In the late morning of June 26th, 1975, two young FBI agents named Jack Coler and Robert Williams entered the property of Lakota Sioux elders Harry and Cecelia Jumping Bull while ostensibly investigating the theft of a pair of cowboy boots, and engaged in a firefight with several native activists who were camped there. Those two FBI agents and a young Indian named Joe Stuntz would be dead by mid-afternoon, slain in the South Dakota sun. Leonard Peltier, one of the activists camped at Jumping Bull that day, is currently serving back-to-back life sentences for the deaths of Coler and Williams. No investigation into the death of Stuntz was ever undertaken.
Reports of military style bunkers and strongholds and large stockpiles of weapons on the Jumping Bull property were disseminated to the American public within the days following this incident, but such reports were promptly found to be fabricated. In an enforced absence of the media during the first days after the event, the deaths of the agents were told to be execution-style murders, the work of hateful, vengeful native militants. This, too, proved to be false. The agents, it seems, did not announce themselves that day and so appeared simply as two armed white men on reservation land. A compelling case has been made that Coler and Williams drove onto that land that day and fired shots for no reason but to set into motion the chain of events which followed.
Violence against Indians on the greater Pine Ridge Reservation was entirely common at that time, and although at least some of that violence was funded and enabled by the FBI, the agency usually maintained a slightly more removed role than it did on this day. Dick Wilson, chairman of the Oglala Lakota Sioux was a militant assimilationist who had made it his mission throughout the early 1970s to suppress and punish expressions of native identity. He and his heavily armed, often drunk and extremely violent private squad of henchmen began terrorizing the Pine Ridge Reservation in 1972. Throughout his reign, uninvestigated violent deaths would befall more than one hundred residents of the reservation, and a climate of fear was pervasive. The Pine Ridge reservation, under Wilson’s rule, achieved the highest per-capita murder rate in the country and the dark clouds of alcoholism and poverty hung over everyday life there. Wilson received funds, arms, and reportedly alcohol from the federal government to operate and fuel his militia. The native activists camped on the Jumping Bull property on June 26th, 1975 were largely present as a response to these conditions, offering support and security to the residents of Pine Ridge in the face of Wilson’s thuggery.
Relations between such Native American traditionalist activists, loosely organized under the banner of the American Indian Movement (AIM) and various government agencies had become explosive through the early 1970s. AIM was inspired in part by the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Panthers but uniquely mobilized around pan-native spiritual practices, identity, and a vision that sought not necessarily advancement within the broader society, but the right to exist unmolested and to live a form of traditional native life without the violence and manipulation and strategic neglect so commonly experienced at the hands of the US government.
Two-and-a-half years before the Pine Ridge shootout, supporters of AIM had assembled in the town of Custer, South Dakota to respond to the sentencing of Darold Schmitz for the murder of an Indian named Wesley Bad Heart Bull. While the two men had essentially engaged in a drunken tussle which resulted in Bad Heart Bull’s death, several witnesses testified to hearing Schmitz earlier in the evening state that “he was going to kill him an Indian.” After word got out of an involuntary manslaughter verdict and low bail, AIM leaders mobilized and dozens of supporters flooded the little town of Custer. While AIM leaders Russell Means, Dennis Banks, Leonard Crow Dog and Dave Hill were in talks with local officials, the victim’s grieving mother, Sarah Bad Heart Bull was beaten by police while attempting to enter the courthouse. The ensuing conflict between Indians and police turned into a riot in which several buildings were burned. (Sarah Bad Heart Bull was subsequently sentenced to one to five years in prison while Schmitz never served one day.)
This incident is commonly considered the impetus for the 1973 occupation of the Wounded Knee memorial site by AIM activists and the subsequent 71-day standoff between two hundred AIM supporters and an army of federal agents, U.S. marshals, Dick Wilson’s thugs, and local ranchers. Russell Means and Dennis Banks were tried in 1974 as leaders of AIM and the primary organizers of that occupation. Means and Banks were acquitted after a disastrous and circus-like trial. The presiding judge, Fred Joseph Nichol, was so astonished by the questionable prosecutorial feats that he was, as quoted in Peter Matthiessen’s In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, moved to words of derision for the FBI.
It’s hard for me to believe that the FBI, which I have revered for so long, has stooped so low. I am forced to conclude that the prosecution acted in bad faith at various times throughout the course of the trial and was seeking convictions at the expense of justice. [ … ] The waters of justice have been polluted, and dismissal, I believe, is the appropriate cure for the pollution in this case.”
By June of 1975, the FBI was apparently frustrated beyond clear-headedness. Matthiessen’s exhaustive account elucidates the details of the incident at Jumping Bull which would eventually result in Leonard Peltier’s conviction. Among the most striking is the fact that while agents Coler and Williams were ostensibly investigating the theft of a pair of cowboy boots, a myriad of law enforcement and paramilitary forces totaling at least 250 men were assembling within a few miles of the Jumping Bull property, which was soon surrounded.
Throughout the exchange of fire, all of the Indians involved were able to escape into the hills, except for the fallen Joe Stuntz. Leonard Peltier, who was certainly among those who fled, eventually escaped to Canada, from where he was extradited back to the U.S. and tried for the murders of agents Coler and Williams.
Peltier’s extradition and trial proved to be even more fraught with fraud than the Means-Banks trial. The prosecution depended largely on the testimony of a mentally unstable woman named Myrtle Poor Bear who later admitted that she had been threatened and coerced by the FBI. Although she was groomed to damn Peltier, she later admitted that she had never met him.
Despite this and several other witnesses’ claims of coercion at the hands of the FBI, ballistics evidence which concluded in favor of Peltier’s innocence, and a general lack of evidence, Leonard Peltier was convicted and sentenced to two back-to-back life sentences.
He remains in prison today, at the United States Penitentiary in Coleman, Florida, where he was moved after being severely beaten by inmates at a facility in Canaan, Pennsylvania in 2009. He is today 70-years-old. Several presidents, including Barack Obama, have flirted with the idea of granting Peltier clemency amidst enormous pressure from the international human rights community, intellectuals, celebrities, and spiritual leaders, though none has yet followed through. Recent reports highlight Peltier’s failing health and lack of proper medical treatment.
Peltier is considered by many of his supporters to have been arbitrarily chosen for conviction after earlier attempts to convict AIM leaders failed. Although obviously a controversial and contentious subject, enough evidence has emerged in defense of Peltier over the years that he counts among his supporters the Dalai Lama, the late Nelson Mandela, the late Mother Theresa, the European Parliament, the National Lawyers Guild, Angela Davis, Amnesty International, The Human Rights Alliance, Rev. Jesse Jackson, and many others who believe that he is held as a political prisoner.
With the 1983 publication of In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, Peter Matthiessen was sued for libel by the FBI and related parties. As Martin Garbus explains in the afterword for the second edition of the book, the very existence of that edition is significant in the face of these legal battles.
The printing of this new edition is thus a joyful occasion for those of us who care about the dissemination of ideas, no matter how controversial, and worry about any erosion of the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. It is a defeat for former South Dakota Governor William Janklow, for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and for FBI Special Agent David Price, all of whom tried to stop this book by filing suits in three stages, waging an eight-year litigation, and calling and threatening booksellers and book buyers. It is also a defeat for all those who wish to keep this country in the dark about abuses against its citizens in the past and present eras.”
Matthiessen’s legal victories essentially validated all accounts in the book as sound.
In addition to the 1991 edition of Matthiessen’s book, the 1992 documentary, Incident at Oglala, produced and narrated by Robert Redford, also helped to renew public interest in Peltier’s story. The Washington Post review of that film states: “Only the willfully partisan will disagree [Peltier’s] trial was anything but a government-cooked travesty.”
Efforts are ongoing to convince President Obama to grant clemency to Peltier, as are efforts to prevent just such a thing from happening. His next parole hearing is scheduled for 2024.
This is a letter from a Palestinian Christian to the news director and lead anchor of EWTN News, the news division of the Eternal Word Television Network, a Catholic broadcast network with Zionist leanings.
Dear Raymond Arroyo,
I was watching your world over segment last night on EWTN and I had some concerns. My name is Mary. I’m a conservative Catholic from Bethlehem, Palestine.
I know you didn’t think we existed – don’t worry, you’re not the only one.
Besides, Israel propaganda does a great job making sure people think Palestinians only consist of mean crazy Muslims fighting the innocent virtuous God chosen people.
I couldn’t help but notice you were one of them, which struck me as very odd considering you work for a religious channel not political, and even if you yourself had your biases it should not be portrayed on your show.
Let me clarify some things if I may, sir. I have three cousins that are priests an uncle who is a Bishop look them up Bishop William Shomali, Fr. Ibrahim Shomali and Fr. Issa Shomali.
My mother lived in Rome for ten years, she almost got ordained to become a nun.
Yes we are pretty conservative and we are proud of our faith. Growing up in occupied Palestine just made our faith even stronger.
Watching on a daily basis Israeli jeeps with huge rifles sticking out from the back of the jeep threatening to shoot us at any moment just because we happened to live on the wrong side of town.
On the way to my St Joseph all-girls Catholic school I saw them making dirty comments, staring me in the face, mocking me.
I saw them shoot little children because they threw rocks at them, and sometimes for absolutely no reason.
In my peaceful town of Beit Sahour, mostly Christians, the first boy to get killed by Israelis was 16 years old.
He was walking home from the store when Israeli soldiers dropped a huge rock on his head from the top of a building and watched him crawl home bleeding until he died at the front steps of his home. He was Christian, he did nothing to them.
Yet you don’t feel any sympathy for him. The second boy was at home in the kitchen watching his mom making fries.
An Israeli settler — you know, those guys who built a home illegally on Palestinian land and are armed — shot him through the window and killed him in front of his mom.
His name was Salam, it means peace. He was a Christian, not involved in anything. Yet you wouldn’t feel any sympathy for him because he’s not Jewish.
I can go on and on and on about how Israel was created, the wars literally kicking people out of their homes and moving in them, the massacres.
The times when they would put the whole town on house arrest, which means we can’t leave the home or look out the window. It would take weeks sometimes.
We are Christians and yet you wouldn’t feel any sympathy for us. When they would set us free they would shout in the microphone in their jeeps “home arrest is off you dogs and cows and donkeys”. And yet it’s all justified.
One time a Christian nurse from my home town took home a young boy who was wounded by Israeli soldiers. He was involved in a protest against occupation and must have thrown a rock at one of the jeeps (oh the horror!)
The soldiers went to her home, and arrested and imprisoned her for years for treating a wounded boy; how dare she!!
And when the town had many protests to free her they released her to Jordan and she was never allowed back to her home. And yet we are the terrorists and you have no sympathy for us.
My ancestors come from that land back in the days when people lived in caves even.
What if we are the original Christians that followed Jesus 2000 years ago — wouldn’t we have the same right to live there in dignity and yet we have none.
And you don’t care. We will continue to carry the cross proudly on our shoulder and suffer, we will continue to pray for our enemy and for peace.
We will not hate, we will only tell the truth. This is what our Bible teaches; you should try doing the same. Peace be with you my friend.
Love, Mary Alshomaly from the Holy Land of Jesus
One of the sources of the ongoing, and deepening, political and economic crisis in Ukraine is the excessive concentration of power in Kyiv’s hands. It is a key issue underlying the civil war in the east of the country.
Kyiv has always maintained a policy of ‘one nation, one language’ for Ukraine. Even two Russian-speaking presidents of Ukraine from the Russian-speaking southeast of the country–Leonid Kuchma and Viktor Yanukovych–remained loyal to that mantra, betraying electoral promises they had made to grant the Russian language a status as a second, official language of Ukraine.
In the realm of the economy, Kyiv has always kept the lion’s share of taxation revenues, denying a fare share to the regions. According to Tatiana Muntian, a lawyer and activist defending the interests of ordinary Ukrainians, under Yanukovych, this share constituted 80 per cent of revenue, with only 20 per cent remaining in the regions. The new, “democratic” regime in Kyiv is today taking 82%.
The delegation of powers to different levels of government is a feature of Western democracies, more pronounced in some than in others. Local autonomy is particularly important in countries composed of diverse regions with different histories, languages and cultures. It provides regions with the opportunity to manage their own finances and define their own social, educational, economic, and health policies and preserve distinctive cultural or regional identities.
One of the main reasons for the current civil war in Ukraine is the refusal of Kyiv to grant such autonomy to the regions of the country. The people of the Donbas region (Donetsk and Lugansk) rebelled because they did not approve of the extreme-nationalist ideology and interpretation of history being imposed on the whole country by the pro-Western regime which came to power in Kyiv as a result of the coup d’état of February 2014 (or call it the “Revolution of Dignity”, if you will). If Donbas and other regions of Ukraine had more autonomy in deciding how to spend the money they raise through taxation and which languages receive official status, the present war would not have happened. Kyiv refused to grant the autonomy, so Donbas had no choice but to fight for it.
Russia, in turn, provided political support to Donbas’ grievances by repeatedly requesting of the Kyiv government that it respect Donetsk and Lugansk and negotiates with them as equals and by getting involved in working on a peaceful solution of the conflict through Minsk agreements. Russia also supports the rebel region by sending its own humanitarian aid convoys, facilitating others, and declining to follow Western diktats that it block the movement and activities of Russian volunteers supporting the insurgency.
Europe hints that it understands the situation. European Union leaders encourage Ukraine’s leadership, which aspires so desperately to join Europe, to decentralize power. Ukraine is required under the terms of the Minsk-2 ceasefire agreement of February 12, 2015 to write and approve a much-talked about legislation on decentralization. This is not only crystal clear in the agreement, but it is also very much needed for a variety of compelling reasons internal to the country. Clause number 11 of Minsk-2 stipulates that Ukraine must adopt and apply by the end of 2015 a new constitution that has as a key element a decentralization which takes into consideration the “particularities” of “certain districts” of Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts, agreed upon with the representatives of these districts.
Ukraine has pledged to adopt by the end of 2015 permanent legislation on the special status of “certain districts” of Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts. Note 1 of the agreement spells out detailed measures that must be included in the legislation. (The Russian original of Minsk-2 can be found on the website of the OSCE; the English version can be found on UNIAN news agency).
The evasive formula of “certain districts of Donetsk and Lugansk” is a compromise between Russia and Europe, the latter as represented by France and Germany. The presidents of these countries plus Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko and Russian president Vladimir Putin negotiated these agreements during unprecedented several-hours talks in Minsk in February of this year. It is clear from this phrasing, and confirmed by Russia’s own declarations, that Russia had no intention of recognizing the rebellious Donbas regions as independent political entities or accepting them into membership of the Russian Federation. Otherwise, the “certain districts” would be called by their self-identification names – Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR). For its part, the leaders of Europe, who refused to see DNR and LPR as legitimate formations, recognized in Minsk the distinctive character of this region of Ukraine.
Footnote 1 of the Minsk agreements is a clear and simple roadmap for the creation of an autonomous entity of Donbas as part of the Ukrainian state: in addition to guaranteeing the exemption from punishment, persecution and discrimination of individuals “involved in the events that took place in certain districts of Donetsk and Lugansk Regions”, Ukraine pledged to assure that:
– these regions would have linguistic self-determination;
– local government would participate in the appointment of the heads of the Prosecutor’s office and courts;
– local executive power organs would be able to sign agreements with the central organs of the executive power (the Cabinet of Ministers) regarding the economic, social, and cultural development of “certain districts”;
– the Ukrainian state would support the socio-economic development of the districts; central executive bodies would assist the districts in their cross-border cooperation with regions of the Russian Federation;
– local councils would have the authority to create people’s militia units in order to maintain public order;
– the powers of local council deputies and officials, elected in early elections, called by the Verkhovna Rada according to this law, could not be prematurely terminated.
All of these provisions are already written and adopted as a law of Ukraine “On a special local government order in certain districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions”, which came into effect on September 16, 2014. However, this “special order”, according to the law, will be temporary – only for three years. Ukraine avoided granting autonomy to Donbas on a permanent basis.
The bill on decentralization, which was proposed to the Verkhovna Rada by President Poroshenko on July 1, 2015, had the same flaw – it stipulated only in the “transitional provisions” in its concluding section that the local self government in certain regions of Donetsk and Luhansk regions are determined in a separate law. This has provoked criticism by representatives of Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics that the provision for their autonomy is not included in the main body of the Constitution of Ukraine. The representative of the DPR Denis Pushilin, stated also that Ukraine did not send its proposed amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine to the Lugansk and Donetsk working groups of Minsk-2 which are supposed to work on implementing the agreement. This failure by Ukraine is in violation of clause 11, according to which constitutional reform should be “agreed with representatives of these “districts of Donetsk and Lugansk”.
The official proposals of Donetsk and Lugansk on decentralization, sent in May of 2015, were completely ignored by Kyiv, stated Pushilin. He said that the republics will insist on a detailed formulation of their special status in the main body of the Constitution of Ukraine, not just an interim passim in the “transitional provisions”. The Kremlin, through the words of Dmitri Peskov, the press-secretary of President Putin, reiterated the criticism formulated by the DPR and LPR. Volodymyr Hroysman, the speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, stated in May 2015 that the constitutional commission of Ukraine did not receive any “official” proposal on behalf of the DPR and LPR. So, Kyiv still refuses to treat DPR and LPR representatives as partners in negotiations, ignoring their legitimate requests, based on Minsk-2 agreements.
Criticism by Donetsk, Lugansk and Russia of the Ukraine’s bill was duly noted by the West. Leaders in Europe and the United States covertly put pressure on Kyiv to amend the bill. The vice-speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, Oksana Syroid, stated recently that on July 14, Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande telephoned the speaker of the Rada, Volodymyr Hroysman, urging him to ensure that the bill is voted for .
On July 15, one day before the bill was scheduled for a vote in the Rada, Victoria -“f*** the EU”- Nuland flew to Kyiv to assist her disciples in the science of democracy and vote correctly. On the same day, Poroshenko tabled a new, revised draft of the bill, in which the provision that the local governments in certain regions of Donetsk and Luhansk regions are determined in a separate law was moved from “transitional provisions” to chapter XV “Transitional provisions” of the main body of the Constitution. No elaborate formulation of this “local government”, no permanent status, neither. On the day of the vote on July 16, three high officials from the West were present in the Rada to make sure that their Ukrainian disciples do the right thing and vote for the bill. These officials were the Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, the US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Payette, and the Head of the EU delegation to Ukraine Jan Tombinski.
Having voted for the revised bill, the Rada sent it to the Constitutional Court, which verified the bill for the validity of statute and on July 30 delivered the verdict that the bill conforms to the Constitution of Ukraine. Now the bill is to be voted for the second time in the current session, which will expire on August 31. It will be voted for the third time in a new session due to open on September 1. At the second and third reading, the bill must receive the support of 300 deputies. It received 288 votes at the first reading. Two factions in the Rada, the Radical Party of Oleh Liashko and Samopomich (Self-reliance), voted against.
The bill has been criticized in several points by the Radicals and Samopovich. Liashko, who is known for highly emotional speeches in the Rada and for reciting poems and singing of the national anthem, stated that his party will never vote for a constitution which contains a clause providing special status of Donbas. “Our volunteers did not fight for the country so that Motorola, Givi [military leaders of the Donbas rebellion] and other terrorists obtain a special status”, stated Liashko, although Poroshenko himself acknowledged from the podium of the Rada, that the proposed changes to the Constitution “only admit the possibility of a specific order of the realization of the local (stress by Poroshenko) government in certain administrative and territorial units of Lugansk and Donetsk regions, which is determined by a separate law”. So here we go: no special status, no autonomy, only a “temporary”, special local government.
The bill on decentralization has been criticized by the Radical Party and by many others, including the former leader of the Socialist Party, Olexandr Moroz, and the Samopomich party, for centralizing power instead of delegating it to the regions. The bill provides for the introduction of the institution of prefects, which will replace current heads of regional state administrations. Prefects would exercise executive power on a local level and would be appointed directly by the President of Ukraine on the proposal of the Cabinet of Ministers, being accountable before both. They would supervise local governments to ensure the compliance of their actions with the constitution and laws of Ukraine, as well as the compliance of the “territorial organs of the central organs of the executive power”. (This latter formula is vague and hard to understand, as are many passages of the bill on decentralization).
A prefect will have the power to decree acts which will be mandatory for the respective territory (article 110) and to block the acts of local governments if a prefect deems them anti-constitutional (article 144). In cases where a local government or its head adopts an “act” which does not respect the Constitution of Ukraine or threatens state sovereignty, territorial integrity or the national security of Ukraine, the president of the country is empowered to veto this act, suspend the offending local government (councils) and appoint an interim “state representative” who will “direct and organize” the work of the local executive organs of power. The president would concomitantly send a request to the Constitutional Court to examine the act in question and determine whether it violates the constitution. In cases where the Constitutional Court decides that a local act does violate the constitution, the Rada, upon the proposal of the president, would terminate the powers of the head of the local government or of the entire local council and call early elections (article 144).
The current regional and district administrations do not have the power to dismiss local councils and cannot stop or suspend the decision of local governments, as Liashko rightly remarks. Moreover, local councils can dismiss the head of the state administration if two thirds of the deputies of local councils express non confidence. In such a case, the President of Ukraine is required to decree the dismissal of the head of the local administration (http://w1.c1.rada.gov.ua/pls/zweb2/webproc4_1?pf3511=55812 ).
The head of the parliamentarian fraction of Samopomich party, Oleh Bereziuk, criticizes the institution of prefects because it introduces a dual executive power on the local level – both prefects and regional or city councils will have it. However, the prefects also have control and coordination functions, which imply a possibility of punishment – prefects can intimidate local councils by threatening to dissolve them, since the president has the power to dissolve the council upon prefect’s suggestion.
The member of the Opposition Bloc fraction in the Rada, Mikhail Papiev, also voiced cautions of his party regarding the decentralization bill. He believes that prefects should only effectuate a state supervision, not to be the head of the executive power; the executive local organs should have the full executive power. Papiev also cautioned that imprecise wording of the clause would allow, or open the door to, the president to suspend (or, in the literal translation from Ukrainian, temporarily halt) activities of a local council. The Constitutional Court would then examine immediately whether the decisions of the council are anti-constitutional, threatening a situation where in territories out of favor with the central power, there would be no councils and state commissioners would perpetually rule the region. Papiev also reminded that the proposed bill was not discussed and agreed upon with the representatives of Donetsk and Lugansk and that the special statute of Donbas is not written explicitly as an article in the Constitution. A special law, which is mentioned instead in the proposed bill, could be declared as anti-constitutional and revoked.
The representative of the Batkivshchyna [Fatherland] Party, Ihor Lutsenko, noted that there is no provision for the revocation of the right of a prefect to suspend legal acts adopted by a local government. Nobody can hold him accountable on the local level. Under such circumstances, a prefect can become a sole source of power in the region, an autocrat who watches over the local government. It can be interpreted as the interference of the state power into the local governance. The right of the president to suspend local governments and to appoint an interim state commissioner means that the Rada could allow the president in peacetime to halt the functioning of local authorities on some far-fetched pretext and introduce direct rule. For instance, under the current legislation, even corruption is considered a threat to national security of Ukraine. Lutsenko qualified this provision as a “legal perversion”.
The former head of the Socialist Party of Ukraine, Olexandr Moroz, stressed that the prefect will be the “the man in charge” in the region, which goes against the affirmation that the power in the region is controlled by the population. It is not clear, according to the proposed changes to the Constitution, what exact powers a prefect will have, what his status will be or what he/she will do, outlined Moroz.
I have already mentioned that the bill on decentralization suffers from many vague formulations. For instance, in the chapter on the prefect’s powers, it is stipulated that he/she “coordinates the activities of the territorial organs of the central organs of the executive power”. What are these territorial organs? The central organs of executive power in Ukraine are the Cabinet of Ministers and various ministries, state agencies and services. There is no such thing as “territorial organs” in the current political-administrative system of Ukraine. Probably, they will be created as part of the planned reform in Ukraine.
According to the proposed article 133, the new administrative-territorial division (ATD) of Ukraine will consist of communities (hromady), districts (rayony), and regions. The community is the primary, the smallest unit. It is called “a territorial community”. Communities form a district, and several districts form a region. In the current administrative-territorial system in Ukraine, a village is the smallest unit. A district is a formation of many villages and towns, with a city as an administrative centre of a district. An oblast is a regional formation, regrouping several districts. The planned reform of the ATD in Ukraine was outlined, prior to the proposed bill on decentralization, in the law of Ukraine “On the voluntary merging of territorial communities”, adopted by the Rada on February 5, 2015. The goal of this law was to solve a chronic problem of the Ukrainian state: shortages of funds for the financing of schools, hospitals or first-aid centres, other elements of social infrastructure, and the bureaucratic apparatus of village and city councils. The goal was to reduce the number of villages and districts, thus reducing the costs of administration and of services.
The voluntary merging, according to the law, is initiated by the head of a village or a city, deputies of the village or city council (at least one third of them), or members of a “self-organization” of the population (again, they have to represent the interests of at least one third of the members of the local community). The question has to be publicly debated, and after that the local council adopts a decision on the voluntary merger. The decision is then directed to the regional state administration which approves it.
The territorial communities of neighboring villages, towns, and cities are the subjects of the voluntary merging. An administrative centre of a newly formed territorial community should be a locality that has a developed infrastructure and is situated close to the geographical centre of the community. The name of that locality becomes the name of the territorial community.
Territorial communities will form districts (raions), which will be much bigger than the existing ones. Currently there are dozens of raions within an oblast. In the new system, these dozens will be amalgamated into 4-7 larger raions, with the population of each to be between 150,000 to 400,000 residents. In total, around 120-130 enlarged raions will be created in Ukraine. The geographical borders of oblasts will remain the same, but instead of oblasts they will be called rehiony (regions).
In regions and raions both, there will be local governments as well as organs of state power, similar to current state administrations. The central power will be represented by prefects. The executive power will be given to the executive committees of raion and region councils.
At the lowest level of governance,–a territorial community–there will be no representative of the central power. A community will take over the major part of services to the population, which currently are provided by raion centers. A universal centre of administrative services will be created in each community (ibid).
The bill stipulates that heads of communities, as well as deputies of the councils of communities, raions, and oblasts, are elected in a free election, by exercising a general, equal and direct right to vote through a secret ballot. What “oblast councils”, if no such administrative unit will exist anymore?
In general, the terminology of the administrative division of Ukraine is a weird patchwork of various historical terms. To start with, hromada is an old Ukrainian word which denotes more than a type of settlement—it denotes a collectivity of people, united by common life, interests and a territory. Therefore, to use it in the sense of an administrative unit is not appropriate. Raion comes from the former Soviet administrative system, while the word “region” has been employed in Ukrainian in the sense of a geographical entity which is larger than an oblast and has its own cultural, historical, and natural particularities, such as the Donbas region, Carpathian region, Southern Ukraine region etc. The new proposed terminology is awkward and confusing.
The bill on decentralization states that the territorial community directly or through the community council will manage the communal property, form a budget and control its implementation, adopt programs of social-economic and cultural development and control its implementation; establish local taxes and fees and other local matters in its competencies (article 143). However, the proposed article 142 significantly reduces the competencies of the communities because it stipulates that the state “ensures the commensurability of financial resources and the scope of competencies of organs of local governance” and that “a change in the competency of the organ of local self-governance is made concomitantly with the respective changes in the repartition of financial resources”. What does that mean? According to the Ukrainian philosopher and blogger Serhiy Datsiuk, it means that the state determines the scope of formal competencies of the local governments by equating it with the finances available, and the state itself determines the scope of finances. That is, the state continues to distribute resources to regions “in a manual mode”, without strict rules and principles. Again, it means that the budgets will be formed not from the bottom up but from the top down, which goes against the logic of decentralization.
The bill also stipulates that the raion and oblast councils adopt raion and oblast budgets and “resolves other issues in its competency, determined by the law”. The oblast councils also adopt a regional program of the social-economic and cultural development of the oblast. So, again, what we are talking about here – a region or an oblast? And why is the raion council not involved in the adoption of these programs, only the community and oblast councils?
One paragraph later, the bill stipulates that the law (which law?) delimits powers of local governments on the three levels of self-governance “on the principle of subsidiarity” (art. 143), without explaining what exactly this principle means.
And speaking about elections on the local level, following the old schedule they will take place in October of this year. The elected officials will then carry out the major part of their administrative duties while the central power organs will carry out the reform. New local elections will then take place in October of 2017, and the new local governments, provided for in the bill, will start functioning fully. The question that I have, given the dire economic situation in the country is, why not start implementing the reform now, keeping the current local self-governance organs in place, and then, once the transitional period is over and a new power structure is in place, to call local elections then? I guess an answer to this question, at least partly, maybe that the power holders in Kyiv need to assure the presence of their fellow party members on the local level, especially in the “non-reliable” regions of Southern and Eastern Ukraine, where many of the former Party of Region members (the party, of sorts, of President Yanukovych) work in local councils.
My conclusions, after a long analysis of the proposed bill on decentralization, are that it is not really decentralization but, rather, a reinforcement of the presidential “vertical” power. It is a document written hastily and without clear formulations. It is a document that was pushed through the Verkhovna Rada by President Poroshenko and Prime-Minister Yatsenyuk in order to please their Western allies and to pretend that the current regime in Kyiv is fulfilling its obligations under the Minsk-2 agreement. This document has not been discussed with the representatives of Donetsk and Lugansk, which undermines negotiations which are already practically non-existent and it undermines a possible political solution between Kyiv and Donbas.
As to the roadmap of real decentralization, which Ukraine desperately needs, this bill will need to be significantly improved to remove vague formulations and make the clauses more precise and clear. As it is, the bill is but a variation of the existing administrative-territorial division of Ukraine and a reshuffling of the current legislation. The old adage “the more things change, the more they remain the same” holds true in Ukraine.
Halyna Mokrushyna is currently enrolled in the PhD program in Sociology at the University of Ottawa and a part-time professor. She holds a doctorate in linguistics and MA degree in communication. Her academic interests include: transitional justice; collective memory; ethnic studies; dissent movement in Ukraine; history of Ukraine; sociological thought. Her doctoral project deals with the memory of Stalinist purges in Ukraine. In the summer of 2013 she travelled to Lviv, Kyiv, Kharkiv and Donetsk to conduct her field research. She is currently working on completing her thesis. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Defied UN Resolutions 1970 and 1973
Since the start of the Canadian election campaign a series of posts have detailed the Harper Conservatives repeated abuse of power. The Tyee published “Harper, Serial Abuser of Power”, which listed “70 Harper government assaults on democracy and the law.” But the widely disseminated list omitted what may be the Conservatives’ most flagrant – and far-reaching –lawbreaking. In 2011 Ottawa defied UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) 1970 and 1973, which were passed amidst the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi’s four-decade rule in Libya.
In direct contravention of these legally binding resolutions, Canadian troops were on the ground in the North African country. On September 13, three weeks after Tripoli fell to the anti-Gaddafi National Transition Council, Canada’s state broadcaster reported: “CBC News has learned there are members of the Canadian Forces on the ground in Libya.”
A number of other media outlets reported that highly secretive Canadian special forces were fighting in Libya. On February 28, CTV.ca reported “that Canadian special forces are also on the ground in Libya” while Esprit du Corp editor Scott Taylor noted Canadian Special Operations Regiment’s flag colours in the Conservatives’ post-war celebration. But, any Canadian ‘boots on the ground’ in Libya violated UNSCR 1973, which explicitly excluded “a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory.”
The Conservative government also directly armed the rebels in contravention of international law. Waterloo-based Aeryon Scout Micro supplied the rebels with a three-pound, backpack-sized Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. The director of field support for the company, Charles Barlow, traveled 18 hours on a rebel operated boat from Malta to the rebels training facility in Misrata. There, Barlow taught the rebels how to operate this Canadian-developed drone, which was used to gather intelligence on the front lines. In an interview after Gaddafi’s death, Barlow said: “I hope we did a little tiny part to help get rid of that man.”
According to various reports the drone was paid for out of Libyan government assets frozen in Canada. Aeryon CEO Dave Kroetsch said the company was “approached by the Canadian government.” But, in April 2011 Foreign Affairs officials advised then foreign minister Lawrence Cannon that providing military assistance to the Libyan rebels contravened UNSCR 1970. Based on documents uncovered through the Access to Information Act, Project Ploughshares reported: “A ‘Memorandum for Action’ signed by the Minister on April 11, noted that under the UN Security Council resolution that established the arms embargo against Libya, ‘Canada generally cannot permit the export of arms to Libya without the prior approval of the UN 1970 Sanctions Committee.’ The memo also stated that the arms embargo ‘encompasses any type of weapon … as well as technical assistance such as the provision of instruction, training or intelligence.’ It confirms that the UN arms embargo on Libya precluded the transfer of the Canadian surveillance drone to Libyan opposition forces.
However, the memo also provided an interpretive feint for Canada by which it could allow the drone to be exported. It noted that Security Council Resolution 1973 contains language that key partners the US, the UK and France interpreted as permitting provision of arms to Libyan opposition forces as part of ‘all necessary measures … to protect civilians.’ The memo was clear that this interpretation was not shared by many other states, including NATO allies Italy and Norway.”
The government failed to inform all departments about its interpretive feint. In early 2012 a Canadian Forces website plainly stated that UNSCR 1970 “called for an international arms embargo on Libya” and “[UNSCR] 1973 of 17 March, which strengthened the arms embargo.”
Montréal-based security firm Garda World also contravened international law. Sometime in the “summer of 2011”, according to its website, Garda began operating in the country. After the National Transition Council captured Tripoli (six weeks before Muammar Gaddafi was killed in Sirte on October 20, 2011) the rebels requested Garda’s assistance in bringing their forces “besieging the pro-Qaddafi stronghold of Sirte to hospitals in Misrata”, reported Bloomberg. [iv] UNSCR 1970 specifically mandated all UN member states “to prevent the provision of armed mercenary personnel” into Libya.
Resolution 1973 reinforced the arms embargo, mentioning “armed mercenary personnel” in three different contexts. In an article titled “Mercenaries in Libya: Ramifications of the Treatment of ‘Armed Mercenary Personnel’ under the Arms Embargo for Private Military Company Contractors”, Hin-Yan Liu points out that the Security Council’s “explicit use of the broader term ‘armed mercenary personnel’ is likely to include a significant category of contractors working for Private Military Companies (PMCs).”1
Canadian officials probably introduced the rebels to Garda, the world’s largest privately held security firm. In fact, Ottawa may have paid Garda to help the rebels. As mentioned, the federal government used some of the $2.2 billion it froze in Libyan assets in Canada to pay Aeryon Scout to equip and train the rebels with a UAV.
After Gaddafi was killed the Conservatives spent $850,000 on a nationally televised war celebration for the troops that fought in Libya. Harper called it “a day of honour… Soldier for soldier, sailor for sailor, airman for airman, the Canadian Armed Forces are the best in the world.”
But don’t expect the Prime Minister to discuss Libya during the election. “Since Colonel Gaddafi’s death in Sirte in October 2011,” the BBC reported recently, “Libya has descended into chaos, with various militias fighting for power.” ISIS has taken control of parts of the country while a government in Tripoli and another in Benghazi claim national authority
The Conservatives’ violation of international law delivered a terrible blow to Libya. If international affairs weren’t largely defined by the ‘might makes right’ principle, Harper would find himself in the dock.
- Hin-Yan Liu, Mercenaries in Libya: Ramifications of the Treatment of ‘Armed Mercenary Personnel’ under the Arms Embargo for Private Military Company Contractors, Journal of Conﬂict & Security Law, Vol 16, No 2, 2011
Yves Engler is the author of The Ugly Canadian: Stephen Harper’s foreign policy. His Canada in Africa — 300 years of Aid and Exploitation will be published in September and he will be speaking across the country in the lead up to the election.
By the worst means, the worst. For mine own good,
All causes shall give way: I am in blood
Stepped in so far, that, should I wade no more,
Returning were as tedious as go o’er.
Jeremy Corbyn is a longtime British Labour MP, hitherto little known outside Britain. Following the resignation of Labour leader Ed Miliband, Corbyn is one of four MPs nominated in the leadership contest, currently subject to ballot amongst Party members and supporters until 10 September.
Corbyn has been subject to a tsunami of criticism and abuse since his nomination, providing abundant evidence on the odious character of the current British political establishment and on the farce that is curiously labeled the democratic process.
Moreover, Corbyn, supporter of the Palestinian cause, has experienced full guns blazing from official British Jewry. On 12 August, the Jewish Chronicle broadsided with ‘The key questions that Jeremy Corbyn must answer’. With the emphasis on ‘must’.
Soon after, Jewish Labour MP Ivan Lewis becomes ‘the first senior Labour politician to attack Corbyn’s credentials on anti-Semitism’. And there will be more to come. How could anyone who finds Israel’s actions unacceptable imagine that they had the right to become leader of a major British political Party?
* * *
The treatment of Corbyn by the British Zionist mafia is not novel but redolent of the behavior of the British Zionist machine since its inception. Some insight into this machine can be had from a forgotten book, which a correspondent has alerted me to. The book is Publish It Not: The Middle East Cover-Up, written by Michael Adams and Christopher Mayhew, published in 1975 (Longman).
Adams (died 2005) was a journalist, Mayhew (died 1997) a Labour MP (later a Liberal) and broadcaster. Both came to be critics of Israel from a position of innocence, product of firsthand experience in their professional capacities. The hostility that they and other critics of Israel experienced on British soil led them to write the book.
The authors draw comfort from Nahum Goldmann, then President of the World Jewish Congress, reported (Jewish Chronicle, 7 June 1974) as claiming:
“… by blindly supporting the mistaken course of Israeli policy and by telling the Israelis only what they wanted to hear, Diaspora Jews had done Israel a disservice.”
Ill-informed (Adams was teaching in cut-off Finland in the late 1940s) and inexperienced, Adams found himself hired as Middle East correspondent for the Manchester Guardian in 1956. He was to remain employed until 1962, but continued to be published there until 1968. With respect to Israel:
“What I saw, in brief, was the fact of injustice; of an injustice which, it seemed, had been knowingly committed and was still being deliberately prolonged; an injustice – worst shock of all – which could be directly traced to a decision taken by a British government. I am speaking, of course, of the injustice done to the Palestinians …”
Adams notes that he could have accepted the past as spilt milk, but for two factors.
“The first of these was the realisation that the world’s ignorance of what had happened and was still happening in Palestine was not accidental: that there were plenty of people about whose primary concern it was to distort and suppress the truth about Palestine without bothering their heads with any concerns about freedom of speech. And the second factor … was the Suez crisis, which it became my duty to observe and report for The Manchester Guardian. It was a decisive experience.”
Then came the Israeli takeover of what was to become the ‘occupied territories’ following the Six Day War of June 1967. For Adams:
“There was a kind of Watergate in action … to protect those who made it their business to defend Israel and to subject to an insidious form of discrimination those who sought to expose the true aims of Israeli policy. Such non-conformists were subtly made aware that their jobs might be at risk, their books unpublishable, their preferment out of the question, their pubic reputations vulnerable, if they did not renounce the heresy of anti-Zionism. And for the most part, the merest flourish of such secret weapons was enough to reduce them to silence.”
The handful of dissenters learned that:
“… the imbalance of public opinion, in this deeply contentious area of foreign politics, was deliberately contrived and painstakingly maintained; and that those who were intent on maintaining it were not above resorting to some very dirty tricks against those who tried, as we were trying, to disturb it. I was to learn this lesson myself the hard way …”
In 1967, Adams, Mayhew and others formed the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding and the Labour Middle East Council. CAABU membership comprised well-credentialled professionals with Middle Eastern experience, but it was derided as an Arab propaganda front. The Labour Middle East Council was denied affiliation with the Labour Party. Mayhew notes:
“… we were startled by the vehemence with which … we were attacked and exposed to insult, and by the extraordinary anonymous letters which we became accustomed to receiving. In some respects these attacks were so bitter and unrestrained as to appear pathological.”
Christopher Mayhew’s first personal brush with Zionism was upon receipt of a letter dated 5 December 1946:
“We are determined this time to squash you British sons of a bitch and we declare war to the finish against the British. For every Jew you stinking British pigs kill in Palestine you will pay a thousandfold in fetid English blood. The [Lahome Herut Israel] has passed sentence of death on the British pig Mayhew. The execution will soon take place by silent and new means.”
At that time, letter bombs were received by several people. One such package was sent to an avowed anti-Zionist Roy Farran, which killed his brother.
Mayhew’s first professional exposure was as Undersecretary for Labour Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin. The Commons, 11 July 1948. It is 8 a.m., after an all night sitting. Mayhew is alone on the Government front bench. The Commons is empty. Save for:
“… behind me, wide awake, well-informed, passionate, articulate and aggressive, would be a group of twenty or thirty pro-Israeli Labour members. Most of them would be Jewish … and also Israel’s most brilliant non-Jewish supporter, Dick Crossman.”
At this ridiculous time, a debate on the recognition of Israel was initiated by a young Labour backbencher. Mayhew replied:
“Has my Honourable Friend ever heard that there is an Arab point of view? … The trouble with my Honourable Friend, as the whole of his speech shows, is that he is not sufficiently in touch with the Arab point of view on the Palestine problem.”
And thus it would be for Mayhew’s entire time in the Commons, harangued, abused, then marginalized. But the early target was Bevin himself, labelled successfully as an anti-Semite. Mayhew again:
“I remember clearly [Bevin’s] dislike of Zionist methods and tactics, and, indeed, of the Zionist philosophy itself. He was passionately and unshakably anti-Zionist. He held that Zionism was basically racialist, that it was inevitably wedded to violence and terror, that it demanded far more from the Arabs than they could or should be expected to accept peacefully, that its success would condemn the Middle East to decades of hatred and violence, and above all … that by turning the Arabs against Britain and the Western countries, it would open a highroad for Stalin into the Middle East. On all these points events proved him right …
“In 1947 and 1948 it was the political pressure on the Labour Cabinet from American Zionists, exerted through the United States government, which angered Bevin the most …. At that time, Britain was dependent on American goodwill for her economic survival [and Truman equally dependent on Zionist goodwill for his campaign funds]. As a consequence, the British government was subject to ruthless pressure from Washington to get the Arabs to accept the Zionists’ demands. It was a disgraceful abuse of power.”
By chance, Mayhew had to meet the US Ambassador, Lou Douglas, by himself. Douglas wanted British assent to admitting a hundred thousand Jewish refugees into Palestine immediately. Mayhew reiterated the government’s position – it was a prescription for war. Douglas then claimed that the President wanted it known that agreement on the intake would help him get the Marshall Aid appropriation through Congress.
“In other words, we must do as the Zionists wished – or starve. Bevin surrendered – he had to – but he was understandably bitter and angry. He felt it outrageous that the United States, which had no responsibility for law and order in Palestine (and no intention of permitting massive Jewish immigration into the United States), should, from very questionable motives, impose an impossibly burdensome and dangerous task on Britain.”
Mayhew’s first visit to the Middle East was in 1953 – as member of a Parliamentary delegation he went to a Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan. There he saw ‘… the refugee camps not merely as relics of a past war, but as seedbeds of future vengeance’.
Other priorities intervened, but in 1963 Mayhew was a member of an official Labour Party delegation which toured Middle Eastern countries. On that tour, the delegation met then Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir and other Israeli leaders. He was disgusted by Meir’s mocking and patronizing attitude towards the Palestinians.
“I remembered now where I had heard it before: at parties given by British settlers in Kenya and Tanganyika before those countries gained their independence. It was the tone in which it would be explained to visitors like myself that the African was scatterbrained but essentially a ‘good chap’, loyal (meaning loyal to his white masters) but easily led astray by trouble makers (meaning those of his fellow-Africans who aspired to self-rule).”
Thus did Mayhew develop a commitment to the Palestinian cause. But Mayhew’s answering back to the Israelis had immediate consequences. When Harold Wilson, a zealous Zionist, formed a government the next year in 1964, Mayhew was excluded from the Cabinet after the lobbying against him.
* * *
“The secret of the Zionists’ success has lain in the existence of a large, lively and influential Jewish community in Britain. [In the context of deliberations regarding the Balfour Declaration in 1917, s]upporters of Zionism, whether Jewish or non-Jewish … if they were not in positions of power themselves, they usually had easy access to those who were.”
Mayhew drew on Doreen Ingrams’ Palestine Papers 1917-1922, which highlights that the first drafts of the Balfour Declaration were written under the direction of Zionists (Lord Rothschild and Chaim Weizmann) on Balfour’s invitation. Weizmann had ready access to Balfour. Thus Weizmann to Balfour, 30 May 1918 (from Ingrams):
“The Arabs, who are superficially clever and quick-witted, worship one thing, and one thing only – power and success … The British authorities … knowing as they do the treacherous nature of the Arab, they have to watch carefully and constantly that nothing should happen which might give the Arabs the slightest grievance or ground of complaint. In other words, the Arabs have to be ‘nursed’ lest they should stab the army in the back. … So the English are ‘run’ by the Arabs.”
After the Balfour Declaration’s publication, the government established a special branch for Jewish propaganda in the Foreign office under a Zionist, Albert Hyamson, and a Zionist commission (led by Weizmann) was dispatched to Palestine to facilitate the Zionist agenda.
Mayhew notes the instructiveness of the diaries of Mrs Blanche Dugdale (Balfour’s niece), on ‘the intimacy of the Zionist lobby’s contracts with the Cabinet’, citing a September 1936 entry (p.32). Mayhew concludes:
“What is extraordinary about this extract – and many others in Mrs Dugdale’s revealing diaries – is that she is describing without apology (quite the contrary) a pattern of behaviour which would normally be considered scandalous, if not positively treasonable. A member of the British government was communicating Cabinet secrets to a private individual acting on behalf of a group of foreign nationals [etc] …”
Mayhew notes that the capture of the British Labour Party, even by comparison with the Liberals and Conservatives, has been a remarkable phenomenon.
“By tradition and principle the party was strongly opposed to territorial expansion, colonialism, racialism and military government; yet the Zionist lobby succeeded in committing it to a uniquely close friendship with a foreign government which [failed all these criteria].”
The Labour Party ‘welcomed Zionists most warmly to its ranks and gave the most consistent support to their aims’. Soon after Labour was elected in August 1929, riots broke out in Palestine, driven by the scale and character of Jewish immigration. A subsequent White Paper noted that Britain’s support for Jewish immigration was not formally unconditional. The lobby forced a retreat from Prime Minister MacDonald, following which Jewish immigration into Palestine escalated dramatically.
“In the 1930s and ‘40s the Zionists consolidated their grip on the Labour Party and came completely to control its policy on the Middle East.”
The Party’s National Executive Committee’s 1944 report proposed ‘Let the Arabs be encouraged to move out, as the Jews move in’, and that Jewish migration prospects might be enhanced by ‘extending the present Palestinian boundaries by agreement with Egypt, Syria or Transjordan’. Mayhew notes that the Labour Party thus ‘took on itself the role of a kind of Zionist fifth column’.
Then to the Attlee government. Professor Harold Laski, ardent Zionist, was chairman of the Party’s National Executive Committee during 1945-46, declaring that he was attempting to organize ‘an internal opposition to fight the Attlee-Bevin betrayal of the Jews’. Add the (much cited) Crossman-Strachey incident. Mayhew reproduces the fragment in Hugh Thomas’ biography of John Strachey. Strachey, Under-Secretary of State for Air and member of the government’s Defence Committee, gave Crossman tacit approval for the Haganah to engage in sabotage. Thus did Haganah blow up the bridges over the Jordan (June 1946?), cutting off the British army from its supply lines. As Mayhew notes:
“Such behaviour by supposedly responsible members of the Labour Party and Government would be inconceivable in any context other than that of Zionism.”
Mayhew neglects to add Thomas’ postscript:
“A few days later, the Foreign Office broke the Jewish Agency code. Crossman was for several days alarmed lest he and Strachey might be discovered.”
And on to the Wilson government, the Prime Minister’s contribution to the Zionist cause being unstinting. On 8 December 1972, the UN General Assembly re-affirmed the UN’s November 1967 Resolution 242 (demanding Israeli withdrawal from the Occupied Territories, respect of Palestinian rights, etc). Wilson, in Israel over Christmas, in turn reaffirmed his carte blanche support for Israel’s freedom of action.
As a Jewish newspaper reported on the 29th: ‘Tidings of comfort and joy were brought to Israel’s political leaders this week by Harold Wilson’. Mayhew’s contrary response was:
“Today it is widely recognised that the policies to whose support Mr Wilson committed himself and the British Labour Party were gravely mistaken and that they were the principal cause of the fresh outbreak of war in the Middle East in October 1973.”
The fiftieth anniversary of the affiliation of the organization Paole Zion to the Labour Party was held in September 1970. After the 1920 affiliation, Mayhew notes, ‘a steady stream of pro-Zionist questions began’, involving fraudulent propaganda that ‘greatly influenced generations of credulous Labour Party members’.
The 1970 dinner was presided over by the acting chairman of the Party, the Zionist Ian Mikardo. Mikardo attacked Ernest Bevin (an anti-Zionist and anti-Semite), the British Diplomatic Service, and the Arabs. Said Mikardo, Foreign Office officials were ‘public school boys who share with the Arabs a common tendency towards homosexuality, romanticism and enthusiasm for horses’.
Mayhew claims that the dinner probably marks the zenith of the Zionist influence. Yet the general account of Adams and Mayhew up to the time of the book’s publication highlights that nothing had changed within the Labour Party. Dissenters within the ranks were perennially howled down and abused by the Zionist chorus.
* * *
Adams and Mayhew note that the British media bore a heavy responsibility, through its partisanry and its silences, for the public’s impoverished understanding of the Middle East. Most British media Middle East correspondents were Jewish, and some outlets lazily employed Jewish Israeli residents who doubled as ‘reporters’.
In early 1968 Adams, in visiting the Middle East on invitation by the BBC, arranged with the Guardian that he would write some articles on the state of affairs in the occupied territories – then little known in Britain. Adams was appalled by what he found.
The Guardian published the initial articles, but its editor baulked at the last. It referred to the destruction of three villages (Imwas, Yalu and Beit Nuba) not far from Jerusalem, after the access road from Ramallah was cut, the rubble carted away and the remains ploughed over. Adams confirmed the details with the Israeli military. Not least because none of the rest of the media’s patsies had reported on the affair, the Guardian’s editor found Adams’ account unpalatable. That was the end of Adams’ 12-year relationship with the Guardian.
Some outlets were worse than others. The New Statesman was notable in its partisanry under ‘a succession of vehemently pro-Israeli editors (Kingsley Martin, Paul Johnson, Richard Crossman)’, until 1972; and The Economist under Alastair Burnet. Johnson was subsequently appointed by Harold Wilson to be a member of the 1974 Royal Commission on the Press.
The most influential of the ‘gentile Zionists’ in the early days was the Manchester Guardian. On Adams’ first visit to Jerusalem in 1956 he was surprised to have a distinguished Palestinian refer to his employer as ‘Ah, the Zionist paper’. Adams then discovered that C. P. Scott had ‘launched’ Chaim Weizmann into British political society, introducing Weizmann to Lloyd George and putting ‘the authority of The Manchester Guardian at the disposal of the cause of Zionism’. No doubt Jonathan Freedland, keeping the acrid flame alive, has a photo of Scott on his desk.
The BBC (both television and radio) was consistently partisan through these years. According to Mayhew, the pro-Israel bias was for the most part inbuilt and unconscious. Although management would perennially consciously cave in under pressure from the lobby.
To the media’s bias, the authors add disgust at the silence of the British churches on Israeli abuses, not least because they had representatives on the ground in Jerusalem. The authors lament, in particular, the long silence of the Church of England on the issue.
“The years of acquiescence in the Israeli fait accompli had cost the church any moral standing it might have had in the matter …”
* * *
Adams and Mayhew started Publish It Not in 1974. The text is written in hindsight following the October 1973 war. They note the relative military strength of the combatant Arab states, ‘surprising’, given the seeming invincibility of the Israeli military apparatus. They also note the atypical unity of the Arab states (with Saudi Arabia a late adherent), embodied in the oil embargo and price hike. The western media belatedly started to report Arab opinion.
From this environment the authors conclude:
“Israel’s capacity to survive without making far-reaching concessions, concessions which would severely modify the nature and potential of the Jewish state, seems very doubtful. So far, Israel has established herself, and expanded her territories, on the basis of her dominant military power. But since October 1973 the balance of power has shifted significantly against Israel and the shift seems likely to continue in the same direction.”
What a dramatically flawed prognosis! Still, they weren’t alone. They cite a contemporary, longtime journalist at The Times, (Jewish) David Spanier, 15 January 1974:
“All of a sudden it seems blindingly clear, not to all, but to many, who had somehow looked the other way, that the permanent relegation of large numbers of people as second-class citizens will bring the Zionist mission to an end and may threaten the state itself. According to some religious thinkers, far from the political arena, a policy based on occupation will ultimately corrupt the essential value of Judaism itself.”
And the aftermath? Some time ago, I unearthed a cache of Guardian Weeklys stretching over the years. Product of a hoarding mentality, their existence product of a pre-internet compulsory subscription by an antipodean colonial seeking non-provincial media exposure.
For example, late 2003, with respect to Israel. Well what do you know? Some representative headlines.
‘100,000 [Israelis remembering Yitzhak Rabin] gathered last weekend under banners denouncing occupation and demanding peace
‘A European Commission opinion poll that claims 60% of Europeans see Israel as the greatest threat to world peace has drawn outraged denunciations of anti-semitism
‘Israeli planes kill 10 people in wave of attacks on Gaza
‘The Israeli military has ordered thousands of Palestinians living near the steel and concrete ‘security fence’ that cuts through the West Bank to obtain special permits to live in their own homes
‘Rafah braced for more misery: Eight Palestinians dead and 1,500 homeless – but Israeli raids go on
‘Iran threat must be eliminated – US hawk
‘3,000 dead – yet peace remains elusive; three years of intifada
‘Bitter harvest in West Bank’s olive groves: Jewish settlers destroy fruit of centuries of toil to force out Palestinian villagers
‘Deep anxiety unsettles the Jewish community in France
Add countless letters to the Editor fueled by passion and disgust, emanating from both anti-Zionist and Zionist camps. You couldn’t make it up. Plus ça change!
That interpretative failure of Adams and Mayhew provides a significant lesson. One is forced to ask – why did their prediction so dramatically miss the trend of ensuing decades? Literally, many things have changed. But plus c’est la même chose. The more things have stayed the same. The dialectical evolution of thrust and counter thrust that produced a form of status quo has been inadequately documented and analyzed.
In culminating with the status quo, there has been non-stop turbulence. What? We have witnessed the annexation of the Golan, two invasions of Lebanon, the repression of two intifadas, the creeping appropriations of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, the perennial ravaging of Gaza, the perennial murder of Palestinians and long term incarceration of Palestinians, the wilful repulsion of Gaza-bound maritime traffic, etc. The entrenchment of an apartheid state.
Israel has never fulfilled the conditions on which it was admitted into UN membership; it has ignored myriad UN resolutions, it has attacked UN infrastructure and personnel, and has just sent a racist extremist to the UN as ambassador. Israel retains privileged access to the crucial markets of the European Union. And, of course, this state with the reputed strength of Solomon sucks voraciously on the American taxpayer teat.
Israel continues to operate with complete impunity for its crimes.
* * *
Serendipitously, a second edition of Publish It Not was published in 2006 (Signal Books). It is a desirable read, both for the insight, courage, commitment yet sobriety of the prose of Michael Adams and Christopher Mayhew, but also for the latter day complements. Jeremy Corbyn might profitably read it (for his sanity), if he has not already done so. The 2006 edition has three additions.
“It was only when I read Publish It Not … that I learned just how pervasive Zionist control of our media was and recognized the extent and effectiveness of its indoctrinating power. That was the moment that I changed my allegiance in this cause. It was the simple response of a man who awakened to the fact that he had been lied to.”
The Times Literary Supplement commissioned Tucker’s review, and the copy editor approved it. But the TLS editor pulled the plug (‘He doesn’t feel that the review is right for [us]’), instead publishing a dishonest Zionist review of the books. Exhibit A for the Adams/Mayhew narrative.
Two. There is an extended ‘testimony’ by Marion Woolfson of her experience as an honest reporter of Middle Eastern affairs. Woolfson’s experience is mentioned briefly by Mayhew in the 1975 text. But Woolfson’s account is harrowing.
Jewish, Woolfson moves to London following her husband’s death and visits her in-laws. She was informed over dinner that then Labour MP Christopher Mayhew was ‘evil, murderous, a Nazi and a terrible Jew-hater’. It was all downhill from then on.
Her media reports and letters lead to her being subject to (literally) non-stop harassment, brutalization, physical attacks. Endless letters and telephone calls calling her ‘a treacherous lying bitch’, receiving money from or sleeping with ‘filthy Arabs’, etc. She changes her number, made silent, but that number is readily made available to the harassers (!). The nature of the beast (in lieu of a local chapter of the vicious Jewish Defense League) deserves reproduction:
“Each evening … salesmen from a number of double-glazing firms would call and then throughout the night there would be a procession of taxis ‘to take me to the airport’. … Then lorries began arriving from early morning, laden with cement mixers, sand or gravel so that the narrow mews in which I lived was totally jammed and the lorry drivers … would be cursing. … Eventually I had to move out of my house until the harassment stopped. Not long after my return, I found a large swastika painted on my front gate. …
“Then, a huge rock was thrown through my large, plate-glass dining-room window with such force that it broke the wall opposite. … (There was a similar incident last year when the missile crashed through my bedroom window, at my present home, at 2 a.m. I tell myself that this was merely the action of a local hooligan.) Soon afterwards, a man called at my house. … A few days later … a man, who … had what looked like a metal cosh in his hand hit me on the forehead … [etc.]”
She is shut out of the media, prevented from plying her profession. She is ex-communicated from the bulk of the Jewish community. At least she should take heart from the experience of the valiant Spinoza.
Three. There is an extended foreword by longtime BBC journalist Tim Llewellyn. It is addressed specifically to the mis-judgment of Adams and Mayhew.
Llewellyn notes the changes. The Labour MP Zionist bully boys have gone. The public is far better informed, courtesy of considerable critical scholarly literature and daily internet exposés. The lies have been exposed as lies. The media acquired slightly more balance.
But the Parliamentary bully boys have been replaced by the trans-party ‘Friends of Israel’ cabals. Thus, for example, in September 2011, the Tory-Liberal Government moved to facilitate ready access of Israeli war criminals to British soil. And the public, no matter how better-informed, is ignored (witness the zero impact of the anti-Iraq invasion demonstrations). Since 2000, the BBC has backtracked, following 9/11, the second intifada, and Blair Labour’s relentless pressure for conformity. Add the organically pro-Israel Murdoch media (including The Times since 1981) and the Daily Telegraph.
More, the Zionist lobby is now better resourced, as powerful as ever. So-called representative national Jewish organizations, as in other countries, are first and foremost, pro-Israel lobby groups (have I missed a low-lying exception?). Claims Llewellyn:
“Since 1975, when the authors went into print, the official and institutional ranks of the Zionists in Britain have mounted and continue to mount campaigns of disinformation that dwarf their efforts of thirty and forty years ago. … the work goes on … not just in selling the Israeli package to the ordinary British people but also in changing the nature of British Jews’ perception of themselves and their relationship to Israel. Or, to put it another way, Israel’s alleged centrality to the life of a British Jew.”
As above, David Spanier was concerned that ‘a policy based on occupation will ultimately corrupt the essential value of Judaism itself’. Quite. The culturally unifying role of Judaism, in many families reduced to the conventionalized ritual of the Judaic calendar, has been displaced by the culturally unifying role of Israel. If less spiritual, a decidedly more muscular apparatus to be proud of (save for the hostility to this ersatz substitution by some Orthodox communities). And this even given that the majority of Jewry would never contemplate living there.
But the more does Israel perpetrate unsavory actions, the more does Israel need an effective propaganda machine. Llewelyn again, noting that the Americans arrived after 2000 to advise the British Israel Communications and Research Centre:
“The message was clear: be aggressive; pester and menace the media and the politicians in all their forms; go to court; never let up; let no adverse image or mention of Israel go unchallenged, however true, however perceived. In a word, the only story is our story: make sure everyone knows that.
“If Adams and Mayhew had been appalled at the Zionist intrusions they suffered in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, they would have been paralysed by the sheer aggression of the Zionist movement here, especially concerning the media after 2000 and the success it achieved with its tactics …”
Thus the Zionist messiah, political version, is now made flesh. But in its nurturing of human nature at its worst, it requires a most unholy propaganda and lobbying edifice to keep its yet incomplete pursuit of purity of spirit on track. The exercise, with its inevitable criminality, is fundamentally dependent upon the ‘dual loyalty’ (singular?) of the so-called Diaspora. And woe to the ‘self-hating’ Jews who dissent from the rule, saying ‘not in my name’.
In short, tribalism trumps reason, humanity and moral integrity. Can the evidence allow any other inference? Reason, humanity and moral integrity aside, what a brilliant success story.
* * *
Of the propaganda armory, the very rusty ‘anti-Semitism’ sword is still being brandished, and still to good effect. Here is Adams and Mayhew on the long silence of the churches:
“Nor was the situation any better in other western countries: the damaging accusation of anti-Semitism was held like a sword over the head of anyone rash enough to criticise Israel, from a moral or a spiritual standpoint, as from a political one.”
And Llewellyn on the BBC as highly-exposed public broadcaster:
“In institutional broadcasting there is a climate of fear. Executives do not like to be accused of anti-Semitism, which is the ready-to-hand smear the Zionists and their friends have available if they think Israel is receiving a bad press.”
It’s staggering to think that this canard still carries leverage, not least because it shits on the substantive anti-Semitism that has been central to the Jewish experience for centuries.
Thus the pro-Palestinian Jeremy Corbyn is naturally a target of this trusty weapon. Frankly, I don’t like his chances. If he manages to transcend the slur and its baggage, it will be a new day.
On the subject of this crime by Zionism against Jewry itself, one is perennially drawn to the stance of the philosopher Michael Neumann, outlined in Cockburn and St. Clair’s 2003 The Politics of Anti-Semitism. Neumann notes that definitional inflation cheapens the currency. (One might add that, as in Gresham’s Law in economics, ‘bad money drives out good’.)
With respect to the growth of Arab anti-Semitism, Neumann notes:
“… its chief cause is not anti-Semitic propaganda but the decades’ old (sic), systematic and unrelenting efforts of Israel to implicate all Jews in its crimes.”
Is opposition to the settlements (the Jews’ claimed historic right to Eretz Israel?) anti-Semitic? Claims Neumann:
“… since we are obliged to oppose the settlements, we are obliged to be anti-Semitic. Through definitional inflation, some form of anti-Semitism becomes morally obligatory.
“… anti-Zionism is a moral obligation, so, if anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism, anti-Semitism is a moral obligation.”
The Zionist armory, if one can be excused a mixed metaphor, has no clothes. It is long overdue that Zionism and its incarnation in the state of Israel be subject to the supposedly universal standards of reason, humanity and moral integrity.
The hysterical campaign launched against the Iran nuclear deal by the flag-waving militarist partisans in and around the US congress has terribly obfuscated the issues included in the deal. Not surprisingly, the campaign has created a number of misconceptions regarding both the actual contents of the deal and the main disagreements between the advocates and opponents of the deal.
One such misconception is that the deal is, or must be, more advantageous to Iran than the US and Israel; otherwise, the simple logic goes, there would not be so much opposition to it. Such impressions, created simply by all the hue and cry on the part of the opponents of the deal are patently false. Even a cursory reading of the nuclear agreement reveals that, as I pointed out in a recent article on the issue, it is highly skewed against Iran. Not only does the agreement downgrade and freeze Iran’s peaceful nuclear technology, it also limits the scope of the county’s scientific research and development, jeopardizes its national security or defense capabilities and, perhaps most importantly, undermines its national sovereignty.
So, considering the fact the deal represents a big win for the US and its allies and, by the same token, a major loss for Iran, why all the uproar against it?
A number of reasons can be thought of for all the war party’s feverish hullabaloo. The main reason, however, seems to be that while the deal obviously represents a fantastic victory for the US and its allies, it nonetheless falls short of what the war party projected and fought for, that is, devastating regime change by military means, similar to what was done to Iraq and Libya.
The second misconception that the war party’s vehement opposition to the nuclear deal has created is that their ultimate goal vis-à-vis Iran is significantly different from that of the Obama administration and other proponents of the deal. In reality, however, the difference between the opponents and proponents of the deal is largely tactical; strategically, both factions pursue the same objective: regime change in Iran.
While the advocates of the deal have in recent years switched their tactics from direct military intervention and regime change from without to soft-power methods of regime change from within, the opponents of the deal continue to insist that overwhelming military force and escalating economic strangulation are the more effective means of regime change in Tehran, that is, regime change from outside.
This does not mean that the advocates of the nuclear deal have ruled out the military option altogether—by no means. As President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and other administration officials have frequently pointed out, the military option is on the table when/if needed, that is, if Iran fails to carry out all the punishing obligations under the nuclear deal.
The tactical switch by the proponents of the deal from military to soft-power methods of regime change did not come about overnight, or by an epiphany. For over thirty years since the 1979 revolution in Iran, which significantly undermined the U.S. influence in that country and elsewhere in the region, these proponents, like their counterparts in the war party, pursued policies of regime change from outside. These included instigation of and support for Saddam Hussein to invade Iran, training and supporting destabilizing terrorist organizations to attack Iran from all corners of the country, constant war and military threats, efforts to sabotage the 2009 presidential election through the so-called “green revolution,” and systematic escalation of economic sanctions.
Not only did these evil schemes fall short of their nefarious goal of “regime change” in Iran, they in fact drove the country to become a major power in the region.
In the face of the brutal economic sanctions and constant military threats, Iran embarked on a relatively radical path of a public/state-guided economy that successfully provided both for the war mobilization to defend its territorial integrity and for respectable living conditions of its population. By taking control of the commanding heights of the national economy, and effectively utilizing the revolutionary energy and dedication of their people, Iranian policy makers at the time also succeeded in taking significant steps toward economic self-reliance, which further thwarted the geopolitical plans of the US and its allies to bring Iran to its knees, or to overthrow its government.
Having thus failed at its plots of “regime change” from without, a major faction of the US ruling class, headed by the Obama administration, now seems to have opted for regime change (or reform) from within; that is, through political and economic rapprochement with Iran—using the nuclear negotiations as a starting point, or transitional channel.
What has made this option more promising in recent years is the rise of a well-organized, Western-oriented neoliberal capitalist class in Iran whose chief priority seems to be the ability to do business with their counterparts in the West.
Many of the once revolutionary leaders who successfully managed the 1980-88 war economy have now become business entrepreneurs and prosperous capitalists. Having effectively enriched themselves in the shadow of the public sector economy, these folks are now ready to do business American style, that is, follow the neoliberal/austerity model of economics.
It is thus understandable why major factions within Iran’s ruling circles, represented largely by the Rouhani administration, have no stomach for a regimented, war-like economy; and why they support the highly disgraceful compromises made by Iran’s nuclear negotiators to the United States and its allies. For the rich and powerful elites of these circles issues such as nuclear technology or national sovereignty are of secondary importance to self-enrichment, or profit motive.
It follows that the Obama administration and other US advocates of the nuclear deal opted for negotiation with Iran only after they came to the realization that (a) continuing on the path of regime change from outside tended to be ineffective, or even counterproductive, and (b) the rise of a pro-US, collaborationist capitalist class in Iran increasingly promised to be a more effective vehicle of spreading the US influence in Iran and, ultimately, of regime change from within.
Indeed, the Obama administration’s recent approach of relying primarily on business/market forces of regime change, or modification, without ruling out the military option is likely to be more effective in achieving its goal than the war party’s reckless insistence on escalating sanctions and military threats.
The effectiveness of this approach lies in the fact that, as pointed out earlier, the nuclear deal would significantly limit Iran’s military and defense capabilities. The deal would also avail the US extensive knowledge of Iran’s economic, technological, security, and military capabilities and, therefore, vulnerabilities. This means that if at any time in the future Iran defies or resists the heavy-handed imperialistic designs of the United States, the US can then employ its war machine more effectively as it would have the necessary information on strategic places or targets to be attacked or bombarded.
This is no speculation or conspiracy theory. It is, indeed, a scenario projected by the Obama administration officials and other advocates of the nuclear deal as they promote it ahead of the next month’s critical vote in Congress. “In meetings on Capitol Hill and with influential policy analysts, administration officials argue that inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities under the deal will reveal important details that can be used for better targeting should the U.S. decide to attack Iran” .
Commenting on this ominous depraved scheme, Representative Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told Michael Crowley of Politico, “It’s certainly an argument I’ve heard made. . . . We’ll be better off with the agreement were we to need to use force” .
To see how this menacing projection is not simply an abstract or partisan argument, suffice it to remember the fact that this is exactly what was done to Iraq and Libya. In both cases, the United States and its allies used disingenuous negotiations with Saddam Hussein and Muammar al-Qaddafi as pretexts to collect information about their military/defense capabilities and, then, used the information thus acquired for targeted bombardment and effective invasion.
 Michael Crowley, The ultimate argument in favor of the Iran deal: The agreement would make it easier to bomb Iran, administration officials have told lawmakers.
Ismael Hossein-zadeh is Professor Emeritus of Economics (Drake University). He is the author of Beyond Mainstream Explanations of the Financial Crisis (Routledge 2014), and The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism (Palgrave–Macmillan 2007).
I am worried that the continued delay in the publication of Chilcot’s report is giving rise to expectations that it will be forthright and damning of Blair and his supporters. Nothing could be further from the truth. Even though Blair plunged us into an illegal war with dreadful long-term consequences, the report has always been designed to be a typical Whitehall fudge. Mistakes made – errors of judgement – all in good faith – lessons learned. You don’t have to wait for it, that is it.
The Chilcot team was handpicked by Gordon Brown – himself up to his neck in guilt for the illegal invasion – and three of the five had been aggressive proponents of the war. The remaining two, Chilcot and Baroness Prasad, are “sound” for the Establishment. Let me remind you of my analysis of the committee members in 2009. Sir Lawrence Freedman was an active propagandist for the invasion while Sir Martin Gilbert (died while contributing to the committee) was so enamoured of the invasion he compared Bush and Blair to Roosevelt and Churchill. Rod Lyne was actively involved in selling the WMD lies and arguably in danger of war crime accusation himself.
None of the committee members had ever expressed the slightest doubt about the Iraq War while 60% had actively promoted it. Of Chilcot himself the eminent international lawyer Phillippe Sands noted:
“Sir John’s spoonfed questions give every impression of being designed to elicit a response from the attorney general that would demonstrate the reasonableness of his actions and those of the government.”
The point of the delay is to give the impression Chilcot has been absolutely painstaking and therefore the bucket of whitewash he will throw cannot be hiding anything.
Do not be fooled.
Ongoing suppression of activists and political opposition in Bahrain
Tensions remain at all time high, with political leaders and activists behind bars, the situation in Bahrain shows no sign of abating.
Reports of ill treatment and police brutality continue to emerge from Jau, the country’s main prison, as the authorities crack down on detainees.
The recent sentencing of opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman has created a further political deadlock sparking mass protests across the country.
As demonstrations sweep across the country, and Western leaders continue their silence in this episode of Infocus we investigate how the authorities are continuing to suppress dissenting voices in the country.
Fifty years ago, on April 15, 1945, British troops liberated the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. The anniversary was widely remembered in official ceremonies and in newspaper articles that, as the following essay shows, distort the camp’s true history.
Largely because of the circumstances of its liberation, the relatively unimportant German concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen has become — along with Dachau and Buchenwald — an international symbol of German barbarism.
The British troops who liberated the Belsen camp three weeks before the end of the war were shocked and disgusted by the many unburied corpses and dying inmates they found there. Horrific photos and films of the camp’s emaciated corpses and mortally sick inmates were quickly circulated around the globe. Within weeks the British military occupation newspaper proclaimed: “The story of that greatest of all exhibitions of ‘man’s inhumanity to man’ which was Belsen Concentration Camp is known throughout the world.” (note 1)
Ghastly images recorded by Allied photographers at Belsen in mid-April 1945 and widely reproduced ever since have greatly contributed to the camp’s reputation as a notorious extermination center. In fact, the dead of Bergen-Belsen were, above all, unfortunate victims of war and its turmoil, not deliberate policy. It can even be argued that they were as much victims of Allied as of German measures.
Plan of the Bergen-Belsen camp
The Bergen-Belsen camp was located near Hannover in northwestern Germany on the site of a former army camp for wounded prisoners of war. In 1943 it was established as an internment camp (Aufenthaltslager) for European Jews who were to be exchanged for German citizens held by the Allies.
More than 9,000 Jews with citizenship papers or passports from Latin American countries, entry visas for Palestine, or other documents making them eligible for emigration, arrived in late 1943 and 1944 from Poland, France, Holland and other parts of Europe. During the final months of the war, several groups of these “exchange Jews” were transported from Axis-occupied Europe. German authorities transferred several hundred to neutral Switzerland, and at least one group of 222 Jewish detainees was transferred from Belsen (by way of neutral Turkey) to British-controlled Palestine. /2
Until late 1944 conditions were generally better than in other concentration camps. Marika Frank Abrams, a Jewish woman from Hungary, was transferred from Auschwitz in 1944. Years later she recalled her arrival at Belsen: “… We were each given two blankets and a dish. There was running water and latrines. We were given food that was edible and didn’t have to stand for hours to be counted. The conditions were so superior to Auschwitz we felt we were practically in a sanitarium.” /3
Inmates normally received three meals a day. Coffee and bread were served in the morning and evening, with cheese and sausage as available. The main mid-day meal consisted of one liter of vegetable stew. Families lived together. Otherwise, men and women were housed in separate barracks. /4
Children were also held there. There were some 500 Jewish children in Belsen’s “No. 1 Women’s Camp” section when British forces arrived. /5
During the final months of the war, tens of thousands of Jews were evacuated to Belsen from Auschwitz and other eastern camps threatened by the advancing Soviets. Belsen became severely overcrowded as the number of inmates increased from 15,000 in December 1944 to 42,000 at the beginning of March 1945, and more than 50,000 a month later. /6
Many of these Jewish prisoners had chosen to be evacuated westwards with their German captors rather than remain in eastern camps to await liberation by Soviet forces. /7
So catastrophic had conditions become during the final months of the war that about a third of the prisoners evacuated to Belsen in February and March 1945 perished during the journey and were dead on arrival. /8
As order broke down across Europe during those chaotic final months, regular deliveries of food and medicine to the camp stopped. Foraging trucks were sent to scrounge up whatever supplies of bread, potatoes and turnips were available in nearby towns. /9
Disease was kept under control by routinely disinfecting all new arrivals. But in early February 1945 a large transport of Hungarian Jews was admitted while the disinfection facility was out of order. As a result, typhus broke out and quickly spread beyond control. /10
Commandant Josef Kramer quarantined the camp in an effort to save lives, but SS camp administration headquarters in Berlin insisted that Belsen be kept open to receive still more Jewish evacuees arriving from the East. The death rate soon rose to 400 a day. /11
The worst killer was typhus, but typhoid fever and dysentery also claimed many lives. Aggravating the situation was a policy during the final months of transferring already sick inmates from other camps to Belsen, which was then officially designated a sick or convalescence camp (Krankenlager). The sick women of Auschwitz, for example, were transferred to Belsen in three groups in November-December 1944. /12
When SS chief Heinrich Himmler learned of the typhus outbreak at Bergen-Belsen, he immediately issued an order to all appropriate officials requiring that “all medical means necessary to combat the epidemic should be employed … There can be no question of skimping either with doctors or medical supplies.” However, the general breakdown of order that prevailed on Germany by this time made it impossible to implement the command. /13
Violette Fintz, a Jewish woman who had been deported from the island of Rhodes to Auschwitz in mid-1944, and then to Dachau and, finally, in early 1945, to Belsen, later compared conditions in the different camps: /14
Belsen was in the beginning bearable and we had bunks to sleep on, and a small ration of soup and bread. But as the camp got fuller, our group and many others were given a barracks to hold about seven hundred lying on the floor without blankets and without food or anything. It was a pitiful scene as the camp was attacked by lice and most of the people had typhus and cholera … Many people talk about Auschwitz — it was a horrible camp. But Belsen, no words can describe it … From my experience and suffering, Belsen was the worst.
Belsen’s most famous inmate was doubtless Anne Frank, who had been evacuated from Auschwitz in late October 1944. She succumbed to typhus in March 1945, three or four weeks before liberation.
Kramer Reports a ‘Catastrophe’
In a March 1, 1945, letter to Gruppenführer (General) Richard Glücks, head of the SS camp administration agency, Commandant Kramer reported in detail on the catastrophic situation in the Bergen-Belsen, and pleaded for help: /15
If I had sufficient sleeping accommodation at my disposal, then the accommodation of the detainees who have already arrived and of those still to come would appear more possible. In addition to this question a spotted fever and typhus epidemic has now begun, which increases in extent every day. The daily mortality rate, which was still in the region of 60-70 at the beginning of February, has in the meantime attained a daily average of 250-300 and will increase still further in view of the conditions which at present prevail.
Supply. When I took over the camp, winter supplies for 1500 internees had been indented for; some had been received, but the greater part had not been delivered. This failure was due not only to difficulties of transport, but also to the fact that practically nothing is available in this area and all must be brought from outside the area …
For the last four days there has been no delivery [of food] from Hannover owing to interrupted communications, and I shall be compelled, if this state of affairs prevails till the end of the week, to fetch bread also by means of truck from Hannover. The trucks allotted to the local unit are in no way adequate for this work, and I am compelled to ask for at least three to four trucks and five to six trailers. When I once have here a means of towing then I can send out the trailers into the surrounding area … The supply question must, without fail, be cleared up in the next few days. I ask you, Gruppenführer, for an allocation of transport …
State of Health. The incidence of disease is very high here in proportion to the number of detainees. When you interviewed me on Dec. 1, 1944, at Oranienburg, you told me that Bergen-Belsen was to serve as a sick camp for all concentration camps in north Germany. The number of sick has greatly increased, particularly on account of the transports of detainees that have arrived from the East in recent times — these transports have sometimes spent eight or fourteen days in open trucks …
The fight against spotted fever is made extremely difficult by the lack of means of disinfection. Due to constant use, the hot-air delousing machine is now in bad working order and sometimes fails for several days …
A catastrophe is taking place for which no one wishes to assume responsibility … Gruppenführer, I can assure you that from this end everything will be done to overcome the present crisis …
I am now asking you for your assistance as it lies in your power. In addition to the above-mentioned points I need here, before everything, accommodation facilities, beds, blankets, eating utensils — all for about 20,000 internees … I implore your help in overcoming this situation.
Mass grave at Belsen camp, shortly after its liberation by British troops. Photographs such as this are widely reproduced as proof of a German policy of extermination. Contrary to Allied propaganda claims of the time, and Holocaust allegations in recent decades, though, these unfortunate prisoners were victims of typhus and starvation that were indirect consequences of the war – not of any deliberate policy. At least 14,000 Jews died in the camp following the British takeover.
Under such terrible conditions, Kramer did everything in his power to reduce suffering and prevent death among the inmates, even appealing to the hard-pressed German army. “I don’t know what else to do,” he told high-ranking army officers. “I have reached the limit. Masses of people are dying. The drinking water supply has broken down. A trainload of food was destroyed by low-flying [Allied] war planes. Something must be done immediately.” /16
Working together with both Commandant Kramer and chief inmate representative Kuestermeier, Colonel Hanns Schmidt responded by arranging for the local volunteer fire department to provide water. He also saw to it that food supplies were brought to the camp from abandoned rail cars. Schmidt later recalled that Kramer “did not at all impress one as a criminal type. He acted like an upright and rather honorable man. Neither did he strike me as someone with a guilty conscience. He worked with great dedication to improve conditions in the camp. For example, he rounded up horse drawn vehicles to bring food to the camp from rail cars that had been shot up.” /17
“I was swamped,” Kramer later explained to incredulous British military interrogators: /18
The camp was not really inefficient before you [British and American forces] crossed the Rhine. There was running water, regular meals of a kind — I had to accept what food I was given for the camp and distribute it the best way I could. But then they suddenly began to send me trainloads of new prisoners from all over Germany. It was impossible to cope with them. I appealed for more staff, more food. I was told that this was impossible. I had to carry on with what I had.
Then as a last straw the Allies bombed the electric plant that pumped our water. Loads of food were unable to reach the camp because of the Allied fighters. Then things really got out of hand. During the last six weeks I have been helpless. I did not even have sufficient staff to bury the dead, let alone segregate the sick … I tried to get medicines and food for the prisoners and I failed. I was swamped. I may have been hated, but I was doing my duty.
Kramer’s clear conscience is also suggested by the fact that he made no effort to save his life by fleeing, but instead calmly awaited the approaching British forces, naively confident of decent treatment. “When Belsen Camp was eventually taken over by the Allies,” he later stated, “I was quite satisfied that I had done all I possibly could under the circumstances to remedy the conditions in the camp.” /19
As British forces approached Bergen-Belsen, German authorities sought to turn over the camp to the British so that it would not become a combat zone. After some negotiation, it was peacefully transferred, with an agreement that “both British and German troops will make every effort to avoid battle in the area.” /20
A revealing account of the circumstances under which the British took control appeared in a 1945 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association: /21
By negotiations between British and German officers, British troops took over from the SS and the Wehrmacht the task of guarding the vast concentration camp at Belsen, a few miles northwest of Celle, which contains 60,000 prisoners, many of them political. This has been done because typhus is rampant in the camp and it is vital that no prisoners be released until the infection is checked. The advancing British agreed to refrain from bombing or shelling the area of the camp, and the Germans agreed to leave behind an armed guard which would be allowed to return to their own lines a week after the British arrival.
The story of the negotiations is curious. Two German officers presented themselves before the British outposts and explained that there were 9,000 sick in the camp and that all sanitation had failed. They proposed that the British should occupy the camp at once, as the responsibility was international in the interests of health. In return for the delay caused by the truce the Germans offered to surrender intact the bridges over the river Aller. After brief consideration the British senior officer rejected the German proposals, saying it was necessary that the British should occupy an area of ten kilometers round the camp in order to be sure of keeping their troops and lines of communication away from the disease. The British eventually took over the camp.
On April 15, 1945, Belsen’s commanders turned over the camp to British troops, who lost no time mistreating the SS camp personnel. The Germans were beaten with rifle butts, kicked, and stabbed with bayonets. Most were shot or worked to death. /22
British journalist Alan Moorehead described the treatment of some of the camp personnel shortly after the takeover: /23
As we approached the cells of the SS guards, the [British] sergeant’s language become ferocious. “We had had an interrogation this morning,” the captain said. ‘I’m afraid they are not a pretty sight.’ … The sergeant unbolted the first door and … strode into the cell, jabbing a metal spike in front of him. “Get up,” he shouted. “Get up. Get up, you dirty bastards.” There were half a dozen men lying or half lying on the floor. One or two were able to pull themselves erect at once. The man nearest me, his shirt and face spattered with blood, made two attempts before he got on to his knees and then gradually on to his feet. He stood with his arms stretched out in front of him, trembling violently.
“Come on. Get up,” the sergeant shouted [in the next cell]. The man was lying in his blood on the floor, a massive figure with a heavy head and bedraggled beard … “Why don’t you kill me?” he whispered. “Why don’t you kill me? I can’t stand it any more.” The same phrases dribbled out of his lips over and over again. “He’s been saying that all morning, the dirty bastard,” the sergeant said.
Josef Kramer in British captivity. After a military trial, the former Bergen-Belsen Commandant was put to death.
Commandant Kramer, who was vilified in the British and American press as “The Beast of Belsen” and “The Monster of Belsen,” was put on trial and then executed, along with chief physician Dr. Fritz Klein and other camp officials. At his trial, Kramer’s defense attorney, Major T.C.M. Winwood, predicted: “When the curtain finally rings down on this stage Josef Kramer will, in my submission, stand forth not as ‘The Beast of Belsen’ but as ‘The Scapegoat of Belsen’.” /24
In an “act of revenge,” the British liberators expelled the residents of the nearby town of Bergen, and then permitted camp inmates to loot the houses and buildings. Much of the town was also set on fire. /25
There were some 55,000 to 60,000 prisoners in Bergen-Belsen when the British took control of the camp. The new administrators proved no more capable of mastering the chaos than the Germans had been, and some 14,000 Jewish inmates died at Belsen in the months following the British takeover. /26
Although still occasionally referred to as an “extermination camp” or “mass murder” center, the truth about Bergen-Belsen has been quietly acknowledged by scholars. /27 In his 1978 survey of German history, University of Erlangen professor Helmut Diwald wrote of /28
… The notorious Bergen-Belsen concentration camp where 50,000 inmates were supposedly murdered. Actually, about 7,000 inmates died during the period when the camp existed, from 1943 to 1945. Most of them died in the final months of the war as a result of disease and malnutrition — consequences of the bombings that had completely disrupted normal deliveries of medical supplies and food. The British commander who took control of the camp after the capitulation testified that crimes on a large scale had not taken place at Bergen-Belsen.
Martin Broszat, Director of the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich, wrote in 1976: /29
… In Bergen-Belsen, for example, thousands of corpses of Jewish prisoners were found by British soldiers on the day of liberation, which gave the impression that this was one of the notorious extermination camps. Actually, many Jews in Bergen-Belsen as well as in the satellite camps of Dachau died in the last weeks before the end of the war as a result of the quickly improvised retransfers and evacuations of Jewish workers from the still existing ghettos, work camps and concentration camps in the East (Auschwitz) …
Dr. Russell Barton, an English physician who spent a month in Bergen-Belsen after the war with the British Army, has also explained the reasons for the catastrophic conditions found there: /30
Most people attributed the conditions of the inmates to deliberate intention on the part of the Germans in general and the camp administrators in particular. Inmates were eager to cite examples of brutality and neglect, and visiting journalists from different countries interpreted the situation according to the needs of propaganda at home.
For example, one newspaper emphasized the wickedness of the “German masters” by remarking that some of the 10,000 unburied dead were naked. In fact, when the dead were taken from a hut and left in the open for burial, other prisoners would take their clothing from them …
German medical officers told me that it had been increasingly difficult to transport food to the camp for some months. Anything that moved on the autobahns was likely to be bombed …
I was surprised to find records, going back for two or three years, of large quantities of food cooked daily for distribution. I became convinced, contrary to popular opinion, that there had never been a policy of deliberate starvation. This was confirmed by the large numbers of well-fed inmates. Why then were so many people suffering from malnutrition?… The major reasons for the state of Belsen were disease, gross overcrowding by central authority, lack of law and order within the huts, and inadequate supplies of food, water and drugs.
In trying to assess the causes of the conditions found in Belsen one must be alerted to the tremendous visual display, ripe for purposes of propaganda, that masses of starved corpses presented.
Gas Chamber Myths
Some former inmates and a few historians have claimed that Jews were put to death in gas chambers at Bergen-Belsen. For example, an “authoritative” work published shortly after the end of the war, A History of World War II, informed readers: “In Belsen, [Commandant] Kramer kept an orchestra to play him Viennese music while he watched children torn from their mothers to be burned alive. Gas chambers disposed of thousands of persons daily.” /31
A protest meeting in the Bergen-Belsen camp, September 1947. For five years following the end of the war, British authorities maintained the camp as a “Displaced Persons” center. During this period it flourished as a major black market center. At this pro-Zionist gathering of 4,000 Jews, camp leader Joseph Rosensaft speaks against British policy in Palestine.
In Jews, God and History, Jewish historian Max Dimont wrote of gassings at Bergen-Belsen. /32 A semi-official work published in Poland in 1981 claimed that women and babies were “put to death in gas chambers” at Belsen. /33
In 1945 the Associated Press news agency reported: /34
In Lueneburg, Germany, a Jewish physician, testifying at the trial of 45 men and women for war crimes at the Belsen and Oswiecim [Auschwitz] concentration camps, said that 80,000 Jews, representing the entire ghetto of Lodz, Poland, had been gassed or burned to death in one night at the Belsen camp.
Five decades after the camp’s liberation, British army Captain Robert Daniell recalled seeing “the gas chambers” there. /35
Years after the war, Robert Spitz, a Hungarian Jew, remembered taking a shower at Belsen in February 1945: “… It was delightful. What I didn’t know then was that there were other showers in the same building where gas came out instead of water.” /36
Another former inmate, Moshe Peer, recalled a miraculous escape from death as an eleven-year-old in the camp. In a 1993 interview with a Canadian newspaper, the French-born Peer claimed that he “was sent to the [Belsen] camp gas chamber at least six times.” The newspaper account went on to relate: “Each time he survived, watching with horror as many of the women and children gassed with him collapsed and died. To this day, Peer doesn’t know how he was able to survive.” In an effort to explain the miracle, Peer mused: “Maybe children resist better, I don’t know.” (Although Peer claimed that “Bergen-Belsen was worse than Auschwitz,” he acknowledged that he and his younger brother and sister, who were deported to the camp in 1944, all somehow survived internment there.) /37
Such gas chamber tales are entirely fanciful. As early as 1960, historian Martin Broszat had publicly repudiated the Belsen gassing story. These days no reputable scholar supports it. /38
Exaggerated Death Estimates
Estimates of the number of people who died in Bergen-Belsen have ranged widely over the years. Many have been irresponsible exaggerations. Typical is a 1985 York Daily News report, which told readers that “probably 100,000 died at Bergen-Belsen.” /39 An official German government publication issued in 1990 declared that “more than 50,000 people had been murdered” in the Belsen camp under German control, and “an additional 13,000 died in the first weeks after liberation.” /40
Closer to the truth is the Encyclopaedia Judaica, which maintains that 37,000 perished in the camp before the British takeover, and another 14,000 afterwards. /41
Whatever the actual number of dead, Belsen’s victims were not “murdered,” and the camp was not an “extermination” center.
Black Market Center
From 1945 until 1950, when it was finally shut down, the British maintained Belsen as a camp for displaced European Jews. During this period it achieved new notoriety as a major European black market center. The “uncrowned king” of Belsen’s 10,000 Jews was Yossl (Josef) Rosensaft, who amassed tremendous profits from the illegal trading. Rosensaft had been interned in various camps, including Auschwitz, before arriving in Belsen in early April 1945. /42
British Lieutenant General Sir Frederick Morgan, chief of “displaced persons” operations in postwar Germany for the United Nations relief organization UNRRA recalled in his memoir that /43
under Zionist auspices there had been organized at Belsen a vast illegitimate trading organization with worldwide ramifications and dealing in a wide range of goods, principally precious metals and stones. A money market dealt with a wide range of currencies. Goods were being imported in cryptically marked containers consigned in UNRRA shipments to Jewish voluntary agencies …
A kind of memorial center now draws many tourists annually to the camp site. Not surprisingly, Bergen’s 13,000 residents are not very pleased with their town’s infamous reputation. Citizens report being called “murderers” during visits to foreign countries. /44
In striking contrast to the widely-accepted image of Belsen, which is essentially a product of hateful wartime propaganda, is the suppressed, albeit grim, historical reality. In truth, the Bergen-Belsen story may be regarded as the Holocaust story in miniature.
- Walter Laqueur, The Terrible Secret: Suppression of the Truth about Hitler’s ‘Final Solution’ (Boston: Little Brown, 1980), p. 1.
- Testimony of Commandant Kramer in: Raymond Phillips, ed., Trial of Josef Kramer and Forty-Four Others (The Belsen Trial) (London: William Hodge, 1949), p. 160; “Bergen-Belsen,” Encyclopaedia Judaica (New York and Jerusalem: Macmillan and Keter, 1971), Vol. 4, p. 610. According to this source, one group of 136 of these “exchange Jews” was deported from Belsen during the war to neutral Switzerland, and another group of 222 was transferred to Palestine.; According to an Israeli newspaper report, a group of 222 “exchange” Jews reportedly left Bergen-Belsen on June 29, 1944, and, by way of Istanbul, arrived in Palestine on July 10. (Israel Nachrichten, quoted in: D. National-Zeitung, Munich, Sept. 23, 1994, p. 5)
- Sylvia Rothchild, ed., Voices from the Holocaust (New York: NAL, 1981), p. 190.
- Josef Kramer statement (1945) in: R. Phillips, Trial of Josef Kramer and Forty-Four Others, pp. 731-737. This is also in: Arthur Butz, The Hoax of the Twentieth Century (Newport Beach: Institute for Historical Review, 1993), pp. 272-274.
- R. Phillips, Trial of Josef Kramer and Forty-Four Others, pp. 19, 32, 33; Roman Hrabar, with Zofia Tokarz and J. E. Wilczur, The Fate of Polish Children During the Last War (Warsaw: Interpress, 1981), p. 76.
- Encyclopaedia Judaica, Vol. 4, p. 610; Gedenkbuch: Opfer der Verfolgung der Juden unter der nationsozialistischen Gewaltherrschaft (Koblenz: Bundesarchiv, 1986; 2 vols.), pp. 1761-1762.
- Testimony of Dr. Russell Barton, Feb. 7, 1985, in the first “Holocaust” trial of Ernst Zündel. Official trial transcript, pp. 2916-2917; See also Barton’s testimony during the second, 1988 Zündel trial in: Barbara Kulaszka, ed., Did Six Million Really Die? (Toronto: Samisdat, 1992), p. 175, and, Robert Lenski, The Holocaust on Trial: The Case of Ernst Zündel (Decatur, Ala.: Reporter Press, 1990), p. 159.
- Testimony of Commandant Kramer in: R. Phillips, Trial of Josef Kramer and Forty-Four Others, p. 162.
- Josef Kramer statement (1945) in: R. Phillips, ed., Trial of Josef Kramer and Forty-Four Others, pp. 731-737. Also in: A. Butz, The Hoax of the Twentieth Century, p. 274.
- Derrick Sington, Belsen Uncovered (London: 1946), pp. 117-118. Quoted in: A. Butz, The Hoax of the Twentieth Century, pp. 34-35; Gerald Reitlinger, The Final Solution (London: Sphere Books, pb., 1971), p. 504 (note).
- R. Phillips, ed., Trial of Josef Kramer and Forty-Four Others, pp. 152-153, 166-167, 734, 736; Tom Bower, Blind Eye to Murder (London: Granada, 1983), p. 224; Dr. Ernst von Briesen, “Was passierte in Bergen-Belsen wirklich?,” D. National-Zeitung (Munich), Jan. 13, 1984, pp. 4, 5, 8.
- G.Reitlinger, The Final Solution, p. 497 (and 638, n. 23).
- Andre Biss, A Million Jews to Save (New York: A.S. Barnes, 1975), pp. 242, 249-250; Felix Kersten, The Kersten Memoirs, 1940-1945 (New York: Macmillan, 1957), p. 276.
- Martin Gilbert, The Holocaust (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1986), pp. 722, 785-786.
- R. Phillips, ed., Trial of Josef Kramer and Forty-Four Others, pp. 163-166.
- Signed report by retired Colonel (Oberst a.D.) Hanns Schmidt to Kurt Mehner and Lt. Colonel Bechtold, Braunschweig, March 3, 1981. Photocopy in author’s possession.
- Signed report by Hanns Schmidt to Kurt Mehner and Lt. Colonel Bechtold, March 3, 1981. Photocopy in author’s possession.
- Essay by Alan Moorehead, “Belsen,” in: Cyril Connolly, ed., The Golden Horizon (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1953), pp. 109-110.
- Josef Kramer statement (1945) in: R. Phillips, ed., Trial of Josef Kramer and Forty-Four Others, p. 737. Also quoted in: A. Butz, Hoax, p. 275; Essay by Alan Moorehead, “Belsen,” in: Cyril Connolly, ed., The Golden Horizon, pp. 109-110; Dr. Russell Barton, “Belsen,” History of the Second World War (Editor: Barrie Pitt, Copyright BPC publications, 1966), Part 109, 1975, p. 3025.
- R. Phillips, ed., Trial of Josef Kramer and Forty-Four Others, pp. 396-397.
- “Typhus Causes a Truce,” The Journal of the American Medical Association (Chicago), May 19, 1945, p. 220.
- Leonard O. Mosley, Report from Germany (1945). Quoted in: Montgomery Belgion, Victor’s Justice (Regnery, 1949), p. 80 (and p. 81); Time magazine, April 29, 1985, p. 21; See also essay by A. Moorehead, “Belsen,” in: Cyril Connolly, ed., The Golden Horizon (London: 1953), pp. 105-106.
- Essay by A. Moorehead, “Belsen,” in: Cyril Connolly, ed., The Golden Horizon, pp. 105-106.
- R. Phillips, ed., Trial of Josef Kramer and Forty-Four Others, p. 156.
- “Bergen-Belsen,” Der Spiegel (Hamburg), Nr. 30, 1985, pp. 71, 72.
- “Holocaust,” Encyclopaedia Judaica, Vol. 8, p. 859; M. Gilbert, The Holocaust (1986), pp. 793-795; See also: R. Phillips, ed., Trial of Josef Kramer and Forty-Four Others, pp. 20, 46-47; According to a 1992 Associated Press report, more than 60,000 prisoners were held in Belsen camp when it was liberated. Then, “in the first five days of liberation, 14,000 prisoners died and another 14,000 perished in the following weeks.” Graham Heathcote, AP from Tostock, England, “2 hours changed me for the rest of my life,” Orlando Sentinel (Florida), Dec. 20, 1992, p. A 29, and, “Journey into hell,” The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Washington), Dec. 20, 1992.
- Time magazine, April 29, 1985, p. 21, referred to Belsen as a camp created for the “extermination” of “the Jewish people.”
- Helmut Diwald, Geschichte der Deutschen (Frankfurt: Propyläen, first ed., 1978), pp. 164-165.
- M. Broszat, “Zur Kritik der Publizistik des antisemitischen Rechtsextremismus,” Supplement B 19/76 of May 8, 1976, to the weekly newspaper Das Parlament (Bonn), p. 6. Revised from issue No. 2, 1976, of the Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte (Munich).
- Dr. R. Barton, “Belsen,” History of the Second World War, Part 109, 1975, pp. 3025-3029; Barton confirmed this evaluation in testimony given in the 1985 and 1988 Toronto trials of German-Canadian publisher Ernst Zündel. On Barton’s testimony in the first, 1985 trial, see: “View of Belsen was propaganda, trial told,” The Globe and Mail (Toronto), Feb. 8, 1985, pp. M1, M5, and, “Disease killed Nazis’ prisoners, MD says,” Toronto Star, Feb. 8, 1985, p. A2; On Barton’s testimony in the second, 1988 Zündel trial, see: Barbara Kulaszka, ed., Did Six Million Really Die?, pp. 175-180, and, R. Lenski, The Holocaust on Trial (1990), pp. 157-160; Among his other positions after the war, Barton was superintendent and consultant psychiatrist at Severalls Hospital (Essex, England), and director of the Rochester Psychiatric Center (New York).
- Francis Trevelyan Miller, Litt.D., LLD, A History of World War II (Philadelphia: John C. Winston Co., 1945), p. 868.
- M. Dimont, Jews, God and History (New York: Signet/NAL, pb., 1962?), p. 383.
- R. Hrabar, et al, The Fate of Polish Children During the Last War (Warsaw: 1981), p. 76.
- The Associated Press News Annual: 1945, p. 404.
- M. Holland, “The horrors of Belsen,” Sunday Herald Sun (Melbourne, Australia), Jan. 22, 1995, p. 93; M. Holland, “Man who uncovered the horror of Belsen,” Sunday Times (Perth, W. Australia), Feb. 5, 1995, p. 2.
- S. Rothchild, ed., Voices From the Holocaust, p. 197.
- K. Seidman, “Surviving the horror,” The Gazette (Montreal, Canada), August 5, 1993. Facsimile reprint in: The Journal of Historical Review, Nov.-Dec. 1993, p. 24.
- Die Zeit (Hamburg), August 19, 1960, p. 16. (U.S. edition: August 26, 1960.) Facsimile and translation in The Journal of Historical Review, May-June 1993, p. 12.
- “Bergen-Belsen,” Daily News (New York), April 20, 1985, p. 3.
- “Ceremony Recalls Victims of Bergen-Belsen,” The Week in Germany (New York: German Information Center), April 27, 1990, p. 6; A figure of 50,000 is also given in Time magazine, April 29, 1985, p. 21; According to a stone memorial at the Belsen camp site, 30,000 Jews were “exterminated” there; A semi-official Polish account published in 1980 reported 48,000 Belsen “victims.” Czeslaw Pilichowski, No Time Limit for These Crimes (Warsaw: Interpress, 1980), pp. 154-155.
- “Bergen-Belsen,” Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971), vol. 4, pp. 610-612; Colonel Schmidt, the German officer who worked to alleviate conditions in Belsen during the final weeks and also arranged for the camp’s surrender to the British, estimated that “altogether about 8,000 people” died in the camp. (This figure may, however, only include victims of the final chaotic weeks under German control.) Source: Signed report by Oberst a.D. Hanns Schmidt to Kurt Mehner and Lt. Colonel Bechtold, Braunschweig, March 3, 1981. (Cited above.) Photocopy in author’s possession.
- L. Dawidowicz, “Belsen Remembered,” Commentary (New York: American Jewish Comm.), March 1966, pp. 84, 85; D. National-Zeitung (Munich), March 21, 1986, p. 4; M. Gilbert, The Holocaust, pp. 690, 793.
- F. Morgan, Peace and War (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1961), p. 259.
- “Bergen-Belsen,” Der Spiegel, Nr. 30, 1985, pp. 71, 72.
From The Journal of Historical Review, May-June 1995 (Vol. 15, No. 3), pages 23-30.
It all began in 1835 when the British Empire sent a German-born naturalist and explorer to conduct geographical research in the South American territory it had colonized and named British Guiana. In the course of his explorations, a map was drawn that well-exceeded the original western boundary first occupied by the Dutch and later passed to British control. Sparking the interest of the Empire’s desire to expand its borders into the area west of the Essequibo River that was rich in gold, the British government commissioned the explorer to survey their territorial boundaries. What became known as the “Schomburgk Line”, named after the explorer, Robert Hermann Schomburgk, usurped a large portion of Venezuelan land, and provoked the beginning of a territorial dispute that has remained unresolved to this day.
In 1850, after decades of arguing over the boundary line dividing Venezuela from its colonized neighbor, both sides agreed not to occupy the disputed territory until further determinations could be made. But as the demand for gold and other natural resources grew in the region, the British again tried to claim the territory declaring the Schomburgk Line the frontier of British Guiana, in clear violation of the previous accord with Venezuela.
Ironically, Venezuela appealed to the United States government for help at the time, using the Monroe Doctrine as a justification to prevent further colonization by the British Empire in the hemisphere. US President Grover Cleveland eventually declared the matter of US interest and forced Great Britain to sign a Treaty of Arbitration with Venezuela in Washington in 1897. Two years later, the Arbitration Tribunal, which had no representatives from Venezuela but instead two arbitrators from the United States said to be acting in Venezuela’s interest, ruled in favor of Britain. Venezuela rejected the decision, alleging there had been political collusion and illegal pressures in favor of the other side. These claims were supported by a letter written by Severo Mallet-Prevost, the Official Secretary of the US/Venezuela delegation in the Arbitration Tribunal who revealed the President of the Tribunal, Friedrich Martens had pressured the arbitrators to decide in favor of Great Britain.
More than half a century went by until the dispute was re-introduced on the international stage, this time at the United Nations. Venezuela denounced the corruption that had led to the arbitrators decision in 1899 and reiterated its claim over the territory known as the “Essequibo”. In February 1966, at a meeting in Geneva, all parties to the conflict – Venezuela, British Guiana and Great Britain – signed the agreement to resolve the dispute over the border between Venezuela and British Guiana, known as the Treaty of Geneva. They agreed neither side would act on the disputed territory until they could resolve a definitive border, acceptable to all parties. Months later, in May 1966, Guyana achieved its independence from the United Kingdom, further complicating matters. On subsequent maps of Venezuela and Guyana, both countries claimed the territory as part of their sovereign land.
Despite minor disagreements since 1966, the dispute did not become the source of escalating regional tensions until 2015, when a large oil discovery was made by Exxon right smack in the middle of the Essequibo, and claimed by Guyana.
The Cooperative Republic of Guyana is the second poorest country in the Caribbean, only surpassing desolate Haiti in per capita income. The country’s main economic activity is agriculture, specifically rice and sugar production, which account for over 30% of export income. Despite being surrounded by vast oil and gas reserves in neighboring Venezuela, which has the largest oil reserves on the planet in its Orinoco River Basin, and nearby Trinidad and Tobago, up until recently Guyana had no known oil reserves within its territorial boundaries.
Enter Exxon Mobil, one of the world’s largest oil and gas companies, and a declared enemy of Venezuela. Until 2007, Exxon had a significant investment through its Cerro Negro Project in Venezuela’s Orinoco River Basin. Initially, U.S. oil and geological experts had classified the oil-based substance found in mass quantities in that area to be bitumen, a thick black tar-like asphalt, therefore rendering it not subject to the 1976 Hydrocarbons Law in Venezuela that nationalized oil and gas reserves. After President Hugo Chavez suspected the area actually contained huge oil reserves, he had his own research done and was proved right: the Orinoco River Basin was certified with over 300 billion barrels of heavy-crude petroleum.
On May 1, 2007, Chavez officially declared all hydrocarbons in that region subject to the prior nationalization laws, legally binding any foreign companies operating there to engage in joint-ventures with the Venezuelan public oil company, PDVSA. The law required a minimum of 51% ownership by the Venezuelan state, with a maximum of 49% for foreign companies. Only two companies refused to cooperate with the new laws. Both were from the United States: ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil. Both sued Venezuela over the nationalizations.
ConocoPhillips’ claim was significantly smaller than Exxon’s, which demanded over $18 billion for the expropriation. Venezuela offered market value and the case went to an international arbitration tribunal that eventually ordered the Venezuelan government to pay Exxon $1.6 billion, a mere fraction of what the US oil giant had expected.
In an apparent act of revenge, Exxon found a way to get Venezuela’s oil without following Venezuela’s rules, albeit through illegal and potentially dangerous channels.
As the Obama administration was amping up hostility against Venezuela, declaring it via Executive Decree an “unusual and extraordinary threat to U.S. national security” and imposing potentially vast-reaching sanctions on government officials, Exxon was making a deal with Guyana to explore oil deposits in the disputed Essequibo territory.
In May 2015, just as Guyana was swearing in a new president, the conservative military officer David Granger, a close U.S. ally, Exxon was making a huge discovery in the Atlantic Ocean near the Venezuelan coast. According to reports, the deposits found by Exxon in the ’Liza-1 well’ hold over 700 million barrels of oil, worth about $40 billion today. The find could be a major game changer for Guyana, representing more than 12 times its current economic input, that is, if the oil actually belonged to Guyana instead of Venezuela.
On January 26, 2015, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden hosted the first Caribbean Energy Security Initiative, bringing heads of state and high-level officials from Caribbean nations together with multinational executives in Washington. The stated goal of the new initiative is to help Caribbean nations “create the conditions to attract private-sector investment”, but Biden made the true objective clear when he declared, “…whether it’s the Ukraine or the Caribbean, no country should be able to use natural resources as a tool of coercion against any other country.”
Without mentioning it by name, Biden was referring to Venezuela and its PetroCaribe program that provides subsidized oil and gas to Caribbean nations at virtually no upfront cost. PetroCaribe has been fundamental in aiding development in the region during the past ten years since its creation. And clearly, its perceived as a threat to U.S. influence in the Caribbean, and an affront to traditional corporate exploitation of small, developing nations.
In addition to the Obama administration sanctions aimed at isolating Venezuela in the region and portraying it as a ‘failed state’, the Caribbean Energy Security Initiative takes a direct stab at Venezuela’s lifeline: oil. In the U.S. Senate Report on the Department of State’s Foreign Operations Budget for 2016, $5,000,000.00 was recommended for “enhanced efforts to help Latin America and Caribbean countries achieve greater energy independence from Venezuela”. Falling oil prices have already done damage to Venezuela’s economy, but forcing it out of the regional oil trade would hurt even more.
The main conundrum of figuring out how to replace Venezuelan oil in PetroCaribe was resolved with the stroke of a pen by Guyana’s new president, a former instructor at the U.S. Army War College who made a secret trip to the United States just three days after taking office in May. Hours later, Exxon’s oil exploration rig, Deepwater Champion made its first major lucrative discovery in the large Stabroek Block in the disputed coastal territory.
The Venezuelan government warned Exxon to leave the area, citing its claim over the Essequibo territory and the ongoing dispute with Guyana subject to UN mediation. But Exxon paid no heed to Venezuela, following President Granger’s lead in openly defying the Geneva Agreement and Venezuela’s calls to solve the conflict through diplomacy, involving the UN Good Offices in the resolution of the centuries-old dispute.
UN Secretary General Ban ki-moon has pledged to send a commission to both Venezuela and Guyana to seek resolution for a problem that now, as Washington hoped, is dividing the region. President Maduro and his Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez have been making their case before regional leaders, encouraging other Caribbean nations to support their claim over the Essequibo, or at least approve the involvement of the UN to arbitrate the dispute. In the meantime, Guyana continues to aggressively push forward with Exxon to pursue what could become the largest oil theft in the Americas.
Eva Golinger is the author of The Chavez Code.
ISRAEL’S OPERATION Protective Edge has killed almost 2,000 people in Gaza, the vast majority of them civilians, and laid waste to schools, hospitals, mosques and factories.
The savagery of the slaughter was met by growing international opposition to Israel and solidarity with Palestine. Even in the U.S., recent opinion polls showed a growing minority of Americans, including Jews, rejecting Israel’s war on Gaza. That minority includes a strong majority of people aged 18 to 29.
This global shift in opinion has been underway for some years. People are being swayed to support Palestine by Israel’s apartheid-like behavior: building an illegal separation wall in the West Bank, turning Gaza into an open-air concentration camp and conducting regular military assaults on the occupied territories.
Thanks to the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign–called for by Palestinians and mobilized by solidarity activists around the world–more and more people understand the reality that Israel is an apartheid state, and the cause of Palestinian liberation is simple justice.
But one political institution in the U.S. has stood completely unswayed by this evolving consciousness of the oppression of the Palestinians by Israel, with the support of its main international sponsor, the U.S. government.
That institution is the Democratic Party–including its liberal wing. Like their counterparts in the two-party U.S. political system, the Republicans, the Democrats never hesitated during the massacres in Gaza to reaffirm their unwavering support for Israel’s colonial project…
…The behavior of liberal Democrats during Operation Protective Edge has proved the rule. The darlings of progressive activists, from Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (a nominal independent who campaigns for Democrats and caucuses with them in the Senate), have made their commitment to Zionism clear. In the Senate vote on the pro-Israel resolution, none of the liberal stalwarts like Elizabeth Warren, Al Franken, Sherrod Brown and Bernie Sanders, made a peep in opposition. The same was true in the House.
Warren’s position shocked her progressive supporters, who either had ignored or didn’t know about her support of Israel. Despite her Native American roots, she sides not with Palestine’s indigenous population, but with Israeli colonization. On her Senate campaign website, for example, she said:
As a United States Senator, I will work to ensure Israel’s security and success. I believe Israel must maintain a qualitative military edge and defensible borders. The United States must continue to ensure that Israel can defend itself from terrorist organizations and hostile states, including Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, and others.
The Democrats’ other new liberal lion, Bill de Blasio, outdoes Warren in Zionist proclamations. During his election campaign, De Blasio promised, “City Hall will always be open to AIPAC.” In a radio interview, he boasted that he opposed the “very, very wrongheaded movement to boycott, and disinvest from Israel. I’ve led the charge against that, whether you’re talking about the Park Slope Food Co-op or at Brooklyn College, I’ve stood against that divestment movement.” During the current war on Gaza, he announced, “I consider it my responsibility to stand up for Israel.”
Just as disappointing has been the traditionally progressive Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). Bruce Dixon of the Black Agenda Report reported on how CBC members in the House and Senate betrayed Palestine in AIPAC-backed resolutions. As Dixon wrote:
Not a single member of the CBC, despite their much heralded brand of standing for civil rights and against apartheid here and around the world, bothered to publicly question the racist ethnocracy that is the Israeli state. After signing the blank check with the rest of their colleagues, CBC members Conyers (MI), Lee (CA), Johnson (GA) and Ellison (MN) tried to cover their shame with a letter to Secretary of State Kerry urging a cease-fire, something which Kerry claims to have been doing anyway.
The self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders has done little better. As left-wing Vermont writer Ron Jacobs noted, Senator Sanders has voted for “grants and loans to Israel, even after Israel bombed Gaza, attacked the Mavi Marmara and supported illegal settlements in the West Bank.” When asked by reporters for his view of the current war on Gaza, Sanders evaded the question, stating, “That’s not where my mind is right now.”
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –http://socialistworker.org/2014/08/13/liberal-champions-of-apartheid
Despite his own claims, Sanders has not been an antiwar leader. Ever since he won election to the House, he has taken either equivocal positions on U.S. wars or outright supported them. His hawkish positions — especially his decision to support Bill Clinton’s 1999 Kosovo War — drove one of his key advisers, Jeremy Brecher, to resign from his staff. Brecher wrote in his resignation letter, “Is there a moral limit to the military violence you are willing to participate in or support?”
So outraged were peace activists over Sanders’ support of the Kosovo War that they occupied his office in 1999. Sanders had them arrested. Under the Bush regime, Sanders’ militarism has only grown worse. While he called for alternative approaches to the war on Afghanistan, he failed to join the sole Democrat, Barbara Lee, to vote against Congress’ resolution that gave George Bush a blank check to launch war on any country he deemed connected to the September 11 attacks.
Ever since, he has voted for appropriations bills to fund the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, despite their horrific toll on the occupied peoples as well as U.S. soldiers.
Sanders has been critical of the war on Iraq, but he has supported pro-war measures — such as a March 21, 2003, resolution stating, “Congress expresses the unequivocal support and appreciation of the nation to the President as Commander-in-Chief for his firm leadership and decisive action in the conduct of military operations in Iraq as part of the ongoing Global War on Terrorism.” … Full article
It is often said that if it can be imagined, it will inevitably be done. And such a sentiment could not be any truer in terms of applying genetic engineering and synthetic biology to the genomes of our planet’s organisms including humans themselves.
While the process of synthesizing and arranging genetic code has many processes, perhaps none has been as promising as the CRISPR-Cas system. From laboratory experiments to emerging software used to create code genetically almost as easily as code for a computer, gene editing has never been easier, opening the door to never-before-possible applications.
Perhaps no technology yet has been poised to change the world so profoundly. All life on Earth, every living organism, now stands the possibility of potentially being “edited” on the most basic genetic level, enhancing or degrading it, but forever changing it.
Gene editing or “gene therapy” performed on children or adults changes the genetic makeup of targeted cells after which and upon dividing, impart this new genetic material on each subsequent new cell. This is why treatments for diseases using gene therapy often are successful with only a single shot. The “treatment” self-replicates perpetually within the patient’s body. Everything from leukemia to congenial genetic defects have been overcome in clinical trials using this method.
As far as science knows, these changes cannot be passed onto the offspring of patients. However, changing the genetic makeup of a human at their earliest stages of development can be passed on, spreading genetic changes made in labs onto the greater population.
The Biggest Threats: The Jab and Slow Kill
Talk of gene editing usually revolves around its use to treat diseases and produce super-crops and livestock to “save the world.” But as history has shown us, any technology is but a double edged sword. Whatever good it is capable of, it is proportionally capable of just as much bad.
The first and foremost danger of human gene editing in particular is its use in weaponized vaccines. Such fears are founded upon what was revealed by the United Nations during the apartheid government in South Africa where a government program named “Project Coast” actually endeavored to produce vaccines that were race-specific in hopes of sterilizing or killing off its black population.
The United Nations in a report titled Project Coast: Apartheid’s Chemical and Biological Warfare Programme would admit:
One example of this interaction involved anti-fertility work. According to documents from RRL [Roodeplaat Research Laboratories], the facility had a number of registered projects aimed at developing an anti-fertility vaccine. This was a personal project of the first managing director of RRL, Dr Daniel Goosen. Goosen, who had done research into embryo transplants, told the TRC that he and Basson had discussed the possibility of developing an anti-fertility vaccine which could be selectively administered—without the knowledge of the recipient. The intention, he said, was to administer it to black South African women without their knowledge.
At the time, the technology to accomplish such a feat never materialized. Now it has.
Another danger is “slow kill.” This would be the process of using gene editing to affect individuals directly or through a genetically modified food supply subtly, infecting or killing off targeted demographic groups over a longer period of time. The advantage of this method would be the ambiguity surrounding what was causing upticks in “cancer” and other maladies brought on by degraded immune systems and overall health.
And while some might be tempted to claim the dangers of this technology being used against populations remains solely in the realm of “Nazi eugenicists” and racist South African regimes, the truth of the matter is even Washington has penned policy papers advocating weapons deployed amid the “world of microbes.”
Mentioned in the US Neo-Conservative Project for a New American Century’s (PNAC) 2000 report titled Rebuilding America’s Defenses it stated:
The proliferation of ballistic and cruise missiles and long-range unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will make it much easier to project military power around the globe. Munitions themselves will become increasingly accurate, while new methods of attack – electronic, “non-lethal,” biological – will be more widely available. (p.71 of .pdf)
Although it may take several decade for the process of transformation to unfold, in time, the art of warfare on air, land, and sea will be vastly different than it is today, and “combat” likely will take place in new dimensions: in space, “cyber-space,” and perhaps the world of microbes. (p.72 of .pdf)
And advanced forms of biological warfare that can “target” specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool. (p.72 of .pdf)
Biological warfare that can “target” specific genotypes is precisely what is now possible in the advent of improved gene editing. While many may suspect profit alone drives large pharmaceutical corporations to push vaccines on the global population, in reality, what it may also represent is an attempt by these very conspirators to create a well established globalized medium through which to administer their targeted bioweapons, yet another reason why the matter of human healthcare and biotechnology (and specifically vaccines) is a matter of not just business, but of national security as well.
Overwriting the Planet’s Genetic Heritage
Recently, Chinese scientists have crossed what many Western commentators, scientists and others have claimed is an “ethical line” by applying gene editing to human embryos. Critics have condemned the move specifically because any human “edited” while at their embryonic stage would likely transfer those genetic changes to any offspring they had upon becoming an adult.
Yet many of these critics have been vocal advocates for precisely the same use of biotech, though not for humans, but rather for our food supply. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs), particularly modified crops transfer their artificially altered genetic code to its next generation. Cross pollination has repeatedly contaminated the fields of farmers not using GMOs, creating an expanding controversy and multiple lawsuits and legal reviews.
In reality, all genetic editing, especially when it alters the genetic material of subsequent generations, represents a potential threat to the genetic heritage of the entire planet with potential consequences we may still not fully understand. In a world where the “science is final” regarding humanity’s impact on the planet’s climate, demanding “urgent action” to stop or reverse it, the absence of a similar impetus behind stopping the contamination of our planet’s genetic heritage seems suspiciously hypocritical if not utterly reckless and even intentional.
Of course, gene editing will be done, with or without the approval of governments and the people they govern. However, measures should be developed and put in place to preserve the natural genetic heritage of the planet, and such measures should be decentralized as much as possible.
The James Bond-esque “Svalbard Global Seed Vault” in the frigid climate of Norway represents a sort of “backup” for many of the planet’s horticultural species, but is controlled by the very interests intentionally destroying the planet’s genomes. It represents essentially a criminal gang preparing to sink the ship, but only after securing for themselves the only lifeboat available.
More lifeboats must be made available and it will require the understanding of policymakers of this emerging technology and the threats it presents, along with national and local policies to hedge against these threats.
The West Trapped in its Own Hypocrisy
Ironically, the West’s own hypocrisy has tied its hands in condemning China’s moves to recklessly alter the human genomes of embryos. Not only is the West’s attitude toward GMOs in general now hurting their case against China, the prevailing attitude in the West that embryos are not even “human” is also critically hypocritical, regardless of how irrational, unscientific and unqualified (however very politically convenient) such an attitude is.
To the West, unborn children are virtually “garbage” to be thrown away on a whim. So the Chinese might be forgiven for thinking it is perfectly ok to experiment recklessly upon them. In reality a human being’s unique genetic code and the metabolic cellular activity that constitutes the beginning of its life… both of which perpetuate themselves uninterrupted until birth and continues on until death, natural or otherwise … begins at conception. As such, experimenting on a human embryo may not superficially “feel” or “look” like human experimentation, but scientifically it is.
The West is quite right about condemning China for its experimentation on human embryos, however its confused self-serving hypocrisy has made this condemnation incoherent and unfortunately irrelevant.
Regardless, those nations still adhering to a sense of both objective science and humanity can and must set a precedent based on the above described realities. They must recognize the threats and abuses this technology poses equally with its benefits. They must educate their populations to understand the difference between the two, and the importance of developing a national biotechnology initiative as a matter of both national security and progress. But above all, they must understand that biotechnology represents the next big revolution, after information technology, and begin building the necessary infrastructure to support it.
Without doing so, nations will find themselves ill-prepared to either capitalize on its benefits or defend against its many and incredibly dangerous abuses.
Weaponization, accidents and even the prospect of globalized corporations finding, then making inaccessible the cures to diseases and conditions affecting millions such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease are all threats we now face, whether we would like to admit it or not. One point the West correctly made upon its hand wringing over China’s most recent and reckless leap forward, was that the matter of biotechnology’s profound impact on the human genome and the genetic heritage of the entire planet is no longer the subject of a “future” scenario. It is a matter of present concern.