UN agencies have urged an end to what they describe as the Gaza Strip’s “de-development spiral”, in a report marking the two-year anniversary of the ceasefire that ended ‘Operation Protective Edge’.
In a statement released Friday, 16 heads of United Nations agencies in Palestine call for the “uninterrupted and predictable flow of material and increased funding to address humanitarian needs and boost economic prospects for Gaza’s 1.9 million residents.”
In the report, UN agencies “document collective progress made in the last two years, as well as some of the remaining challenges in the recovery and reconstruction effort.” To date, “half of the homes which suffered partial damages and a third of destroyed homes have been rebuilt.”
Robert Piper, the UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities, warned that “repairing the damages from the 51-day hostilities cannot be our only measure of success, given that humanitarian and socio-economic indicators were already so dire before 2014.”
Piper added: “We must reverse Gaza’s de-development trajectory and address the needs of a population that has gone through three rounds of conflict, nine years of an Israeli blockade and the consequences of the Palestinian internal divide.”
The senior UN official emphasised that “addressing economic recovery requires much greater financial investments and serious policy changes, including a lifting of [Israeli-imposed] restrictions on both imports and exports.”
On October 2014, donors pledged US$ 3.5 billion to support Gaza. According to the World Bank, only an estimated 40 percent had been disbursed by April this year.
“We can’t have it both ways. We can’t be both the world’s leading champion of peace and the world’s leading supplier of arms.” – Former US President Jimmy Carter, presidential campaign, 1976 [Source]
No clearer demonstration of the mass psychosis afflicting much of humanity can be seen than in the ongoing outrage and horror evoked by the photographs of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi’s body. While it goes without saying that any empathetic being would react with utter revulsion and helpless fury at the fate of this poor little boy, one cannot ignore the vast indifference evident toward the thousands of other needless child deaths that occur daily around the world. For this silent slaughter, we hear: ‘Shit happens’ or ‘What am I supposed to do about it?’
Aylan’s death even touched the stony hearts of corporate media editors:
From Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal :
His name was Aylan. He was 3 years old, from war-torn Syria.
His final journey was supposed to end in sanctuary in Europe; instead it claimed his life and highlighted the plight of desperate people caught in the gravest refugee crisis since World War II.
Readers can be forgiven for missing similarly recounted tragedies concerning other young children. From an earlier 99.99998271% article [Note: see original for sources]:
Ask yourself if you have heard the name of Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, a 14-year-old Iraqi girl who was gang-raped and murdered by US marines after her family (34-year-old mother Fakhriyah Taha Muhsin, 45-year-old father Qasim Hamza Raheem, and six-year-old sister Hadeel Qasim Hamza) were killed.
How about Safa Younis Salim, a 13-year old girl who amazingly survived the Haditha Massacre, in which 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians were killed including seven children, a 1-year-old girl staying with the family and a 76-year-old man in a wheelchair?
How did she survive?
“I pretended that I was dead when my brother’s body fell on me and he was bleeding like a faucet.”
A six-year US military prosecution ended with none of the eight Marines sentenced to jail, despite one of the men – Sgt. Sanick De La Cruz – testifying (in return for immunity) that he had urinated on the skull of one of the dead Iraqis. This outcome outraged the Iraqi people (as the attack on Malala [Yousafzai] outraged the West) but the name of Safa Younis Salim remains practically unknown.
Informing the world about these children would run counter to the crucial narrative that the US and its NATO allies are an altruistic force for good in the world – bringers of peace, freedom and democracy. Aylan Kurdi, on the other hand, may prove very useful in furthering the true aims of the Western-aligned powers, and so – like Malala – he will be making the front pages for as long as is necessary.
Mainstream press outlets have overwhelmingly called for decisive action, with tabloids like The Sun and The Daily Mail plumbing new depths of hypocrisy. The UK’s ‘liberal-left’ Guardian newspaper joined the ‘humanitarian intervention’ ranks in a recent editorial:
To begin restoring that hope will inevitably mean international intervention of some kind. The establishment of credible safe havens and the implementation of a no-fly zone must be on the table for serious consideration.
Where were the editorials calling for the establishment of no-fly zones in order to overthrow the Israeli regime when last summer, in an orgy of indiscriminate slaughter and destruction, the inhabitants of Gaza (average age 17), described accurately by David Cameron as a prison camp, were subjected to a barrage of modern, US-supplied weaponry:
The United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict has gathered substantial information pointing to the possible commission of war crimes by both Israel and Palestinian armed groups.
The 2014 hostilities saw a huge increase in firepower used in Gaza, with more than 6,000 airstrikes by Israel and approximately 50,000 tank and artillery shells fired. In the 51 day operation, 1,462 Palestinian civilians were killed, a third of them children. Palestinian armed groups fired 4,881 rockets and 1,753 mortars towards Israel in July and August 2014, killing 6 civilians and injuring at least 1,600.
Hundreds of Palestinian civilians were killed in their own homes, especially women and children. Survivors gave graphic testimony describing air strikes that reduced buildings to piles of dust and rubble in seconds. “I woke up… in the hospital, and I later learned that my sister, mother and my children had all died,” said a member of the Al Najjar family after an attack in Khan Younis on 26 July that killed 19 of his relatives, “We all died that day even those who survived”.
The commission is concerned about Israel’s extensive use of weapons with a wide kill and injury radius; though not illegal, their use in densely populated areas is highly likely to kill combatants and civilians indiscriminately. There appears also to be a pattern whereby the IDF issued warnings to people to leave a neighbourhood and then automatically considered anyone remaining to be a fighter. This practice makes attacks on civilians highly likely. During the Israeli ground incursion into Gaza that began in mid-July 2014, hundreds of people were killed and thousands of homes destroyed or damaged.
Where is the global anguish and soul searching about the CIA drone campaign, which is now responsible, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, for the deaths of thousands of people, of whom many are civilians and hundreds children, including babies? Where is the mass public/media outrage against Obama’s strikes on weddings and funerals?
A population of billions that reacts so dramatically to one outrage yet indifference to another of equal horror can only be described as emotionally and empathically dysfunctional to a profound degree.
These oddities require no psychological explanation with regard to the media. Indeed, if there were any lingering doubts about the agenda of the corporate press, they can be safely dispensed with for all time. Despite this fact, confronting mainstream journalists about this agenda on social media invariably leads to ‘conspiracy’ smears, derision (often with peers piling into the fray), and sometimes blocking.
It is not even necessary (although it is highly recommended) to read Herman/Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent to see the systemic bias towards corporate/state-power-friendly narratives; common sense is adequate, and the current push to war on Syria is an apt example of the standard methods employed.
How do we know there is an agenda?
The Syria story is being universally framed as ‘We have to go in there and do something’ but a crucial element is missing, namely that US-aligned forces have long been covertly operating in Syria. An internal email dated 7th December 2011 of the Stratfor ‘global intelligence’ company published by WikiLeaks makes this very clear. It is a remarkable email, in that it clearly demonstrates the intent of the US to intervene in the affairs of Syria, and strongly implies that – among many other things – agents from the US, France, Jordan, Turkey, and the UK were already on the ground carrying out reconnaissance and the training of opposition forces.
While the content of the email is unambiguously damning – a clear smoking gun of a plan for regime change in Syria – equally striking is the casual tone of the writer. It is that of an employee who is extremely comfortable, not only in the knowledge that the US will eventually force regime change, but also that a way will be found to make it look good in the media, presumably understanding that another department in the Pentagon or the CIA will handle that side of things. The employee assumes the humdrum tone of a person simply doing what they are expected to do – passing on useful information to his superiors – without any consideration or fear that such actions may be illegal.
This casual approach speaks volumes about the attitude from the very top down of US officials and their employees in the public and private sectors toward the nation’s obligations to international law; namely that any ‘problems’ with such obligations can be worked around to everyone’s satisfaction (at least far enough to get the job done), as demonstrated with the invasion ten years ago of Iraq by the US and its ‘Coalition of the Willing’ without a UN resolution.
Some highlights from the email [Original typos uncorrected. Emphasis mine in bold]:
I kept pressing on the question of what these SOF teams would be working toward, and whether this would lead to an eventual air camapign to give a Syrian rebel group cover. They pretty quickly distanced themselves from that idea, saying that the idea ‘hypothetically’ is to commit guerrilla attacks, assassination campaigns, try to break the back of the Alawite forces, elicit collapse from within.
They emphasized how the air campaign in Syria makes Libya look like a piece of cake.
There still seems to be a lot of confusion over what a military intervention involving an air campaign would be designed to achieve. It isn’t clear cut for them geographically like in Libya, and you can’t just create an NFZ over Homs, Hama region. This would entail a countrywide SEAD campaign lasting the duration of the war. They dont believe air intervention would happen unless there was enough media attention on a massacre, like the Ghadafi move against Benghazi. They think the US would have a high tolerance for killings as long as it doesn’t reach that very public stage.
The French representative was of hte opinion that Syria won’t be a libya-type situation in that France would be gung-ho about going in. Not in an election year. The UK rep also emphasized UK reluctance but said that the renegotiation of the EU treaty undermines the UK role and that UK would be looking for ways to reassert itself on the continent ( i dont really think a syria campaign is the way to do that.) UK guy mentioned as an aside that the air force base commander at Cyprus got switched out from a maintenance guy to a guy that flew Raptors, ie someone that understands what it means to start dropping bombs. He joked that it was probably a coincidence.
Absent from corporate media reporting is the Pentagon report demonstrating ‘that the growth and expansion of ISIS was a direct result of arms being sent by the US to anti-Assad Islamists, with the strategic [US] intention of toppling the Assad regime in Syria’. [Note: original reporting by Nafeez Ahmed here]
3: Moral relativism
Media reporting on ‘murderous dictators’ and ‘strongmen’ is selective. By a staggering coincidence, dictators that accede to US/NATO strategic demands are spared condemnation while leaders (often democratically elected) who do not are vilified relentlessly, as noted by Glenn Greenwald when Hillary Clinton warned of the dangers of Iran’s ’emerging dictatorship’ in 2010:
“.. Half a century of American foreign policy flatly contradicts this sentiment (which is why Clinton heard soft chuckles and a few muffled guffaws as she spoke). The US has adored military dictatorships in the Arab world, and has long supported states dominated by the shadowy world of intelligence services. This became even more obvious after the attacks of September 11, 2001, when Washington intensified cooperation with Arab intelligence services in the fight against Al-Qaeda and other terror groups.
Washington’s closest allies in the Middle East are military and police states where men with guns rule, and where citizens are confined to shopping, buying cellular telephones, and watching soap operas on satellite television. Countries like Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Libya, as well as the entire Gulf region and other states are devoted first and foremost to maintaining domestic order and regime incumbency through efficient, multiple security agencies, for which they earn American friendship and cooperation. When citizens in these and other countries agitate for more democratic and human rights, the US is peculiarly inactive and quiet…”
Rule of thumb: if a head of state is subjected to a concerted smear campaign throughout the world’s media, that leader has either been targeted for removal, is proving stubborn in allowing the US and its allies to achieve their goals, or is generally aligned against Western interests.
4: Historical Precedent
The intervention rhetoric from public officials published uncritically by the media is nothing new:
Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. Dick Cheney,
August 26, 2002
Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons. George W. Bush, September 12, 2002
If he declares he has none, then we will know that Saddam Hussein is once again misleading the world. Ari Fleischer, December 2, 2002
The president of the United States and the secretary of defense would not assert as plainly and bluntly as they have that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction if it was not true, and if they did not have a solid basis for saying it. Ari Fleischer, December 6, 2002
We know for a fact that there are weapons there. Ari Fleischer, January 9, 2003
Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent. George W. Bush January 28, 2003
We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction, is determined to make more.Colin Powell, February 5, 2003
The Pulizer Prize-winning Center for Public Integrity found in a study that ‘following 9/11, President Bush and seven top officials of his administration waged a carefully orchestrated campaign of misinformation about Saddam Hussein’s Iraq’ with ‘at least 935 false statements [from top government officials] in the two years following September 11, 2001, about the national security threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Nearly five years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, an exhaustive examination of the record shows that the statements were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses’.
There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.” George W Bush<
5: The source
Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers have been particularly vociferous in demanding bombs in Syria. For him at least, we have means, opportunity and motive. Murdoch’s ownership of a large chunk of mainstream outlets gives him enormous reach (means) while opportunity knocks courtesy of poor little Aylan.
A US oil company is preparing to drill for oil in the Golan Heights. Granted the license in February 2013 by Israel, Afek Oil and Gas is a subsidiary of Genie Energy Ltd, whose equity-holding board members include former US Vice President Dick Cheney, controversial media mogul Rupert Murdoch and financier Lord Jacob Rothschild.
[Note: article dated January 28th 2015. Murdoch remains on the board]
Aside from personal financial interest for Murdoch, a post-Assad, US-friendly Syrian government would mean one less major Russia-Iran-axis power in the Middle East to worry about, a turn of events also greatly desired by Israel, while economically Syria would be opened up to all manner of ‘opportunities’ for Western corporations.
6:The refugee crisis
This user-friendly graph (also available in table form for older data) provided by the World Bank shows large increases in numbers of refugees at key moments after US/allied interventions. [Note: you can add your own parameters] For instance, with the explosion of sectarian violence in Iraq in 2006 brought about by the Iraq War, the number of refugees increased from 262,299 in 2005 to 1,450,905 in 2006 and 2,309,245 in 2007.
7:War for profit
Investors see rising sales for makers of missiles, drones and other weapons as the U.S. hits Islamic State fighters in Syria and Iraq, said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Chicago-based BMO Private Bank. President Barack Obama approved open-ended airstrikes this month while ruling out ground combat.
As we ramp up our military muscle in the Mideast, there’s a sense that demand for military equipment and weaponry will likely rise,” said Ablin, who oversees $66 billion including Northrop Grumman Corp. and Boeing Co. shares. “To the extent we can shift away from relying on troops and rely more heavily on equipment — that could present an opportunity.
There’s no doubt the world is getting to be a more and more dangerous place, and there are countries around the world that could look to buy aircraft and artillery,” Jeff Babione, deputy manager of Lockheed’s F-35 Lightning II program, said in an interview in Oslo. “There’s a sense that there’s less stability in the world than there was before.
Clearly the world has become increasingly unstable. The question of whether that has a major impact on the defense budget is uncertain,” Finnegan said. “There may be an investor psychology that suggests that there’s going to be a large benefit to these companies. But the jury is still out.
The arms industry is big business.
To conclude, the corporate media has concealed covert activities within Syria going back several years; has blacked out a Pentagon report demonstrating US prediction, supply and use of ISIS as a strategic asset; is again reporting selectively regarding ‘good’ and ‘bad’ dictators; and has engaged in this precise kind of rhetoric in the past before every intervention. Rupert Murdoch is a board member of a company that is drilling for oil in the Golan Heights while his newspapers sound the clarion call that may open the way for a (hoped for) post-Assad Western puppet government. Meanwhile stocks in arms companies are at record levels and the refugee crisis is now a major humanitarian disaster at World War 2 levels, with refugee populations particularly high from nations where the US and its allies have acted (covertly or overtly).
It’s another set-up. Don’t get fooled again.
Casuistry, which one dictionary defines as “specious, deceptive, or oversubtle reasoning, especially in questions of morality” is, rightly or wrongly, inextricably linked to the history of Jesuit order of the Catholic Church. And the rise of the Jesuit order is deeply enmeshed with the Counter-Reformation, a set of measures designed to roll back the spread of Protestantism in Europe during the late 16th and early 17th centuries. The control center of the movement was Spain, the world-striding superpower of that historical moment.
Rightfully fearful that Protestantism’s rejection of long-standing modes of clerical privilege and the Church’s “right” to collect vast sums of money from parishioners would undermine their ability to bully and bribe Italian, French, Dutch and German potentates into compliance with their political demands, the Spanish Monarchy undertook an endless series of military adventures against “heretics” across the Continent in the years between 1530 and 1648. This military thrust was accompanied by a well-organized propaganda campaign in which the highly educated Jesuits priests played a crucial role.
Appearing morally and intellectually reasonable while serving as a convinced advocate for the systematic subjugation of other people and their animating ideals is not a simple task. In the long run it is, in fact, an impossible one. No amount of argument can convince a person or group of persons who see them selves as suffering under the boot of another that their bondage is a good and necessary thing. What such a rhetorical posture can do, for a time at least, is convince the subjects of the hegemonic country of, if not the inherent nobility of their bloody mission, its generally benign nature.
A key, if generally unstated, goal of the 16th and 17th century Jesuits was to insure that the highly problematic matter of Rome’s corruption, and the brutal Imperial designs of the Spanish monarchy that lay behind it, never be allowed to occupy the center zone of what then passed for “public” discourse.
When confronted by the emergent Protestant movements about the clear violations of Christian morality practiced by the Church of Rome, they responded with complex disquisitions on the largely circumstantial nature of all moral reasoning. By constantly parsing the intricacies of how overarching moral rules should, or should not, be applied in each particular circumstance (and teaching others to do the same), they very effectively prevented the emergence within the Church, and by extension in the leadership class of the Spanish Empire, of a frank discussion of the quite real and deeply-felt grievances of their many enemies.
I am reminded of all this when I read or watch the news after every so-called “terrorist” attack against a US or European target. Within minutes of the violence, mainstream journalists, begin intense speculation about what particular ethnic group the assailant came from, how he or she became “radicalized” (as if the desire to kill was akin to some sort of contagious moral flu) and whether the “West’s” latest stand-in for PURE EVIL™ (e.g. Al-Qaeda, ISIS, ISIL) was behind the act.
What will almost never be talked about are the many very good reasons a person from the vast region stretching from Morrocco in the west, to Pakistan in the east, have to be very angry at, and to feel highly vengeful toward, the US, its strategic puppeteer Israel, and their slavishly loyal European compadres like France, Germany and Great Britain.
There is never any talk of that group of august “democracies” long-standing penchant for implanting, then staunchly supporting, ruthless and deeply corrupt regimes in that region.
No talk of the very long Algerian experience of French colonialism, nor the US and French- backed coup of that country’s government in 1992 which led to a civil war that left 200,000 people dead.
No talk of the coup against the legally elected president of Egypt in 2013, nor the cold-blooded massacres carried out by his US-backed successor upon hundreds of that same president’s followers.
No talk of the decision of the US to back elements of ISIS in order to cynically extend a Syrian Civil War that was on its way to peace—albeit an imperfect one—by means of a Syrian government victory by late 2013.
No talk of the planned destruction of Libya in 2011 and its enormous effects on the stability of life in that once wealthy country as well as all of northern Africa.
No talk of the US-Israeli nullification of the results of the Palestinian elections of 2006, Israel’s coldly planned siege of Gaza nor the “shoot-fish-in-a barrel” assaults on that benighted enclave by Israel in 2006, 2008, 2012 and 2014.
No talk of the ongoing Saudi—and therefore US-approved—war on Yemen, nor the ruthless Saudi march on Bahrain in 2011 in which several dozen people died and thousands of democracy activists were tortured and/or carted off to prison.
No talk of the 18-year Israeli—and therefore, US-backed—occupation of Southern Lebanon nor Israel’s 1993, 1996 and 2006 assaults upon that same country.
Oops, I almost forgot. There is no talk of the small matter the calculated US destruction of Iraq, pre-invasion Libya’s rival as the Arab world’s most wealthy and socially progressive state.
But hey, why talk about all that off-putting stuff when you can boil it all down to neat tales of personal ideological contamination, Svengali-like recruiters lurking in mosques, and that old standby, the development of an urgent need to bang virgins in the hereafter.
It seems the media believes that the delicate imperial mind must be left free from understanding the effects of the actions for which it regularly cheers and prays.
The best way to insure this? Casuistry, as the old saying goes, “Pure casuistry”.
Thomas S. Harrington is a professor of Iberian Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut and the author of the recently released Livin’ la Vida Barroca: American Culture in a Time of Imperial Orthodoxies.
The ISM is a Palestinian led movement with a mandate to support Palestinian nonviolent popular resistance to Israeli military occupation and apartheid. Palestinian led nonviolent resistance includes the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel, until it adheres to its obligations under international law.
ISM volunteers also accompany children to school and farmers to harvest their olives in areas where they face ongoing settler and military violence. We find that our presence sometimes results in reducing the level of lethal force used by the Israeli military against unarmed Palestinians. Further isolation of Palestinians by denying access and/or deporting human rights activists aims to make Palestinian communities already vulnerable and suffering from abuse even more vulnerable.
As a civilian population living under military occupation Palestinians in the occupied territories are promised protection under international law. All parties signed to the fourth Geneva Convention have the obligation to insure that others, including Israel, adhere to international law. Civilians are being called on to fill in the gap created by the failure of governments and official international bodies to provide protection and fulfill their obligations.
Israel’s isolation of Palestinians both by denying Palestinians and their supporters access to Palestine as well as by denying Palestinians including human rights defenders the right to leave Palestine is not a new strategy. It is most brutal and lethal in the besieged Gaza strip but all parts of Palestine are under some degree of siege.
We condemn Israeli suppression of Palestinian nonviolent resistance. The recent announcement by the occupation authorities that they will attempt to further isolate Palestinians indicates the occupation authorities unwillingness to do the only thing that will actually bring an end to Israel’s isolation – to adhere to international law, end the occupation and grant Palestinians their rights.
See the statement By the Boycott National Committee here.
GAZA – Hamas on Thursday denied Israeli allegations that the manager of World Vision’s Gaza office, Mohammed al-Halabi, passed millions of dollars to Hamas.
Hamas spokesperson Abdullatif al-Kanou’ said the group had “no connection to al-Halabi and therefore, all Israeli accusations are counterfeit and aim to suppress our people and toughen the blockade”.
Israel’s Shin Bet agency accused al-Halabi of funneling millions of dollars in aid money to Hamas, charges that the resistance group denied and the charity voiced skepticism over.
World Vision official Mohammed al-Halabi appeared before a court on Thursday, facing charges of using millions of charity funds in aid to Hamas.
The Israeli intelligence agency Shin Bet claimed Hamas recruited al-Halabi more than a decade ago.
The agency said since al-Halabi took over World Vision operations in Gaza in 2010, roughly 60 per cent of World Vision’s annual budget in the territory was diverted to Hamas.
Mohammad al-Halabi, World Vision’s manager of operations in Gaza, was arrested by Israel on June 15 while crossing the border into the enclave.
World Vision said it was “shocked” by Israel’s allegations and said in a statement that it had regular internal and independent audits and evaluations as well as a broad range of internal controls to ensure aid reached intended beneficiaries.
World Vision added that al-Halabi has worked with the group for 10 years, and that they have “no reason to believe” the allegations against their employee are true.
“World Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice,” the statement further read.
“World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. World Vision has been working in the occupied Palestinian territories for over 40 years, striving to give hope to over 500,000 of the most vulnerable children, through education, health, child protection and resilience programs. We continue to call for a fair, legal process,” it added.
Maher Al-Tabbaa, is a senior official in Gaza’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce, said Israeli occupation authorities had tightened measures against Palestinian traders, companies and businessmen.
These remarks came a day after occupation authorities said they had facilitated the movement of goods and commodities into the Gaza Strip.
Speaking to QudsNet, Al-Tabbaa said: “Israel bans all chemical raw materials needed for the industrial sector, cleaning materials, sponges, paints, welding skewers and other materials needed for making furniture.”
He noted that Israel had tightened its restrictions by withdrawing more than 1,500 travel permits from traders and businessmen.
It is still controlling the entry of cement and construction materials, he explained, paralysing the construction industry.
Ankara has pledged to help the Gaza Strip to tackle its decade-long electricity crisis as part of a deal to normalize ties with Israel that were severed six years ago, but Palestinians told Sputnik that they doubt that Turkish authorities will deliver on the promise.
Mustapha Al-Agha who lives in Gaza said that locals have lost their hope in Turkey after Ankara decided not to pressure Israel to lift the blockade which has been in place since 2007. Turkey’s “help is limited to humanitarian aid,” he said. “All promises given to the Gaza Strip have turned out to be a ‘downer pill’ meant to receive support for the agreement between Turkey and Israel.”
Itaf Mukhanna, a mother of seven, maintained that lifting the blockade was a priority, urging Arab nations to do something about it.
“Situation here is unbearable. Youth unemployment has worsened. Electricity, water and gas have become an everyday dream that each local is trying to fulfil,” she said.
On June 28, Turkey and Israel announced that they would restore diplomatic ties. Ankara has agreed to provide humanitarian aid to and build a power plant in Gaza as part of this deal. Two weeks later a Turkish delegation visited the region to discuss ways to resolve the crisis with Israeli and Hamas officials.
The delegation is expected to prepare a report that will be directed to Turkey’s Energy and Natural Resources Minister Berat Albayrak, the cabinet and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The government will then work on a roadmap to implement measures outlined in the report.
Last week Turkey delivered 11,000 tons of humanitarian aid meant for Gaza. The cargo was offloaded in the Israeli port city of Ashdod.
The Gaza Strip’s electricity crisis is acute. The region has a single power plant that has operated at less than 50 percent capacity since 2006 when Israel bombed the facility.
Gaza needs at least 450 megawatts per day, but it receives no more than 185 megawatts in the summer and 200 megawatts during the winter, Tare Lubbad, communications director at a Gazan electric company, told Sputnik.
“The energy crisis in the Gaza Strip has become worse since one of [four] generators at the power plant has not been working due to the lack of fuel,” he said.
The plant needs at least 500 tons of fuel per day to operate at its current full capacity, but the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah has imposed a tax on fuel purchased in Israel.
The worst disservice Sanders has done to his supporters, other than to lead them on a wild goose chase for real change, is to virtually ignore his rival’s vaunted “experience.” He need not have mentioned Hillary Clinton’s Senate record, since there was nothing there; her stint as law-maker was merely intended to position her for a run for the presidency, according to the family plan. But there was a lot in her record as Secretary of State.
As she recounts in her memoir, she wanted a heftier “surge” in Afghanistan than Obama was prepared to order. Anyone paying attention knows that the entire military mission in that broken country has been a dismal failure producing blow-back on a mind-boggling scale, even as the Taliban has become stronger, and controls more territory, than at any time since its toppling in 2001-2002.
Hillary wanted to impose regime change on Syria in 2011, by stepping up assistance to armed groups whom (again) anyone paying attention knows are in cahoots with al-Nusra (which is to say, al-Qaeda). In an email dated Nov. 30, 2015, she states her reason: “The best way to help Israel…is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad.”
In her memoir she criticizes Obama for not doing more to oust the secular Assad regime. She has repeatedly stated during her campaign that she favors a no-fly zone over Syria, like the one she advocated for Libya. That means conflict with Russia, which is bombing sites in Syria, with the permission of its internationally recognized government, under what Russia’s leaders (and many rational people) consider to be terrorists’ control.
Sanders–sorry, I cannot call him “Bernie” anymore, since he has become precisely as avuncular as Dick Cheney—could have effectively attacked Hillary the Skjaldmær (Old Norse for “Shield-maiden,” referring to an often berserk warrior-woman) for her role in the destruction of Libya. But no! Always referring to her deferentially as “Secretary Clinton”–as though her actions in that role merit respect—he rarely alluded to her greatest crime at all. That’s unforgivable.
(Yes, in one debate he mentioned Libya in passing–timidly, and with no follow-up. While he repeatedly mentioned how The Secretary had voted for the Iraq War and he hadn’t, he hardly exuded moral outrage about that or any other Clinton decision. His campaign was all about her Wall Street ties and well-paid, secret talks, the transcripts of which he once wanted to see but has now apparently lost interest. It was never about “foreign policy,” which is supposedly her forte. He may call himself a “socialist,” but he’s no anti-imperialist. He has voted in favor of every “defense spending” bill, supported the NATO assault on Serbia in 1999, supported Israel’s attack on Gaza in 2014, etc.)
He could have attacked Clinton savagely–with the savagery of mere matter-of-fact honesty–by citing those emails exchanged between Clinton and her vicious confidant and former adviser Anne-Marie Slaughter, in which the latter—under the subject line “bravo!”–congratulates her on engineering Obama’s agreement for the bombing of Libya. (On March 19, 2011, as the bombing of Libya began, Slaughter wrote: “I cannot imagine how exhausted you must be after this week, but I have NEVER been prouder of having worked for you. Turning [Obama] around on this is a major win for everything we have worked for.”
He could have quoted that email from Sidney Blumenthal, that Svengali figure who has long been Clinton’s unofficial mentor (along with Henry Kissinger and others): “No-fly! Brava! You did it!” (Brava, if you’re interested, is the feminine form of Bravo.)
He could have repeatedly used that damning clip that reveals Hillary’s joy at the grotesque murder of Muammar Gaddafi–who had become a friend of Tony Blair, Silvio Berlusconi, and the CIA as of 2011–at the hands of Islamist thugs, who rammed a stick and knife up his anus on camera just to make it more humiliating. His ads could have started with some appropriately edited version of this:
And ended with this:
And left the people to draw their own conclusions.
He could have asked, “Why the hell did you appoint Dick Cheney aide Victoria Nuland as Under Secretary of State for Eurasia, and support and fund that coup in Ukraine in 2014 in your goddamn ambition to expand NATO?”
But no. He didn’t have it in him. And now he wants his youthful erstwhile followers to transfer their support to someone who is not only the embodiment of Wall Street, with all its blood-sucking and all its crookedness, but the personification of U.S. imperialism in an era when its depth of crisis has produced a state of perpetual war.
Savvy people in Syria and elsewhere surely understand what the Sanders endorsement means: Syria is the next Libya.
Hillary in the Oval Office, Binyamin Netanyahu at her side, will laugh as Assad gets her knife up his ass, chaos deepens, the draft is re-instated, and boys and girls–of all ethnicities, gay and straight together–march off to fight the Brava Wars drastically reducing youth unemployment and making legions more eligible for the GI Bill.
Even if Sanders doesn’t vote for the war (and why should there be a vote, after all, in this post-constitution era?), he will share responsibility.
Shame! And shame on any once “Bernie” supporter who follows him into his moral morass.
*****Feel the burn. The burn of the rigged system. Why be drawn into it—the object of Hillary’s praise, for switching so readily from him to her (for the sake of “unity”)?
What is there to unite with, but more corruption, exploitation, and wars based on lies?
The votes that matter are the votes on the street. Either Trump or Clinton will provoke mass upheaval. The key contribution of the Sanders campaign has been to lay bare for idealistic youth the magnitude of the rot in the system itself, while raising (however dishonestly) the prospect of “political revolution.”
It’s the hope Sanders has sold out. But yes, that’s what we need. Social, economic, and political revolution. Too bad he’s chosen the other side.
Gary Leupp is a Professor of History at Tufts University, and author of numerous works on Japanese history. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
BETHLEHEM – Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett advocated on Thursday for Israel to kidnap Palestinians to be used as leverage to obtain the release of two Israeli civilians and the bodies of two soldiers held in the besieged Gaza Strip, Israeli media reported.
In an interview with Radio Darom, Bennett — who leads the far-right Jewish Home party — discussed the issue of releasing Palestinian prisoners as part of a deal to obtain the return of Israeli citizens Avraham Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, as well as the bodies of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, two soldiers killed during Israel’s 2014 offensive on Gaza.
“My policies are consistent over the years: complete opposition to disproportionate deals to free terrorists, and certainly in exchange for bodies,” The Times of Israel quoted Bennett as saying.
According to Israeli news outlet The Jerusalem Post, Bennett then advocated for the kidnapping of Palestinians to pressure for the release of the slain soldiers and missing Israelis.
“We should do what the State of Israel once did,” he said. “What we once did in such situations was we would go and kidnap from the other side, and create new leverage against the other side, rather than releasing more and more terrorists.”
The Jerusalem Post quoted Bennett’s spokesperson as specifying that the far-right political leader was suggesting kidnapping “terrorists,” not Palestinian civilians.
It remained unclear from Bennett’s statement whether he advocated the kidnapping of Palestinians to use as a bargaining chip to exchange with Israelis, in contradiction of his earlier statement, or as an intimidation tactic to coerce those holding the Israelis in Gaza into releasing them.
It was also unclear whether Bennett was pushing for Israel should detain more Palestinians in addition to the 7,000 currently held in Israeli prisons, or hold them completely extrajudicially.
Spokespeople for the Education Ministry and Bennett’s office were unavailable for comment on Friday, the weekend in Israel, to clarify the minister’s statements.
Bennett is well known for his incendiary rhetoric vis-a-vis Palestinians.
In the wake of several attacks last week which killed two Israelis, including a 13-year-old girl, and three Palestinians, Bennett advocated for a number of measures which have been denounced by rights groups as constituting collective punishment.
These proposed measures, many of which have been implemented, included increased settlement construction; stepping up Israel’s policy of demolition of Palestinian property built without permits; full Israeli military control over the entirety of the occupied West Bank; military closures of suspected attackers’ hometowns; the detention of suspected attackers’ family members; and cutting off internet and cellular access to the southern West Bank district of Hebron.
Israel is still withholding the bodies of at least seven Palestinians killed by Israeli forces since October, as the slain Palestinians’ families remain uncertain as to when, and if, they will be released for burial.
On Tuesday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon finished his farewell trip to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. He is due to step down in December and used the occasion to urge some political will for a two-state solution as “the only way to meet the national aspirations of both peoples.” Ban also criticised the blockade of Gaza which, he said, “Suffocates its people, stifles its economy and impedes reconstruction efforts.” Interestingly, he added that it is “collective punishment for which there must be accountability.”
Speaking in Ramallah, the UN chief expressed an understanding of Palestinian frustration: “I’m aware that many Palestinians question the feasibility of reaching a just and lasting peace with Israel. They hear talk of peace but they see violence. They still live a life of checkpoints, permits, blockade, demolitions and profound economic hardships faced with growing indignities and the humiliating occupation that will soon enter its 50th year.”
During his time as Secretary General, Ban has condemned the status quo verbally but the organisation he leads has failed to take concrete action. Under his tenure, Gaza has been strangled by a tight blockade and its residents have witnessed three major Israeli offensives. In over half of his time at the top of the UN, the West Bank settler population has grown by 23 per cent (from the beginning of 2009 until the beginning of 2014), and at least two rounds of direct talks have failed. In 2014, more Palestinians were killed by Israel than in any other year since 1967. Violence and fatalities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, meanwhile, were at their highest since the beginning of his tenure in 2007.
Following the most recent Israeli war against Gaza in 2014, a UN inquiry found that Israel was responsible for striking seven official sites used by the organisation as civilian shelters, during which 44 Palestinians were killed and 227 others were injured. Releasing the report, Ban condemned the attacks “as a matter of the utmost gravity.” He noted that it was the second time during his tenure as secretary general that he had been obliged to establish a board of inquiry into incidents involving UN premises and personnel in Gaza that have occurred during the course of “tragic conflicts” in the Gaza Strip. Concerning the children killed in the war, he commented during an earlier visit, “I met so many of the beautiful children of Gaza. More than 500 were killed in the fighting – many more were wounded. What did they do wrong? Being born in Gaza is not a crime.”
However, his inaction during the conflict forced 129 organisations and distinguished individuals to sign an open letter to him. “Until today,” they wrote, “you have taken no explicit and tangible measures to address the recent Israeli attacks in the occupied Palestinian territories since 13 June. Moreover, your statements have been either misleading, because they endorse and further Israeli false versions of facts, or contrary to the provisions established by international law and to the interests of its defenders, or because your words justify Israel’s violations and crimes.”
The number of Palestinian children killed during the 2014 war led to efforts to include the Israel Defence Forces on a UN list of serious violators of children’s rights. However, while the UN chief should have supported that inclusion made by Leila Zerrougui, the UN special envoy for children and armed conflict, he didn’t. He was accused of caving into pressure and omitting the Israeli military from the list. UN sources described the decision to override Zerrougui’s recommendation as “unusual”, while Human Rights Watch called it “a blow to UN efforts to better protect children in armed conflict.”
On his farewell visit to Gaza, Ban Ki- Moon told residents that, “The UN will always be with you.” As the two-year anniversary of the beginning of the 2014 Gaza war draws near, most of the 11,000 homes destroyed and 6,800 severely damaged or rendered uninhabitable remain in ruins, largely as a result of the Israeli-led blockade. As his time as UN leader comes to a close, the Palestinians will be hoping that his successor will give them more than words.
Today following the ongoing diplomatic negotiations Israel and Turkey have officially announced normalized relations, which have been strained following the attack on Mavi Marmara on 31st May 2010. Netanyahu’s announcement on behalf of Israel came around the same time Turkey issued a statement about it. In the press conference, Netanyahu has declared in a victorious attitude that “It is a tremendous economic success for Israel. The blockade on Gaza by no means is lifted nor shall it ever be lifted. Turkey has agreed to our terms.” He has highlighted that Israel agreed not to pay compensation but to make a donation of 20 million dollars provided that the cases are withdrawn; that this move will prevent the case from establishing a precedent for other crimes of Israeli soldiers; that the agreement is a significant gain. Unfortunately the rapprochement agreement which is announced by Turkey means that blockade on Gaza is recognized by Turkey. Indeed Gaza is free according to the agreement signed in 2005 and is entitled to the right to travel and do business as it pleases without relying on anybody. The embargo means that Israel is recognized as a superior authority which has the final say on what and how much supplies can enter Gaza and this is the subject matter of the agreement announced.
The rapprochement agreement may be regarded as the easing of the blockade although many provisions are quite ambiguous. However it only constitutes a partial permission granted to Turkey. What kind of supplies and how much supplies will Israel allow Turkey to bring in to Gaza stands as a big question mark. Indeed supply entry and exit from Gaza should be free like in every other country. The issue is not entry of humanitarian relief supplies into Gaza but making sure that Gaza has its freedom of movement and transactions so that it does not have to rely on external aid. Palestine is deprived of this freedom and doomed to rely on external aid only while international law grants it to every land and government. It is simply unacceptable. Therefore, as IHH we would like to announce that we will keep up our efforts in all fronts including legal and physical arenas for the removal of the illegal and unjustifiable blockade on Gaza.
Meanwhile it is reported that the agreement has a provision stipulating that a donation will be made to the families of the victims provided that the court cases are withdrawn. These lawsuits are not filed only by victims’ families and Turkish citizens but international victims of the Mavi Marmara attack from 37 different countries. There is no withdrawal of the cases. The victims’ families remain adamant about refusing to give up their cause or withdraw their case until and unless the blockade is removed.
Israel’s arrogant attitude as if to say “I kill people and pay in cash whatever is the cost” is unacceptable. Who is going to protect Turkish citizens from Israel in international waters? Turkish government has acted this way and came to an agreement with the Israeli party. Just like what we have said since the beginning, as an international NGO we do not condone an agreement with Israel. We were never involved in the agreement nor did we partake as a party. To this day we have voiced our warnings and suggestions. From then onwards we will keep standing with Palestinian people through our court cases, our actions to break the blockade, our protests and various aids. The Mavi Marmara court cases are to continue. We hope that the parliament does not endorse this agreement which means that Israeli murderers are exonerated by Turkey. Mavi Marmara stood as a hope in the Islamic world and for the oppressed people of the world. It is our duty to keep this hope which stands for the common consciousness of humanity alive. We would like to rest our case with a Palestinian saying “Whoever covers up with Israel will remain naked.”