A prevalent liberal cliché is the “blowback” theory – the theory that ISIS terror attacks, and indeed the group’s very existence, are somehow in retaliation to US/Western/”Israeli” foreign policy actions.
This is a disingenuous theory that is disseminated in order to keep the empire’s citizens on side. Crucially, it distracts from a key truth.
Western and “Israeli” intelligence has historically effected deep infiltration of ‘jihadist’ terror cells throughout the Arab world and the West; these groups are used literally as footsoldiers (see Afghanistan throughout the 1980s) to achieve Western and “Israeli” military and strategic objectives. The “blowback” theory distracts from this key fact.
ISIS aren’t retaliating against Western foreign policy; they are Western foreign policy. These very people were mobilised against Muammar Gaddafi in Libya’s bogus ‘revolution’ of 2011, as with Syria in the same year.
In moving across the Syrian-Iraqi border, ISIS – Zionism’s footsoldiers – underwent a magical media transformation into the ‘bad guys’. The ‘war against ISIS’ is a con, a total scam. It is a pretext for a war against the resistance axis: chiefly Syria, Hizbu’llah, Iran, and the Palestinian resistance. It is a pretext to kick the ‘Yinon plan’ – the plan to balkanise the Arab world to ensure “Israeli” hegemony – into high gear
The WMD lies of 2003 never went away; they simply got re-packaged for the liberal crowd in the post-Bush era.
Block the boat protest. (FightBack!News/Staff)
Tampa, FL – 70 Palestine solidarity activists filed into the intersection of Maritime and 20th Street here to protest the docking of the ZIM Alabama, a container ship carrying Israeli goods. The Tampa Port Authority was woken early in the morning of Sept. 21 by protesters opposing the importation of Israeli goods. Israeli companies super-exploit Palestinian labor, paying very low wages.
Protesters were hoping to catch the attention of dockworkers arriving for work. Some members of the International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1402 waved and honked in support.
“It was really great to see dockworkers showing interest and support for our cause. There was a real sense of solidarity from the workers themselves,” said Caroline England, a member of Tampa Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).
After gathering at the intersection, protesters marched to the port itself. Upon approaching the security checkpoint at the port, police surrounded the protesters, attempting to cut them off from both the port and incoming workers. Police threatened to arrest a Palestinian American woman. However fellow protesters were able to get the police to back off. The rally continued until 8:00 a.m., when it was announced that International Longshoremen’s Association workers would not be entering the port until 1:00 p.m. due to an unspecified delay. Protesters retreated in order to rest and organize reinforcements for later.
The protesters gathered again at noon with a larger crowd than the morning. They conducted another march on the port, slowing traffic that was attempting to enter. Police stood by as protesters entered the port and protested the docking of the ZIM Alabama from Israel.
The action is part of the Block the Boat movement to place economic pressure on Israel to stop killing and oppressing Palestinians. There is a growing movement of students participating in the Boycott, Divest And Sanction (BDS) campaign.
Sam Beutler of Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of South Florida said, “Every little action on our part counts. The BDS movement was integral to the destruction of the South African Apartheid regime and can play a similar role in dealing with Israeli apartheid today – whether it be not buying Sabra hummus, HP computers, or attempting to stop a boat containing Israeli goods from docking. Each action moves towards the ending of the Israeli occupation of Palestine.”
This is the second protest of the ZIM Alabama in Tamp; there was another Aug. 30. Another Block the Boat rally is being organized to oppose the return of the ZIM Alabama.
Clashes erupted Wednesday between Palestinians and Israeli forces in Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem after dozens of Zionist settlers– led by two government ministers and backed by Israeli police – forced their way into the holy compound, a Palestinian guard of the complex said.
“Ninety-three settlers protected by 40 Israeli police and special forces forced their way into the holy compound through the Al-Magharbeh Gate,” the guard, who asked not to be named, told Anadolu Agency.
The Zionist settlers were accompanied by Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel and Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, in addition to several Jewish extremist leaders.
In response, some 300 Palestinian Muslim worshipers converged near the Al-Qibali and the Dome of the Rock mosques to protest the intrusion, the guard said.
In a bid to disperse angry Palestinians, Israeli forces fired rubber bullets and teargas, he added.
“At least 16 Palestinians were injured by rubber bullets, including one in the head and two in the abdomen. Around 45 others suffered teargas inhalation,” the guard said.
According to Sheikh Omar al-Qiswani, the Palestinian director of the Al-Aqsa complex, the two ministers took a tour of the compound’s courtyards, passing by the Dome of the Rock, Qibali and Marawani mosques before leaving through the Al-Rahmeh Gate.
Israeli security forces withdrew from the compound after the clashes, the guard said.
“Israeli police and army troops pulled out of the compound after attacking Palestinian worshipers,” he said.
Israeli police have stepped up security at the gates of the Al-Aqsa complex for the second day in a row, barring a number of Palestinians from entering the compound, al-Qiswani said.
“Except for the Al-Magharbeh Gate, where [Jewish] settlers regularly force their way into the complex, the Israeli police closed all other gates with chains,” al-Qiswani said.
Jews will celebrate “Rosh Hashanah” on Wednesday, which will mark the first day of the new Jewish year of 5775.
Groups of extremists called for marking the holiday by storming the Al-Aqsa compound and performing Talmudic rituals.
In recent months, groups of extremist Zionist settlers, often accompanied by Israeli security forces, have stepped up their intrusions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex, the world’s third holiest site for Muslims.
For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world’s third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the “Temple Mount,” claiming it was the site of two prominent Jewish temples in ancient times.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming Jerusalem as the unified capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state – a move never recognized by the international community.
In September 2000, a visit to the site by controversial Israeli leader Ariel Sharon sparked what later became known as the “Second Intifada” – a popular uprising against the Israeli occupation in which thousands of Palestinians were killed and injured.
Along one of the roads in the city of Ariha in the north of the occupied West Bank, merchants Khaldoun and Hassan regularly receive 30 tons of dates produced in the neighbouring Israeli agricultural settlements, in preparation for their transfer to one of the packaging factories built on the outskirts of the city, Anadolu news agency reported.
Inside the factory, about 13 minors are working on “screening” the dates and repackaging them in bags that read “dates of the Holy Land” in both Arabic and English and “Made in Palestine” in order to market them locally, in the Arab states and in Europe.
This is what one of the farms that is owned by Israeli settlers does in order to market its produce of dates to customers of European Union countries after the enforcement of a decision earlier this year to boycott any products of settlements in the West Bank.
Anadolu cited a statement issued by the Palestinian national economy minister saying that members of the ministry have found dozens of tons of produce coming from the settlements in this way, on its way to either the local market or to the packaging factories in the city of Ariha and the neighbouring villages.
Merchant Khaldoun, 45 years, told Anadolu’s reporter, “We do trade in dates of the settlements, which we buy at prices that are 40 per cent lower than the market price. And in order to be able to market the dates, we clean and re-package them and choose the best in preparation for selling them in the local market, as well as the Arab and European markets.”
He added that the annual volume of his seasonal sales of dates is nearly 350 tons, pointing out that other merchants who work in this field and in other varieties of vegetables and fruits, such as citrus fruits, nuts, and medical herbs have similar practices.
His fellow trader Hassan said that he has a licensed company that is registered officially. The export process takes place after the official bodies check the quality and specifications of the product, ensuring the product’s conformity with European specifications and international standards. It is then exported under the “Made in Palestine” label.
The minister of economy said in its statement that any truck carrying dates must also be carrying a transfer permit to move the dates from inside the farm of production to the factory that will process the packaging, noting that it has begun to take stricter steps over the trade of dates through listing the names of the farmers who grow dates, the number of trees they own and their annual average production.
Palestine enjoys customs exemptions and export-related facilities in trade with the countries of the European Union, so the Israeli companies cooperate with Palestinian merchants to export the dates produced in the settlements illegally established in the West Bank to the European Union, while benefiting from such exemptions.
In the beginning of 2014, the European Union announced its decision to boycott economic, scientific and academic relations with institutions, factories and farms that have any investments or presence in the Israeli settlements established in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Earlier, the ministry of economy confiscated more than 20 tons of corrupt and damaged dates coming from the Israeli settlements while on their way to one of the factories for repackaging to later sell them as a product of Palestine.
The ceasefire agreement between Palestinian resistance fighters and the Tel Aviv regime has been hailed as tantamount to the victory of Palestinians against Israel.
Under the truce deal, Tel Aviv must lift the blockade it has imposed on the Gaza Strip since 2007. Israel must also reopen the border crossings into the besieged Palestinian territory.
In this edition of The Sun Will Rise, we discuss the barbarous Israeli military aggression against Gaza and the victory of resistance against Israel.
- an exclusive from Gaza by Ashraf Shannon, in which he interviews Professor Mosheer Amer from the Islamic University of Gaza and victims of the Gaza war.
- a feature on Palestinian photographic video works – “Voices” – by Rich Wiles exhibited in the P21 Gallery in London.
In the studio, we were joined by:
President, General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS UK)
Palestinian Student Activist
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – Violence broke out on the streets of Hebron’s university district (al-Khalil) this morning when Israeli soldiers opened fire on unarmed demonstrators who had been protesting the murders of two Palestinians earlier that day.
Protestors took to the streets after Marwan Kawasme, 29, and Amar Abu Aisha, 32, were killed and burned by Israeli soldiers in the very early hours of this morning. The Israeli military alleged that the two men were behind the deaths of the three settler teenagers in June of this year.
The soldiers used tear gas canisters and live ammunition bullets during the clashes, with numerous injuries including a 15-year-old boy who was shot in the head and is now in a critical condition in hospital. A representative of the Red Cross stated to ISM that there were over 30 injuries, though the exact number is still unknown.
The building where the murders took place was also set on fire and destroyed.
Tensions had been high all morning as word of the two dead Palestinians spread throughout the area. By 8 am around 200 Palestinian residents had gathered to show their frustration at the senseless taking of life. Although stones were thrown, the protesters were unarmed and did not pose a threat to the violent occupying military. The Israeli army, still present after the earlier incident, unleashed dozens of canisters of tear gas leaving many people unable to breath and in need of medical help. Hemmed in and with nowhere to escape to, the protestors hid behind what ever they could find.
The situation further deteriorated when the Israeli soldiers, without warning began to fire live bullets at the protestors, hitting one boy in the head and injuring a number of others.
After an hour of further violence by the Israeli soldiers, the protestors cleared and the injured were taken away.
Throughout the earlier afternoon however similar incidents of unrest were reported around Hebron (al-Khalil).
The rush to develop oil palm plantations in Africa is a double whammy for the continent. Not only does it involve a huge land grab of peoples’ lands and food producing resources, it also directly undercuts the livelihoods of millions of people involved in Africa’s traditional oil palm sector.
This is not the first time foreigners have pushed an expansion of oil palm in Africa. During the the colonial occupation of the continent, the European powers became interested in palm oil as an industrial lubricant and for making candles. African families were forced to pay a special tax, known as the “takouè” to the colonial authorities, in the form of palm oil and palm nut. King Léopold II of Belgium forced every farmer in the province of Equateur in the Congo to plant 10 palms a year.1
The European powers also established their own oil palm plantations around this time. Plantations were created in West and Central Africa as well as in Southeast Asia. Research stations and collection missions were launched to develop high yielding varieties of oil palms through the cross breeding of traditional or wild varieties.
With independence, most of these plantations and research stations were nationalised, and the new African governments reenergised the expansion of national production. In Bénin, for example, the state-owned Société Nationale du Développement Rural (SONADER) led an expansion of oil palm plantations in the south immediately after independence, while another state-owned company, the Société Nationale pour l’Industrie des Corps Gras (SONICOG) built new palm oil refineries and palm nut processing factories.
But, at the end of the 1990s, World Bank and donor imposed structural adjustment programmes forced African governments to privatise their national palm oil companies and to sell off their mills and plantations. While many national companies simply crumbled away, European companies with old colonial connections captured the most lucrative operations. SOCFIN, controlled by billionaires Vincent Bolloré of France and Hubert Fabri of Belgium, took over national companies in Cameroon, the DRC, Guinea and Nigeria. SIAT, controlled by the family of South African diamond magnate Ernest Oppenheimer and the Belgian Vandebeeck family, took plantations in Gabon, Ghana and Nigeria, while another old money Belgian company, SIPEF took over a chunk of the state-owned oil palm plantations of Côte d’Ivoire. Unilever, one of the world’s largest and oldest food companies, scored plantations too – in the DRC, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.
Today there is a second wave of foreign interest in oil palm plantations in Africa. With land for oil palm plantations becoming more difficult and expensive to acquire in Malaysia and Indonesia, companies and speculative investors are keen to open up new frontiers for export production. Some investment is going to Papua and to Latin America, but the biggest target is Africa. A long list of companies, from Asian palm oil giants to Wall Street financial houses, are scrambling to get control over lands on the continent that are favourable to oil palm, especially in the West and Central regions.
Over the past five years, vast areas of land in Africa have been allocated to foreign companies for oil palm plantations by African governments, with minimal if any consultation with the affected populations and many allegations of corruption. Table 1 lists 60 deals covering nearly 4 million hectares over the past decade and a half.
A number of different actors are involved. There are established Asian plantation companies, like Wilmar and Sime Darby, and multinational palm oil traders, like Cargill and Olam, both looking to establish a new basis of palm oil supply for global markets in Africa. But many of the first movers are in fact small obscure companies, typically domiciled in tax havens, whose owners intend only to sign land deals and then sell their companies as soon as possible to larger players with the capacity to develop the plantations. In many cases it is difficult to work out who the owners of these companies are.
The communities facing land grabs from palm oil companies are under tremendous pressure to accommodate them, with pressure coming from the companies, the government, the local chiefs and even the army and paramilitaries. Those who resist face arrest, harassment and violence. And yet communities in Africa and around the world, from Papua New Guinea to Sarawak, from Cameroon to Guatemala, continue to struggle to stop palm oil companies from entering their lands.
Communities in southwest Cameroon have been involved in a three year struggle to stop the US company Herakles Capital from setting up an oil palm plantation in their area. Despite support from the president of Cameroon, Herakles has been unable to move forward with its plans because the communities are united in their total opposition to the plantation and because of the creative actions that they have undertaken, with support from national and international partners, to put pressure on the company to leave. The company and the government keep coming back and presenting new terms, the latest being a presidential decree that reduces the land allocated to Herakles from 73,000 ha to 20,000 ha and boosts the rent that the company must pay. Community leaders have been arrested and harassed with lawsuits. Yet the communities are sticking to their bottom line demand – no oil palm plantations on their lands.
Cameroon is also a target for the Luxembourg based company SOCFIN, owned by billionaires Vincent Bolloré of France and Hubert Fabri of Belgium. Over the past decade and a half, SOCFIN has taken over lands for oil palm and other crops in several African countries, including Cameroon, DRC, Guinea, Nigeria, Sao Tome & Principe, and Sierra Leone. The company is notorious for human rights abuses and land conflicts at its operations, and for its aggressive tactics against those who oppose it. In the past few years, the company has slapped defamation suits on several organisations and journalists in Africa and Europe that have spoken out against it.
On June 5, 2013, communities affected by SOCFIN plantations in four African countries held simultaneous protest actions against the company, as a delegation of diaspora from these countries and supported by the French group Réseaux d’Action Transnationale (ReAct) presented a joint letter from the various communities to the Annual General Meeting of the Bolloré Group, which is a major shareholder in SOCFIN.
“This initial international protest is just the beginning. We are committed to upholding our rights and Mr. Bolloré will have to understand that,” said Emmanuel Elong, spokesperson for Synaparcam, the Socapalm resident farmers’ union in Cameroon.2
Strong community resistance combined with national and international, well targeted pressure, can roll back land grabs. The Jogbahn Clan in Liberia provides an inspiring example. When the British company Equatorial Palm Oil began surveying their lands as part of a deal it signed with the Liberian government, the communities took action to stop the work crews. They then marched to the local government offices to make it clear that they had never been consulted about the deal and that they would never give up their lands for the project. Along the way they were beaten, arrested and thrown in jail. But the communities refused to back down. Local and international NGOs joined their struggle, and exposed what was happening to the world. Finally, in March 2014, community leaders met with the Liberian President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and secured a commitment from her to stop the company from expanding on their lands. Now Liberian groups are hoping to replicate these efforts with other affected communities in the country.3
The many different efforts to resist land grabs and maintain local control over palm oil production in Africa, Asia and Latin America demonstrate how committed local communities are to maintaining control over their ancestral lands and their biodiversity, for themselves and for future generations.
1 World Rainforest Movement, “Oil palm in Africa: past, present and future scenarios,“ 2010
2 Synaparcam, SoGB residents committee, Concern Union Citizen, and MALOA, “West African farmers stand up against Bolloré,” 5 June 2013
3 For more information about the case see: http://sdiliberia.org/node/263
A team of eight experts and journalists visiting the southern region of the West African state of Guinea were found dead in the town of Nzerekore on Sept. 20. Reports indicate that they were there to educate people about the nature of the disease for the purpose of its prevention.
Reports from Guinea say that the delegation had met with elders in the community but were later attacked by youths. Investigations into the details of the killings are ongoing.
There is tremendous mistrust surrounding the spread of the Ebola virus disease in some West African states where the epidemic has had an impact. Doctors Without Borders reported in April that their teams were forced to withdraw from Macenta in Guinea after being stoned by youths who said they were there to spread the disease.
Newspaper articles and rumors have circulated that the outbreak is a direct result of biological warfare being waged by imperialist countries against the African continent.
Although no one knows what the motivations were of those who carried out the killings in Guinea, obviously there are many people who mistrust the motivations of foreign aid workers responding to the crisis. Guinea is the first country that was identified in the latest spread of the disease, which has periodically struck in Central and West Africa over the last three decades.
Biological warfare and economic underdevelopment
The most widely discussed and controversial article related to the spread of the Ebola virus disease was published by the leading newspaper in Liberia, The Observer. Dr. Cyril Broderick, a former professor of plant pathology at the University there, asserted that the spread of the disease is a direct result of US Department of Defense bio-warfare against Africa.
Broderick’s article was published on Sept. 9 and stated that “Africa must not relegate the Continent to become the locality for disposal and the deposition of hazardous chemicals, dangerous drugs, and chemical or biological agents of emerging diseases. There is urgent need for affirmative action in protecting the less affluent of poorer countries, especially African citizens, whose countries are not as scientifically and industrially endowed as the United States and most Western countries, sources of most viral or bacterial GMOs that are strategically designed as biological weapons. It is most disturbing that the US Government has been operating a viral hemorrhagic fever bioterrorism research laboratory in Sierra Leone.”
This same author goes on to ask “Are there others? Wherever they exist, it is time to terminate them. If any other sites exist, it is advisable to follow the delayed but essential step: Sierra Leone closed the US bioweapons lab and stopped Tulane University for further testing.” (Sept. 9)
Broderick has been attacked for publishing the article, and according to Health Impact News “The western pro-pharma media has chided Dr. Broderick, saying that such an inflammatory piece of writing is ‘irresponsible’ since so many Africans are already distrustful of western medicine. They see western medicine as the answer to Africa’s deadly diseases such as Ebola, while Dr. Broderick sees it as the cause. Dr. Broderick states ‘African people are not ignorant and gullible, as is being implicated.’” (healthimpactnews.com, Sept. 21)
Following the publication of this article, President Barack Obama announced on Sept. 16 that the US would deploy 3,000 troops to the affected West African states as a means to combat the disease. Obama said in a press release that “The United States will leverage the unique capabilities of the US military and broader uniformed services to help bring the epidemic under control. These efforts will entail command and control, logistics expertise, training, and engineering support.” (White House press statement)
Washington is already heavily involved militarily in Africa. Several thousand Pentagon troops, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operatives and State Department functionaries are on the continent as part of the US Africa Command (AFRICOM). This intervention since 2008 has created more instability and underdevelopment in Africa as represented by the events in Egypt, Mali, Libya, Somalia, South Sudan and Nigeria, where the ostensible partnerships aimed at curbing “terrorism” has prompted the intensification of conflict, dislocation and in the case of the Horn of Africa, famine.
Pentagon and CIA drone operations have carried out numerous targeted assassinations in Somalia. In Mali, a US-trained military officer returned to this former French colony and staged a coup providing a rationale for internal destabilization as well as an ongoing occupation by Paris.
Cuba offers medical solidarity
Meanwhile the revolutionary nation of Cuba pledged to send medical personnel in the fight against the disease. Cuba has a profound history in providing unconditional solidarity with the African continent.
In an address on Sept. 18 before the United Nations Security Council emergency session on Ebola, Vice Minister of Foreign Relations Abelardo Moreno told the participants that, “Cuba’s response is part of our solidarity with Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean. Over the last 55 years, we have collaborated in more than 158 countries, with the participation of 325,710 health workers. Some 76,744 collaborators have worked in 39 African countries. Today, in this sector, 4,048 Cubans are serving in 32 African nations, 2,269 of whom are doctors.” (granma.cu, Sept. 19)
Moreno went on the report that, “The medical brigades which will be sent to Africa to fight against Ebola form part of the ‘Henry Reeve International Contingent’ – created in 2005 – composed of doctors specializing in combating disasters and large-scale epidemics. Cuba’s response confirms the values of solidarity which have guided the Cuban Revolution: not to give what we can spare, but to share what we have.”
This approach contrasts sharply with that of the White House and Pentagon. Cuba has built up considerable trust in Africa due to its consistent policy of international solidarity.
At least three countries that have reported Ebola cases are reporting improvements in fighting the disease and its proliferation. In Nigeria, the Federal Government announced that schools would be re-opened on Sept. 22 despite opposition from the sections of the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT).
In Sierra Leone, there was a state of emergency declared restricting movements for three days. The government announced on Sept. 22 that the situation was now under control. Similar announcements have been made in reference to developments in Senegal, where at least one case has been reported.
Nonetheless, there have been nearly 3,000 deaths reported from the disease. In addition, there are still numerous questions related to the conditions under which the disease is spread and the most effective means to treat and eradicate the epidemic. (WHO Update, Sept. 22)
This outbreak does draw attention to the need for genuine independence and development on the African continent. The training of medical personnel and scientific researchers would contribute immensely to preventing future healthcare crises.
Cuban revolutionary foreign policy provides an example of how underdeveloped states, which have a legacy of slavery, colonialism and neo-colonialism, can transform through a process of class struggle and self-reliance. With over five decades of hostility from the US, Cuba has been able to make significant contributions to African liberation whether in the fight against settler-colonialism in Southern Africa in the years past or through the contemporary challenges related to the Ebola outbreak, the training of African medical personnel and other healthcare issues.
JERUSALEM – Israeli police on Tuesday morning deployed heavily at all gates of the al-Aqsa Mosque compound imposing restrictions on the entry of Muslim worshipers ahead of the Jewish New Year.
A Ma’an reporter in the holy city said Israeli police denied Palestinian men aged under 45 and all women entry to the mosque. Women and men under 45 had to perform dawn prayer in the streets outside the compound, she added.
In addition, police kept all gates closed except the Chain gate and the Council gate where police officers deployed heavily and scrutinized ID cards of worshipers.
Dozens of young men and women who were barred from al-Aqsa gathered outside the gates and chanted slogans denouncing Israeli police procedures and affirming it was their right to access the holy place.
Director of the Jerusalem office of the Palestinian ministry of endowment Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib told Ma’an that Tuesday’s closures of the compound were in preparation for Jewish holidays.
He said Knesset member Miri Regev from the Likud party who chairs the Knesset’s interior and security committee had asked the police to prepare the grounds for visits by Jews during holidays.
“We expect very difficult days in al-Aqsa during the upcoming Jewish holidays,” al-Khatib said.
Israeli forces regularly escort Jewish visitors to the site, leading to tension with Palestinian worshipers.
The compound, which sits just above the Western Wall plaza, houses both the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque and is the third holiest site in Islam.
It is also venerated as Judaism’s most holy place as it sits where Jews believe the First and Second Temples once stood. The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.
Al-Aqsa is located in East Jerusalem, a part of the internationally recognized Palestinian territories that have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.
Today the US – backed by “moderate” Arab states like Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar and Jordan – started bombing territory in another sovereign state, Syria, without a UN Security Council resolution or a plausible argument that it is acting in self-defence. That makes it a crime of aggression, defined at Nuremberg as “the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”
In a sign that Obama’s war on ISIS in Syria could quickly be extended into a war against Syrian president Bashar Assad, Israel downed a Syrian jet inside Syria this morning with a US-funded Patriot missile. According to Israel, the Syrian plane had passed 800 metres into its territory before heading back into Syria, during what the Israeli media say was a sortie against “rebels” operating close to the Israeli border (that’s right – the people Obama is currently bombing but whose injuries are being mended in Israeli hospitals).
Of course, we only have Israel’s word for it that the plane briefly crossed into Israeli [claimed] territory, but watch to see how completely the western media will assume Israel’s story to be the only valid account.
Let’s assume for a second that Israel’s claim is true. Even the Israeli media, presumably echoing the Israeli military, believe the plane was not threatening to attack Israel in any way, and it must have been over Israeli [claimed] territory for seconds, or maybe fractions of a second. But the plane was shot down in Syria because Israeli military “policy stipulates that any plane that breaches its territorial authority must be downed to avoid security risk”. Decoded, that means Syria has to be taught a lesson about who is boss. Israel, remember, has flown over Syrian and Lebanese territory on a regular basis.
The other, strong possibility is that Israel has been told by the US to help keep Syrian skies free of Syrian planes while the US goes about its business breaking international law. See how much play that gets in western media reporting.
It has been pointed out to me that actually the Haaretz article implies that when the Syrian plane reportedly crossed into “Israeli territory” it was most likely passing briefly over the Golan – that is, Syrian territory occupied by Israel since 1967.
I appreciate the correction. It exposes an additional layer of misinformation in this whole story.
Syria has once again slammed the Israeli regime’s support for the Takfiri ISIL militants operating inside the Arab country.
A Syrian military official, whose name was not mentioned in the reports, made the comments on Tuesday after Tel Aviv said earlier in the day that it had shot down a Syrian warplane as it attempted to fly over the ceasefire line into the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
The official confirmed the shooting down and underlined that the move was based on Tel Aviv’s policy of supporting ISIL Takfiris.
The aircraft was apparently a MiG-21 fighter jet which was downed by a surface-to-air Patriot missile, the Army radio said, adding that the wreckage landed on the Syrian side of the plateau.
However, an unnamed Israeli military official identified the downed aircraft as a Sukhoi Su-24 Russian fighter plane.
The development comes amid heavy clashes on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights. The Syrian government has been hitting back at the foreign-backed militants there with frequent airstrikes.
Syria has been gripped by deadly violence since March 2011.
According to reports, the Western powers and their regional allies — especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey — are supporting the Takfiris fighting against the Syrian government.
Golan Heights have been under the Israeli occupation since the 1960s. The Tel Aviv regime captured 1,200 square kilometers (460 square miles) of the Golan Heights during the Six-Day War of 1967 and annexed the region in 1981.
Israel is a Jewish state, as everyone keeps reminding us. Lots of things Israel would prefer you never hear about flow from that strange characterisation, including a two-tier system of rights conferred by two different citizenship laws, one for Jews and one for non-Jews (that is, mostly Palestinians living inside Israel). Much of my journalism has sought to document the very ugly racism inherent in the Jewish state’s self-definition.
But here’s a revealing little story about how the idea of a Jewish state touches on the most intimate areas of Israelis’ lives, areas that should be inconsequential to a normal kind of state.
A few days ago, Israel’s interior ministry published a list of the most popular boys and girls’ names in time for the Jewish new year. It was publicised as the list of the most popular Israeli names. I was surprised that not one Arab name made it into the top 10, even though a fifth of Israel’s population are Palestinians. I should not have been. In fact, as Haaretz now reports, several Arab names were in the top 10 – including Mohammed, which was actually at number one. Israeli officials simply dropped it and any other Arab-sounding names from the list.
The deep chauvinism at work here is illustrated by the fact that the most popular name listed, Yosef, only came first because the Arabic version (Yusuf), which is spelt the same in Hebrew, was included. So the issue for the interior ministry was simply to prevent Israeli Jews and Jews overseas from seeing any Arab-looking names on the list.
The names of newborns are a contested issue in Israel only because of the deep-seated ethnic insecurities of the Jewish majority. That insecurity looks here to be simply petty. But that very same pettiness also lies behind Israel’s security and demographic obsessions, its profound militarisation, and the systematic oppression of Palestinians.