Saturday, August 05, 2006

What is there to say? 

It is the facts that are inflamatory.

From the emergencies director at Human Rights Watch:

Israel's claims about pin-point strikes and proportionate responses are pure fantasy. As a researcher for Human Rights Watch, I've documented civilian deaths from bombing campaigns in Kosovo and Chechnya, Afghanistan and Iraq. But these usually occur when there is some indication of military targeting: high-ranking members of Saddam Hussein's regime present in a house just before it is hit, for example, or an attack against militants that causes the collateral deaths of many civilians.

In Lebanon, it's a different scene. Time after time, Israel has hit civilian homes and cars in the southern border zone, killing dozens of people with no evidence of any military objective.

My notebook overflows with reports of civilian deaths. On July 15, Israeli fire killed 21 people fleeing from Marhawin, including 13 children; no weapons, no Hezbollah nearby. On July 16, an Israeli bomb killed 11 civilians in Aitaroun, including seven members of a Canadian-Lebanese family on vacation; again, no Hezbollah, no weapons. On July 19, at least 26 civilians were killed in Srifa when Israeli bombs flattened an entire neighborhood; no evidence of military targets. On July 23, at least seven civilians were killed when Israeli warplanes bombed dozens of cars trying to flee the south after receiving Israeli instructions to evacuate immediately; no indication of weapons convoys in the vicinity. The list goes on, with about 500 civilians killed so far.

Israel says the fault for the massive civilian death toll lies with Hezbollah, claiming its fighters are hiding weapons inside civilian homes and firing them from civilian areas. But even if the Israeli forces could show evidence of Hezbollah activity in some civilian areas, it could not justify the extensive use of indiscriminate force that has cost so many lives.

Not only has Israel failed to distinguish between military and civilian targets; its own officials suggest that they have decided any civilian still in the south is fair game. Last week, Justice Minister Haim Ramon reportedly said, "All those now in south Lebanon are terrorists who are related in some way to Hezbollah."

So if you are too frightened to flee southern Lebanon, or are sick, injured or too poor to pay the more than $1,000 it now costs to get out, you are a "terrorist" and eligible for attack. As for those who heeded the Israeli warnings to flee, the roads are littered with bombed civilian cars, many with white flags still attached to their windows. After all, the Israelis tell us, they could have been transporting arms. Israel is prefabricating excuses to justify killing civilians.

From a column in the Christian Science Monitor:

Since its withdrawal of occupation forces from southern Lebanon in May 2000, Israel has violated the United Nations-monitored "blue line" on an almost daily basis, according to UN reports. Hizbullah's military doctrine, articulated in the early 1990s, states that it will fire Katyusha rockets into Israel only in response to Israeli attacks on Lebanese civilians or Hizbullah's leadership; this indeed has been the pattern.

In the process of its violations, Israel has terrorized the general population, destroyed private property, and killed numerous civilians. This past February, for instance, 15-year-old shepherd Yusuf Rahil was killed by unprovoked Israeli cross-border fire as he tended his flock in southern Lebanon. Israel has assassinated its enemies in the streets of Lebanese cities and continues to occupy Lebanon's Shebaa Farms area, while refusing to hand over the maps of mine fields that continue to kill and cripple civilians in southern Lebanon more than six years after the war supposedly ended. What peace did Hizbullah shatter?

Hizbullah's capture of the soldiers took place in the context of this ongoing conflict, which in turn is fundamentally shaped by realities in the Palestinian territories. To the vexation of Israel and its allies, Hizbullah - easily the most popular political movement in the Middle East - unflinchingly stands with the Palestinians.

Since June 25, when Palestinian fighters captured one Israeli soldier and demanded a prisoner exchange, Israel has killed more than 140 Palestinians...

Now--how many rockets did Hizballah launch in the years between 2000 and 2006? How many civilians did it kill?

And why was it formed, once again? By whom?

Friday, August 04, 2006

end: really fucking nigh 

If you haven't been reading Billmon's writing the last few weeks on the Israel/Hizbollah War you should hate yourself.

Check his latest on why the Dems can't stop the slide into WWIII. Its a masterpiece of eschatology.

Also worthy of note: Stephen Zunes touches on some of the legal issues involved in the conflict in his critique of the US Congressional endorsement of Israel's actions.

"The Night Can Sweat with Terror As Before" 

excerpts from a 2003 article in South Atlantic Quarterly

by Kenneth Surin, Duke University


Before we went in [to Jenin] I asked some guys to teach me [how to operate a Caterpillar D-9 bulldozer]. They taught me how to drive forward and make a flat surface. . . . For three days I just erased and erased. . . . I kept drinking whisky to fight off fatigue. I made them a stadium in the middle of the camp! I didn't see dead bodies under the blade of the D-9. . . . But if there were any I don't care.

Moshe Nissim, IDF Bulldozer Operator in Jenin, quoted in Stephen Graham, "Lessons in Urbicide"

Now days are dragon-ridden, the nightmare
Rides upon sleep: a drunken soldiery
Can leave the mother, murdered at her door
To crawl in her own blood, and go scot-free;
The night can sweat with terror as before.

W. B. Yeats, "Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen"

... There must be many who reach out instinctively for the "mute" button on their remote-control units the moment a CNN anchor announces a segment from CNN's Jerusalem desk, where nearly every assertion, even the most palpably mendacious ("Former Prime Minister Barak gave the Palestinians everything at Camp David, but they walked away," "We are innocent victims of terror the way you were on 9/11," and so forth), of such official Israeli spokespersons as Ra'anan Gissin or Dore Gold is received with rapt credulity by reporters at CNN's Jerusalem bureau...

Twenty-five years ago, in an opinion column in Le Monde, the late Gilles Deleuze posed the following questions:

Why would the Palestinians be "valid negotiators" since they do not have a country? Why would they have a country, since theirs has been taken? They have never been given any choice than to surrender unconditionally...

Deleuze went on to say:

The Israeli-Palestine model is determinant in current problems of terrorism. . . . The worldwide understanding among states and the organization of a world police force with worldwide jurisdiction, currently underway, necessarily leads to an expansion in which more and more people are classified as virtual "terrorists." We find ourselves in a situation analogous to that of the Spanish Civil War, when Spain served as laboratory and experimentation for a still more terrible future.

Today the state of Israel leads the experimentation. It is establishing a model of repression that will be converted for other countries.

The state of affairs that Deleuze took in 1978 to be in its phase of inauguration, that is, one in which the modus operandi of Israel's repression of the Palestinian people becomes a model for other countries to emulate, has by now become fully established, even a matter of military routine...The U.S. Army Times of June 17, 2002, said that "while Israeli forces were engaged in what many termed a brutal—some even say criminal—campaign to crush Palestinian militants and terrorist cells in West Bank towns, U.S. military officials were in Israel seeing what they could learn from the urban fight." In another article in the Marine Corps Times, Lieutenant Colonel Dave Booth, who is in charge of Marine Corps–Israeli military cooperation on urban combat, said that the Marines were seeking "to learn from the Israeli experience in urban warfare and the recent massive search-and-destroy operations for Palestinian insurgents in the West Bank."

What Deleuze took to be "experimentation" in 1978 had by 2003 become a daily reality for nearly everyone living on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. And, as we have seen, the hyperpower that trumpets itself as the world's great defender of "freedom" is eager to learn from the experiences of the brutal Israeli army...

What then are we to make of the argument, purveyed by George W. Bush among others, that "Israel has a right to defend itself" against the suicide bombers? Let us be clear from the outset about the ethical inadmissibility of suicide bombing, a form of violence which strikes quite intentionally at noncombatant civilians. But...acknowledging this does not save us from the need to consider the context from which suicide bombing derives its saliency for those who espouse it as a means, a most hideous means, of retaliation. This context is one in which Israel has for decades adopted a policy of collective punishment, in direct violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, as when noncombatant Palestinian civilians become victims in strikes (using air-to-ground missiles and flechette bombs) on apartment buildings alleged to house militants belonging to such groups as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Suicide bombing is the Palestinian counterpart of this Israeli practice of collective punishment...Both Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, and the Israeli army employ means that are terroristic by any definition accordant with international law, and both have to be denounced as such.

...Israel's long-term objective has always been to empty the Palestinian territories of their Arab inhabitants, and to this end has used a plethora of measures that involve violations of international law. In addition to collective punishment (the almost daily house demolitions in addition to bombardments of heavily populated areas where civilian casualties are inevitable), there are Israel's illegal occupation and settlement of territories seized after the 1967 war; arbitrary arrests and illegal detentions; the widespread use of torture; expulsion and deportations; extrajudicial assassinations (targeted at the leaders of civil society, and not just the ostensible heads of militias); summary executions of civilians; systemic employment of disproportionate force against protesters (tanks firing on stone-throwing youngsters as a matter of routine, etc.); attacks on ambulances and medical personnel; the deliberate shooting of journalists covering the current intifada; the use of Palestinians as human shields in military operations; the withholding of medical aid to wounded civilians; the "clearance" of orchards and olive groves in an attempt to deprive Palestinians of their livelihoods; illegal seizures of Palestinian property and land; the bulldozing of wells to deprive Palestinians of water; the wanton destruction and looting of Palestinian civil agencies after the military occupation of the West Bank was completed; these are among the key elements in this long catalog of Israeli criminal activity. Tanya Reinhart and others have shown conclusively that these measures are not the purely reactive "defensive" response of Israel to the Palestinian "violence" of the second intifada portrayed by the Israeli government, a view endlessly disseminated by the Israeli propaganda machine, but rather were from the beginning part of a concerted strategy that had been devised during the prime ministership of Ehud Barak, that is, even before the start of the second intifada. The first objective of this strategy was the dismantling of the Oslo Accords, which by 2000 had become superfluous to Israel's needs.

The Oslo Accords of 1993 and 1995 were based on a quid pro quo whose real terms and full implications were deliberately fudged at their core in order to enable agreement. Met with initial enthusiasm by majorities on both sides, the accords bartered official Palestinian recognition of Israel's right to exist as a state for a partial Israeli military withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and areas of the West Bank, as well as the establishment of a "self-governing" Palestinian Authority. It was also understood that the Palestinian Authority would restrain groups pursuing an armed insurrection against the Israeli military occupation. The accords were to be the start of a "peace process" that would lead to a "final settlement" at some unspecified time in the future, buttressed by large subventions from the EU and U.S. government to the Palestinian Authority, and with cooperation between Palestinian security services and the Israeli intelligence agency superintended by the CIA.

The Oslo Accords were soon under strain. When the Al-Aqsa Intifada broke out in 2000, seven years after the signing of the first Oslo Accord, the Israeli army still had control of 60 percent of the West Bank, and "joint control" of another 27 percent; a network of Israeli military roads built on confiscated land ringed Palestinian towns and villages; and the number of Israeli settlers virtually doubled. These settlers, who make up 10 percent of the population of the West Bank, use 37 percent of its water, leaving 63 percent for nearly two million Palestinians

...It has been noted that even Yitzhak Rabin, the assassinated Israeli prime minister hailed as one of the architects of the "peace process," continued the policy of settler expansion, as did the other Israeli recipient of the Nobel Prize for Peace, Shimon Peres, when Peres became prime minister. In the meantime, of course, the Oslo Declaration of Principles required the Palestinian Authority to prevent attacks on the ever-growing Jewish settlements.

Palestinian per-capita income declined by 25 percent in the first five years after the accord was signed, and has since declined even more precipitously (see below). These painful "realities" were compounded by Arafat's haphazard administrative practices, which were perceived in many Palestinian circles to be the more visible element of a corrupt patronage system doing the job of sheriff for Israel. The Palestinian Authority had some of the trappings of a state, but it had no control over its airspace, ports, foreign policy, and immigration. Israel's unwillingness to rein in settlement expansion, and its continued backsliding on the question of sovereignty over the holy sites in Jerusalem, was taken by the Palestinians as palpable evidence of Israel's bad faith. With continued settlement expansion, declining living standards, and no sign of a political settlement in sight, Palestinian insurgency soon manifested itself, as militant Islamist groups took to raiding Israeli settlements from the mid-1990s onward. To curb this escalating violence, Israel's new prime minister, Ehud Barak, decided to come to a "final status" agreement with the Palestinian Authority, this attempt culminating in the famous Camp David meeting presided over by Bill Clinton.

At Camp David, Barak offered a projected Palestinian state that would consist of four separate tracts of land, and hence easily monitored by Israel who could impose closures and blockades on these Palestinian Bantustans at any time. Moreover, what Barak portrayed as an "acre for acre" swap was basically a fraud, precisely the words used by Tanya Reinhart. Barak offered the Palestinians 50 percent of the West Bank in these four cantons, with Israel annexing 10 percent, and the rest (40 percent) to be left "for future consideration," basically consigning them to de facto Israeli control since these areas had been annexed by Israel in the 1967 war. The 10 percent Israeli annexation, along with Bark's refusal to abandon the illegal settlements and his determination to retain Israeli control of the controversial "bypass" roads and their hinterlands, meant that the famous "everything" that Barak is said to have offered the Palestinians quickly becomes something like 50 to 60 percent, with the status of the greater part of this being left for "future consideration" (and thus remaining under de facto Israeli control).

Barak also failed to deal with the question of water resources, a crucial consideration, given the aridity of the region, and which has ensued in a hugely inequitable system, in which the illegal Israeli settlers have swimming pools, while Palestinians have to line up at street pumps to get water for domestic use. The deal envisaged by Barak would have ratified this unacceptable state of affairs. Barak also gave no undertaking to end settlement construction. The Oslo Accord did not end settlement construction. According to Israeli statistics, at the end of 1993 there were thirty-three thousand family housing units in the illegal settlements. By July 2000, nineteen thousand units were added... Under Sharon, the settlement expansion program continues apace.

Finally, Barak did not offer Palestinian refugees the right of return (al-awda) enshrined as a fundamental precept in international law and several UN resolutions.

[Not even an explicitly symbolic right which would have acknowledged the displacement of Palestinians that occurred at Israel's founding--an acknowledgment that must be the truthful basis for any true reconciliation.--GA]

Successive Israeli governments have always insisted that they have offered the Palestinians "everything." A careful look at the agreements drafted at Camp David (held up as the exemplary instance of this desire to give the Palestinians "everything") shows this simply not to be the case. At best, Israel had offered a deal in which it retained 78 percent of the land it seized in 1948–49, along with most of Jerusalem, and a whole array of West Bank settlements, which would add another 5 to 6 percent to the land already expropriated by Israel. This Palestinian state would have no army, only a localized police force, while Israel is allowed to have an army with nuclear weapons. Israel also never offered to pay reparations for the seizure of Palestinian land and property, valued by the UN at about $150 billion (and growing every day, as more and more land seizures take place). The asymmetries set in place by the Oslo principles would have been further entrenched by any agreement at Camp David acceptable to Ehud Barak.

Today the Oslo Accords are of course moribund, Ariel Sharon and the Likud Party never having concealed their dislike of them. Sharon has indicated in his recent responses to the so-called road map to peace talked about, albeit half-heartedly and with a deliberate lack of detail by the United States as the attack on Iraq approaches...that this "map" should avoid any reference to an "independent" Palestinian state, and instead allow the new Palestinian entity to possess no more than "certain attributes of sovereignty." Under Sharon's version of the "road map," Israel will control Palestine's external relations, borders, airspace, and underground aquifers, as well as have the authority to annul its treaties with other countries. The new state's security arrangements will be entrusted to a lightly armed police force. Sharon, the architect of the illegal settlement policy in his role as housing minister in a previous Likud administration, has also been emphatic in his refusal to dismantle Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories, and wants settlement expansion to continue until there is "a continuous and comprehensive security calm." Even in a Palestinian state possessing "certain attributes of sovereignty," Sharon, with what can only be characterized as a brazen disregard for international law, insists that the "natural growth" of settlements will have to be permitted.

[The withdrawal of 1,000 settlers from Gaza was not a concession on Sharon's part. Look at a map. The settlements that matter, and that still expand today, are in the West Bank. The fact that American and Israeli "liberals" read the Gaza withdrawal as a sign of Sharon's peaceful intentions attests both to their willful blindness and to Sharon's skillful exploitation of it.--GA]

Baruch Kimmerling and Joel Migdal have described the strategy pursued by successive Israeli governments when negotiating with the Palestinians, and taken to new depths by the Likud government, as an asymmetrical "frontloading-backloading" of the respective negotiating positions of the two sides. Hence, acceptance in advance of Israeli demands is invariably made the condition of initiating any negotiation process ("frontloading"), while Palestinian requirements are met (if at all) only when this or that "benchmark," "performance criterion," "staged completion," or the like is deemed to have been accomplished by the Palestinian Authority, with Israel of course serving as the arbiter of Palestinian compliance ("backloading"). Abba Eban's famous aphorism, that "the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity," has an underlying logic that, with an irony clearly not intended by Eban, marks Israel's position as well—-Israel always "misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity" because this "frontloading-backloading" negotiation structure is orchestrated to guarantee at least two things: (1) that the Palestinians miss their opportunities precisely because Israel, as the sole arbiter of Palestinian compliance, is always in a position to deem the Palestinian Authority not to have met its "benchmarks," so that the Palestinian people have to "miss their opportunities" in order to enable Israel to take its opportunities; and (2) while any unbiased observer can see that Israel itself misses opportunities over and over again, Israel can always shelter behind a negotiation structure designed in advance to assign responsibility for any failure primarily or even solely to the Palestinians. The negotiation structure itself gives Israel a free pass on "its missed opportunities," and in effect outfits it in advance with all the alibis it needs. All this is done with the full connivance of the United States, who can be counted on to cast its UN Security Council veto when the international community takes Israel to task for its various derelictions of international law, and to place its weight behind Israel in any negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. Israeli diplomatic "frontloading" is done with the proverbial equivalent of American forklift trucks and cranes, this being the political complement of the more material forms of aid given to the Israeli military by the U.S. government.


A recent World Bank report indicates that Israel's blockade [brutally renewed and intensified in January of this year with the election of Hamas--GA] of the Palestinian territories is having a disastrous impact on Palestinian living standards. According to the World Bank, 60 percent of the Palestinian population is now living below the poverty line, on less than two U.S. dollars a day (the figure before the intifada was 21 percent). In 2002, Palestinian Gross National Income was $3.3 billion, down from $4.5 billion in 2001, and its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was $3 billion, down from $4 billion in 2001. Exports, which have to be channeled through Israel, declined by 34.8 percent in 2002, more than doubling the 2001 decline of 13 percent. Imports declined by 17.3 percent in 2002, having already fallen by 29 percent in 2001. Longer-term economic prospects for the Palestinian territories, for which total investment is a primary indicator, are dismal, with total investment having contracted by more than two thirds from $1.5 billion in 1999 to $450 million in 2002.

In the face of this campaign of systematic dehumanization undertaken in order to further Israeli colonization, Palestinian prospects, economic and political alike, are dire. The "frontloading-backloading" mechanism that has underpinned all Israeli-Palestinian negotiations so far is not going to disappear magically, especially since Sharon and the Likud, in their political and moral blindness, have made it clear that this is exactly how they want discussions on the "road map" to proceed, and George W. Bush is probably going to have to rely again on the alliance between the Christian Right and the American Zionist lobby to bolster his chances of reelection in 2004...

What would it be to have justice confront the terrible situation that exists today in Israel and Palestine? What is it to be just, to be "in" justice, for Palestinians and Israelis alike? No negation of the claims of justice can be absolute, or treated as absolute, because if justice is forced to absent itself, then truth can only witness to injustice, to pain and irrationality. Truth calls for the irreducible presence of justice. So the question necessarily presents itself: How is justice to be embodied in our responses to the situation in Israel and Palestine today? If justice is not fundamentally embodied in these responses, our responses would themselves partake of the disorder that defines injustice. By not being in justice, quite simply, these responses would not be in truth. Falsity emerges when a fundamental undecidability is introduced between the real and the unreal. It is important to note here that falsity is not error or confusion, but the capacity to make a potential event of truth succumb to the forces of undecidability. Truth is thus the force that counters the powers of the undecidable, which lie at the heart of falsity and injustice. When injustice and falsity prevail, it becomes impossible to determine what an adequate and appropriate response should be in a situation that calls for justice, and it becomes easier to act in ways that endorse or promote the efforts of those who trample on the powerless, and it becomes harder to distinguish between those who have a real need for decency and fairness and those who lack this very decency and fairness and thus bring misery and suffering to others. We yield to the undecidable, and having succumbed to it, it becomes difficult to know which processes we have to be involved in precisely as a condition of living in truth and justice. To live in truth is to live in justice, and vice versa.

How can the events of recent times in Israel and Palestine be turned into an event of justice? A putative quest for justice which uses means and instruments that are themselves unjust is self-negating-—noncombatants killed and injured in suicide bombings are willy-nilly victims of an injustice. There is no way around this, since justice is always absent when innocent people are killed. Secondly, it has to be acknowledged that the people who live in what is Israel today are entitled to live in a state that possesses a character accordant with their specific aspirations, though of course they are not entitled, by the principles of justice, to crush or diminish the aspirations of the Palestinian peoples in the course of living in such a state. The principles of justice qua justice do not themselves require the state of Israel as it is presently constituted to exist (quite the opposite!), but an injustice would be meted out to its citizens if they were prevented from living in a state that is congruent with their aspirations.

Central to the logic of justice is the proposition, having the status of an axiom, that justice can prevail only when injustices are removed or rectified, or at any rate, when a serious attempt is made. To "promise" the Palestinian people a state without ending the brutal occupation, dismantling the illegal settlements, and defining Israel's borders in line with international agreements and protocols, is not to be in justice. Numerous UN resolutions provide the legal basis for dealing with these matters, and the beginnings of a framework for bringing justice to the Middle East will have to be initiated from the implementation of these resolutions, especially Resolution 242, which calls for the withdrawal of Israel to its 1967 borders. Coupled with this is the need to grant the Palestinian people a form of state sovereignty that will be vastly more substantial than the pitiable shadow of such a sovereignty existing in the minds of Israeli leaders like Barak, Sharon, and Effi Eitam.

But how is justice to be brought to this point? Honesty compels us to admit that no one really knows what must happen in order for justice to materialize. But the granting of a highly circumscribed self-government to the Palestinians, located in two separate enclaves, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with no natural harbor, and with a village outside Jerusalem as its capital, is simply not congruent with the requirements of justice. At the same time, it is fairly obvious that any quest for justice will have to heed the following "realities":

--The Palestinians have neither the military strength nor the depth of political resources to secure a full national sovereignty and thus justice for themselves.
The involvement of the international community is vital for establishing a viable Palestinian state. Israeli power will only relent when confronted with strength. Again, this will necessitate the involvement of the international community, possibly in the form of a multinational monitoring force. The Palestinians have always called for such a force, but Israel with the support of the United States has always rejected this suggestion.

--The Arab world will need to exercise real leadership when it comes to reconfiguring the regional system of power that underlies the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For five decades the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia (to mention only the notable instances) have failed the Palestinians as much as they have failed their own peoples. There will have to be a transformation of the economic and political systems of these countries at the very same time that a viable Palestinian state is inaugurated.

--The notion that the United States is in any significant sense an "honest broker" in this conflict is so profoundly at variance with the real course of events that it has to be acknowledged. The United States can no longer play a credible role in resolving this conflict, except in one decisive regard: U.S. aid amounts to approximately three billion dollars a year, or around 3 percent of Israel's GDP, and if Washington were to pull the plug on this vast subsidy devoted overwhelmingly to maintaining the Israeli war machine, an accompanying Israeli change of attitude will probably be swift and significant. The United States plays the major role it does in the Middle East primarily by running Israel as a client state, something it also does with the shoddy dictatorships in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Moreover, it is Middle Eastern oil that provides the United States with its primary rationale for keeping this corrupt and radically defective regional system on its legs—-why does the United States subsidize Mubarak almost as generously as it finances the Zionist state led in recent decades by Begin, Shamir, Netanyahu, Barak, and now Sharon? The pressing need, therefore, is for the Arab countries to adopt an independent and nonaligned foreign policy, to detach themselves from the sphere of U.S. influence by forming an autonomous bloc that will be less easy for the United States to subordinate. To the extent that a less malleable Arab bloc can be effective, a more equitable balance of forces will prevail in the region, and the more secure will be that space from which the Palestinian people can broaden and consolidate their quest for justice and a popular national sovereignty.

More immediately, Israel should be suspended from the UN in the way that South Africa was suspended during the apartheid period. As a condition of its UN membership, Israel agreed to accept General Assembly Resolution 181 (Article II), passed in 1947, on the partition and trusteeship of Jerusalem, and General Assembly Resolution 194 (Article III), passed in 1948, on the Palestinian right of return. Israel has explicitly repudiated both these conditions for its membership of the UN, and must therefore be suspended. Israel also derived certain benefits from signing the Oslo Accords. As we have seen, these accords called for a halt to the construction of the illegal settlements. Israel has never stopped its settlement-building program. The EU is Israel's chief trading partner, and it granted Israel "preferential trading partner" status after the Oslo Accords were signed. With Israel's repudiation of the Oslo Accords, the EU needs to withdraw this "preferential trading partner" status immediately. A cultural, educational, and sporting boycott of Israel, along the lines of the boycott of apartheid South Africa, should be initiated forthwith. Chapter 6 of the UN Charter provides for a "monitoring force" to help protect civilian populations from attack. The Palestinians have called repeatedly for the UN Security Council to send this force to the West Bank and Gaza, but Israel with the support of the United States has always blocked implementation of this chapter 6 proviso. Chapter 6 should be implemented immediately. Chapter 7 of the UN Charter makes provision for "enforcement action" against states that attack civilian populations, happening with unsparing brutality in the West Bank and Gaza now that the attention of the world is focused on the war on Iraq. The cessation of cultural, educational, and sporting links with Israel would be the first step of this "enforcement action" provided for by chapter 7 of the UN Charter.

The peace process will be an empty farce if it is not accompanied by the quest for a just settlement for the Palestinian people. The measures outlined here will be a small first step in this pursuit of justice. To their lasting credit, many Israelis recognize the need for this quest for justice on behalf of the Palestinian people. I can best end by quoting from a letter written by Captain Idan Landau, Israeli Army (Reserve), and teacher of linguistics at Ben Gurion University, who has refused to do military service:

Dear friends,

On July 2001 I was put in jail (for 2 weeks) for refusing to serve in the occupied territories. The reasons that led me then to that decision are even stronger now: My position is that any military service these days, either within or outside the green line, is immoral, as nearly all of the military resources of Israel are subordinated to the occupation.

The recurring reports coming from Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jenin and Nablus—excluded from Israeli media, another captive of righteous rhetorics—portray a horrible reality of mindless devastation, terror and complete disintegration of all civilian supportive systems. There are villages stifled under continuous military closure for over 6 months. The humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian society is taking startling proportions.

The level of brutal, insane bloodshed on both sides has climbed [End Page 908] to unprecedented heights during the recent months. Decent people should unequivocally condemn barbaric acts against innocent civilians—whether perpetrated by Palestinian suicide bombers or Israeli tanks. Decent people can tell terror when they see it—state terror or individual terror—and disregard euphemistic justifications.

While there is no moral distinction between different bloods, there is an important distinction between different causes, and it is very simple in this case: The Palestinian cause—liberation—is just, the Israeli cause—occupation—is not. The Palestinians are fighting for the only home they'll ever have; Israel is fighting to deny them this home. Pain and rage make us lose sight of this fundamental fact; our leaders want us to forget it; but it will outlive both our pain and our leaders, and constantly haunt us until we honestly embrace it.

"Self defense" has nothing to do with Israel's invasion to Palestinian cities and refugee camps; on the contrary, this invasion is at the root of Palestinian despair and rage, breeding new suicide bombers every day. Both Israeli and Palestinian citizens are the victims of Sharon's actions.

Over 1,000 Israeli soldiers have already refused to take part in Sharon's war games; nearly 200 among them were put in jail. I was honored to be one of the first reserve objectors to visit jail twice in this Intifada; no doubt many more will follow. There are objectors among conscripts who are in jail for nearly 6 months now; their heroism is inspiring me and others.

Nevertheless, don't overestimate the impact of such acts in a country that drifts daily into fascist mentality. Listen carefully to the new tones, the unabashed statements of leading politicians in Israel about the need to "reconsider voluntary transfer of Arabic population," which are barely a step away from ethnic cleansing. It is not unreasonable to suppose that Sharon will use the diversion of international attention to Iraq, on the occasion of war, to push the pressure in the territories to such a level that "voluntary transfer" will commence.

What's unthinkable today, we've learned, may very quickly become the reality of tomorrow.

A mixture of genuine fear and inexorable propaganda has thrown the Israeli society into a state of moral coma, and it lost the clarity and restraint needed to prevent such a nightmare. It didn't stop the (de-facto) Apartheid regime now implemented in the territories; there is no reason to believe it will find the internal resolve to stop any worse scenarios.

Hence, international pressure is badly needed. So make your voice heard, in Israel and all over the world. Call for sanctions on the Israeli government and any institute collaborating with the occupation. Call for immediate international intervention and renewal of unconditional peace talks. Call for full withdrawal of Israeli military forces from Palestinian land. And don't stop. Literally, human lives depend on this.

Thanks for your time and interest,
Idan Landau

One can say no more or less than this after reading such a letter: a just human being has indeed spoken.


Selected endnotes:

1. As Robert Fisk has pointed out in his article "How the News Will Be Censored in This War," CNN executives in Atlanta have a policy of altering the content of items reported from the Palestinian territories. To quote the example given by Fisk of a CNN journalist who complained about editorial interference on the part of CNN executives: "The journalist's first complaint was about a story by the reporter Michael Holmes on the Red Crescent ambulance drivers who are repeatedly shot at by Israeli troops. "We risked our lives and went out with ambulance drivers . . . for a whole day. We have also witnessed ambulances from our window being shot at by Israeli soldiers. . . . The story received approval from Mike Shoulder. The story ran twice and then Rick Davis (a CNN executive) killed it. The reason was we did not have an Israeli army response, even though we stated in our story that Israel believes that Palestinians are smuggling weapons and wanted people in the ambulances. The Israelis refused to give CNN an interview, only a written statement. This statement was then written into the CNN script. But again it was rejected by Davis in Atlanta. Only when, after three days, the Israeli army gave CNN an interview did Holmes's story run—but then with the dishonest inclusion of a line that said the ambulances were shot in ‘crossfire' (i.e., that Palestinians also shot at their own ambulances)" (The Independent, February 23, 2003. Online at http://argument.independent.co.uk/commentators/story.jsp?story=381438). The conclusion Fisk drew from this episode, and the policy underlying it, is the obvious one that news organizations like CNN are in full complicity with the Israeli government in its attempt to gloss over what the Israeli army is really doing in the West Bank and Gaza.

2. Ha'aretz correspondent Bradley Burston, in his "Vicious Circle in the Gaza Strip" said the following: "Mofaz [Israel's Minister of Defense] and the army have repeatedly stressed that every effort is made to avoid civilian casualties in the Gaza operations. Moreover, the army pursues an investigation after the death of every civilian killed in Israeli-Palestinian fighting. But human rights groups contend that the probes are often cursory, and, in the rare cases in which a soldier is disciplined for improper actions, sentences are often disproportionately light" (Ha'aretz, March 5, 2003)

Burston says that according to Ha'aretz military correspondent Amos Harel, "The orders for these operations come from high up, from Sharon and from Mofaz. They often appear to stem from broader political situations, rather than the purely military. As difficult as it often is to discern civilians from combatants, civilian casualties run to about 30 percent of the total."

The state of affairs characterized by Burston and his colleague Amos Harel, in which it is clear that Israeli military operations are retaliations motivated by political and not military considerations, is in direct violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which stipulates that "reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited."

3. See Tanya Reinhart, Israel/Palestine: How to End the War of 1948 (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2002). Reinhart says that "the military sect which rules Israel was determined to execute its plan for undoing the Oslo arrangements and destroying Palestinian society. The bloodshed justification provided by terrorism was vital for this plan to succeed" (141). Barak's plan, known as the Field of Thorns, became with some changes the basis for Sharon's Operation Defensive Shield, and was already in place by December 2000, when Shraga Eilam, an Israeli defense analyst, used government sources to outline its main stages and features. Reinhart indicates that the U.S. government was kept informed of all stages of the plan's implementation.

4. For this account of the rationale for the Oslo Accords, I am indebted to Baruch Kimmerling [End Page 911] and Joel S. Migdal, The Palestinian People: A History (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003), 315–97; and Perry Anderson, "Scurrying Towards Bethlehem," New Left Review, no. 10 (2001): 5–30.

As Kimmerling and Migdal point out, much of the land on the West Bank was never registered with the state, but held under traditional patterns of land ownership. Israel refused to recognize these forms of ownership, and seized half of all these so-called unregistered lands from their Palestinian owners. See Kimmerling and Migdal, The Palestinian People, 320.

5. For information on settlement building under Barak, see Avishai Margalit, "Settling Scores," New York Review of Books, September 20, 2001, 20.

6. For Dr. Landau's letter, see the Web site of Jews for Justice for Palestine at www.jfjfp.org/campaigns.htm (March 20, 2003).

One from the Archives 

Courtesy, I believe, of The Fixin's Bar.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Self-hating Jews don't mince words about Qana 

A report from Gush Shalom:

Immediately after the news about the Kana Massacre became known today (July 30), spontaneous protest demonstrations started near the Ministry of Defense compound in Tel-Aviv. In the evening, a larger demonstration was held. In spite of the fact that there was hardly any prior notice, more then 200 demonstrators gathered, including activists of Gush Shalom, Hadash, Anarchists Against Walls, Ta'ayush and other organizations.

This time, a group of Meretz member, who rebelled against their party leadership, was also present. They included former Meretz MKs Ya'el Dayan and Naomi Hazan. Also present were Hadash MK Dov Hinin and former MK Tamar Gojansky.

Conspicuous by its absence was Peace Now. The director of this organization, which has ceased to exist as an active peace movement years ago, appears now in the Media as one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the war. When a journalist wrote by mistake that Peace Now had taken part in a demonstration, the director denied it vigorously.

Meretz leaders Yossi Beilin, Haim Oron and the others, except MK Zahava Galon, also publicly supported the war.

"Peretz, Peretz, don't worry / Bush will meet you at The Hague!" shouted the demonstrators through their megaphones, which could be clearly heard in the ministry compound. The Hague, of course, is the seat of the International Criminal Court. "Peretz, you have promised education and pensions / all you gave us is tanks and dead bodies!" - "Children want to live / both in Beirut and in Haifa!" - "Killing Children is a war crime!" - "Labor in government / brings only war!" - "Olmert's agreement with Bush: / War and occupation!" (All these rhyme in Hebrew.)

"It is rank hypocrisy to assert that the Kana inhabitants have been warned to leave their homes," former MK Uri Avnery said. "From the first day of the war, our army has bombed the roads and whole families were killed on the way. They have concluded that it is safer to stay in a shelter at home than to move on the roads." Avnery added that "a commander who bombs and shells an inhabited area must know such disasters are bound to happen."

"The criminal returns to the scene of the crime," commented Gush Shalom spokesman Adam Keller, referring to the massacre that happened in Kana in 1996, when Shimon Peres started a war in Lebanon. "That massacre compelled Peres to break off his war. The conclusion is that we must stop this war at once, before it is too late."

Opposite, a small counter-demonstration took place. Usually, the fascists of the Kahane group play this role, but this time they were Labor Party members, who support the war completely.

In the course of the demonstration, a special unit of the riot police appeared and for a moment it seemed that they were about to attack the protesters, but they only drove them off the road.

After two and a half weeks of suppressing every voice against the war, this demonstration was covered on TV and the radio.

At the same time, demonstrations were held around the country, mostly by of Arab citizens.


This ad was published by Gush Shalom yesterday in Ha'aretz:

"We warned them
And called on them
To escape!"

That is disgusting

Because we have:
Bombed the roads.
Destroyed the bridges.
Cut off the supply of gasoline.
Killed whole families on the way.

There is only one way
Of preventing more such disasters,
Which turn us into monsters:
T O S T O P!

There is no military solution!


Please visit Gush Shalom for much more information.

Liberalism is dead 

Click here for an analysis of Michael Walzer's defense of the Israeli two-front terror campaign.

Michael Walzer is probably the world's most eminent liberal political theorist. "Liberalism" in this sense is the classical political theory that goes back to John Locke and Thomas Hobbes and Baruch Spinoza. It is the historical bond between what Blicero aptly named the Democrat Establishment Suicide Machine (DESM) and the Republican Death Machine.

A piece like Walzer's provides powerful evidence that even the best and most articulate Democrats are slaves to an ideology of selfishness, competition, capitulation, and murder. It also helps to explain why the entire "progressive" blogosphere is trying to "change the subject" away from the second U.S.-sponsored mass-murder campaign in the Middle East in the last three years.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

What is Israel's goal? 

Omar Barghouti on the (second) massacre at Qana:

Israel apologists who will try to spin this new massacre as yet another "mistake" must expect their audience to have an awfully short memory or a very low IQ. Israel has explicitly indicated in the past few days that it may resort to such atrocious measures, especially since its armed forces have failed to achieve any tangible military gains after 19 days of rolling massacres and wanton destruction across Lebanon. Israeli minister of justice, Haim Ramon, issued a stern warning [2] only days ago that a large area in south Lebanon was regarded by his government effectively as a free-fire zone, advocating indiscriminate bombing of villages inside it to ease the so-far unsuccessful advance of the Israeli army. "These places are not villages. They are military bases in which Hizbollah are hiding and from which they are operating," he said, adding that, since Israel had ordered Lebanese civilians to leave the area, "All those now in south Lebanon are terrorists who are related in some way to Hizbollah."

Israel's biggest-selling paper, Yedioth Ahronoth, advocated [3] raising the threshold of Israel's response to Katyusha rockets: "In other words: a village from which rockets are fired at Israel will simply be destroyed by fire." It is worth noting that all available evidence points to the fact that no Katyusha was fired by the Lebanese resistance from Qana before the bombing.

Among Israel's staunch Zionist supporters in the West, the same "talking points" were parroted. Harvard academic Alan Dershowitz recently argued [4] that, "Hezbollah and Hamas militants [] are difficult to distinguish from those 'civilians' who recruit, finance, harbor and facilitate their terrorism. Nor can women and children always be counted as civilians, as some organizations do. Terrorists increasingly use women and teenagers to play important roles in their attacks." He concluded saying, "The Israeli army has given well-publicized notice to civilians to leave those areas of southern Lebanon that have been turned into war zones. Those who voluntarily remain behind have become complicit."

Thus the massacre in Qana.

Qana's name is associated with an earlier Israeli massacre. In 1996, during its military offensive codenamed "Grapes of Wrath," Israel's air force bombed a UN shelter in the village, slaying more than 100 civilians, mostly children...

A public fall in a world gone nuts 

from Finchy, who says, "Too bad we'll never get to see Mel Gibson's The Passion II: The Holocaust..."

(Finchy refers to the fact that ABC has dropped Gibson's planned "Holocaust-themed miniseries" in the aftermath of his anti-Semitic tirade.)

Sunday, July 30, 2006

From Israel 

This letter was sent to As'ad AbuKhalil, proprietor of the great "Angry Arab" weblog.

Dear sir,

I live in Israel and I am a Jew. We don't all support the policies of Olmert or the policies of the Labor party either. And many of us grieve for the loss of lives in Lebanon and Palestine just as deeply as you grieve for those lives. I am sorry that this is happening to your country and I hope and pray that your family and friends will be safe and I hope that not one more Palestinian must die for the crimes of the state, the Israeli state.

I would like to leave Israel before my son turns of age where he must serve in the military, I will not have my child be a part of an occupying army. I don't want my child to have the guilt of the death of your loved ones or of Palestinians on his heart.

Please know that we are all not like the thugs that visit your blog and say cruel and callous things. I abhor the messages they leave on your blog and they are not representative of Judaism. Zionism is not Judaism. One day the Jews around the world will realize this fact and I hope that when they beg you and Palestinians for forgiveness that you will forgive them for the spiritual malaise that has afflicted them.

In peace and in solidarity,

The "thugs" are the many hate-filled psychopaths, both anti-Jewish and anti-Arab (though more of the latter), who frequent the comment threads at this website. I was heartened, however, to see that many of the regular Muslim and Arab readers/commenters expressed heartfelt appreciation of this letter. There were also, inevitably, many thuggish responses immediately posted, including the following: "Don't forget--there were some Jews who collaborated with the Nazis, even in the concentration camps themselves. The e-mail you posted represented one of their descendents--ideologically if not biologically."


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