The war against us all
This war in Iraq isn’t the end; it’s the beginning of Wars to come
all around the world at the whim of the Neo-Cons in the White House
This is the Bush Doctrine come to life; War, war and more war!
War brought to you by the big corporate-masters who run the show
This isn’t just a War on Iraqis or Afghanis or Arabs, or even Muslims
It is ultimately a War on us all!
That’s because the billions and billions that are being spent on this War
the cost of tanks, rocketry, bullets and yes even salaries
for the 125,000 plus troops, is money that will never be spent on;
education, on healthcare, on the reconstruction of crumbling public housing
or to train and place the millions of workers
who have lost manufacturing jobs in the past three years alone
The War in Iraq is in reality; a war against the nations’ workers and the poor
who are getting less and less
while the big Defense industries and making a killing – literally!
What’s next Iran, Syria, North Korea, Venezuela?
We’ve already seen the corporate media
play megaphone to the White House, to build and promote a War based on lies
War is utilized by the imperialists first and foremost, to crush internal enemies
We’re seeing the truth of its insight
when we see the sad state of American education
the rush of seniors to buy affordable medications from the Canadians
because American drugs are just too expensive
the threat of privatization of Social Security
and the wave of repression that comes with an increasing Militarized Police;
this is a War on all of us
And the struggle against War is really a struggle for a better life
for the millions of folks who are in need here in this country!
The fight against the War is really to fight for your own interest
not the false interests of the Defense Industry
or the corporate media or the White House
Down with the Wars for empire!
From Death row this is Mumia Abu Jamal…
Below are five points that campaigning organisations and individuals should be using in all discussions and correspondence with their political representatives. This is UK-specific as DFID wants to play the leading role in co-ordinating the reconstruction of Gaza. The five point action plan relies on international law and the UK’s responsibility as a signatory of the IV Geneva Convention.
Next month there is a donors’ conference in Cairo and it is vital that British voters start pressuring their MPs as soon as possible. An online petition issued by a coalition of civil society organisations (such as Oxfam, War on Want, PSC, JFJFP, etc) which individuals can sign is also a powerful tool to exert political pressure.
I would like to ask all civil society organisations and individuals in the UK to read this, share it and help implement it as a campaign. There is a general election in the UK next year, let’s work now to make Palestine a key issue for MPs, especially the issue of the Blockade.
- UK taxpayers should not subsidise Israel’s destruction of Gaza. Taxpayers financially support the work of DFID in assisting in the rebuilding efforts, but Israel should reimburse all of DFID’s costs. DFID should send an itemised assessment, or the UK government should send a similar bill, to the Israeli government. The bill should clearly state that the UK government is issuing it as part of third-state responsibility to ensure accountability and prevent impunity for international law violations. The UK is obligated as a third state party, party to IV Geneva Convention, to demand from the violator to make reparations, compensation.
- Taxpayers should demand that the UK government makes public the complete list of all UK-funded projects destroyed and/or damaged and/or setback and/or delayed by Israel’s war on Gaza. This should also apply to the West Bank and East Jerusalem demolitions. This includes DFID funding of INGO’s who partner with local NGO’s, not just direct DFID funding.
- Should Israel refuse to pay for the damages or for DFID’s reconstruction projects, then the UK and EU should impose a Gaza reconstruction tax on all Israeli imports. The fees collected will go towards a Gaza Reconstruction Fund.
- DFID projects must be aimed at empowering the local Palestinian economy (local means all of Palestine). Israel should not profit from its violations, ie, its markets should be excluded from or be of last resort for providing materials for reconstruction projects.
- Reconstruction should not be done by accommodating the Blockade or any other illegal action. (That means continuing to use Israeli controlled crossings at the restricted rates of the Blockade which simply perpetuates the Blockade.) Ending the blockade means ending Israeli control of all imports. The current paradigm needs to be changed through international political action: Gaza needs an autonomous crossing not controlled by Israel, for example, an international seaport. The EU proposal for a Cyprus corridor is a good first start and should be supported by the UK and EU.
The words of Jim Page’s song “I’d rather be dancing” are based on the letters Rachel Corrie wrote home to her parents before the Israeli army crushed her to death in Gaza on 16 March 2003. She was murdered, crushed by an Israeli army bulldozer, when attempting to prevent the demolition of a house in Rafah, Gaza, owned by a Palestinian doctor and his family. Rachel was 23-years-old. See rachelcorriefoundation.org
you know I was always the one
I could never stand idly by
and watch while the bullies beat up on the weaker ones
I had to do something to try
and I never gave up on people
that we could be better somehow
morality’s compass, you gave it to me
I still follow it now
well, I couldn’t stop thinking about it
I couldn’t get it out of my mind
the pictures, the stories, the plight of the people
in occupied Palestine
how my government makes me complicit
with the political aid that they send
so I packed up my bags and I headed to Rafa
to work with the ISM
and I’d rather be dancing, dancing and falling in love
but if I just can just watch from a distance then what am I made of
mama these people are so good to me
they treat me like one of their own
they feed me and see to my needs
and let me sleep in their home
papa their lives are so hard
the gun shots night
the road blocks, the strip searches, the humiliations
papa it just isn’t right
I can feel my privilege around me
it’s there in my American face
I could wave my passport around like a flag
and I would be safe in this place
for these child soldiers of Israel
they look like the boys back home
and if it wasn’t for American money
they’d have to leave these people alone
and I’d rather be dancing, dancing to Pat Benatar
but somebody has to do somethin’ about it and here we are
the tractors are coming today
they’re like tanks with bulldozer blades
the name on the side says Caterpillar
that means they’re American made
well, I am American too
and I’ll be where everybody can see
so if they want to run over these houses today
they’re gonna have to run over me
it’s dangerous takin’ a stand
but it’s dangerous running away
sometimes you have to face up to the danger
there is just no other way
for there are such beautiful dreams
I have seen the eyes of a child
and if I can just make one little difference
then I think my life is worth while
and I’d rather be dancing, but instead I’m saying goodbye
but we’ll meet again when it’s over, don’t cry
and I’d rather be dancing, and surely we’d all rather be
and one day we’ll dance in a world that’s peaceful and free
The Russian Ambassador to the United States, Sergey Ivanovich Kislyak, spoke at the University of Virginia on Tuesday evening, in an event organized by the Center for Politics, which no doubt has video of the proceedings. Kislyak was once ambassador to Belgium and to NATO.
Kislyak spoke to a packed auditorium and took, I think, well over an hour of questions. He spoke frankly, and the questions he was asked by students, professors, and other participants were polite and for the most part far more intelligent than he would have been asked on, for example, Meet the Press.
He told the audience that Russia had known there were no WMDs in Iraq, and had known that attacking Iraq would bring “great difficulties” to that country. “And look what is happening today,” he said. He made the same comment about Libya. He spoke of the U.S. and Russia working together to successfully remove chemical weapons from the Syrian government. But he warned against attacking Syria now.
There will be no new Cold War, Kislyak said, but there is now a greater divide in some ways than during the Cold War. Back then, he said, the U.S. Congress sent delegations over to meet with legislators, and the Supreme Court likewise. Now there is no contact. It’s easy in the U.S. to be anti-Russian, he said, and hard to defend Russia. He complained about U.S. economic sanctions against Russia intended to “suffocate” Russian agriculture.
Asked about “annexing” Crimea, Kislyak rejected that characterization, pointed to the armed overthrow of the Ukrainian government, and insisted that Kiev must stop bombing its own people and instead talk about federalism within Ukraine.
There were remarkably few questions put to the ambassador that seemed informed by U.S. television “news.” One was from a politics professor who insisted that Kislyak assign blame to Russia over Ukraine. Kislyak didn’t.
I always sit in the back, thinking I might leave, but Kislyak was only taking questions from the front. So I moved up and was finally called on for the last question of the evening. For an hour and a half, Kislyak had addressed war and peace and Russian-U.S. relations, but he’d never blamed the U.S. for anything in Ukraine any more than Russia. No one had uttered the word “NATO.”
So I pointed out the upcoming NATO protests. I recalled the history of Russia being told that NATO would not expand eastward. I asked Kislyak whether NATO ought to be disbanded.
The ambassador said that he had been the first Russian to “present his credentials” to NATO, and that he had “overestimated” NATO’s ability to work with Russia. He’d been disappointed by NATO actions in Serbia, he said, and Libya, by the expansion eastward, by NATO pressure on Ukraine and Poland, and by the pretense that Russia might be about to attack Poland.
“We were promised,” Kislyak said, that NATO would not expand eastward at all upon the reunification of Germany. “And now look.” NATO has declared that Ukraine and Georgia will join NATO, Kislyak pointed out, and NATO says this even while a majority of the people in Ukraine say they’re opposed.
The ambassador used the word “disappointed” a few times.
“We’ll have to take measures to assure our defense,” he said, “but we would have preferred to build on a situation with decreased presence and decreased readiness.”
Wouldn’t we all.
Join the campaign to shut down NATO.
Sign a petition for an independent investigation into the airplane crash in Ukraine.
Send a note to the Russian Embassy to let them know you’re against a new Cold War too.
Israel has the right to shell Palestinian hospitals and schools out of self defense as long as Hamas stores rocket launchers next to them, US Sen. Elizabeth Warren said during a town hall meeting in Massachusetts this week.
Warren, darling du jour of American liberals, defended her vote to send more defense funding to Israel in the middle of its recent fierce offensive on Gaza, saying she believes civilian casualties are the “last thing Israel wants,” according to the Cape Cod Times.
“But when Hamas puts its rocket launchers next to hospitals, next to schools, they’re using their civilian population to protect their military assets. And I believe Israel has a right, at that point, to defend itself,” she said.
Israel and Palestinian authorities reached a long-term ceasefire agreement this week after Israel started its campaign in Gaza on July 8. The death toll from the Gaza conflict has reached at least 2,120 people, of which 577 are children, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
During the conflict, Israel targeted schools and hospitals in Gaza, claiming that rockets and militant fighters were nearby. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency criticized both Hamas for storing rockets in two schools and Israel for attacks on separate schools.
Attacks on hospitals are prohibited by the Geneva Convention’s Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War “unless they are used to commit, outside their humanitarian duties, acts harmful to the enemy.” Even then, civilian hospitals can only be targeted “after due warning has been given, naming, in all appropriate cases, a reasonable time limit and after such warning has remained unheeded.”
Warren said Hamas has attacked Israel “indiscriminately.” Thanks to Israel’s vaunted Iron Dome defense system, though, those rockets have “not had the terrorist effect Hamas hoped for.”
Warren supported Israel’s military aggression, justifying its use of force based on America’s “very special relationship with Israel.”
“Israel lives in a very dangerous part of the world, and a part of the world where there aren’t many liberal democracies and democracies that are controlled by the rule of law,” she said. “And we very much need an ally in that part of the world.”
Warren also expressed unease with conditioning future US funding for Israel on the cessation of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
“I think there’s a question of whether we should go that far,” Warren said.
Last month, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said Israel may have committed war crimes in Gaza. Navi Pillay said house demolitions and the killing of children raise the “strong possibility” that Israel is violating international law.
More than 17,000 homes in Gaza were destroyed or damaged beyond repair, making around 100,000 Palestinians homeless, since the war began, according to UN estimates.
According to a senior UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) official, 373,000 Palestinian children are in need of “immediate psychosocial first aid” due to the onslaught of Israeli strikes.
“The impact has truly been vast, both at a very physical level, in terms of casualties, injuries, the infrastructure that’s been damaged, but also importantly, emotionally and psychologically in terms of the destabilizing impact that not knowing, not truly feeling like there is anywhere safe place to go in Gaza,” Pernilla Ironside said last week.
UNICEF estimated that at least 219 schools have been damaged by Israeli airstrikes, while 22 were completely destroyed.
To demonstrate the extent of the damage in Gaza, Ironside estimated that it could take up to 18 years to rebuild the 17,000 housing units that were damaged in the conflict and in light of the ongoing blockade of the region limiting the movement of goods and people.
Israel has also barred major human rights organizations from entering Gaza territory.
Meanwhile, back in the United States, US Sen. Bernie Sanders, American liberals’ other favorite among establishment progressive politicians, has also defended US funding and arms for Israel. At a recent tense town hall in his native Vermont, Sanders condemned Israeli targeting of civilians, but then defended Israel “in a situation where Hamas is sending missiles into Israel” sent from “populated areas.”
“This is a very depressing and difficult issue. This has gone on for 60 bloody years,” he said. “If you’re asking me, do I have a magical solution? I don’t. And you know what, I doubt very much that you do.”
London rapper Potent Whisper teams up with conscientious objector Joe Glenton to create a new anti-war song and music video.
What would you do if it was your family?
Your town in raw anarchy?
If it was your house you were forced out of casually?
If it was your blood, your son or your mums?
They’re running on your funds, so aren’t these your guns?
How can it be a “war” if only one side declares it?
Where are their kids on the front line or air strip?
Why do we serve a queen? When did we turn to sheep?
Why do we murder leaders when they seek an urgent peace?
What’s violence? How would you define it?
Isn’t it support of a war if we’re silent?
Couldn’t we have fought instead of falling for their rise?
(But they invade in our names and we don’t bat an eyelid!)
Why do we go to prison for protest?
Isn’t it grotesque? Is this the kingdom you co-rep?
When will the questions end? What’s their reason?
How can you reach peace without freedom?
Why? Why sit in silence when their men have guns up?
Oh yes I wonder… Why?
Why sit in silence when their men have guns up?
Oh yes I wonder why…
Am I weak for compassion? Is peace not an action?
Do soldiers wanna shoot or are they used for their passion?
How many soldiers really know what their fighting for?
Would the reasons differ? Are they quite sure?
If Bush wore a cross does it mean the war was gods?
Or is it blasphemy and actually a con?
Isn’t National Defence just an actual attack?
So many wanna love, where’s the manual for that?
Take a life or serve life? Murder or treason?
Wasn’t that the choice for all the boys they were leading?
Do we wanna war when the ones that went before all marched out to cheers but returned as a secret?
When the next war begins, will it be you who fights it?
And if we do fight, will it be you who decides it?
Are we not a factor? Are you not their number?
Am I just a mad man? Do you never wonder?!
The police rampage in Ferguson, Missouri has increased public awareness of police militarization and drawn well-deserved attention to writers like Radley Balko who’ve documented the proliferation of military equipment and culture in local police forces over the past decade.
It’s certainly true that the post-9/11 security state and the Global War on Terror have flooded police forces with surplus military equipment, increased the prevalence of military cross-training (including “counter-terrorism” training by Israeli military personnel encouraging American police forces to view their communities in much the same way Israeli security forces view the Palestinians in Gaza).
But the roots of police militarization go back way further than 9/11 – all the way back to the aftermath of insurrections by the black populations of major American cities in the 1960s and the American political elite’s desire to ensure that nothing like that ever happened again.
US presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon began creating an institutional framework to ensure that any such disorder in the future would be dealt with differently. This process culminated in DOD Civil Disturbance Plan 55-2, aka “Garden Plot,” which involved domestic surveillance by the military, contingency plans for military cooperation with local police in suppressing local disorders, plans for mass preventive detention and joint exercises of police and the regular military. Frank Morales wrote in Cover Action Quarterly (“U.S. Military Civil Disturbance Planning: The War at Home,” Spring-Summer 2000):
“At first, the Garden Plot exercises focused primarily on racial conflict. But beginning in 1970, the scenarios took a different twist. The joint teams, made up of cops, soldiers and spies, began practicing battle with large groups of protesters. California, under the leadership of Ronald Reagan, was among the most enthusiastic participants in Garden Plot war games. … Garden plot [subsequently] evolved into a series of annual training exercises based on contingency plans to undercut riots and demonstrations, ultimately developed for every major city in the United States. Participants in the exercises included key officials from all law enforcement agencies in the nation, as well as the National Guard, the military, and representatives of the intelligence community.”
It was against this background that then-governor Reagan introduced the first SWAT teams in California.
When Reagan became president, he appointed Louis O. Giuffrida, who as head of the California Guard had enthusiastically participated in Garden Plot exercises under Reagan’s govenorship, to head the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In that role Giuffrida worked with Oliver North to draw up plans for martial law in the event of a “national emergency.” They worked together on the Readiness Exercises 1983 and 1984 (Rex-83 and Rex-84), which included mass detention of suspected “terrorist subversives” under the emergency provisions of Garden Plot.
The hypothetical civil disturbance/insurrection scenario these emergency exercises were supposed to be coping with was (ahem) a series of massive antiwar demonstrations in response to a U.S. military invasion of Central America. “North … helped draw up a controversial plan to suspend the Constitution in the event of a national crisis, such as nuclear war, violent and widespread internal dissent or national opposition to a U.S. military invasion abroad (Alfonso Chardy, “Reagan Aides and the ‘Secret’ Government,” Miami Herald, July 5, 1987).
The militarization of local polic, and the encouragement of a police culture that viewed local communities (especially people of color in minority neighborhoods) as an occupied enemy populations, got further impetus from the War on Drugs, which was greatly intensified under the Reagan administration. By 1999 — well before the Global War on Terror — the phenomenon had progressed to the point that Diane Cecilia Weber wrote a Cato Institute paper titled “Warrior Cops: The Ominous Growth of Paramilitarism in American Police Departments” (Briefing Paper No. 50).
Since 9/11, the problem has grown beyond Weber’s imagining. After Katrina the (largely black) flooded out portions of New Orleans got a demonstration of the same police hostility and aggression we’re witnessing today in Ferguson. It’s a safe guess that this is now the standard treatment to expect from local police in a community experiencing an “emergency” or (manufactured) “disturbance” of any kind.
Ultimately, what it boils down to is the government views its own people — particularly those of color — as the enemy. The question is how long we will tolerate it.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki announced on Wednesday that his ministry had sent a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and to the leaders of other countries, requesting them to bear their responsibility for implementing international law regarding foreigners who volunteered in the Israeli army during the latest assault on Gaza.
Citing the Palestinian foreign ministry statement, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed news website reported that in cooperation with human rights organisations, the ministry has found that foreigners volunteered in the Israeli army during the latest aggression and carried out war crimes.
The news website said they took part in the war as part of two programmes called Mahal and Ser-Al. The Palestinian ministry stressed the necessity to prosecute them.
As part of the programmes, Jews and non-Jews who do not hold an Israeli ID can travel to Israel to take part in military service for a year and a half in order to get the ID.
The ministry called for specifying those who volunteered in the Israeli army or helped it, identifying their war crimes and the breaches of international law that they committed through the Israeli army, as well as telling them about the potential criminal responsibility for what they did during the war.
In addition, the ministry called upon those countries where the citizen volunteers are from to prosecute them inside the judicial system of their geographical areas.
Under the framework of international law, “which Israeli cannot evade”, the ministry is also seeking to prosecute everyone who committed war crimes in Gaza, including Israelis.
The ministry called for accelerating the convention of international bodies to require Israel to implement the Fourth Geneva Convention in the occupied Palestinian territories.
“Israel has drawn up plans for a combined air and ground attack on Iranian nuclear installations if diplomacy fails to halt Tehran’s atomic program…” – Toledo Blade, March 14, 2005
After insisting it is “time to cut off every dime of American money going to anyone who has any kind of relationship with Hamas or those killing in the Middle East, and especially in Israel,” Gohmert added, “It is time to bomb Iran’s nuclear capabilities. It is time for the United States, if we are not going to stop Iran’s nukes, then let Israel do it. A friend will not put another friend in this kind of jeopardy.”
Never mind that Iran has no “nukes” for anyone to “stop,” since it’s not actually making any and never has made or acquired any. Never mind that Iran has been consistently complying with the prescriptions of the multilateral deal agreed to last November by Iran and six world powers. Never mind that a number of recent articles in widely-read media outlets have addressed the myriad falsehoods and myths responsible for the past three decades of fear-mongering and propaganda about Iran’s civilian nuclear program.
Still, the persistent false narrative that military strikes by either the United States or Israel may follow any potential failure to reach a deal continues to be repeated in the press. Of course, the fact that any such attack would be unequivocally illegal under international law is rarely noted in these assessments.
Pronouncements that Iran is close to having a nuclear bomb, or close to being bombed, are ubiquitous in the media. Threats against Iran – by both the United States and Israel – have been made for decades, despite routine Iranian dismissal of such rhetoric as mere bluster.
Not only is an American or Israeli attack on Iran always just around the bend – regardless of the state of diplomacy or intelligence assessments – but the media consistently provides fantasy scenarios by which its audience can imagine, replete with maps and graphics, just how such war crimes would take place.
Over twenty years ago, a report in the Independent (UK) published on June 23, 1994 revealed that the Pentagon had inked a deal to provide Israel with advanced F-15I fighter jets, designed to “enable the Israelis to carry out strikes deep into Iraq and Iran without refuelling.”
Three years later, on December 9, 1997, a The Times of London headline screamed, “Israel steps up plans for air attacks on Iran.” The article, written by Christopher Walker, reported on the myriad “options” Israel had in confronting what it deemed “Iran’s Russian-backed missile and nuclear weapon programme.”
Such reports have been published ever since. Of course, neither the United States nor Israel will attack Iran, regardless of the success or failure of negotiations, but such reports (often the result of strategically timed “leaks” by anonymous government officials) serve to not only intentionally torpedo diplomacy but also mislead the public into believing the absurdly false narrative surrounding the Iranian nuclear program; that is, either Iran must be bombed or it will acquire a nuclear arsenal. This is nonsense.
Below are some of the constant headlines we’ve seen over the past dozen years promoting such propaganda. When will this madness – this pathological obsession with the false necessity of dropping bombs and the righteous inevitability of killing people – stop?
The Times of London, November 5, 2002:
AFP, October 11, 2003:
The Scotsman, November 22, 2003:
New York Daily News, November 23, 2003:
The New York Times, August 21, 2004:
Los Angeles Times, October 22, 2004:
The Jerusalem Post, January 21, 2005:
The Independent, January 27, 2005:
Toledo Blade, March 14, 2005:
Associated Press, December 4, 2005:
The Straits Times, December 17, 2005:
Associated Press, January 22, 2006:
Fox News, June 4, 2006:
The Telegraph, February 24, 2007:
Associated Press, March 21, 2007:
Newsweek, December 19, 2007:
The Daily Star (Lebanon), May 30, 2008:
USA Today, June 6, 2008:
The Telegraph, June 7, 2008:
The Age, June 9, 2008:
Fox News, June 20, 2008:
The Telegraph, June 23, 2008:
ABC News, July 1, 2008:
Ha’aretz, July 2, 2008:
AFP, July 30, 2008:
Associated Press, August 7, 2008:
CBS News, August 7, 2008:
Wired, April 2, 2009:
Salon, April 14, 2009:
The Times of London, April 18, 2009:
The Wall Street Journal, June 12, 2009:
The Washington Post, July 2, 2009:
CBS News, July 27, 2009:
Los Angeles Times, August 30, 2009:
Talking Points Memo, August 31, 2009:
Fox News, September 21, 2009:
Huffington Post, September 28, 2009:
Ynet, October 9, 2009:
The Washington Times, October 22, 2009:
Ha’aretz, November 6, 2009:
The New York Times, December 23, 2009:
Newsmax, April 2, 2010:
The Wall Street Journal, April 21, 2010:
AFP, June 12, 2010:
TIME, July 15, 2010:
The Weekly Standard, July 26, 2010:
Christian Science Monitor, August 12, 2010:
The Spectator (UK), August 12, 2010:
Christian Science Monitor, August 13, 2010:
The Weekly Standard, August 14, 2010:
The Week, August 17, 2010:
New York Daily News, August 17, 2010:
The Atlantic, August 18, 2010:
Newsmax, September 2, 2010:
The Atlantic, November 28, 2010:
AFP, November 29, 2010:
The Australian, November 30, 2010:
The Washington Times, December 3, 2010:
The Australian, January 13, 2011:
Associated Press, May 30, 2011:
Ha’aretz, September 28, 2011:
Associated Press, November 2, 2011:
The Daily Beast, November 2, 2011:
The Guardian, November 2, 2011:
The Telegraph, November 6, 2011:
Reuters, November 9, 2011:
Arutz Sheva, November 10, 2011:
Chicago Tribune, November 13, 2011:
Arutz Sheva, December 1, 2011:
The New York Times, January 25, 2012:
Foreign Affairs, January/February 2012:
The Washington Post, February 2, 2012:
Reuters, February 3, 2012:
Foreign Affairs, February 23, 2012:
Congressional Research Service, March 27, 2012:
CNN, March 30, 2012:
Salon/GlobalPost, May 9, 2012:
The Telegraph, May 17, 2012:
CBN News, May 24, 2012:
The Blaze, July 8, 2012:
Reuters, August 10, 2012:
The Times of Israel, August 11, 2012:
The Daily Mail, August 21, 2012:
The Jewish Chronicle, August 27, 2012:
Forbes, September 30, 2012:
National Journal, October 9, 2012:
The Telegraph, October 9, 2012:
Voice of America, December 19, 2012:
The New York Times, January 26, 2013:
The Times of Israel, March 14, 2013:
Newsmax, April 13, 2013:
The Wall Street Journal, May 2, 2013:
Ha’aretz, May 3, 2013:
The Times of Israel, May 9, 2013:
Al Jazeera English, July 17, 2013:
The Atlantic, August 1, 2013:
Washington Examiner, September 18, 2013:
Gatestone Institute, October 7, 2013:
Financial Times, November 17, 2013:
CNN, November 19, 2013:
The Times of London, November 26, 2013:
Defense News, December 4, 2013:
CBS News, December 6, 2013:
ThinkProgress, January 2, 2014:
Foreign Affairs, January 7, 2014:
Ha’aretz, March 19, 2014:
Associated Press, March 21, 2014:
The National Interest, April 16, 2014:
Iran Times, May 16, 2014:
Defense News, June 8, 2014:
Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA), June 12, 2014:
The Raw Story, July 23, 2014:
Ghosts of Olavarría: Human Rights Trial in Argentina Seeks Justice for Victims of Military Dictatorship
The central quarter of the Argentine city of Olavarría, with its leafy main square, whitewashed church, and historical architecture, merits its National Heritage status. Thanks to mineral extraction of the rock on which it stands, Olavarría is a prosperous and tranquil place, and home to the social science and engineering schools of the University of Buenos Aires Province. Now, however, this seemingly pleasant city has become the latest battleground in Argentina’s ongoing struggle to bring justice to those guilty of crimes during the military dictatorship of 1976–1983.
Olavarría, a city of around 100,000 inhabitants, is the setting for the upcoming trial of several ex-army officials accused of human rights abuses during the dictatorship. A high level of public interest surrounds the proceedings, due to one of the defendants’ alleged involvement in a case which has dominated national media in recent weeks.
In early August, the human rights organization Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo announced that the long-lost grandson of its president Estela de Carlotto had been identified and was living in Olavarría under a different name. Guido Montoya Carlotto had been taken from his detained mother in 1978 when just a few hours old, one of hundreds of babies born in captivity and then raised by families linked to the military authorities. In most cases, their biological parents were murdered by the military. The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo have campaigned since the 1970s to reunite the stolen babies with their natural families and to expose the guilty parties.
Estela de Carlotto The recent news, a welcome dose of positivity on front pages of the country’s newspapers, has received intense media interest. Estela de Carlotto is highly-respected within Argentine society for her tireless campaigning as president of the famous headscarf-wearing Grandmothers. But, as the story has moved on from its initial feel-good element, there are now many questions over who was responsible for taking Guido from his mother, Estela’s 22-year-old daughter Laura Carlotto, who was killed soon after giving birth. The father, Walmir Montoya, abducted alongside his pregnant partner, had been murdered several months earlier.
The spotlight has shifted to Olavarría, location of the impending trial and the city in which Guido Montoya had lived until recently as Ignacio Hurbán. Although the trial date was set several months ago, it is now alleged that one of the accused participated in the transfer of Laura Carlotto’s baby to an adoptive family. Laura, who was handcuffed to a stretcher throughout the entire labor and birthing process, spent only a few hours with her newborn before being returned to her cell at the La Cacha detention center in La Plata.
On September 22, a court will begin listening to evidence against a number of ex-military officials charged with crimes against humanity, including kidnapping, torture and murder, committed at the Monte Peloni detention center in Olavarría. The officials on trial are: the local commander, Ignacio Verdura; Chief of Intelligence, Walter Grosse; Officer Horacio Leites; and Sub-Officer Omar Ferreyra. All of them are currently serving sentences for earlier convictions. While the trial is not directly connected to the removal of the Montoya Carlotto baby, it is suspected that Verdura was involved in the appropriation of babies.
For the last few years, the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo have claimed that an Olavarría businessman, Carlos Francisco Aguilar, acted as an intermediary between the military and adoptive families. Aguilar, who died earlier this year, owned the land on which Guido Montoya’s adoptive parents worked and was known to have strong links to the armed forces and the church. As a wealthy landowner, he moved in the same social circles as high-ranking military figures, such as Ignacio Verdura, the then-chief of the regional 2nd Tank Regiment.
Throughout the 1970s, Olavarría was a site of left-wing militant activity, which brought the city to the military’s attention. State repression began with worker organizations before targeting the lawyers representing them, and later moving on to the student movement. Those who felt the heavy hand of the state included striking workers at the Loma Negra (Black Hill) cement company. The company’s response to the strike was to call in the military to end the dispute with detentions and other suppressive tactics.
Carlos Moreno was a lawyer who represented the Loma Negra workers. He was detained in Olavarría and tortured before being killed in May 1977. A trial in 2012 exposed links between the military and civilians who had allowed their property to be used for detaining prisoners. The trial also ordered an investigation into the role of Loma Negra, whose president was Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat, one of the world’s wealthiest women until her death two years ago at the age of 90.
Speaking to the Página 12 newspaper, Moreno’s son Matías said companies such as Loma Negra reaped the benefits of military rule.
“Before the dictatorship, Loma Negra was suffering losses, but its profits tripled under the dictatorship. The abduction of my father was intended as a disciplinary measure, after which there was a fall in labor costs,” said Matías. This was the aim of all the abductions.”
He also revealed that Commander Verdura lived next-door to the Moreno family. Any neighborly recognition, however, was irrelevant when it came to the military eliminating its opponents.
The Monte Peloni detention centerThe Monte Peloni detention center, where the majority of those detained in the zone were held, was a farmhouse in the countryside near Olavarría. Several prisoners, many of whom remain disappeared, passed through the center, which was administrated by the 2nd Tank Regiment of Ignacio Verdura.
Among the crimes that Verdura and his cohorts stand accused of are the disappearance of a young couple, Isabel Gutiérrez and Juan Carlos Ledesma, the detention of Isabel’s father Francisco Gutiérrez, and the murders of Jorge Oscar Fernández and Alfredo Serafín Maccarini. The latter was a prison guard whose rumored empathy for political prisoners made him a target for the military. Another ex-prisoner, Lidia Araceli Gutiérrez, who was raped and tortured in Monte Peloni, is to give evidence at the trial.
The Olavarría trial is the latest step in the legal battle to hold those involved in the abuses of the dictatorship accountable. As many as 2,000 people connected to the dictatorship have been accused of complicity in abuses, as, according to Human Rights Watch, Argentina has made “significant progress in prosecuting military and police personnel for enforced disappearances, killings and torture during the country’s ‘Dirty War.’” Yet the fact remains that a great many of those who willingly participated in dictatorship abuses have yet to answer for their crimes.
The stealing of babies from people who were subsequently killed continues to be a matter of great sensitivity, as the majority of stolen babies are now unidentified adults living normal lives in Argentine society. The Guido Montoya case was the 114th positive identification of a baby forcibly removed from its biological parents. However, it is estimated that there are hundreds of other citizens now approaching middle-age with little idea of their true identities. For families of the disappeared, the discovery of lost relatives can serve as an act of closure for their longstanding grief. Having spent decades dwelling on the past, they are finally able to look ahead.
In 2012, the dictator Rafael Videla, already serving a life sentence for human rights abuses, was given a further 50 years for his part in the systematic transfer of babies from prisoners to families linked to the military regime. Several other officials, including the country’s last military leader Reynaldo Bignone, have been convicted and imprisoned for their involvement in abuses. Bignone, who like Videla had already been found guilty of torture and murder in earlier trials, was said by the court to be complicit in “the crimes of theft, retention and hiding of minors, as well as replacing their identities.”
But the campaign of forced removal was perpetrated at all levels of the military hierarchy. As Guido Montoya Carlotto said in a recent interview with the newspaper El Popular de Olavarría, in his hometown “there are people who have to thoroughly explain themselves … I hope that people learn to question that which has been covered up, so that this not only represents my restitution but also the restitution for other people experiencing doubts.”
As Argentina continues to come to terms with the traumas of military rule, stories like the Carlottos’ provide inspiration for the justice movement to keep fighting. Yet, this is a journey that is unlikely to ever be fully resolved. The entrenched political system of brutality and repression was too widespread to hold all the guilty to account. But each small step signifies progress. Many will be closely watching the Olavarría trial in the hope that Argentina continues on its path toward redemption.
Nick MacWilliam is a British freelance writer and editor based in Buenos Aires.
In an action that has reverberated around the world and inspired pro-Palestinian activists, five days of pickets by activists prevented a ship from the Israeli shipping company Zim Integrated Shipping Services from unloading almost any of its cargo at the port of Oakland.
The blockade was organised as part of the global boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign targetting Israel called for by dozens of Palestinian civil society groups. It was the longest blockade yet of an Israeli ship anywhere in the world.
Below is the account of a participant in the blockade, Oakland-based activist Peter Turner.
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I am one of the “autonomous activists” referred to in the press releases of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC). I am not affiliated with any of the groups listed as endorsers on the AROC website. I am an experienced waterfront activist who took part in every picket while the Zim Piraeus was in port.
The original call for a blockage of a Zim ship went out from AROC in late July, but that was quickly retracted and the August 16 date was substituted. We then watched the ship on tracking websites and it became clear it was delayed while the protest situation unfolded.
During that time, tactical differences emerged within the movement. AROC changed its call and instead advocated a march to Pier 57, where the ship was due to dock, on August 16 for a protest against the war on Gaza.
The march also raised the situation in Ferguson, Missouri (where there are ongoing protests against the police killing of an unarmed teenager), at least partly because the march was met by a contingent of Oakland police.
The march was energetic but peaceful, but the ship was still at sea. About 2000 people took part.
When the Zim Piraeus finally docked on August 17, it was met by pickets at Pier 57. We ascertained which gates would be used by trucks and longshoremen to enter work and posted pickets there. Our intention was to discourage any cargo operations in order to force the ship to leave port.
Trucks entered the gates, but the longshoremen honoured our pickets. The Oakland Police and Alameda County Sheriff Department created openings at the gates.
The picketers could be generally described as Occupy Oakland activists, mostly young; experienced left militants who abound in the San Francisco Bay Area; and those specifically concerned with the war on Gaza, many of them Palestinians.
Others might describe us differently, but I think this is a good description of most of us. The assumption that it was AROC or any other group that led the picket effort is inaccurate.
For four days, we met at the pier and succeeded. A small number of activists were arrested for civil disobedience, but the situation was peaceful. The longshoremen honoured our pickets and no cargo moved.
The union released statements saying they took no position on the political issues at hand, but felt the police presence created a safety hazard. This is connected to a 2003 anti-war demonstration at the port at which the police attacked peaceful demonstrators and longshoremen reporting to work. Some were shot.
Resentment over that continues. During the picket we were aware that few dispatches from the union hall took place.
Several times small groups of longshoremen approached or assembled nearby. We engaged them in conversation and relations were friendly.
The ranks shared the official union position, but went beyond it to express sympathy for our cause and resentment of the stevedoring companies.
Coincidentally, the union and stevedoring companies are in contentious contract negotiations. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) contract expired July 1, so the longshoremen are working without a contract.
As a result, longshoremen who honoured our pickets lost pay, a fact known by the picketers.
This added to the solidarity created between the picketers and longshoremen, something pre-existing because of the militant history of the ILWU and its tradition of honouring community pickets.
After four days the ship announced its intention to sail. No cargo had been moved, in spite of a public declaration by Israeli sources that it had.
AROC Executive Director Lara Kiswani appeared on the morning of the fourth day to announce a victory, praising the solidarity of the longshoremen.
The ship sailed without unloading its cargo, but then the ship’s pilot pulled a U-turn at the pilot station off the Golden Gate. The ship returned to dock at pier 22-24 and was quickly met by picketers who had monitored its movements.
Since the longshoremen had made it obvious that they would honour our pickets, the ILWU Local 10 Business Agent took longshoremen from other ships and moved them to the Zim Piraeus.
This was a violation of the dispatch rules and the solidarity felt by the ranks, so it was met with a reaction. I would politely call it a “lack of enthusiasm” for the work on the part of the rank and file, but the result was little cargo was offloaded, reportedly some perishables.
On the morning of August 20, the fifth day of the action, at about 6.30am, the ship departed after an hour of picketing.
For some reason the media reported the cargo had been offloaded and the ship departed at 8.45am. That is inaccurate, as I drove home from the picket at pier 22-24 to view the ship from my house as it anchored off Hunter’s Point in San Francisco Bay about 8am. The ship was still fully loaded and had not backloaded any containers.
This entire action revealed several lessons. One is that concerted effort of dedicated militants together with the solidarity of the affected workers can bring serious economic and political pressure to bear.
Reciprocal solidarity will be forthcoming, a strong message to any employer seeking to weaken the ILWU. We all talked about it, with no dissent.
Also, we should never trust the word of the employer or the establishment press. They collude to undermine the majority and deceive the public in the interest of profit.
We also should be wary of the motives of entrenched union bureaucrats, too many of whom have instinctive sympathy with employers and will betray the interests of their members. The strength of the union is its rank and file, and democracy and consciousness are necessary for their interests to be furthered.
There are tactical differences within our movement, and we should tend to defer to the judgment of those who put in the commitment to take part and who make the connection with affected workers. Bureaucracy exists on the left as well as in unions, government, or any other institution.
We should show wisdom in our strategy and tactics, but not retreat in the face of adversity and have the courage to fight and win. Together, we can make a better world.
And the United States Government is Helping
There is a group of Jewish American billionaires who are apparently doing their best to make sure that negotiations with Iran go nowhere in the mistaken belief that they are doing what is best for Israel. And they would also appear to be assisted in their efforts by the White House, which is at the same time claiming that it wants the talks to be successful. The odd relationship is currently playing out in a Manhattan courtroom where the Justice Department is seeking to quash a lawsuit that it fears might expose the extent to which the government has hypocritically played fast and loose with classified information while simultaneously sending journalists and whistleblowers to jail over allegations that they have done the same.
The power and wealth of the anti-Iran groups as well as their unrivaled access to the United States government means that a policy of détente with Iran, which would be a no brainer based on both American and Iranian interests, only proceeds by fits and starts with the US Congress and much of the media lined up solidly to stop the effort. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and its affiliated educational foundation, which have focused on the “Iranian threat” over the past three years, have a combined budget of more than $90 million while AIPAC’s spin-off the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) has $8.7 million.
The American Enterprise Institute’s (AEI) efforts are more diversified but uniformly hawkish when it comes to the Middle East. It has a budget of $45 million. Identified multi-million dollar donor/supporters of AIPAC, AEI, and WINEP include Sheldon Adelson of Las Vegas Sands, Paul Singer of Elliot Management hedge fund and Bernard Marcus of Home Depot.
Other right wing think tanks including Heritage and Hudson in Washington also support unrelenting pressure directed against Iran. Even the more centrist Brookings Institute is hard core when it comes to Middle Eastern politics by virtue of its Saban Institute funded by Israeli-American billionaire Haim Saban. And then there are the mainstream Jewish organizations to include the Anti Defamation League, the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations and the American Jewish Congress, all of which have vast resources and unparalleled access to the White House, Congress and the media.
All the pro-Israel anti-Iran groups engage in pressure tactics on Capitol Hill and have been effective in dominating the political debate. Of thirty-six outside witnesses brought in to testify at seven Senate hearings on Iran since 2012 only one might be characterized as sensitive to Iranian concerns. The enormous lobbying effort enables the anti-Iran groups to define the actual policies, move their drafts of legislation through congress, and eventually see their bills pass with overwhelming majorities in both the House and Senate. It is democracy in action if one accepts that popular rule ought to be guided by money and pressure groups rather than by national interests.
Less well known is United Against Nuclear Iran, which has a budget just shy of $2 million. UANI is involved in the New York lawsuit. The group, which has somehow obtained a 501[c]3 “educational” tax status that inter alia allows it to conceal its donors, has offices in Rockefeller Center in New York City. It is active on Capitol Hill providing “expert testimony” on Iran for congressional committees, to include “help” in drafting legislation. At a July Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Iran all three outside witnesses were from UANI. It is also active in the media but is perhaps best known for its “name and shame” initiatives in which it exposes companies that it claims are doing business with Tehran in violation of US sanctions.
UANI is being sued by a Greek billionaire Victor Restis whom it had outed in 2013. Restis, claiming the exposure was fraudulent and carried out to damage his business, has filed suit demanding that UANI and billionaire Thomas Kaplan turn over documents and details of relationships regarding UANI donors who it is claimed are linked to the case. Kaplan, a New York City resident, made his initial fortune on energy exploration and development. More recently he has been involved in commodities trading in precious metals. His wife Daphne is Israeli and his involvement in various Jewish philanthropies both in the US and in Israel have invited comparison with controversial deceased commodities trader Marc Rich, who reportedly worked closely with the Israeli government on a number of projects.
The Justice department would like to the see the UANI lawsuit go away as it is aware that what is being described as “law enforcement” documents would include both privileged and classified Treasury Department work product relating to individuals and companies that it has investigated for sanctions busting. Passing either intelligence related or law enforcement documents to a private organization is illegal but the Justice Department’s only apparent concern is that the activity might be exposed. There is no indication that it would go after UANI for having acquired the information and it perhaps should be presumed that the source of the leak is the Treasury Department itself.
Who or what provided the documents to a private advocacy group that is also a tax exempt foundation supported by prominent businessmen with interests in the Middle East is consequently not completely clear but Restis is assuming that the truth will out if he can get hold of the evidence. The lawsuit claims that UANI intimidates its targets by defaming their business practices as well as by demanding both examination of their books and an audit carried out by one of its own accountants followed by review from an “independent counsel.”
Kaplan is named in the suit as he appears to be the gray eminence behind UANI. He once boasted “we’ve (UANI) done more to bring Iran to heel than any other private sector initiative.” Kaplan also employs as a director or officer in six of his companies the Executive Director of UANI Mark Wallace and reportedly arranged the awarding of the Executive Director position at Harvard’s Belfer Center to its President Gary Samore.
Kaplan is a business competitor to Restis, whose lawyers are apparently seeking to demonstrate two things: first, that the US government has been feeding sometimes only partially vetted information to UANI to help in its “name and shame” program and second, that UANI is itself supported by partisan business interests like Kaplan as well as by foreign sources, which apparently is meant to imply Israel. Or even the Israeli intelligence service Mossad. Meir Dagan, former head of Mossad, is on the UANI advisory board, which also includes ex-Senator Joseph Lieberman and former Senior Diplomat Dennis Ross, both of whom have frequently been accused of favoring Israeli interests and both of whom might well have easy access to US government generated information.
And then there is the Muhadedin-e-Khalq, the Iranian terrorist group that has assassinated at least six Americans and is now assisting the Israeli government in killing Iranian scientists, a prima facie definition of what constitutes terrorism. The group was on the State Department terrorist list from 1997 until 2012, when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton de-listed it in response to demands coming from friends of Israel in Congress as well as from a large group of ex government officials, many of whom were paid large honoraria by the group to serve as advocates. The paid American shills included former CIA Directors James Woolsey and Porter Goss, New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Louis Freeh and former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton. The promoters of MEK in congress and elsewhere claimed to be primarily motivated by MEK’s being an enemy of the current regime in Tehran, though its virulent anti-Americanism and terrorist history make it a somewhat unlikely poster child for the “Iranian resistance.”
Supporters of MEK also ignore the fact that the group is run like a cult, routinely executes internal dissidents, and has virtually no political support within Iran. But such are the ways of the corrupt Washington punditocracy, lionizing an organization that it should be shunning. MEK’s political arm is located in Paris and it has long been assumed that it is funded by the Israeli government and by at least some of the same gaggle of billionaires, possibly including their Israeli counterparts, who support the anti-Iranian agenda in the United States.
Iranian negotiators have accepted that their country should have only limited uranium enrichment capabilities coupled with a rigorous inspection regime but the talks in Geneva drag on and on as the United States continues to hesitate, raising new objections regularly in spite of claims that it operates in good faith and seeks a settlement. That an agreement is within reach is undoubtedly true and it would even be good for Israel as it would remove the regional nuclear option while making much less likely another pointless and devastating war. But the men who write the checks do not see it that way and, unfortunately, they are the ones who all too often both pay the piper and call the tune.