Posts Tagged ‘Lebanon’

the "enemy" bombs... but you of course, don't react, do you?

the “enemy” bombs… but you of course, don’t react, do you?

WRITTEN BY LORENZO TROMBETTA, translated by Mary Rizzo

No open warfare is about to break out in the Middle East. And no balance status quo in place for decades is about to get off kilter. The Syrian regime has no intention of responding militarily to the alleged air raid carried out by Israeli fighter jets just two steps away from Damascus against a target, the nature of which is still uncertain. The Israeli action is only indirectly linked to the dynamics of the ongoing internal conflict in Syria and is not intended to be followed by any other actions in the short term.

In the night between Tuesday 29 and Wednesday 30 January, an “unprecedented explosion” was heard by the inhabitants of Jamraya and Hamma, located halfway between Damascus and the Lebanese border. The sources speak of a blast that was “much more powerful than those heard in the past” and a fire broke out inside the Science and Research Centre, protected on three sides by land controlled by the armed forces.

Israeli press sources indicated in that same area the target of the raid. But diplomats and intelligence (anonymous) affirm that what had been struck was a convoy of missiles destined for Hezbollah in Lebanon, the allies of Damascus who effectively control large portions of territory across the border.

In a statement, the Syrian government has admitted the Israeli bombing, saying it targeted a research centre and in the attack and two employees died. At this point, there is insufficient information available and provided by unidentified sources, the reconstructions are biased and contradictory.

What is certain is that for days the Israeli air force had stepped up patrols over the skies of Lebanon. A fact confirmed by the Ministry of Defence in Beirut and the UN force deployed in southern Lebanon.

The rise of the Israeli security measures was a result of the claims made by the authorities of the Jewish State about the danger of the chemical weapons in the possession of the Syrian regime possibly falling into the hands of its allies, Hezbollah. For Israel, they are the real enemy at the gates.

The Syria of the Assads for decades has not constituted a real threat to Israel’s security. Indeed, as has been repeatedly stated in a direct and an indirect way by Israeli politicians, the permanence in power of President Bashar al Assad is a guarantee and not a danger to the Jewish state. Which has never hidden the fact that it prefers its best enemy to the unknown.

Signals that no war is about to break out in the region also come from the two main allies of Damascus: Hezbollah verbally condemned the raid yet,  in spite of having ample means to do so, it did nothing to prevent the Israeli fighter jets from bombing a target just miles away from the Syrian capital.

Israeli planes went in – confirmed the defense ministry in Beirut – by Naqura, on the sea, and in a north-easternly direction, have gone through almost all of the Beqaa valley passing right over the inner defense lines, deposits and training camps of the Shiite militia. If Hezbollah really wanted to protect its ally – and unleash a new war with Israel – it could use at least one of the twenty thousand missiles said to be in possession of the pro-Iranian movement.

And if Israel wanted to support the Syrian anti-regime rebels – which is the argument of the supporters of Assad, raising hue and cry of a foreign conspiracy led by the Zionists – they not merely would bomb a sole objective, and almost two years after the start of the uprising, but they would have long ago started a campaign on several fronts to accelerate the fall of Assad

Iran, for its part, had in recent days said that “any attack on Syria will be considered an attack on Iran.” But from the declaration of condemnation in the latest hours from Tehran – by the Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs and Minister of Defense – it is clear that the Islamic Republic will not act militarily in the rescue of its historic Arab ally.

The Syrian government – through the ambassador in Beirut, not the president Assad says that it reserves the right to respond to the vile aggression, but it will do it by way of surprise. As if the surprise effect was an exception in this type of action and not the norm.

The difficult position of the Syrian regime is put in these hours is further laid bare by the finding – reported not only by expert analysts but by the simplest of men in the street in Syria – that no Syrian military aircraft rose in the air to protect the country from an Israeli raid.

And that the Damascys avatiation  will not be used against the “enemy” but will continue to be used against field hospitals where injured are crowded beyond belief, bakeries before which stretch lines of women and children, and mosques which are the refuges of displaced families. (Limesonline, January 31, 2013).

http://www.sirialibano.com/short-news/siria-israele-business-as-usual.html

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Israeli drilling plans

As a little flotilla passes overhead, the Leviathan Reservoir slumbers deep below. A vast oil and gas deposit, little has been said about it in the American press since its existence was confirmed in 2010. But Israel is ecstatic, Lebanon is vigilant and Gaza is getting screwed.

Job 3:8 “Let them curse it …who are ready to raise up a leviathan,” i.e. necromancers who rouse and control wild beasts at will… In Isaiah 27:1; “leviathan  the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked (wriggling) serpent,” (Gleaned from Bible-history.com.)

“In Israel’s deep waters, in virgin territory, a monster natural gas discovery has been made.” Noble Energy CEO Charles Davidson.

“With Israel suddenly awash in gas… the discoveries put Israel on the global energy map long dominated by oil-rich nations in the Middle East.” Houston Chronicle  Jan. 5, 2010.

According to Press TV (June 18,) Noble Energy was granted permission by Israeli officials to begin developing a natural gas field off the Gaza Strip coastline. Israel’s Ministry of National Infrastructure is claiming the shortage/disruption of natural gas from Egypt is the reason it granted approval.

That Israel has any right to Palestine’s resources is negated by UN Resolution 3005 states clearly that the natural wealth and resources of the Gaza Strip are to be controlled by the citizens of Gaza.

Kanan Pbeid, a Gaza Energy expert was quoted in the Press TV article saying: “This is nothing but theft of Palestinian’s natural resources. Palestinians are the only ones who should benefit from natural gas reserves.”

But the Gaza deposits are only part of a huge gas and oil reservoir that Israel is trying to claim as its own.

The Leviathan Reservoir lies within the Levant Basin Province (LBP), which itself lies under the continental shelf off the eastern Mediterranean coast. Estimates of the gas deposits within the LBP run to 16 trillion cubic feet and are worth an approximately $95 billion. It’s the largest natural gas discovery anywhere in the last ten years.

The Israelis already have, among others, an active drill site located 129 kilometers (80 miles) off Haifa. It dwarfs the discovery of the Tamar 1 drill site 47 kilometers (29 miles) to the southeast. That reserve is estimated to be worth US $15 billion.

These realities may also explain why Israel is attempting to keep prying eyes away from the deep-water sites. Is that one reason why the IDF boarded the Free Gaza flotilla in international waters, waters it’s trying to claim according to its interpretation of International Maritime Law? Does a closer inspection show that Israel is also disregarding International Maritime borders on top of those it’s ignoring in Palestine?

there's gas in them thar waters....

The accompanying United States Geological Survey (USGS) map shows the Levant Basin Province layout published Dec. 29, 2010. To access the full report look for “Assessment of Undiscovered Oil and Gas Resources of the Levant Basin Province, Eastern Mediterranean” at the USGS site. A rough triangle, LBP is divided into three groups of subterranean rock and encompasses 83,000 square kilometers or 51,573 square miles.

The USGS actually discovered the untapped field before 2008, but it was the publication of the above Assessment and the “simultaneous discovery” of productive drill sites that caused the excitement in 2010. Because the drill sites are off the Israeli coast, Israel and the funding consortium are acting on the assumption that Israel has pretty much exclusive access to the shelf’s resources. They point to Israeli-issued extraction licenses granted to the Matan and Dalit /Michal drill sites as their legal basis to develop and drill. Israel and Cyprus are also in talks about development rights.

The Leviathan consortium is a joint venture between the Houston based Noble Energy Inc. and the Israeli companies Delek Group Ltd. Isramco, Dor Oil, Avner Oil and Ratio Oil Exploration. With certain stipulations, this consortium already accounts for approximately half of Israel’s oil and gas recovery activity. Other Israeli companies, such as Zion Oil, are also players with drill sites near the Dead Sea among others.

Some of the CEOs of these companies have strong fundamentalist Christians and Hassidic views. Devoutly religious, they readily admit applying their religious views to their work, viewing the discoveries as Yahweh’s “Blessing on Israel” to allow it to be energy independent. Others are more business oriented and plan on exporting to Europe and/or Asian.

What the Leviathan reserve will eventually yield in benefits to Israeli is being furiously debated. The Tamar gas site alone could generate annual revenues of NIS 2-3 billion in the next 30 years. The Israeli government commissioned Sheshinski Committee recommended the income be used to retire Israel’s external debt.

However! Despite the jubilation in Israeli financial markets over the country’s future prosperity, there are a couple flies in the ointment.

Within a week of the announcement in 2010, Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Aki al-Shami asked U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to “exert every possible effort to prevent Israel exploiting Lebanon’s maritime hydrocarbon resources, which fall within its exclusive economic zone.”

The United Nations rejected this appeal not on lack of merit but because the UNIFIL’s mandate under resolution 1701: “does not include the demarcation of maritime borders. National conflicts and maritime conflicts are two separate things.”

That means the case passes to the appropriate commission, perhaps the International Maritime Organization, which is mandated by the UN to handle legal matters pertaining to international shipping or perhaps under a wing of the courts in The Hague. There are legal avenues.

The Levant Basin Province situated on the Eurasian-Arabian-African continental plate intersection is 51,573 square miles, hardly within the internationally recognized maritime borders of 12 miles from the shore of any country. There was an effort in the late 20th century to extent this maritime border to 400 miles but was never adopted due to problems related to contiguous national borders in Europe and the like.

According the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and using its map as a visualization tool, the Levant Basin Province starts in a sharp point under the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula close to the Israeli border and runs up the Levant Transform Zone through Israel, Lebanon and Syria as it bumps against the Jordan Rift Valley on the east. It ends inland from the Turkish coast then juts out in a triangle reaching into the Mediterranean and into Cyprus’ territorial island waters. The last leg of the triangle shoots south in a wide curve under the Mediterranean until it rejoins the Sinai point. It’s divided into three sub-strata reserves.

The Levant Margin Reservoirs western edge runs north/south a mile or so off the shores of Israel, Lebanon and Syria. Its land mass is pushed upward causing the ripples that form the hills of Jerusalem and the Lebanon Mountains until they bump into the Jordan Valley It contains mostly natural gas and some oil.

The Levant Sub-salt Reservoirs are under deep water and abuts the Levant Margin Reservoir off the Lebanese, Syrian and Turkish shores then fans west to Cyprus. It holds the best oil and much of the natural gas of the entire Levant Reservoirs.

Adjoining it and formed by the rising seabed and shallower waters, the Plio-Pleistocene Reservoir begins at the Lebanon/Israeli border, reaches west to the Eratosthemes Seamount south of Cyprus then turns southeast to travel the Nile Delta Cone to the Sinai Peninsula. In shallow waters, it contains mostly gas and some oil. The Levant Margin Reservoirs contains oil and gas fields. The Plio-Pleistocene Reservoirs includes eight gas fields, and the Levant Sub-Salt Reservoirs have two discoveries (Tamar, Datil). This accounting does not include development sites at the proposed Leviathan drill site or elsewhere.

Israel claims the Tamar and Leviathan drill sites are within Israel’s coastal territory and therefore theirs to exploit. However a look at the USGS map shows a roughly even split at the Lebanon/Israeli border of the Plio-Pleistocene and Levant Sub-Salt Reservoir vast amount of coastal territory belongs to Lebanon.

Then there’s Palestine. For years Israel has tapped into the oil/gas reserves off the northeast tip of Gaza and which were once part of the Palestinian territories. British Gas drilled two wells: the Gaza Marine-1 and Gaza Marine-2. These fields are estimated to be worth at $4 billion.

“I think,” Haidar Eid, a political analyst said in the Press TV article, “this comes in line with Israel’s consistent policy of stealing Palestinian’s land,
stealing natural resources and I think that Israel knows very well that it can get away with murder due to an international conspiracy of silence.”

The truth is, according to epalestine.com, Gaza is sitting on a major gas field contain an estimated 1.4 trillion cubic feet of gas. In addition Palestine has an oil reserve 22 miles off the Gaza Strip. There is no reason, except for Israeli greed, that Palestine couldn’t achieve self-sufficiency when it is recognized as an independent state.

www.presstv.ir/detail/184762.html

USGS/ Assessment of Undiscovered
Oil/Levant Basin Province

World Petroleum
Resources Project

Jubliant Americans

News during the last couple of weeks has rumbled in to shake an already rickety balance of world order. Perhaps one of the most disturbing images accompanying those headlines, though, was not that of more bruised and bulleted bodies. Rather, the image was of what the Associated Press termed a ‘jubilant crowd’. As though they had just won the World Cup Final, Americans waved flags as they sang and chanted their patriotic celebration.

Osama Bin Laden, they had just been told, had been shot dead. After nearly a decade-long manhunt, he had finally been pounced upon in Pakistan. The crowd cheered. And when President Obama made the official announcement, he coaxed the nation to cheer the same; he concluded by quoting the American pledge of allegiance:

‘Let us remember that we can do these things not just because of wealth or power, but because of who we are: one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all’.

‘Indivisible’. In this one word lies the notion that has fed American policy for many, many years: united we stand-divided they fall.

This is the disturbing aspect about the spectacle that accompanied a political assassination. The power that drives the ruin of lives has been reduced to a sports-style competition. The longstanding game strategy has become brazen: (1) unite ourselves to challenge a common enemy-of-the-day, (2) keep all designated enemies splintered with hostilities, and then (3) exploit the resulting instability. A 2005 report called ‘Dividing Our Enemies’, a report produced by the US Special Operations Command, admits frankly: ‘exploiting the rivalries or animosities among the insurgent bands clearly meets our goals’.

By way of example, just last month President Obama gave a speech stressing the importance of strengthening the nation by all working together. Meanwhile, American leaders were bristling at the renewed rumours of an impending reconciliation between the Fatah and Hamas parties of Palestine. They then promptly issued threats to cut off American support to the Palestinians should the Palestinians choose to work together themselves.

Within days, twenty-seven US Senators formerly demanded that President Obama ‘stand by its refusal to work with any Palestinian government that includes Hamas’. The Senators declared:

‘It is imperative for you [President Obama] to make clear to President Abbas that Palestinian Authority participation in a unity government with an unreformed Hamas will jeopardize its relationship with the United States, including its receipt of U.S. aid’.

Why had political support and financial aid been offered in the first place? Clearly not to facilitate a stable government of national unity. Repeatedly over the years, whenever the Palestinians have expressed their own unity, they have been rebuked for seeking their own terms of agreement. Only those Palestinians who were willing to abide by the terms of the Western “Israeli” Alliance were welcome.

This American pattern of provoking and prolonging internal hostilities amongst strategically targeted populations has been played out time and again in the Middle East. With protecting its “Israeli” project in the forefront, successive American governments have spared no effort to tame the Palestinians and Lebanese. Being unprocurable, Lebanon was played. From the 1950’s onward, relentless political manipulation and violent interference ensued.

Just as they had with the Palestinians, American governments offered political support and financial aid to select Lebanese-but only as a means of leverage. In the run-up to the Lebanese national election of 2009, for example, US Vice President Biden warned that his government would assess its willingness to continue aid to Lebanon ‘based on the composition of the new [Lebanese] government and the policies it advocates’. Years of open hostility toward Lebanese parties supportive of the Resistance clarified beyond any doubt what he meant.

Yet again in January 2011, the US cautioned that it ‘would have great concerns about a government within which Hizbullah plays a leading role’ and warned once again it could cut off aid, that tantalising carrot dangled in the faces of those pursued as strategic allies. A game played by house rules. But when the so-called assistance is bartered not for peace and stability, but solely for the political gain of the lender, then the role of the international community has gone terribly wrong.

Eleven years ago this month, the Lebanese thwarted the strategy of the Western “Israeli” Alliance to divide and conquer. The Lebanese Resistance rejected the presence of American-paid mercenaries and liberated its land from military occupation. The Resistance liberated its people from the dictum of imposed division. In so doing, the Resistance confirmed that the right to a durable national unity is not the prerogative of the Western world.

In similar fashion, the various calls for reform we are witnessing today in the Arab world are calls for integrity. They are resistance to a state divided from its people, resistance to a people divided from each other, and resistance to foreign states imposing their own agendas. In particular, the eagerness of the Palestinian and Lebanese peoples to achieve national unity is a key element of this developing global balance. Yet their eagerness has not been cheered; instead, it has been routinely met with stern disapproval from America-the self-proclaimed champion of united patriotism.

The concept of national unity, whether Arab or Western, should guide and grow with its people. It should be built on what is right about its own people-and not on what it perceives to be wrong about another. If we are ever to establish peaceful relations, the role of the international community is to be an honest broker in the pursuit of mutual benefit. When lives are at stake, it is simply not a game.

Brenda Heard is Founder of Friends of Lebanon, London. Details of the Lebanese Resistance & Liberation Day event in London, 25 May, ‘Reform as Resistance: emerging independence within the Arab world’ can be found here.

http://www.english.moqawama.org/essaydetails.php?eid=14083&cid=269

The arms of the Resistance, it has been suggested, should be abandoned as a matter of principle.  ‘From now on’, explains Caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri, ‘the possession of weapons, decision of war and peace, and defending the country should only be under the state’s control’.  Political principles, it would seem, can be slippery.  ‘From now on’?  Perhaps this disclaimer is meant to ease the turnabout from the Hariri-Ministerial Cabinet Statement issued just over a year ago:

‘Based on the Cabinet’s responsibility to preserve Leba­non’s sovereignty, its independence, unity and the safety of its land, the government underscores Lebanon’s right through its people, army and resistance to liberate or regain authority of Shebaa Farms, Kfarshouba hills and the occupied part of Ghajar village and defend the country against any aggression’.

For the sake of argument, however, let us set aside the dictates of political expediency.  Let us look at the reality of what this stance entails. 

The crux of the grievance being voiced these days is that the Lebanese Army should have exclusive domain over national defence.  The grievance asserts that the Islamic Resistance of Hezbollah has usurped this privilege for its own advancement.  The puzzling bit of this accusation, however, is that it is being raised not by the Army—but by various politicians.

In contrast to the opinions of the 14th of March personalities, the Lebanese Army has for over twenty-five years maintained an efficient working relationship with the Resistance.  The developments in Lebanon over the past six years have left this harmony stronger than ever.  Building on the firm, longstanding commitment exhibited by Generals Michel Aoun and Emile Lahoud, the Lebanese Army remains a proud partner of the Resistance. 

When Lebanese Army General Michel Sleiman took on the role of President in 2008, he carried with him the experience to judge the elements required for an adequate national defence.  He stated that the success of the Resistance in defeating the occupier was ‘achieved by virtue of the support granted by the Lebanese people, the State, and the Lebanese Army’.  Such success notwithstanding, he continued,

‘the enemy’s persistence in threatening to violate our sovereignty imposes upon us to elaborate a defensive strategy that will safeguard the country concomitantly with a calm dialogue to benefit from the capacities of the Resistance in order to better serve this strategy.  Accordingly, we will manage to avoid depreciating the achievements of the Resistance in internal conflicts and subsequently we will safeguard its values and national position’.

President Sleiman reiterated his conviction just weeks ago in response to Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak’s warning that Israeli military may invade Lebanon yet again.  Barak ‘knows full well’, said Sleiman, ‘ that entering Lebanon is no longer a walk in the park.  The defence minister’s threat to send his forces into Lebanon again shows premeditated intentions of aggression.  The Lebanese people, army and resistance are ready to respond to any such aggression.’

President Sleiman’s confidence in the existing defence framework is shared by the head of the Lebanese Army, General Jean Kahwagi.  Addressing his troops last year, he advised them to ‘cling to the will of steadfastness and confrontation and to benefit from all the Lebanese capabilities residing in the capacities of the Army, the people and the Resistance as well as from the presence of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon and its support’. 

Whereas the stance currently adopted by the 14th of March campaigners clearly resents the ability of the Resistance, General Kahwagi  openly describes all contributions toward the national defence as honourable:

‘Let us look with veneration and respect at the souls of our pious martyrs, whether soldiers, citizens or resistance fighters, who fell while defending their country. . . and drew with their innocent blood the path of dignity and liberation for a country that we can be proud of in front of the whole world since we are its true and loyal protectors’.

As the Israeli media grins at the banners being  waved in Beirut that read ‘We want only the arms of the Lebanese army’, again it becomes imperative to look at the reality of what this stance entails.  

The Lebanese Army remains committed to a cooperative national defence, to a formula of the Army, the people and the Resistance.  Just days ago, General Kahwagi reiterated:

‘The Lebanese Army abides by this formula since it is part of the decisions and guidance of the political authority represented by the Cabinet and it is totally convinced by this formula since experience has proved its primary role in liberating the greater part of south Lebanon and western Bekaa from Israeli enemy occupation in addition to its role in defeating this enemy in the war of July 2006 and in safeguarding Lebanon in these days’.

A system of mutual support has evolved.  To disallow the arms of the Resistance would be to arbitrarily disregard the consistent evaluation of the Army’s top leaders.  This is nonsensical.  Such a suggestion would leave Lebanon vulnerable; of this there is no doubt.  The only conclusion, then, is that such a suggestion is either gross negligence or wilfull acceptance of Lebanon’s being engulfed.   We have to wonder whether the current swirl of rhetoric over who gets to be commander-of-the-day has more to do with protection or politics.  If both the acting Army General and the President, a former Army General, embrace the contributions of the Resistance, then the state of Lebanon is already well in control of its defence. 

 By Brenda Heard For www.english.moqawama.org

Originally posted at http://www.english.moqawama.org/essaydetails.php?eid=13640&cid=269 

Things that do not require a tribunal in Lebanon (picture by Amelia Opainska)

Al Jazeera reported yesterday that judges and lawyers at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), ostensibly established to prosecute the perpetrators of the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, “have begun discussions on how to define the crime of ‘terrorism’ as listed in a draft indictment”.

Opposition to the politicization of the STL, which appears to be concerned with prosecuting certain groups and not others, led to the collapse of the Lebanese government in January.

According to the Al Jazeera website:

International lawyers have wrangled for years without arriving at a single definition for the crime of terrorism, but prosecutors and defence lawyers at the tribunal agreed on Monday to apply the definition as stated in Lebanese law, which the tribunal already uses.

‘There is no reason to go further and create an overarching, worldwide, universal definition,’ Iain Morley, a lawyer for the prosecution, said.

But he sought to refine the definition they will use at future trials, arguing that it was unnecessary to prove a political motive for a terrorist act.

He proposed his own definition of terrorism as an act by which ‘a substantial section of the public reasonably and significantly fears more than momentarily from the present onward indiscriminate personal harm’”.

I’d be willing to bet that a more substantial section of the Lebanese public feared impending indiscriminate personal harm during and after the July 2006 Israeli war on Lebanon—waged in part via rush shipments of American weapons to Israel and resulting in the elimination of over 1200 people, mostly civilians, in the country—than after the elimination of Hariri and 22 others.

As for assassination-related fear, there was presumably some of this in 1985 when CIA-trained operatives attempted to dispense with Shiite cleric Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah in Beirut. Fadlallah survived; approximately 80 civilians, including a number of women and children, did not. It is meanwhile unclear why the Hariri assassination should be considered any more fear-inducing than the decades of Lebanese political assassinations that have not prompted special tribunals.

Dr. Omar Nashabe, editor of the justice section at Lebanon’s Al-Akhbar newspaper, gave an excellent speech in London last month on the subject of the STL in which he pointed out that current Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has boasted of his participation in assassinations in Lebanon in 1973. One more reason not to issue an “overarching, worldwide, universal definition” of the word terrorism.

http://pulsemedia.org/2011/02/08/on-indiscriminate-personal-harm-in-lebanon/

The people of the Middle East could learn more about modern democracy from the anti-war camp, and not from former president Bush and his ‘coalition of the willing’, the very anti-Christ of democracy, writes Mamoon Alabbasi.

 
– “Those dirty A-rabs don’t deserve democracy. We give them freedom and they kill our troops. We should nuke them all in their shit-hole.”

-“Bring our troops home. What are they doing dying in some far away land trying to bring democracy to people who don’t want it?”

-“We Arabs are not yet ready for democracy. We need strong authoritarian governments to keep the peace and ensure economic growth.”

-“We should be grateful to the Americans. They got rid of our dictator and brought us democracy.”

-“Is this democracy? Is this freedom? The Americans killed all my family and destroyed my house. If this democracy, I tell you my brother, we don’t want it!”

Such comments and their likes are unfortunately not uncommon among some Americans and Iraqis regarding the US-led invasion of Iraq. Whether American or Iraqi, pro-war or anti-war, one fallacy lies at the bottom of their reasoning: that somehow ‘democracy’ had anything to do with the Iraq war.

Not that possessing WMDs was ever – objectively – enough reason to subject the whole of Iraq to so much senseless destruction; but since it became clear that the only real threat Iraq posed was to itself, the rhetoric had shifted into saving Iraqis from themselves by bringing onto them good old (well, in human history it isn’t actually that old) democracy.

But the fact is, that was never the case. Not in Iraq and certainly not in the region. Not in 2003 and most definitely not before that. After the fall of Baghdad, there were no serious moves to install democracy. Instead, US policies were channelled to inflame the sectarian divide.

After 12 years of merciless US-backed sanctions, all Iraq needed was one small push to descend into total chaos. Yet many Iraqis still waited to see what the US would offer. What they got was complete absence of security, hundreds of thousands of jobs losses, and death and torture at the hands of US forces with the help of some ‘favoured’ Iraqis.

That’s where the seeds of sectarianism had been sown. Instead of promoting reconciliation and unity, the US played a classic ‘divide and rule’ game in Iraq and drew the new Iraq – politically – along sectarian lines.

Militarily, Iraqis who had friends or family members killed or tortured by US forces in the presence (or under the advice) of other Iraqis weren’t always strong enough to punish the Americans so they took vengeance on their fellow Iraqis. The result? A cycle of vengeance that could have been averted.

Meanwhile, on the ‘democracy’ front, we had one segment of the population relatively prepared for campaigning whilst the other barely struggling to stay alive let alone take part in elections. Who would they vote for? How can you have fair elections when all your potential candidates are in hiding for fear of being killed or detained and tortured? Voting may (or may not) have been free, but who would one vote for if his/her choice is not on the list that is approved by the powers that be?

Adding to the confusion, Iraqis were requested to approve a constitution that most of whom have not even had the chance to read, let alone contemplate. ‘Imported’ from the US and released only five days before its referendum date, the new constitution caused further divisions in Iraq. In the meantime, new laws continued to be passed despite strong objection from a large segment of the population that was never properly represented in parliament because there never had been free elections in the first place.

All this was taking place with direct US involvement, with a mainly favourable outcome for the war architects. Big money was being made by the invasion’s supporters while ordinary Iraqis were being killed by many unexplainable attacks. Some of a sectarian nature, others just for money; ones blamed on Iran or Israel, while others blamed on Al-Qaeda (which only came to Iraq post-2003 invasion) or on the US military (frequently accused of secretly targeting civilians to discredit the insurgency).

The absolute truth may never be known, but one thing is certain: the US, as an occupying power, was under obligation, according to international law, to protect Iraqis. We all know how well that went. If it can’t – or is unwilling to – assume such responsibility it should have not been there in the first place, and trigger a ‘sectarian domino effect’, in addition to its own acts of murder and torture.

Washington and its allies in right-wing think thanks and mainstream media experts cannot talk of ‘mistakes’ happening when the average person in the street predicted that total chaos (at least) would befall Iraq in the event of an invasion. How can pro-invasion so called ‘experts’, ‘analysts’, and ‘intelligence’ fail to foresee what an average bricklayer in Tunisia predicted?

 

Charity begins at home

In fact, how can the invading countries ‘export’ democracy to Iraq while they were fighting democratic value at home? Why would an Iraqi believe that the US is bringing him/her democracy when he/she sees American citizens gradually being deprived of their rights and freedoms by the Bush administration? They also ignored the loud voices of their own people protesting against the Iraq war.

Saddam Hussein was accused of torture, detaining suspects indefinitely, spying on his own people, silencing journalist critical of his policies, and inciting fear in the hearts of his opponents. And how does that differ – relatively – from the actions of Bush, the ‘decider in chief’? Can anyone say – with a straight face – that Saddam was more of a threat to the American people than Bush himself?

Yet US and European right-wingers, and their ‘political pawns’ in the Middle East continue to speak favourably of so called ‘democracy and freedom interventions’ in the region. Yes, democracy should be vigorously sought in the Middle East (by the people of the region) and yes Americans and Europeans have every reason to be proud of their democracies (despite many shortfalls). But the pro-war establishment has no right to boast of democracy because whatever rights and freedoms ‘western’ societies enjoy today, they were the direct result of people fighting or challenging a similar-natured establishment in former eras. Today’s anti-war camp is the legitimate inheritor of the women’s-rights and the civil-rights movements. They are the rightful heirs of the anti-slavery and later the anti-empire heroes.

The people of the Middle East could learn more about modern democracy from the anti-war camp, and not from former president Bush and his ‘coalition of the willing’, the very anti-Christ of democracy.

What has the Bush administration really done to support democracy in the region?

 

US-backed dictatorships

Despite few lip services to democracy in the Middle East now and then, American foreign policy has always backed Arab dictators to remain in power and oppress their own people. These ‘puppet presidents’ or ‘drag-queen kings’ are kept in power – with US weapons and intelligence – for as long as they continue to serve American interests, not those of their own peoples.

Although mainstream media is not equally kind to them, the truth is often grossly distorted. These leaders are always much more ‘liberal’ than their predominantly conservative societies on social and religious issues. They would only draw a red line when their hold to power is shaken or challenged. But as Bush does with democracy, they often pay lip service to ‘moral values’. And if you believe Bush then you might as well believe them too.

 

War on words

As is the case with all wars, truth was the first causality too in the Iraq war. But as more details emerge regarding the lead up to the invasion, one could say, to a small degree, that the truth is making a slow but sustainable recovery. I wish I could say the same for the English language which was among the early victims of the Bush administration.

Many may laugh at the clumsy language mistakes Bush made during his speeches or when answering questions from the press, but few know that it is really the former US president who had the last laugh. The truth maybe recovering, but the English language is not. The Bush administration may have gone, but twisted right-wing rhetoric still lingers on in most mainstream media outlets.

From that perspective, killing ‘our’ soldiers is ‘terrorism’ yet killing ‘their’ civilians is not. Their actions are ‘barbaric’ but ours are ‘controversial’, etc.

But my concern here is on terms related to governments and politicians. How come Middle Easterners don’t get to have ‘hawks’ and ‘doves’ like their US (and sometime Israeli) counterparts? And why don’t Americans have ‘moderates’, ‘hardliners’ and ‘radicals’ at the Oval office?

More importantly, why are some US-backed Arab dictators who are extremely repressive of their own populations referred to as ‘moderates’? Is it just because they serve the interests of Washington (or Tel Aviv) instead of their own countries? At the same time, those who are brought to power through the ballot box or enjoy extremely wide support among their populations are termed ‘hardliners’ or ‘radicals’ just because they are not in good terms with foreign invading (or occupying) powers.

Who will defend the English language from ‘radical democracies’ and ‘moderate dictatorships’?

 

Iron Iran

Far from being a perfect democracy, Iran today is much closer to realising the wishes of its people than during the era of the ruthless US-backed dictator, the Shah, toppled by the 1979 revolution. Most Iranians today, despite their young age, are also familiar with the role of the US CIA-backed coup against their democratically elected PM in the fifties, Mohammed Mosadaq.

Iranians are in an uphill struggle to have a modern democracy and more freedoms, but the last thing their reformers or rights activists need is foreign interference that would directly discredit them in the eyes of the majority of their people.

The people of Iran, generally fond of ‘western’ societies, remain suspicious of US foreign policy. And amid rumours that neo-conservatives and Christian Zionists seek to nuke their 70- million population, accompanied with serious threats from the Bush administration, their reformist camp took a heavy blow. You have to remember that during World War II even rooted democracies like Britain suspended all democratic activities, and to Iranians the US is still perceived as an enemy that poses an existential threat.

 

Hands off Hamas

I don’t know of any people who have defended their electoral choice with so much blood and sweat (plus hunger and disease) as the people of Palestine following their election of Hamas.

They faced a superpower (US), an occupation power (Israel), propaganda war by pro-Israelis, Islamaphopbes, anti-Arab racists, Arab dictators, self-loathing Muslims, and tag-along opportunists, while being besieged in a tiny overpopulated strip.

They were punished for their votes and yet at the same time were prevented somehow from being represented. It is OK, according to some Rabbis, to kill them because they voted for Hamas, but Hamas, so Israel wishes, must not be seen as representing them. It wasn’t enough to take away their liberty, health and lives; their political and social voices had to be taken away too. And thus Hamas leaders had to be silenced – but should they speak, then the mainstream media is there to distort their views.

So called ‘experts’ and ‘analysts’ would indulge in debates on why Hamas was elected, fruitlessly seeking to undermine their legitimacy, forgetting that in democracies, reasons of voting for one party instead of another does not affect the power that comes from the ballot box.

They often speak of corruption in Fatah or by some members of the Palestinian Authority, without even giving much thought to what that implies. To Palestinians, corruption is not just breaking the law for some financial benefits; it is deeper than that. Many see corruption as selling Palestinian rights to Israel for personal gains; i.e. treason of the first degree.

The people of Palestine had faced many atrocities before; land theft, ethnic cleansing, occupation, bone breaking, imprisonment, tight sieges, and mass murder, among other injustices. But it was only under Bush’s watch that their first ever democracy and electoral choice came under such ruthless attack.

 

Jews-only democracy

No doubt that in many senses of the word, Israel is a democracy. It could be because the whole system was planted there by the ‘west’, like many of its American and European immigrants who settled there during and after the creation of the Jewish state. It also could be the people there reached that wise decision on their own. Nevertheless, whatever the causes and reasons are, the positive aspects of its democracy must be acknowledged.

But it should not pass as something comparable to ‘western’ democracies (not that they make those like they used to anymore). You have to remember a democracy is usually elected by a majority. Yet the majority of the people of that particular land are forced to live in exile.

Imagine if you’d expel the majority of blacks in the US and then when Election Day comes, you’d say to the few that remained that they have a right to vote and they should count their blessings for living in a democracy. You might even want to consider demanding that they’d show their loyalty to you. You didn’t ban anyone from voting, you just prevented them from returning to their rightful homes, making them unable to cast their ballots.

Until the Palestinian refugees’ problem is solved on a just basis, the Jewish state cannot claim to be a true democracy. But what has the Bush administration done to the plight of those estimated six million Palestinian refugees?

Plus, as the US should know, being a democracy at home does not give you the right to be a dictator abroad.

So why was Iraq invaded? Was it for money (oil)? For love (of Israel)? Or just for fame (keeping superpower reputation means teaching others a lesson every now and then)? I am not completely sure, but you can bet your sorry soul it was never about democracy.

Mamoon Alabbasi is an editor for Middle East Online and can be reached via: alabbasi@middle-east-online.com

http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=31257

art by Jorge Arrieta: http://www.popsiclesandgrenades.com/archives/2009/03/beware-peace-democracy-is-coming/

The Jewish War on Gaza and its resultant destruction of the Gaza Strip and the horrible killings of innocent women and children in cold blood and as reported in series of articles in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz and in statements made by UN officials were not surprising since Jewish soldiers are educated and trained to do that, simply kill. And so the total silence of the Jewish community around the world and especially the US Jewish community should not come as a shocking surprise but was and is expected and so their dancing in the streets of New York City as their army was leveling Gaza, destroying homes, schools, hospitals, clinics, and UN supply depot and so their successful push for a an overwhelming resolutions in both House and Senate supporting Israel’s crimes in the name of “self defense”.

Ehud Barak, the Jewish Defense Chief in charge of the War on Gaza had the Chutzpah to declare the Jewish Army as “the most moral army in the world” as he went about justifying the killing and mayhem in Gaza. Of course Ehud Barak is right. The war on Gaza and the War on Lebanon, the many wars on the Arabs, and the crimes committed by his Jewish army are part of a culture, religious and value system that makes killing and murder of Arabs, a moral thing. For sure neither Ehud Barak nor the Jewish communities around the world and especially in the US seems to have heard of the word of the late Chaim Weizmann, the first Jewish president as he warned “ I am certain that the world will judge the Jewish State by what it will do with the Arabs”. Chaim Weizmann had good reasons to worry about how these Jewish settlers of Palestine and how they treat the indigenous inhabitants of Palestine, the Palestinians.

The Jewish State was not founded by peaceful new immigrants seeking refuge and escape from the Pogroms of Russia; it was founded by angry, racist militants committed to ethnically cleansing Palestine from its Arab inhabitants by all means, preferably by military means and cold blooded murder. That philosophy of the past continues today some 100 years later. The Jewish Occupation of 67 not only inspired the Jewish communities around the world, it was the rallying cry of Jews energized and drunk with victory giving Israel total unconditional and unquestionable support for all of its actions and the many wars initiated and engaged in by the Jewish state since 67.

The political, theological and social ideology that inspired the killings in Gaza, is the same that inspired the force expulsion of 700,000 Arabs, the total demolitions of 550 Arab villages, the killings in Deir Yassin, Qibya, Lod, Sabra and Shatilla, Qana I and Qana II, and the same that inspired the dropping of high explosive bombs over the school in Dir Albaqr in Egypt, the same that inspired the dropping of 1.5 million cluster bombs over civilian targets in Lebanon, the same that inspired the dropping of phosphorous bombs over civilian targets in Gaza and bombings of hospitals, schools, homes and mosques.  Such a theological value system also inspired the American Rabbi Baruch Goldstein to gun down dozens and injure more than a hundred Muslim worshipers as they kneeled in early Morning Prayer in the Ibrahimi Mosque (the Tomb of the Patriarchs) in Hebron. This theological philosophy was well explained in an essay titled “Ideology behind the Hebron Massacre” by the late Professor Israel Shahak.

For many Jews, secular or religious, believe that true redemptions comes about through murder and killings of Arabs, such were the views of the late American Jewish Rabbi Meir Kahane proponent of “ extermination of the Arabs as the surest way to bring about “True Redemption of the Jews”. Rabbi Kahane calls on the Jews not fear Gentile but fear God only as “they go about expelling all Arabs from the land of Israel”. This view remains the rallying cry of the Jewish Settlers movements and the Hill Top Jews.

That religious and theological philosophy is the prevailing philosophy of the Gush Emunim, the Jewish Settlers movement benefiting from the large generosity of American Jews especially philanthropic Jews engaged in gambling, prostitution, liquors and Bingo Games and Gods knows what else? According to Ian Lustic, Gush Emunim believe that “Jews are not and cannot be normal people” due the covenant made with God in Mount Sinai.  Rabbi Shlomo Aviner one of their leader believes “while God requires other normal nations to abide by abstract codes of “justice and righteousness” such laws do not apply to Jews”.  Rabbi Israel Ariel was quoted as saying “a Jew who kills a non-Jew is exempt from human judgment, and has not violated the prohibition of murder” Such religious philosophy prevails among the leaders of the Gush Emunim the likes of Rabbi Aviner, Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook, Rabbi Ariel all of whom are of the views that” Arabs living in Palestine are thieves because the land was once Jewish all the property to be found on that land “really” belongs to the Jews”. As such the Arab-Israeli conflict must not be seen as political conflict but a theological conflict that justifies the crimes in Gaza.

Eric H Yoffe in an article titled “Promoting Racism in Israel”  provides a very similar and frightening interpretation of the prevailing views among leading Rabbis especially the explanation of the commandment in Deuteronomy 25:17 where quoting from February 26,1980 article published in Bat Kol, the student paper of Bar-Illan University and titled “ The Mitzvah of Genocide in the Torah” written by Rabbi Israel Hess  where theological justifications for are found for  Killing of babes and sucklings, and forbid the showing of mercy”. This theological view comes from “milchment mitzvah” or war of religious obligations “Jewish Jihad”. Unlike the views held by suicide bombers that God provides them with 70 virgins for killing innocent people, the Jews believe that God Him Self comes down on the side of Jewish soldiers as they engage in cold blooded murder of non-Jews. This view was recently confirmed by Grand Rabbi Joseph Ovadia who claimed as reported in Haaretz that God interfered on the side of the Jewish soldiers during the War on Gaza and telling them where the terrorists were hiding.

In the same article Eric H. Yoffe, reports of exchange between Rabbi Shimon Wiser and one Yeshiva student who is also a member of the Jewish Army where the later (student) concludes “during wartimes I am permitted, even obligated to kill every Arab man and woman who happens across my way. I am obligated to kill them even if this leads to complications with military codes”. It seems this was the prevailing views not only of soldiers, but commanders and civilians leaders as well. It should not be so shocking for American Jews who secured congressional support for their Jewish Army to note the recent testimony of soldiers who reported in certain instances the cold blooded murder of an old Palestinian woman as she drudged alone on a lonely road, or the killings of a women and her children as she confused the orders of going left rather than right.  I am sure such acts of cold blooded murder made those who prepared and shoved the congressional resolutions down the throat of members of Congress very proud and is part of the value system prevailing among Israeli supporters.

This racist and criminal attitude goes toward the views that Palestinians Arabs do not belong and should not belong in Jerusalem, in Jewish towns and cities and certainly not in Israel. Thus the views of politicians the likes of Avigdor Lieberman who is committed to “transfer” of Arabs out of Israel/Palestine, and leading scholars such as Rabbi Elieser Waldenberg, the winner of the 1976 Israel Prize who is of the view that Palestinians, Muslims and Christians should not be allowed to live in Jerusalem and if the Jewish State to follow the covenant with God “it must expel all non Jews from  Jerusalem, in like manner, it is forbidden to us to permit non-Jews to be a majority in any cities among the cities of Israel” (Haaretz, May 9, 1967). Thus the ethnic cleansing of Arabs from Jerusalem has nothing to do with security as claimed, and the recent demolitions of Arab homes in Jerusalem has nothing to do with city regulations and housing codes, but has every thing to do with a theological and religious fatwa’s that forbid non-Jews to live in Jerusalem.

I always wondered why there is so much enmity between the Jewish State and the Arabs, between the world Jewish community, especially the American Jewish community and the Arabs, since the Arabs never committed the kind of crimes the Jews had to face for thousands of years, from the expulsion to Babylon, to the Inquision of Catholic Spain, to the Pogroms of Orthodox Czarist Russia to the Holocaust of Protestant Germany and the defamation of the Protocols of Zion. The Arabs and Muslims never did commit the kind of crimes that makes the Jews hate the Arabs so much. The golden age of Jews was during the periods of Muslims empires. However now I understand. It must be part of a religious, theological and cultural philosophy that must have been dormant for thousands of years and was dusted off and given a new life with the founding of Zionism and founding of a Jewish State to be a light among all nations.

With very few exceptions there is a defending silence among “Diaspora Jews”, as if a conspiracy of silence exists and in fact it does exist, especially in the US where very few Jews dare to speak out against the racist and criminal acts of Israel, against the Jewish Occupation, against the more than 500 “security” check points where Palestinians of all ages are subject to the most demeaning of human humiliations on daily basis. There is absolute silence against Israel Apartheid policies and practices, against the Jewish settlements on stolen Arab lands (including mine), against the Apartheid Wall, against the ethnic cleansing of Arabs from Jerusalem, against the destruction of farms and uprooting of hundreds of thousands of trees, against house demolitions, against targeted killings, against arbitrary arrests, against the use of civilians as shields for the very brave Jewish soldiers and  against the siege of Gaza and against war crimes committed by the Jewish Army in Gaza. Those brave Diaspora Jews (very few) who dare to speak out find themselves in the cold, out on the streets, dismissed from jobs and denied tenures and otherwise blackmailed by a Jewish community that prides itself to be among the first to support the Civil Rights movement, the first to stand up against the late Senator Joseph McCarthy and his “un-American inquisition”. Yes we have every right to be angry at “Diaspora Jews” and we have every right not to forgive them for turning what would and should have been a safe heaven for Jews that turned to a racist and criminal enterprise called the State of Israel. Of course no one expect Jewish leaders, commanders and soldiers to ever face war crimes, since Jews are not subject to abstract codes of justice and righteousness.

This essay was inspired by:

“The Ideology Behind Hebron Massacre” by Professor Israel Shakah.       

“Promoting Racism in Israel” by Eric H. Yoffe.

“On the eve of destruction” by Ari Shavit

IDF in Gaza: Killing civilians, vandalism and lax rules of engagement: Haaretz 19/03/2009.

ANALYSIS/ Can Israel dismiss its own troops’ stories from Gaza? Haaretz 19/03/2009.

IDF orders probe into allegations over Gaza war. Haaretz 19/03/2009.

Barak seeks legal okay to move civilians from homes. Haaretz 04/03/2008

Judges, scholars call on UN to probe war crimes by both sides in Gaza. Haaretz 20/03/2009.

Reserve IDF generals: Ethics probe necessary but difficult to carry out. Haaretz 20/03/2009.

UN envoy: Gaza op seems to be war crimes of greatest magnitude. Haaretz 19/03/2009.

Dead Palestinian babies and bombed mosques- IDF fashion 2009. Haaretz 20/03/2009.

Special Note: The Jewish State in addition to banning pasta, it also banned jam, biscuits, tomato paste, tea, sweets, and date bars, as security items from going into Gaza. 

http://www.jeffersoncorner.com/we-will-not-forgive-the-jews-for-their-silence-for-turning-israel-into-a-racist-criminal-state/

Two years after Nahr el-Bared was destroyed, “reconstruction” starts.

Solidarity between Palestinians crosses all borders, as we see in Nahr el-Bared First.

But…. we won’t hold our breath for the rebuilding of Gaza

Many countries are set to participate in the Conference against Racism, scheduled to be held in Geneva, April 20-25. But the highly touted international meet is already marred with disagreement after Israel, the United States and other countries decided not to participate. Although the abstention of four or more countries is immaterial to the proceedings, the US decision in particular was meant to render the conference ‘controversial’, at best.

 

The US government’s provoking stance is not new, but a repetition of another fiasco which took place in Durban, South Africa in 2001.

 

Israeli and US representatives stormed out in protest of the “anti-Israeli” and the “anti-Semitic” sentiments that supposedly pervaded the World Conference against Racism (WCAR), held in Durban in 2001. The decision was an ominous sign, for the Bush Administration was yet to be tested on foreign policy in any definite terms, as the conference concluded on September 8, three days before the 911 terrorist attacks.

 

The US justified its denunciation of the international forum, then on the very same, unsubstantiated grounds cited by Israel, that the forum was transformed to a stage for anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic rhetoric.

 

But was “the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and related intolerance” indeed transformed into a stage for racism and bigotry, as Israel’s friends, lead amongst them the Bush Administration, charged?

 

What indeed took place at the conference was democracy in its best manifestations, where no country could defy international consensus with the use of a veto power, or could flex its economic muscles to bend the will of the international community. The result was, of course, disturbing from the view point of those who refuse to treat all United Nations member states with equity and impartiality. An African demand for a separate apology from every country that benefited from slavery, to every African nation that suffered from slavery was considered excessive, and eventually discounted.

 

But the main “controversial” issue that led to the US representative’s departure from the conference was the criticism by many countries of Israel’s racism against the Palestinians. A majority of countries called for reinstituting UN General Assembly resolution 3379 which in 1975 equated Zionism with racism.

 

The conference, then, was not meant to only address the issue of Palestine and Israel. However, the strong American resistance to any criticism of the racially motivated practices of the Israeli state – the extreme violence, the land theft, the Wall, the settlements, the protracted military occupation, etc – pushed the issue to center stage.

 

The Palestinian struggle is not meant to overshadow the struggles of oppressed nations around the world, but it rather compliments the calls for rights, freedom and liberation that continue to echo around the globe. However, the fact that the illegal and violent mass oppression of Palestinians, as practiced openly by the Israeli state continue unabated – and is rather defended and justified by the United States and other European powers – highlights the historical legacy championed by former colonial powers throughout the so-called third world for so many years.

 

There are hardly many international forums that are held and governed by principals of equality and fairness amongst nations. The World Conference against Racism is one of very few, indeed. It was not a surprise, therefore, to witness the international solidarity with the Palestinian and world-wide repulsion of the racist and Apartheid policies carried out daily by Israel.

 

But the mere censure of Israel’s unfair, undemocratic and racist policies – let alone taking any action to bring them to a halt – is mechanically considered anti-Semitic from an Israeli standpoint and US administrations.

 

The US conditioned its participation of the April conference in Geneva (Durban II) by removing any specific censure of Israel, and ensuring that Israel is not ‘singled out’ for criticism. Although US sensibilities constantly expect, but demand the singling out of any country, leader or group it deems rouge, war criminal, or terrorist, Israel is treated based on different standards. “A bad document became worse, and the US decided not to participate in the conference”, Israeli daily, Haaretz, reported in reference to the draft documents being finalized before the conference.

 

The original “bad” document apparently dubs Israel “an occupying state that carries out racist policies”, a description which is consistent with international law, UN resolutions and the views of leading world human rights defenders – Archbishop Desmond Tutu,  John Dugard, the former UN Special Rapporteur for the Palestinian Territories, Richard Falk,the current UN’s envoy, among many others.

 

The ‘bad document’ might have ‘became worse’ with new references to the Gaza bloodbath, which killed and wounded nearly 7,000 Palestinians in 22-days.

 

From an American – and unfortunately, Canadian and Italian, so far – viewpoint, such inhumane practices don’t warrant a pause or mere words of condemnation. The same, of course, doesn’t apply to Sudan, Zimbabwe, Iran, Cuba and other ‘unfriendly’ nations. The US decision must be particularity disheartening to African nations who saw in the advent of Barack Obama some vindication. The US first black president, however, saw it fit to boycott a conference that intended to discuss the issue of slavery and repatriation, to once again prove that race alone is hardly sufficient in explaining US internal and external policies.

 

A day after rebuffing the conference, US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton arrived on her first visit to the Middle East, where she admonished Iran, Hamas and Hizbollah – for largely posing threats to Israel – and praised the Jewish state and its ‘moderate’ allies.

 

She remarked in a joint statement with Israeli president Shimon Peres, on March 3: “It is important that the United States always underscore our unshakeable, durable, fundamental relationship and support for the State of Israel. I will be going from here to Yad VaShem to pay respects to the lost souls, to remember those who the Holocaust took, to lay a wreath, and to say a prayer.” 

 

Needless to say, Mrs. Clinton refused to visit Gaza, where 1.5 million people are trapped in one large concentration camp, denied access to food, medicine, political and human rights. 

 

– Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an author and editor of www.PalestineChronicle.com. His work has been published in many newspapers, journals and anthologies around the world. His latest book is, The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle (Pluto Press, London). 

 

SEE ALSO: Cynthia McKinney’s article on Black Agenda Report on Obama and Durban II and https://wewritewhatwelike.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/durban-2-feat1.jpgptt-tv/ for a short video on Middle Eastern Stereotypes

Lebanon: the “reconstruction” of the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp, destroyed a year and a half ago by the Lebanese army

 

The stone base that initiates the process of rebuilding the camp of Nahr al-Bared was laid on Monday, March 9 at a ceremony organized by the Lebanese Government and the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees, UNRWA, 18 months after that the camp was completely destroyed by the Lebanese army during fighting against militants of the group Fatah al Islam.

 

Invited to the event were persons in charge of the agencies involved in the process of reconstruction, journalists, diplomats, as well as a selected and limited Palestinian representation.

 

In a improvised tent, and under the direct supervision of the army and the intelligence service of the government of Lebanon, Tarek Mitri, Lebanese Minister of Information, Abbas Zaki, the Palestinian Authority Ambassador in Lebanon, Khalid Makkawi, chairman of the Committee for Dialogue Palestinian-Lebanese and Karen Abu Zayed, General Commissioner of UNRWA in Lebanon, expressed their thanks to all those involved in the process of rebuilding the camp and the efforts that they have been making to assist more than 40 thousand refugees whose homes were razed after they were forced to flee from them, ultimately taking refuge in the neighboring Beddawi camp. Only 17,000 of them were able to return and resettle in fragile emergency shelters built by UNRWA.

 

The exponents, in turn, agreed that the start of reconstruction of the camp is a clear indication that terrorism had failed and that joining efforts should be taken to prevent that acts of vandalism, like the ones that occurred in 2007, would not repeat again in any other Palestinian camp on Lebanese soil.

 

It is expected, therefore, that after the reconstruction of Nahr el Bared this becomes the only Palestinian refugee camp which is under direct control of the Lebanese state, which is thought to be a model for the other 11 Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.

 

What was not mentioned in any of the speeches was the absence of the refugees themselves, the ones who were constantly mentioned, the same that Zaki and Makkawi thank for their patience and dignity faced during the huge military offensive that lasted 3 months, in which they lost all their belongings, including their homes – those which were built with sweat and effort 60 years ago after being expelled from their homeland by the Zionist terrorist gangs that occupied Palestine in 1948 – and the shortage of humanitarian aid that they have had to live with during these past 18 months.

 

It was not mentioned either that many refugees still are not allowed to return to what has been called the “new camp” since access to the camp requires permission from the army and the Lebanese security services. Many have been unable to obtain the necessary permits that would allow them to pass through the many checkpoints where the Lebanese forces control movement, both within and outside the camp.

 

The camp has been completely leveled, leaving no trace of any houses, an important and necessary step for the Lebanese government to begin the reconstruction process. But no vestige either was left of any atrocities committed by the Lebanese army there, who, like birds of prey, raided the homes, destroying everything in their paths, and that not being enough, spraying the walls with flammable liquids, but not before recording their presence with offensive graffiti against the Palestinians. Nothing of that is there anymore, it has been erased, as well as part of the collective memory of a people, the memory of a people who created in this narrow square kilometer a home for 60 years while struggling to return to their own.

 

A few meters from where the event was taking place, hundreds of Palestinian residents of Nahr el Bared, were crowded into areas cleared for them by the Lebanese army, surrounded by barbed wire and under strict control of soldiers with guns in hand. Not only they were denied access, but they were required to be in rows, on each side of the street, watching the passing of foreign delegations, authorities and curious, who, since they were not Palestinians, were allowed to enter. They looked like they were on a nice weekend tour in the countryside, while the refugees were prevented from seeing its ruins, sitting on them and crying. These refugees whose dignity and courage was praised within the tent by representatives of various government authorities were being beaten after trying repeatedly and unsuccessfully to enter the square kilometer that had been their home for 60 years. 

 

Without journalists with lenses that could capture what was happening, the soldiers took the opportunity to once again abuse a civilian population that does not require anything other than their right to be treated as human beings, does not demand more that their right to see with their own eyes what happened, to save something if there was still something to save, to be able to return there, return to their second homes.

 

Women and children, old and young, all crowded on the other side of the fence, and separated from the special guests by a barrier of soldiers, shouting slogans against the president of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas and inviting him to come and witness with his own eyes what his people is passing through, the same people that he repeatedly mentioned in his speeches, but according to many Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, he has completely forgotten.

 

“My parents came here in 1948 after they were expelled from Palestine by the Zionists. I was born, a few months later, in a tent provided by UNRWA, I have lived here all my life, but always dream of returning to my homeland Palestine. I’ve seen Lebanese forces massacre my brothers and sisters in Tel Zaatar Refugee Camp, then they did it in Sabra and Shatila, as they did it again with all our houses razed here in Nahr el-Bared, but here I am, standing in front of them, shouting at his face without fear, that they may take away our lives, they may bulldoze our homes, but they will never break our spirit of resistance,” said Um Mohammad, who along with her 3 daughters and 2 grandchildren joined the crowd in protest.

 

The Lebanese and Arab media have broadcast the ceremony, ignoring what was happening on the edge of the enclosed space, as if the Palestinians did not exist, as if what happened to them was not what really matters. Not even those media related to the resistance, the ones that every day and every second launch their attacks against the Zionists and become part by their words, in public and abroad, of the Palestinian cause, fighting side by side with the Palestinians against the Zionist occupation, but when things happen at home, when an opinion is expressed that may cause them loss of votes in an election, or even worse, when they cause political trouble that makes them lose some seats in positions of power, they prefer to remain silent and look the other way.

 

What is clear after this opening ceremony is the patent intention of the Lebanese government of trying to cover with a media blanket rumors about the future of the camp, the possible construction of a military base in the area, the deployment of permanent military forces inside the refugee camps in Lebanon, and therefore the future of over 450 thousand Palestinian refugees who have once again been silenced at gunpoint.

 

Editor’s note: prior to publishing it, the author and I had a brief email exchange on it, and I would like to share with you her views.

 

“I have to say that after reading the article one more time, I found it not fair enough for what happened and I witnessed yesterday, not fair enough with the Palestinian refugees who were standing just at the edge of their enclosed camp looking at foreigners and VIP people passing through a military checkpoint that forbid them to cross. They were not able to put a foot over their destroyed houses and cry over them, but at the same time, people like me and 200 hundred more were there looking at them as if we were tourists with nothing better to do for the weekend.
My article was not fair enough with the thousands on Palestinians standing at the other side of the barbed wire with the guns of the soldiers pointing at their heads just in case they dare to move an inch, not allowed to be present in a ceremony where Lebanese and Palestinian authorities were celebrating the beginning of the process of the reconstruction of the camp, a process that everyone here knows will never ever come to reality, but they were there. The Palestinians were shouting at them and making it clear clear that they will never forget what happened there, even if the entire whole doesn’t give a shit.
The guns and tanks of the Lebanese army were not powerful enough to shout down these people, it will never be enough.
I have to say that I saw many “direct actions” from the army (Zionist one) against the Palestinians before, but nothing compared with what I saw yesterday.
I wish I could be a better writer, believe me I wish, for once to be fair with those people who yesterday grabbed my arms, shouting at me to do something, to take pictures, to let people know what is happening to them. I was the only one there, no journalists, no media, no curious people, all of them were busy listening the empty speeches of the authorities.
It was a painful experience, but also a real privilege for me to be there yesterday, sharing with them an angry moment, that no matter how ignorant the world it is regarding their daily suffering, they still shout, without fear, no matter how many tanks point at them, they still resist. Yesterday it was a pure act of resistance.

On 2 February 2009, The Lancet Medical Journal’s Global Health Network online published Dr Swee Ang and Dr Ghassan Abu Sitta’s `The Wounds of Gaza’, first published here at PULSE. It introduced the article by stating:

Two Surgeons from the UK, Dr Ghassan Abu Sittah and Dr Swee Ang, managed to get into Gaza during the Israeli invasion. Here they describe their experiences, share their views, and conclude that the people of Gaza are extremely vulnerable and defenseless in the event of another attack.

On 2 March 09 the Journal removed the article (though The Lancet Student still has it), stating: “We have taken down the blog post The Wounds of Gaza because of factual inaccuracies.”

No specific faults or amendments to the alleged inaccuracies are suggested. The reader comments, overwhelmingly in support, remain posted. A letter penned by four israelis (surprise, surprise!) that objects to the article was published on February 18. Our friend Dr Swee responds to this development and elaborates on the figures.

Dr Swee Ang on reporting from Palestine and Lebanon

Many of us are afraid to put numbers down because the pro-Israel Lobby will inundate us with emails and complaints. This has gone to the extent that only figures sanctioned by the Israelis are credible. Everything else is viewed as suspect!

Over the last twenty-six and a half years, I have taken many blows over this kind of issue. The only question I ask myself when writing is – when is the version according to the victims going to be articulated? The people of Gaza knew that 5,000 were killed in the Khan Younis massacre in 1956; 100,000 gone missing in 1967 of which 35,000 were murdered – just because they cannot go to the Sinai and take pictures, or dig up the mass graves, does not mean we refuse to let them state their case.

I looked at Northern Gaza – how often have I driven down Sala -Uddin Road in 1988 and 1989. I remember every turn and corner- I know the citrus orchards, the farms and the homes. Often I would stop my ambulance to give a ride to the farm workers and they in return would give me freshly picked lemons and oranges. I now see it completely laid waste by Israeli explosives like the nuclear holocaust of Hiroshima, and yet we were called liars when we put forward the figure of one and a half million tons of explosives. We have seen apartment blocks not only reduced to rubble but incinerated – how many kilotons of explosives are responsible for this kind of damage?

The Lancet Global Health Network withdrawing `The Wounds of Gaza’ is not a problem at all. The wonder is how it even got to be published in the first instance.

My book From Beirut to Jerusalem, when first published in 1989, was reprinted hard back and then paperback within 2 months, as it was sold out on publication, and again sold out as soon as reprinted. Then Tom Friedman came out with a book with exactly the same title half a year later and by the same publisher. My book was withdrawn from the shelves. It went out of print for many years.

But the truth has to come out. Most times at great inconvenience to some of us as we well know.

I just want you to know that I am not afraid to believe the Palestinians. It is a scandal that the extent of the Khan Younis massacre had not come to light for all these years. It is a scandal that what happened in the Six Day War was not published. The intimidation to silence witnesses has to stop. We cannot allow the case to be stated only by the perpetrators of the killings.

Like the Palestinians in Gaza – I am also not afraid. My witness of Gaza counts. So does your witness. We should not be afraid of saying what the Palestinians told us. They are the ones whose families were killed, who bear the wounds of violence, who are dispossessed and persecuted. Their voices must be heard.

Dr. Swee Ang on the explosives used in Gaza

The actual tonnage of the explosives dropped on Gaza can only be accurately known to the IDF themselves. So other figures can only be estimates. However some of us have many years of experience looking at bombed out countries.

Over the 22 days, Gaza was intensely bombed from land, air and sea. The bombs dropped from the air are large, and most of them are more than a ton on average. In the south the bombs used to destroy the tunnels and structures around them are large heavy bombs.

Of the 21,000 buildings destroyed, 4000 of them are completely demolished. Some believe that these are by small nuclear fission bombs. However there is no proof and it is impossible to tell, though the effect of all structures, especially concrete, being incinerated, would suggest that the size of these bombs are of the order of kilotons­whether they are conventional explosives or otherwise. If you were to look at the effect of the atom bomb on Hiroshima (about 15 – 20 kilotons), you would see the incineration of concrete similar to that of that seen in these 4,000 buildings. These 4,000 buildings would have been destroyed by 4,000 kilotons of explosives. The other 17,000 destroyed buildings are the result of bombs of single figure tonnage judging from the kind of destruction. Apart from bombs being dropped on buildings reducing them to rubble, bombs were also dropped on fields, orchards, farms and roads.

We do not know enough of the explosive values of DIME to comment and hence have not speculated on it. They have been used in Gaza. But from what is commonly known about them, they are very heavy bombs, more so than conventional.

As to the person who queried the “million and a half tons of explosives dropped in 22 days” as such an amount would have obliterated Gaza [a question put forward to http://www.womenforpalestine.org, a site which carried Dr Ang’s article]­ we can safely answer him that the whole of Northern Gaza has indeed been obliterated – he or she is most welcome to see for themselves! The whole stretch of Northern Gaza has been converted to a complete wasteland. In the South again vast stretches of agricultural areas have also been demolished.

The figure of one and a half million tons of explosives in our view is a conservative estimate. Those who are sceptical about it need to see it for themselves.

Dr Swee Ang on the figure of 35,000 political prisoners being executed during the 1967 Six Day war

The number 35,000 was from the International Co-operation Department (ICD) of Gaza. Within the first 2 hours of the attack on Egypt, 11,000 Egyptian soldiers were killed. But we are not talking about them, as they would be those killed in action.

After the first 2 hours till the end of the 6-Day War, about 100,000 Egyptian and Palestinian combatants were missing and never found. These included many young men in Gaza who had joined the Egyptians and the early PLA (of Nasser) to fight the Israelis. There are at least 2 mass graves in El-Arish on the edge of the Sinai desert, and the Israelis themselves had admitted to killing those captured, but had not admitted to killing so many. The Gaza information had stated 35,000 executed, but we had not asked them the whereabouts of the remaining 65,000. Many of the missing still have surviving relatives living in Gaza. The names of those executed could be traced from the ICD in Gaza. 1967 is a long time ago, and I do not see what advantage it is to the ICD in Gaza to make up these figures.

As many of you will be aware, a similar situation occurred with the Sabra and Shatilla massacre, where Palestinian sources believed that 3,000 were killed and IDF only admitted to over 300. Bayan Al-Hout had compiled at least one and a half thousand names to date, and the list is still increasing. We still do not know the whereabouts of the men murdered in the Stadium, now that some soldiers of the Phalange have admitted to executing people there. The bodies buried in Martyr’s Square were from within the camp itself, and not those abducted to the Stadium.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE, NOW REMOVED from Lancet, but always on PTT
https://wewritewhatwelike.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/swee-ang-thumb1.jpg2009/02/04/the-wounds-of-gaza/

from http://pulsemedia.org/2009/03/04/lancet-withdraws-gaza-article/ email: meca@mecaforpeace.org web: http://www.mecaforpeace.org

FOR A TALK AND PRESENTATION SEE ALSO URL: http://www.inminds.com/from-beirut-to-jerusalem.html

I saw this a few days ago, and only now had time to post it up. I have read a lot about the film, we even published an article Gilad Atzmon had written regarding it, but this review is so good, it should be read by everyone. That Waltz With Bashir is propaganda (slick, financed by Israel, used for didactic purposes with a million dollar investment in a Viewer’s Guide) was no secret… When the Director was brought here to promote it, during the heat of the Gaza War, he had not a word to say about that war. It was shocking coming from someone who claimed to be making a statement. BUT this is the state of Israel Peaceniks… they don’t really mean it, but they want you to think they do! Thanks Mr Levy for this exceptional review!

Gideon Levy / ‘Antiwar’ film Waltz with Bashir is nothing but charade
By Gideon Levy, Haaretz Correspondent 

Everyone now has his fingers crossed for Ari Folman and all the creative artists behind “Waltz with Bashir” to win the Oscar on Sunday. A first Israeli Oscar? Why not? 

However, it must also be noted that the film is infuriating, disturbing, outrageous and deceptive. It deserves an Oscar for the illustrations and animation – but a badge of shame for its message. It was not by accident that when he won the Golden Globe, Folman didn’t even mention the war in Gaza, which was raging as he accepted the prestigious award. The images coming out of Gaza that day looked remarkably like those in Folman’s film. But he was silent. So before we sing Folman’s praises, which will of course be praise for us all, we would do well to remember that this is not an antiwar film, nor even a critical work about Israel as militarist and occupier. It is an act of fraud and deceit, intended to allow us to pat ourselves on the back, to tell us and the world how lovely we are. 

Hollywood will be enraptured, Europe will cheer and the Israeli Foreign Ministry will send the movie and its makers around the world to show off the country’s good side. But the truth is that it is propaganda. Stylish, sophisticated, gifted and tasteful – but propaganda. A new ambassador of culture will now join Amos Oz and A.B. Yehoshua, and he too will be considered fabulously enlightened – so different from the bloodthirsty soldiers at the checkpoints, the pilots who bomb residential neighborhoods, the artillerymen who shell women and children, and the combat engineers who rip up streets. Here, instead, is the opposite picture. Animated, too. Of enlightened, beautiful Israel, anguished and self-righteous, dancing a waltz, with and without Bashir. Why do we need propagandists, officers, commentators and spokespersons who will convey “information”? We have this waltz. 

The waltz rests on two ideological foundations. One is the “we shot and we cried” syndrome: Oh, how we wept, yet our hands did not spill this blood. Add to this a pinch of Holocaust memories, without which there is no proper Israeli self-preoccupation. And a dash of victimization – another absolutely essential ingredient in public discourse here – and voila! You have the deceptive portrait of Israel 2008, in words and pictures. 

Folman took part in the Lebanon war of 1982, and two dozen years later remembered to make a movie about it. He is tormented. He goes back to his comrades-in-arms, gulps down shots of whiskey at a bar with one, smokes joints in Holland with another, wakes his therapist pal at first light and goes for another session to his shrink – all to free himself at long last from the nightmare that haunts him. And the nightmare is always ours, ours alone. 

It is very convenient to make a film about the first, and now remote, Lebanon war: We already sent one of those, “Beaufort,” to the Oscar competition. And it’s even more convenient to focus specifically on Sabra and Chatila, the Beirut refugee camps. 

Even way back, after the huge protest against the massacre perpetrated in those camps, there was always the declaration that, despite everything – including the green light given to our lackey, the Phalange, to execute the slaughter, and the fact that it all took place in Israeli-occupied territory – the cruel and brutal hands that shed blood are not our hands. Let us lift our voices in protest against all the savage Bashir-types we have known. And yes, a little against ourselves, too, for shutting our eyes, perhaps even showing encouragement. But no: That blood, that’s not us. It’s them, not us. 

We have not yet made a movie about the other blood, which we have spilled and continue to allow to flow, from Jenin to Rafah – certainly not a movie that will get to the Oscars. And not by chance. 

In “Waltz with Bashir” the soldiers of the world’s most moral army sing out something like: “Lebanon, good morning. May you know no more grief. Let your dreams come true, your nightmares evaporate, your whole life be a blessing.” 

Nice, right? What other army has a song like this, and in the middle of a war, yet? Afterward they go on to sing that Lebanon is the “love of my life, the short life.” And then the tank, from inside of which this lofty and enlightened singing emanates, crushes a car for starters, turning it into a smashed tin can, then pounds a residential building, threatening to topple it. That’s how we are. Singing and wrecking. Where else will you find sensitive soldiers like these? It would really be preferable for them to shout with hoarse voices: Death to the Arabs! 

I saw the “Waltz” twice. The first time was in a movie theater, and I was bowled over by the artistry. What style, what talent. The illustrations are perfect, the voices are authentic, the music adds so much. Even Ron Ben Yishai’s half-missing finger is accurate. No detail is missed, no nuance blurred. All the heroes are heroes, superbly stylish, like Folman himself: articulate, trendy, up-to-date, left-wingers – so sensitive and intelligent. 

Then I watched it again, at home, a few weeks later. This time I listened to the dialogue and grasped the message that emerges from behind the talent. I became more outraged from one minute to the next. This is an extraordinarily infuriating film precisely because it is done with so much talent. Art has been recruited here for an operation of deceit. The war has been painted with soft, caressing colors – as in comic books, you know. Even the blood is amazingly aesthetic, and suffering is not really suffering when it is drawn in lines. The soundtrack plays in the background, behind the drinks and the joints and the bars. The war’s fomenters were mobilized for active service of self-astonishment and self-torment. 

Boaz is devastated at having shot 26 stray dogs, and he remembers each of them. Now he is looking for “a therapist, a shrink, shiatsu, something.” Poor Boaz. And poor Folman, too: He is devilishly unable to remember what happened during the massacre. “Movies are also psychotherapy” – that’s the bit of free advice he gets. Sabra and Chatila? “To tell you the truth? It’s not in my system.” All in such up-to-the-minute Hebrew you could cry. After the actual encounter with Boaz in 2006, 24 years later, the “flash” arrives, the great flash that engendered the great movie. 

One fellow comes to the war on the Love Boat, another flees it by swimming away. One sprinkles patchouli on himself, another eats a Spam omelet. The filmmaker-hero of “Waltz” remembers that summer with great sadness: It was exactly then that Yaeli dumped him. Between one thing and the other, they killed and destroyed indiscriminately. The commander watches porn videos in a Beirut villa, and even Ben Yishai has a place in Ba’abda, where one evening he downs half a glass of whiskey and phones Arik Sharon at the ranch and tells him about the massacre. And no one asks who these looted and plundered apartments belong to, damn it, or where their owners are and what our forces are doing in them in the first place. That is not part of the nightmare. 

What’s left is hallucination, a sea of fears, the hero confesses on the way to his therapist, who is quick to calm him and explains that the hero’s interest in the massacre at the camps derives from a different massacre: from the camps from which his parents came. Bingo! How could we have missed it? It’s not us at all, it’s the Nazis, may their name and memory be obliterated. It’s because of them that we are the way we are. “You have been cast in the role of the Nazi against your will,” a different therapist says reassuringly, as though evoking Golda Meir’s remark that we will never forgive the Arabs for making us what we are. What we are? The therapist says that we shone the lights, but “did not perpetrate the massacre.” What a relief. Our clean hands are not part of the dirty work, no way. 

And besides that, it wasn’t us at all: How pleasant to see the cruelty of the other. The amputated limbs that the Phalange, may their name be obliterated, stuff into the formaldehyde bottles; the executions they perpetrate; the symbols they slash into the bodies of their victims. Look at them and look at us: We never do things like that. 

When Ben Yishai enters the Beirut camps, he recalls scenes of the Warsaw ghetto. Suddenly he sees through the rubble a small hand and a curly-haired head, just like that of his daughter. “Stop the shooting, everybody go home,” the commander, Amos, calls out through a megaphone in English. The massacre comes to an abrupt end. Cut. 

Then, suddenly, the illustrations give way to the real shots of the horror of the women keening amid the ruins and the bodies. For the first time in the movie, we not only see real footage, but also the real victims. Not the ones who need a shrink and a drink to get over their experience, but those who remain bereaved for all time, homeless, limbless and crippled. No drink and no shrink can help them. And that is the first (and last) moment of truth and pain in “Waltz with Bashir.”

WRITTEN By Stephen Lendman
Enough is enough. After 61 years of Palestinian slaughter, displacement,
occupation, oppression, and international dismissiveness and complicity, global action is essential. Israel must be held accountable. World leaders won’t do it, so grassroots movements must lead the way.
 
In 2004, Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote:
“The end of apartheid stands as one of the crowning accomplishments of the past century, but we would not have succeeded without the help of international pressure – in particular the divestment movement of the 1980s. Over the past six months, a similar movement has taken shape, this time aiming at an end to the Israeli occupation.”
 
In July 2008, 21 South African activists, including ANC members, visited Israel and Occupied Palestine. Their conclusion was unanimous. Israel is far worse than apartheid as former Deputy Minister of Health and current MP Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge explained:
 
“What I see here is worse than what we experienced – the absolute control of people’s lives, the lack of freedom of movement, the army presence everywhere, the total separation and the extensive destruction we saw….racist ideology is also reinforced by religion, which was not the case in South Africa.”
 
Sunday Times editor, Mondli Makhanya, went further: “When you observe
From afar you know that things are bad, but you do not know how bad. Nothing can prepare you for the evil we have seen here. It is worse, worse, worse than everything we endured. The level of apartheid, the racism and the brutality are worse than the worst period of apartheid.”
 
Activist Opposition to a Fundamentally Evil Occupation

In July 2005, a coalition of 171 Palestinian Civil Society organizations created the global BDS movement – for “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel Until it Complies with International Law and Universal Principles of Human Rights” for Occupied Palestinians, Israeli Arabs, and Palestinian diaspora refugees. 

Since 1948, hundreds of UN resolutions condemned Israel’s colonialoccupation, its decades of discriminatory policies, illegal land
seizures and settlements, international law violations, and oppression of a civilian population, and called for remedial action.
 
Nothing so far has worked. Palestine remains occupied. Its people continue to suffer. Their human rights are denied. These abuses no longer can be tolerated. In solidarity, people of conscience demand justice and “call upon international civil society organizations and (supporters everywhere) to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to (apartheid) South Africa.” Pressure is needed for “embargoes and sanctions….for the sake of justice and genuine peace.”
 
Nonviolent punitive measures should continue until Israel: 
— recognizes Palestinian rights to self-determination; 
— respects international law; 
— ends its illegal occupation; 
— dismantles its Separation Wall; 
— grants Israeli Arabs equal rights as Jews; and 
— complies with UN resolution 194 affirming the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and property or be fully compensated for loss or damage if they prefer.
 
Dozens of Palestinian political parties, organizations, associations,
coalitions, campaigns, and unions endorse the project, including:  
— the Council of National and Islamic Forces in Palestine; 
— the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizen’s Rights (PICCR); 
— the Consortium of Professional Associations; 
— the Lawyers Association; 
— the Network of Christian Organizations; 
— the Palestinian Council for Justice and Peace; 
— the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI); and  
— the US Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel.
 
PACBI 
In April 2004 in Ramallah, Palestinian academics and intellectuals launched it by “buil(ding) on the Palestinian call for a comprehensive economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel issued in August 2002 (followed by further calls) in October 2003.”
 
In July 2004, its statement of principles read: 
— “to comprehensively and consistently boycott all Israeli academic and cultural institutions until Israel withdraws from all lands occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem;  
— removes all its colonies in those lands;  
— agrees to United Nations resolutions relevant to the restitution of
Palestinian refugee rights; and  
— dismantles its system of apartheid.”
 
PACBI states: 
“Boycotting Israeli academic and cultural institutions is an urgently needed form of pressure against Israel that can bring about its compliance with international law and the requirements for a just peace.” Israel won’t comply. Why should it when world governments are supportive and complicit and offer Palestinians no relief. Thus, grassroots pressure is crucial. That’s why organizations like PACBI are essential.
 
So is the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (CACBI). It’s comprised of US academics, “educators of conscience….unable to stand by and watch in silence Israel’s indiscriminate assault on the Gaza Strip and its educational institutions.” They call for:
 
(1) boycotting all “academic and cultural cooperation, collaboration or joint projects with Israeli institutions” not opposed to their government’s policies towards Palestinians;  
(2) “a comprehensive boycott of Israeli institutions at the national and international levels (including) all forms of funding and subsidies….;” 
(3) divestment and disinvestment from Israel;  
(4) academic, professional, and cultural groups condemnation of Israel; and 
(5) support for Palestinian academic and cultural institutions.
 
Israel flaunts the rule of law, pursues violence, not peace, and discriminates against everyone not Jewish. Terror bombing Gaza and daily West Bank incursions illustrate its arrogance and intentions. CACBI “believe(s) that non-violent external pressure (through) academic, cultural and economic boycott” are crucial. Worldwide support and unwavering pressure must  happen as well.
 
In solidarity with PACBI, CACBI, and non-academic bodies globally, Australian academics issued their own mission statement, calling on like-minded activists to join them. Others elsewhere have done the same. 
 
Inception of the Academic Boycott Idea 
On April 6, 2002, UK professors Steven and Hilary Rose first presented the idea in an open letter to the London Guardian. They wrote:  
“Despite widespread international condemnation for its policy of violent repression against the Palestinian people in the Occupied Territories, the Israel government appears impervious to moral appeals from world leaders.” For its part, America “seems reluctant to act. However, there are ways of exerting pressure from within Europe….many national and European cultural and research institutions….regard Israel (alone in the Middle East) as a European state for the purposes of awarding grants and contracts. Would it not therefore be timely” for a pan-European moratorium of all further support “unless and until Israel abides by UN resolutions and opens serious peace negotiations with the Palestinans” along the lines of proposed “peace plans.”
 
By July, 700 signatures were registered, including from 10 Israeli academics, but not without controversy and opposition. Questions of ethics and effectiveness were raised. Academic freedom, anti-Semitism, and unfairly singling out Israel as well. 
 
On April 22, 2005, the UK Council of Association of University Teachers (AUT – with support from 60 Palestinian academics) voted to boycott two Israeli universities – Haifa and Bar-Ilan. Haifa for wrongly disciplining a lecturer who supported a student’s writing about 1948 Israeli attacks on Palestinians and Bar-Ilan for conducting courses in the West Bank, complicit with the occupation. 
 
Criticism of the AUT was immediate and harsh by Jewish groups and its own members. Zvi Ravner, Israel’s deputy ambassador in London, said the “last time Jews were boycotted in universities was in 1930s Germany.” By May, pressure was intense, forcing AUT to cancel its boycott, but the idea stayed viable.
 
In May 2006, the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE) passed motion 198C, a call to boycott Israeli academics who refused to speak out against their government. As expected, criticism again was intense but those in support stayed firm. 
 
On May 30, 2007, the congress of the University and College Union (UCU – created by AUT and NATFHE’s merger) voted 158 – 99 on Motion 30 for a Palestinian trade unions boycott petition. It asked lecturers to “consider the moral implications of existing and proposed links with Israeli academic institutions.”
 
On September 28, after considerable opposition, UCU abandoned its effort in a press release stating that lawyers advised that “an academic boycott of Israel would be unlawful and cannot be implemented.” 
 
Nonetheless, despite start-and-stop efforts and enormous opposition, the BDS movement remains viable and has taken root globally. In January 2009, the Ontario branch of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) proposed banning Israeli academics from teaching, speaking at, or doing research at Ontario universities unless they condemn Israel’s war on Gaza. After CUPE national president’s opposition, local branch officials removed the proposal from its web site but replaced it with a statement calling for a boycott “aimed at academic institutions and the institutional connections that exist between universities here and those in Israel.” It will also  introduce a resolution on the ban.
 
On January 31, hundreds of Irish activists ran a full page ad in The Irish Times condemning decades of Israeli militarism, oppression, occupation, and violations of international law. They called for the Irish government to: 
— “cease its purchase of Israeli military products and services and call publicly for an arms embargo against Israel;  
— demand publicly that Israel reverse its settlement construction, illegal occupation and annexation of land in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions and to use its influence” to achieve this;  
— “demand publicly that the Euro-Med Agreement under which Israel has privileged access to the EU market be suspended until Israel complies with international law;  
— veto any proposed upgrade in EU relations with Israel; (and for)  
— The Irish people to boycott all Israeli goods and services until Israel abides by international law.” 
 
On February 1, a new alliance of American Jews for a Just Peace issued this statement against Israel’s war on Palestine:  
“Israel recent War on Gaza resulted in worldwide popular condemnation. Perhaps this marks an important turning point in the relationship between Israel and the world community. We will not stand by while Israel instigates a war, annihilates civilian infrastructure, targets civilian shelters, blocks medical teams from reaching victims, uses chemical weapons,” and commits various other atrocities and illegal acts. This isn’t how a democratic state functions, one that respects international laws and norms. “On the contrary, they are actions of a rogue state….fully supported by the US government.”
 
“American Jews for a Just Peace calls for: 
— immediate suspension of all US military aid to Israel pursuant to the Arms Export Control Act;  
— the US Congress to open an investigation into possible war crimes as violations of the Arms Export Control and Foreign Assistance Acts in the war on Gaza;  
— businesses and individuals to refuse to purchase Israeli-made products that originate in or support Jewish settlements in Occupied Palestine and the apartheid system of racial separation and oppression in Israel/Palestine; 
— the Israeli government to sign the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid that was adopted by the United Nations in 1973…; 
— the Israeli government to end the blockade and siege of Gaza and allow unhindered access to all humanitarian aid organizations as well as international journalists; and  
— efforts by all activists to promote awareness of and resistance to the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, which continues through the ongoing blockade, siege, displacement, annexation, and Israeli state-sponsored terror.” 
 
On February 3, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported that “The only Palestinian university (Al Quds) to maintain ties with Israeli colleges and oppose international calls for an (academic) boycott….suspended contacts with Israeli universities in the wake of the war in Gaza.” 
 
Al Quds has 10,000 students on three West Bank campuses – in El Bireh, Abu Dis, and East Jerusalem. By unanimous decision of its board on February 1, it froze (but didn’t end) 60 joint projects for six months, pending a policy review and possible change. Its statement cited no justification for  continued ties and that cutting them “is aimed at pressuring Israel to abide by a solution that ends the occupation, a solution that has been needed for far too long and that the international community has stopped demanding.”
 
Al Quds’ board called on local, regional, and international academics to support its position by halting their own cooperation with Israeli universities.
 
On February 5, Durban, South African dock workers refused to offload an Israeli ship docked in the city’s harbor. At the same time, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) called on “workers and activists for justice and peace to join the ever growing movement of people in solidarity with the suffering masses of Palestine.” COSATU asked workers globally to follow their lead not to offload Israeli ships or handle Israeli goods in retail stores. It also affirmed its stand to “strengthen the campaign in South Africa for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against apartheid Israel.” 
 
Despite its efforts, the Port of Durban used non-union workers to offload the Israeli ship on February 6. On the same day, COSATU and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign affirmed their boycott initiative by protesting in front of the South African Zionist Federation offices in Johannesburg.
 
On February 6, stopwar.org.uk reported a “Wave of Gaza solidarity action on UK campuses” over the past two weeks at 22 universities and colleges so far. Student demands include:  
— providing scholarships for Palestinian students;  
— sending books and computers to Occupied Palestine;  
— condemning Israeli attacks on Gaza; and  
— divesting from Israel and BAE Systems that supplies Israel with arms.  
 
On February 7, the Church of England announced that late last year it divested over 2.2 million British pounds from Caterpillar, a company whose bulldozers and equipment is used to demolish Palestinian homes. It’s a small step but an important one, given the Church’s importance. Hopefully it will inspire others to take similar steps and divest entirely from Israel and companies with which it does business. 
 
On February 9, Hampshire College in Amherst, MA became the first one in America to divest from companies involved in Israel’s occupation of Palestine. It marked a successful outcome of an intensive two-year Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) campaign that pressured the school’s Board of Trustees to act. Over 800 students, faculty and alumni were involved. Their efforts worked and shows that other campus campaigns nationwide and globally may as well. This is an important first step.
 
On February 10, the Belfast Telegraph reported that the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) “launch(ed) a boycott of Israeli goods as part of a major campaign to secure a peaceful settlement in the Middle East.” 
 
Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) dismissed the idea but Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams expressed support in saying:….”Gaza has been the target of an all-out military assault by Israeli forces. Over 1300 people were killed, many of them children.” 
 
Northern Ireland’s Social Democratic and Labour Party’s (SDLP) Carmel Hanna said that her country’s experience with the “Troubles” should inspire support for Middle East peace. “We have learned from the conflict here that violence does not work and creates bitterness.” 
 
On February 19, the Secretariat of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee called on “all (globally) to unite our different capacities and struggles in a Global Day of Action in Solidarity with the Palestinian people and for a (BDS action) against Israel on 30 March 2009” – as part of a “Global Week of Action against the Crises and War from 28 March to 4 April.” 
 
March 30 actions will focus on: 
— “Boycotts and divestment from Israeli corporations and international (ones) that sustain Israeli apartheid and occupation.  
— Legal action to end Israel’s impunity and prosecute its war criminals through national court cases and international tribunals.  
— Canceling and blocking free trade and other preferential agreements with Israel and imposing an arms embargo as the first steps towards fully fledged sanctions against Israel.” 
 
The time for these actions is now. It must be sustained until Gaza is free, the occupation of all Arab lands ends, the Separation Wall is demolished, Israeli Arabs have equal rights as Jews, and Palestinian refugees get their international law right to return to their homes and property or receive full compensation for loss or damage if they prefer. 
 
On February 23, Amnesty International (AI) issued a press release headlined: “Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories – Evidence of Misuse of US-Weapons Reinforces Need for Arms Embargo.” 
 
AI found evidence of US-supplied weapons and munitions and “called on the UN to impose a comprehensive arms embargo.” It also accused Israel of using “white phosphorous and other weapons supplied by the USA to carry out serious violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes. Their attacks resulted in the death of hundreds of children and other civilians and massive destruction of homes and infrastructure,” according to Donatella Rovera, head of AI’s Gaza and southern Israel fact-finding  mission.
 
“As the major supplier of weapons to Israel, the USA has a particular
obligation to stop any supply that contributes to gross violations of the laws of war and of human rights. The Obama administration should immediately suspend US military aid to Israel.” 
 
During the week of March 1 – 8, the fifth annual Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) will be held – last year in over 25 cities and this year likely many more in the wake of the Gaza war and subsequent world outrage. IAW is part of the growing global BDS movement – from Abu Dis to Atlanta, Barcelona to Bethlehem, Chicago to Copenhagen, Halifax to Hebron, New York to Nablus, Washington to Waterloo, and on and on in an effort to make it unstoppable. 
 
Background Information and Member Global BDS Movement Countries 
Organizations in 20 countries participate under the banner of the International Coordinating Network on Palestine (ICNP). Formed in 2002, it calls itself “a body of civil society organizations….under the auspices of the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.”
 
Its mission “is to strengthen the role of civil society in supporting and demanding, of governments and international institutions, the full implementation” of all Palestinian rights under international law, including to self-determination, national independence, and sovereignty.   ICNP coordinates global campaigns; facilitates communication; aids local organizations; plans civil society conferences; and mobilizes global BDS support. In the spirit of internationalism, it strives for representation on every continent in many more nations than now. 
 
Participating organizations are currently in the following countries:  
— Australia;  
— Belgium; 
— Canada; 
— the autonomous Catalonian northeast Spanish community and its capital, Barcelona;  
— Denmark; 
— France; 
— Egypt; 
— Greece; 
— Iceland; 
— Italy; 
— Netherlands; 
— Norway; 
— Scotland; 
— South Africa; 
— Spain; 
— Sweden; 
— United Kingdom; and 
— United States.
 
Formal Asian and Latin American representation is noticeably absent, but BDS leaders look for change. They also promote broad international BDS initiatives:
 
— academic and cultural boycotts by “refusing to participate in cultural exchange, artists, and cultural institutions” to tell Israel that its “occupation and discrimination against Palestinians is unacceptable;” Israel promotes apartheid; non-Jewish voices are excluded; Israeli children are taught to deny a Palestinian identity; Israel monitors this closely and cracks down hard on non-compliers; 
— consumer boycotts of Israeli products and services through public awareness, bad publicity, pressuring stores to remove merchandise denoting Israeli origin, and encouraging companies to stop buying Israeli technology; overall, to create an inhospitable climate for Israeli commerce;  
— a sports boycott to highlight Israeli oppression and discrimination and to stop its self-promotion as a “fair player” by participating in bilateral and international competition; at the same time, to promote a Palestinian presence in these events to support their right to identity and self-determination; 
— divestment/disinvestment in Israel and companies globally that support its occupation and oppression; encourage and pressure individuals,  businesses, organizations, universities, pension funds, and governments to shed their Israeli investments to provide pressure for change; 
— sanctions – starting with open debate and raising awareness on applying them; followed by implementing comprehensive economic, political, and military measures to isolate the Jewish state; ending Israel’s membership in economic and political bodies like the UN, WHO, Red Cross, WTO, and OECD; 
— end cooperation agreements under which Israel gets preferential treatment on trade, joint research and development, and various other projects; Israel’s Export and International Cooperation Institute reported in 2006 that participation of its companies in international projects in 2005 grew by 150% – from $600 million in 2004 to $1.5 billion in 2005; Israel is the only non-European country participating in the EU’s Sixth Framework Programme for R & D and gets preferential treatment as a member; many international agreements have clauses that bind participating countries to human rights, international law, and democratic standards; Israel disdains them; it must be challenged and excluded as a result; 
— efforts at the local, regional, and institutional levels to build greater individual awareness and support; 
— ending military ties is also vital; Israel is a serial aggressor; militarism defines its culture and existence; despite its own technology, it’s heavily dependent on America and other nations for hardware and munitions supplies; breaking that connection can curb its crimes of war and against humanity; raising public awareness is crucial toward accomplishing this goal; 
— involve faith-based bodies and institutions in the campaign; explain religion isn’t the issue; morality and human rights are at stake; religious leaders can be enormously influential in building BDS support and enhancing its legitimacy; and  
— work cooperatively with trade unions; Palestinian ones faced Zionist attacks since the 1920s, especially from the Histradrut General Federation of Laborers in the Land of Israel; it’s replaced Arab workers with Jewish ones; in 1965, the General Union of Palestinian Workers (GUPW) was founded to organize West Bank, Gaza and diaspora labor; in 1986, the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) grew out of Occupied Palestine’s labor movement; today it’s ineffective given conditions in the Territories and Israeli discrimination against its Arab citizens, consigning them to low wage, few or no benefit jobs; Histadrut represents Jews alone. 
 
The Global BDS movement seeks worldwide support for Palestinian liberation and self-determination. Its campaign continues to grow. 
 
Calls for Prosecuting Israeli Officials for Crimes of War, Against Humanity, and Genocide
 
For over six decades, Israel has tried to eliminate a Palestinian presence throughout Greater Israel – through occupation, oppression, impoverishment, discrimination, isolation, displacement, aggression, and genocide. The time for  accountability is now. Efforts are going forward and were pursued earlier.
 
On February 3, the Australian Sun reported that International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo “was conducting a preliminary analysis of alleged (Israeli) crimes during (its) recent (Gaza) offensive….” He received communications from the Palestinian justice minister, Ali Kashan, the PA, and over 200 from others, including NGOs. 
 
He wasn’t encouraging in saying that he’ll “examine all relevant issues, including on jurisdiction,” (but) preliminary analysis….is not indicative that an investigation will be opened.” Earlier, his office stated that the ICC “had no competence over the Gaza situation.” The court can only try individuals for crimes committed by a signatory to the Rome Statute. Israel is not. The prosecutor may also investigate at the behest of the Security Council or if a non-party state accepts court jurisdiction. A guaranteed US veto rules out the former. The PA is pursuing the latter even though Palestine is not an independent state. 
 
Earlier in September 2006, Al Jazeera reported that “Three Moroccan lawyers said last month they were suing (then) Israeli defence minister, Amir Peretz, over the recent (Lebanon and Gaza) offensives. Israel Radio reported that a Danish politician also tried to have (foreign minister) Tzipi Livni detained and prosecuted during a recent visit to Copenhagen but the request for an arrest warrant was” denied. 
 
On January 24, Iran Daily reported that 30 “International attorneys have filed war crime charges against 15 Israeli political and military officials including Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni and Ehud Barak.” The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) believes the evidence is compelling, including IDF use of illegal weapons and large-scale atrocities in Gaza. 
 
Names of those accused were submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague, even though Israel isn’t a member. Nonetheless, Israelis have been warned to check before traveling abroad to be sure no arrest warrants for them were issued. 
 
French lawyer Gilles Dovers is involved and called for an “open investigation into war crimes” committed by Israeli forces in Gaza. He said 500 complaints were submitted by Arab, European and Latin American officials. Venezuela and Bolivia are preparing their own cases. 
 
Iran Daily said “a group of French lawyers (intend) to file a complaint on behalf of French citizens of Palestinian origin to the French courts against Israeli officials,” and this effort “is gaining attention” in Paris and eastern France.
 
“Coordination with other lawyers in Belgium and Spain is (also) underway….in Brussels and Madrid.” 
 
On February 6, AP reported that a Turkish prosecutor “launched a probe into whether Israel’s military offensive in the Gaza Strip counts as genocide, torture and crimes against humanity.” The prosecutor’s office proceeded after an Islamic human rights group filed an official complaint naming Shimon Peres, Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni. Turkish laws allow for trials against persons accused of genocide and crimes against humanity. 
 
Other efforts are proceeding as well. The Sabra Shatila Foundation issued a petition to hold Israel accountable for war crimes in Gaza and urged people of conscience to sign it. The International Organization for the elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD), Tlaxcala Universal Petition, and International Lawyers without Borders also advocate Israeli war criminal prosecutions. 
 
On December 31 in Global Research.ca, international law expert Francis Boyle called for “An Israeli War Crimes Tribunal (ICTI as) the Only Deterrent to a Global War.” He asked the UN General Assembly to “immediately establish an (ICTI) as a ‘subsidiary organ’ under UN Charter Article 22” similar to the Security Council’s ICTY for Yugoslavia. Its purpose “would be to investigate and prosecute Israeli war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide against the Peoples of Lebanon and Palestine.” 
 
It would provide “some degree of justice” and serve as a deterrent to future regional aggression and a potential “global catastrophe.” Boyle also accused Washington of aiding and abetting Israeli genocide against the Palestinians. Instead of “rein(ing) in the Israelis (by cutting off all funding), the United States government, the US Congress, and US taxpayers instead support the ‘Jewish’ state to the tune of about 4 billion dollars per year….” He calls it “dishumanitarian intervention (or) humanitarian extermination” by both countries “against the Palestinians and Palestine.” 
 
“In today’s world, genocide pays so long as it is done at the behest of the United States and its de jure or de facto allies such as Israel.” Boyle wants Israel’s UN General Assembly and entire UN System membership suspended. He also proposes imposing economic, diplomatic and travel sanctions and for “the Provisional Government of the State of Palestine to sue Israel in the International Court of Justice (ICJ)” for committing genocide in violation of the 1948 Geneva Convention. 
 
In his 2003 book, “Palestine, Palestinians, and International Law,” Boyle states that world governments and people of conscience should organize a comprehensive economic divestment/disinvestment campaign against Israel. It can be modeled after the successful South African anti-apartheid one. The 1973 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid is the standard. It applies to Israel, defines apartheid as a “crime against humanity,” and calls guilty parties international criminals. 
 
In a May 20, 2002 Counterpunch article, Boyle wrote “In Defense of a Divestment Campaign Against Israel” and based it on his November 30, 2000 Illinois State University public lecture calling for a nationwide campaign. UC Berkeley Students for Justice in Palestine responded with their own. Others followed, including Palestinian students at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where Boyle teaches. Soon after, over 30 US campuses joined the effort and others later on. 
 
Faculties as well, including at the University of California where 143 professors petitioned the UC system “to use its influence – political and financial – to encourage the United States government and the government of Israel to respect human rights of the Palestinian people” and for divestment until Israel complies with international law. 
 
Last February, the London School of Economics Students Union (LSESU) voted overwhelmingly for its university and the National Union of Students (NUS) to divest from companies that have commercial and military ties to Israel.
 
On January 18 in the Electronic Intifada, Elna Sondergaard, Director of the Human Rights Program and American University (Cairo) Law Professor, said it’s “Time for Israel to be put on trial.” In the wake of the Gaza war, she cited atrocities and grievous crimes of war and against humanity that must not go unpunished.
 
“The crucial question is: To which courts of justice can Palestinian victims bring their claims?” Palestinian courts have no jurisdiction over Israeli crimes, and as stateless people can’t adjudicate before the ICC. They’re also denied “legal protection offered by classic interstate diplomacy,” and pursuing claims in Israeli courts is fruitless.
 
Sondergaard suggests doing it in other countries on the basis of universal jurisdiction, even though past efforts in Belgium, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland, the UK and America were unsuccessful. She also suggests an “ad-hoc tribunal,” similar to what Boyle proposes, and said doing so “would cost the international community nothing.” Abstaining, however, would leave Gazans “without remedies and hope” and would encourage politicians and soldiers to think they’re immune and can get away with anything. “Thus,” she concludes, “we cannot allow these crimes to remain untried.” 
 
Nor can we abstain from boycotting, divesting, sanctioning, and expelling Israel from the UN System until it complies with international law, recognizes Palestinian self-determination, ends its illegal occupation, disbands its settlements, dismantles its Separation Wall, grants Israeli Arabs equal rights as Jews, and lets Palestinian refugees return home to their property or be paid just compensation if they prefer. A vibrant, committed, grassroots global BDS movement is crucial to achieving these goals.
 
Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net 
Also visit his blog site at http://sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Global Research News Hour on www.RepublicBroadcasting.org Monday through Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with
distinguished guests on world and national issues. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.countercurrents.org/lendman250209.htm

WRITTEN BY Franklin Lamb  

Ain el Helwe Palestinian Refugee Camp, Lebanon

“Whatever will happen in the future, we shall not repeat the mistakes we made in leaving Gaza.” – Shimon Peres to members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, 2/18/09. 

“You take my water. Burn my Olive Trees. Destroy my house. Take my job. Steal my Land. Imprison my Mother. Bomb my country. Starve us all. Humiliate us all. But I am to blame:  I shot a rocket back”. – Sign carried near Hyde Park Corner during a demonstration in London on 2/15/09 by a Member of the British Parliament.

  

Israeli President Shimon Peres has participated in shaping the policies of Israel for most of its existence. His Washington Post Op-Ed last week billed as ‘a peace partners prod’ to the Obama administration, evidences a major disconnect within the government of Israel concerning what is urgently required for that country’s increasingly unlikely long-term survival.

 

According to a CIA study currently being shown to selected staff members on the US Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Israel’s survival in its present form beyond the next 20 years is doubtful.

 

The Report predicts “an inexorable movement away from a Two State to a One State solution, as the most viable model based on democratic principles of full equality that sheds the looming specter of colonial Apartheid while allowing for the return of the 1947/1948 and 1967 refugees. The latter being the precondition for sustainable peace in the region.”

 

To President Peres’ chagrin, the Executive Summary states that “during the next fifteen years more than two million Israelis, including some 500,000 Israeli citizens who currently hold US green cards or passports will move to the United States. Most Israelis not in possession of these documents will receive ‘expedited waivers’. The Report claims that “Alongside a decline in Jewish births and a rise in Palestinian fertility, approximately 1.6 million Israelis are likely to return to their forefather’s lands in Russia and Eastern and Western Europe with scores of thousands electing to stay, depending on the nature of the transition.”

 

In his Washington Post Op-ed piece President Peres desperately attempts to salvage a two state solution from a one, a three or even a four ‘state’ arrangement. He appears to realize that a two state solution is seriously jeopardized unless Israel dramatically and quickly changes course. With the tacking to the right in Israel and the likely make up of the next government once Peres selects Livni or Netanyahu in the next few days, and given the swelling mood among the occupied in favor of another Intifada, Peres plaintively asserts to the Obama administration that “a two states is the only realistic solution”.

 

Peres instructed the American people and their government three times in his Op-Ed brief for a two state solution, that Israel is “the land of my forefathers’. He laments that the CIA predicted One State Solution would “Undermine Israel’s legitimacy and the internationally recognized right to exist as a sovereign Jewish state in the land of my forefathers.”

 

Peres knows that his forefathers had no connection whatsoever to Palestine as is the case with more than 95% of the Zionists who swept into the area over the past century and demolished close to 600 villages while expelling a majority of the native population. Historians have established that most arriving Jews were in fact Slavic converts to Judaism without any historical or genealogical nexus to Palestine or Hebrew tribes in the area.

 

Against the historical backdrop of the past century of nearly global rejection of colonialism, his claim of settled international acceptance of “Israel’s legitimacy” is a major stretch. “Legitimacy” is what the conflict continues to be about – whether a 19th Century colonial enterprise can violently uproot and massacre an indigenous population taking over a land declaring God promised it to them, as they terrorize and expel the local inhabitants. Contrary to Peres’ claim of Israel as a ‘legitimate State’, there is no internationally recognized right for Israel to exist on stolen land without the consent of the dispossessed. Peres assures his American benefactors that Israel’s legitimacy is based “in international law or morality”. In point of fact, both International law and morality require the right of return of those whose lands were taken and lifting the brutal occupation. Surely Peres is aware, as the CIA Report asserts, that a majority of the 192 countries which make up the membership of the United Nations would vote this evening to establish one State of Palestine if given the chance.

 

The Report concludes that what went wrong will be debated for many years. In essence the problem was the premise, that a ‘chosen people’ with no link or rights to a land could impose a state by force. Many Middle East observers believe that the Two State solution is essentially over, but for the packing, finger pointing and assuredly more violence.

 

Increasingly repelled by Israeli crimes, the international community is moving toward the majority position of Palestinians and is coming to believe that the realistic solution to the Middle East conflict is one State, secular, multicultural, democratic, and based on one person one vote.

 

Peres is loath to accept One State and claims, in promoting a two-state solution, that he has “personally witnessed the remarkable progress we have made with the Palestinian Authority in recent years”.

Does he AS in mind the increasing bantusization (what Chomsky calls “unviable fragments”) the ever snaking apartheid wall and other barriers, the illegal outposts which increased yet again last year? The blockade of and depraved slaughter in Gaza?

 

Or does President Peres have in mind this week’s announcement by outgoing Prime Minister Olmert that Israel has the right to keep building in large West Bank settlement blocs, including Efrat, by adding 423 acres so that 21,000 more residents can join the current 9,000, according to Efrat mayor Oded Revivi? Olmert claims its part of the annexation that will be considered in a future final peace deal with the Palestinians.

 

President Peres, has passed nearly a lifetime devoted to undermining prospects for a viable Palestinian state and offering a wink and nod to the building of more than 430 colonies while offering lip service to the ‘peace process’. His ‘Message to the American People’ fails to communicate what the Israeli and Palestinian public knows well about the real nature of the Two State option he has in mind and which he considers to be “the best resolution to this age-old conflict.” Both populations know that the Two State option that long time politician Peres has consistently run on, is the Yigal Allon Plan.

 

The Allon scheme to expel the Arab population from Palestine has been Peres’ electoral platform during his campaigns in 1974, 1977, 1981, 1984, and 1987 and it shaped Israel’s settlement policies from 1967-1977. Peres worked to make the Allon Plan part of the 1978 Camp David agreement and 1993 Oslo Accords.

 

As the American public begins to stir from its long slumber on the Question of Palestine and hopefully dramatically changes its Middle East policy, it should consider that the Peres favored ‘moderate’ Allon Plan continues to be Israeli policy. As formulated by its author and adhered to by successive Israel governments, it contains the following “moderate” elements:

 

– seeking “maximum land with minimum Arabs;”

– annexing approximately 40% of the West Bank and Gaza, taking the choicest parts;

– dispossessing Palestinians from land Israel wants for Jews.

 

After Israel’s attack in 1967, Allon presented to the cabinet a solution to the Arab problem. The Allon Plan called for annexing the following areas: “a strip of land ten to fifteen kilometers wide along the Jordan River; most of the Judean desert along the Dead Sea; and a substantial area around Greater Jerusalem, including the Latrun salient.” The plan was crafted to include as few Arabs as possible in the area claimed for Israel and included building permanent colonies and army bases in these areas.

 

The two state solution that Peres is trying to sell the American public and administration is a Palestinian ‘state’ in 76.6% of the West Bank, carved up into sealed enclaves, with the largest of the 430 plus settlements/colonies remaining in place under Israeli sovereignty. Israel would take another 13.3% outright and continue to occupy the remaining 10.1% for a period of up to thirty years. During this period Israel would continue building new and expanding current settlement/colonies. The above percentages do not include the subtracted East Jerusalem and the territorial waters of the Dead Sea. In point of fact the 76% offer is based not on 100% of the occupied territories, but merely those parts that Israel was willing to discuss. Consequently, the “just and moral solution” President Peres favors would amount to slightly less than 16% of historic Palestine being given to those driven from their homes and land.

 

Peres claims Israel has worked tirelessly for peace. Yet the record is clear that Israel has only worked tirelessly for expansion at the expense of the indigenous Arab population while obstructing more than two dozen ‘peace initiatives’ over six decades, while targeting the Palestinian people, culture, and economy.

 

Peres claims in his Op-Ed that Libyan leader Qadaffi agrees with Israel it deserves Palestine and that “this is salient in his fundamental and central premise that the Jewish people want and deserve their homeland.” Peres takes Qadaffis’ words out of contest and misrepresents his thesis which in fact calls for one State shared by both peoples. Qadaffi insists that the Middle East welcomes Judaism but not racist Zionism. It is the latter which underpins the founding of Israel and which has led to history’s condemnation.

 

As the President of Israel seeks yet more indulgence and largesse from the American taxpayers and the Obama administration, there is something he can do to shore up waning trust and waxing disillusionment with the two state option. He can announce immediately that he fully accepts UN Security Council Resolution 242 and advocates the removal of all settlements and the total withdrawal of the Israeli military from the West Bank and Gaza.

 

Israel’s President urges the American people and government to, “commit our most concerted effort to allow two states to flourish.” Unless he and his fellow leaders of Israel are prepared, without further delay, to commit to a complete withdrawal to the June 4, 1967 armistice line, in a serious effort at peace, Israel will continue to lose American and International support and One State is the likely future for Palestine.

Israeli President Peres can avert his eyes from reality, but the Obama administration and the American people cannot afford this fatal delusion.

Speech delivered by Nadine Rosa-Rosso at the The Beirut International Forum for Resistance, Anti-Imperialism, Solidarity between Peoples and Alternatives, held from January 16 to 18, 2009. 
The key question in this forum is how to support resistance against imperialism across the world. As an independent Belgian communist activist I would like to focus on the position of the European Left vis-à-vis this issue.

The massive demonstrations in European capitals and major cities in support of the people of Gaza highlighted once again the core problem: the vast majority of the Left, including communists, agrees in supporting the people of Gaza against Israeli aggression, but refuses to support its political expressions such as Hamas in Palestine and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The Left not only refuses to support them, but also denounces them and fights against them. Support for the people of Gaza exists only at a humanitarian level but not at the political level.

Concerning Hamas and Hezbollah; the Left is mainly concerned with the support these groups have amongst the Arab masses, but are hardly interested in the fact that Israel’s clear and aggressive intention is to destroy these resistance movements. From a political point of view we can say without exaggeration that the Left’s wish (more or less openly admitted) follows the same line as the Israeli government’s: to liquidate popular support for Hamas and Hezbollah.

This question arises not only for the Middle East but also in the European capitals because, today, the bulk of the demonstrators in Brussels, London and Paris are made up of people of North African origin, as well as South Asian Muslims in the case of London.

The reactions of the Left to these events are quite symptomatic. I will cite a few but there are dozens of examples. The headline of the French website ‘Res Publica’ following the mass demonstration in Paris on the 3rd of January read: “We refuse to be trapped by the Islamists of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah!” The article continued: “Some activists of the left and far left (who only turned out in small numbers) were literally drowned in a crowd whose views are at odds with the spirit of the French Republican movement and of the 21st Century Left. Over 90% of the demonstrators championed a fundamentalist and communitarian worldview based on the clash of civilizations which is anti-secular and anti-Republican. They advocated a cultural relativism whose harmful tendencies are well known, particularly in England.

Res Publica is neither Marxist or communist, but one would be hard pressed to find even the most remotely positive words about Hamas on Marxist websites. One does find formulations such as “Whatever we think about Hamas, one thing is indisputable: the Palestinian people democratically elected Hamas to lead Gaza in elections held under international supervision.” Looking further at “what we can think of Hamas” one finds on the websites of both the French Communist Party and the Belgian Labour Party an article entitled “How Israel put Hamas in the saddle.” We learn little more than the assertion that Hamas has been supported by Israel, the United States and the European Union. I note that this article was put online on January 2nd after a week of intensive Israeli bombardment and the day before the ground offensive whose declared aim was the destruction of Hamas.

I will return to the quotation of Res Publica, because it summarizes quite well the general attitude of the Left not only in relation to the Palestinian resistance, but also in regard to the Arab and Muslim presence in Europe. The most interesting thing in this article is the comment in parentheses: ‘the Left and far Left (who only turned out in small numbers)’. One might expect following such a confession some self-critical analysis regarding the lack of mobilisation in the midst of the slaughter of the Palestinian people. But no, all charges directed against the demonstrators (90% of the whole protests) are accused of conducting a “war of civilizations.”

At all the demonstrations I participated in Brussels, I asked some demonstrators to translate the slogans that were chanted in Arabic, and they did so with pleasure every time. I heard a lot of support for the Palestinian resistance and denunciation of Arab governments (in particular the Egyptian President Mubarak), Israel’s crimes, and the deafening silence of the international community or the complicity of the European Union. In my opinion, these were all political slogans quite appropriate to the situation. But surely some people only hear Allah-u-akbar and form their opinion on this basis. The very fact that slogans are shouted in Arabic is sometimes enough to irritate the Left. For example, the organizing committee of the meeting of 11 January was concerned about which languages would be used. But could we not have simply distributed the translations of these slogans? This might be the first step towards mutual understanding. When we demonstrated in 1973 against the pro-American military takeover by Pinochet in Chile, no one would have dared to tell the Latin American demonstrators “Please, chant in French!” In order to lead this fight, we all learnt slogans in Spanish and no one was offended.

The problem is really in the parentheses: why do the Left and far Left mobilise such small numbers? And to be clear, are the Left and far Left still able to mobilize on these issues? The problem was already obvious when Israel invaded Lebanon in the summer of 2006. I would like to quote here an anti-Zionist Israeli who took refuge in London, jazz musician Gilad Atzmon, who already said, six months before the invasion: “For quite a long time, it has been very clear that the ideology of the Left is desperately struggling to find its way in the midst of the emerging battle between the West and the Middle East. The parameters of the so-called “clash of civilizations” are so clearly established that any “rational” and “atheist” leftist activist is clearly condemned to stand closer to Donald Rumsfeld than to a Muslim.”

One would find it difficult to state the problem more clearly.

I would like to briefly address two issues which literally paralyze the Left in its support to the Palestinian, Lebanese, and more generally to the Arab and Muslim resistance: religion and terrorism.

The Left and Religion

Perplexed by the religious feelings of people with an immigrant background, the Left, Marxist or not, continuously quotes the famous statement of Marx on religion: “religion is the opium of the people”. With this they think everything that needs to be said has been said. It might be more useful cite the fuller quote of Marx and perhaps give it more context. I do this not to hide behind an authority, but in the hope of provoking some thought amongst those who hold this over-simplified view, “Religion is the general theory of this world, (…), its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification. (…) The struggle against religion is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion. Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”

(Translation of Prof. W. Banning, Life, Learning and Meaning, 1960, The Spectrum (p.62-63)

I have always been and remain an atheist, but the rise of religious feelings is hardly surprising. In today’s world most politicians, including those on the Left, do little more then display their weakness on this issue: they do nothing against the military power of the US, they do nothing or almost nothing against financial speculation and the logic of profit that plunges billions of people on this Earth into poverty, hunger and death. All this is due we are told to “the invisible hand” or “divine intervention”: where is the difference between this and religion? The only difference is that the theory of the “invisible hand” denies people the right to struggle for social and economical justice against this “divine intervention” that helps to maintain the status quo. Like it or not, we cannot look down on billions of people who may harbour religious feelings while wanting to ally with them.

The Left does exactly the same thing as what it accuses the Islamists of: it analyses the situation only in religious terms. It refuses to disclose the religious expressions as a “protest against misery”, as a protest against Imperialism, colonialism, and neo-colonialism. It cuts itself off from a huge part of the masses. Gilad Atzmon expresses it best when he states: “Rather than imposing our beliefs upon others, we better learn to understand what others believe in”. If we continue to refuse to learn, we will continue to lament the religious feelings of the masses instead of struggling with them for peace, independence and social and economic justice.

But there is more. The fate of Islam is very different from that of Christianity. I have never known the Left to hesitate when showing solidarity with the Latin American bishops, followers of liberation theology and the struggle against Yankee Imperialism in the 70s, or the Irish Catholic resistance to British Imperialism. Nor have I known the left to criticize Martin Luther King for his references to the Gospel, which was a powerful lever for the mobilisation of the Black American masses that did not have political, economic or social rights in the U.S in the sixties. This discriminatory treatment by the Left, this systematic mistrust of Muslims who are all without any distinction suspected of wanting to impose sharia law on us, can only be explained by colonialism that has profoundly marked our consciousness. We will not forget that the Communists, such as the Communist Party of Belgium (KPB), praised the benefits of colonization that were enthusiastically spread by Christian missionaries. For example, in the 1948 program of the KPB, when the party had just emerged from a period of heroic resistance against the Nazi occupation, it stated the following about the Belgian Congo: “a) Establishment of a single economic unit Belgium-Congo; b) Development of trade with the colony and realization of its national resources; c) Nationalization of resources and trusts in Congo; d) Development of a white colonists class and black farmers and artisan class; e) Gradual granting of democratic rights and freedoms to the black population.”

It was this kind of political education of workers by the Party which meant that there was hardly any protests from these Belgian workers influenced by the KPB when Patrice Lumumba, Pierre Mulele and many other African anti-imperialist leaders were assassinated. After all “our” Christian civilization is civilized, is it not? And democratic rights and freedoms can only “gradually” be assigned to the masses in the Third World, since they are too barbaric to make good use of them.

On the basis of exactly the same political colonialist reasoning, the Left is rather regretful in having supported democratic elections in Palestine. Perhaps they should have adopted a more gradualist approach towards the Palestinians since the majority of Palestinians have now voted for Hamas. Worse, the Left bemoans the fact that “the PLO was forced to organize parliamentary elections in 2006 at a time when everything showed that Hamas would win the elections”. This information is available on the sites of the French KP and Belgian PVDA.

If we would agree to stop staring blindly and with prejudice at the religious beliefs of people, we would perhaps “learn to understand” why the Arab and Muslim masses, who today demonstrate for Palestine, are screaming ‘Down with Mubarak’, an Arab and Muslim leader, and why they jubilantly shout the name of Chavez, a Christian-Latin American leader. Doesn’t this make it obvious that the Arab and Muslim masses frame their references not primarily through religion but by the relation of leaders to US and Zionist Imperialism?

And if the Left would formulate the issue in these terms, would they not partly regain the support of the people that formerly gave the Left its strength?

Another cause of paralysis of the Left in the anti-imperialist struggle is the fear of being associated with terrorism.

On the 11th of January 2009, the president of the German Chamber of Representatives, Walter Momper, the head of the parliamentarian group of ‘Die Grüne’ (the German Greens), Franziska Eichstädt-Bohlig, a leader of ‘Die Linke’, Klaus Lederer, and others held a demonstration in Berlin with 3000 participants to support Israel under the slogan ‘stop the terror of Hamas’. One must keep in mind that Die Linke are considered by many in Europe as the new and credible alternative Left, and an example to follow.

The entire history of colonisation and decolonisation is the history of land that has been stolen by military force and has been reclaimed by force. From Algeria to Vietnam, from Cuba to South-Africa, from Congo to Palestine: no colonial power ever renounced to its domination by means of negotiation or political dialogue alone.

For Gilad Atzmon it is this context that constitutes the real significance of the barrage of rockets by Hamas and the other Palestinian resistance organizations: “This week we all learned more about the ballistic capability of Hamas. Evidently, Hamas was rather restrained with Israel for a long while. It refrained from escalating the conflict to the whole of southern Israel. It occurred to me that the barrages of Qassams that have been landing sporadically on Sderot and Ashkelon were actually nothing but a message from the imprisoned Palestinians. First it was a message regarding stolen land, homes, fields and orchards: ‘Our beloved soil, we didn’t forget, we are still here fighting for you, sooner rather than later, we will come back, we will start again where we had stopped’. But it was also a clear message to the Israelis. ‘You out there, in Sderot, Beer Sheva, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Tel Aviv and Haifa, whether you realise it or not, you are actually living on our stolen land. You better start to pack because your time is running out, you have exhausted our patience. We, the Palestinian people, have nothing to lose anymore”. (Gilad Atzmon – Living on Borrowed Time in a Stolen Land)
What can be understood by an Israeli Jew, the European Left fails to understood, rather they find ’indefensible’ the necessity to take by force what has been stolen by force.

Since 9/11, the use of force in the anti-colonial and the anti-imperialist struggle has been classified under the category of ‘terrorism’; one cannot even discuss it any more. It is worth remembering that Hamas had been proscribed on the list of ‘foreign terrorist organizations’ by the United States in 1995, seven years before 9/11! In January 1995, the United States elaborated the ‘Specially designated terrorist List (STD)’ and put Hamas and all the other radical Palestinian liberation organisations on this list.

The capitulation on this question by a great part of the Western Left started after 9/11, after the launching of the Global War on Terror (GWOT) by the Bush administration. The fear of being classified ‘terrorists’ or apologists of terrorism has spread. This attitude of the Left is not only a political or ideological question, it is also inspired by the practical consequences linked to the GWOT. The European ‘Council Framework Decision of 13 June 2002 on combating terrorism’ and its attached terror list who was a copy-and-paste version of the American terror list that has been incorporated into European legislation, which allow the courts to prosecute those who are suspected of supporting terrorism. During an anti-war rally in London, some activists sold a publication which included Marxist analysis on Hamas were stopped by the police and their magazines were confiscated. In other words, to attempt to inform people on the political program and the action of Hamas and Hezbollah becomes an illegal enterprise. The political atmosphere intimidates people into distancing themselves from these resistance movements and to denounce them without reservations.

In conclusion I have a concrete suggestion to make: we must launch an appeal to remove Hamas from the terror lists. At the same time we must ensure that Hezbollah are not added to the terror list. It is the least we can do if we want to support the Palestinian, Lebanese and Arab resistance. It is the minimal democratic condition for supporting the resistance and it is the essential political condition for the Left to have a chance to be heard by the anti-imperialist masses.

I am fully aware of the fact that my political opinions are a minority in the Left, in particular amongst the European communists. This worries me profoundly, not because of my own fate, I am not more then a militant amongst others, but for the fate of the communist ideal of an end of exploitation of man by man, a struggle which can only happen through the abolition of the imperialist, colonial and neo-colonial system.

Nadine Rosa-Rosso is a Brussels-based independent Marxist. She has edited two books: “Rassembler les résistances” of the French-language journal ‘Contradictions’ and “Du bon usage de la laïcité”, that argues for an open and democratic form of secularism. She can be contacted at nadinerr@gmail.com

http://www.countercurrents.org/rosso110209.htm

To support Peoples’ Anti-Imperialistic Resistance and the building of Alternatives to Globalisation 

On the initiative of several research centres, associations and socio-political movements, The Beirut International Forum was held on 16, 17 and 18 January 2009, attended by Arab and international delegations and authorities from five continents (66 countries).

 

This Forum, in which South America, Asia and Near East were massively represented, embodied the spirit of the Tricontinental centre.

 

Two major topics characterised the Forum. On one hand, the heroic resistance by the Palestinian people of Gaza and their ability to confront an intense violence and unprecedented barbarity. On the other, capitalism’s global crisis, which is not only financial but also on economic, social, cultural and moral fronts, thus posing a threat to the survival of humanity itself.
Principles and rights

The Forum declares that:

– All Peoples have the right to resist. This right must be inalienable, supported by the entire international community and recognised as such within international law;

– The resistance’s fight against colonialism can’t be detached from the struggle carried out by world revolutionaries and free individuals when facing global capitalism, imperialism, militarisation and destruction of social achievements. These have been the product of the working classes’ tenacious struggles for two hundred years;

– Peoples have the right to sovereignty over their own natural resources. Rights to nourishment, health and education prevail over all commercial stakes;

– Every culture has to be able to help build humanity’s common good with respect for nature, the supremacy of human needs and a democratic management of societies;

– The right to democratic participation must be exerted not only on a political level but also on an economic one and it applies to men and women alike;

– The right to cultural differentiation and freedom of worship without any cultural or racial stigmatisation.

 

Campaigns and resolutions
Concerning Gaza:

The Forum’s attendees declare their support of the Palestinian people’s resistance of Gaza. They condemn the terrorism, crimes, violations of the rule of law and disregard for human value, which Israel has inflicted on these populations.

Moreover, they call for:
1-     Applying severe sanctions against Israel, such as: calling off relations and covenants and forbidding any sale of weapons to this country;
2-     Legal proceedings against states and companies selling weapons to Israel;
3-     Urging the EU to put an end to all economic, political and cultural relations with Israel and to cancel all the covenants and agreements linking it with this country;
4-     Holding an international conference in order to judge war crimes and crimes against humanity inflicted upon Gaza’ s population, as well as economic and environmental crimes, and to bring to court the persons accountable for these actions, as well as for those committed in Lebanon in 2006;
5-     Restoring UN Resolution 3379 which classifies Zionism as racism, and ousting Israel from the UN;
6-     Launching an international campaign for rebuilding Gaza, lifting the blockade and having political prisoners released

Concerning the anti-imperialistic and anti-colonialist struggle
1-     The Forum participants expressed their support for both the Palestinian and Lebanese resistances against Israeli occupation, as well as to the Iraqis’ fight against American occupation. In addition, they back the Iraqi people’s endeavours to preserve their territorial unity.
2-     The participants declare their support for self-determination for the Afghan people and to their struggle against the American and Atlantic occupation.
3-     The participants salute Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Bolivian President Evo Morales for their support to the peoples’ resistance. They express total endorsement of their fight against US’s interference in South America.
4-     They call for lifting the embargo on Cuba and the release of Cuban prisoners detained in US’ prisons.
5-     They demand the establishment of an international league of Parliamentary members in order to uphold the peoples’ right to resistance and self-determination, in order to restore accords relevant to the defence of civilian populations.
6-     They urge the creation of an international media network that may expose the mendacious propaganda concerning Israel’s character and crimes.
7-     Carrying on the moral imperative to judge war crimes, namely bringing to court the people responsible for the war crimes committed in Lebanon in 2006.
8-     Launching a campaign to enforce the consultative advice by the International Court of Justice concerning the wall’s ethnic segregation in Palestine.
9-     Setting up an international network with the aim of coordination between local delegations during crises and wars.
10-          Refusing threats and provocations by the US against Iran with regard to its right to develop its nuclear program for civil purposes within the context of international laws. Refusing, likewise, the threats of war by the US towards Syria and Sudan.
11-          Opposing American attempts to make international and humanitarian laws ineffective under the pretext of the war on terror.

The participants suggest the following as alternatives to the market’s blackmail:
1-     Excluding agriculture and feeding-related sectors from the international negotiations contemplating the privitisation of markets (GATT, OMC…)
2-     Turning down accords and international policies that allow corporations to control living organisms thus jeopardizing biodiversity.
3-     Setting up a Mediterranean Common Market based on fair trade between customers and producers, from the north and the south of the basin as well as within each country. All this is to be performed within a process for building an area linking Mediterranean basin with Mesopotamia (leaving out Israel until the colonial question in Palestine is settled), in opposition to Sarkozy’s neo-liberal project.
4-     Fighting the excessive exploitation carried out by industrial fishing in favour of artisan fishery.
5-     Preserving the common asset of humanity and the fundamental resources for living. Developing organic agriculture and using renewable energy sources.

 

The Center for Studies and Documentation in Beirut, International Campaign against American and Zionist Occupation (the Cairo Conference), the National Gathering to Support the Choice of Resistance (Lebanon), The International Anti-Imperialist and Peoples’ Solidarity Forum (the Calcutta- India Conference), Stop The War Campaign (London), L’union de la jeunesse démocratique (Liban), Réseau des organisations de la jeunesse Palestinienne, The Party of Dignity (Egypt), The Popular Campaign to Break the Siege on Gaza, KIFAYA (le mouvement egyptien pour le changement), Union of Democratic Youth (Lebanon), Egyptian Women Issues Association, Palestinian Youth Organizations Network (Palestine), Fédération des Syndicats marocains, AMCI (The Mediterranean Agency for International Cooperation (Morocco), Arab Youth Council- and the wWalk to the aArab pParliament (Morocco), Data and Strategic Studies Center (Syria), El Badil Regroupement Anti Globalisation (Syria), Campaign Genoa 2001 Greece, l’altra Lambardia-Sulatesta, Anti- Imperialist Camp (Grèce),  Socialist Thinking Forum (Jordan), Organisation des socialistes révolutionnaires (Egypt), To be continued…

TRANSLATED BY DIEGO TRAVERSA AND REVISED BY SAJA RAOOF, MEMBERS OF TLAXCALA. www.tlaxcala.es