The tears shed by assorted media at the news of David Miliband’s departure from British politics for a new life in New York had me reaching once again for the sick-bag.
“British politics will be a poorer place without David,” said brother Ed, leader of the Labour Party.
Will it? I’m pleased to see Peter Oborne’s straight-talking piece in The Telegraph putting Miliband D in his place.
“We are, after all, talking about someone who was at best a minor politician, no towering colossus,” writes Oborne. “After Labour’s 1997 election victory he was the poster boy of a new ruling elite which seized control of the commanding heights of British politics. Anti-democratic, financially greedy and morally corrupt, this new political class has done the most enormous damage. Since David Miliband was its standard-bearer, his political career explains a great deal about what has gone wrong with British public life, about why politicians are no longer liked or trusted, and about how political parties have come to be viewed with contempt.”
Oborne makes the point that Miliband set the pattern so many others, including his brother Ed, have followed. “Obsessed by politics at university, he has never had even the faintest connection with the real world. From life in think tanks he became a Labour Party researcher and special adviser, before being parachuted into the north-eastern constituency of South Shields as an MP.”
Miliband wrote Labour’s vacuous 1997 and 2001 election manifestos and was at the heart of the Labour machine when it generated the now notorious falsehoods over Iraq. Oborne also notes the irony of Miliband’s new job heading a humanitarian organisation “when the government of which he was such a loyal member created so many of the world’s disasters”.
We are reminded that Miliband was inexperienced and had no idea how the world worked, so was out of his depth when promoted to the Foreign Office. “During his short, undistinguished career, Mr Miliband has done grave damage to British politics. He is part of the new governing élite which is sucking the heart out of our representative democracy while enriching itself in the process… David Miliband has belittled our politics and he will not be missed.”
And having gone, many will be praying the Miliband brat won’t be back.
He will be forever remembered as the British foreign secretary who shamelessly apologized to Israel’s gangsters for the risk they ran of being arrested if they set foot in London. Back in 2009 Ehud Barak, Tzipi Livni and retired general Doron Almog, cancelled engagements in London for fear of ‘having their collar felt’. Israel complained bitterly and Miliband promised Lieberman that UK laws relating to ‘universal jurisdiction’ would be changed. He asked Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Justice Minister Jack Straw for urgent action.
When the general election ousted him from the Foreign Office, Miliband’s groveling promise was eagerly taken up by his replacement, William Hague, another fanatical ‘friend of Israel’, who declared that a situation where politicians like Mrs Livni could be threatened with arrest in the UK was “completely unacceptable… We have agreed in the coalition about putting it right, we will put it right through legislation… and I phoned Mrs Livni amongst others to tell her about that and received a very warm welcome for our proposals.”
Never mind that the arrest warrants were issued to answer well-founded criminal charges. Never mind that under ‘universal jurisdiction’ all states that are party to the Geneva Conventions are under a binding obligation to seek out those suspected of having committed grave breaches of the Conventions and bring them, regardless of nationality, to justice. And never mind that there should be no hiding place for those suspected of crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Human rights activists resorted to private arrest warrants because the government was in the habit of shirking its duty under the Fourth 1949 Geneva Convention and dragged its feet until the birds had flown.
Bringing a private prosecution for a criminal offence is an ancient right in common law and, in the words of Lord Wilberforce, “a valuable constitutional safeguard against inertia or partiality on the part of the authority.” Lord Diplock, another respected Lord of Appeal, called it “a useful safeguard against capricious, corrupt or biased failure or refusal of those authorities to prosecute offenders against the criminal law”.
And the beauty of the private warrant was that it could be issued speedily.
The servile Miliband’s action disgusted those who will never forget that Tzipi Livni, Israel’s former foreign minister, was largely responsible for the terror that brought death and destruction to Gaza’s civilians during the blitzkrieg known as Operation Cast Lead. Showing no remorse, and with the blood of 1,400 dead Gazans (including 320 children and 109 women) on her hands and thousands more horribly maimed, Livni’s office issued a statement saying she was proud of it. Speaking later at a conference at Tel Aviv’s Institute for Security Studies, she said: “I would today take the same decisions.”
Any British government minister who brings this degree of obsequiousness to his job and is prepared to undermine our justice system in order to make the UK a safe haven for the likes of her, deserves to be judged harshly.
Miliband is also remembered for not having the guts to visit Gaza, or even Iran, while in office. Yet he managed to reach Gaza in 2011 with Save the Children. “I had not been able to visit while in government for security reasons,” he said in an article in The Guardian. What nonsense. The only danger would have been from an air-strike by his psychopathic friends in Tel Aviv or a Mossad assassin. Those risks go with the job. You can’t be an effective foreign secretary wrapped in cotton wool.
He said the purpose of his eventual trip to Gaza was “to get a sense of life… to get a glimpse, albeit brief, of life for the people”. A pity he didn’t do that earlier instead of wielding his ministerial power in ignorance
While David Miliband headed up foreign policy it was frankly embarrassing to be British. What magical transformation has this pipsqueak recently undergone to make him the ideal candidate to run an organization like the International Rescue Committee? With the likes of Madeleine Albright, Condoleeza Rice, Colin Powell, and Henry Kissinger on board, you might wonder about the IRC’s presence in vulnerable countries like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
No-one is about to forget Albright’s infamous remark about the human misery caused by the intervention and mayhem in Iraq, that “the price is worth it”.
- Stuart Littlewood’s book Radio Free Palestine, with Foreword by Jeff Halper, can now be read on the internet by visiting http://www.radiofreepalestine.org.uk.
Some days the Newspaper of Record says a lot–not always in ways you might expect.
Today (3/21/13) a story by Mark Landler and Rick Gladstone about allegations of chemical weapons in Syria includes something you see often–anonymous government sources. That can often be a bad thing; but today it’s pretty useful:
Two senior Israeli officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak, said that Israel was sure that chemicals were used, but did not have details about what type of weapons were used, where they came from, when they were deployed, or by whom.
A third senior official, also refusing to be identified, said, “It is possible that chemical weapons were used, or some concoction of chemical substances,” but he said he had not “seen clear confirmation.”
Why is this helpful? Because other Israeli officials, speaking publicly and for attribution, pretended to be more certain. From the very same Times piece:
Two senior ministers in Israel’s new cabinet said publicly on Wednesday that chemical weapons had been used, and several government officials said in interviews that Israel had credible evidence of an attack. The ministers, Tzipi Livni and Yuval Steinetz, were among those who met with Mr. Obama here on the first day of his trip.
Israeli officials provided no proof of their assertions but appeared more confident that chemical weapons had been used.
Ms. Livni, the new Israeli justice minister, said in an interview with CNN, “It’s clear for us here in Israel that it’s being used,” adding, “This, I believe, should be on the table in the discussions.”
Mr. Steinetz, the minister for strategic affairs, said on Israel’s Army Radio, “It’s apparently clear that chemical weapons have been used against civilians by the rebels or the government.”
So is the Times, in its own way, telling us not to trust the officials speaking on the record? That’s certainly one way to read the piece.
Elsewhere in the paper we learn that part of Barack Obama’s visit to Israel includes a look at the country’s “Iron Dome” missile defense system, which is funded by the U.S. government. In one story, by Mark Landler and Jodi Rudoren, we read this:
Mr. Obama was driven across the tarmac to inspect a battery of the Iron Dome air-defense system. The system, built by Israeli companies but financed by the United States, is credited with intercepting more than 400 rockets fired from Gaza at Israeli towns….
Israeli officials say that Iron Dome has been a huge success, intercepting 86 percent of the 521 incoming rockets it engaged in the Gaza conflict. Some American missile-defense experts have questioned that figure, putting the hit rate at closer to 10 percent.
So they either knock down almost every rocket, or almost none. That’s pretty unhelpful; but the Times has another piece that actually digs into the evidence (“Weapons Experts Raise Doubts About Israel’s Antimissile System”). According to this account, “a growing chorus of weapons experts in the United States and in Israel…suggest that Iron Dome destroyed no more than 40 percent of incoming warheads and perhaps far fewer.”
One former Pentagon official says there’s no system that is 90 percent effective. And the article, by William Broad, includes this:
Theodore A. Postol, a physicist at M.I.T. who helped reveal the Patriot antimissile failures of 1991, analyzed the new videos and found that Iron Dome repeatedly failed to hit its targets head-on. He concluded that the many dives, loops and curls of the interceptors resulted in diverse angles of attack that made it nearly impossible to destroy enemy warheads.
“It’s very hard to see how it could be more than 5 or 10 percent,” Dr. Postol said.
Mordechai Shefer, an Israeli rocket scientist formerly with Rafael, Iron Dome’s maker, studied nearly two dozen videos and, in a paper last month, concluded that the kill rate was zero.
Reading all of that, it’s hard to imagine anyone could really believe the Israeli claims about Iron Dome’s success rate.
So if you want to get a handle on Iron Dome, ignore the story on page 10 and pay attention to the story on page 11. And if you’re trying to figure out which Israeli officials to trust on the Syria chemical weapons story, the unnamed sources seem to be the ones who are more forthright about what they know.
That’s a lot to ask of readers, isn’t it?
Ignore the hype. It’s four more years of settlement growth
NAZARETH — Israeli and Palestinian officials have been in Washington laying the ground for President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel and the West Bank, scheduled for next month and the first since he took office four years ago.
Topping the agenda, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said, will be efforts to restart the long-stalled peace process. Last week Palestinian officials said they had urged the White House to arrive with a diplomatic plan.
The US president began his first term on a different footing, ignoring Israel and heading instead to Cairo where he made a speech committing the US to a new era in relations with the Arab world. Little came of the promise.
Now he apparently intends to start his second term — as Netanyahu resumes office too, following last month’s elections — with an effort to engage with Israel and the Palestinians that is almost as certain to prove an exercise in futility.
The prospect of reviving the peace track between Israel and the Palestinians is not one that is appetising for either Obama or Netanyahu. Both are bruised from locking horns over a settlement freeze — the key plank of the US president’s efforts — during his first term.
But equally, it seems, the price of continuing inaction is high too. The Palestinians have repeatedly embarrassed Obama at the United Nations, not least by isolating the US in November as it opposed an upgrade in the Palestinians’ observer status. Inertia also looks risky given the growing unrest in the West Bank over hunger-striking prisoners.
Ahead lie potentially even bigger headaches, including the doomsday scenario — from Israel and Washington’s perspective — that the Palestinians approach the International Criminal Court to demand Israel be investigated for war crimes.
The perennial optimists have been searching for signs that Obama is readier this time to get tough. Neither of the president’s recent major appointments — John Kerry as secretary of state and Chuck Hagel, nominated as defence secretary — has been welcomed in Israel.
US determination has been buoyed, it is argued, by what is seen as a tide change in Israeli public opinion, highlighted by the surprise electoral success of centrist Yair Lapid and relatively poor showing by Netanyahu’s Likud party.
Netanyahu’s officials sense similar motives, complaining that Obama’s visit so soon after the election is direct “interference” in coalition-building. The centrists, they fear, will be able to extract concessions from Netanyahu, who will not wish to greet the US president as head of an extremist government.
Israeli officials, meanwhile, look eager to mend fences: they have hopefully codenamed the visit “Unbreakable Alliance” and announced an intention to award Obama Israel’s highest honour, the presidential medal.
The more hopeful scenarios, however, overlook the obstacles to a diplomatic solution posed both by Israel’s domestic politics and by the Palestinians’ inability to withstand Israeli bullying.
Not least, they ignore the fact that Netanyahu’s Knesset faction is the most right-wing in Likud’s history. He cannot advance a peace formula — assuming he wanted to — without tearing apart his party.
Equally, there is nothing in Lapid’s record to indicate he is willing to push for meaningful compromises on Palestinian statehood. On this issue, he occupies the traditional ground of Likud, before it moved further right. A recent poll found half his supporters called themselves right-wing.
Last week Netanyahu signed a coalition pact with another supposed centrist, Tzipi Livni, a former Likud leader who now heads a small faction called Hatnuah. The goal, as one Likud official cynically put it, was to use Livni to “whitewash the Netanyahu government in the world’s eyes”.
In other words, Netanyahu hopes a Livni or a Lapid will buy him breathing space as he entrenches the settlements and pushes Palestinians out of large areas of the West Bank under cover of what the Israeli newspaper Haaretz termed a “booby-trapped diplomatic process”.
What of the Palestinians? Will they not be able to mount an effective challenge to Israeli intransigence, given an apparent renewed US interest in diplomacy?
Here is the rub. Netanyahu already has a stranglehold on the politics of his potential peace partners. He can easily manipulate the fortunes of the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on the two biggest tests he faces: the “peace process” overseen by the international community, and reconciliation talks with the rival Palestinian faction Hamas.
The latest talks between Hamas and Fatah broke down in Cairo this month, even though unity, in the view of most Palestinians, is a precondition of their seeking viable statehood. The talks’ failure followed the “arrest” by Israel of 25 Hamas leaders in the West Bank, seizures that Palestinian human rights groups and Hamas warned were intended to disrupt reconciliation.
Meanwhile, Israel has repeatedly undermined Abbas’s rule, and kept his PA close to collapse, by turning on and off one of its major sources of income — tax monies Israel regularly collects on behalf of the Palestinians and is supposed to pass on.
As a result, Abbas is trapped between various pressures impossible to reconcile: the need to keep Israel happy, to maintain legitimacy with his own people and to foster a shared political agenda with other Palestinian factions.
The sticks that Israel wields force Abbas to keep the door open to negotiations even as most Palestinians recognise their utter pointlessness. Likewise, his constant need to appease Israel and the US serves only to widen differences with Hamas.
The Palestinians are stuck in a political and diplomatic cul-de-sac, unable to move forward either with the development of their national struggle or with talks on viable statehood. Whatever Obama’s intentions, the reality is that this will be another four years of diplomatic failure.
Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. He won this year’s Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism.
The correct path to statehood is through implementation of international law and UN resolutions and the approval of the international community.
By Stuart Littlewood | Salem-News | December 14, 2012
(LONDON) – Britain’s prime minister David Cameron has again shown why he should stand down from British politics.
In a speech to Conservative Friends of Israel at a lunch the other day he said – and not for the first time – things that are deeply disturbing to people who expect him to put British interests first. He again compromised himself and this country with ridiculous pledges of support for a foreign military power whose behaviour is beyond the Pale and an affront to human decency. Here are some of his remarks…
“I am a passionate friend of Israel – and that’s the way it’s going to stay.”
In that case you shouldn’t be in British politics, Mr Cameron. You have fallen foul of the Seven Principles of Public Life, especially the principle of ‘Integrity’ which says quite simply: “Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might seek to influence them in the performance of their official duties.”
“We promised to stand up for Israel and in Government that’s exactly what we’ve done. We said it was ridiculous that Israeli officials felt unable to visit Britain because of the malicious and unfounded use of arrest warrants so we changed the law to end it.”
Unfounded? Tzipi Livni, for example, was responsible for launching the pre-meditated blitzkrieg four years ago which caused the deaths of 1,400 defenceless Gazans (including 320 children and 109 women), horribly maimed thousands more and caused immense devastation to essential infrastructure and services. She showed no remorse. Livni’s office issued a statement saying she was proud of Operation Cast Lead, and speaking later at a conference at Tel Aviv’s Institute for Security Studies, she said: “I would today take the same decisions.”
“We said we’d resist calls for boycotts on Israel and yes – we are going to keep on working with Israel, doing business with Israel, trading with Israel.”
Even though Israel is in continual breach of EU-Israel Agreement rules and forcibly prevents its neighbours, the Palestinians, from doing business and trade with the outside world…
“To me it is clear what needs to happen… We need the Palestinians to understand there is only one path to statehood, and that is through negotiations with Israel. We made that clear with that UN vote a couple of weeks ago.”
Wrong. The correct path to statehood is through implementation of international law and UN resolutions and the approval of the international community. Only when the illegal occupation is ended and the right of self-determination is restored can meaningful talks begin.
“We said that Britain could not support a resolution that set back the prospects for peace and that did not commit the Palestinians to return to negotiations without preconditions. Well: they did not provide the assurances that we asked for. So… we did not vote for it.”
Pure blackmail. Bullying Palestinians into resuming failed and discredited talks to bargain with the thief for the return of their lands and property when it is still being stolen with impunity, is utterly immoral. There can be no peace under occupation. And nobody ‘negotiates’ with a gun to their head, nor should they be expected to.
“And I have made something else clear that needs to be made clear to the Palestinians. Britain will never tolerate the obscenity of a football tournament named after a suicide bomber who killed 20 Israelis in a restaurant. We will not tolerate incitement to terrorism.”
This is about Wafa Idris. It has become a favourite rant and Cameron was banging on about it a couple of months earlier at another top Jewish gathering. According to The Jerusalem Post (September 2011) a Fatah-affiliated youth centre in the Ama’ari refugee camp near Ramallah named a sports event after female suicide bomber Wafa Idris, a 28 year-old paramedic who had been shot several times by Israeli rubber bullets during her work for the Red Crescent. Relatives said she was angry at seeing children shot and killed by the IDF in Ramallah. Idris was the first Palestinian woman to carry out a suicide bombing. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a subsidiary of Abbas’s Fatah (who are Cameron’s friends in Occupied Palestine), claimed responsibility for the bomb attack although her family said she was not known to be an activist with any Palestinian militant group.
Cameron, before opening his mouth, might have asked what led her to do it. Wafa Idris was born in the Ama’ari refugee camp. Set up by the Red Cross in 1949 it provided tents to refugees from Jaffa, Ramla and Lydda, towns allocated for an Arab state in the UN Partition but subjected to a bloody programme of ethnic cleansing in 1948.
In Lydda the Israelis massacred 426 men, women, and children. 176 of them were slaughtered in the town’s main mosque (See the lurid details here). Out of the 19,000 people who called Lydda home, only 1,052 were allowed to stay. The remainder were forced to walk into exile in the scalding July heat leaving a trail of bodies – men, women and children – along the way.
The slaughter in Lydda was led by a certain Moshe Dayan. The event was witnessed by two American newspapermen who reported that “practically everything in their way died. Riddled corpses lay by the roadside.” They saw “the corpses of Arab men, women and even children strewn about in the wake of the ruthlessly brilliant charge” (emphasis Aletho News ). This appalling war crime didn’t prevent Dayan becoming a great hero in Israel, and later defence minister and foreign minister.
Today Tel Aviv University has a Moshe Dayan Centre named after the war criminal, but I haven’t heard Cameron complain about that. Likewise the Menachem Begin Centre in West Jerusalem is named after the terrorist leader responsible for the bomb attack in 1946 on the British mandate government based in the King David Hotel, killing 91. Has Agent Cameron anything to say about that?
Back to the Ama’ari refugee camp, now run by the UNRWA, where Wafa Idris was obliged to live in squalor as a result of Israel’s criminal land-grab and forcible eviction of her parents from Ramla. At Ama’ari 10,500 people are squeezed into less than 1 square kilometre in dreadful conditions.
However the camp’s football team has won the Palestine football championship several times and qualified to represent Palestine in regional and international competitions.
The Arab media were lavish in their praise for Idris, the “courageous Palestinian girl”, and as a result she became a heroic symbol of Palestinian womanhood in their struggle to throw off the occupation. If it’s OK for Israel to name major institutions after its famous terrorists what right has Cameron to get upset when Palestinian football team similarly commemorates one of theirs?
“So, in Gaza too, Hamas need to know that they must renounce violence and they will not be allowed to dictate the way forward in the peace process.”
Does Cameron have the balls to tell Israel it too must renounce violence? Hamas, in case he has forgotten, is the legitimate democratic authority. He may not like it but he should respect it and work with them, like the good democratic he claims to be.
“Last month, when rockets rained down on Israel, we were unequivocal about the right of Israelis to live free from attack by terrorist groups on their border.”
When Gaza suffers air strikes on a daily basis, how unequivocal is Cameron about the right of Palestinians to live free from attack by the terrorist state occupying their lands?
“I’ve never had to run for cover as the air-raids sound overhead. I’ve never had to give gas masks to my children. I do understand that for the Israeli people, uncertainty isn’t such a great thing. It means instability. Anxiety. Fear.”
If he goes to Gaza he can experience fear and anxiety in abundance under Israeli air raids. I vividly remember as a kid being bombed by the Nazis every night in London – and not with garden-shed whizz-bangs. I remember German bombers flying at rooftop height down our street to avoid the anti-aircraft guns. At least they didn’t use white phosphorus like the Israelis.
Cameron’s hyper-partisan, head-over-heels friendship – no, obsession – with Israel is allowed to steer nearly every aspect of Britain’s foreign policy. What drives this? You need look no further than The Jewish Chronicle which in 2006 reported on the backers bankrolling David Cameron’s bid for power and provided a fascinating insight into how the pro-Israel lobby infiltrates government and destroys the principles of integrity and accountability so vital to public life.
When Cameron became Conservative leader he proclaimed:
“The belief I have in Israel is indestructible – and you need to know that if I become Prime Minister, Israel has a friend who will never turn his back on Israel.”
Agent Cameron is very careful not to let the words ‘justice’ and ‘law’ pass his lips in connection with Israel’s illegal occupation of the Holy Land. And he and his foreign secretary, Hague, will put on a wonderful show of hand-wringing, deploring and urging whenever Israel commits atrocities, but they never condemn the racist regime or use any obvious levers like suspension of trade or other sanctions.
On the contrary, they shamelessly find ways of rewarding the Israeli regime’s crimes against humanity, making us complicit with its racist ambitions.
© Stuart Littlewood 2012
- A letter to David Cameron (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- The cowardice at the heart of our relationship with Israel (telegraph.co.uk)
In life, some phenomena cannot be explained by ordinary logic or technical language, let alone official discourses. How did Gaza manage to fight back with such ferocity and undying vigor in quelling the latest Israeli war despite years of a bloody siege and one-sided war in 2008-9? It simply cannot be explained by the outmoded language of today’s media analysts. Notwithstanding, a new reality is about to emerge.
During the 2008-09 ‘Operation Cast Lead,’ Israel killed over 1,400 Palestinians and wounded over 5,000 others. It was like shooting fish in a barrel. Most victims were civilians as is always the case in such wars of ‘self-defense’. A United Nations investigation published in September 2009 concluded there is “evidence indicating serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law were committed by Israel during the Gaza conflict, and that Israel committed actions amounting to war crimes, and possibly crimes against humanity.”
Back then there was no shortage of indictments and condemnations, as will surely emerge from its latest 8-day war on Gaza. Many spoke of how the tide of public opinion is turning against Israel, how the self-declared Jewish State was losing its command over an ever-skewed narrative of David vs. Goliath, of how the US will no longer be able to shield Israel against the profound anguish of millions of besieged people imploring the world for help and solidarity.
Much of this was in fact true, but equally true was that Israel succeeded in dragging Gaza and the rest of Palestine back to the same status quo – despite the heinous crimes committed four years ago -that preceded the war. Former Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, told journalists on January 12, 2009 that her country was deliberately ‘going wild’ in Gaza to “restore … Israel’s deterrence. Hamas now understands that when you fire on its citizens it responds by going wild – and this is a good thing.”
It certainly was good enough for the United States, but also for many European powers who giddily wined and dined with Livni in Brussels, shortly after the war, as if thousands of people had not been killed and wounded or that whole families hadn’t just perished for no fault of their own and as if a whole nation was not still in mourning for its lost children, men and women.
It is not that Israel was particularly crafty in restoring its standing among official western circles in the last four years, thus giving it the needed confidence to assault Gaza once more. The fact is that Israel never lost that standing to begin with. These very powers (starting with Washington and London) never ceased backing Israel with the latest killing technology, bolstering Israel’s economy despite their own economic woes and of course, supporting Israel’s ‘right to defend itself’ at every available opportunity.
The 22-day war on Gaza of 2008-09 was in actuality a continuation of another long war, which is difficult to demarcate by specific dates and times. Palestinians in Gaza (as in the rest of the occupied territories) have been dying at rates that decelerate and accelerate depending on the political mood in Tel Aviv. In 2008, embattled Kadima party officials sought war to boost their rating among a war and security-obsessed public. In 2012, national elections in Israel are upon us once more. In both cases, Palestinian blood had to be exacted in that same bloody game of Israeli politics. And all rising stars in Israeli politics needed to be there to impress the ever-approving public.
When “more than 90 percent of Israeli Jews support Gaza war” (Haaretz, Nov 19), it becomes less shocking to read Gilad Sharon (son of former Israeli Prime Minister and repeatedly accused war criminal Ariel Sharon) writing in the Jerusalem Post: “There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing. Then they’d really call for a ceasefire … We need to flatten entire neighborhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza. The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima – the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too.”
Yet what was thought of as another hunting season of Gaza’s civilians and fighters alike didn’t turn out as desired. ‘Operation Pillar of Cloud’ was meant to present Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Defense Minister Ehud Barak with ample opportunities so that they may wave their fingers in threatening gestures and score as many political points as they could before international pressure mount. Instead, it ended up being a political debacle of historic proportions.
Israel’s trial balloons were downed by hundreds of Palestinian rockets that reached as far as northern Tel Aviv and even west Jerusalem. What was meant to break the resistance, so that Palestinians may never dare complain of occupation, of Israel-imposed political isolation and suffocating siege, along with Israel’s ‘deterrence’ wars, resulted in a new strange reality that sent Israelis everywhere seeking shelter. When sirens blared, Israel came to a halt as Israelis experienced bloody glimpses of what Palestinians experience too often. 167 Palestinians were killed and over a thousand wounded. 6 Israelis were killed, including a soldier who died from his wounds after a ceasefire was achieved through Egypt on Nov 21. But it was not the amount of spilled blood that made this war different, for the ratio of horrific deaths remains tilted. It was different because of the nature of the message that Hamas and other resistance factions delivered. Even starved and besieged Gazans are capable of fighting back after six long years of a hermetic blockade that forced them to dig hundreds of tunnels seeking salvation through neighboring Egypt.
In Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority, with little credibility to begin with, became more irrelevant than ever before. Mahmoud Abbas tried to impose himself as a party in the conflict by speaking of a popular but peaceful resistance in a televised speech. He conveniently explained the Israeli war as an attempt to coerce him not to seek the UN vote on a non-member state status for Palestine. And as Israeli leaders struggled to understand the new variable in their unfair war equation with the Palestinians, Arab officials poured into Gaza signaling that this time around things would be different. The Americans took notice too. Just as the US media spoke of a shift in US foreign policy focus to East and Southeast Asia, the alarming nature of the new war forced Secretary of State Hilary Clinton to rush to Israel to offer its support and solidarity. European leaders did the same. The lines were being demarcated once more. This time Gaza was a dividing point of regional and international politics, its resistance being the main factor behind a seismic shift.
Many in Israel tried to distort the facts by explaining that a ceasefire for Hamas would be good for Israel as it would bring “quiet” to border communities. Thus the Israeli objectives were achieved in a roundabout sort of way. Haaretz military correspondent Amos Harel labored to soften the blow by saying “The art of measuring the level of deterrence power is far from an exact science. Nobody expected that failed actions against Hezbollah in 2006 would lead to six-and-a-half years of quiet (which for the time being persists) on the Lebanon border”.
However, Israel’s intentions were not exactly about achieving peace and tranquility. For decades, Israel’s sought to have complete monopoly over violence, thus the right to punish, deter, intervene, occupy and ‘teach lessons’ to whomever it wanted, whenever it wanted. Its recent targeting of Sudan, its past strikes against Iraq, Tunisia, Syria, appalling wars in Lebanon, and constant threats against Iran are all cases in point.
Certainly, something big has changed. Not that Palestinians managed to narrow the imbalance of power, but that they succeeded in imposing their resistance as a factor in Israel’s ‘security’ equation that was exclusively determined by Israel.
Despite their heavy losses, thousands of Palestinians danced with joy throughout the Gaza Strip. They knelt and prayed among the rebels, thanking God for their ‘victory’. Masked armed men were crowded by jubilant Gazans cheering for resistance. Israel and its benefactors began assigning blame by pointing the finger mostly at Iran. But their words drowned in the echoes of Palestinian chants. All parties know that something fundamental has been altered, although the battle is anything but over. A war of a different kind is about to begin.
Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) has been providing vital help to vulnerable Palestinian communities ever since the Sabra and Shatila massacre 30 years ago.
Eyebrows therefore shot up when MAP announced that former foreign secretary David Miliband will be speaking at its Annual Gala Fundraising Dinner tomorrow (Thursday) held in the posh Sheraton Park Lane Hotel.
It seems he’ll be talking about his visit to the West Bank and Gaza.
Miliband will be forever remembered as the British foreign secretary who shamelessly groveled to Israel’s gangsters for forgiveness for their running the risk of arrest if they set foot in London.
And he’ll be remembered for not having the guts to go visit Gaza, or even Iran while in office.
Back in 2009 Ehud Barak, Tzipi Livni and retired general Doron Almog, cancelled engagements in London for fear of being arrested. Israel complained bitterly
Miliband actually apologized to Livni and Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman for the arrest warrant issued against Livni. He promised Lieberman to begin working immediately to change the UK laws relating to ‘universal jurisdiction’. He asked Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Justice Minister Jack Straw to find an urgent solution.
But the general election overtook him. Miliband’s groveling promise was echoed by his replacement, William Hague, who announced: “We have had good discussions with Israeli ministers on Universal Jurisdiction where the last government left us with an appalling situation where a politician like Mrs. Livni could be threatened with arrest on coming to the UK…”
He said it was “completely unacceptable… We have agreed in the coalition about putting it right, we will put it right through legislation… later this year and I phoned Mrs. Livni amongst others to tell her about that and received a very warm welcome for our proposals”.
Never mind that British law was operating perfectly properly. The warrants were issued to answer well-founded charges. Under universal jurisdiction all states that are party to the Geneva Conventions are under a binding obligation to seek out those suspected of having committed grave breaches of the Conventions and bring them, regardless of nationality, to justice. There should be no hiding place for those suspected of crimes against humanity and war crimes. Applications could be made to a court for private arrest warrants, and this had been happening because the government itself was in the habit of shirking its duty under the Fourth 1949 Geneva Convention and dragging its feet until the bird has flown.
The beauty of the private warrant is that it can be issued speedily.
Bringing a private prosecution for a criminal offence is an ancient right in common law and, in the words of Lord Wilberforce, “a valuable constitutional safeguard against inertia or partiality on the part of the authority.”
Lord Diplock, another respected Lord of Appeal, called it “a useful safeguard against capricious, corrupt or biased failure or refusal of those authorities to prosecute offenders against the criminal law”.
Who can forget that Tzipi Livni, Israel’s former foreign minister, was largely responsible for the terror that brought unspeakable death and destruction to Gaza’s civilians during the blitzkrieg known as Operation Cast Lead?
Showing no remorse and with the blood of 1,400 dead Gazans (including 320 children and 109 women) on her hands, and thousands more horribly maimed, Livni’s office issued a statement saying she was proud of Operation Cast Lead. And speaking later at a conference at Tel Aviv’s Institute for Security Studies, she said: “I would today take the same decisions.”
In a sane world no British government minister would undermine our justice system in order to make the UK a safe haven for the likes of her.
Yet Miliband’s successor Hague said: “We cannot have a position where Israeli politicians feel they cannot visit this country. The situation is unsatisfactory [and] indefensible. It is absolutely my intention to act speedily.”
He even tried to make Livni’s monstrous crimes look good by claiming, as reported on the Conservative Friends of Israel website, that “the immediate trigger for this crisis [the war on Gaza] was the barrage of hundreds of rocket attacks against Israel on the expiry of the ceasefire or truce.” It is well known that the ceasefire didn’t expire. It was deliberately breached by an Israeli raid into Gaza that killed several Palestinians with the intention of provoking a response that would re-ignite the violence and provide an excuse to launch Operation Cast Lead, which the Israelis had been preparing for months.
As for Avigdor Lieberman, he lives in an illegal squat on stolen Palestinian land and is a wanted criminal on that score alone.
Livni bleated: “It’s about the entire State of Israel and our ability to go on working together against common threats.”
Common threats? The threats Israel faces are caused by its racist expansion, land theft, general lawlessness and hateful attitude towards its neighbors, not to mention the nuclear menace Israel itself poses to others in the region and the Islamic world generally. To suggest we have anything in common with the Tel Aviv regime is absurd.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office butted in with this arrogant statement: “We will not agree to a situation in which [former prime minister] Ehud Olmert, [Defense Minister] Ehud Barak and [opposition leader and former foreign minister] Tzipi Livni will be summoned to the bench. We utterly reject the absurdity that is happening in Britain.”
Miliband never went to Gaza when he should have done. But he managed to visit Gaza with Save the Children. “I had not been able to visit while in government for security reasons,” he said in an article in The Guardian.
Bollox. Hamas were honor-bound to take good care of him. The only danger would have been an Israeli air-strike or a Mossad assassin. But those risks go with the job. You can’t be an effective foreign secretary wrapped in cotton wool.
With David Miliband heading up foreign policy it was frankly embarrassing to be British. What sort of transformation has the groveler undergone that makes him now worthy of an invitation to MAP? Has he become a new White Knight championing the Palestinian underdog against the evil occupier?
I hope so. But I’ll believe it when I actually see evidence that this particular leopard’s spots have well and truly changed.
- David Miliband Earns £116 a Minute (order-order.com)
The Dictator-A Film Review
On the face of it, Baron Cohen’s The Dictator is a horrid film. It is vulgar, it isn’t funny and if it has five good jokes in it, they appear in the two minute official trailer. In short, save your time and money – unless of course, you are interested in Jewish identity politics and neurosis.
Similar to Cohen’s previous work, The Dictator is, once again, a glimpse into Cohen’s own tribal morbidity. After all, the person and the spirit behind this embarrassing comedy is a proud self-loving character who never misses an opportunity to express his intimate affinity to his people, their unique comic talent and their beloved Jewish state. But let’s face it, Cohen isn’t alone, after all, he has created The Dictator together with a Hollywood studio. So, it’s reasonable to say that what we see here is just one more Hollywood-orchestrated effort to vilify the Arab, the Muslim and the Orient.
I guess that Arab rulers, regimes and politics are an ideal subject for a satirical take, still, one may wonder what exactly does Sacha Baron Cohen know about the Arab World? As far as the film can tell, not much. Instead, Cohen projects his own Zionist and tribal symptoms onto the people of Arabia and their leaders.
In the film, Cohen plays General Hafez Aladeen, the Arab ruler of the oil-rich North African rogue state Wadiya. On the face of it, he is the satirical version of Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi, but in reality, Aladeen’s actions are no less than a vast amplification of the crimes committed by Israel and its war criminals such as Shimon Peres, Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni.
When Baron Cohen ridicules the Arab Dictators who obsessively seek WMD and nuclear weapons he should bear in mind that it is actually his beloved Jewish state that has, since the 1950s, been pushing the entire region into a nuclear race. It is his Israeli brothers and sisters who express every too often their lethal enthusiasm to destroy Iran and other regional entities. When Baron Cohen mocks the Arab rulers who murder their opponents and kill kids, women and elders, he once again projects Israeli symptoms because it is actually the Jewish state that so often engages in systematic mass murder and war crimes on a colossal scale. Someone should remind Cohen that the pictures of white phosphorus pouring over UN shelters were taken in Gaza, not in Saddam’s Baghdad, Homs (Sirya) or imaginary Wadiya. When Sacha Baron Cohen presents the Arab leader as a savage rapist he may want to remind himself that Moshe Katzav, who was, until recently, the President of the Jewish State is now locked behind bars after being sentenced for rape. It is therefore far from coincidence that when Cohen attempts to bond with his protagonist Dictator Aladeen, he actually speaks in his mother tongue, Hebrew. Cohen speaks Hebrew because Aladeen is not an Arab dictator, he is actually an Israeli patriot like Cohen himself.
But let’s try to transcend ourselves beyond Baron Cohen’s projections and confess: as much as Cohen’s new film is lame, Cohen, himself is far from being a fool. In fact, he has managed to bring to light a few interesting and astute political insights. For example, towards the end of the film Dictator Aladeen produces a remarkable speech at the UN in favour of dictatorship. In front of the delegations, Aladeen draws a pretty profound list of unintended parallels between the USA and dictatorship. Delivering a sharp political criticism by means of comedy deserves respect.
Another provocative insight is delivered through the character of Zoey (Anna Farris), a devout feminist and a human right activist. Zoey runs a multi-ethnic eco-friendly grocery store in Brooklyn. She is the ultimate solidarity campaigner and this time she rallies against Aladeen and his regime. While Zoey invades the street demonstrating against Aladeen’s brutality, Aladeen’s Chief of Staff Tamir (Ben Kingsley) plots against his ruler inside the UN building. He sells out his country’s assets to oil tycoons and world leaders. The cinematic meaning of it all is clear- the bond between the so-called Left and the imperial powers has been established. Zoey, the lefty progressive seems to work towards the exact same goal as the leading corrupted capitalist expansionist forces. They all want to bring the Aladeen regime to an end. I guess that many of those who monitor solidarity activism and discourse would agree with Cohen’s readings. After all, it was feminists and women’s rights groups that, in the 1990s, prepared the ground for the War against Terror and the invasion of Afghanistan. The Left was also very reluctant to support the democratically elected Hamas. I guess that a Leftist, thrown into a room together with Dershowitz and Bin Laden, would probably attempt to bond first with Dershowitz.
But Zoey isn’t just a progressive solidarity and human rights activist. As the plot progresses, Aladeen and Zoey fall for each other. Towards the end of the film ‘solidarity activist’ Zoey and Dictator Aladeen get married. This is when Dictator Aladeen and the rest of us find out that Zoey is actually a Jew. From a cinematic perspective, the Jew, the human rights campaigner and the solidarity activist leader are all one. This amusing reading is unfortunately consistent with the reality of the solidarity movement. Those who monitor Jewish Left activism detect a relentless effort among some Jewish campaigners to tribally hijack and even Zionize the discourse of solidarity, human rights and marginal politics. However, from a Judaic perspective, Zoey, the new wife of Dictator Aladeen is nothing short of an incarnation of Biblical Queen Esther. Like Esther, Zoey has managed to infiltrate into the corridors of a lucrative foreign power.
I guess that with AIPAC controlling American foreign policy and 80% of Tory MPs being CFI (Conservative Friends of Israel) members, a Jewish queen of a fictional Wadiya is almost exotic.
As organizations dedicated to the protection and promotion of human rights—including those acting as legal representatives for war crimes victims— we are disappointed by B’Tselem’s active participation in an upcoming event at which former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will be featured as a keynote speaker.
Olmert has been implicated in the commission of war crimes and other serious violations of international law for his role in Operation ‘Cast Lead’, Israel’s winter 2008-2009 onslaught on the Gaza Strip. A court in the U.K. has already issued an arrest warrant for one of Olmert’s alleged co-conspirators in these acts, former foreign minister Tzipi Livni.
Olmert will speak at a gala dinner on Monday hosted by J Street, a self-described “pro-Israel, pro-peace” lobby group in Washington, DC. Olmert’s speech will be the keynote for J Street’s annual conference. Last week, B’Tselem sent an email to its supporters announcing that it was “proud” of its role in the conference, explicitly mentioning Olmert as a featured speaker.
B’Tselem’s active participation in this event sends a dangerous message. It undermines the fundamental importance of accountability for international crimes, disregards victims’ right to dignity and justice, and implies that political processes may override human rights standards. B’Tselem should be protesting, not celebrating, an event welcoming Olmert.
The decision to release this statement was not taken lightly. We highly value the relationship between Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights organizations, and can look back on many years of successful professional cooperation.
For some Palestinian organizations – particularly those from the Gaza Strip – the relationship with Israeli counterparts is often the last remaining link with Israeli society. This is a link which we all wish to see strengthened and developed.
However, as human rights defenders, we are united by our standards: by our belief in the universality of human rights and the rule of international law. Our legitimacy derives from our unwavering commitment to these principles, and our obligations to act in the best interests of the victims we represent.
We call upon B’Tselem to withdraw from this event, and to use this opportunity to highlight the need for accountability, justice, and the enforcement of the rule of law.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
Al Dameer Association for Human Rights
The Palestinian NGO Network (representative of 132 Palestinian ngo’s)
The European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy was criticised yesterday for comparing the killing of three children and a rabbi in a shooting attack in France to the situation in Gaza.
At the “Palestine refugees in the changing Middle East” conference in Brussels, Baroness Ashton, described the murders in Toulouse as a “terrible tragedy”, but she then added: “When we see what is happening in Gaza and in different parts of the world – we remember young people and children who lose their lives.”
Seemingly some prominent Jewish and Israeli leaders couldn’t agree less. For them Jewish suffering exceeds all other suffering and Palestinian’s in particular.
The London Jewish Chronicle quoted some of the outraged critics. “Even when read in context, Ashton’s words are beyond unacceptable,” said Oliver Worth, the British chairman of the World Union of Jewish Students. He said they were “truly outrageous and revolting” and called for her to resign because she had “lost all credibility”. And yet, Mr Worth fails to explain why is it “outrageous and revolting” to equate Jewish suffering with Palestinian one.
“Baroness Ashton’s remarks were both crass and wholly inappropriate,” said the chief executives of the Board of Deputies, yet he also fails to provide any reasoning.
“There is absolutely no equivalence between the situation in Gaza and the cold and callous murder of Rabbi Jonathan Sandler and the three children,” said Stefan Kerner, director of public affairs for the Zionist Federation. And I wonder why there is no ‘equivalence’, is it because the Jews are yet to withdraw from Toulouse? Or may be Mr Kerner actually expects the French to withdraw from Toulouse and to leave it to Rabbi Sandler and a few other Jews. I obviously find it really difficult to follow the Zionist logic anymore.
The Rabbi added: “For a person in Baroness Ashton’s position to even consider her comments appropriate is disgraceful. She should withdraw her statement immediately and apologise unreservedly for the offence that she has caused.” And I wonder why is it offensive to Jews when someone equates their grief with Goyim’s suffering. Does the Rabbi really believe that Jewish suffering is somehow superior?
Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s Foreign Minister, said he viewed her remarks as “inappropriate”. He said he hoped that she “re – examines and retracts them”. And I wonder, what kind of a retraction would please the Israeli Government. Do they really expect Baroness Ashton to accept that Jewish suffering is the ultimate form of human grief?
Israeli war criminal as well as Opposition leader Tzipi Livni also, attempted to offer some reasoning. She described Ashton’s remark as “reprehensible, infuriating, and wrong” to draw any link “between the murder of children in Toulouse and the massacre Assad is leading in Syria and the situation in Gaza”. Livni may be right for a change, the crime committed in Gaza by the Jewish State in the name of the Jewish People is indeed unique in the history of brutality. Also the fact that 94% of the Israeli Jewish population supported IDF genocdial tactics at the time of operation Cast Lead is also very unique. Israel’s war crimes are indeed uniquely cruel and beyond comparison.
But Livni didn’t just stop there, she tried to qualify her statement. “A hate crime or a leader murdering his people is not like a country fighting terror, even if civilians are hurt.” According to Lvini, the Baroness had failed to make “the appropriate moral distinction”. To start with we do not know yet what led to the tragic event in Toulouse. However, the fact that Israel defines the Palestinians as “terrorists” is yet to provide the Jewish State with an moral excuse to slay the indigenous people of the land and to abuse every possible human right.
I guess that we are all becoming impervious to Jewish political logic. But maybe this is another symptom of the Zionification of our reality. From now on we are expected to obey.