Two boats with all-women crews set sail Wednesday for the Gaza Strip from Barcelona, Spain. They are planning to travel across the Mediterranean and break the Israeli blockade on Gaza by delivering much-needed medical supplies to the people of Gaza.
The participants in the siege-breaking boat hail from fifteen different countries and include members of Parliament and other dignitaries.
From Barcelona, the boats will travel to France, and one other port before heading to Gaza. This is just the latest of a series of boats that have tried to break the blockade on Gaza since Israel imposed the air, sea and land blockade in 2006.
The mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, arrived at the port on Wednesday along with hundreds of supporters, to offer her support for the mission of the Women’s Boat to Gaza trip.
The two boats have been named the “Amal”, which means ‘hope’ in Arabic, and “Zaytouna”, which means ‘olive’ in Arabic.
The list of passengers includes Tunisian MP Latifa Habashi; Malin Björk, a Member of European Parliament from Sweden; Ann Wright, a retired U.S. Army Colonel and former U.S. diplomat who resigned in 2003 in opposition to the invasion of Iraq; and Dr. Fauziah Modh Hasan, a Malaysian physician who has participated in many humanitarian missions with the Malaysian Medical Relief Society.
The Chairman of the Popular Committee to Support Gaza, Essam Youssef, said in a statement that the Women’s Boat to Gaza is “a humanitarian cry in the face of an illegitimate siege imposed on an innocent people that has been calling for years on the international community for help.”
He added, “Palestine will remain the axis of struggle not just in the Middle East but also in the world. Achieving justice for Palestine is the key to stability in the region and the world.”
Wednesday’s launch of the Women’s Boat to Gaza came just as the U.S. Congress authorized an unprecedented $38.5 billion aid package to Israel, despite acknowledging in the same session that Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank has violated all signed agreements and international law.
Israeli forces markedly increased their attacks on Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip during the second quarter of 2016, United Nations (UN) data has revealed, with concerns that such violence endangers the viability of the ceasefire that ended ‘Operation Protective Edge’ in 2014.
During the period April-June, there were an average of more than 90 shooting incidents per month by Israeli forces in Gaza’s so-called access restricted areas (ARA) – some 60 on land, and 30 at sea. This is more than double the equivalent average figures for the last six months of 2015.
Israeli forces have long attacked farmers, fishermen and other civilians in Gaza’s ARA. As the UN described in July, Israel’s unilaterally-imposed access restrictions are “enforced by firing direct or warning live ammunition, the destruction of property, arrests and the confiscation of equipment.”
Presenting the latest figures in a quarterly update published last month, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) described “the use of force by Israel” in the ARA as a “particular cause for concern.”
According to James Heenan, head of office at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, “there are almost daily shooting incidents by Israeli forces into Gaza, often resulting in injury and even death as well as destruction of property.”
In most cases, Heenan told Middle East Monitor, “there are no indications that Israeli forces were in any imminent threat to have justified the level of force employed, including use of firearms. Often victims are farmers, fishermen, children, and demonstrators.”
On April 3, the Israeli authorities announced an expansion of the permitted fishing zone off the southern Gaza coast from six to nine miles (note that the Oslo Accords stipulate a 20-mile limit). However, on June 26, less than three months later, the six-mile limit was re-imposed.
By July, according to OCHA, more than 90 fishermen had been arrested and detained, “the highest figure in any year since records began in 2009.” Over nine days in August, for example, Israeli forces attacked Palestinian fishermen on six different occasions (Aug. 21, 23, 25, 27, 28, 29).
In May, meanwhile, it was reported that the Israeli army would allow farmers to access land close to the border fence, under the supervision of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Since 2014, the ICRC has been helping Gaza’s farmers to rehabilitate land and secure access.
While some farmers have clearly benefited, a Jerusalem-based ICRC spokesperson declined to comment on Israeli forces’ continued attacks in the ARA, saying that “any issues of concern are addressed as part of our confidential and bilateral dialogue with all parties to the conflict.”
As one farmer told activists recently: “My lands are relatively close to the fence, so I cannot set foot in them between 6pm and 6am without getting shot at. What can I do if the electricity does not come before 6pm? I have to leave my land without watering, risking the loss of the crop.”
The violence used by Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip is vastly under-reported in the English-language Western media. The majority of attacks on fishermen, farmers, and demonstrators do not even get a mention.
Such attacks, however, cannot be divorced from the bigger picture in the Gaza Strip, including the ‘security’ dimension that is typically understood by journalists, analysts, and policy-makers in terms of projectile fire and Israeli military responses.
According to Fawzi Barhoum, a Gaza-based Hamas spokesperson, Hamas views Israeli forces’ routine use of violence against Palestinians in the ARA as a violation of the 2014 ceasefire. “Hamas records all the violations, and updates the regional sponsors of the ceasefire accordingly”, he said.
Furthermore, Barhoum added, such attacks by Israeli forces “endanger the status quo.”
Each time, Hamas discusses what happens with the other Palestinian factions, who evaluate together what is the best response to the Israeli violation in question; whether it is silence, condemnation, warnings, firing short-range rockets, unleashing snipers on the borders, etc.
Thus, aside from the cost for farmers and fishermen of Israel’s policy of violently enforcing a ‘no-go zone’ inside Gaza, such attacks, clearly on the rise, also risk further undermining a ceasefire agreement that brought ‘calm’ for Israel, but nothing like it for Palestinians.
In a damning report, the UN development body (UNCTAD) described the ways Israeli occupation of Gaza and West Bank has been preventing the Palestinian economy from recovery and getting twice as big as it is now.
The document detailing the “staggering economic cost” of Israeli occupation was released on Tuesday by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
“The Palestinian economy would be at least twice as large without Israeli occupation,” the findings reveal.
Among the key reasons for the high unemployment and staggering poverty the agency cites “confiscation of Palestinian land, water and other natural resources.” It adds that “restrictions on the movement of people and goods; destruction of assets and the productive base;” also played a major role here.
According to the latest estimations by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics nearly 27 percent of people of the autonomy are currently without job. Meanwhile UNCTAD has revealed that over 66 percent of the Palestinians were food-insecure last year.
“The continuous process of de-agriculturalization and de-industrialization” has contributed to a severe degradation of Palestinian economy, according to the UN report. The paper states that in Gaza “producers are denied access to half of the cultivable area and 85 per cent of fishery resources.”
The West Bank area is facing a similar problem, according to the UN. In the so-called area C, which constitutes over 60 percent of West Bank “more than 66 per cent of its grazing land, is not accessible to Palestinian producers”.
The figures published in the report say that the Israeli occupation of the Area C “costs the Palestinian economy the equivalent of 35 per cent of GDP ($4.4 billion in 2015).”
The Israeli military campaign in 2014 whose proclaimed goal, was to prevent rocket attacks on its territories from the Palestinian areas delivered another blow to the financial recovery of the Palestinians.
The following tightening of the Gaza blockade, in place since 2007, made the things even worse, the report states. It resulted in additional civilian items being banned after labeled “dual-use”, meaning they can be also implemented for causing harm.
The crisis resulted in additional severe shortages of medical equipment as well as serious reduction in water supplies in the occupied territories, the UN finds. The problem also contributed to the rising infant mortality of almost 20 out of 1,000 live births. The trend is labeled “unprecedented” and found only in countries “affected by HIV epidemics”
In addition UNCTAD points out that the expanding settlement policies by the Israeli authorities are contributing to the Palestinian plight.
“There are now 142 settlements in the West Bank, bringing the number of Israeli settlers to over one fifth of the Palestinian population. This expansion undermines the prospects for a two-State solution,” UNCTAD claims.
The so-called two-state solution, proposed by the UN would see an establishment of an independent state of Palestine alongside Israel, west of the Jordan River. The potential boundaries however remain one of the key stumbling blocks here.
In the latest development, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s press service has issued a statement saying he is considering Russia’s offer to host Israeli-Palestinian talks in Moscow
“[Netanyahu] presented Israel’s position whereby he is always ready to meet [Abbas] without preconditions and is therefore considering the Russian president’s proposal and the timing for a possible meeting,” the statement said.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has already accepted the offer to meet with Netanyahu, although the date for the talks has not been yet set.
Israel is set to use fully autonomous unmanned vehicles along the border with the Gaza Strip, according to a report published by FoxNews.com.
While currently unarmed, the Israeli military plans to add machine guns to the so-called Border Protector Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) by “the beginning of next year”.
An unnamed Israeli military official told the website: “This is the future – the border is a very dangerous place… Sending unmanned vehicles to do these patrols means that troops’ lives are not at risk.”
According to the report, the Israeli army has worked with defence giant Elbit Systems to convert Ford pick-up trucks into UGVs by adding “specialised remote driving technology”, along with “four driving cameras and a 360-degree observation camera.”
UGV testing reportedly began in July 2015 and the trucks “became operational in February .”
While each vehicle is currently “driven by an operator in a remote control room using a steering wheel, joystick and pedals”, an army official told FoxNews.com that “in the future, we will have the capability of fully autonomous driving.” The machine gun “will be operated from a control room.”
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.