What follows is an approximate transcription of an interview with Ken O’Keefe, a peace activist from London.
Press TV: Do you see this as a project that the United States really wants to stop this terrorist group or not?
O’Keefe: Absolutely not, and I find it laughable that anybody would even consider the United States to be seriously interested in ending terrorism.
We have had over 13 years of this farcical war on terror, all of it built on lies, from the false-flag of 9/11 to the non-prosecution of Osama bin Laden because the FBI admitted that there was no evidence linking him to 9/11, from every policy since the invasion, occupation of Afghanistan, Iraq; the attack on Libya, destroying that country; attempting to fully destroy Syria, all of this is terrorism – terrorism on a grand scale!
Let’s throw in Israel and its genocide against the Palestinians, the use of white phosphorus, depleted uranium and all sorts of other weapons of mass destruction against a civilian population in Gaza, which is comprised of over 900,000 children, and you find that the United States is without question the number one terrorist of the 20th and 21st century.
How in the world can anyone seriously believe that the United States has any interest in ending terrorism?
It is the ultimate terrorist.
Its little boogeyman creations of al-Qaeda, ISIS, ISIL – whatever the hell they call themselves tomorrow – is nothing more than the boogeyman necessary to justify this military industrial complex which is running roughshod over the world.
Press TV: Does the killing of an American citizen always trigger a specific type of a reaction from the United States?
O’Keefe: These beheadings have largely been debunked.
At the very least the people that are being executed in these videos are not alive.
We know when you execute somebody by cutting off their head when their heart is still beating blood will pour forth very profusely. This is not the case with these videos.
It also is one massive manipulation to suggest that the life of one or two Americans somehow justifies yet another invasion and occupation in which we have destroyed three countries at the very minimum in terms of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.
We have largely caused the breeding grounds for so-called terrorism all around the region.
It beggars’ belief that anyone would be manipulated in yet another policy in which invasion, bombing, occupation and ultimately destruction of entire areas is somehow going to make the world a better place.
We have seen this all before and the United States is repeating its same role as it has been and it will make for more blood and more guts and more misery, and ultimately a breeding ground for those who see the West for what it is: absolutely hypocritical.
The West has no moral authority whatsoever.
It is in no position at all to discuss any issue regarding morality because it is the most corrupt and most violent of all peoples on this planet.
The West is the problem, not the rest of the world.
Our little boogeyman that we create will stop once we stop having the power through the global reserve currency of the US dollar to be able to pay these psychopaths to run around and behead and so on and so forth.
Press TV: What kind of precedent does this send? – Because US President Barack Obama has basically sent a message to the Syria government that if the Syrian government attacks any of their airplanes that they will take out their anti-aircraft system, basically that they would be under attack.
What does this mean when you’re talking about a sovereign country that another country has the right to go in and do whatever they want? – Whether they agree or disagree with the way that government does this business. What type of precedent does this set?
O’Keefe: It is not a precedent at all.
We have already been bombing Pakistan, Yemen. We have been running around the world and basically in a lawless kind of way have been carrying out policies including executions of anyone anywhere anytime based on the so-called president of the United States having a meeting and declaring somebody to be a terrorist.
This even includes American citizens. There is no sovereignty of nations. There is no international law.
This so-called intelligence analyst, this intelligence analyst seems to be completely oblivious to the fact that it was the United States which supported the Mujahideen which became al-Qaeda, which morphed into the al-Nusra Front, then ISIS, ISIL, IS – whatever the hell you want to call it – has been funding these people, training these people, providing bases, training in Jordan and also in Turkey, their little proxies of Saudi Arabia and Qatar and Kuwait have been funneling money and arms.
And now we’re being told that they are going to be training these so-called moderate factions of resistance in Syria in Saudi Arabia. That bastion of moderate behavior, the Wahabi Saudi Arabia regime, one of the most offensive – if not the most offensive regimes – on the planet, a place that we give weapons and we give cover to, political cover, media cover.
The idea that an intelligence analyst could be so oblivious and so completely incompetent at its own field that he does not recognize that the United States having supported, armed, trained, coddled and protected all these terrorists for decades now is beyond belief.
He cannot be so stupid, surely, not to know that the United States has an inherent interest in propping up continuously one boogeyman after another to justify what I said earlier, the military industrial complex, the goal of full spectrum dominance, military bases all around the world, and people with half a brain know this.
Press TV: We are looking at this type of scenario that it seems to repeat itself time and time again, especially if we are looking at a post-9/11 world. As you have said, we see boogeyman after boogeyman sort of being created.
I want to look at then the American people and do you think that this time they had to take it or it appears that the extremist nature that ISIL is presenting itself was something that it had to be that extreme in order to shake the American people up, who are extremely war-weary but because of the extent of the violence that they’re seeing that actually they will get on the bandwagon for another war in the region?
O’Keefe: What we have really is an amazing point in human history in which the sleeping masses that are literally mind-controlled through many different mechanisms from childhood in schools are brainwashed with all sorts of rubbish.
Even the pledge of allegiance which I said, along with every other school kid, ends with “liberty and justice for all”.
We have been indoctrinated with such incredible insanity that it becomes a reality for us, and many Americans are still caught up in that as are many people around the world.
But we also have at this time a growing number of people who are recapturing the ability to think for themselves and to recognize the history of both the United States and the West in general, and also the crimes of others – let us not be oblivious to the crimes of others.
But at the end of the day I come from the West and what we can see is that my birth nation, the United States, is the number one terrorist. This is simply not debatable.
I understand that many people are still being conned into believing this nonsense, the latest boogeyman creation, but ever-growing numbers of people are not buying it. They are not. And this is extremely promising and a necessary step for us to create a better world.
If we really wanted to end ISIS we would cut off their funding. And if we wanted to we could help the Iraqi government and the military and they could wipe them out in no time with a little bit of genuine financial support to be able to do what they need to do.
Iran would be an excellent partner in this. I would encourage Iraq to invite Iran in to help them wipe them out, because Iran definitely has an interest in ending real terrorism. That is why the foreign minister all too rightly said we are not all too convinced that America is serious about it. I think he is way too diplomatic, quite frankly.
But at the end of the day the United States is not serious about ending terrorism. It thrives on terrorism. Many Americans are growing to understand this.
Press TV: What scenario is this setting up, Ken, if we are looking at on the one hand, as you said that the United States does not really want to end terrorism, and on the other hand they are directly once again involved in the region, not that they were not in the region but now more directly in Iraq and again Syria.
What is this setting up? Tell me, how do you see this basically? How are you reading what is going to happen with the United States getting involved with this situation with ISIL? What is it? Do you think that they really want to destroy them because perhaps they have served their purpose or no, do they just want to see this chaos continue in the region?
O’Keefe: Chaos in the region is extremely advantageous.
The Project for a New American Century and Clean Break is an important document to read also.
Also, Oded Yinon’s strategy for Israel in the 1980s made it very clear that Iraq was target number one because of its strong Arab nationalist dictatorship.
Ultimately in the overall scheme you have this fantasy agenda of greater Israel: Israel expanding as the next great empire into Iraq, into Syria, Lebanon, also in part of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt. This is their goal and it is a psychopath’s goal.
Right now all of this chaos that you see in that region fits perfectly in line with strategy papers. The policy is being carried out exactly as it was written. And the seeds of sectarian hatred and divide, which are necessary to fracture the people of the region so that they will be in a weakened state and therefore be subject to the real intention and goal, is again to expand the Israeli empire.
Ultimately this is all going to fall flat on its face but right now the chaos that is being sown is extremely advantageous for the powers that be.
On 12 October, Cairo is due to host a conference, sponsored and chaired by Egypt and Norway, of international and Arab donors for the reconstruction of Gaza. This is their ostensible aim. But the reasons that the donors cited for not fulfilling earlier pledges, made in Paris in 2007 and Sharm El-Sheikh in 2009, still exist.
This means that the donors who attend the upcoming Cairo conference will probably make the same pledges they made at the two previous conferences and then once again fail to fulfil them.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian people under blockade in Gaza will remain in suspense, waiting for the next aggression to be unleashed on them by the Israeli occupation, purportedly in order to eliminate the causes that the donors cite for recycling their pledges for the reconstruction of Gaza that is unlikely to happen in the foreseeable future.
Fulfilment of the donors’ old/new pledges is still contingent politically on the imposition of the status quo in the West Bank on Gaza. This entails security coordination with the occupying power, the pursuit and elimination of all forms of resistance to the occupation, rendering all reconstruction activities subject to the approval of the Israeli security regime, and much more.
Even should these conditions be met, the donors’ fulfilment of their pledges will remain contingent on the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s (PLO) continued commitment to negotiations as its sole strategy, and to the agreements that led to the creation of the Palestinian Authority (PA).
All the evidence indicates that the PLO and the PA have spearheaded the battle to impose the donors’ conditions on their behalf. Beneath the rubric of “legitimacy”, “the national project” and “the single central authority” that “alone holds the powers to make decisions on war and peace,” the PLO and PA have demonstrated that they are ready to abide by the donors’ political conditions.
The irony is that Israel has never met the conditions it compelled the donors to impose, not just in order to proceed with the reconstruction of Gaza, but also on the PA in general.
Israel has never renounced violence. It repeatedly wages war and unleashes its instruments of state terrorism against the Palestinians under occupation. It has flagrantly and repeatedly violated every agreement signed with the PLO. It has not even reciprocated the PLO’s recognition of Israel, nor has it officially acknowledged the Palestinians’ right to establish a Palestinian state.
Currently, the occupation authorities are threatening to dissolve the Palestinian national reconciliation government if it does not assert its full authority over Gaza. The message was driven home by PA Deputy Prime Minister Mohammed Mustafa, who said that there would be no reconstruction unless his government can fully assert its control over Gaza.
However, all the evidence also indicates that the resistance is there to stay in Gaza and that its powers to resist the imposition of the donors’ conditions — on it and on Gaza — are increasing.
The only possible way to read all of the foregoing, and other facts, is that the reconstruction of Gaza under such conditions and circumstances will be deferred until further notice and that deferring reconstruction and linking it to a process of cloning the West Bank model in Gaza is actually a strategy that paves the way for yet another invasion of Gaza.
It is also a fact that reconstruction needs in Gaza are accumulating as a result of this strategy. Destruction in Gaza did not begin with the response to action against this strategy in 2007. The reconstruction of Gaza’s airport and seaport, for example, has been pending since the occupation destroyed these facilities in 2002. Reconstruction dues from the destruction wrought by the Israeli assaults on Gaza in 2008-2009 and 2012 are also continuing to accumulate.
A recent report by the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction (PECDAR) estimates that it will cost around $8 billion to rebuild what was destroyed during the last Israeli attack on Gaza. The report says that this process would take five years if the occupation authority were to “fully” lift the embargo on Gaza, which is hardly likely to happen soon.
Clearly, the reconstruction of Gaza requires a new Palestinian strategy, one that draws a line between the grants donors offer and their political conditions, and that rejects once and for all any Palestinian commitment to those degrading conditions that, as the years since the so-called “peace process” began have proven, have brought more destruction than construction, and have served as the chief incubator of Palestinian divisions and not brought even a minimum degree of national benefit.
At the same time, any new government that emerges from a national partnership must embrace resistance against the occupation. The current national reconciliation government, with its six-month term and its principle tasks of preparing for presidential and legislative elections, is by definition an interim government and is not qualified to shoulder heavy and long-term burdens such as the reconstruction of Gaza and securing the end of the blockade.
Both of these tasks are humanitarian and national goals that are higher than any political or factional disputes. Yet the Palestinian presidency’s determination to toe the line with the donors’ conditions, which make no distinction between humanitarian needs and political ends, is a strategy that fails to discriminate between national needs and factional interests. It is a strategy that protracts the humanitarian disaster in Gaza.
Unfortunately, the need to separate politics — factional or otherwise — from the humanitarian issue does not appear to be on the agenda of either foreign and Arab donors, or of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in spite of the letter he sent to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on 30 July declaring Gaza a “disaster zone” in the grips of a “dangerous humanitarian crisis.”
This “dangerous humanitarian crisis” is the product of forms of collective punishment that were inflicted against the people of Gaza before the Palestinian rift and that grew worse afterwards. Any Palestinian assent to continuing to adhere to donors’ political conditions, which are responsible for perpetuating the collective punishment, is a form of Palestinian complicity in subjecting the people of Gaza to this punishment. The time has come for all Palestinian leaders to exonerate themselves from all charges of complicity in such punishment.
The collective punishments that have been and continue to be visited on Gaza are not acceptable, even on the pretext of punishing Hamas. Under the Geneva Conventions and before international criminal law they constitute a war crime inflicted on the civilian inhabitants of Gaza, who are protected by international humanitarian law, at least in theory.
To insist that Gaza’s reconstruction be linked to the reinstatement of the “full” authority of the Palestinian presidency and the PA over Gaza, and to the donors’ political conditions which, in fact, are the conditions of the occupying power, is merely another way to say that the reconstruction of Gaza should be linked to the imposition of Fatah’s factional agenda on Gaza.
It also means that civilians in Gaza are to be collectively punished for the factional disputes that Fatah has with Hamas, in which case it becomes very difficult to avoid pointing fingers of accusation at Palestinian complicity in the ongoing collective punishment of the people of Gaza, and more difficult yet to defend any possible Palestinian contribution to the perpetration of such a war crime.
As long as the current situation persists, reconstruction of Gaza will remain pending indefinitely, and the reconstruction burden will only grow. Eventually, the people of Gaza will have no alternative but to look for salvation through other means that they, alone, can control. The Palestinian presidency and its faction must decide to free themselves once and for all from their financial and political dependence on donors and the sterile “peace process” that has so far wrought only death, destruction and division.
It is not too late to opt for the national alternative, which is still available given good intentions, to save the people of Gaza, national unity, the resistance, and decision-making autonomy.
This alternative entails following through on implementation of the mechanisms for national reconciliation, activating the unified command framework for the PLO, agreeing on a new Palestinian strategy based on the principles of partnership and resistance, and creating a new national unity government committed to this strategy and qualified to shoulder such enormous tasks as the reconstruction of Gaza and lifting the blockade.
All of the foregoing requires no more than honest introspection, the prevalence of national conscience, and political free will.
Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Birzeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.
Photo by ISM
Occupied Palestine – On the 17th of September, under heavy Israeli army protection, Israeli settlers from nearby illegal settlements entered Nablus with the aim of praying at Joseph’s tomb in Balata refugee camp.
Just after midnight, the Israeli army closed the district that surrounds the monument, blocking all the streets leading to the tomb and preventing anyone from passing nearby, either by foot or by car.
Around 1am, between eight and 10 buses full with hundreds of settlers invaded the area.
Clashes began in the area, particularly in the junction just in front of the entry to Balata refugee camp.
Youths threw stones for more then two hours against the army vehicles, that were moving up on the hill and back, seemingly in order to keep them busy and far from the large groups of Zionist settlers. Military trucks also tried several times to run over the Palestinian youths while they were throwing stones.
The Israeli army fired many stun grenades, and the road blockades were kept in place until the settlers left the area.
Clashes around Balata occur almost weekly, any time that the settlers decide to invade the area for praying. The settlers claim this monument belongs to the Biblical patriarch Joseph, while most of the Palestinians believe that the religious guide Sheikh Yusef Dweikat was buried there, according to Islamic tradition. Though Joseph is a sacred figure as well in Muslim, Christian and Samaritan religion, Muslims are not allowed to pray there.
Labeling their own actions as “security measures”, the army can easily shoot down a whole neighborhood and guarantee the Israeli settlers the freedom to move and pray wherever they wish, even in a site which is deeply inside Area A, which is supposedly under Palestinian civil and security control. On the other side, most of the Palestinian living in the West Bank are not allowed to pray in their holy places, starting from this Joseph´s tomb to the biggest example of Al-Aqsa Mosque, in Jerusalem.
These evidently different treatments intensify the inequality in rights between Palestinians and illegal Israeli settlers and make the life under occupation more and more unbearable.
The militarization of American police forces hasn’t been paid for by just the federal government. Pro-Israel groups in the U.S. have also played a role by financing trips for hundreds of law enforcement officers to travel to the Middle East for counterterrorism training, according to Ali Winston, a contributor to the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR).
Monies provided by such groups as the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee’s Project Interchange and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs have made it possible for “at least 300 high-ranking sheriffs and police from agencies large and small – from New York and Maine to Orange County and Oakland, California” to attend privately funded seminars in Israel since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Winston discovered.
There, they have learned how Israeli security forces deal with demonstrators and armed threats by terrorists. The seminars include field trips to such sites as military installations, surveillance outposts, and checkpoints at the West Bank and the Israeli-Egyptian border. The training includes spending time observing operations conducted by Israel’s Border Patrol, Defense Forces, national police and intelligence services.
U.S. police officials who have undergone such training have come from the Los Angeles and New York police departments, the New York and New Jersey Port Authority Police Department, the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police, and the Major County Sheriffs’ Association. The fact that the former chief of Missouri’s St. Louis County Police Department trained in Israel in 2011 recently came to light following the well-armed police response to protestors in St. Louis-based Ferguson.
Israeli training of U.S. police has also influenced the type of equipment being used. Security forces from both countries are now using some identical gear, including stun and tear gas grenades manufactured by the same U.S. companies—Combined Systems Inc. and Defense Technology Corp. A long-range “sound rifle” that emits ear-shattering noise to disperse crowds, which was used against 2005 West Bank protestors, was also used in the recent police action against protestors in Ferguson.
Shakeel Syed, executive director of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, told CIR that American police are often copying what Israel does in terms of crowd control and other techniques.
“Whether it is in Ferguson or L.A., we see a similar response all the time in the form of a disproportionate number of combat-ready police with military gear who are ready to use tear gas at short notice,” Syed said. “Whenever you find 50 people at a demonstration, there is always a SWAT team in sight or right around the corner.”
Israel’s security forces have also trained police in Mexico since 1994, originally in response to the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas.
The Union of European Football Associations has rejected an Israeli bid to host games during the 2020 European Championships. The decision follows a campaign by Palestinian sports teams and campaign groups and activists across Europe.
The Israeli Football Association bid to host games in Jerusalem as part of the UEFA 2020 tournament that will take place across 13 cities, but UEFA announced on Friday that Jerusalem was not one of the successful bidders.
75 Palestinian football teams and NGOs wrote to UEFA president Michel Platini arguing that holding the UEFA 2020 games in Jerusalem would be tantamount to “rewarding” Israel for its massacre of more than 2,100 Palestinians, including over 500 children, during its recent 52-day assault on Gaza.
Campaigners across Europe pressured UEFA and national football associations not to accept the Israeli bid. Sit-ins were held by Palestine solidarity activists at the headquarters of French and Italian football associations.
Abdulrahman Abunahel, the coordinator in Gaza with the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee said:
“Given that awarding Israel the right to host the games would have been a sign of support for Israel’s massacre in Gaza and its war on Palestinian football, UEFA has made the only sensible decision.
“We thank all those who joined us in opposing Israel’s bid to host games in Jerusalem, a city from which Israel is ethnically cleansing Palestinians. Our online campaigning and the occupations of football association buildings in France and Italy undoubtedly played a role in persuading UEFA to to make the right choice.”
“Israel has launched a war on football in Palestine: footballers have been killed, stadiums bombed and players have been refused permission to travel to matches. UEFA must suspend the membership the Israeli Football Association if it continues to maintain its links with the Israeli state that practices occupation, colonisation and apartheid.”
Thousands of people participated in a Twitter storm action on Tuesday to tell UEFA that awarding Israel the right to host UEFA 2020 tournament games would amount to a message of approval for its massacre in Gaza.
Among those killed in Israel’s recent massacre in Gaza were Ahmad Muhammad al-Qatar and Uday Caber, two 19-year-old football players at the start of their careers, and 49-year-old Ahed Zaqout, a footballing legend in Palestine known as “the voice of football” for his live commentaries. 32 sports facilities and around 500 athletes’ houses were also damaged.
Palestinian groups also warned that hosting games in Jerusalem would legitimise Israel’s forced displacement of Palestinians from occupied East Jerusalem, which is recognised as occupied Palestinian territory by the EU and UN.
Israel recently announced plans to further expand illegal Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem, a step that the UN and other agencies have warned will lead to further expulsions and forced evictions of Palestinians from their homes.
In a public letter protesting against UEFA’s decision to allow Israel to host the Under 21 tournament in 2013, more than 50 footballers including Didier Drogba and Frederik Kanoute called the Israeli-hosted tournament “a reward for actions that are contrary to sporting values”.
In 2010, UEFA president Michel Platini said: “Israel must choose between allowing Palestinian sport to continue and prosper or be forced to face the consequences for their behavior”.
Campaigners are now planning to intensify the pressure on Platini to live up to his promises and suspend the Israeli Football Association.
Now that the dust has settled on the mutilated bodies of Palestinian men, women and children, the world seems able to ignore the desperate plight of those that survived. Apartheid Israel has accomplished its periodic ‘mowing of the grass’, the leveling of Gaza’s infrastructure, the destruction of schools, hospitals and mosques, and the killing of over 2,000 innocent, unarmed and defenseless Palestinians. Business for Israel now continues as usual, with IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) terrorists focusing their murders on innocent Palestinians in the West Bank. There, with complete impunity, they bulldoze homes, shoot unarmed teenagers, arrest and detain children, establish arbitrary checkpoints and steal land, all in violation of international law, law the international community doesn’t seem particularly interested in enforcing.
This is not meant to imply that Israel is ignoring Gaza. No, in violation of the cease-fire agreement, an agreement that apparently only the Palestinians have to abide by, IDF terrorists shoot Palestinian fishermen fishing within the very limited zone that Israel, again in violation of international law, permits them.
Not all countries of the world seem oblivious to Palestinian suffering. Cuba, Venezuela and Turkey have all sent aid to assist people deprived of food, water and shelter. But the U.S., which traditionally showers all kinds of aid on countries that do its bidding, but ignores or terrorizes those, such as Palestine, that don’t, has not responded.
A recent quotation by U.S. President Barack Obama is interesting: “… we could be looking at hundreds of thousands of people affected, with profound economic, political and security implications for all of us.” This seems to fit the situation in Palestine. At least hundreds of thousands, and, realistically, millions of people have been affected by Israel’s most recent genocidal activities, and the continued financial aid to that apartheid, racist nation has ‘economic, political and security implications’ for the U.S. A total of $3 billion is sent to Israel annually; Detroit, in bankruptcy, is scrambling to find one third of that amount to get through the year. Yet it receives no taxpayer money from the Federal government, as Israel gets $3 billion.
The political implications are beginning to be felt; more and more of the U.S.’s elected officials (this writer simply cannot bring himself to refer to them as ‘representatives’) are being pressured to look away from the money the Israel lobby grants them for their re-elections campaigns, and focus instead on human rights. This is not easy for these officials to do; such a view does not come naturally to them. Yet the political reverberations are beginning to be felt, and can only increase.
In terms of security implications, hatred for and hostility towards the U.S. grows with every bomb Israel drops on Palestine, with every home demolished, with every checkpoint established, with every unarmed youth shot to death. The U.S.’s elected officials ignore this at their peril.
Unfortunately, the quotation shown above was not said by Mr. Obama in reference to Palestine; it was said about the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. The president is right on top of this, because doing so in no way offends a powerful U.S. lobby. One can always take the high road when the bottom line isn’t negatively impacted.
Why, one might reasonably ask, does the U.S. ignore the political, economic and security implications of financing a regime that makes South Africa of a generation ago look almost benign? Why ignore some of the most horrific human rights violations being committed on the planet today? What benefit is there in parroting the blatant lie that Israeli oppression of a nation it illegally and brutally occupies is done for its ‘national security’?
The U.S. continues to proclaim that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. This is not surprising, since the U.S. has a very skewed idea of democracy, a concept it has never actually practiced. Yet it is a favorite buzz word, along with ‘freedom’, ‘liberty’ and a few others that officials love to toss around, knowing the lemming-citizens go wild for it. Say them in front of an American flag, with the hand on the heart, and the jingoistic tears will flow. Never mind looking at reality. Ignore the abject poverty in many parts of the U.S.; the suicides (an average of 22 per day) of veterans who have, ostensibly, fought for that ‘freedom’ and ‘liberty’ (what they were actually fighting for is a topic for another essay); the racism that is so obvious, and occasionally cannot be completely ignored, as in Ferguson, Missouri. Forget about the poor performance of U.S. students compared with those of any other industrialized nation, as schools struggle to hold onto qualified teachers in the face of increasing class sizes and reduced budgets, as military contractors make billions by producing more powerful tools to kill.
So, let us summarize. Israel, a country born through genocide, continues to commit this horrific crime, financed mainly by the U.S., the world’s self-proclaimed beacon of peace and freedom. With one of the most powerful military systems on the planet, it periodically bombs, in the name of its ‘national security’, a nation it occupies, that has no army, navy or air force. When this happens, elected officials of its main financier, the U.S., all echo Israeli talking points, disregarding completely the horrific human rights violations that are perpetrated on a daily basis, and those that are exponentially worse with carpet bombing. Additionally, the U.S. press, with few exceptions, ignores Palestinian suffering and focuses on Israeli inconvenience.
This is the work of the ‘only democracy in the Middle East’ as financed by the largest pseudo-democracy operating in the west. Both are criminal regimes, looking only for power and wealth, at the expense of common decency. Both must be stopped, and it won’t be their governments, the United Nations or other governments that will stop them. As with all movements for human rights, it will be the will of the people around the world that, eventually, will no longer be able to be ignored.
Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).
President Obama has announced that he is seeking a coalition to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS in Iraq, Syria and wherever else it may be. That coalition, however, will apparently be neither a NATO coalition nor a United Nations coalition. Why not?
Part of the problem is that NATO member Turkey is refusing to allow air strikes against ISIS to be launched from its territory. Does this have anything to do with the fact that Turkey has been providing safe passage, safe haven, arms and other support for ISIS, al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups, and – oh yes – buying stolen oil at cut rate prices from them?
To be fair, Britain, France, Germany and other NATO countries have also balked at violating the sovereign air space of Syria. They undoubtedly remember that Syrian forces shot down a Turkish aircraft that entered Syrian air space in 2012 and that Syria is equipped with some of the most advanced and effective antiaircraft systems in the world, the Russian S-300 (and possibly S-400) series. They also might care about their own sovereignty.
On the other hand, the Syrian government is willing and has actually offered to cooperate. ISIS is their arch-enemy, and Syria has said that it would welcome US participation in the fight, as long as Syrian sovereignty is respected through coordination with the Syrian armed forces.
However, the US might not be needed in Syria. Chances are that the Syrians might be able to bring along their Russian and Iranian allies, and perhaps China, too. If the objective is to “degrade and destroy” ISIS, there’s no faster and more effective way to do it than to create a “coalition of the willing” that includes nearly everyone.
Of course, the US might not like to work with these countries, but so what? If they are willing, the plan removes a burden from the US and also eliminates the issue of violating Syrian sovereignty. They will get the job done, which allows the US and its allies to concentrate on ISIS forces in Iraq. A UN resolution to this effect is likely to be a shoo-in if it has US backing. No need to thank them.
Of course, such a plan is much too logical. It makes the assumption that the US actually wants to get rid of ISIS. In fact, that’s not the case at all. Most ISIS weapons come from the US via Saudi Arabia, Turkey (NATO), Libya, Qatar, and the “moderate Syrian rebels”, who are “moderate” only by stretching the term to include some of the most intolerant Takfiri Islamists. Many are also not Syrian, but have been recruited from all over the world. They are also not rebels, but rather mercenaries that commute to the battle zones from safe havens in Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Lebanon.
Who supports ISIS, anyway, if not the countries committed to “degrade and destroy” it? These include the US, European NATO countries, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and others. ISIS is a convenient way of dividing, weakening and sometimes overthrowing all the societies in the region.
All except one.
Is it a coincidence that the countries in question are all in Israel’s neighborhood? That they were named in Israel’s Clean Break plan as early as 1996? That the authors of the Clean Break plan, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith and David Wurmser, became top advisers in the G.W. Bush administration?
The plan is at least half implemented. Having coopted the Jordanian monarchy, overthrown the first freely elected civilian Egyptian government, destroyed the Libyan government and society, prevented a popular takeover of the Yemeni dictatorship, bribed and protected the Saudi and Gulf monarchies and laid waste to Iraq, there remain the northern tier of Lebanon, Syria and Iran, as well as the ongoing destruction of Iraq. Is it a coincidence that, with the exception of Iran, this is exactly where ISIS operates?
For whose benefit is this if not Israel’s? Certainly not for the US. We are exhausting our resources and manpower and creating more enemies for ourselves, not less. Granted, the weapons manufacturers and oil companies are doing great, but the rest of US society is paying a heavy price, as funds to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, educate our children, provide health care, increase home ownership and otherwise preserve and build upon the gains of our society over the last century are diverted to costly military adventures on behalf of Israel.
If we want to dispose of ISIS, we have no need to drop our bombs, only our hypocrisy. Not a single country in the world admits to supporting ISIS. We have only to use the end user terms of our arms sales to NATO, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other recipients of US arms to prevent those arms from reaching ISIS. We can use our influence with Turkey to shut down the sale of oil from ISIS-held territory. We can also end the practice of providing arms to forces fighting the Syrian government. Most of those arms end up in ISIS hands.
ISIS began as a small insurgency in Iraq, but we and our regional allies are responsible for making it the problem that exists today. Our purpose was to use ISIS to weaken and divide all the countries in the region (except Israel). Now we are trying to use it as a pretext for direct US intervention in Syria, which the American people rejected last year.
If the US is serious about getting rid of ISIS, there are better ways to do it than sending our combat aircraft into Syria without the permission of the Syrian government, the UN, or even NATO. Let’s stop trying to deceive the American public, the Congress and the world about our intentions. The Obama plan doesn’t pass the smell test.
Paul Larudee is one of the founders of the Free Gaza and Free Palestine Movements and an organizer in the International Solidarity Movement.
The British are mystified by their Muslim citizens becoming “jihadists” and joining the so-called Islamic State. They are horrified by the beheading of an American journalist by “John” a British citizen and member of the IS.
I must admit that I, too am horrified. It is not Islamic at all. Islam does not advocate violence and terror. The people who were defeated by the Prophet were not even converted to Islam, much less executed. The Quran says, “There is no compulsion in Islam.”
But we are seeing more and more violence and atrocities committed by Muslims. And now we have the Islamic State “Jihadists”, some of whom come from countries where they had migrated to because life is good there. Having enjoyed the good life, why are these people opting to join revolutionary movements and live dangerous lives, fighting against the very people who are their hosts. Could it be, as some people suggest, that they have been reading books such as “Islam for Dummies?”
Why? Recently we saw the mass killings of Muslims and destruction of their homes and towns by Israelis in Gaza. More than 2000 Muslims have been killed. They include little children and old people, non-combatants all. Thousands more have been seriously wounded, many losing arms and legs.
No concern or sympathy has been shown by the Europeans and Americans. In fact the Americans gave money and arms for Israelis to kill more Muslims and destroy their homes and towns.
If the beheading of a European Journalist is evidence of the barbarity of Muslims, cannot there be the same perception of Israeli killings of Muslims in Gaza? No. They are all terrorists, babies included, and a democratic country like Israel has every right to kill them and destroy their homes, towns and cities.
If we care to look back, we cannot but acknowledge that the so-called Middle Eastern Muslims were very hospitable to the Europeans before. But, the European nations played their great games there. They created the states of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine out of one single entity called Sham by the Arabs. Muslims then had no nation-states. They only regard themselves as the Muslim community, the Ummah.
The Europeans expelled the Turks and proceeded to divide Sham between them, although they had promised the Arabs that Sham would be liberated and handed over to the Arabs.
Following the European great games Iraq went to the British while Syria and Lebanon to the French. Palestine was made a British mandated territory to be returned to the Palestinians later. Palestine for centuries had been inhabited by Muslim and Christian Arabs and a small number of Jews. Under Muslim rule they lived in peace despite their different religions.
Then the British decided to make a Jewish state out of Palestine in order to solve the Jewish problem in Europe. Balfour, in 1917, promised to give land belonging to the Palestinian to the Zionist. It was so easy. Take other people’s land to give to the Jews without any regard for the majority Arabs living there. And the Jews celebrated the creation of Israel with massacres of Arabs and expulsion from Palestine. This was apparently sanctioned by the UN in 1948 when Israel was recognised as a state. Arab resentment was ignored.
Since then the Middle East has experienced no peace. Every time the Palestine Arabs tried to regain their homeland, they were prevented by the massive help and support of Israel by the European nations, in particular by America.
With every failure the Arabs became even more angry and determined to regain their homeland. The Arab countries stopped helping the Palestinians. Undeterred, they set up Al-Fatah to throw stones at Israeli soldiers in armoured cars. The stone-throwing children were shot at by the soldiers with rubber coated and then live bullets.
Fatah acquired some ineffective weapons to fight in defence. They were shot and killed and thousands were captured and thrown into Israeli jails for indefinite periods without trial. Palestine lands were seized and settlements for Jews built. It was against all laws and practices which the Europeans pride in saying they uphold.
And so instead of stopping Israel, the Europeans continued their support with funds and arms. The Israelis actually occupied Palestine land and set up road blocks to control movements of the Palestinian and visitors. Roads were built through Palestinian land for the exclusive use of the Israelis. High walls were constructed in Palestine territory for Israeli security. Gaza is put under siege by Israel. Ships in international waters were seized by the Israeli navy.
Aid workers on high seas were shot and killed; their ships boarded and forced to go to Israeli ports. The aid goods were confiscated. All these are against international laws but the big powers did nothing. But these were not all. Anti-Islam and anti-Muslim sentiments and acts were exhibited by Europeans elsewhere also. Having predicted a clash of civilisations they seem bent on making it a reality.
In Bosnia Herzegovina 12,000 Muslim men and boys were murdered with axes and bludgeons after Dutch NATO troops who were supposed to protect them simply moved away to allow Serbs to carry out their murderous work.
Then came the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq after blaming the Muslims for the destruction of the twin towers of the world trade centre in New York. The Iraqis were not responsible for this. But Iraq was accused of having weapons of mass destruction capable of being launched against Britain within 45 minutes. Later it was admitted by the Brits that this was a lie. Unashamedly the British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who ordered the collaboration with the United States in the invasion of Iraq claimed that the attack, the massive destruction of Iraqi cities and towns and the killings of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis was in order to liberate them from Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein was caught and hanged. But the occupation and war continued. When finally the Americans and Europeans left Iraq, this once stable and progressive Arab country descended into anarchy and civil war with Iraqis killing Iraqis.
Afghanistan was invaded to overthrow the Taliban and to kill Osama bin Ladin. Osama is dead but there is no peace in Afghanistan. The Iraqi and Afghan invasion was supposed to be over in three months. But after ten years and the almost total destruction of the two countries, meaningful democracy and peace have not come to these two unfortunate nations. They have been rendered totally unstable and fratricidal wars are tearing them apart.
The CIA has drawn up a list of Muslims to be killed. The West condemns the practices of detention without trial. Now we see in the West death sentences being passed on Muslims without trial. The intended victims are not even told about their death sentence. No attempt is made to arrest even. Drones are simply dispatched to kill these Muslims. In the case of Osama bin Ladin killer squads were dropped into Pakistan without even informing that country. And Osama’s body was thrown into the sea, a practice worthy of barbarians.
Through all these, the U.S., Britain and other European countries express no regret and certainly no sympathy for the Muslim victims of their war on terror. Thousands of them, men, women, children, babies, old and sick people have been and are being killed without evoking the slightest concern or regret among the Europeans.
I don’t for one moment regard the beheading of the American journalist as Islamic, despite the claim of ISIL. I think it is disgraceful for Muslims to do such thing. It is against the teachings of Islam. But can any young and impressionable Muslim be blamed if they are so easily mislead into committing heinous crimes to avenge the injustice and oppression of their brothers and sisters in religion.
It is not the religion of Islam that led the Muslims to committing heinous acts. It is simply anger, hate and rage over not being able to do anything to stop the Europeans or West from oppressing people who profess the same religion as themselves. And Europeans, most of whom are not practicing Christians, react in the same way when Christians are faced with any threat.
Look at the record of the Europeans, especially after they created Israel. Now, although they will not admit it, they are carrying out a crusade against Islam and the Muslims. Call it a war on terror or the clash of civilizations. But factually it is still a continuation of the crusade of the past centuries.
Against this modern Crusade the Muslims have no answer. They don’t have a Saladin (Salah El Din) to lead them. And over the centuries they have allowed themselves to become weak. They have ignored the injunctions of Allah in the Quran that they must be prepared to defend the ummah and Islam.
Their religious teachers tell them to pray to Allah for help. But they neglect to inform that in the Quran Allah enjoins upon Muslims to help themselves first if they want Allah to answer their prayers. Quite obviously the Muslims have not followed this injunction. In fact many believe that it has been preordained that they should suffer European oppression.
Today not a single Government of a Muslim country has dared to challenge the Europeans. Indeed many believe that the Europeans are a superior race that they should look up to; that it is futile to defend themselves against European aggression and oppression. Not a single Muslim country dares to stand up to the Europeans.
Expecting no help from the Governments of Muslim countries, many angry and frustrated Muslims took upon themselves to take revenge against the hated Europeans. For this purpose they preach their version of the teachings of Islam so as to influence young Muslim to be prepared to sacrifice their lives in a holy war.
All Muslims truly believe that to die in the defence of Islam and the Muslims results in martyrdom and heaven in the afterlife. It is not too difficult to convince young Muslims in the face of the injustice and oppression of Muslims that the war against the Europeans is a holy war.
But a war against the European promises no easy victory. Seeking revenge through acts of terror is much easier. And so the so-called jihadists are prepared to commit atrocities like beheading a European and recording it for the world to see. I would like to say it again, it is not Islamic this beheading. Certainly it is not Islamic for Sunnis to massacre captured Shiahs or Shiahs to murder Sunnis.
The two sects had always fought each other in their mutual belief that the other is not Muslim. But what is happening today is bloodlust which started with the fight against Jewish Zionism and the creation of the state of Israel. Unable to defeat the Jews and their nominally Christian Europeans backers, the Muslims have now turned against each other. And occasionally when they manage to capture a European, they vent their spite on him.
This will go on for decades and even centuries, waxing and waning, for as long as there is the state of Israel and the Palestinians are denied their right to a homeland.
It is the seizure of Palestinian land to form the state of Israel which triggered the violent reaction of the Muslims in the last 70 over years. The Jewish reaction to the violent struggle of the Palestinians is to out terrorise them. That in turn resulted in other Muslims joining the Palestinian struggle. Unable to wage war they resort to acts of terror. And Israeli state terror escalated.
Directly and indirectly the Europeans back Israeli state terrorism. And so it goes on. So what is the solution? It is certainly not more suppression and oppression of the Muslims, and in particular the Palestinian.
The solution lies in fairness and justice for the Palestinians.
I am writing this in Chechnya, a republic in the Russian Federation. The Chechens fought a war of independence against the Russians. It was a futile war. Three million ill-equipped Chechens against 200 million Russians with one of the most powerful military forces in the world. Chechnya and Grozny its capital were razed to the ground before they were forced to stop fighting.
After the war the Russians allocated a trillion dollars to rebuild Chechnya and Grozny. Today, eight years after war ended, there is not a trace of the massive destruction caused by Russian missiles and bombs. Instead the whole country, and in particular Grozny has been completely rebuilt.
And today the Chechens can once again believe and practice the Muslim religion. Beautiful mosques and religious school abound. There is no more communist sanction against Islam. Chechnya remains a republic in the Russian Federation but in religion and in many ways it is independent. The relation with Russia is friendly.
Maybe there is something to learn from the Chechen saga. Stop the oppression of Palestine. Stop the Crusade. Stop postulating the clash of civilizations. Stop regime change. Stop supplying arms for Muslims to fight Muslims. It may take time but slowly the jihadists, will have no incentive to fight.
Allah has ordained that the enemy of the Muslims are those who fight and oppress them. Muslims must not war against those who have not attacked them (in any way). That is the way of Islam – peace unless you declare war against Islam.
Muslims who adhere strictly to these tenets and wish to live at peace with non-Muslims can only have credibility and be listened to if the oppression of the Muslims ceases.
Dr. Mahathir Mohamad was the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia from 1981 to 2003.
The US routinely shares private information about its citizens of Arab and Palestinian descent with Israel, the New York Times revealed yesterday.
In an Op-Ed in the newspaper, James Bamford said that the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden told him that the US “routinely passed private, unedited communications to Israel”.
Documents leaked by Snowden reveal that the US passes on “unevaluated and unminimised transcripts, gists, facsimiles, telex, voice and Digital Network Intelligence metadata and content,” to Unit 8200, an elite Israeli intelligence department.
He said the intercepts included communications of Arab and Palestinian-Americans, whose relatives in Israel and the Palestinian territories could become targets based on the information.
Whistleblower Snowden said this is ”one of the biggest abuses we’ve seen”, Bamford reported.
Bamford cited a memorandum of understanding between the NSA and Unit 8200 outlining transfers that have occurred since 2009.
Snowden, a former NSA contractor, is wanted by the US on espionage charges after leaking thousands of secret NSA documents.
He claimed asylum in Russia, where he has been granted a three-year residency that allows him to travel abroad.
Unemployed and shattered by the 50-day Israeli assault on Gaza, Yasser decided to seek a better life elsewhere, boarding a boat to Europe that sank off Malta last week.
In one of the deadliest migrant shipwrecks on record, the boat, with 500 people on board, was intentionally capsized by traffickers as it made its way from Egypt to Italy.
Only 10 people are known to have survived, among them four Palestinians from the 100 Gazans believed to have been on board. Yasser, a 23-year-old unemployed graduate, was not one of them.
Yasser’s story is far from unusual and explains why some Palestinians in Gaza are ready to risk everything to flee war and poverty in the coastal enclave, which was battered by a devastating seven-week Israeli aggression that ended late last month.
His brother Osama told AFP by telephone from his home in the United Arab Emirates that Yasser had graduated from university in Gaza but struggled to find work.
“He graduated last year and since then, like all young people, he has been unemployed. There is no future for them in Gaza,” Osama told AFP, asking that his family’s name not be published.
The crippling blockade of Gaza by Israel – and more recently Egypt – and Israeli restrictions in the occupied West Bank limit Palestinians’ ability to compete in export markets and contribute to an unemployment rate of almost 25 percent, the World Bank said in 2013.
“I tried to bring him to the Emirates but after seeing several of his friends reach Europe by boat, he decided to leave too,” he said.
Yasser crossed from Gaza into the Sinai Peninsula via the Rafah crossing, paying some local Egyptians nearly $3,000 (2,300 euros) to fix his passage to Europe.
“You never know who you’re giving the money too,” Osama said.
The last time the brothers spoke was on September 5, the day before the boat carrying Yasser set sail from the port of Damietta in Egypt.
“Now I’m waiting to receive the list of survivors to know if he might still be alive,” Osama said.
Escape through the tunnels
Exact numbers of those leaving Gaza and making their way to Europe are hard to come by.
According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), some 2,890 people who declared themselves to be Palestinians have reached Italy so far this year.
But even that number may not be credible as some migrants falsely identify themselves as Palestinians to avoid being repatriated to home countries that have extradition agreements with the European Union.
“We estimate that thousands of people have left the Gaza Strip clandestinely over the past two months, especially during the war,” a local human rights worker told AFP.
“Due to the fact they left through tunnels to Egypt — an illegal, secret way to leave — we have no precise figure,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.
With Gaza’s own access to the Mediterranean tightly closed by Israel’s naval blockade, those wanting to go to Europe would be forced to travel through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt.
Rafah is Gaza’s only gateway to the world that is not occupied by Israel, but it has been kept largely closed by Egypt for more than a year, with the only other way across via the handful of precarious cross-border smuggling tunnels.
The US has rejected an initiative set out by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to set a timeframe to end the Israeli occupation, Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported diplomatic sources as saying today.
The sources said the US’ Permanent Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Bauer informed the group that her country “does not welcome the initiative”.
Representatives of Abbas’ government are in the process of conducting consultations on the initiative as a prelude to the formulation of a draft resolution to the UN Security Council for a vote after listening to the feedback of all the states prior to the annual session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York this month.
The sources added that permanent members of the Security Council lead by the United States “told us that they do not support the idea. Some permanent members also said they are undecided about the initiative, especially after the US’ refusal of it.”
Abbas’ initiative set out plans to resume negotiations with Israel within nine months and for the complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from the occupied territories in no more than three years.
Last Wednesday Israeli Police filed an indictment against an officer who was filmed beating Tariq Abu Khdeir, a 15 year old Palestinian-American teenager from Florida. He was beaten and arrested during a demonstration to protest the brutal murder of his cousin Mohammed Abu Khdeir. On 2nd July 16 year old Mohammed was abducted and burned alive by Israeli extremists in supposed revenge for the killing of three Israeli teenagers.
Tariq’s bruised face caused outrage in the United States and the State Department called for a “speedy, transparent and credible investigation and full accountability for any excessive use of force” used against the American teen. As a result of mounting pressure from the US, Tariq was released and able to fly home just under two weeks after the ordeal.
Speaking at a press conference following the news of the charges filed, Abu Khdeir and his mother called it “groundbreaking.” Suha Abu Khdeir, the boy’s mother, said it was “a shame that in order for [Israeli authorities] to take action it had to be an American citizen that this happened to.” They believe that the charges were only filed because the incident was recorded and because Tariq is a citizen of the United States.
In sharp contrast, at the time US pressure was mounting for the soldiers behind Tariq’s beating to be held accountable, Israeli General Danny Efrni, closed the investigation into the killing of Yousef Sami Shawamreh.
In March, Yousef and his two friends had gone to pick the thistle like plant gundelia which farmers from his village in the South of Hebron harvest at the same time every year, when he was fatally shot in the hip by an Israeli soldier.
According to the army, three Palestinians approached the fence and started cutting it. The guards performed the standard procedure for stopping a suspect, shooting first in the air and then toward the Palestinian. According to local residents, the separation wall annexed some of the villages land, including the land of Shawamreh family, and so the boys had crossed over to harvest the crop on the other side of it, a routine that the soldiers were aware of.
The two boys who were with Yousef claim they heard three shots, causing them to get down on the floor. Yousef then reportedly got up to cross back over into the village, when another shot was fired causing him to fall. One of the boys, Muntaser, attempted to carry him to safety, but was told by 6 soldiers who arrived at the scene to put Yousef down, threatening to shoot him if he did not obey.
The prosecution, however, found that, “the force prepared for the operation professionally and acted in line with rules for opening fire”- concluding there was no suspicion of a criminal act on their part.
Yousef’s case joins the hundreds of cases that fail to end in an indictment. An Amnesty International report found that 41 Palestinians had been killed by live ammunition in the West Bank between 2011 and 2013 alone. The same report found that between September 2000 and June 2013, only 16 investigations ended in indictment of Israeli soldiers.
According to statistics released last week rights group Yesh Din, in 2013, out of the 239 notifications submitted to the Military Police Criminal Investigations Division (MPCID), the body which deals with complaints regarding offenses committed by Israeli Defence Force (IDF) soldiers, only six resulted in indictments.
Neta Patrick, Executive Director of Yesh Din said: “Every year, we caution against the sorry state of the investigation system. However, it appears that Israel refuses to deal with these structural failings or take minimal steps to correct them, despite harsh criticism voiced by public commissions and by civil society organizations.”
She added: “The inescapable conclusion is that the Government of Israel is not willing to investigate harm caused to Palestinians.”