of the influx of goods and animals to Gaza. The smuggler economy will increase the level of costs for all types of goods, so there is increasing poverty, and more and more people are living under the line as extreme poverty as defined by the UN.
AK: And obviously you’ve spent a lot of time dealing with the victims of Israeli airstrikes. Recently, there was a decision by the International Criminal Court that essentially said there will not be a war crimes tribunal for Operation Cast Lead. What’s your response to that?
MG: I very much regret the decision by the ICC. I’m saddened, and in fact, quite provoked by it, because I think the ICC had a golden opportunity to tell the world, and to tell Israel, that they are not exempt from international law and the laws of war. As it now stands, because of the lack of formalities—that is, an international recognition of Palestine as a state—they use this as an excuse to let Israel off the hook, which I very much regret because it sends a signal to the superpowers and the military forces of the world that, you can get away with it.
And Israel always gets away with its war crimes, which is really demoralizing, because the types of warfare that Israel is waging, with siege and collective punishment, with starvation and with the destruction of civilian infrastructure in occupied territories is really taking us back to medieval times, yet they claim to be one of the most moral armies in the world. And this contradiction does not fit together. So the only thing we could have hoped for was that all the reports on the table—the Goldstone report, the Arab League fact finding mission, the B’Tselem report (PDF), the Amnesty International report and our book—should have served as strong testimonies and documentation sources that there was no way that the ICC could not open a case against Israel. As it now stands, nobody will be held responsible for 1,400 killed and 5,400 injured, and nobody is accountable for the ongoing siege of Gaza. And this, of course, is a heavy burden of responsibility for President Obama and your government.
AK: When you recently went back to Gaza, did you speak with some of the patients you saw during Cast Lead?
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