Corbett Report | May 2, 2016
Patrick Henningsen of 21st Century Wire joins us today to discuss his recent article on “Smart Power & The Human Rights Industrial Complex.” Topics discussed include the NGO/State Dept/Pentagon/NATO nexus, the use of human rights as a perception management tool to demonise NATO enemies, and the complicity of the media in reporting these stories uncritically.
SHOW NOTES AND MP3: https://www.corbettreport.com/?p=18581
Yesterday, I noted the special relish the Guardian and Haaretz, erstwhile liberal publications, are taking in savaging the UK Labor Party’s left, in the person of one-time London mayor, Ken Livingstone. Given the hundreds of thousands of words and gallons of ink spilled in the vain effort to turn the Labor left into anti-Semites, the current atmosphere in England strikes me as the Night of the Long Knives, when the SS took its revenge on its enemies within the Nazi movement and solidified its hold on the Party.
Now, the Guardian’s Israel correspondent, Peter Beaumont, has gotten into the act. He’s written an odd article that continues the attack on Livingstone, calling his argument “dubious history.” But it does so from a strange angle. Beaumont reviews one of the major pieces of historical evidence raised by Livingstone in his fateful interview, in which the latter said that “Hitler supported Zionism.” I refer to the Haavara Agreement, by which the Yishuv negotiated the ransom of German Jews in return for the Reich confiscating their property and using it to fuel Germany’s pre-World War II military buildup. Beaumont’s purpose seems to be to both acknowledge the validity of the argument that the Zionists collaborated with the Nazis, while at the same time undercutting it. He calls Livingstone’s invocation of it a “twisted kernel of historical truth.”
In the process, the Guardian reporter engages in petulant schoolmarm tactics like criticizing Livingstone for saying the Agreement was negotiated in 1932, when it was negotiated in 1933; and criticizing Livingstone for saying the Agreement was negotiated between Nazi Germany and “Israel,” when the Yishuv didn’t become Israel until 1948 (it was the Palestinian Mandate before then). These are facts that an expert on Zionist history or a PhD student should know. But given the fact-free zone through which MK anti-Semite Inquisitors like John Mann are floating, I think we can safely cut Livingstone a bit of slack.
Beaumont tries to downgrade the significance of Haavara by saying that it was “deeply controversial,” as if this controversy lets the Yishuv off the moral hook for negotiating it in the first place. Of course it would be justified if Beaumont could show that the Zionist leadership renounced the Agreement or whether key leaders protested against it publicly. But nothing of the sort happened.
There are rumors that one of the key negotiators of Haavara, Chaim Arlosoroff, was assassinated (he was murdered shortly after he returned from a negotiation session with the Nazis) because of his role. But this has never been proven. And even if it had been, the murder was likely committed by rightists Lehi, which itself sought to collaborate with the Nazis.
Beaumont also obscures the historical record by saying Haavara was neogiated ” between Germany and German Zionists.” No, it was an agreement negotiated between the Yishuv and the Nazis. Since I’m not a historian of the period it’s entirely possible German Jews were involved. But eliding Yishuv participation is distorting history in an attempt to lessen its culpability.
Beaumont comes up short historically in this passage as well:
The Haavara agreement was designed to encourage the emigration of Jews from Germany in line with National Socialist policies, but it did not have in mind the foundation of a Jewish state in Palestine, a key tenet of Zionism.
That is something like saying I eat ice cream to provide nourishment to my body, but not for the pleasure of eating it. Of course, eating ice cream provides nourishment. But one important reason for doing so is the pleasure of the eating. So in the case of the Nazis, arguing that the reason they agreed to Haavara had nothing to do with Palestine is simply wrong.
Beaumont continues this false argument with the following: “Hitler wanted neither Jews in Germany nor in their own state.”
The Nazis knew the German Jews who emigrated would go to Palestine. Had they really objected to this, they could have done so as part of the negotiations. They could have forced the Yishuv to permit the Jews to emigrate to other countries in addition to Palestine. But they didn’t. The Nazis knew where these Jews were headed and accepted this. Thus the Nazis did provide support for the “Jewish state in Palestine.”
This certainly wasn’t their primary purpose in doing the deal. But it was a clear and known result of the deal.
None other than SS chief, Reinhard Heydrich wrote this in 1935 (thanks to Shraga Elam for forwarding this historical gem):
“‘National Socialism has no intention of attacking the Jewish people in any way. On the contrary, the recognition of Jewry as a racial community based on blood, and not as a religious one, leads the German government to guarantee the racial separateness of this community without any limitations. The government finds itself in complete agreement with the great spiritual movement within Jewry itself, the so-called Zionism, with its recognition of the solidarity of Jewry throughout the world and the rejection of all assimilationist ideas. On this basis, Germany undertakes measures that will surely play a significant role in the future in the handling of the Jewish problem around the world.’
Göring’s January 24, 1939, note to the Interior Ministry gave Heydrich the authority to determine which parts of the world were the most suitable destinations for Jewish emigrants. The SS had consistently favored Jewish emigration to Palestine and would continue to do so with its enhanced authority in emigration policy.”
This passage is from Francis R. Nicosia, The Third Reich and the Palestine Question, University of Texas Press, Austin, 1985. For further historical evidence on this issue, see Shraga’s terrific culling of sources here.
Let’s introduce another inconvenient piece of historical evidence that rebuts Beaumont’s claims. Writing in 1932, the Palestine Post (predecessor of the Jerusalem Post ) published this piece from the Jewish Forward via the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, in which thugs clad in Nazi uniforms assaulted Jews in the Berlin Underground shouting: “Jews to Palestine!” If the Nazis rejected the legitimacy of Palestine, they could’ve shouted simply: “Jews Out!” or “Jews to America.” But they associated German Jewish emigration with the Jewish homeland, Palestine. So one wonders why it’s so important for Beaumont to argue that the Nazis didn’t recognize the legitimacy of Palestine as a destination for German Jewry.
To buttress his argument, Beaumont introduces the claim that Hitler opposed a state for the Jews:
Indeed, by late 1937 an anti-Nazi German official involved in administering the agreement suggested that fear in Nazi circles that it might lead to a Jewish state, to which Hitler was implacably opposed, was leading to suggestions “it should be terminated.”
I have no doubt that this “anti-Nazi” official exists, but Beaumont neither tells us who he is nor does he offer a source for this claim. So it’s hard to judge anything about it. But here is the unvarnished historical truth: the Nazis pursued a policy of partnership with the Zionist leadership almost until 1939. Eichmann himself visited Palestine on a fact-finding mission studying the success in implementing the Haavara Agreement.
Further, whether or not someone feared Haavara might be terminated, it wasn’t. So the claim that Hitler opposed the creation of a Jewish state is irrelevant. If he did, he never let this opposition prevent him from agreeing to collaborate with that future state’s leadership.
In short, the Yishuv’s position in agreeing to Haavara sacrificed any moral high-ground to the cold, hard calculation of saving Jews who would populate Palestine and aid the leadership in their struggle with the Palestinian Arabs to dominate the demographic landscape there. Haavara was collaboration pure and simple. Of course, there are legitimate reasons the Zionists agreed to it. But in doing so they sacrificed morality and also strengthened the Nazi war machine for its coming battles.
Beaumont also omits another key piece of historical evidence of Zionist collusion with the Nazis. The far-right Irgun, the leading political Opposition to the Yishuv leadership, went even farther than the Yishuv in collaborating with the Nazis. They actually drew up an official plan to fight alongside the Nazis in the War. The Irgun was willing to help the Nazis win the War. It read:
“The establishment of the historical Jewish state on a national and totalitarian basis, and bound by a treaty with the German Reich, would be in the interest of a maintained and strengthened future German position of power in the Near East.
Proceeding from these considerations, the NMO [Irgun] in Palestine, under the condition the above-mentioned national aspirations of the Israeli freedom movement are recognized on the side of the German Reich, offers to actively take part in the war on Germany’s side.”
In effect, Lehi was suing for peace even before the War concluded. It did so in hope of securing Nazi support for the Yishuv and in an attempt to guarantee its survival.
While it is true that Lehi was in the political opposition and not a dominant player in the Yishuv, it still maintained a critical role in Palestinian society. Future prime ministers like Yitzhak Shamir and Menachem Begin were its senior leaders. The descendants of Lehi have been ruling Israel virtually since 1977. So it’s important not to dismiss what it did before World War II as an anomaly or historically insignificant.
Early in 1935, a passenger ship bound for Haifa in Palestine left the German port of Bremerhaven. Its stern bore the Hebrew letters for its name, “Tel Aviv,” while a swastika banner fluttered from the mast. And although the ship was Zionist-owned, its captain was a National Socialist Party member. Many years later a traveler aboard the ship recalled this symbolic combination as a “metaphysical absurdity.”/1 Absurd or not, this is but one vignette from a little-known chapter of history: The wide-ranging collaboration between Zionism and Hitler’s Third Reich.
Over the years, people in many different countries have wrestled with the “Jewish question”: that is, what is the proper role of Jews in non-Jewish society? During the 1930s, Jewish Zionists and German National Socialists shared similar views on how to deal with this perplexing issue. They agreed that Jews and Germans were distinctly different nationalities, and that Jews did not belong in Germany. Jews living in the Reich were therefore to be regarded not as “Germans of the Jewish faith,” but rather as members of a separate national community. Zionism (Jewish nationalism) also implied an obligation by Zionist Jews to resettle in Palestine, the “Jewish homeland.” They could hardly regard themselves as sincere Zionists and simultaneously claim equal rights in Germany or any other “foreign” country.
Theodor Herzl (1860-1904), the founder of modern Zionism, maintained that anti-Semitism is not an aberration, but a natural and completely understandable response by non-Jews to alien Jewish behavior and attitudes. The only solution, he argued, is for Jews to recognize reality and live in a separate state of their own. “The Jewish question exists wherever Jews live in noticeable numbers,” he wrote in his most influential work, The Jewish State. “Where it does not exist, it is brought in by arriving Jews … I believe I understand anti-Semitism, which is a very complex phenomenon. I consider this development as a Jew, without hate or fear.” The Jewish question, he maintained, is not social or religious. “It is a national question. To solve it we must, above all, make it an international political issue …” Regardless of their citizenship, Herzl insisted, Jews constitute not merely a religious community, but a nationality, a people, a Volk. /2 Zionism, wrote Herzl, offered the world a welcome “final solution of the Jewish question.”/3
Six months after Hitler came to power, the Zionist Federation of Germany (by far the largest Zionist group in the country) submitted a detailed memorandum to the new government that reviewed German-Jewish relations and formally offered Zionist support in “solving” the vexing “Jewish question.” The first step, it suggested, had to be a frank recognition of fundamental national differences: /4
Zionism has no illusions about the difficulty of the Jewish condition, which consists above all in an abnormal occupational pattern and in the fault of an intellectual and moral posture not rooted in one’s own tradition. Zionism recognized decades ago that as a result of the assimilationist trend, symptoms of deterioration were bound to appear …
Zionism believes that the rebirth of the national life of a people, which is now occurring in Germany through the emphasis on its Christian and national character, must also come about in the Jewish national group. For the Jewish people, too, national origin, religion, common destiny and a sense of its uniqueness must be of decisive importance in the shaping of its existence. This means that the egotistical individualism of the liberal era must be overcome and replaced with a sense of community and collective responsibility …
We believe it is precisely the new [National Socialist] Germany that can, through bold resoluteness in the handling of the Jewish question, take a decisive step toward overcoming a problem which, in truth, will have to be dealt with by most European peoples …
Our acknowledgment of Jewish nationality provides for a clear and sincere relationship to the German people and its national and racial realities. Precisely because we do not wish to falsify these fundamentals, because we, too, are against mixed marriage and are for maintaining the purity of the Jewish group and reject any trespasses in the cultural domain, we — having been brought up in the German language and German culture — can show an interest in the works and values of German culture with admiration and internal sympathy …
For its practical aims, Zionism hopes to be able to win the collaboration of even a government fundamentally hostile to Jews, because in dealing with the Jewish question not sentimentalities are involved but a real problem whose solution interests all peoples and at the present moment especially the German people …
Boycott propaganda — such as is currently being carried on against Germany in many ways — is in essence un-Zionist, because Zionism wants not to do battle but to convince and to build …
We are not blind to the fact that a Jewish question exists and will continue to exist. From the abnormal situation of the Jews severe disadvantages result for them, but also scarcely tolerable conditions for other peoples.
The Federation’s paper, the Jüdische Rundschau (“Jewish Review”), proclaimed the same message: “Zionism recognizes the existence of a Jewish problem and desires a far-reaching and constructive solution. For this purpose Zionism wishes to obtain the assistance of all peoples, whether pro- or anti-Jewish, because, in its view, we are dealing here with a concrete rather than a sentimental problem, the solution of which all peoples are interested.”/5 A young Berlin rabbi, Joachim Prinz, who later settled in the United States and became head of the American Jewish Congress, wrote in his 1934 book, Wir Juden (“We Jews”), that the National Socialist revolution in Germany meant “Jewry for the Jews.” He explained: “No subterfuge can save us now. In place of assimilation we desire a new concept: recognition of the Jewish nation and Jewish race.” /6
On this basis of their similar ideologies about ethnicity and nationhood, National Socialists and Zionists worked together for what each group believed was in its own national interest. As a result, the Hitler government vigorously supported Zionism and Jewish emigration to Palestine from 1933 until 1940-1941, when the Second World War prevented extensive collaboration.
Even as the Third Reich became more entrenched, many German Jews, probably a majority, continued to regard themselves, often with considerable pride, as Germans first. Few were enthusiastic about pulling up roots to begin a new life in far-away Palestine. Nevertheless, more and more German Jews turned to Zionism during this period. Until late 1938, the Zionist movement flourished in Germany under Hitler. The circulation of the Zionist Federation’s bi-weekly Jüdische Rundschau grew enormously. Numerous Zionist books were published. “Zionist work was in full swing” in Germany during those years, the Encyclopaedia Judaica notes. A Zionist convention held in Berlin in 1936 reflected “in its composition the vigorous party life of German Zionists.”/7
The SS was particularly enthusiastic in its support for Zionism. An internal June 1934 SS position paper urged active and wide-ranging support for Zionism by the government and the Party as the best way to encourage emigration of Germany’s Jews to Palestine. This would require increased Jewish self-awareness. Jewish schools, Jewish sports leagues, Jewish cultural organizations — in short, everything that would encourage this new consciousness and self-awareness – should be promoted, the paper recommended. /8
SS officer Leopold von Mildenstein and Zionist Federation official Kurt Tuchler toured Palestine together for six months to assess Zionist development there. Based on his firsthand observations, von Mildenstein wrote a series of twelve illustrated articles for the important Berlin daily Der Angriff that appeared in late 1934 under the heading “A Nazi Travels to Palestine.” The series expressed great admiration for the pioneering spirit and achievements of the Jewish settlers. Zionist self-development, von Mildenstein wrote, had produced a new kind of Jew. He praised Zionism as a great benefit for both the Jewish people and the entire world. A Jewish homeland in Palestine, he wrote in his concluding article, “pointed the way to curing a centuries-long wound on the body of the world: the Jewish question.” Der Angriff issued a special medal, with a Swastika on one side and a Star of David on the other, to commemorate the joint SS-Zionist visit. A few months after the articles appeared, von Mildenstein was promoted to head the Jewish affairs department of the SS security service in order to support Zionist migration and development more effectively. /9
The official SS newspaper, Das Schwarze Korps, proclaimed its support for Zionism in a May 1935 front-page editorial: “The time may not be too far off when Palestine will again be able to receive its sons who have been lost to it for more than a thousand years. Our good wishes, together with official goodwill, go with them.”/10 Four months later, a similar article appeared in the SS paper: /11
The recognition of Jewry as a racial community based on blood and not on religion leads the German government to guarantee without reservation the racial separateness of this community. The government finds itself in complete agreement with the great spiritual movement within Jewry, the so-called Zionism, with its recognition of the solidarity of Jewry around the world and its rejection of all assimilationist notions. On this basis, Germany undertakes measures that will surely play a significant role in the future in the handling of the Jewish problem around the world.
A leading German shipping line began direct passenger liner service from Hamburg to Haifa, Palestine, in October 1933 providing “strictly kosher food on its ships, under the supervision of the Hamburg rabbinate.” /12
With official backing, Zionists worked tirelessly to “reeducate” Germany’s Jews. As American historian Francis Nicosia put it in his 1985 survey, The Third Reich and the Palestine Question: “Zionists were encouraged to take their message to the Jewish community, to collect money, to show films on Palestine and generally to educate German Jews about Palestine. There was considerable pressure to teach Jews in Germany to cease identifying themselves as Germans and to awaken a new Jewish national identity in them.” /13
In an interview after the war, the former head of the Zionist Federation of Germany, Dr. Hans Friedenthal, summed up the situation: “The Gestapo did everything in those days to promote emigration, particularly to Palestine. We often received their help when we required anything from other authorities regarding preparations for emigration.” /14
At the September 1935 National Socialist Party Congress, the Reichstag adopted the so-called “Nuremberg laws” that prohibited marriages and sexual relations between Jews and Germans and, in effect, proclaimed the Jews an alien minority nationality. A few days later the Zionist Jüdische Rundschau editorially welcomed the new measures: /15
Germany … is meeting the demands of the World Zionist Congress when it declares the Jews now living in Germany to be a national minority. Once the Jews have been stamped a national minority it is again possible to establish normal relations between the German nation and Jewry. The new laws give the Jewish minority in Germany its own cultural life, its own national life. In future it will be able to shape its own schools, its own theatre, and its own sports associations. In short, it can create its own future in all aspects of national life …
Germany has given the Jewish minority the opportunity to live for itself, and is offering state protection for this separate life of the Jewish minority: Jewry’s process of growth into a nation will thereby be encouraged and a contribution will be made to the establishment of more tolerable relations between the two nations.
Georg Kareski, the head of both the “Revisionist” Zionist State Organization and the Jewish Cultural League, and former head of the Berlin Jewish Community, declared in an interview with the Berlin daily Der Angriff at the end of 1935: /16
For many years I have regarded a complete separation of the cultural affairs of the two peoples [Jews and Germans] as a pre-condition for living together without conflict… I have long supported such a separation, provided it is founded on respect for the alien nationality. The Nuremberg Laws … seem to me, apart from their legal provisions, to conform entirely with this desire for a separate life based on mutual respect… This interruption of the process of dissolution in many Jewish communities, which had been promoted through mixed marriages, is therefore, from a Jewish point of view, entirely welcome.
Zionist leaders in other countries echoed these views. Stephen S. Wise, president of the American Jewish Congress and the World Jewish Congress, told a New York rally in June 1938: “I am not an American citizen of the Jewish faith, I am a Jew… Hitler was right in one thing. He calls the Jewish people a race and we are a race.” /17
The Interior Ministry’s Jewish affairs specialist, Dr. Bernhard Lösener, expressed support for Zionism in an article that appeared in a November 1935 issue of the official Reichsverwaltungsblatt : /18
If the Jews already had their own state in which the majority of them were settled, then the Jewish question could be regarded as completely resolved today, also for the Jews themselves. The least amount of opposition to the ideas underlying the Nuremberg Laws have been shown by the Zionists, because they realize at once that these laws represent the only correct solution for the Jewish people as well. For each nation must have its own state as the outward expression of its particular nationhood.
In cooperation with the German authorities, Zionist groups organized a network of some forty camps and agricultural centers throughout Germany where prospective settlers were trained for their new lives in Palestine. Although the Nuremberg Laws forbid Jews from displaying the German flag, Jews were specifically guaranteed the right to display the blue and white Jewish national banner. The flag that would one day be adopted by Israel was flown at the Zionist camps and centers in Hitler’s Germany. /19
Himmler’s security service cooperated with the Haganah, the Zionist underground military organization in Palestine. The SS agency paid Haganah official Feivel Polkes for information about the situation in Palestine and for help in directing Jewish emigration to that country. Meanwhile, the Haganah was kept well informed about German plans by a spy it managed to plant in the Berlin headquarters of the SS. /20 Haganah-SS collaboration even included secret deliveries of German weapons to Jewish settlers for use in clashes with Palestinian Arabs. /21
In the aftermath of the November 1938 “Kristallnacht” outburst of violence and destruction, the SS quickly helped the Zionist organization to get back on its feet and continue its work in Germany, although now under more restricted supervision. /22
German support for Zionism was not unlimited. Government and Party officials were very mindful of the continuing campaign by powerful Jewish communities in the United States, Britain and other countries to mobilize “their” governments and fellow citizens against Germany. As long as world Jewry remained implacably hostile toward National Socialist Germany, and as long as the great majority of Jews around the world showed little eagerness to resettle in the Zionist “promised land,” a sovereign Jewish state in Palestine would not really “solve” the international Jewish question. Instead, German officials reasoned, it would immeasurably strengthen this dangerous anti-German campaign. German backing for Zionism was therefore limited to support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine under British control, not a sovereign Jewish state. /23
A Jewish state in Palestine, the Foreign Minister informed diplomats in June 1937, would not be in Germany’s interest because it would not be able to absorb all Jews around the world, but would only serve as an additional power base for international Jewry, in much the same way as Moscow served as a base for international Communism. /24 Reflecting something of a shift in official policy, the German press expressed much greater sympathy in 1937 for Palestinian Arab resistance to Zionist ambitions, at a time when tension and conflict between Jews and Arabs in Palestine was sharply increasing. /25
A Foreign Office circular bulletin of June 22, 1937, cautioned that in spite of support for Jewish settlement in Palestine, “it would nevertheless be a mistake to assume that Germany supports the formation of a state structure in Palestine under some form of Jewish control. In view of the anti-German agitation of international Jewry, Germany cannot agree that the formation of a Palestine Jewish state would help the peaceful development of the nations of the world.”/26 “The proclamation of a Jewish state or a Jewish-administrated Palestine,” warned an internal memorandum by the Jewish affairs section of the SS, “would create for Germany a new enemy, one that would have a deep influence on developments in the Near East.” Another SS agency predicted that a Jewish state “would work to bring special minority protection to Jews in every country, therefore giving legal protection to the exploitation activity of world Jewry.”/27 In January 1939, Hitler’s new Foreign Minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, likewise warned in another circular bulletin that “Germany must regard the formation of a Jewish state as dangerous” because it “would bring an international increase in power to world Jewry.” /28
Hitler himself personally reviewed this entire issue in early 1938 and, in spite of his long-standing skepticism of Zionist ambitions and misgivings that his policies might contribute to the formation of a Jewish state, decided to support Jewish migration to Palestine even more vigorously. The prospect of ridding Germany of its Jews, he concluded, outweighed the possible dangers. /29
Meanwhile, the British government imposed ever more drastic restrictions on Jewish immigration into Palestine in 1937, 1938 and 1939. In response, the SS security service concluded a secret alliance with the clandestine Zionist agency Mossad le-Aliya Bet to smuggle Jews illegally into Palestine. As a result of this intensive collaboration, several convoys of ships succeeded in reaching Palestine past British gunboats. Jewish migration, both legal and illegal, from Germany (including Austria) to Palestine increased dramatically in 1938 and 1939. Another 10,000 Jews were scheduled to depart in October 1939, but the outbreak of war in September brought the effort to an end. All the same, German authorities continued to promote indirect Jewish emigration to Palestine during 1940 and 1941. /30 Even as late as March 1942, at least one officially authorized Zionist “kibbutz” training camp for potential emigrants continued to operate in Hitler’s Germany. /31
The Transfer Agreement
The centerpiece of German-Zionist cooperation during the Hitler era was the Transfer Agreement, a pact that enabled tens of thousands of German Jews to migrate to Palestine with their wealth. The Agreement, also known as the Haavara (Hebrew for “transfer”), was concluded in August 1933 following talks between German officials and Chaim Arlosoroff, Political Secretary of the Jewish Agency, the Palestine center of the World Zionist Organization. /32
Through this unusual arrangement, each Jew bound for Palestine deposited money in a special account in Germany. The money was used to purchase German-made agricultural tools, building materials, pumps, fertilizer, and so forth, which were exported to Palestine and sold there by the Jewish-owned Haavara company in Tel-Aviv. Money from the sales was given to the Jewish emigrant upon his arrival in Palestine in an amount corresponding to his deposit in Germany. German goods poured into Palestine through the Haavara, which was supplemented a short time later with a barter agreement by which Palestine oranges were exchanged for German timber, automobiles, agricultural machinery, and other goods. The Agreement thus served the Zionist aim of bringing Jewish settlers and development capital to Palestine, while simultaneously serving the German goal of freeing the country of an unwanted alien group.
Delegates at the 1933 Zionist Congress in Prague vigorously debated the merits of the Agreement. Some feared that the pact would undermine the international Jewish economic boycott against Germany. But Zionist officials reassured the Congress. Sam Cohen, a key figure behind the Haavara arrangement, stressed that the Agreement was not economically advantageous to Germany. Arthur Ruppin, a Zionist Organization emigration specialist who had helped negotiate the pact, pointed out that “the Transfer Agreement in no way interfered with the boycott movement, since no new currency will flow into Germany as a result of the agreement…” /33 The 1935 Zionist Congress, meeting in Switzerland, overwhelmingly endorsed the pact. In 1936, the Jewish Agency (the Zionist “shadow government” in Palestine) took over direct control of the Ha’avara, which remained in effect until the Second World War forced its abandonment.
Some German officials opposed the arrangement. Germany’s Consul General in Jerusalem, Hans Döhle, for example, sharply criticized the Agreement on several occasions during 1937. He pointed out that it cost Germany the foreign exchange that the products exported to Palestine through the pact would bring if sold elsewhere. The Haavara monopoly sale of German goods to Palestine through a Jewish agency naturally angered German businessmen and Arabs there. Official German support for Zionism could lead to a loss of German markets throughout the Arab world. The British government also resented the arrangement. /34 A June 1937 German Foreign Office internal bulletin referred to the “foreign exchange sacrifices” that resulted from the Haavara. 3/5
A December 1937 internal memorandum by the German Interior Ministry reviewed the impact of the Transfer Agreement: “There is no doubt that the Haavara arrangement has contributed most significantly to the very rapid development of Palestine since 1933. The Agreement provided not only the largest source of money (from Germany!), but also the most intelligent group of immigrants, and finally it brought to the country the machines and industrial products essential for development.” The main advantage of the pact, the memo reported, was the emigration of large numbers of Jews to Palestine, the most desirable target country as far as Germany was concerned. But the paper also noted the important drawbacks pointed out by Consul Döhle and others. The Interior Minister, it went on, had concluded that the disadvantages of the agreement now outweighed the advantages and that, therefore, it should be terminated. /36
Only one man could resolve the controversy. Hitler personally reviewed the policy in July and September 1937, and again in January 1938, and each time decided to maintain the Haavara arrangement. The goal of removing Jews from Germany, he concluded, justified the drawbacks. /37
The Reich Economics Ministry helped to organize another transfer company, the International Trade and Investment Agency, or Intria, through which Jews in foreign countries could help German Jews emigrate to Palestine. Almost $900,000 was eventually channeled through the Intria to German Jews in Palestine. /38 Other European countries eager to encourage Jewish emigration concluded agreements with the Zionists modeled after the Ha’avara. In 1937 Poland authorized the Halifin (Hebrew for “exchange”) transfer company. By late summer 1939, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Hungary and Italy had signed similar arrangements. The outbreak of war in September 1939, however, prevented large-scale implementation of these agreements. /39
Achievements of Haavara
Between 1933 and 1941, some 60,000 German Jews emigrated to Palestine through the Ha’avara and other German-Zionist arrangements, or about ten percent of Germany’s 1933 Jewish population. (These German Jews made up about 15 percent of Palestine’s 1939 Jewish population.) Some Ha’avara emigrants transferred considerable personal wealth from Germany to Palestine. As Jewish historian Edwin Black has noted: “Many of these people, especially in the late 1930s, were allowed to transfer actual replicas of their homes and factories — indeed rough replicas of their very existence.”/40
The total amount transferred from Germany to Palestine through the Ha’avara between August 1933 and the end of 1939 was 8.1 million pounds or 139.57 million German marks (then equivalent to more than $40 million). This amount included 33.9 million German marks ($13.8 million) provided by the Reichsbank in connection with the Agreement. /41
Historian Black has estimated that an additional $70 million may have flowed into Palestine through corollary German commercial agreements and special international banking transactions. The German funds had a major impact on a country as underdeveloped as Palestine was in the 1930s, he pointed out. Several major industrial enterprises were built with the capital from Germany, including the Mekoroth waterworks and the Lodzia textile firm. The influx of Ha’avara goods and capital, concluded Black, “produced an economic explosion in Jewish Palestine” and was “an indispensable factor in the creation of the State of Israel.”/42
The Ha’avara agreement greatly contributed to Jewish development in Palestine and thus, indirectly, to the foundation of the Israeli state. A January 1939 German Foreign Office circular bulletin reported, with some misgiving, that “the transfer of Jewish property out of Germany [through the Ha’avara agreement] contributed to no small extent to the building of a Jewish state in Palestine.”/43
Former officials of the Ha’avara company in Palestine confirmed this view in a detailed study of the Transfer Agreement published in 1972: “The economic activity made possible by the influx German capital and the Haavara transfers to the private and public sectors were of greatest importance for the country’s development. Many new industries and commercial enterprises were established in Jewish Palestine, and numerous companies that are enormously important even today in the economy of the State of Israel owe their existence to the Haavara.”/44 Dr. Ludwig Pinner, a Ha’avara company official in Tel Aviv during the 1930s, later commented that the exceptionally competent Ha’avara immigrants “decisively contributed” to the economic, social, cultural and educational development of Palestine’s Jewish community. /45
The Transfer Agreement was the most far-reaching example of cooperation between Hitler’s Germany and international Zionism. Through this pact, Hitler’s Third Reich did more than any other government during the 1930s to support Jewish development in Palestine.
Zionists Offer a Military Alliance With Hitler
In early January 1941 a small but important Zionist organization submitted a formal proposal to German diplomats in Beirut for a military-political alliance with wartime Germany. The offer was made by the radical underground “Fighters for the Freedom of Israel,” better known as the Lehi or Stern Gang. Its leader, Avraham Stern, had recently broken with the radical nationalist “National Military Organization” (Irgun Zvai Leumi) over the group’s attitude toward Britain, which had effectively banned further Jewish settlement of Palestine. Stern regarded Britain as the main enemy of Zionism.
This remarkable Zionist proposal “for the solution of the Jewish question in Europe and the active participation of the NMO [Lehi] in the war on the side of Germany” is worth quoting at some length: /46
In their speeches and statements, the leading statesmen of National Socialist Germany have often emphasized that a New Order in Europe requires as a prerequisite a radical solution of the Jewish question by evacuation. (“Jew-free Europe”)
The evacuation of the Jewish masses from Europe is a precondition for solving the Jewish question. However, the only way this can be totally achieved is through settlement of these masses in the homeland of the Jewish people, Palestine, and by the establishment of a Jewish state in its historical boundaries.
The goal of the political activity and the years of struggle by the Israel Freedom Movement, the National Military Organization in Palestine (Irgun Zvai Leumi), is to solve the Jewish problem in this way and thus completely liberate the Jewish people forever.
The NMO, which is very familiar with the good will of the German Reich government and its officials towards Zionist activities within Germany and the Zionist emigration program, takes that view that:
1. Common interests can exist between a European New Order based on the German concept and the true national aspirations of the Jewish people as embodied by the NMO.
2. Cooperation is possible between the New Germany and a renewed, folkish-national Jewry [Hebräertum].
3. The establishment of the historical Jewish state on a national and totalitarian basis, and bound by treaty with the German Reich, would be in the interest of maintaining and strengthening the future German position of power in the Near East.
On the basis of these considerations, and upon the condition that the German Reich government recognize the national aspirations of the Israel Freedom Movement mentioned above, the NMO in Palestine offers to actively take part in the war on the side of Germany.
This offer by the NMO could include military, political and informational activity within Palestine and, after certain organizational measures, outside as well. Along with this the Jewish men of Europe would be militarily trained and organized in military units under the leadership and command of the NMO. They would take part in combat operations for the purpose of conquering Palestine, should such a front by formed.
The indirect participation of the Israel Freedom Movement in the New Order of Europe, already in the preparatory stage, combined with a positive-radical solution of the European Jewish problem on the basis of the national aspirations of the Jewish people mentioned above, would greatly strengthen the moral foundation of the New Order in the eyes of all humanity.
The cooperation of the Israel Freedom Movement would also be consistent with a recent speech by the German Reich Chancellor, in which Hitler stressed that he would utilize any combination and coalition in order to isolate and defeat England.
There is no record of any German response. Acceptance was very unlikely anyway because by this time German policy was decisively pro-Arab. /47 Remarkably, Stern’s group sought to conclude a pact with the Third Reich at a time when stories that Hitler was bent on exterminating Jews were already in wide circulation. Stern apparently either did not believe the stories or he was willing to collaborate with the mortal enemy of his people to help bring about a Jewish state. /48
An important Lehi member at the time the group made this offer was Yitzhak Shamir, who later served as Israel’s Foreign Minister and then, during much of the 1980s and until June 1992, as Prime Minister. As Lehi operations chief following Stern’s death in 1942, Shamir organized numerous acts of terror, including the November 1944 assassination of British Middle East Minister Lord Moyne and the September 1948 slaying of Swedish United Nations mediator Count Bernadotte. Years later, when Shamir was asked about the 1941 offer, he confirmed that he was aware of his organization’s proposed alliance with wartime Germany. /49
In spite of the basic hostility between the Hitler regime and international Jewry, for several years Jewish Zionist and German National Socialist interests coincided. In collaborating with the Zionists for a mutually desirable and humane solution to a complex problem, the Third Reich was willing to make foreign exchange sacrifices, impair relations with Britain and anger the Arabs. Indeed, during the 1930s no nation did more to substantively further Jewish-Zionist goals than Hitler’s Germany.
1. W. Martini, “Hebräisch unterm Hakenkreuz,” Die Welt (Hamburg), Jan. 10, 1975. Cited in: Klaus Polken, “The Secret Contacts: Zionism and Nazi Germany, 1933-1941,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Spring-Summer 1976, p. 65.
2. Quoted in: Ingrid Weckert, Feuerzeichen: Die “Reichskristallnacht” (Tübingen: Grabert, 1981), p. 212. See also: Th. Herzl, The Jewish State (New York: Herzl Press, 1970), pp. 33, 35, 36, and, Edwin Black, The Transfer Agreement (New York: Macmillan, 1984), p. 73.
3. Th. Herzl, “Der Kongress,” Welt, June 4, 1897. Reprinted in: Theodor Herzls zionistische Schriften (Leon Kellner, ed.), erster Teil, Berlin: Jüdischer Verlag, 1920, p. 190 (and p. 139).
4. Memo of June 21, 1933, in: L. Dawidowicz, A Holocaust Reader (New York: Behrman, 1976), pp. 150-155, and (in part) in: Francis R. Nicosia, The Third Reich and the Palestine Question (Austin: Univ. of Texas, 1985), p. 42.; On Zionism in Germany before Hitler’s assumption of power, see: Donald L. Niewyk, The Jews in Weimar Germany (Baton Rouge: 1980), pp. 94-95, 126-131, 140-143.; F. Nicosia, Third Reich (Austin: 1985), pp. 1-15.
5. Jüdische Rundschau (Berlin), June 13, 1933. Quoted in: Heinz Höhne, The Order of the Death’s Head (New York: Ballantine, pb., 1971, 1984), pp. 376-377.
6. Heinz Höhne, The Order of the Death’s Head (Ballantine, 1971, 1984), p. 376.
7. “Berlin,” Encyclopaedia Judaica (New York and Jerusalem: 1971), Vol. 5, p. 648. For a look at one aspect of this “vigorous life,” see: J.-C. Horak, “Zionist Film Propaganda in Nazi Germany,” Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Vol. 4, No. 1, 1984, pp. 49-58.
8. Francis R. Nicosia, The Third Reich and the Palestine Question (1985), pp. 54-55.; Karl A. Schleunes, The Twisted Road to Auschwitz (Urbana: Univ. of Illinois, 1970, 1990), pp. 178-181.
9. Jacob Boas, “A Nazi Travels to Palestine,” History Today (London), January 1980, pp. 33-38.
10. Facsimile reprint of front page of Das Schwarze Korps, May 15, 1935, in: Janusz Piekalkiewicz, Israels Langer Arm (Frankfurt: Goverts, 1975), pp. 66-67. Also quoted in: Heinz Höhne, The Order of the Death’s Head (Ballantine, 1971, 1984), p. 377. See also: Erich Kern, ed., Verheimlichte Dokumente (Munich: FZ-Verlag, 1988), p. 184.
11. as Schwarze Korps, Sept. 26, 1935. Quoted in: F. Nicosia, The Third Reich and the Palestine Question (1985), pp. 56-57.
12. Lenni Brenner, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators (1983), p. 83.
13. F. Nicosia, The Third Reich and the Palestine Question (1985), p. 60. See also: F. Nicosia, “The Yishuv and the Holocaust,” The Journal of Modern History (Chicago), Vol. 64, No. 3, Sept. 1992, pp. 533-540.
14. F. Nicosia, The Third Reich and the Palestine Question (1985), p. 57.
15. Jüdische Rundschau, Sept. 17, 1935. Quoted in: Yitzhak Arad, with Y. Gutman and A. Margaliot, eds., Documents on the Holocaust (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1981), pp. 82-83.
16. Der Angriff, Dec. 23, 1935, in: E. Kern, ed., Verheimlichte Dokumente (Munich: 1988), p. 148.; F. Nicosia, Third Reich (1985), p. 56.; L. Brenner, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators (1983), p. 138.; A. Margaliot, “The Reaction…,” ad Vashem Studies (Jerusalem), vol. 12, 1977, pp. 90-91.; On Kareski’s remarkable career, see: H. Levine, “A Jewish Collaborator in Nazi Germany,” Central European History (Atlanta), Sept. 1975, pp. 251-281.
17. “Dr. Wise Urges Jews to Declare Selves as Such,” New York Herald Tribune, June 13, 1938, p. 12.
18. F. Nicosia, The Third Reich (1985), p. 53.
19. Lucy Dawidowicz, The War Against the Jews, 1933-1945 (New York: Bantam, pb., 1976), pp. 253-254.; Max Nussbaum, “Zionism Under Hitler,” Congress Weekly (New York: American Jewish Congress), Sept. 11, 1942.; F. Nicosia, The Third Reich (1985), pp. 58-60, 217.; Edwin Black, The Transfer Agreement (1984), p. 175.
20. H. Höhne, The Order of the Death’s Head (Ballantine, pb., 1984), pp. 380-382.; K. Schleunes, Twisted Road (1970, 1990), p. 226.; Secret internal SS intelligence report about F. Polkes, June 17, 1937, in: John Mendelsohn, ed., The Holocaust (New York: Garland, 1982), vol. 5, pp. 62-64.
21. F. Nicosia, Third Reich (1985), pp. 63-64, 105, 219-220.
22. F. Nicosia, Third Reich (1985), p. 160.
23. This distinction is also implicit in the “Balfour Declaration” of November 1917, in which the British government expressed support for “a national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, while carefully avoiding any mention of a Jewish state. Referring to the majority Arab population there, the Declaration went on to caution, “…it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.” The complete text of the Declaration is reproduced in facsimile in: Robert John, Behind the Balfour Declaration (IHR, 1988), p. 32.
24. F. Nicosia, Third Reich (1985), p. 121.
25. F. Nicosia, Third Reich (1985), p. 124.
26. David Yisraeli, The Palestine Problem in German Politics 1889-1945 (Bar-Ilan University, Israel, 1974), p. 300.; Also in: Documents on German Foreign Policy, Series D, Vol. 5. Doc. No. 564 or 567.
27. K. Schleunes, The Twisted Road (1970, 1990), p. 209.
28. Circular of January 25, 1939. Nuremberg document 3358-PS. International Military Tribunal, Trial of the Major War Criminals Before the International Military Tribunal (Nuremberg: 1947-1949), vol. 32, pp. 242-243. Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression (Washington, DC: 1946-1948), vol. 6, pp. 92-93.
29. F. Nicosia, Third Reich (1985), pp. 141-144.; On Hitler’s critical view of Zionism in Mein Kampf, see esp. Vol. 1, Chap. 11. Quoted in: Robert Wistrich, Hitler’s Apocalypse (London: 1985), p. 155.; See also: F. Nicosia, Third Reich (1985), pp. 26-28.; Hitler told his army adjutant in 1939 and again in 1941 that he had asked the British in 1937 about transferring all of Germany’s Jews to Palestine or Egypt. The British rejected the proposal, he said, because it would cause further disorder. See: H. v. Kotze, ed., Heeresadjutant bei Hitler (Stuttgart: 1974), pp. 65, 95.
30. F. Nicosia, Third Reich (1985), pp. 156, 160-164, 166-167.; H. Höhne, The Order of the Death’s Head (Ballantine, pb., 1984), pp. 392-394.; Jon and David Kimche, The Secret Roads (London: Secker and Warburg, 1955), pp. 39-43. See also: David Yisraeli, “The Third Reich and Palestine,” Middle Eastern Studies, October 1971, p. 347.; Bernard Wasserstein, Britain and the Jews of Europe, 1939-1945 (1979), pp. 43, 49, 52, 60.; T. Kelly, “Man who fooled Nazis,” Washington Times, April 28, 1987, pp. 1B, 4B. Based on interview with Willy Perl, author of The Holocaust Conspiracy.
31. Y. Arad, et al., eds., Documents On the Holocaust (1981), p. 155. (The training kibbutz was at Neuendorf, and may have functioned even after March 1942.)
32. On the Agreement in general, see: Werner Feilchenfeld, et al., Haavara-Transfer nach Palaestina (Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 1972).; David Yisraeli, “The Third Reich and the Transfer Agreement,” Journal of Contemporary History (London), No. 2, 1971, pp. 129-148.; “Haavara,” Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971), vol. 7, pp. 1012-1013.; F. Nicosia, The Third Reich and the Palestine Question (Austin: 1985), pp. 44-49.; Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews (New York: Holmes and Meier, 1985), pp. 140-141.; The Transfer Agreement, by Edwin Black, is detailed and useful. However, it contains numerous inaccuracies and wildly erroneous conclusions. See, for example, the review by Richard S. Levy in Commentary, Sept. 1984, pp. 68-71.
33. E. Black, The Transfer Agreement (1984), pp. 328, 337.
34. On opposition to the Haavara in official German circles, see: W. Feilchenfeld, et al., Haavara-Transfer nach Palaestina (1972), pp. 31-33.; D. Yisraeli, “The Third Reich,” Journal of Contemporary History, 1971, pp. 136-139.; F. Nicosia, The Third Reich and the Palestine Question, pp. 126-139.; I. Weckert, Feuerzeichen (1981), pp. 226-227.; Rolf Vogel, Ein Stempel hat gefehlt (Munich: Droemer Knaur, 1977), pp. 110 ff.
35. W. Feilchenfeld, et al., Haavara-Transfer (1972), p. 31. Entire text in: David Yisraeli, The Palestine Problem in German Politics 1889-1945 (Israel: 1974), pp. 298-300.
36. Interior Ministry internal memo (signed by State Secretary W. Stuckart), Dec. 17, 1937, in: Helmut Eschwege, ed., Kennzeichen J (Berlin: 1966), pp. 132-136.
37. W. Feilchenfeld, et al, Haavara-Transfer (1972), p. 32.
38. E. Black, Transfer Agreement, pp. 376-377.
39. E. Black, Transfer Agreement (1984), pp. 376, 378.; F. Nicosia, Third Reich (1985), pp. 238-239 (n. 91).
40. E. Black, Transfer Agreement, p. 379.; F. Nicosia, Third Reich, pp. 212, 255 (n. 66).
41. W. Feilchenfeld, et al., Haavara-Transfer, p. 75.; “Haavara,” Encyclopaedia Judaica, (1971), Vol. 7, p. 1013.
42. E. Black, Transfer Agreement, pp. 379, 373, 382.
43. Circular of January 25, 1939. Nuremberg document 3358-PS. International Military Tribunal, Trial of the Major War Criminals Before the International Military Tribunal (Nuremberg: 1947-1949), Vol. 32, pp. 242-243.
44. Werner Feilchenfeld, et al., Haavara-Transfer nach Palaestina (Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 1972). Quoted in: Ingrid Weckert, Feuerzeichen (Tübingen: Grabert, 1981), pp. 222-223.
45. W. Feilchenfeld, et al., Haavara-Transfer nach Palaestina(1972). Quoted in: I. Weckert, euerzeichen (1981), p. 224.
46. Original document in German Auswärtiges Amt Archiv, Bestand 47-59, E 224152 and E 234155-58. (Photocopy in author’s possession).; Complete original German text published in: David Yisraeli, The Palestine Problem in German Politics 1889-1945 (Israel: 1974), pp. 315-317. See also: Klaus Polkhen, “The Secret Contacts,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Spring-Summer 1976, pp. 78-80.; (At the time this offer was made, Stern’s Lehi group still regarded itself as the true Irgun/NMO.)
47. Arab nationalists opposed Britain, which then dominated much of the Arab world, including Egypt, Iraq and Palestine. Because Britain and Germany were at war, Germany cultivated Arab support. The leader of Palestine’s Arabs, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el-Husseini, worked closely with Germany during the war years. After escaping from Palestine, he spoke to the Arab world over German radio and helped raise Muslim recruits in Bosnia for the Waffen SS.
48. Israel Shahak, “Yitzhak Shamir, Then and Now,” Middle East Policy (Washington, DC), Vol. 1, No. 1, (Whole No. 39), 1992, pp. 27-38.; Yehoshafat Harkabi, Israel’s Fateful Hour (New York: Harper and Row, 1988), pp. 213-214. Quoted in: Andrew J. Hurley, Israel and the New World Order (Santa Barbara, Calif.: 1991), pp. 93, 208-209.; Avishai Margalit, “The Violent Life of Yitzhak Shamir,” New York Review of Books, May 14, 1992, pp. 18-24.; Lenni Brenner, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators (1983), pp. 266-269.; L. Brenner, Jews in America Today (1986), pp. 175-177.; L. Brenner, “Yitzhak Shamir: On Hitler’s Side,” Arab Perspectives (League of Arab States), March 1984, pp. 11-13.
49. Avishai Margalit, “The Violent Life of Yitzhak Shamir,” New York Review of Books, May 14, 1992, pp. 18-24.; Lenni Brenner, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators (1983), pp. 266-269.; L. Brenner, Jews in America Today (1986), pp. 175-177.; L. Brenner, “Skeletons in Shamir’s Cupboard,” Middle East International, Sept. 30, 1983, pp. 15-16.; Sol Stern, L. Rapoport, “Israel’s Man of the Shadows,” Village Voice (New York), July 3, 1984, pp. 13 ff.
From The Journal of Historical Review, July-August 1993 (Vol. 13, No. 4), pages 29-37.
Mark Weber studied history at the University of Illinois (Chicago), the University of Munich, Portland State University and Indiana University (M.A., 1977). In March 1988 he testified for five days in Toronto District Court as a recognized expert witness on Germany’s wartime Jewish policy and the Holocaust issue.
Twenty workers at the The Hanford Site nuclear facility in Washington state were sent for medical evaluations after inhaling chemical vapors in the vicinity of a leaking nuclear waste tank which was being transferred, according to US Energy Department officials.
Hanford tank workers were performing routine tasks at the vast nuclear waste site when they all started complaining of headaches on Thursday before being sent for medical evaluations, according to local news station KING.
Starting around noon, two of the workers reported a metallic taste in their mouths after removing their oxygen respirators. They said they had headaches and sought medical attention. The AP tank farm where they were working was evacuated.
Two hours later, two more workers said they had nausea and a dry throat after being exposed to vapors above a line used to transfer water between the AX and AP tank farms. The area they were working in was also evacuated and roadblocks set up as precaution.
In a third instance, between 3:00pm and 4:00pm, seven more employees near a changing trailer outside the AX farm requested medical attention after smelling ammonia. The pumping and waste transfer was eventually halted.
More workers requested medical evaluations on Friday because of potential exposure to chemical vapors, according to Tri-City-Herald, bringing the total to 20 people.
Thirteen reported having various symptoms, most of which were not made public, and seven sought medical evaluations as a precaution, according to Washington River Protection Solutions.
All but one has been cleared to return to work; that worker is still being evaluated.
“Waste transfer operations from double-shell tank AY-102 to double-shell tank AP 102 have been halted,” said Jerry Holloway, an executive at WRPS, a government contractor, in a statement to KING.
The exposure comes just a week after it was reported that thousands of gallons of radioactive waste were leaking from the AY-102 double-shell tank. The leak was first detected on April 17, which led to workers pumping out the waste and trying to find out why the leak became worse. The tank, which contains 800,000 gallons of nuclear waste has been leaking since 2011. The leak was small when it was first detected, but that was five years ago.
AY-102 is one of 28 underground double shell tanks holding nuclear waste and is the first of the double-shell tanks to leak. The double-shell tanks are thought to be more robust than the single-shell which have outlived their lifespan. There are 177 underground tanks in total.
KING reported the toxic gases most likely escaped from pipes used to move nuclear waste from one area of Hanford to another.
A lawsuit filed by the state’s attorney general in 2015, citing the plant has a health hazard, stated chemical vapors vented from the tanks when the radioactive waste underwent continuous chemical reactions. The chemical vapors can include hydrogen, ammonia, mercury or benzene among other poisons and can cause adverse health effects such as “asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, central nervous system suppression…and cancers of the liver, lung, blood and other organ systems,” according to the suit.
A KING local news investigation found that workers in 50 separate incidents were exposed to vapors leaking from the nuclear waste tanks between January 2014 and April 2015. In one of the incidents, a worker was treated for chemical pneumonitis, an inflammation of the lungs caused by chemical exposure.
Hanford Nuclear Reservation was originally constructed in 1942 as part of the Manhattan Project to produce plutonium for weapons, including the atomic bomb, Fat Boy, that was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan. Millions of gallons of nuclear waste was generated by the time production stopped at the end of the Cold War.
Since 1989, the only work at the Hanford Site has been related to cleaning up the waste left behind. The site stores approximately 53 million gallons of high-level radioactive hazardous waste in tanks, the size of over 2,600 rail cars. The waste is housed in 149 single-shell tanks and 28 double-shell tanks. All 149 tanks are unfit for use, according to the Energy Department, and the contents are supposed to be transferred to double-shelled tanks.
The Associated Press reported the cleanup at Hanford is not likely to be completed until 2060 and will take $107.7 billion to complete.
RT | April 21, 2016
There is a dangerous radiological threat to the West Coast of the United States that puts the health of millions of Americans at risk. It includes dangers to public health, dangers to the food supply, and dangers to future generations from long-lived radionuclides, including some of the most toxic material in the world. It is not Fukushima, it is Hanford. While radiation from the Fukushima nuclear meltdowns is reaching the West Coast, carried across the ocean from Japan, the radiation from Hanford is already there, has been there for 70 years, and is in serious risk of catastrophe that could dwarf the effects of Fukushima even on Japan.
Hanford, on the Columbia River in Eastern Washington State, is the site where the United States produced the majority of its plutonium for nuclear weapons during the Cold War. These tens of thousands of American nuclear weapons were built as an end product of the high levels of plutonium production at Hanford. The first three nuclear reactors on Earth were built at Hanford, with a total of nine nuclear power plants being built there eventually. Nuclear power plants operated for ten years in this world before they were ever used to generate electricity. Electricity is a secondary purpose for nuclear power plants, they were designed and built as plutonium manufacturing plants.
Hanford was the first of these plutonium production sites. The two worst radiological disasters (besides nuclear weapon detonations) in the first four decades of the Atomic Age were accidents at the plutonium production sites of the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union, both in 1957. Military plutonium production sites remain among the most contaminated sites on Earth. During the period of operation more than 67 metric tons of plutonium were manufactured at Hanford. Hanford is home to 60% (by volume) of all of the high level radioactive waste stored in the United States. Nearly 80% of the Department of Energy’s inventory of spent nuclear fuel rods are stored just 400 yards away from the Columbia River. (Statistics taken from Physicians for Social Responsibility webpage)
Here is a very brief review of some of the worst impacts and dangers at the Hanford Site.
The Green Run
In December 1949 the United States deliberately released an immense amount of radiation into populated areas at the Hanford Site during the notorious Green Run. It was the largest intentional release of radiation conducted by the U.S. government. While nuclear testing in Nevada exposed many people to significant amounts of radiation, this was a byproduct of the desire to test weapons. In the Green Run the intention was specifically to release the radiation into the Hanford area. The Green Run was conducted in reaction to the test of the first Soviet nuclear weapon in Kazakhstan several months earlier. The first indications that the Soviets had successfully tested a nuclear weapon came when sensors at Hanford picked up the radiation several days later. It was decided to release radiation “similar” to that of the Soviet test to develop and hone detection equipment and better analysis of the Soviet program.
After the end of World War Two the U.S. method of processing the plutonium from the spent nuclear fuel rods involved “maturing” the rods, or letting them cool for approximately 100 days to allow short-lived nuclear isotopes (like iodine-131) to decay. Kate Brown has a detailed discussion of the decisions that eventually led to extending this maturing period at Hanford during this time in her pivotal book, Plutopia. The U.S. assumed that in their rush to produce nuclear weapons as quickly as possible the Soviets were “short-cooling” their plutonium being manufactured at the Mayak Complex, and thus processing the plutonium before these short-lived radionuclides had decayed. The Green Run was a plan to mimic this and process plutonium that had not cooled for 100 days, but instead had cooled only a few weeks and was, hence, “green.” To increase the ability of the radiation detection equipment in the area, and on the airplanes that participated, the filters at the plutonium processing plants that specifically filtered out iodine-131 were turned off for the 12-hour duration of the Green Run.
As bad as this deliberate release of radiation into the downwind communities was, things did not go as planned. The intended amount of iodine-131 to be released was dwarfed by the actual release, which was double what was anticipated. While scientists imagined they would then be tracking a coherent cloud as it moved away from the site, the resulting radiation dispersed throughout a vast area stretching across much of Washington State and into Southern Oregon. Concentrations were found in valleys and lowlands as the radiation distributed irregularly. Internalizing iodine-131 is a direct cause of thyroid cancer.
EPA map of iodine-131 distribution following the Green Run showing both heavy dose area and total distribution
The Tank Farms
Few things pose as great a threat to public health at Hanford than the Tank Farms. The Tank Farms are 177 single and double shelled waste storage tanks sited at two different locations on the Hanford complex. In the early days at Hanford, when plutonium for nuclear weapons was separated from the spent nuclear fuel, the leftover uranium from the process was stored in these tanks. Over the years a wide range of the highest level radioactive and chemical wastes were dumped into these tanks. According to the State of Washington the 177 tanks hold 53 million gallons of the highest level radioactive waste existing in the United States. 67 of the single shelled tanks have leaked over 1 million gallons of this highly radioactive waste which is migrating through the soil and groundwater into the Columbia River. In 2011 the Department of Energy emptied the contents of many of the leaking single shelled tanks into double shelled tanks, however the design of the double shelled tanks was found to be flawed, resulting in further leaks.
A section of the Tank Farms at Hanford. Photo: D0E.
Dealing with the 53 million gallons of highly radioactive waste is a multi-billion-dollar effort designed to manage the waste by 2050, or roughly 100 years after it was first manufactured. Currently almost nothing has yet been accomplished towards this goal besides the paying out of the contracts to design plans and begin the construction of the “Vitrification Plant” that is intended to encase the waste in glass. In recent years’ numerous whistleblowers have come forward from among Hanford employees to describe the flawed design and safety protocols of the Vit Plant. Most of these whistleblowers have been fired by the contractors running the Hanford cleanup. One, Walter Tamosaitis, the research and technology manager of the Vit Plant, was vindicated and awarded $4.3M to settle his wrongful termination suit, however other whistleblowers have been dismissed from their positions since that award. While the liquid waste has been extracted from the tanks the remaining high level waste in the tanks remains largely untreated.
Hanford employees who work maintaining the Tank Farms have suffered serious and unexplained health problems in recent years. Each year numerous workers have been exposed to “vapors” and have become sick or lost consciousness and required hospitalization. Many have suffered ongoing health problems as a result of these exposures. In 2014 over 40 workers suffered from such exposures including a two-week period in late March that saw 26 workers hospitalized. According to KGW news in Portland, a 1997 study conducted by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory warned that workers exposed to vapors from specific tanks would have significantly increase risk of cancers and other serious diseases, but the conclusions of this report “were never made public, shared with Hanford workers or members of the federally chartered Hanford Advisory Board.”
On 29 September 1957 a tank containing waste similar to the waste in the Hanford Tank Farms exploded at the Mayak plutonium production site in the former Soviet Union, known as the Kyshtym Disaster. The cooling system for one of the tanks at the Mayak site failed and the temperature inside the tank rose eventually causing a chemical explosion that sent a radioactive cloud for over 350 km downwind and heavily contaminated an area near the plant with catastrophic levels of cesium-137 and strontium-90. This was one of the worst radiological disasters in human history at the time, and remained so, along with the fire three weeks later inside a nuclear reactor core at the Windscale facility (now called Sellafield) in Cumbria in the United Kingdom, until the Chernobyl meltdown and explosion in 1987. The Kyshtym Disaster, which a Soviet study concluded resulted directly in 8,000 deaths (not to mention illnesses) was the consequence of an explosion in one tank. At Hanford there are currently 177 such tanks, each containing similar disastrous potential, and located beside one another.
Contaminations and Dangers
The EPA has identified between 1,500-1,200 specific sites on the Hanford grounds where toxic or radioactive chemicals have been dumped. The ambiguity of that number speaks volumes about the lack of record keeping and functional data for addressing these problems. If plans for remediation of the waste in the Tank Farms at the Hanford Site are carried out as intended, there remains massive contamination of the soil and groundwater under the site, leeching into the Columbia River and surrounding countryside. That is if things go well. Things could go badly. The Kyshtym Disaster shows the dangers of an explosion in one of the tanks storing waste such as that stored in the 177 tanks at the Hanford Tank Farms. An incident in which multiple tanks experience problems could be catastrophic beyond our imagination. What’s more, there is not effective containment or security at the Tank Farms to face the threats of current times. While the countries around the world worry about the dangers of flying airplanes or drones into nuclear power plants, or of cyber attacks on the power supplies to such plants, those sites have at least some effective containment around the toxic materials they hold. The Tank Farms are open air and unshielded. The amount of deadly radiological materials contained in these tanks is far beyond that contained at any single nuclear site in the United States.
Hanford is Here, Fukushima is There
The triple meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi was a horrible disaster that has released massive amounts of radiation into the environment. The daily passage of tons of water through the watershed below the plants where the melted nuclear cores (corium) sit smoldering will continue to release radiation into the ocean for decades to come. The health toll that this will take, especially on the children of Northern Japan is horrifying. Already a much higher than expected incidence of thyroid cancers have been reported in area youth. This is the first of the cancers to present and is the tip of the iceberg of health impacts on those in the area. The release of long lived radionuclides such as cesium-137 and uranium into the ecosystem presents dangers to people all around the world as these particles cycle through the biosphere. But the largest and most tragic impacts of Fukushima will be on people in Japan. The plumes from the explosions of March 2011 deposited the bulk of their fallout within a few hundred kilometers of the plants. Radiation from the regular releases of contaminated water into the ocean, and the passage of groundwater across the corium will continue to bring radioactive particles into the Pacific Ocean where they will work their way up the food chain much as the fallout deposited by atmospheric nuclear testing did in the Pacific during the 1940s and 1950s. Some of that radiation is reaching the West Coast of the U.S., and this will continue as long as the site hemorrhages contaminated water into the ocean, which will likely be for some decades. This disaster should not be discounted. But it should also be remembered that it is the people of Japan, and specifically the children of Japan who live in the areas where the fallout plumes deposited that face the direst of these consequences.
There is currently a great deal of awareness about the arrival of Fukushima radiation on the West Coast. There are many people who say they will not eat fish from the Pacific Ocean, or eat food from Japan. At the same time, there is no discussion about eating Salmon from the Columbia River, drinking wines from the Columbia Valley, or fruit from the orchards that fill the downwind area around Hanford. The amount of radiation in the Hanford area dwarfs the amount arriving on the West Coast of the United States on a scale that is mind-boggling. What is arriving from Fukushima is the result of the meltdowns of three nuclear cores, and it is crossing an ocean. What is stored at Hanford and leeching into the Columbia is resultant from 2/3rds of the high level nuclear waste of the United States, and is from production that began decades before Fukushima was built. This is not just contamination that is arriving today, or this year, it has been saturating the groundwater and ecosystem of the Northwest for more than 70 years.
Furthermore, the impacts from Hanford are not only what may happen, but what has already happened. Hanford downwinders have suffered generations of cancers and other diseases across a wide area of Eastern Washington and beyond. There is a legacy of death and illness that spans generations downwind from Hanford, and the source of those diseases percolates away in the tanks and waste sites that sit along the Columbia River, spreading deeper into the surrounding ecosystem. The radiation from Fukushima may slowly seep across the vast Pacific, while at Hanford we have the threat of a radiological explosion or terrorist act that could release volumes more radiation than was released by Fukushima and deposited in Japan any day of any week, and spread radiation across the West Coast and mountain west.
By all means we should be vigilant and monitor the levels of Fukushima radiation that arrives on the West Coast of the United States, while remembering that the most profound victims of Fukushima are children living near the site. But we should turn our attention and concerns to the radioactive wound that seeps radiation into the ecosystem of the American and Canadian West every day and threatens it with a radiological disaster that would dwarf the worst that Fukushima has done even in Japan. Stand up for Hanford whistleblowers. Demand transparency on waste management practices and plans at Hanford. Stand up for the health of Hanford workers who are being exposed to dangerous vapors in their workplace. And demand support and compensation for the downwind families and workers whose health and wellbeing has been devastated by the most radioactive site in the United States.
Robert Jacobs is a historian of nuclear technologies and radiation technopolitics at the Hiroshima Peace Institute of Hiroshima City University. @bojacobs.
The Syrian parliamentary election of 13 April 2016 is demonstrative of the apparent and continuing plurality of Syrian society as manifested within the People’s Council – a parliamentary body which has often been regarded as merely a façade of legitimation for the ruling Baath Party government of President Bashar al-Assad. Plurality within the parliament is of significance insofar as it is indicative of the involvement of a range of religious communities in Syrian political life and runs directly contrary to the prevailing narrative of Syria as a dictatorship dominated by the Alawite religious community, of which the Assad family are members, and to the exclusion of the involvement of other religious communities in political activity.
Elections to the 250 member Syrian People’s Council take place every four years with the country divided into fifteen multiple seat constituencies. Since 2012 and amendments to the country’s constitution Syrian political life has been, in theory, open to participation to a wider array of political parties than the Baath and other permitted parties such as the Syrian Social Nationalist or Syrian Communist parties. Previously the Syrian Baath Party had looked likely to retain power in parliament indefinitely and indeed to dominate either directly by its own MPs or indirectly via allied parties and MPs. However, with the changes there is limitation on presidential office to seven years for any one candidate, no president can rule for more than two seven year terms, the president can now be someone who is not a member of the ruling National Progressive Front coalition, and the constitution no longer has a stipulation that the Baath Party is to be the normative and leading influence in Syrian socio-political life. Such changes may seem relatively minor and indeed the Baath Party will likely remain the de facto power in Syria for some time to come but they are indicative of President Assad’s openness to pursuing gradual reform on a model which is perceived as suitable for Syrian circumstances.
A key aspect of encouraging and maintaining societal stability in Syria since independence from French rule in 1946 has been to ensure that authoritative political leadership is combined with some type of broad representation of the plural religious and ethnic communities resident to Syria and ensure that they have a stake in determining Syria’s development. An important issue has been to ensure that those outside of the Alawite community have opportunities to take on representative roles and to know their contributions to Syrian society are valued. Criticism has focused on the Alawite strength and/or prevalence to many spheres of Syrian life but especially economically and in the security services to the detriment of others. The People’s Council appears to an extent to undermine these critiques as exemplified by the majority of seats being held by Syrians of the majority Sunni Muslim community.
Alawites and plural representation in the People’s Council
The Alawite community broadly identifies itself as part of Shia Islam having emerged in the late ninth/early tenth centuries in western Syria possibly around the figure of the eleventh Shia Imam, Hasan al-Askari. To the external observer it might seem that the Alawites are more a syncretistic movement containing aspects of Christianity and Twelver Shia Islam given, amongst other activities, they celebrate a type of Divine Liturgy including the consecration of wine alongside strong reverence for Ali ibn Abi Talib, the son-in-law and cousin of the Islamic prophet, Mohammed. This combination of — or plurality of — beliefs in part explains why the Assad family has consistently supported the notion of a plural Syria and the general advancement of a paradigm of laïcité for the Syrian state and in which, in theory, no-one religion should predominate to the detriment of another.
The Alawites currently form around ten–fifteen percent of the Syrian population (c.2,000,000 people) and are concentrated in the western coastal provinces of Latakia and Tartus. During the French Mandate in Syria (1923–1946) the Alawites were often strong supporters of French administration as their rule was perceived as a means to secure the Alawite community in a society which was not necessarily comfortable with their presence. Although Alawites consider themselves to be part of the Islamic milieu some Muslims, especially within the Sunni community, do not and find such assertions religiously and politically challenging.
The Alawite influence in the Syrian ruling élite within post-independence Syrian political affairs arose in the early 1970s when Hafez al-Assad (Bashar’s father) came to power as President. In general terms Hafez organised the state such that Sunnis held élite political offices and the Alawites held responsibility for the security services. The perception of the Syrian Baath establishment as a bastion of Alawite and to a lesser extent Christian power has not consistently sat well with the Syrian Sunni majority and it has been suggested that, in reality, they have been denied the opportunity to take a full part in Syrian political life. However, as I have noted, the People’s Council is predominantly Sunni and representative on a proportional level to the extent of almost matching the religious demographics of Syria:
Such a balance is important as a means to legitimise the Syrian government’s claims to being the lawful and representative body controlling the Syrian state insofar as it can affirm it represents the interests of the full range of Syrian communities but also demonstrative of Sunni willingness to commit to the existing political establishment and loyalist campaign against Da’esh and other terrorist factions.
It should be noted that within the People’s Council there is a strong diversity of MPs and whilst as might be expected Latakia and Tartus are dominated by Alawite representatives there are also Christian and Sunni MPs in these regions. Moreover, women of Shia, Sunni, Alawite, Druze and Christian background also take a full part in Syrian political life with 29 female MPs (11 percent). Such a scenario were Da’esh to have successfully occupied Syria would, of course, be unthinkable.
Critiquing the Syrian elections
It appears that whether or not the April 2016 Syrian elections were actually entirely free and fair that it is enough for claims and accusations to be advanced to ensure they are characterised as a `sham’ and not reflecting the true results and popular will of the people. Such claims do not appear to more than scratch the surface of what actually took place beyond continuing to follow the set narrative of President Assad as a dictator only interested in advancing Alawite interests and the elections as likely fraudulent with only Baath loyalists actually gaining positions in reality.
This is not to suggest that Syria’s political process and elections are necessarily more than a very basic level of democratic participation. However, the elections did take place and furthermore, the current Syrian government may be many things but it appears, at the very least, to be gradually encouraging the transition to a more representative style of political system. It may not be one which external observers approve of, or, is the ideal of those external powers seeking violent and radical change for Syria but it is a process of political development which is taking place in the Syrian context and as far as the current lawful government is concerned, is perceived as the most likely method to manage Syrian plurality and to ensure some type of peaceful if long-term change in governance can take place with the minimum of extremist political forces further damaging the mosaic of Syrian society.
It is notable that Western states can be far less critical of other Middle Eastern powers with whom they are allied and who appear to have similar political structures to Syria or limited interest in widening political participation. The Kingdom of Bahrain, for example, is a Sunni led and dominated constitutional monarchy. The monarch in effect, however, is the final deciding authority in Bahrain and, for example, directly appoints the members of the Bahrani upper parliamentary house. Moreover, the majority Shia population (65–75 percent) of Bahrain has struggled to gain a strong and active voice in Bahrani socio-political life. This is not to single out Bahrain for criticism — indeed it has, like Syria, begun to transition to a more representative type of governance — but to be aware of the comparative type of narratives which are being pursued in the region with states such as Bahrain portrayed as reliable and honourable allies of the West but the Syrian government as beyond the pale for engagement by Western and Gulf states. Accusations of impropriety in democratic processes being one of the means to continue to critique the rule of President Assad.
We might also compare the democratic representation in Western states such as the United Kingdom, which have been consistently critical of the Syrian government since 2012, with attempts to proportionately represent Syrian communities in the People’s Council. We can note, for example, following the 2015 UK General Election that despite the UK Independence Party and Green Party receiving respectively c. 3,800,000 and 1,100,000 votes both parties have only one MP in the House of Commons. Whereas, the Scottish National Party received c. 1,400,000 votes and have fifty-six MPs. The peculiarities of the UK’s `First Past the Post’ electoral system are such that these results are valid returns, nonetheless, the external observer might ask are these results just, and, do they convey and strengthen confidence in the legitimate representative nature of British democracy?
The results of the 2016 Syrian elections are suggestive of the population’s commitment to the ideal of plurality in Syria through a popular willingness to take part in the elections and gain access to some type of political representation for all Syrians. We can note that a key aspect of critiquing President Assad’s leadership is the notion that he rules as a dictator and this because he favours one section of the population over others on a confessional basis. Notwithstanding that such critiques might be more vigorously and profitably pursued against other states in the Middle East it also speaks to a lack of comprehension as to how the realities of Syria’s plural society affect the type of government and form of rule which is maintained.
Syria under the Assad-Baathist governments cannot be said to hold to a representative system which is readily appreciated or supported by external observers who are used to models found in liberal democratic capitalist societies or that the Syrian system is indeed supported by the majority of the Syrian people. Nonetheless, it is a political system which has been sustained for over half a century. If the status quo in Syria has seen Alawite predominance, other confessions have not been consistently denied the opportunity to take a part in Syrian socio-economic and political life — without at least the acquiescence of the majority of the Syrian Sunni population to Assad-Baathist rule such a paradigm could not and would not have been sustained for so long.
If we are to speak of an Alawite dictatorship or Alawite over-dominance in recent Syrian history the most apparent example is in a “dictatorship of the dead”. A disproportionate burden of Syrian Arab Army casualties in the campaigns against Da’esh and its allies have been borne by the Alawite community with up to a third of Alawite young men having been killed in the conflict. It is possible that the Alawite sacrifices in this regard are such that other Syrian communities are recognizant of the commitment which the Alawites have to maintaining Syrian plurality and sustaining some form of societal stability and peaceful social interaction which has led to Sunni, Christian, Druze and Shia continuing to support President Assad’s government and willingness to engage with the gradually reforming political process.
Kristian Girling is a freelance writer and a Post-doctoral Research Fellow at Heythrop College, University of London.
The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants.
— Albert Camus, 1913-1960
On May 1st, 2003, George W. Bush stood in a dinky little flying suit on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln and in a super stage managed appearance told the lie of the century:
Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country.
The illegal occupation and decimation of Iraq continued until December 2011. In June 2014 they returned to bomb again in the guise of combating ISIS. As the thirteenth anniversary of Bush’s ridiculous appearance with a vast “Mission Accomplished” banner behind him, Iraq is largely in ruins, Iraqis have fled the murderous “liberation” and its aftermath in millions, and there are over three million internally displaced.
The nation is pinned between a tyrannical, corrupt US puppet government, a homicidal, head chopping, raping, organ eating, history erasing, US-spawned ISIS – and a renewed, relentless US bombardment. So much for the 2008 US-Iraq State of Forces agreement, which stated that by 31st December 2011 “all United States forces shall withdraw from all Iraqi territory.”
On the USS Abraham Lincoln Bush stated:
In this battle, we have fought for the cause of liberty, and for the peace of the world … Because of you, our nation is more secure. Because of you, the tyrant has fallen, and Iraq is free.
In what has transpired to be monumental irony, he continued:
The liberation of Iraq is a crucial advance in the campaign against terror. We have removed an ally of al-Qaida, and cut off a source of terrorist funding.
There was, of course, no al-Qaida in Iraq, no funding of fundamentalist terrorism under Saddam Hussein. It is the invasion’s conception, birth, now reached maturity from Baghdad to Brussels, Mosul to the Maghreb, Latakia to London.
In Iraq, US terrorism from the air is back in all its genocidal force.
Incredibly on April 23rd, the Independent reported another staggering piece of either disinformation or childish naivety, in a predictably familiar script: “A spokesperson for the US military said all possible precautions were taken to avoid ‘collateral damage’”, but in approaching 7,000 airstrikes the number of confirmed civilian deaths had risen on Planet Pentagon to just – forty one.
In another past its sell by date mantra:
Colonel Patrick Ryder, a spokesperson for Central Command, said the casualties were “deeply regretted” but maintained that the campaign was the “the most precise air campaign in the history of warfare.”
And here’s another familiar one:
In this type of armed conflict, particularly with an enemy who hides among the civilian population, there are going to be, unfortunately, civilian casualties at times.
The Geneva Convention, amongst other Treaties, Principles and Conventions, is specific on the protections of populations in conflict, Colonel Ryder should familiarize himself with the texts.
So another onslaught in a quarter of a century of bombing Iraq is underway – another mass murder with a silly name “Operation Inherent Resolve.”
Here is reality from Dr Souad Al-Azzawi, Award winning environmental scientist who gained her Ph.D from the Colorado School of Mines.
She states of just the onslaught on Mosul, her home, the ancient university city of 1.5 million, that the stated figures from US spokespersons are: “either misinformed about the real situation on the ground, since they are using drones and guided missiles, or airstrikes blindly, intentionally not saying the truth.”
I would like to list SOME of what the Americans’ airstrikes have been targeting and killing in Mosul:
Destroyed are all state services buildings, including Municipalities in right and left sides of Mosul. When they bomb at night, all security personnel get killed or injured, also residents of close by areas, and adjacent properties are destroyed.
Bombed and destroyed all communication centers.
Destruction of Dairy Production Factories in both left and right sides of Mosul. Casualties of these two are one hundred deaths and two hundred injuries among civilians who gathered to receive milk and dairy products from the factories.
Dr Al-Azzawi reminds that this is reminiscent of the bombing of the baby milk factory outside Baghdad in 1991 with the claim it was a chemical weapons factory. This writer visited the factory ruins just months later. There were still charred containers of milk powder – the machinery was provided and maintained by a company in Birmingham, England which specialized in infant food production.
* Bombing of Mosul Pharmaceutical Industries.
* Mosul University was bombed with ninety two deaths and one hundred and thirty five injuries. Earlier estimates were higher, but many were pulled from the rubble alive. “They were students, faculty members, staff members, families of faculties, and restaurants workers.”
*Al Hadbaa and Al Khadraa Residential Apartment compounds. Fifty people killed (families) and one hundred injured.
* Hay al Dhubat residential area in the right side of Mosul, two days ago, five women women and four children killed and the whole house destroyed. The father is a respected pharmacist who has nothing to do with ISIL.
* Destruction of houses in front of the Medical College, killed twenty two civilians – eleven in one family.
* Bombing Sunni Waqif Building, twenty deaths and seventy injuries which included those in nearby commercial and residential buildings.
* Car maintenance industrial areas in both left and right sides of Mosul destroyed with civilian’s casualties.
* Bombing of flour factories in both sides of Mosul.
* Rafidain and Rasheed banks and all their branches in both sides of Mosul. Destruction of all commercial and residential areas in the vicinity of these places, with as yet unknown civilian casualties. (My emphasis.)
* Central Bank of Mosul in Ghazi Street, with nearby residential and commercial properties.
* Pepsi factory, currently producing ice cubes only. Three deaths and twelve injuries among the workers.
* The Governor’s house and close by guest house.
* Mosul’s old industrial compound destroyed, with parking area for fuel Tankers and cars. Three days ago, huge explosion of fuel tankers, one hundred and fifty deaths and injuries.
* Urban Planning Directory in Hay al Maliyah bombed.
* Engineering Planning Directory in Hay al Maliyah bombed.
* Food Storages in left side of Mosul bombed.
* Drinking water treatment plants bombed.
* All electrical generation and transformer stations in the left side of Mosul bombed.
* Domez land communications center in left side of Mosul destroyed.
*Al Hurairah Bridge – and many more.
There is a sickening familiarity to some of the targets – food, pharmaceuticals, water treatment plants, electricity generation, communications and educational facilities, bridges (the country, towns and cities are divided by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers) have been favoured targets since 1991. Every time painstakingly and imaginatively restored they have been re-bombed for a quarter of a century.
During the 1990s a Canadian film crew captured footage of US ‘planes dropping flares on harvested wheat and barley, incinerating entire harvests in a country, which due to the strangulating embargo, there were near famine conditions in parts of society.
“When Iraqi civilians looked into the faces of our servicemen and women, they saw strength, and kindness, and good will”, said George W Bush in his “Mission Accomplished” speech.
No, they saw invaders destroying their lives, their families, their history, raping, pillaging. They saw Falluja’s destruction, Abu Ghraib’s horrors and the eleven other secret prisons and nightmares ever ongoing.
On April 25th, Dr Al-Azzawi added:
More war crimes have been committed by American Coalition, yesterday April 24, 2016. The coalition airplanes bombed Rashidiya water treatment plant left side of Mosul city and Yermouk electricity generation station in the right side of Mosul. Through targeting these populations’ life sustaining necessities, the coalition is committing genocidal action towards Mosul residents in the pretext of fighting ISIS.
Also on 25th April, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kate Gilmore, on returning from a week in Iraq wrote starkly of the government:
Iraqis are crying out for fairness, recognition, justice, appreciation and meaningful participation in shaping their future – a process that goes forward and not backwards … We all have responsibilities towards the people of Iraq. While there is an international military coalition in place, a comparably resourced international coalition of practical compassion is also needed to help with the building blocks towards a sustained peace in Iraq.
In the US military lexicon it seems “compassion” has been replaced by their missiles of choice.
Ms Gilmore also stated that Iraq was being run by a failed government and warned foreign powers not to be “complicit” in its neglect of the plight of normal Iraqis.
Further: “The international community must not allow itself to be made complicit with the failed leadership of Iraq … There is political paralysis in Iraq. There is no government in Iraq”, she stated blisteringly of America and Britain’s illegal, abortive, parliamentary project.
“Our commitment to Liberty is America’s tradition … We stand for human liberty”, concluded Bush on the USS Abraham Lincoln.
Were mistruths ever bleaker? And when will George W. Bush, Charles Anthony Lynton Blair and their cohorts answer for their crimes in a Court of Law?
The media-as-public-relations-machine was in full swing last week, abuzz over Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan’s public letter to their daughter that contained a $45 billion pledge to establish the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.
The mainstream media produced an avalanche of praise. “Mark Zuckerberg Philanthropy Pledge Sets New Giving Standard,” announced Bloomberg Business, who declared that Zuckerberg and Chan were “setting a new philanthropic benchmark by committing their massive fortune to charitable causes while still in their early thirties.” From the Wall Street Journal came more praise: “Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan to Give 99% of Facebook Shares to Charity.”
But when BuzzFeed revealed the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative was not a nonprofit, but a for-profit Limited Liability Corporation (LLC), which has no obligation to actually engage in charitable activity, the tenor of some of the commentary became more negative. Was the donation to a Delaware-based LLC nothing more than a way to duck California taxes?
The truth is that both nonprofit and for-profit charities can and do serve as tax shelters for the obscenely wealthy. Non-profits themselves have few restrictions around them, and only require that 5 percent of a foundation’s assets each year be spent towards its stated charitable goals, including expenses and lobbying.
Still, in the last few years we’ve seen the growth of ventures like Google.org, the charitable but largely for-profit division of Google created in 2006 with $900 million worth of Google stock. Freed from the even the limited guidelines to which nonprofits are held, some of the projects Google.org has poured money into have happened to also generate mountainous profits for Google.
For example, the One Laptop Per Child initiative’s stated mission to get $100 computers into the hands of “each and every one” of the world’s poorest children also captures lucrative data from millions of new computer users in almost entirely untapped markets.
Similar to Google.org, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative chose a form that would allow them to invest in profit-making initiatives, including ones that could bring new profits to Facebook. Chan and Zuckerberg’s pledge to give everyone on earth access to the Internet, like the One Laptop Per Child initiative, will both provide real services for a great many people while simultaneously creating millions of new potential Facebook users (although they do perhaps overstate with the claim, “If our generation connects them, we can lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty”).
At the same time, Chan Zuckerberg can take advantage of their status as a tax-qualified charity to save huge sums of money. As Forbes observed:
This generosity is also incredibly tax efficient . . . Donating appreciated stock is a much better tax move than selling it and donating the sales proceeds. After all, by donating the stock, the gain he would have experienced on selling it is never taxed . . . since [Chan Zuckerberg] is a tax-qualified charity, if it sells the stock it pays no tax regardless of how big the gain. And since Mr Zuckerberg will get credit on his tax return for the market value of what he donates, he can use that to shelter billions of other income.
Of course, sizable donations to charity frequently receive glowing press coverage which is also quite valuable. The transformation of Bill Gates’s reputation — Zuckerberg’s childhood hero — after creating the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is instructive.
Throughout the 1990s Microsoft’s hyperaggressive business practices resulted in a 2000 Justice Department verdict that Microsoft was a monopoly. Several billion dollars in fines from myriad US and European regulatory bodies followed and Bill Gates was widely painted as a bully in the popular press.
The PR turnaround afforded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation might be the most effective — and expensive — in history. Today Bill Gates is treated by the media as an important thinker in the fight against disease and the debates around education reform. He is regarded as a humanitarian with something to say about making the world a better place, a regard that stands in contrast to his actual commitments.
Since the early days of Microsoft, Gates has ardently supported patent law and its enforcement, which puts medicines out of reach for most, particularly in the Global South. He has also thrown millions at a host of education initiatives that are so anti-teacher that the American Federation of Teachers recently announced they would no longer take money from the Gates Foundation.
Zuckerberg has already attempted to use a big donation to improve his reputation and that of Facebook, which has repeatedly been caught capturing private information with the intention to monetize it. His $100 million donation to charter schools in Newark was timed just weeks after the release of the Zuckerberg biopic The Social Network, and right before the release of charter school booster documentary Waiting for Superman. Time will tell what this latest attempt at reputation management does for Zuckerberg’s public standing.
Everyone has ideas about how the world should be different and those with vast fortunes have an inordinate amount of power to realize those visions. Sometimes the vision is for a cause like fighting malaria or providing homeless shelters. Other times it’s more self-interested, like when Bill and Melinda Gates put Windows computers in high schools, keeping Macs out and training a generation to use Windows machines.
More importantly, the concentration of so much power and reach in the hands of billionaire philanthropists presents real problems for democracy. Every dollar a billionaire realizes in “tax savings” is a dollar starved from the public coffers. The tens of billions Zuckerberg would pay in taxes could go a very long way to, say, enhancing the $69 billion budget allocated for public education this year.
While the US government is certainly not a bastion of democracy, there are at least formal mechanisms that put tax-based, public funding in the realm of democratic decision-making. There are public budget proposals, hearings, and votes, and elections through which we can attempt to hold politicians accountable for their actions. We’ll most likely only have a vague idea what is happening with the money controlled by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative; their LLC status will allow them to avoid making many tax documents public.
These sorts of charitable enterprises give even more control to capitalists — who already have outsized influence in our society — putting them in positions to make decisions that increasingly shape public life for all of us. People like Zuckerberg and Gates are unelected and unaccountable to anyone and face few, if any, repercussions for the negative consequences of their social experiments.
Zuckerberg’s education initiative exemplifies this outsized and damaging role. Despite his limited personal experience with public school — he attended the elite Phillips Exeter Academy and then Harvard — Zuckerberg has begun to commit serious sums of money to reforming public education. His signature donation was $100 million to replace Newark’s public schools with charters. Working with former Newark mayor Corey Booker and Republican Governor Chris Christie, the goal was to completely transform Newark’s schools in five years, and turn them into a model for restructuring other districts across the country.
In order to achieve reforms quickly, they had to bypass the process of public engagement. Free from the constraints of government deliberation, the plans of the nonprofit foundation were not made public until after key decisions had been made. Newark residents first learned about the program the afternoon Booker, Christie, and Zuckerberg announced it on Oprah.
Once the foundation was established, seats on its board were awarded to those who contributed more than $5 million. “A local philanthropist offered $1 million,” reported Diane Ravitch, “but he was turned away because the amount was too small.”
The Newark experiment was a resounding failure and did little more than line the pockets of consultants. Test scores didn’t rise considerably, teachers resisted merit pay, and the woman hired to run the district refuses to attend School Board Advisory meetings because they are still too hostile. The debacle still follows Zuckerberg. Last week, many of the most glowing reports of his $45 billion donation had to mention his previous philanthropic endeavor.
Zuckerberg has continued to make investments in education since Newark, claiming he’s learned from the experience and wants to improve. Still, he’s just one relatively new player in the education reform movement.
The Gates Foundation has spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to restructure the US public school system, with $200 million going to Common Core — a curriculum initiative opposed by educators and parents across the country. Eli Broad Foundation has also spent lavishly — including a nearly $500 million plan to put half of Los Angeles students into 260 new charter schools. The Walton Foundation has spent over $1 billion supporting charters and vouchers.
The war on public education by the ultra wealthy — using tax-sheltered dollars which otherwise might have gone to improve public education — reveals a deep hostility to democracy.
We should demand better: Instead of waiting to see how his charity will impact our lives, Zuckerberg’s wealth should be put under democratic control, so we can collectively decide how it can be used to improve society.
The establishment of the state of Israel is known throughout Palestine as the Nakba, or “Catastrophe.” As the British Mandate of Palestine ended throughout 1947 and 1948, at least 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from or fled their homeland, and another 100,000 or more were massacred.
Although the United States wasn’t an active party to the circumstances that led to the Nakba, the country’s long history with Israel has only been supportive of that nation’s barbarity — and that support has grown exponentially over the years.
In the U.S., the press framed Palestinian resistance as opposition to the Jewish state rather than an assertion of their own human rights. Scholar Michael A. Dohse wrote in “American Periodicals and the Palestine Triangle, April, 1936 to February, 1947”:
“Despite the fact that there was considerable evidence of the extreme nationalistic drive behind the Zionist movement, which was its motivating force, American journals gave a good press to the Zionists’ alleged goal of building a democratic commonwealth in Palestine. How this would be possible when the Arabs constituted two-thirds of the population and were opposed to Zionism, did not seem to be a relevant question to many of the magazines.”
This, of course, was in complete contravention of U.S. doctrine, even as enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, which asserts that all men are endowed with certain inalienable rights, and “[t]hat to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” The consent of the governed — in this case, the Palestinians — was not to be considered.
Pre-WWII, pre-state of Israel
Months before the Balfour Declaration was made in November of 1917, declaring British support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson commented on the absolute need for self-determination. On May 27, 1916, he said: “Every people has a right to choose the sovereignty under which they shall live.”
Mr. Wilson continued his lofty rhetoric, telling Congress on Feb. 11, 1918: “National aspirations must be respected; peoples may not be dominated and governed only by their own consent.” Further, in the same speech on German-Austrian “peace utterances,” he declared: “Self-determination is not a mere phrase. It is an imperative principle of action, which statesmen will henceforth ignore at their peril.”
These and subsequent speeches by Mr. Wilson were troubling to his secretary of state, Robert Lansing. In his private journals, according to Frank Edward Manuel in his book “The Realities of American Palestine Relations,” Lansing wrote that such concepts were “‘… loaded with dynamite, might breed disorder, discontent and rebellion’. His neat, logical mind saw it leading the president into strange contradictions: ‘Will not the Mohammedans of Syria and Palestine and possibly of Morocco and Tripoli rely on it? How can it be harmonized with Zionism, to which the President is practically committed?’”
If the Palestinians ever relied on U.S. rhetoric to assist them in achieving the basic human rights that all people are entitled to, they were certainly to be disappointed.
Following World War II, the world was anxious to make some kind of reparation to the Jewish people for the Holocaust. U.N. General Assembly Resolution 181, passed on Nov. 29, 1947, effectively partitioned Palestine into two states.
It is difficult to properly quantify the degree of injustice that this entailed. “Although Jews owned only about seven percent of the land in Palestine and constituted about 33 percent of the population, Israel was established on 78 percent of Palestine,” according to the Institute for Middle East Understanding. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were driven from their homes, with no voice in the decision that evicted them, no reparation for the loss of their homes and lands, and nowhere to go but refugee camps.
By this time, Harry S. Truman was president, and he offered full consent for this plan for reasons that will be familiar to readers today: He was subjected to intense lobbying by the Zionist lobby. He also felt that by supporting the establishment of Israel, he would be in a better position to be elected to a full term as president, having ascended to that office upon the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Lobbying and political considerations then, as now, trump human rights every time.
Mr. Truman was elected president in his own right in 1948, and was succeeded four years later by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, who named John Foster Dulles as his secretary of state.
Mr. Dulles was familiar with the Palestine-Israel situation, and his sympathies clearly rested with Israel. In 1944, he played an active role in seeing that the platform of the Republican Party included support for a Jewish commonwealth in Palestine, and also that the platform called for the protection of Jewish political rights. Years later, he exerted a strong influence on the president under whom he served, setting the tone for the Eisenhower administration’s attitude toward Israel and Palestine.
Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter
Things appeared to take a turn with the administration of John F. Kennedy, who showed support for the right of return for refugees, as described in Paragraph 11 of U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194 of Dec. 11, 1948. That resolution affirms that “the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live in peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Government or authorities responsible.”
Israel, under David Ben-Gurion, used what has become a tried and true method to oppose this measure: The state’s founder and first prime minister called it a threat to Israel’s national security.
Ultimately, Resolution 194 passed, but has yet to have any effect.
Despite his apparent support for Palestinian refugees, Mr. Kennedy was the first president to elevate the U.S.-Israel relationship from that of simply two allies to a more enhanced bond. Speaking to the Zionist Organization of America three months before his election, he said, “Friendship for Israel is not a partisan matter, it is a national commitment.”
Following Mr. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, he was succeeded by Lyndon B. Johnson, who did not share his predecessor’s interest in resolving the refugee problem. The Democratic Party Platform of 1964, the year Mr. Johnson was elected president, included a provision to “encourage the resettlement of Arab refugees in lands where there is room and opportunity.” All talk of the right of return ceased.
The Johnson administration ended in January of 1968, when former Vice President Richard Nixon was inaugurated as president. Nixon had less obligation to Israel, having earned only about 15 percent of the Jewish vote. In his memoirs, he commented on Israeli arrogance after the Six-Day War of 1967, describing “an attitude of total intransigence on negotiating any peace agreement that would involve the return of any of the territories they had occupied.”
Unfortunately for Palestine, however, Mr. Nixon’s closest advisor was Henry Kissinger, Nixon’s national security advisor and, later, his secretary of state. Mr. Kissinger’s parents had fled Nazi Germany shortly before the start of the Holocaust, and he had visited Israel multiple times but had never set foot in an Arab country. With Mr. Nixon’s preoccupation with what he considered the “Communist threat,” Mr. Kissinger was perfectly content with the Israel-Palestine status quo. “Rather than make any effort toward the Arab states, much less the Palestinians, Kissinger felt the United States should let them stew until they came begging to Washington,” according to “U.S. Policy on Palestine from Wilson to Clinton,” edited by Michael W. Suleiman. With this attitude, nothing was done to further the cause of justice under this president’s terms in office.
When Mr. Nixon resigned in a fog of controversy and scandal, his vice president, Gerald Ford, became president. He served as a caretaker president until the next election, when he was defeated by Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter.
Although Mr. Carter has recently become a strong supporter of Palestinian rights, this was not the case during his single term as president. He presided over the Camp David Accords, a two-track agreement that was supposed to bring peace to the Middle East. The first of the two dealt with Palestine, and nothing in it was ever achieved. The second led to a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt.
After one term, Mr. Carter was defeated by former actor and California Gov. Ronald Reagan. Like Mr. Nixon before him, Mr. Reagan saw Communist threats everywhere. Fearing a Soviet stronghold on the Middle East, he determined that strengthening ties with Israel would be an excellent deterrent. In 1982, he declared that the U.S. would not support the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, nor would it “support annexation or permanent control by Israel.”
Following First Intifada in 1987, Mr. Reagan sent his secretary of state, George Shultz, to solve the problem. Mr. Shultz proposed a three-pronged strategy: convening an international conference; a six-month negotiation period that would bring about an interim phase for Palestinian self-determination for the West Bank and Gaza Strip; talks between Israel and Palestine to start in December 1988 to achieve the final resolution of the conflict.
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir immediately rejected this plan, claiming that it did nothing to forward the cause of peace. In response, the U.S. issued a new memorandum, emphasizing economic and security agreements with Israel and accelerating the delivery of 75 F-16 fighter jets. This was to encourage Israel to accept the peace plan proposals. Yet Israel did not yield. As Suleiman’s work noted: “Instead, as an Israeli journalist commented, the message received was: ‘One may say no to America and still get a bonus.’”
When Mr. Reagan’s vice president, George H.W. Bush, succeeded him for one term, the bonus to Israel continued unabated. Yet this was still not enough for Israel. Writing in The New York Times in 1991, Thomas Friedman commented on the state of relations between the U.S. and Israel during the Bush administration: “Although the Bush Administration’s whole approach to peacemaking is almost entirely based on terms dictated by Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, the Israelis nevertheless see the Bush Administration as hostile.”
Clinton, another Bush, Obama
Following one term, Mr. Bush was succeeded by Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, who surrounded himself with Zionists, including CIA Director James Woolsey and Pentagon Chief Les Aspin.
In March of 1993, following clashes between Palestinians and Israelis in both Israel and the Occupied Palestine Territories, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin closed the borders between Israel and Palestine. This had a drastic detrimental effect on the lives and basic subsistence for at least tens of thousands of Palestinians. The Clinton administration chose to look the other way as Israel perpetrated this unspeakable act of collective punishment.
The administration of George W. Bush differed little in its treatment of matters related to Israel and Palestine from those who came before it. When Hamas was elected to govern the Gaza Strip in 2006, Mr. Bush ordered a near-total ban on aid to Palestine. Noam Chomsky commented on this situation:
“You are not allowed to vote the wrong way in a free election. That’s our concept of democracy. Democracy is fine as long as you do what we say, but not if you vote for someone we don’t like.”
Coming into office chanting the appealing mantra of “Change we can believe in,” current President Barack Obama proved to be another in a long line of disappointments. Like his predecessors, he’s vetoed any resolutions presented at the U.N. Security Council that were critical of Israel. Incredibly, after one such veto, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice made this statement:
”We reject in the strongest terms the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity. Continued settlement activity violates Israel’s international commitments, devastates trust between the parties, and threatens the prospects for peace.”
Meanwhile, military aid to Israel from the U.S. continued unabated. This aid has reached nearly $4 billion annually under the Obama administration, and is likely to get another boost before Mr. Obama leaves office.
This is not unusual. According to conservative estimates, the U.S. has given Israel a staggering $138 billion in military and other aid since 1949. In 2007, President George W. Bush signed the first 10-year Memorandum of Understanding, granting billions to Israel every year. Mr. Obama and Mr. Netanyahu are currently negotiating the new deal, which the prime minister hopes will guarantee even more to the apartheid regime.
Change that can’t come soon enough
Even if it didn’t come with Mr. Obama, change does seem to be on the horizon. With the explosive growth of social media, the general public no longer relies solely on the corporate-owned media for information. The horrors that Israel inflicts daily on the Palestinians are becoming more common knowledge. This includes the periodic bombing of the Gaza Strip, a total blockade that prevents basic supplies from being imported, and the checkpoint stops and verbal and physical harassment that Palestinians are subjected to on a daily basis in the West Bank.
It’s even entered the current U.S. presidential election. Sen. Bernie Sanders, seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination for president, skipped the annual American Israel Political Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, convention in March. Additionally, he said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu isn’t always right and that Israel uses disproportionate force against the Palestinians, and Mr. Sanders recognized that Palestinians have rights. Like skipping the AIPAC conference, these statements are all in violation of some unspoken U.S. code of conduct for politicians.
Yet the ugly history of the U.S., in its unspeakably unjust dealings with Palestine, created a stain that generations will be unable to cleanse. Total disdain for the human rights of an entire nation, and the complicity in the violation of international law and in the war crimes of Israel, are not easy to expunge. Mr. Sanders’ words and actions are only the manifestation of a larger change occurring in U.S. attitudes toward Israel and Palestine. Once that change is sufficiently great to impact the U.S. power brokers, real change will occur. For Palestinians living under Israeli apartheid, it cannot come soon enough.
The world has had 30 years to assess the consequences for life on Earth of the disaster at Chernobyl.
This is about the same period during which I have studied the effects of radioactive pollution on the planet. It was the radioactive rain in the mountains of North Wales, where I lived in 1986, that brought me into this strange Alice in Wonderland area of science, where people and children die, and the global authorities, advised by physicists, deny what would be obvious to a child at school.
Chernobyl was mentioned as the star that fell to earth in the Book of Revelations. You may laugh, and it may be a coincidence, but the impact of the event has certainly been of biblical proportions. It is a story about the imposition by reductionist science on humanity of a version of the truth constructed from mathematics, not the only one, but perhaps the most important, since it involves the systematic destruction of the genetic basis of life. It is a story of lies, secrecy, power, assassination and money: the vast amounts of money that would be lost if the truth came out.
Shortly after the murder in 1992 of the German Green Party leader and anti-nuclear activist Petra Kelly, the late Prof Ernest Sternglass (the first of the radiation scientist/ activists) told me that Kelly had just struck a deal with a German TV company to run a series demonstrating the true awfulness of the immediate effects of radiation. He said: if the truth came out, all the Uranium and the billions of dollars in Uranium shares would turn into sand. So something like a cover-up had to happen, and it did, continuing the process of chicanery and control of information that began with the nuclear weapons tests of the 50s and 60s. In 1959, as the genetic effects of the atmospheric tests became apparent, the control of the understanding of radiation and health was wrested from the World Health Organization (WHO) and passed to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The arguments about the health effects of Chernobyl have mostly centered on cancer. I won’t write much about cancer here. The study of radiation and cancer has many complications, including that the data is often suspect, the time lag between the cancer diagnosis and the original radiation exposure can be 20 years, in which time a lot can happen, introducing ammunition (and opportunity) for those denying causation. The predictions of the global cancer yield of the Chernobyl contamination has ranged from around a million (as predicted independently by the European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR), Rosalie Bertell, John Gofman and me, to about 600,000 (Alexey Yablokov), to less than a few thousand (the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), whose risk model is the current basis for all legal constraints on radioactive releases in Europe.
Cancer is caused by genetic damage but takes a while to show. More easily studied is the immediate and direct genetic damage, demonstrated in birth rates of congenital diseases, birth defects, fetal abnormalities, data which is easier to locate. The effects of a sudden increase in radioactive contamination are most easily seen in sudden increases in these indicators. You don’t have to wait 20 years. Out they come after nine months or in aborted fetuses with their heart and central nervous system defects, their lack of hands and feet, their huge hydrocephalic heads, their inside-out organs, their cleft palates, cyclops eyes and the whole range of dreadful and usually fatal conditions. There is no argument, and the affair is in the hands of doctors, not physicists. The physicists of the ICRP base their risk of genetic effects on experiments with mice.
I was in Kiev in 2000 at the WHO conference on Chernobyl. On the podium, conducting the theatricals, were the top men in the IAEA (Abel Gonzalez) and the United National Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), represented by Canadian Norman Gentner. No effects can be seen—Abel Gonzalez. Internal radiation is the same as external—Norman Gentner. Happily you can watch this farce as it was videotaped by a Swiss team.
So: cut to the chase, to the fatal assault on the edifice of the current ICRP radiation risk model. In January 2016 Prof Inge Schmitz Feuerhake, Dr Sebastian Pflugbeil and I published a major review paper on the genetic effects of radiation in the prestigious Korean peer-reviewed Journal of Environmental Health and Toxicology.
What the research shows is that in every corner of the ex-Soviet Union and Europe and even further afield where epidemiologists and pediatricians looked, there were large and statistically significant increases in congenital diseases at birth and in babies that were aborted.
The new article recalculates the genetic risk from radiation based upon reports from Germany, Turkey, Greece, Croatia, Egypt, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Hungary, Italy, the UK, Scotland, Wales, indeed everywhere where anyone looked. There was a sudden jump in birth defects immediately following the contamination from Chernobyl and in proportion; but only up to the point where the exposure was so great the babies died in the womb or miscarried early in pregnancy. Thus, the relation between exposure level and effect was not a simple one where the birth defects increased with exposure: after a critical level of exposure they leveled off, or indeed fell. Also since contamination is still there, women are still giving birth to genetically damaged children some 30 years later. These results, published by many doctors, epidemiologists and researchers in many different journals, show that the effects occurred at levels of contamination that provided ‘doses’, that yardstick of radiation exposure invented by the ICRP, that were very low, often below the natural background dose.
It is worse: from research on the nuclear test site veterans’ grandchildren (also reviewed in the study) it is clear that these effects continue down the generations and will only disappear when an offspring dies without issue, and leaves the genome of the human race. And many will or already have done: since what causes genetic malformation in the infant, at a larger dose causes fetal death and infertility. No one can have failed to have noticed the increase in human infertility that has occurred since the radioactive contamination of the planet began in the 1950s. As ex- US Atomic Energy Commission scientists John Gofman wrote in 1981 “the nuclear industry is waging a war on humanity.”
How can it be possible that the legislative system has got it so wrong? The answer is also given in the paper. It is that the concept of ‘dose’ which may be convenient for the physicists as it is simple to compute, really does not address the situation where the substances that provide the dose are inside the body, often bound chemically to the DNA, which is the acknowledged target for all these genetic effects. It shows that the human genome (and of course that of all life) is exquisitely sensitive to radiation damage from such internal exposures, to Strontium-90, Plutonium-239, Uranium and particularly to the nano-particles containing these radioactive elements which were produced when the reactor No 4 blew apart.
The paper shows the studies of the Hiroshima bomb survivors, upon which the current unsafe radiation laws are based were faulty because the true comparison group, those not in the city at the time of the bombing, was abandoned when it began to look like there was a real effect. Was this stupidity? Was it a trick? Does someone have to go to jail?
Last month, Prof. Alexey Yablokov, Dr. Alex Rosen and I wrote to the editor of The Lancet, in a recorded delivery letter posted by the Independent WHO in Geneva, requesting space in that influential journal to draw attention to these truths and overturn the false and dangerous structures created by the physicists. Let us all hope that some good will finally come of the disaster—that the real legacy of Chernobyl will be the understanding of the true danger to health of radioactive pollution.
Note: The ECRR has focused on Chernobyl as a major data source for establishing the risk posed by radiation. It has concluded that the current ICRP model is in error by upwards of about 300-fold, for some types of internal exposures, by upwards of 1000-fold. This means that over the period of the radiation contamination, more than 60 million people have died from cancer as a result of the releases. This risk model is available on the website http://www.euradcom.org.
Christopher Busby is an expert on the health effects of ionizing radiation. He qualified in Chemical Physics at the Universities of London and Kent, and worked on the molecular physical chemistry of living cells for the Wellcome Foundation. Professor Busby is the Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk based in Brussels and has edited many of its publications since its founding in 1998. He has held a number of honorary University positions, including Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Health of the University of Ulster. Busby currently lives in Riga, Latvia. See also: http://www.chrisbusbyexposed.org, http://www.greenaudit.org and http://www.llrc.org.
World War I
During World War I, for security reasons the Australian Government pursued a comprehensive internment policy against enemy aliens living in Australia.
Initially only those born in countries at war with Australia were classed as enemy aliens, but later this was expanded to include people of enemy nations who were naturalised British subjects, Australian-born descendants of migrants born in enemy nations and others who were thought to pose a threat to Australia’s security.
Australia interned almost 7,000 people during World War I, of whom about 4,500 were enemy aliens and British nationals of German ancestry already resident in Australia.
World War II
During World War II, Australian authorities established internment camps for three reasons – to prevent residents from assisting Australia’s enemies, to appease public opinion and to house overseas internees sent to Australia for the duration of the war.
Unlike World War I, the initial aim of internment during the later conflict was to identify and intern those who posed a particular threat to the safety or defence of the country. As the war progressed, however, this policy changed and Japanese residents were interned en masse. In the later years of the war, Germans and Italians were also interned on the basis of nationality, particularly those living in the north of Australia. In all, just over 20 per cent of all Italians resident in Australia were interned.
Australia interned about 7,000 residents, including more than 1,500 British nationals, during World War II. A further 8,000 people were sent to Australia to be interned after being detained overseas by Australia’s allies. At its peak in 1942, more than 12,000 people were interned in Australia.
Residents of Australia
Most internees during both wars were nationals of Australia’s main enemy nations already living in Australia. During World War I Germans made up the majority of internees. During World War II, as well as Germans there were also large numbers of Italian and Japanese internees. Internees also included nationals of over 30 other countries, including Finland, Hungary, Portugal and Russia.
Not all internees were foreign nationals. Naturalised British subjects and those born in Australia were among those of German, Italian and Japanese origin who were interned. British-born subjects who were members of the radical nationalist organisation, the Australia First Movement, were also interned.
Men made up the majority of those interned, but some women and children also spent time in the camps.
Included in the numbers of internees accommodated in Australia were enemy aliens, mostly Germans and Japanese, from Britain, Palestine, Iran, the Straits Settlements (now Singapore and Malaysia), the Netherlands East Indies (now Indonesia), New Zealand and New Caledonia. Most famous among these groups were the Germans and Italians who arrived on the Dunera from England in 1940. The overseas internees included many women and children.
Prisoners of war
During World War I and World War II, Australia held both internees and prisoners of war. Prisoners of war were members of enemy military forces who were captured or had surrendered, whereas internees were civilians. Most prisoners of war in Australia were sent from overseas, very few were captured in Australia.
Many records do not make a clear distinction between civilian internees and military prisoners of war. The terms ‘prisoner’ and ‘internee’ were often used for both groups. In many cases internees and prisoners of war were accommodated in the same camps.
There were differences, however, in the rights of these two groups and the way they could be treated by Australian authorities. For example, prisoners of war could be made to work while internees could not. Internees also had to be paid for any work they undertook.
Internment camps were administered by the army and run along military lines. During World War I they were often referred to as concentration camps. Camps were established in re-purposed institutions such as the old gaols at Berrima and Trial Bay in New South Wales. The largest camp during World War l was at Holsworthy (Liverpool), west of Sydney.
During World War II, internees were first housed in prisons, such as at Long Bay gaol in New South Wales, or impromptu accommodation such as the Northam race course in Western Australia and the Keswick army barracks in Adelaide. The first camps were set up at the Enoggera (Gaythorne) and Liverpool military bases in Queensland and New South Wales and at the Dhurringile Mansion in Victoria.
As the numbers of internees grew, the early camps became too small. The Australian Government then constructed purpose-built camps at Tatura (Rushworth) in Victoria, at Hay and Cowra in New South Wales, at Loveday in South Australia and at Harvey in Western Australia.
Life for the internees varied between the camps, particularly between those that were temporary camps and those that were purpose-built. The conditions also depended on the geographical location of the camp, its climate, the composition of the camp population and importantly, the personality of the officer in charge.
After the wars
At the end of each war the internment camps were closed down. After World War I, most internees were deported. During World War II many internees, particularly Italians, were released before the end of the war. Others were allowed to leave the camps after hostilities ceased. Internees of British or European origin were permitted to remain in Australia after the war, including those who had been brought from overseas by British authorities. Most of those of Japanese origin, however, including some who were Australian-born, were ‘repatriated’ to Japan in 1946.