I am one of the Americans waiting in Athens for the Freedom Flotilla to get underway in our effort to deliver humanitarian supplies to the people of Gaza. I was also on the Flotilla last year and was aboard the USS Liberty when the ship was attacked by Israel on June 8, 1967.
A few years ago at my request you issued a proclamation honoring the crew of the USS Liberty.
When I submitted the request I ensured you were aware of the atrocities that were committed against us. I made sure you were aware that we were attacked by unmarked aircraft; that our radios were jammed on both US Navy tactical and international maritime distress frequencies; that our life rafts were deliberately machine gunned in the water by the attacking Israeli torpedo boats; that when they ceased their attack the Israeli torpedo boats departed the scene for over an hour leaving the crew of a torpedoed and sinking ship with no chance of survival had our ship gone down.
I also ensured you were aware that two flights of rescue aircraft that had been launched from nearby Sixth Fleet aircraft carriers were recalled while we were still under attack and calling for help which allowed the Israelis to continue their attack unhampered by the threat of Sixth Fleet intervention.
I understand that you have urged U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to take legal steps to stop the Americans from taking part in the Freedom Flotilla or to prosecute us if we make the attempt.
When you issued the USS Liberty proclamation you expressed absolutely no concern that we were attacked by unmarked aircraft; that our radios were jammed on both US Navy tactical and international maritime distress frequencies; that our life rafts were deliberately machine gunned in the water; and, that we were ordered to be abandoned by the US Sixth Fleet while we were still under attack and calling for help.
When you issued the USS Liberty proclamation you didn’t follow it with any press release condemning the barbaric acts that were committed against us.
Governor Perry, why are you recommending prosecution of the Americans trying to deliver humanitarian supplies but not of those who machine gunned our life rafts in the water or ordered us to be abandoned while we were under fire?
Governor Perry, why does the attempted delivery of humanitarian supplies to Gaza elicit your condemnation but the deliberate machine gunning of American life rafts in the water doesn’t elicit even a modicum of concern?
Joe Meadors is a veteran and survivor of the USS Liberty attack in 1967. He plans to participate in Free Palestine Movement’s delegation of US citizens as part of the Freedom Flotilla II, set to depart to Gaza in coming days.
After the weekly demonstration against the Karmei Tsur settlement today, a Palestinian protester was brutally beaten by Israeli Border Police.
Yousef Abu Maria, a member of the Beit Ommar Popular Committee and Palestine Solidarity Project, was one of 60 Palestinian, Israeli and International protesters who marched peacefully towards the fence of the illegal settlement. Dozens of IDF soldiers were waiting for the marchers and soon detained Abu Maria with no reason or due cause apparent.
Once detained, the IDF, including a high-raking officer, a lieutenant colonel, transferred Abu Maria over to the Israeli Border Police who proceeded to brutally beat him. Abu Maria was then dumped at the entrance to Beit Ommar village, semi-conscious and suffering from suspected broken ribs and internal injuries.
He was quickly rushed to Aliya hospital in Hebron by family where he is undergoing tests and x-rays to assess the extent of his injuries.
On May 7th, Yousef suffered a broken arm at a similar demonstration at Karmei Tsur during an attempted arrest by the IDF.
There was a public exchange between U.S. and Pakistan officials over the last days with contradicting claims about the operation of and from the airbase Shamsi in Baluchistan province in south-west Pakistan. Later on, both agreed on a status picture. But is it the true one?
The dispute started with the Pakistani defense minister saying on Wednesday in the Financial Times that Pakistan ordered the base to be shut down and evacuated and that operations there were halted:
Pakistan is pushing the US to abandon an airbase in Balochistan that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has reportedly been using for years to undertake its drone campaign inside the country’s tribal areas, the defence minister said.Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar’s statement confirming that the US had been told to leave the Shamsi airbase is the latest indication of the simmering tensions between the key war-on-terror allies.
Pakistani commentators lauded this step which made it difficult to change that position:
The announcement of Defence Minister Chaudhary Ahmad Mukhtar that the United States has been asked to vacate the Shamsi airbase in Balochistan has widely been hailed by people of Pakistan, who consider it belated but still timely move as part of the efforts to restore national honour and dignity.
Shamsi had become subject of a heated national debate and disgust with people considering it as a stigma for the country and therefore, the move of the Government to get it vacated is a welcome development.
But someone in the U.S. did not like the Pakistani claim and on Thursday directly rebutted it via Reuters:
The United States is rejecting demands from Pakistani officials that American personnel abandon a military base used by the CIA to stage drone strikes against suspected militants, U.S. officials told Reuters.U.S. personnel have not left the remote Pakistani military installation known as Shamsi Air Base and there is no plan for them to do so, said a U.S. official familiar with the matter, who asked for anonymity to discuss sensitive material.
“That base is neither vacated nor being vacated,” the official said. The information was confirmed by a second U.S. official.
“They are vacating it,” the [senior Pakistani military] official insisted. “Shamsi base was for logistic purpose. They also used it for drones for some time but no drones have been flown from there.”
The official said no base in Pakistan was presently used by the Americans for drone operations. But he did not give a precise date for when drones supposedly stopped operating from Shamsi.
The U.S. officials disputed that account.
So what is it? It seems that there are at least two direct contradictions here. First the claim that the base is no longer used for drone strikes which the U.S. official refuted and second the claim that the base in being in the process of shutting down which the U.S. also disputes. Reuters didn’t err here as a McClatchy piece on Thursday confirmed its take:
The same day, Pakistani Defense Minister Ahmed Mukhtar was quoted as saying that Pakistan had ended CIA drone flights from Shamsi airfield in Baluchistan province. A senior U.S. official disputed that statement, saying, “That’s news to the United States,” and suggesting that Mukhtar was trying to assuage anti-American sentiment and deflect public anger over the bin Laden operation.
If the Pakistanis order the CIA to vacate Shamsi, “it would be a significant step and the wrong signal,” the senior U.S. official said.
But in a Washington Post piece on Saturday U.S. officials suddenly confirmed the Pakistani version:
The CIA three months ago suspended its long-standing use of an air base in Pakistan as a launch site for armed drones targeting members of al-Qaeda and other militant groups, according to U.S. and Pakistani officials.
U.S. personnel and Predator drones remain at the facility, in the southwestern province of Baluchistan, with security provided by the Pakistani military, officials from both countries said.
U.S. and Pakistani officials said the aircraft launches were halted in April, weeks before the bin Laden raid, after a dispute over a CIA contractor who fatally shot two Pakistani citizens in Lahore in January.
In the weeks immediately after Pakistan’s grudging release in March of the CIA contractor involved in the Lahore shooting, top Pakistani military and intelligence officials made “a formal, personal request . . . a demand . . . more than once” to their U.S. counterparts to end the flights and leave Pakistan, a senior Pakistani defense official said.In response, the official said, “there has been some thinning out at the base, and the drone missions suspended.”
I see two possible explanations for the contradicting claims here:
A) The Pakistani account is right and the U.S. rebuttal delivered on Thursday was wrong or misinformed or an attempt to put further pressure on the Pakistani leadership. Then, after a higher decision in the U.S., it was taken back in the Saturday story.
B) The Pakistani account was wrong but it was too hard to walk back after the Pakistani Defense Minister had publicly made the claim. Between Thursday and Friday the U.S. and Pakistan agreed to the Pakistan version as a new cover story for continued operation of and from that base.
I have no idea which explanation is the correct one.
France has become the first country openly to admit it has supplied the Libyan rebels with weapons – a measure banned by the UN Security Council. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has labeled the move as a major violation of the UN resolution.
“We have asked our French colleagues if the statement about weapon supply from France to the Libyan rebels is true,” Lavrov said. “We are waiting for the answer. If that is proved to be true, that would be a major violation of the UN resolution 1970.”
The move was also condemned by the African Union, while China indirectly objected to it.
A French military spokesman, Colonel Thierry Burkhard, said the arms, including machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, as well as munitions, were parachuted in to besieged rebels.
According to the official, the deliveries took place in early June in the western Nafusa Mountains, when Gaddafi’s forces encircled the civilians and refused to allow a humanitarian aid corridor there, AP reported on Wednesday.
Chairman of the African Union Jean Ping has condemned the move in an interview with BBC, saying it threatens to put the entire region at risk.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei indirectly opposed France’s actions on Thursday, saying that countries should avoid actions that go beyond UN Security Council directives.
Spokesman for the rebels Mahmoud Jibrilm who is now in Austria, said more weapons are needed to fight against Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. He also said the Benghazi-based Transitional National Council needs large amounts of money from foreign sponsors to fund its programs for civilians.
Meanwhile the UK on Thursday said that it is supplying body armor to the rebels. Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague said the UK was offering 5,000 sets of body armor, 6,650 police uniforms, 5,000 high-visibility vests and communication tools to Benghazi. The equipment is meant for the rebel police.
“Armed rebels are not civilians, which the UN wants to protect”
France has been among the main powers behind the NATO-led air campaign, officially aimed at protecting civilians from assaults by Gaddafi’s forces. However, many view a change of regime in Libya as the main reason of the alliance’s involvement in the country.
The Libyan National Transitional Council last week also received its first tranche of financial help from the international community to the amount $100 million, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague announced on Wednesday. The rebels are receiving funds from several nations including the US, the UK, Italy and France.
The UN Security Council resolution 1970, which was adopted on February 26, imposed an arms embargo on the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, preventing weapons from being supplied to anyone in Libya. The UN Security Council resolution 1973, which established a no-fly zone over Libya, allowed NATO countries “to take all necessary measures… to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.”
As the unrest has been continuing in Libya since mid-February, the fighting between the forces of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and the rebels, backed by the NATO forces, seems to have reached a stalemate.
France’s admission to arming rebels undermines the whole reasoning behind the bombing campaign, says John Laughland, the director for the Institute of Democracy and Co-operation in Paris.
“The argument, as we know, war predicated on the accusation that Libyan government was attacking civilians. The admission that France war arming the rebels is very obviously an admission that what’s going on in Libya is a fight between the government and armed rebels, and armed rebels are not civilians. So any attack on the armed rebels in Libya is therefore not necessarily a war crime. In other words this news is not only incompatible with the case that’s being made for the war in Libya, it completely contradicts it,” he told RT.
George Kenney, a former US diplomat, said that France had also apparently shipped a couple of light tanks to the rebels, and that this would only lead to more problems later.
“That was very foolish on the part of France. We do not know who these rebels are. We do not know what they are going to do with these weapons. And I would suspect that some significant percentage of the weapons will find their way into the hands of terrorists and will just become another problem for us to have to deal with later on.”
June 28, 2011
The International Criminal Court at The Hague is a pariah in the world of Justice and International Law; those who work for it are traitors to their cause, the Institution itself is an insult to every fibre of civilisation and a knife in the back of the notion that the law prevails and is applied without bias.
It is patently clear nowadays that the ICC is a tool in the hands of NATO – a cynical tool which bases itself on the pseudo-precept that it follows the law, a manipulative organism which twists legal principles and applies them with two weights and measures. What is amazing, is that those behind the ICC and NATO think that the public will believe them.
NATO has committed war crimes in Kosovo, in Afghanistan and in Iraq. NATO has committed terrorist attacks occasioning murder in all three theatres of war. Nothing happened, the ICC remained silent. Arrest warrants have been served for David Cameron and Barack Obama in police stations near their places of work and residence for the murder of Colonel Gaddafi’s three grandchildren and other civilians in Libya. Monitoring the situation, we see that nothing has yet happened.
NATO’s violation of the law
NATO’s remit in Libya were UNSC Resolutions 1970 and 1973 (2011) which, summarized, concentrated on no boots on the ground in Libya among NATO forces and this is not the case:
- violation 1; the enforcement of a no-fly zone, which does not include strafing civilian structures
- violation 2; measures to protect civilians from being attacked does not mean attacking government forces fighting hundreds of heavily armed terrorists
- violation 3; Under the UN Charter it is illegal to take sides in an internal conflict
- violation 4; it is illegal to murder or attempt to murder government officials
- violation 5; with no formal declaration of war, with no remit from the Military Committee of the UNSC, any action occasioning murder is illegal
- violation 6; ditto attempted murder
- violation 7; ditto actions occasioning grievous bodily harm
- violation 8; ditto actual bodily harm
- violation 9; ditto criminal damage
- violation 10; Under the Geneva Conventions it is illegal to attack civilian structures with military hardware
- violation 11; it is also illegal to deploy in theatres of conflict munitions and weaponry which will have an affect after such conflict. The alleged use of cluster bombs by NATO and of Depleted Uranium (there are several precedents) could provide violation 12.
At least eleven, possibly 12, violations of international law in Libya, countless others in other operations, and the ICC says nothing. The judges of the ICC receive their instructions and insult their academic area, the fundamental principles of law and their professional class with barefaced arrogance. I challenge Mr. Luis Moreno Ocampo to investigate the above charges and to pronounce himself.
The joke which is the ICC
Two international lawyers have exposed the joke which the ICC is. Within just a few hours, lawyers Themba Langa (South Africa – Counsel to Muammar al-Qathafi, Saif al-Islam al-Qathafi and Abdullah al-Senussi) and Fabio Maria Galiani (Italy – Legal advisor and member of the defence team) uncovered no less than eight points of law proving that the ICC is a kangaroo court without one iota of legal validity, yet again proved in this case. Their points are summarized as follows, my observations in brackets.
They point out that for a start the Court has no jurisdiction in Libya because it was never ratified there, that anyway notwithstanding this, under international customary law a Head of State has immunity (did they take Saddam Hussein to The Hague? Indeed the ICC has no jurisdiction in the USA, so why should it have any in Libya?)
Secondly they point out that the referral to the ICC by the UN Security Council is a violation of jurisdiction, independence and impartiality because it instructs the Court to exclude prosecution for certain persons and in following this directive, the ICC itself is in violation of its own constituent Statutes; thirdly the UNSC does not have the power to dictate terms over Libya to the ICC and anyway under international customary law, the ruling yesterday by the ICC is invalid in countries not signatories to the Rome Treaty which set up the Court.
Fourthly, if in the following instances, the Prosecutor has still not decided whether to open a case on Georgia (because the evidence is being considered) since 2008 (three years); on Guinea since 2009 (two years), on Colombia since 2006 (five years) why then was all the evidence on Libya read, digested and treated legally within just three days when the investigation was opened? (Where is the case against Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi? Where are the cases against the Islamist terrorists who massacred Black Libyans and children? Where is the case against NATO, against Obama, against Cameron, against Sarkozy, against Berlusconi?)
Fifthly the ICC did not even notice that the referral by the UNSC violated the Court’s Statute; sixthly, if NATO respects the Court and its deliberation, (why is it continuing to perpetrate 100 terrorist attacks a day protecting terrorists?) then the defendants should have the right to defence themselves. Seventh, NATO is accountable for murder, destruction of property and injury to civilians (acts of terrorism) and eighth, the entire campaign has been based on manipulation through the media (rendering the legal tenets void under any normal court of law. But then again, the ICC is no court of law, is it?)
Next, on the impartiality of this “Court”, the lawyers mentioned above claim in their statement:
“One of the judges of the Pre-Trial Chamber I, Mr. Cuno Tarfusser, recently made statements to the Italian media on the situation in Libya which indicated that the ICC is not impartial.”
One last question, why do the USA, UK and France prohibit the delivery of baby food to Libyan children? Isn’t it enough for Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy to murder them by bombing? If they enjoy murdering children, why don’t they start at home? When they look at their children, do they hear the screams of Colonel Gaddafi’s grandchildren as they fried in their own blood?
So, Mr. Luis Moreno Ocampo, what, as a judge and a lawyer, do you have to say to THAT? Nothing, of course, because we know who and what you are.
From the beginning the official Israeli narrative has followed a very simple script: A homeless and persecuted people, the victims of pogroms and genocide, asked for and were granted a homeland in the land that was taken from them nearly two thousand years ago.
Promising that it would “ensure [the] complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; … guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; … safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and … [would] be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations” (source: The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel, May 14, 1948), it was a narrative that most people supported and most people believed. After all, the Israeli leadership sounded sincere, so why wouldn’t they be?
What was buried in the narrative was a sinister narrative of age old persecution: their new Jewish homeland, they are the victims of a vicious attack by Israel’s Arab residents and neighbors. They, the Israelis, are innocent. How could these evil people treat them so badly when they want only peace and grant their Arab residents the same civil rights as they grant their Jewish residents?
Did many people believe this narrative? Most of them did, and I was one of them. Problem is, none of it was true. Israel’s Knesset danced around it by maintaining that the declaration is neither a law nor an ordinary legal document. And since Israel has never had a Constitution, the Knesset and all of Israel’s institutions have ignored it. Israel’s laws openly discriminate against all non-Jews, in open violation of UN standards. And as the truth about Israel’s chronic violence and violation of its legal responsibilities, its leaders defend their behavior, increase their attack of anyone they consider “guilty” of “persecuting” them, and seem, at least to me, progressively deranged.
In a recent article, jazz musician, philosopher and writer Gilad Atzmon made the following very perceptive comment: “Jewish identity politics is shaped by a totally unique psychological disorder. I call it Pre-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (as opposed to Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome). Jewish reality is shaped by an imaginary fictional future threat. … Yet, the lack of capacity to differentiate between reality and imagination leads to the inevitable emergence of the most tragic possible scenarios” (source: “Gaza Flotilla versus Diaspora Jewry”, 1 July 2011).
“Operation Cast Lead”, the attack against the Mavi Marmara, the seek out, sabotage and if necessary destroy Hasbara mission against people and organizations accused of “delegitimizing” Israel, Binyamin Netanyahu’s “build more settlements” response to the P.A. taking a nationhood petition to the UN, and the demented destruction of ancient Muslin burial grounds are signs of a leadership that has gone seriously off the rails. More and more, Israel’s leadership looks like a suicidal train crew driving its speeding train off the edge of a precipice.
Sadly, it didn’t have to be this way.
Had David Ben-Gurion and the others approached the whole Israeli enterprise actually treating Palestine’s Arab population as equal partners in a nation that assured all its citizens and residents equal treatment under the law, and had they chosen to partner with Palestine’s skeptical Arabs (who had every good reason to be skeptical of Jewish actions), then none of this would have happened.
But that wouldn’t have fit the persecution element in Israel’s mythic history. People who are attached to the idea of persecution swing wildly between the poles of hopelessness and resentment. Since they expect persecution, their resentment causes them to set up the conditions that bring such persecution about. To resentful victims, everyone who disagrees with them is an enemy that their resentment impels them to attack. The result is a descending spiral of hopelessness and self-destructive acts that I see as openly suicidal.
Where will this end for Israel? I wish I knew. I’d like to see my own country begin to take a stand, but with most members of Congress in hock to AIPAC, I don’t see that happening anytime soon, if at all. I’d also like to see a much less self-destructive leadership in Israel, but I don’t see that happening either. Perhaps other nations will develop the backbone to stand up to the U.S. and force the issue with Palestinian Statehood. Or perhaps one day all of Palestine will be a land in which Jew and Gentile live in peaceful harmony. That, after all, is the only thing that really works in life. All the rest is just a repeat of mankind’s very violent history.
And that we can no longer afford if we want to survive as a species on a livable planet.
- George Polley is a Japan-based American writer.