By Stuart Littlewood | September 28, 2010
If it wasn’t for the “war on terror” America and Israel wouldn’t be enjoying such military fun and games and reaping such fat rewards. Whole new industries are flourishing thanks to the considerable effort they’ve devoted to sowing the seeds of terror.
The Institute of Terrorism Research and Response (ITRR), for example, is an American-Israeli corporation “created to help organizations succeed and prosper in a world threatened by terrorism”.
Its partners include The Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute – “your gateway to business in Israel”. Their global intelligence division even maintains a presence in London where, they claim, “our intelligence-gathering and analysis, research, training and consulting services reduce your vulnerability to global and regional forms of terrorist threats and mass-casualty events”. It’s just a coincidence, of course, that Britain’s most important security bodies – the Intelligence and Security Committee, the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Defence Committee – are all headed by senior Israel flag-wavers with access to highly classified material.
ITRR recently staged a Mass Casualty and Terrorism Workshop in Jerusalem attended by students from Philadelphia University. Topics included mass casualty management, security and counter-terrorism, forensic medicine as it relates to terrorism and visits to suicide bomber sites. “These site visits include actual video footage of the events… One student was amazed with the resiliency of the Israeli people and how quickly they are able to return a site ‘back to normal’.”
Just across the border in Gaza is the mother of all mass-casualty sites far more serious than anything Israel has had to cope with, although it caused it. A visit there would have opened students’ eyes to how the Palestinians are never given the chance to return to ‘normal’ after Israel’s endless terror onslaughts, robbed as they are of medical essentials and reconstruction materials.
I bet ITRR’s workshop didn’t cover that.
“First used by Zionists”
The other day I was sent a list of Zionist “firsts” pulled together in a handy aide-memoire. Let’s call them claims for the time being. I’ve seen evidence for some, but others are new to me. A friend who watches things closely says the listing has been posted in forums repeatedly, with requests for any corrections.
Let’s ask again. Can anyone refute these claims on delphiforums?
Here’s the roll-call on who introduced terrorism (along with biological, chemical and nuclear weapons) to the Middle East:
- Bombs in cafés: first used by Zionists in Palestine on 17 March 1937 in Jaffa. (actually grenades).
- Bombs on buses: first used by Zionists in Palestine on 20 August-26 September1937
- Drive-by shootings with automatic weapons: IZL and LHI in 1937-38 and 1947-48 (Morris, Righteous Victims, p681.)
- Bombs in market places: first used by Zionists on 6 July 1938 in Haifa. (delayed-action, electrically detonated)
- Bombing of a passenger ship: first used by the Zionists in Haifa on 25 November 1940, killing over 200 of their own fellows.
- Bombing of hotels: first used by Zionists on 22 July 1946 in Jerusalem (Menachem Begin went on to become prime minister of Israel).
- Suitcase bombing: first used by Zionists on 1 October 1946 against British embassy in Rome.
- Mining of ambulances: first used by Zionists on 31 October 1946 in Petah Tikvah
- Car-bomb: first used by Zionists against the British near Jaffa on 5 December 1946.
- Letter bombs: first used by Zionists in June 1947 against members of the British government, 20 of them.
- Parcel bomb: first used by Zionists against the British in London on 3 September 1947.
- Reprisal murder of hostages: first used by Zionists against the British in Netanya area on 29 July 1947.
- Truck-bombs: first used by Zionists on January 1948 in the centre of Jaffa, killing 26.
- Aircraft hijacking: world-first by Israeli jets December 1954 on a Syrian civilian airliner (random seizure of hostages to recover five spies) – 14 years before any Palestinian hijacking.
The only form of violent terrorism not introduced into Palestine by the Zionists was suicide bombing, a tactic used almost entirely by people fighting occupation of their “homeland” – think 1000s of Japanese in 1945, 100s of Tamils and 38 Lebanese in the 1980s – most of the latter being motivated by socialism/communism, not Islam – see http://amconmag.com/article/2005/jul/18/00017.
- Biological warfare – pathogens used by Zionists in 1948, prior to the seizure of Acre, putting typhus into the water supply.
- Chemical warfare – nerve gas very likely used by Zionists in February/March 2001 in at least eight attacks in Khan Younis and Gharbi refugee camps (Gaza) and the town of Al-Bireh (West Bank).
- Nuclear threats – made by Zionists e.g. 2003: “We have the capability to take the world down with us. And I can assure you that that will happen, before Israel goes under.” – Remarks of Martin Van Creveld, a professor of military history at Israel’s Hebrew University, 1 February 2003.
And, if you think only Muslims need worry, then see http://www.masada2000.org/sharepain.html – “Israel has nuclear weapons and MUST use them and all those arming the Arabs must share the pain!”. Comes with cute music.
To these we could add “sofa slaughter” with armed drones. The Israelis use this armchair technique extensively in Gaza, unleashing death and destruction on civilians by remote control at no personal risk to themselves. There are interesting variations too. For example, during the 40-day siege of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in 2002 the Israeli occupation force set up cranes on which were mounted robotic machine guns under video control. According to eye-witnesses, eight defenders, including the bell-ringer, were murdered, some by armchair button-pushers and some by regular snipers.
Right now we’re witnessing a cyber-terror attack against Iran with an ultra-sophisticated virus that disables thousands of industrial computers, including those controlling Iran’s nuclear programme. This is an extremely sinister development with frightening global implications. The presumption is that it’s Zionist inspired and implemented by Israeli stooges and sympathizers since no-one else hates and fears the Iranians this much, but the truth may never be known.
Banned horror weapons spread terror
There’s also the use, suspected or real, of prohibited weapons. In July 2006 doctors in Lebanon and Gaza were saying: “We never saw before wounds and corpses like those that arrive in the ward…” The majority of victims were women, children and elders caught in Israeli attacks in the street, in the market place and at home.
What they saw led doctors to believe that a new generation of weapons was being used. Common to all victims was the lack of visible wounds, but they had serious internal edema and hemorrhage with loss of blood from all orifices. All the bodies had a covering of dark powder, making them look black, but they were not burnt. Clothes and hair were not damaged or burnt.
Electron microscope scans showed the presence of phosphorous, iron and magnesium at below normally detectable levels. Elements that are used as additives to boost the blast of thermobaric (fuel-air energy) bombs and grenades were found on skin samples, but none of these could be seen by instruments normally used in hospitals and emergency wards.
Thermobaric weapons leave no fragments on or in the victims’ bodies, making it all the more difficult to provide proper care for the injured. “This fact already puts them outside established conventions of war, regardless of whether they are used against military or civilians,” say the doctors.
The effect of a thermobaric shell or grenade, according to the GlobalSecurity website, is devastating. “Those near the ignition point are obliterated. Those at the fringe are likely to suffer many internal, and thus invisible injuries, including burst eardrums and crushed inner ear organs, severe concussions, ruptured lungs and internal organs, and possibly blindness. The destruction, death and injury are caused by the blast wave.”
Another report, published by Defense Technology, says: “Each tissue type … is compressed, stretched, sheared or disintegrated by overload according to its material properties. Internal organs that contain air (sinuses, ears, lungs and intestines) are particularly vulnerable to blast.”
The United States uses 40mm thermobaric grenades developed for the war against “terror” in Afghanistan. These little beauties produce a thermobaric overpressure blast and “all enemy personnel within the effective radius will suffer lethal effects as opposed to the conventional fragmentation round.”
The grenades are fired from a specially developed weapon. “You can put six rounds on target in under three seconds,” one Marine Corps corporal said. “I thought this thing was sick.”
America is reported to have lost nuclear bombs, so it shouldn’t be too difficult for them to mislay shipments of thermobaric grenades, which in the wrong hands would wreak havoc in the metro or London’s Underground.
Hoist by their own petard
A perfectly good form of words is used to brand, outlaw and crush any organization, individual or country the US doesn’t like.
Under Executive Order 13224 (“Blocking Property and prohibiting Transactions with Persons who commit, threaten to commit, or support Terrorism”), Section 3, the term “terrorism” means an activity that:
(i) involves a violent act or an act dangerous to human life, property, or infrastructure; and (ii) appears to be intended
(a) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(b) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(c) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, kidnapping or hostage-taking.”
The order was signed 23 September 2001 by George W. Bush, the irony being that his definition of terrorism fits the United States and its bosom-buddy Israel like a glove.
Since then, of course, we’ve seen the Zionists commit the foulest act of state terrorism in recent times. During their Cast Lead onslaught they butchered at least 350 more children, and Gaza has been under daily attack ever since. So the “most moral army in the world” must have blown to bits, shredded, incinerated or smashed with snipers’ bullets at least 1,400 Palestinian youngsters in the last 10 years. The numbers left maimed or crippled don’t bear thinking about.
And let’s not forget the assassinations and extra-judicial executions. In the US there’s a presidential prohibition on assassination except in war situations, but if they can conjure up an intelligence “finding” that enables them to label the target a “terrorist”, and claim the murder was an act of self-defence in a war situation, they’re in the clear.
Assassination became official Israeli policy in 1999. Their preferred method is the air-strike, which is lazy and often messy, as demonstrated in 2002 when Israeli F-16 warplanes bombed the house of Sheikh Salah Shehadeh, the military commander of Hamas, in Gaza City killing not just him but at least 11 other Palestinians, including seven children, and wounding 120 others.
According to the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem, 408 Palestinians have been killed in the course of targeted assassinations since the second Intifada (uprising) began in 2000. This systematic extermination is regarded as legal and legitimate by Israel’s attorney-general.
In a sane world you’d expect the American and Israeli administrations to be hoist by their own petard, branded as “persons who commit, threaten to commit, or support terrorism”, and punished in the same way they seek to punish others.
Stuart Littlewood is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation.
Eyes in Gaza is a detailed and harrowing account by the Norwegian doctors Mads Gilbert and Erik Fosse of their experiences in al-Shifa Hospital during Israel’s deadly assault on Gaza in December 2008-January 2009. For a time, they were not just the only western doctors in Gaza, but the only western witnesses to what they repeatedly call Israel’s “massacre” of some 1,400 Palestinian men, women and children. Hence the book’s title, bearing witness to their status as witnesses.
At noon on New Year’s Eve 2008, four days after the start of Israel’s onslaught, Gilbert and Fosse entered Gaza from Egypt. On the morning of 10 January 2010, with Israel’s campaign still having a week to run, they returned to Egypt and were replaced by another Norwegian medical team. During the intervening period they assisted their Palestinian colleagues — whose “historic heroism” (112) they praise unstintingly — in performing an average of twenty operations daily on the civilian victims of Israel’s orgy of shooting and bombing. In the absence of western media they also acted as reporters (“white voices” — 121-122), giving ten to fifteen interviews daily.
These doctors make no claim to neutrality; they are political activists, committed to advocating Palestinian rights and to condemning western complicity with Israel’s crimes. “We are doctors, but we do not want to be only doctors,” Gilbert asserts proudly (306).
Not surprisingly, it is this aspect of their activities in Gaza that proved most controversial, causing FOX News to describe Gilbert, shamefully, as “[t]he Hamas propaganda doctor” (123), simply because he described the horrors he witnessed rather than keeping quiet about them. Mordantly, Gilbert asks whether there “[s]hould not then be a limit to the number of times that members of the international press who were not let into Gaza allow themselves to be bussed by Israeli press officers to places just north of the border in Israel where Palestinian rockets had landed, on the whole resulting in holes in the ground?” (130).
In their foreword (jointly written, whereas otherwise they contribute separate chapters on a roughly 50/50 basis) they spell out their refusal to hide behind the “smokescreen” of conventional language that is “laid down over power relationships and political realities.” Thus the West Bank and Gaza are “Palestine” or “occupied Palestine,” “settlements” are “colonies” and “settlers” are “occupiers,” the “Israeli Defense Forces (IDF)” are “the Israeli military forces,” “terrorists” (invariably Palestinian, of course, in western discourse) are “combatants,” and so forth (16-17).
Despite the authors’ relaxed style which sometimes — particularly in rather stilted stretches of dialogue — seems modeled on popular fiction, this book is not an easy read. There are many vivid descriptions of grisly wounds, sometimes caused by illegal munitions such as Dense Inert Metal Explosive (DIME, 85-7, 118, 140) or white phosphorus (284), and forensic accounts of surgical instruments the very names of which make this reviewer queasy. Furthermore, on almost every second page there are photographs of victims, sometimes during or immediately after surgery.
Ultimately, of course, this meticulous documentation contributes both to the authenticity and to the grinding power of the book. Take the account of “[a]n eight-year-old girl wearing a pink jersey … being treated for a wound on her head.” In the absence of a chair, she is treated standing up, “squashed up against the wall” as is “[t]he doctor who was cleaning her wound …”
Fosse ponders: “What could she be thinking? She was probably terrified. She knew that she had survived this attack, but that she could be hit again. There were no safe havens in Gaza … The family had sought refuge in the UN school, and she had been playing with the other children … when the tank shells hit. What sort of fear and psychological damage does that cause to an eight year old?” (149-150).
This is moving stuff, but its effect is enhanced indescribably by a photograph on the following page showing precisely the scene that has just been described, pink jersey and all.
Reflecting on the possible motives of an Israeli soldier who shot a 53-year-old Palestinian woman in the back “as she was being escorted … to the waiting ambulance which was due to evacuate her to a place of safety,” and speculating on the prospects “for her and for her family’s lifelong rehabilitation,” Gilbert concludes that only “an unequivocal international trial where the responsible political leaders can be held to account for the war crimes in Gaza” will give the wounds a chance to heal (217-8). For, in the words of a Palestinian doctor, “[w]e don’t have 5,400 injured. We have one and a half million injured. Everyone in Gaza is traumatized.”
According to one commentator writing on a site that claims to examine the “anti-Semitism and the anti-Israel lobby in Norway,” the effect of Eyes in Gaza “is to instill in the heart of the reader not only the firm conviction that [Operation] Cast Lead was unjustifiable, but a passionate dedication to the Palestinian cause and a vehement disgust with Israel. In this the authors succeed extremely well” (““Eyes in Gaza” – the politics of emotion,” Norway, Israel and the jews blog, 22 December 2009)
A rave review, you might think. In fact this is a quotation from one of many pieces of venomous defamation to which the two doctors have been subjected since the publication of the book in Norway last year. Within a perspective that sees Israel’s crimes as virtues, the authors’ very success is deemed reprehensible.
Another example comes from Ricki Hollander writing for CAMERA, the self-styled “Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America” which, like most such organizations, aims at the exact opposite of what it announces. In an article called “Norwegian Doctors in Gaza: Objective Observers or Partisan Propagandists?” Hollander tells us that the doctors “entered Gaza … ostensibly to provide medical assistance to Palestinians at Shifa Hospital.”
That “ostensibly” says it all, but Hollander goes on to claim that “Gilbert is a radical Marxist” and “Fosse’s passion to work on behalf of Palestinians was sparked by his time in Lebanon” (during Israel’s murderous assault on that country in 1982), therefore “[g]iven the partisan … perspective they represent, Fosse’s and Gilbert’s testimony must be weighed with extreme caution” (“Norwegian Doctors in Gaza: Objective Observers or Partisan Propagandists?,” 6 January 2009)
Since Eyes in Gaza was written, this testimony has been massively supported by the findings of the UN’s Goldstone Commission. Given that the outburst of very public vilification of Gilbert and Fosse may well have helped their book become a massive best-seller in Norway, one can only hope that the vituperation that will inevitably follow its publication in the Anglosphere will achieve similar blowback.
This is a book that deserves to be widely read. It should be force-fed to those who believe that Israel’s army is “the most moral army in the world,” and to all those western politicians who facilitate the ongoing martyrdom of the Palestinian people.
Raymond Deane is an Irish composer and political activist.
The report of the fact-finding mission of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on the Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla released last week shows conclusively, for the first time, that US citizen Furkan Dogan and five Turkish citizens were murdered execution-style by Israeli commandos.
The report reveals that Dogan, the 19-year-old US citizen of Turkish descent, was filming with a small video camera on the top deck of the Mavi Marmara when he was shot twice in the head, once in the back and in the left leg and foot and that he was shot in the face at point blank range while lying on the ground.
The report says Dogan had apparently been “lying on the deck in a conscious or semi-conscious, state for some time” before being shot in his face.
The forensic evidence that establishes that fact is “tattooing around the wound in his face,” indicating that the shot was “delivered at point blank range.” The report describes the forensic evidence as showing that “the trajectory of the wound, from bottom to top, together with a vital abrasion to the left shoulder that could be consistent with the bullet exit point, is compatible with the shot being received while he was lying on the ground on his back.”
Based on both “forensic and firearm evidence,” the fact-finding panel concluded that Dogan’s killing and that of five Turkish citizens by the Israeli troops on the Mavi Marmari May 31 “can be characterized as extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions.” (See Report [.pdf] Page 38, Section 170)
The report confirmed what the Obama administration already knew from the autopsy report on Dogan, but the administration has remained silent about the killing of Dogan, which could be an extremely difficult political problem for the administration in its relations with Israel.
The Turkish government gave the autopsy report on Dogan to the US Embassy in July and it was then passed on to the Department of Justice, according to a US government source who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the administration’s policy of silence on the matter. The source said the purpose of obtaining the report was to determine whether an investigation of the killing by the Justice Department (DOJ) was appropriate.
Asked by this writer whether the DOJ had received the autopsy report on Dogan, DOJ spokesperson Laura Sweeney refused to comment.
The administration has not volunteered any comment on the fact-finding mission report and was not asked to do so by any news organization. In response to a query from Truthout, a State Department official, who could not speak on the record, read a statement that did not explicitly acknowledge the report’s conclusion about the Israeli executions.
The statement said the fact-finding mission’s report’s “tone and conclusions are unbalanced.” It went on to state, “We urge that this report not be used for actions that could disrupt direct negotiations between Israel and Palestine that are now underway or actions that would make it not possible for Israel and Turkey to move beyond the recent strains in their traditional strong relationship.”
Although the report’s revelations and conclusions about the killing of Dogan and the five other victims were widely reported in the Turkish media last week, not a single story on the report has appeared in US news media.
The administration has made it clear through its inaction and its explicit public posture that it has no intention of pressing the issue of the murder of a US citizen in cold blood by Israeli commandos.
On June 13, two weeks after the Mavi Marmara attack, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs issued a statement saying that Israel “should be allowed to undertake an investigation into events that involve its national security” and that Israel’s military justice system “meets international standards and is capable of conducting a serious and credible investigation.”
Another passenger whom forensic evidence shows was killed execution-style, according to the OHCHR report, is Ibrahim Bilgen, a 60-year-old Turkish citizen. Bilgen is believed by forensics experts to have been shot initially from the helicopter above the Mavi Marmara and then shot in the side of the head while lying seriously wounded.
The fact-finding mission was given forensic evidence that, after the initial shot in chest from above, Bilgen was shot in the head with a “soft baton round at such close proximity that an entire bean bag and its wadding penetrated the skull and lodged in the chest from above,” the mission concluded.
“Soft baton rounds” are supposed to be fired for nonlethal purposes at a distance and aimed only at the stomach, but are lethal when fired at the head, especially from close range.
The forensic evidence cited by the fact-finding mission on the killing of Dogan and five other passengers came from both the autopsy reports and pathology reports done by forensic personnel in Turkey and from interviews with those who wrote the reports. Experts in forensic pathology and firearms assisted the mission in interpreting that forensic evidence.
The account, provided by the OHCHR of the events on board the Mavi Marmara on its way to help break the economic siege of Gaza May 31 of this year, refutes the version of events aggressively pushed by the Israeli military and supports the testimony of passengers on board.
The report suggests that, from the beginning, Israeli policy viewed the Gaza flotilla as an opportunity to use lethal force against pro-Hamas activists. It quotes testimony by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak before the Israeli government’s Turkel Committee that specific orders were given by the Israeli government “to continue intelligence tracking of the flotilla organizers with an emphasis on the possibility that amongst the passengers in the flotilla there were terror elements who would attempt to harm Israeli forces.”
The idea that the passenger list would be seeded with terrorists determined to attack Israeli defense forces appears to have been a ploy to justify treating the operation as likely to require the use of military force against the passengers.
When details of the Israeli plan to forcibly take over the ships in the flotilla were published in the Israeli press on May 30, the passengers on board the Mavi Marmara realized that the Israelis might use deadly force against them. Some leaders of the IHH (the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Aid), which had purchased the ships for the mission, were advocating defending the boat against the Israeli boarding attempt, whereas other passengers advocated nonviolence only.
That led to efforts to create improvised weapons from railings and other equipment on the Mavi Marmara. However, the commission concluded that there was no evidence of any firearms having being taken aboard the ship, as charged by Israel.
The report notes that the Israeli military never communicated a request by radio to inspect the cargo on board any of the ships, apparently contradicting the official justification given by the Israeli government for the military attack on the Mavi Marmara and other ships of preventing any military contraband from reaching Gaza.
According to the OHCHR report, Israeli Chief of General Staff Gabi Ashkenazi testified to the Turkel Committee August 11 that the initial rules of engagement for the operation prohibited live fire except in life-threatening situations, but that that they were later modified to target protesters “deemed to be violent” in response to the resistance by passengers.
That decision apparently followed the passengers’ successful repulsion of an Israeli effort to board the ship from Zodiac boats.
The report confirms that, from the beginning of the operation, passengers were fired on by helicopters flying above the Mavi Marmara to drop commandos on the deck.
Contrary to Israeli claims that one or more Israeli troops were wounded by firearms, the report says no medical evidence of a gunshot wound to an Israeli soldier was found.
The OHCHR report confirms accounts from passengers on the Mavi Marmara that defenders subdued roughly ten Israeli commandos, took their weapons from them and threw them in the sea, except for one weapon hidden as evidence. The Israeli soldiers were briefly sequestered below and some were treated for wounds before being released by the defenders.
The OHCHR fact-finding mission will certainly be the most objective, thorough and in-depth inquiry into the events on board the Mavi Marmara and other ships in the flotilla of the four that have been announced.
The fact-finding mission was chaired by Judge Karl T. Hudson-Phillips, Q.C., retired judge of the International Criminal Court and former attorney general of Trinidad and Tobago, and included Sir Desmond de Silva, Q.C. of the United Kingdom, former chief prosecutor of the United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone and Ms. Mary Shanthi Dairiam of Malaysia, founding member of the board of directors of the International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific.
The mission interviewed 112 eyewitnesses to the Israeli attack in London, Geneva, Istanbul and Amman, Jordan. The Israeli government refused to cooperate with the fact-finding mission by making personnel involved in both planning and carrying out the attack available to be interviewed.
The Turkish government announced its own investigation of the Israeli attack on August 10. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced the formation of a “Panel of Inquiry” on August 2, but its mandate was much more narrowly defined. It was given the mission to “receive and review the reports of the national investigations with the view to recommending ways of avoiding similar incidents in the future.”
- U.S./Israel Axis of Evil
- Why I Dislike Israel
- A Pattern of Abuse Against American Citizens
- Protecting Americans? President Obama’s Shameful Silence in the Face of Israel’s Murder of a Young American
- US Fails to Condemn Israel Raid on Gaza Flotilla Despite UN Findings
- Flotilla Check: Facts and Israeli Lies
- Israeli Raid Coverage
A 20-year-old Palestinian man, Sliman Abu Hanza, is in a critical condition in hospital after being shot in the abdomen with a ‘dum dum’ bullet at a demonstration in Al-Faraheen, Khan Younis, on Sunday.
The injury was inflicted during one of three non-violent demonstrations which took place on Sunday; in Beit Hanoun, Maghazi and Faraheen near Khan Younis – four members of the International Solidarity Movement also attended. The explode-on-impact ‘dum-dum’ bullet which hit Abu Hanza is the same type that was shot into the leg of Ahmed Deeb, 20, during a demonstration in Nahal Oz in April this year – severing his femeral artery and killing him.
All three demonstrations occurred at locations that have seen frequent protests against the Israeli-imposed ‘buffer zone’. This large area of land, along the Gazan side of the border, makes 35% of Gaza’s arable land, inaccessible to farmers because of the dangers of Israeli fire. The devastating effects on farmers and fisherman of these additional restrictions are outlined in a recent United Nations and World Food Programme report: ‘Between the fence and a hard place’.
The protests on Sunday targeted Israel’s continuous settlement building, which is in violation of international law and is further used to annex Palestinian land, a key tactic that accompanies the relentless ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Arabs from the region. Organiser and National Committee Secretary A’tah Abu Zarqa said the rallies were organised to show Palestinians’ vehement opposition to the Israeli policies that have expropriated Palestinian land on a continuous basis since Israel was created in 1948 on the ruins of Palestinian refugees. He said that the international community should never accept Israel’s attempts to unilaterally change the geography and demography of Palestine and that in light of this, Abbas should withdraw from negotiations immediately.
At the demonstrations in the Beit Hanoun and Maghazi, although live ammunition was used by Israeli occupation forces in the latter, there were no reported injuries. The demonstration in Maghazi was the first there since three protesters were shot and injured 5 months ago, including the International Solidarity Movement activist Bianca Zammit.
In Faraheen over 200 people attended the demonstration, which began as a procession towards the border with speeches and chanting, and a large women’s group was also present. A group of young men headed towards the border fence, still on Palestinian land. Sliman and a friend Kamal, also 20, planted flags near the border fence. Kamal described what happened:
“I was with Sliman and we both put a flag near to the fence – just a flag. When the Israel Jeeps came they opened fired on us and I ran back for cover in a ditch. Suddenly I saw Sliman shot in his abdomen. It was clear it was a single shot intended to hit him. I helped carry him back over the fields with many others. He lives in the area near to the border.”
One of the major concerns for Sliman is the fact that he had to be carried over 500 metres across fields by many of the other demonstrators and then driven off in a ‘Tuk Tuk’ bike trailer to reach medical attention. This way of transporting casualties echoed the horrific scenes during the 3 week Israeli assault on Gaza over the New Year of 2009 when over 1400 people were killed including over 400 children. Because the medical services were so overwhelmed – and were often shot at when approaching the injured – many of the casualties were transported in the boots of cars or on donkey carts. A Press TV team captured the protest on film and interviewed ISM activist Adie Mormech about the shooting.
According to the Doctors at Europa hospital where he was taken, Sliman suffered extensive internal damage to his abdomen, 3 injuries to the small bowel, the left iliac vein, rectum and some intestinal damage. He has had a series of operations been given blood transfusions – the next 24 hours are crucial. Like Ahmed Deeb, the immediate threat to his life was from loss of blood sustained from his injuries. When ISM volunteers left the hospital after visiting Sliman yesterday, he was in a critical but stable condition and was about to be moved to the intensive care unit.
Sliman is another victim of the frequent attacks on civilians near to the border, many of which ended in fatalities such as the three farm workers killed in Beit Hanoun two weeks ago, and last Friday the fisherman Mohamed Bakri killed only 2 miles out at sea by an Israeli Gunship, a month before his wedding.
Besides the crippling and internationally condemned siege, Palestinian life in Gaza is littered with such tragedy, lives ended in a flicker in accordance with the whims of the Israeli sniper on duty and who he or she chooses for execution. If Sliman survives his injuries, he’s sure to join the thousands of Palestinians who must continue the rest of their imprisonment in the Gaza ghetto with permanent debilitating disabilities.
Despite this, people continue to demonstrate in large numbers across Gaza, preferring to face Israeli violence with nothing but flags and a desire to walk on their land, despite the risks that this shooting – all too common a story – exemplifies.
If Israel’s stranglehold over U.S. foreign policy is to be broken, Americans will need to be informed about the harm that Washington’s unconditional support for the Jewish state is doing to American interests, say leading analysts of U.S.-Israeli relations.
According to John J. Mearsheimer, co-author of The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, “The only plausible way to weaken the lobby’s influence on U.S. foreign policy is for prominent policymakers and opinion-makers to speak openly about the damage the special relationship is doing to the American national interest.”
“Plenty of people in the United States, especially inside the Beltway, know that Israel is an albatross around America’s neck,” says Mearsheimer, the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago. “But they are afraid to stand up and say that for fear that the lobby will attack them and damage their careers.”
“Hopefully, some of them will develop a backbone,” he adds.
Philip Giraldi, executive director of the Council for the National Interest, believes that Tel Aviv’s stranglehold over Washington can be broken “only by directly challenging the power of the Israel lobby and the false narrative about how it is of value to the United States.”
Giraldi, a contributing editor to The American Conservative, says that “it must be done from the bottom up as Israel cannot be challenged in the mainstream media, Congress, and in the White House.”
“The American people must learn that Israel is and always has been a strategic liability that has done immense damage to the United States and its worldwide interests,” concludes the former CIA officer.
If there is to be an end to Israel’s decades-long “sway over Congress and intimidating presidents,” says Jeffrey Blankfort, a prominent Jewish American critic of Israel and its American lobby, “it will require appeals and actions beginning on a local level that inform the American people not so much about what Israel has done to the Palestinians but what its unregistered agents in the U.S., euphemistically described as ‘lobbyists,’ have done to destroy what little is left of American democracy and the attendant costs in flesh and blood, as well as its tax dollars.”
A long-time pro-Palestinian activist noted for his trenchant critique of Noam Chomsky, Blankfort attributes the failure of such efforts to get off the ground to “the continued unwillingness of the leading figures of the Palestinian solidarity movement in the U.S. to acknowledge the invidious power of the Zionist Lobby,” who, following Chomsky’s anti-imperialist analysis, prefer to “place the primary responsibility for Israel’s crimes and U.S. Middle East policies at Washington’s doorstep.”
“So the first steps,” Blankfort suggests, “may be to publicly challenge these figures while at the same time moving past them and addressing the American people directly.”
No American President will ever have enough latitude to resolve the conflict in Palestine “unless and until enough Americans are informed enough to make their democracy work,” according to Alan Hart, former Middle East Chief Correspondent for Britain’s Independent Television News.
“In other words,” explains Hart, who was also a BBC Panorama presenter specializing in the Middle East, “if President Obama or any of his successors is ever going to be free to confront and defeat the Zionist lobby’s stooges in Congress and the mainstream media, there has got to be created a constituency of understanding about why it is not in America’s own best interests to go on supporting Zionism’s monster child right or wrong.”
The essence of the problem, Hart argues in the three-volume American edition of his book Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews, is that “Americans have been conditioned, brainwashed, to believe a version of history, Zionism’s version, which is a pack of propaganda lies.”
Jeff Gates, former counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, believes that “transparency, accountability and better design” are required to break Israel’s hold on American foreign policy.
“At present, the American public is ignorant of Israel’s all-pervasive influence. Its control includes the media-enabled deployment of fixed intelligence to induce this nation to war for Greater Israel,” says Gates, author of Guilt By Association: How Deception and Self-Deceit Took America to War.
“We will know that accountability is underway when we see federal grand juries convened to consider charges against Israel’s agents, assets and sayanim (volunteers). When a jury brings in the first verdict for treason, Americans will know that the rule of law is being restored. We will know that a solution is within sight when the many appendages of its lobby are required to register as foreign agents.”
GAZA/OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — Israeli occupation authorities are responsible for the deaths of 12 Palestinians since direct peace talks kicked off between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah in early September, the Quds Press reported.
The Gaza Strip saw the majority of killings of Palestinians during the talks. Eight Palestinians were killed there against three others who were killed in Jerusalem and one in the West Bank.
Khaled al-Khatib, 35, Saleem al-Hattab, 20, of the Gaza Strip were killed early Sunday morning, Sept. 5, after Israeli night raids targeting a tunnel on Gaza’s border with Egypt.
An Israeli tank bombed an orchard in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip on Sunday Sept. 12, killing three Palestinians, including Ibrahim Abu Asad, 92, and his grandson Hassam, 17, along with another man in his twenties.
On Sept. 14, the day the second round of peace talks began in the Egyptian resort of Sharm al-Sheikh, an Israeli policeman in Tel Aviv shot and killed 22-year-old Hazem Abu al-Dab’at of Jerusalem while he was handcuffed.
Wajdi al-Qadi, 23, of Rafah city, Gaza Strip was killed Setp.15 after an Israeli warplane shelling of a tunnel on the Egyptian-Palestinian border that destroyed the tunnel and killed Qadi who was a worker inside it.
In the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem, Israeli soldiers assassinated Iyad Shilbaya, 38, a leader in the Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s armed wing, after shooting him in his bed on Sept. 17.
In occupied Jerusalem, an Israeli guard in the Silwan town shot and killed on Wednesday, Sept. 22 Samer Sarhan, 32, and injured a number of others sparking violent protests throughout the holy city.
On Friday Sept. 24, a Palestinian fisherman Mohammed Bakr, 22, from Gaza was shot down by the Israeli navy in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahiya.
A one-and-a-half-year-old infant Mohammed Abu Sarah died the same day in the Isawiya district of Jerusalem after inhaling tear gas Israeli soldiers fired at Palestinians during protests.
An element from Hamas’s armed wing Mahmoud al-Ammarein, 22, died on Sunday Sept. 26 from injuries he sustained less than two weeks back in an Israeli bombing against east Gaza Strip.
Last week on a local call-in show on WOSU, Ohio, NPR ombudsman Alicia Shepard virtually boasted about NPR’s giving into “pro-Israeli” pressure: “NPR is not as much criticized for its Middle East coverage as it was back in 2002, which it was attacked quite strongly by a pro-Israeli group. And that group was in many ways successful, and as a result NPR went back and re-evaluated the coverage and how things are handled and started doing things a little differently….”
One collapse leads to another. I called in and thanked Shepard for her previous stance of asking that reporters describe Israeli colonies–built on stolen land–as violations of International Law, rather than use the Israeli term “disputed.” I told her, though, that reporters continue to say “disputed.” In a flip-flop, Shepard said, “The reason that it would be ‘disputed’ is that Israelis may feel that this is their land, and they got it fair and square during the war, and then the Palestinians would say, No, this land was stolen from them, –so in that sense, it’s ‘disputed’” (10:26).
The arbiter of ethical reporting violated fairness in her about-face: Donating all of Palestine to Israel—Greater Israel accomplished… . No country can legally win land “fair and square [through] war” ….“Disputed” isn’t a disinterested label, but the Israeli government’s…. Israel’s violation of International Law is crucial context listeners deserve. And Shepard herself had bragged that “rich” “context” is “NPR’s signature” of “good journalism.”
So Shepard reversed her answer to me from an April 1 call. At that time she said: “The story about Israel intending to build 1600 housing units in East Jerusalem is a big story. Susie, I’ve brought that up about: ‘Let’s not use the term ‘disputed.’”
I wanted to probe Shepard’s turnabout last week, but WOSU host Ann Fisher again shielded the ombud by putting me on hold, and Shepard shifted from defense to offense: NPR’s job “isn’t to advocate. Maybe you have more of a vested interest or a personal interest in the story,” she told me, “so you listen to it in a way where you’re picking up on a key word.” Exactly. NPR’s job isn’t to advocate Israel’s interest, which it does when it uses Israeli-government terms like “disputed.”
Shepard asserted that “An NPR story may be fair, but it is also in many ways neutral.” Would NPR give equal time to segregationists applauding Bull Connor’s hoses and dogs? Would NPR suppress news of Rev. Martin Luther King and the marches for Civil Rights? Why not? Because to do so would deceive a 1960s audience about liberation from injustice.
Both times I talked with Shepard, she referred to the evaluations made by hired assessor John Felton; but the problem with his reports is precisely that they merely count how many Israeli and Palestinian stories and spokespeople appear. http://www.npr.org/news/specials/mideast/statements/Mideast_Q2_2010.pdf, http://www.npr.org/news/specials/mideast/statements/Mideast_Q4_2009.pdf
Such tallies are easy, and not journalism. Felton neglects the hard work of comparing the assertions to reality: how much land Israelis steal, how many more people they kill and injure than casualties they suffer, how many children’s growth they stunt through malnourishment. The coverage is reduced to the dreadful idea of “competing narratives,” with no referee. Shepard can only proclaim, “bias is in the eye of the beholder,” when NPR discards facts like International Law.
George Orwell warned that “Political language…is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” http://orwell.ru/library/essays/politics/english/e_polit. Orwell’s “The Road to Wigan Pier,” say, doesn’t give equal time to the mine owners, but simply depicts miners’ terrible suffering.
NPR functionaries like Alicia Shepard and Ann Fisher are gatekeepers at the U.S. checkpoints: keeping Americans in ignorance.
Later Gabrielle, another caller to the Ann Fisher, showed how NPR responds to some progressive demands (26:10). First, a compliment about what an admirable job Shepard is doing. Then, the suggestion of a “tiny… constructive criticism” that Fisher supports: removing sexist terms like ombudsman from NPR. Hilariously, Shepard at first brushed off the request. The caller responded that language like “fireman” and “firefighter” limits children’s aspirations. Fisher chimed in. Gabrielle spoke of the subtlety of saying “one man’s x.” Shepard agreed it’s an important topic–“This is something that I do care very much about”–and the disparity of male and female voices is an issue she’s studied.
Then she summed up: “How will we ever move on, if we don’t address it?”
On September 24, 2010 the FBI raided several houses and a couple offices in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Chicago and North Carolina under the guise of looking for proof that the people living in those houses were involved with organizations that “lent material support to terrorists.” Ironically (or perhaps presciently) the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) also released an 88-page document titled The Policing of Political Speech: Constraints on Mass Dissent in the U.S on that day. Not content with criminalizing the representation provided by attorneys to those accused of fomenting terrorism, as in the case of Lynne Stewart, with these raids the Obama administration has stepped up the repression that became quite commonplace under George Bush.
In short, the government is attempting to criminalize the organizing of antiwar protests. Furthermore, it wants to make opposition to the the government’s assistance in repressing struggles for self-determination illegal. Other repressive actions by law enforcement against US citizens, including the sentencing of a videographer to 300 days in jail for trespass after he tried to film an unauthorized talk in Chicago and the acknowledgment by the Pittsburgh FBI office that it had spied on peace activists and used a private agency to help out, makes it clear that the PATRIOT Act and its excesses are alive and well under the Obama administration. Repression is a bipartisan activity, especially when it comes to the repression of the left.
These raids are a clear and vicious attempt to intimidate the antiwar movement. The grand jury is a fishing expedition, as evidenced (for example) by the warrant asking for papers from no determined time. This intimidation is a continuation of the harassment of the Twin Cities left/anarchist community that began before the 2008 Republican National Convention. As I recall, several organizers had their homes and offices raided prior to the convention. In addition, hundreds of protesters were arrested and many more were beaten by law enforcement thugs. Eight organizers were eventually charged with a variety of charges including conspiracy. As of September 25, 2010, three of those charged had all of their charges dropped and the rest face trial on October 25, 2010.
This is not just about the movement in the Twin Cities, however. The September 24 raids also took place in Chicago and North Carolina. There is a grand jury being convened in October 2010 with the intention of perhaps charging some of the people (and maybe others) subpoenaed on September 24. These raids are an attempt by the federal government to criminalize antiwar organizing. They are also an attempt to make support for the Palestinians and other people fighting for self-determination illegal.
The PATRIOT Act was passed on October 26, 2001. Since that passage, the level of law enforcement intimidation and outright repression increased quite dramatically. From little things like protesters being forced to protest in so-called free speech zones or face arrest to the recent approval of the assassination of US citizens by federal death squads, there has been a clear progression away from any concern for protecting civil liberties. Indeed, the concern for civil liberties is usually dismissed by politicians, judges, and other people in power almost as if they were some worthless costume trinkets from grandma’s jewelry box. As mentioned earlier, this harassment and repression is not new to US history. In addition to multiple murders of Black liberation activists, illegal surveillance, false imprisonment and other forms of harassment, the use of grand juries was essential to the repression of the antiwar and anti-racist movements of the 1960s and 1970s. As the NLG document points out, “from 1970-1973, over 100 grand juries in 84 cities subpoenaed over 1,000 activists.” However, nowadays there seems to be less resistance to it. Some of this can be attributed to the lack of press coverage, which is quite possibly intentional. Much of the lack of concern, however, can be attributed to the state of fear so many US residents live in. This is a testimony to the power of the mainstream media and its willingness to serve as the government’s propaganda wing.
To those who argue that the media don’t always support the government and then cite Fox News’ distaste for Obama or a liberal newspaper’s distaste for certain policies enacted under George Bush, let me point something out. Like the two mainstream political parties (and the occasional right wing third party movement like the Tea Party), even when different media outlets seem to be opposing each other, the reality is that none opposes the underlying assumptions demanded by the State. In fact, the only argument seems to be how better to effect the underlying plan of the American empire. The plan itself (or the rightness of the plan) is never seriously questioned.
The September 24, 2010 raids in the Twin Cities, Chicago and North Carolina may not seem like much, even to other antiwar organizers and leftists. The setting up of “free speech zones” may also appear minor. A grand jury fishing for supposed links to “terrorism” by antiwar activists may seem like no big deal. Violations of human rights in cases involving foreign nationals like Aafia Siddiqui (who was sentenced to 86 years after a trial that barely recognized her defense) do not even register on most Americans’ radar. Yet, it is the cumulative effect of all of these efforts at repression that we should be aware of. As James Madison wrote: “I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpation.”
If these seemingly minor encroachments on liberties we assume we have go unchallenged, how long might it be before assassinations and torture by the US military and their mercenary cohorts are carried out on US citizens? Oh wait, that’s already happening.
Ron Jacobs is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground, which is just republished by Verso.