Thursday, January 01, 2009

new year offering 

If 2008 was the year of the voting booth, here's hoping 2009 is the year of the streets.

To ring it in, here's the always excellent David Harvey's take on the current financial crisis.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Source of rockets 

We are told that "Hamas" has been attacking Israel. The following is a description of the actuality of the "Hamas" that is the supposed "enemy" of the state of Israel:

“It is an unfolding humanitarian catastrophe that each day poses the entire 1.5 million Gazans to an unspeakable ordeal, to a struggle to survive in terms of their health,” Falk [Richard Falk, former Princeton professor, rapporteur to the U.N. on Gaza, recently imprisoned for 24 hours an expelled from Israel] has said of the ongoing Israeli blockade of Gaza. “This is an increasingly precarious condition. A recent study reports that 46 percent of all Gazan children suffer from acute anemia. There are reports that the sonic booms associated with Israeli overflights have caused widespread deafness, especially among children. Gazan children need thousands of hearing aids. Malnutrition is extremely high in a number of different dimensions and affects 75 percent of Gazans. There are widespread mental disorders, especially among young people without the will to live..."

Before the air assaults, Gaza spent 12 hours a day without power, which can be a death sentence to the severely ill in hospitals. Most of Gaza is now without power. There are few drugs and little medicine, including no cancer or cystic fibrosis medication. Hospitals have generators but often lack fuel. Medical equipment, including one of Gaza’s three CT scanners, has been destroyed by power surges and fluctuations. Medical staff cannot control the temperature of incubators for newborns. And Israel has revoked most exit visas, meaning some of those who need specialized care, including cancer patients and those in need of kidney dialysis, have died. Of the 230 Gazans estimated to have died last year because they were denied proper medical care, several spent their final hours at Israeli crossing points where they were refused entry into Israel. The statistics gathered on children—half of Gaza’s population is under the age of 17—are increasingly grim. About 45 percent of children in Gaza have iron deficiency from a lack of fruit and vegetables, and 18 percent have stunted growth.

“It is macabre,” Falk said of the blockade. “I don’t know of anything that exactly fits this situation. People have been referring to the Warsaw ghetto as the nearest analog in modern times.”

“There is no structure of an occupation that endured for decades and involved this kind of oppressive circumstances,” the rapporteur added. “The magnitude, the deliberateness, the violations of international humanitarian law, the impact on the health, lives and survival and the overall conditions warrant the characterization of a crime against humanity. This occupation is the direct intention by the Israeli military and civilian authorities. They are responsible and should be held accountable.”

More from Chris Hedges.

UPDATE: Important information from Bernard at Tiny Revolution:

The military operation in Gaza is the brainchild of Israel's defense minister Ehud Barak. He is trying to become Prime Minister again but he is facing three major obstacles along the way: one is the head of Kadima, Tzipi Livni, the second is Bibi Netanyahu...

Barak's road to the PM's office runs through Gaza. He's prepared this assault for months. The truce (the "tahdiya" or "calm") was fairly effective. It was violated unilaterally by Israel on Nov 4th, a day when, if you remember, Americans were a bit distracted. The chart below (h/t) shows how the number of rocket attacks against Israel went down but not how the siege of Gaza was tightened. [The chart shows that the Qassam attacks went from about 200/mo. to about 5/mo. for all July, August, September, and October -- even as the blockade of Gaza was tightening.]

What Israel negotiated with Hamas was this -- oh sorry, I forgot that Israel does not negotiate with terrorists. I meant to say what Israel got Egypt to tell Hamas it agreed to was this: No Qassams, openings of border crossings (Sufa, Karni, Rafah): that was the deal in June. The blockade of Gaza was not eased. On the contrary. On Nov 5th, Israel sealed Gaza completely. The tahdiya was dead.

Clear analysis of Gaza terror 

Seaumus Milne:

Israel's decision to launch its devastating attack on Gaza on a Saturday was a "stroke of brilliance", the country's biggest selling paper Yediot Aharonot crowed: "the element of surprise increased the number of people who were killed". The daily Ma'ariv agreed: "We left them in shock and awe".

...Hamas and the Palestinians of Gaza are held responsible for what has been visited upon them. How could any government not respond with overwhelming force to the constant firing of rockets into its territory, the Israelis demand, echoed by western governments and media.

But that is to turn reality on its head. Like the West Bank, the Gaza Strip has been - and continues to be - illegally occupied by Israel since 1967. Despite the withdrawal of troops and settlements three years ago, Israel maintains complete control of the territory by sea, air and land. And since Hamas won the Palestinian elections in 2006, Israel has punished its 1.5 million people with an inhuman blockade of essential supplies, backed by the US and the European Union.

Like any occupied people, the Palestinians have the right to resist, whether they choose to exercise it or not. [That means they have the right, under any common understanding of international law, to launch Qassam rockets, and more, at Sderot -- but to say that such action is legal is not to say that it is morally justified. -- s.c.]

But there is no right of defence for an illegal occupation - there is an obligation to withdraw comprehensively. During the last seven years, 14 Israelis have been killed by mostly homemade rockets fired from the Gaza Strip, while more than 5,000 Palestinians were killed by Israel with some of the most advanced US-supplied armaments in the world. And while no rockets are fired from the West Bank, 45 Palestinians have died there at Israel's hands this year alone. The issue is of course not just the vast disparity in weapons and power, but that one side is the occupier, the other the occupied.

Hamas is likewise blamed for last month's breakdown of the six-month tahdi'a, or lull. But, in a weary reprise of past ceasefires, it was in fact sunk by Israel's assassination of six Hamas fighters in Gaza on 5 November and its refusal to lift its siege of the embattled territory as expected under an Egyptian-brokered deal. The truth is that Israel and its western sponsors have set their face against an accommodation with the Palestinians' democratic choice and have instead thrown their political weight, cash and arms behind a sustained attempt to overthrow it.

The complete failure of that approach has brought us to this week's horrific pass. Israeli leaders believe they can bomb Hamas into submission with a "decisive blow" that will establish a "new security environment" - and boost their electoral fortunes in the process before Barack Obama comes to office. [It is important to remember that some of them actually believe in, and stimulate themselves with the utterance of, such demented language-sounds as "new security environment" -- s.c.]

But as with Israel's disastrous assault on Lebanon two years ago - or its earlier siege of Yasser Arafat's PLO in Beirut in 1982 - it is a strategy that cannot succeed. Even more than Hezbollah, Hamas's appeal among Palestinians and beyond doesn't derive from its puny infrastructure, or even its Islamist ideology, but its spirit of resistance to decades of injustice. So long as it remains standing in the face of this onslaught, its influence will only be strengthened. And if it is not with rockets, its retaliation is bound to take other forms, as Hamas's leader Khalid Mish'al made clear at the weekend.

Meanwhile, the US and Israeli-backed Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has been further diminished by being seen as having colluded in the Israeli assault on his own people - as has the already rock-bottom credibility of the Egyptian regime. What is now taking place in the Palestinian territories is a futile crime in which the US and its allies are deeply complicit - and unless Obama is prepared to change course, it is likely to have bitter consequences that will touch us all.

Track, Trig...Tripp 

TPM pretty much sums it up with this title:

Palin's daughter gives birth to son named Tripp

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

things deserved 

Zbig slaps Scarborough around:

"You have such a stunningly superficial knowledge of what went on that it's almost embarrassing to listen to you."


Happy New Year's, via Quee Queg, from the Purity Ball.

Monday, December 29, 2008


The strategically pointless massacres by Israel are an attempt to deny what the Israelis themselves cannot escape knowing: the state of Israel as currently constituted is finished. Zionism is over, a sad delusion that has now become a screaming joke. There is nothing left for Israel to do except turn over the land it rules to the people who live there.

The policy founded on the denial of these inescapable facts is a policy of ethnic cleansing. This is not genocide, but it is the attempt to erase the collective existence of Palestinians in Israel. The explicit goal of this policy -- stated many times -- is to make life intolerable for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Gaza is a starving prison, deliberately deprived for years now of power and water. If I lived there, I'd try to attach myself to the first Qassam rocket headed toward Sderot.

The Israeli policy is to make life unlivable for Palestinians, to wait, and to enlist the collaboration of the PLO, Egypt, Jordan, and the rest of the slavish America-funded Arab kleptocracies in the slow elimination of Palestinians as an identifiable group interested in defending itself and in having a future.

It has been obvious for at least 20 years that the "settlers" are too numerous and entrenched to be removed, and that much of Jerusalem is in fact a "settlement." The only "solution" that allows Israel to survive as presently constituted while also avoiding civil war with the "settlers" is slowly to assimilate the West Bank and to disappear the Palestinians in reservations, camps, and coerced emigration.

But Israel half-consciously knows that the Palestinians aren't going to disappear and certainly aren't going to forget. And Israel know that Israelis themselves cannot forget what Israel is doing. And it knows, too, that what it is doing is inseparable from what it has done from the beginning -- which is to deny the reality of Palestinians.

At first, the denial seemed to work, and Israel and its supporters were able to believe in the ethical claims of Zionism. Now, the denial is becoming more and more costly, and more and more impossible to believe. The current attempt to "assert itself" is Israel's attempt to distract itself from the inescapable reality of Palestinians -- the reality not of Palestinian terrorists or Palestinian military organizations or Palestinian enemy governments, but of Palestinians, as such.

Israel would like to have an enemy, a "threat to its existence" as is seen in Iran, etc. But that is not what the Palestinians are. They are not a threat to Israel. They are the actual proof that Israel is done for, and has been for a long time.

Israel is trying to make this a war. But the very aimlessness of the massacres makes explicit what Israel already knows -- that there is no war to fight. There is no enemy. There are only the Palestinians, the human beings who live under Israeli rule and who delegitimize Israel as a state by doing so.


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