If two major newspapers in, say, Russia published major articles openly advocating the unprovoked bombing of a country, say, Israel, the U.S. government and news media would be aflame with denunciations about “aggression,” “criminality,” “madness,” and “behavior not fitting the Twenty-first Century.”
But when the newspapers are American – the New York Times and the Washington Post – and the target country is Iran, no one in the U.S. government and media bats an eye. These inflammatory articles – these incitements to murder and violation of international law – are considered just normal discussion in the Land of Exceptionalism.
On Thursday, the New York Times printed an op-ed that urged the bombing of Iran as an alternative to reaching a diplomatic agreement that would sharply curtail Iran’s nuclear program and ensure that it was used only for peaceful purposes. The Post published a similar “we-must-bomb-Iran” op-ed two weeks ago.
The Times’ article by John Bolton, a neocon scholar from the American Enterprise Institute, was entitled “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.” It followed the Post’s op-ed by Joshua Muravchik, formerly at AEI and now a fellow at the neocon-dominated School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins. [For more on that piece, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Neocon Admits Plan to Bomb Iran.”]
Both articles called on the United States to mount a sustained bombing campaign against Iran to destroy its nuclear facilities and to promote “regime change” in Tehran. Ironically, these “scholars” rationalized their calls for unprovoked aggression against Iran under the theory that Iran is an aggressive state, although Iran has not invaded another country for centuries.
Bolton, who served as President George W. Bush’s ambassador to the United Nations, based his call for war on the possibility that if Iran did develop a nuclear bomb – which Iran denies seeking and which the U.S. intelligence community agrees Iran is not building – such a hypothetical event could touch off an arms race in the Middle East.
Curiously, Bolton acknowledged that Israel already has developed an undeclared nuclear weapons arsenal outside international controls, but he didn’t call for bombing Israel. He wrote blithely that “Ironically perhaps, Israel’s nuclear weapons have not triggered an arms race. Other states in the region understood — even if they couldn’t admit it publicly — that Israel’s nukes were intended as a deterrent, not as an offensive measure.”
How Bolton manages to read the minds of Israel’s neighbors who have been at the receiving end of Israeli invasions and other cross-border attacks is not explained. Nor does he address the possibility that Israel’s possession of some 200 nuclear bombs might be at the back of the minds of Iran’s leaders if they do press ahead for a nuclear weapon.
Nor does Bolton explain his assumption that if Iran were to build one or two bombs that it would use them aggressively, rather than hold them as a deterrent. He simply asserts: “Iran is a different story. Extensive progress in uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing reveal its ambitions.”
Pulling Back on Refinement
But is that correct? In its refinement of uranium, Iran has not progressed toward the level required for a nuclear weapon since its 2013 interim agreement with the global powers known as “the p-5 plus one” – for the permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany. Instead, Iran has dialed back the level of refinement to below 5 percent (what’s needed for generating electricity) from its earlier level of 20 percent (needed for medical research) — compared with the 90-plus percent purity to build a nuclear weapon.
In other words, rather than challenging the “red line” of uranium refinement that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu drew during a United Nations speech in 2012, the Iranians have gone in the opposite direction – and they have agreed to continue those constraints if a permanent agreement is reached with the p-5-plus-1.
However, instead of supporting such an agreement, American neocons – echoing Israeli hardliners – are demanding war, followed by U.S. subversion of Iran’s government through the financing of an internal opposition for a coup or a “colored revolution.”
Bolton wrote: “An attack need not destroy all of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, but by breaking key links in the nuclear-fuel cycle, it could set back its program by three to five years. The United States could do a thorough job of destruction, but Israel alone can do what’s necessary. Such action should be combined with vigorous American support for Iran’s opposition, aimed at regime change in Tehran.”
But one should remember that neocon schemes – drawn up at their think tanks and laid out on op-ed pages – don’t always unfold as planned. Since the 1990s, the neocons have maintained a list of countries considered troublesome for Israel and thus targeted for “regime change,” including Iraq, Syria and Iran. In 2003, the neocons got their chance to invade Iraq, but the easy victory that they predicted didn’t exactly pan out.
Still, the neocons never revise their hit list. They just keep coming up with more plans that, in total, have thrown much of the Middle East, northern Africa and now Ukraine into bloodshed and chaos. In effect, the neocons have joined Israel in its de facto alliance with Saudi Arabia for a Sunni sectarian conflict against the Shiites and their allies. Much like the Saudis, Israeli officials rant against the so-called “Shiite crescent” from Tehran through Baghdad and Damascus to Beirut. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Congress Cheers Netanyahu’s Hatred of Iran.”]
Since Iran is considered the most powerful Shiite nation and is allied with Syria, which is governed by Alawites, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, both countries have remained in the neocons’ crosshairs. But the neocons don’t actually pull the trigger themselves. Their main role is to provide the emotional and political arguments to get the American people to hand over their tax money and their children to fight these wars.
The neocons are so confident in their skills at manipulating the U.S. decision-making process that some have gone so far as to suggest Americans should side with al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front in Syria or the even more brutal Islamic State, because those groups love killing Shiites and thus are considered the most effective fighters against Iran’s allies. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Secret Saudi Ties to Terrorism.”]
The New York Times’ star neocon columnist Thomas L. Friedman ventured to the edge of madness as he floated the idea of the U.S. arming the head-chopping Islamic State, writing this month: “Now I despise ISIS as much as anyone, but let me just toss out a different question: Should we be arming ISIS?”
I realize the New York Times and Washington Post are protected by the First Amendment and can theoretically publish whatever they want. But the truth is that the newspapers are extremely restrictive in what they print. Their op-ed pages are not just free-for-alls for all sorts of opinions.
For instance, neither newspaper would publish a story that urged the United States to launch a bombing campaign to destroy Israel’s actual nuclear arsenal as a step toward creating a nuclear-free Middle East. That would be considered outside responsible thought and reasonable debate.
However, when it comes to advocating a bombing campaign against Iran’s peaceful nuclear program, the two newspapers are quite happy to publish such advocacy. The Times doesn’t even blush when one of its most celebrated columnists mulls over the idea of sending weapons to the terrorists in ISIS – all presumably because Israel has identified “the Shiite crescent” as its current chief enemy and the Islamic State is on the other side.
But beyond the hypocrisy and, arguably, the criminality of these propaganda pieces, there is also the neocon record of miscalculation. Remember how the invasion of Iraq was supposed to end with Iraqis tossing rose petals at the American soldiers instead of planting “improvised explosive devices” – and how the new Iraq was to become a model pluralistic democracy?
Well, why does one assume that the same geniuses who were so wrong about Iraq will end up being right about Iran? What if the bombing and the subversion don’t lead to nirvana in Iran? Isn’t it just as likely, if not more so, that Iran would react to this aggression by deciding that it needed nuclear bombs to deter further aggression and to protect its sovereignty and its people?
In other words, might the scheming by Bolton and Muravchik — as published by the New York Times and the Washington Post — produce exactly the result that they say they want to prevent? But don’t worry. If the neocons’ new schemes don’t pan out, they’ll just come up with more.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
Anas Qdeh, 21, had no idea that waving the Palestinian flag and flashing the V sign is a crime for which he will be shot by the Israeli Occupation forces (IOF) which fired explosive bullets directly at his legs while he was with scores of citizens about 10 meters away from the security fence separating Khan Younis from 1948 occupied lands.
We will never give up on our land
Qdeh told the PIC reporter: “On Friday March 20, I headed to our land east of al-Sanati in Greater Abasan where many youths gather every Friday to stress that this is our land and that we will never give up on it even if Israel isolated it.
The IOF imposed a buffer zone adjacent to the security fence along the borderline with the Gaza Strip stretching for distances ranging from 300-700 meters deep into the Strip and shoots whoever enters it.
Qdeh clarified the circumstances of his injury saying: “One of my friends wanted to take a picture of me waving the Palestinian flag with the V sign while we were in our land which the IOF is preventing us from reaching in Greater Abasan east of Khan Younis. However, the IOF soldiers started shooting at us and I was hit with an explosive bullet.”
The bullet hit one of the youth’s legs, and the shrapnel scattered to hit his other leg and his cousin Fawzi Qdeh who was nearby. Anas lied on the ground profusely bleeding before he was rushed to hospital to be urgently treated.
His cousin Fawzi Qdeh, 23, said with a smile drawn on his face that a piece of shrapnel is still lodged in his left shoulder and doctors told him that it is difficult to extract it at this stage.
He clarified that he was rearing his goats in al-Santai lush fields, and when he saw the youths gathering and chanting he joined them to see what was going on and to take photos.
Every Friday, scores of Palestinians spontaneously gather near the security fence waving flags and chanting anti-Israel slogans.
RAMALLAH – Israeli forces briefly detained the governor of the Ramallah and al-Bireh district, Laila Ghannam, at the entrance of Nabi Saleh village in the northern Ramallah district on Saturday.
Soldiers reportedly threatened the governor of “direct targeting” if she continues to participate in the weekly march organized by the popular committee against settlements and the separation wall in Nabi Saleh.
Ghannam said “we will not be frightened of detention even if we are directly targeted; we will take part in the weekly march and will not be prevented from exercising our rights on our land.”
Ghannam was detained in a similar incident in February last year while travelling from Jericho to Ramallah.
She said then that her detention was a political message from the Israeli government to PA leaders that Israel wants to impose its authority in every way possible.
Earlier this month, a local activist committee reported that 11 Palestinians were injured during the weekly march when Israeli forces shot one Palestinian with live fire and beat ten others.
Three activists were also reportedly detained by Israeli forces during the march.
In 2004, the International Court of Justice called on Israel to stop construction of the separation wall within the occupied West Bank.
When completed, 85 percent of the wall will run inside the West Bank.
The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.
Photo of Nabi Saleh girl injured by Israeli occupation forces during weekly demonstration on March 21, 2015, by International Solidarity Movement.
BETHLEHEM – Israeli forces conducted military training exercises in the Ramallah district earlier this week, according to Israeli media.
The Israeli force’s Territorial Brigade allegedly raided the town of Birzeit, just outside the central West Bank city of Ramallah, in what was reported by Israeli news source Haaretz as “preparation for a possible escalation on the ground.”
The forces engaged in a variety of potential scenarios including confronting violent mass demonstrations, shooting attacks, and use of live fire by members of Palestinian security forces.
While Haaretz reported the exercise was planned with the intention to cause “relatively little disruption to the routine of Palestinian life,” the account included a training exercise in the home of a Birzeit University college student, whose house was searched during the night while he stood in his pajamas with an Israeli soldier.
An Israeli army spokeswoman did not have any immediate information about the training, but told Ma’an she would look into recent military training activity in the area.
Birzeit is in Area A, falling under full control of the Palestinian Authority. Israeli forces repeatedly enter Area A despite their obligation by the Oslo Accords not to do so, most often in military raids launched on a near nightly basis to detain Palestinians.
Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din reported that Israeli forces have upheld the practice of using populated Palestinian areas for Israeli military drills since at least 2007.
The group filed a complaint against the Israeli Military Advocate General’s Corps in 2013, arguing that such military exercises “sow fear and panic and violate the security and dignity of the residents,” particularly because exercises are often not announced to Palestinian locals in advance, and thus it is not always clear to nearby residents that these are mere drills.
Legal Advisor for the West Bank declared in February 2014 that military training exercises were no longer authorized to be held in Palestinian villages without giving prior notification to the civilian population, however the rights group continues to criticize the practice.
The US obsession with manipulating security narratives for political purposes has recently been manifested in Obama’s Executive Order dated 9 March, 2015 in which he declared Venezuela to be “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States”. Alleged threats by socialist governments against the US have been regurgitated throughout the decades – a trend which, although within a different context, has also been absorbed within Israel’s colonial narrative against Palestinians.
While the political scenario is different, both Venezuela and Palestine have faced the application of human rights discourse in an attempt to divert attention away from resistance struggles. As Venezuela battles the US-funded opposition and violence against the Bolivarian Revolution established by Hugo Chavez, Palestine is relegated to oblivion through the US’s and Israel’s collective efforts to raise security concerns above the reality of colonial surveillance and the usurpation of territory.
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal discussed US foreign policy with regard to Israel and Netanyahu’s refusal to consider a hypothetical Palestinian state. The article quoted US President Barack Obama as stating that: “We [the US] can’t continue to premise our public diplomacy based on something that everybody knows is not going to happen at least in the next several years.”
Once again, Obama hailed the two-state “solution” as “the best path forward for Israel’s security, for Palestinian aspirations and for regional stability.” Prioritising Israel’s security was also amalgamated into the prospect of a possible nuclear deal with Iran: “I have confidence that if there’s an agreement, it’s going to be a good agreement that’s good for American security, and Israel’s security and the region’s security.”
Despite the alleged political differences between Obama and Netanyahu that have been cited in mainstream media, the agreement to consolidate Israel’s colonial presence in the region remains evident. The issue of “security” as narrated by both Israel and the US remains a global issue, while Palestinians struggle to make their own articulations of independence and resistance heard as their narrative is suffocated by the prioritisation of Israel’s alleged concerns; not to mention the PA’s willingness to collaborate in this endeavour.
Whatever differences might emerge between Obama and Netanyahu, it is clear that US support for a diminished Palestinian state will not veer away from the farcical Oslo Accords. Hence Obama’s insistence upon supporting an illusion of statehood that is based upon flawed notions of Palestinian independence and the further colonial entrenchment of Israel.
According to Haaretz, UN Middle East Envoy Robert Serry urged the Security Council to work upon a framework that would address Israel’s settlement expansion, as it “may kill the very possibility of reaching peace on the paradigm of two states for two peoples.”
The paradigm, however, is already flawed. Without decolonisation, Palestinians will be unable to achieve their self-determination and independence – issues that the international community is unwilling to collaborate upon due to intrinsic complicity in aiding Israel’s oppressive policies against Palestinians. It should be remembered that the PA’s repetitive efforts in presenting draft resolutions based upon compromise have been rejected by the UN Security Council. Therefore, it is unlikely that – beyond fuelling further futile rhetoric – the two-state hypothesis will serve any purpose other than providing a constant clause for Israel’s perpetual lament regarding “security concerns”.
The United States has to make an “extraordinary climb-down” on the issue of sanctions in order to reach a comprehensive agreement with Iran over its nuclear energy program, an American investigative journalist says.
Gareth Porter, a historian, journalist, author and policy analyst specializing in US national security policy, made the remarks in his article, titled “Sanctions and the Fate of the Nuclear Talks,” published on Friday by Middle East Eye, an online news portal covering events in the Middle East.
“The Obama administration won’t get the signed agreement that it is seeking with the quantitative limits to which Iran has agreed if a detailed agreement on lifting sanctions is not reached as well,” said the author of the Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare.
“And that won’t happen unless the P5+1 makes an extraordinary climb-down from its starting position on the issue,” he added.
Iran and the P5+1 – the US, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany – are engaged in intense negotiations to work out a comprehensive agreement aimed at ending the longstanding dispute over the Islamic Republic’s civilian nuclear work as a July 1 deadline draws closer.
Sources close to the Iranian negotiating team say the main stumbling block to resolving the Western dispute over Iran’s nuclear issue is the timetable for the lifting of anti-Iran sanctions.
Iran and the US have reported progress in the negotiations but have said that they are not rushing to reach the deal just for the sake of beating the self-imposed end-March deadline for a framework agreement.
Porter said that the fate of the talks hangs on closing the gap between the two sides on removing sanctions imposed against Iran.
He stated that the issues related to Iran’s civilian nuclear program have now been more or less resolved, but the issue of sanctions relief is still very much there.
Porter wrote that “all the evidence indicates that the two sides have not advanced beyond where they were last November, when they were very far apart.”
He said that the Obama administration wrongly believes that Iran is negotiating with the P5+1 because sanctions are seriously hurting its economy.
Porter wrote that Washington “fails to grasp the depth of Iranian commitment to removing the sanctions as a matter of national pride as well as to be able to achieve a higher level of economic development.”
He said the “myopic perspective” of the US and its allies is part of the problem, adding that they “intend to maintain the ‘sanctions architecture’ in place for many years after the implementation of the agreement has begun.”
In adopting such a policy, the investigative journalist said, “the Obama administration is following precisely the course outlined by Mark Dubowitz, the executive director of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), the neoconservative think tank whose outputs align completely with Israeli interests.”
Mark Dubowitz, the executive director of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies
He revealed that Dubowitz designed the anti-Iran sanctions which were approved by Congress in late 2011 and he “strongly influenced the administration’s sanctions policy for the entire Joint Plan of Action period.”
The recent revelation that the Israelis had obtained classified information relating to the P5+1 negotiations with Iran over the latter’s nuclear program should not really surprise anyone. Israel has invested a great deal of political capital in confronting Iran and convincing the American public that it poses a genuine threat. So, it would be a given that its intelligence service, Mossad, would be tasked with finding out what information is not being shared by the White House.
But the truly intriguing back-story to this development is, “how did the Israelis do it and with whom exactly did they share their information?” The information obtained was described by the White House as “eavesdropping,” which would suggest some sort of electronic interception. But as the meetings undoubtedly took place in a technically secured room, which means that it was electronically “swept” before, during, and after meetings, the conversations could not be picked up either from bugs planted inside — which would be detected — or from penetration techniques originating outside, which is possible but would require a major deployment of high-tech gear close to the target.
Eliminating a “sigint” source suggests that the intelligence was either obtained from careless conversations on unsecured phones (possible but unlikely given the tightened security in response to recent flaps over such use), or through a spy in the room feeding the information to the Israelis. A spy is, regrettably, more likely and one has to wonder if the leaker was/is part of the American delegation because the information appears to be of such a nature as to come from US sources. This would mean that the American negotiating team has been penetrated by the Israelis.
And the other issue is, of course, the question of who in Congress received the stolen information during the regular briefings that Israeli embassy staff, including intelligence officers, give to legislators on Capitol Hill. Did they know or suspect that what they were being told was obtained through Israeli espionage? Did it occur to them that the Israeli narrative on what was taking place differed in detail from what they were hearing from the White House, suggesting that something was afoot? Deference to Israeli interests is normal in many in Congress, perhaps all too normal, but a lack of awareness of the American interests at stake in the game constitutes malfeasance at a much higher level.
Moscow has slammed Washington for taking “no practical steps” to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) – despite countless promises to do so – and consequently preventing the important international treaty from going into force.
“The main load of responsibility that the CTBT has not entered into force so far lies on the eight remaining countries from the so-called ‘list of 44′ whose ratification documents are needed to launch the treaty,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The ministry stressed that “first of all, this refers to the US, a country that positions itself as a leader in the sphere of strengthening the regime of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.”
“Unfortunately, despite the repeated statements on the plans to ratify the Treaty, the US has yet taken no practical steps in this direction,” the statement said.
Moscow also praised Angola for ratifying the CTBT on March 20. The African nation was the 164th country to confirm the treaty.
“Such a decision of Luanda (Angola’s capital) certainly brings the CTBT closer to a universal status and contributes to its turning into a valid international-legal tool,” the ministry said.
The statement stressed that Russia’s “continuous commitment to the CTBT and the readiness to secure its speedy entry into legal force.”
“We once again call on all the states that have not yet signed or not ratified the Treaty to do it without delay or preconditions,” it said.
The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty is a multilateral agreement banning all nuclear explosions in all environments, for military or civilian purposes.
The CTBT was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in September 1996. However, nearly two decades later, it has not entered into force due to non-ratification by eight countries.
The US, China, Egypt, Iran, Israel have signed the deal, but not ratified it. North Korea and Pakistan have yet to sign the treaty.
GAZA CITY – The Hamas movement on Friday rejected a report by human rights group Amnesty International accusing the group of war crimes during last summer’s war with Israel.
While the report claims that Hamas killed both Israeli and Palestinian civilians using indiscriminate projectiles, Hamas criticized the findings as being unbalanced, adopting “the Israeli version of the story.”
In a statement, the group said that it is the right of Palestinians to defend themselves against both the ongoing Israeli occupation and Israeli military offenses.
“War crimes have clear specifications, according to the Rome Statute, that do not in any way apply to the Palestinian resistance, which was, is, and will defend its people.”
The report released by Amnesty International on Thursday said that Palestinian rocket fire during the 2014 summer war had killed more civilians inside the Gaza Strip than inside Israel.
The report said rocket attacks had killed six civilians inside Israel, including a child, but that other rockets aimed at Israel had fallen short inside Gaza, killing at least 13 civilians, 11 of them children.
It referred to one particular incident on July 28 in which 13 people were killed in deadly blast inside the beach-side Shati refugee camp in Gaza City.
Hamas took issue with Amnesty’s approach to the report, arguing that the rights group relied solely on Israeli information to compile the report, therefore missing a balanced review as Israel did not allow international investigation committees into Gaza.
Last summer’s war between Palestinian militant groups and Israel left more than 2,100 Palestinians dead, mostly civilians, according to Palestinian and UN officials. On the Israeli side, 66 soldiers and six civilians were killed. Over 100,000 Gazans lost their homes, and large swathes of the coastal territory were left in ruins.
Hamas said that Amnesty International’s report “purposely turned facts around to justify Israel’s crimes against humanity,” and called upon rights institutions to carry out impartial investigations into Israeli forces’ war crimes.
The leader of Yemen’s Houthi fighters has heaped scorn on Saudi Arabia for conducting unjust and heinous attacks on Yemeni people, saying the Arab kingdom is serving as a puppet for the United States and the Israeli regime.
Abdul-Malik al-Houthi made the remarks in a televised address on Thursday in reaction to Saudi Arabia’s “unjustified” deadly attacks targeting Yemeni people in the capital, Sana’a.
Saudi Arabia is a puppet at the disposal of superpowers, the Houthi leader said, adding that Riyadh is putting in action the US-Israeli conspiracy in Yemen.
He noted that the US-Israeli plot in Yemen aims to break up the chaotic country and deprive people of security and freedom.
Al-Houthi said the Saudi invasion of Yemen came after their agents, including al-Qaeda terrorists and the ISIL Takfiri terrorists, failed to execute their plots in Yemen.
He said the “criminal” attacks uncovered the “tyrannical” nature of the Saudi regime.
Al-Houthi warned that Saudi Arabia would face consequences should it push ahead with its aggression against Yemen, saying, “We will confront the criminal forces and their tools in the country.”
“You think you can kill Yemeni people, but this is because of your stupidity,” he said. “This unjustified aggression shows the hostility and arrogance of this regime. The attacks are reflecting the inhumanity of the aggressor.”
Al-Houthi said the “aggressors” should keep in mind that the Yemeni people are “committed to defending their country and revolution” by relying on God.
On Thursday, Saudi warplanes carried out fresh airstrikes against Yemen, hitting the northern cities of Sa’ada and Ta’izz in the south.
Airstrikes also targeted arms depots in the Malaheez region in Sa’ada near the border with Saudi Arabia.
Saudi warplanes started bombing the positions of the Ansarullah fighters and launched attacks against the Sana’a International Airport and the Dulaimi airbase early on Thursday.
Despite Riyadh’s claims that it is attacking Ansarullah positions, Saudi warplanes have flattened a number of homes near the Sana’a airport. Based on early reports, the Saudi airstrikes on Yemen have so far claimed the lives of 18 civilians with more deaths feared, Yemeni sources said.
The Saudi invasion of Yemen has drawn condemnation from many countries such as Iran, Russia, Iraq and Syria, as well as the Lebanese resistance movement, Hezbollah.
The blatant invasion of Yemen’s sovereignty by the Saudi government comes against a backdrop of total silence on the part of international bodies, especially the United Nations. The world body has so far failed to show any reaction whatsoever to the violation of the sovereignty of one of its members by Riyadh.
By Robert Fantina | Aletho News | March 26, 2015
The genocidal methods employed by Israel against the Palestinians know no boundaries. The degree to which apartheid Israel works to erase Palestine, its people, history and culture is truly extraordinary. One method in use that may not be commonly known is referred to as ‘greenwashing’.
To fully understand this concept, it’s necessary first to understand and appreciate Palestinians’ devotion to, and reliance on, their lands in general, and olive trees in particular. For millennia, Palestinians have farmed the land and supported themselves and their families in this way. The olive tree has a central role in the lives and the very existence of Palestinians.
A newly-planted olive tree takes several years to bear fruit, but most will live for hundreds of years, producing fruit. It is not unusual for such trees to live for 2,000 years. The olives are used in a variety of ways, not only for oil, but in the making of soap, hair treatment and other products, and even to light their homes. Since many Palestinians live on lands that have been in their families for countless generations, there is a strong attachment to olive trees. Some families name their olive trees, indicating the importance the trees have to them.
Israel is not unaware of the significance of olive trees to the Palestinians. The Zionist Jewish National Fund (JNF) has long sponsored a program called ‘Plant a Tree in Israel’. For a small sum, they say, anyone in the world can have a European Pine tree planted in Israel, in memory of a loved one. Who can argue with such a thing? Can anything be more benign than planting a tree? However, there are multiple problems with this:
- The trees are planted in Palestine, not Israel;
- Olive trees are destroyed so that the new trees, European Pines, can be planted, and
- The new trees help to erase Palestinian history.
European Pines are, as the name indicates, common in European countries. They look far different than olive trees, and do not thrive in Palestine as olive trees do. These ‘memorial’ trees are planted not only on former olive tree orchards which have been destroyed to make way for them, but also on bulldozed villages. When orchards are destroyed, the owners are given no compensation; they have no opportunity to appeal the decision. They can only watch in despair as their livelihood, the same means that has sustained their family for generations untold, is destroyed.
Part of Israel’s genocidal practices involves obliterating Palestine history and culture; this is done, in part, by destroying entire villages, bulldozing every building in the village. Again, there is no compensation offered, and no opportunity to appeal. Palestinians must simply quickly remove whatever they can, before their homes, schools, mosques, hospitals, stores and farms are bulldozed. Once that is done, what better way to hide any remaining evidence that this area was once full of families, working, farming, going to school, etc., then to grow a forest on the site? European Pines grow quickly, hiding the tragedies on which they are planted.
In the past few decades, at least 280,000 olive trees have been intentionally destroyed in Palestine by Israel; an estimated 250,000,000 pine trees have been planted, some financed by well-meaning but uninformed people, but most by the Israeli government. It is likely that most of the people around the world who have sent money to have them planted are unaware of their real purpose; who is going to think of genocide, when planting a tree in memory of a loved one?
Israel has many methods of genocide against the Palestinians that are not generally known in the U.S.; reporting on these atrocities seems a bit better in much of the rest of the world. Greenwashing, like many others, is insidious, and must be stopped.
With the re-election of Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu, the only change that can be expected in Israeli policy toward Palestine is an increase in illegal arrests, illegal settlement building, illegal land confiscation, and violence. However, a large crack in the fragile, glass jar of global support has appeared, put there by the campaign promises of Mr. Netanyahu. Even the United States, which for so long has been Israel’s willing puppet, is ‘reevaluating’ its policies toward that country, in view of Mr. Netanyahu’s assurance to Israelis that there will be no independent Palestine while he is Prime Murderer. Europe, long impatient with Israel’s continuing violation of international law, cannot be expected to sit quietly now.
What might this ‘reevaluation’ result in? The one aspect that is being whispered, almost in reverential awe, is the possibility that the U.S. may stop its blatantly unfair, constant and unjust defense of Israel at the United Nations. Any time that a resolution seeking to further the basic human rights of the Palestinians, rights that Israel deprives them of with the full support and financing of the United States, is proposed in the U.N., the U.S. vetoes it. Incredibly, it even vetoes it when it agrees with it! Consider then U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice’s astonishing comments when vetoing a resolution criticizing illegal settlements in 2011: She said that, while the U.S. sees “the folly and illegitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity, we think it unwise for this council to attempt to resolve the core issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians”. Now, perhaps, the handcuffs which the U.S. so firmly locked in place on the U.N.’s ability to do its job will be released.
What can Palestinians expect in the near term? Unfortunately, nothing good. The wheels of diplomacy turn far more slowly than those on the bulldozers that destroy Palestinian homes and olive trees. Yet there was a turning point with Israel’s savage genocide in the summer of 2014; now that Mr. Netanyahu has stated clearly his intentions regarding Palestine, the age of pretense is over. The U.S., which has never helped Palestine, can no longer hide behind the farce of negotiations. The time to act is now.
Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).
Photo credit – International Solidarity Movement
Southampton University is hosting a conference next month which has stirred a whole raft of Zionist anger. “International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism” is, say its detractors, “anti-Semitic” and will, according to one British MP, “de-legitimise the existence of a democratic state”. Ah, is that the same “democratic state” wherein one-fifth of its citizens face official discrimination on a daily basis and the de-legitimisation of their culture, identity and existence in their own land?
Without wishing to pre-empt what the speakers at the conference are likely to say, this issue of “de-legitimisation” of Israel is fascinating, not least because it presupposes that the state has legitimacy in the first place. Accusations that Southampton’s examination of this topic will actually “legitimise anti-Semitism” are part of the usual smokescreen put up by the pro-Israel lobby in order to kill any discussion of Israel’s contempt for international laws and conventions.
During World War One, the British authorities, through the High Commissioner in Cairo, Sir Henry McMahon, conveyed a number of messages to Sherif Husain of Makkah promising “the Arabs” a Caliphate and the protection of the Holy Places in Makkah, Madinah and Jerusalem. Post-1917 Britain’s promises began to look even less likely to be fulfilled, with the issue of the infamous Balfour Declaration promising support for a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, “it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine…” That clause has been ignored completely ever since, with everything possible being done to expel the “non-Jewish communities” from their land in Palestine; the process continues to this day.
When Zionist leader Chaim Wiezmann arrived in Palestine in 1918, “he warned the British against the application of the democratic system as it ‘does not take into account the superiority of the Jew to the Arab…'” Wiezmann’s racism underpins the institutional racism of the “democratic state” whose existence is so beloved of the British MP noted above (and, it must be said, the prime minister, most of the British cabinet and far too many other MPs).
In the “recommendations of the King-Crane Commission with regard to Syria-Palestine and Iraq” presented to US President Woodrow Wilson in August 1919, it is stated that “a national home for the Jewish people is not equivalent to making Palestine into a Jewish State; nor can the erection of such a Jewish State be accomplished without the gravest trespass upon the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.” As such, “the extreme Zionist programme for Palestine of unlimited immigration of Jews… must be greatly modified”. A subsequent resolution of the US Congress in 1922 again reaffirmed the commitment for a “Jewish national home” not to damage the rights of the existing population of Palestine. This recurring theme has been ignored ever since.
The following year, King George V sent a message “To the people of Palestine” and, again, they were promised that the “national home for the Jewish People… will not in any way affect the civil or religious rights or diminish the prosperity of the general population of Palestine.” The man charged with passing on that message was Britain’s first High Commissioner for Palestine, Sir Herbert Samuel, “a British Jew sympathetic to the Zionist cause”. Samuel distributed public lands to Jews and fixed a quota of 16,500 Jewish immigrants to Palestine in the first year of his administration, “in addition to the flourishing illegal Jewish immigrants who poured into the country with forged documents and disappeared in the Jewish settlements”. The die was cast.
The League of Nations Mandate given to Britain more or less affirmed the intention to create this by now capitalised “National Home” for Jews in Palestine. It has been said that the British government sought this “legal and ‘constitutional’ cover” in order to be able to “plant and alien entity in the heart of the Arab World for its own strategic colonial plans and needs.” When the League’s successor, the United Nations, put forward a resolution to partition Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab, it was overlooked that the UN Charter gives it no powers or right to create new countries.
“Israel is the only country in the world which was created by a ‘recommendation’ of the UN,” wrote Zafarul-Islam Khan in his book “Palestine Documents”. When, however, UN mediator Count Folke Bernadotte was sent to sort out the resultant “mess” he was assassinated by the Stern Gang, “a Jewish terrorist group whose leader went on to become prime minister of Israel.”
The UN Partition Plan was rejected by the Palestinians and Arab states, who argued that the League of Nations Mandate over Palestine came to an end when the organisation itself was dissolved in April 1946. On the basis of the UN Charter, the Palestinians, it was argued by Henry Cattan on their behalf, should have been granted independence; it was, he said, their “natural and alienable” right. This was rejected.
The partition plan gave most of historic Palestine to the Jewish state even though Jews owned just 6 per cent of the land; in the subsequent ethnic cleansing and so-called “war of independence”, the nascent state of Israel took even more land, having reneged on a deal that had been struck with Jordan’s King Abdullah, the present king’s grandfather.
Israel has never declared what its borders are, the only member state of the United Nations not to do so. Indeed, its membership of the UN was made conditional upon it allowing Palestinian refugees to return to their land. Not only has Israel ignored that condition (along with almost every other UN resolution ever since, despite being a creation of the international body) but it has also obliterated all trace of more than 530 towns and villages which once had a Palestinian population. A glance at the maps of “Palestine” from 1948 onwards show that it has virtually been subsumed by Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent disavowal of a two-state solution and the existence of a state of Palestine should not have been a surprise to anyone. Israel and its founding ideology of Zionism have a greed for more land in order to fulfil the aim of “Greater Israel”, from the Mediterranean to the River Jordan and even beyond. There never was any support for a state of Palestine and probably never will be, not in any meaningful sense, anyway. The people who said that the negotiations and “peace process” were a farce have been right all along.
The question remains therefore: what legitimacy does Israel have? It will be interesting to see what the conference in Southampton next month comes up with. That is, of course, if the Zionist lobby and its twisted views of free speech and democracy is unable to have it cancelled. Justice and freedom demand that they fail in their quest.