Posts Tagged ‘The Electronic Intifada’

The Electronic Intifada (ei): “Bay Area residents attempted a citizen’s arrest of former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, while he gave a speech to the World Affairs Council in San Francisco on 22 October 2009. Twenty-two people were arrested for challenging Olmert directly and demanding he be tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon.” (8:59):

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Analysis of the humanitarian crisis, Israel’s responsibility, the US role in the attacks, aftermath, and peace process. (more…)

“Crisis in Gaza: The US, Israel, and Palestine” – Dr. Norman Finkelstein, Ali Abunimah and Dr. John J. Mearsheimer lecture on Gaza ‘War’. (more…)

With continued terror in place for Iraq and Afghanistan, promised terror for Pakistan, Obama’s place to change American foreign policy lies US relations with the UN and Israel. (more…)

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The Elctronic Intifada (ei) co-founder, Ali Abunimah:

“I would like to ask President-elect Obama to say something please about the humanitarian crisis that is being experienced right now by the people of Gaza.” Former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney made her plea after disembarking from the badly damaged SS Dignity that had limped to the Lebanese port of Tyre while taking on water.

The small boat, carrying McKinney, the Green Party’s recent presidential candidate, other volunteers, and several tons of donated medical supplies, had been trying to reach the coast of Gaza when it was rammed by an Israeli gunboat in international waters.

But as more than 2,400 Palestinians have been killed or injured – the majority civilians – since Israel began its savage bombardment of Gaza on 27 December, Obama has maintained his silence. “There is only one president at a time,” his spokesmen tell the media. This convenient excuse has not applied, say, to Obama’s detailed interventions on the economy, or his condemnation of the “coordinated attacks on innocent civilians” in Mumbai in November.

The Mumbai attacks were a clear-cut case of innocent people being slaughtered. The situation in the Middle East however is seen as more “complicated” and so polite opinion accepts Obama’s silence not as the approval for Israel’s actions that it certainly is, but as responsible statesmanship.… [read the full article]

(more of Ali Abunimah on Little Alex in Wonderland)

The president-elect remains silent as the White House gives tacit consent to an Israel ground invasion:

The United States gave Israel free rein Friday on whether to send troops into the Gaza Strip, insisting that the key to a ceasefire is an Israeli demand for Hamas to permanently halt rocket fire….

“We’ve been in regular contact with the Israelis,” White House deputy press secretary Gordon Johndroe told reporters when asked if US officials were trying to prevent a possible ground offensive.

US officials have urged the Israelis “to be mindful that any of the actions that they’re taking in Gaza avoid unnecessary civilian casualties and also to help continue with the flow of humanitarian goods,” he said.

“So I think any steps they are taking, whether it’s from the air or on the ground or anything of that nature, are part and parcel of the same operation,” Johndroe said.

“Those will be decisions made by the Israelis,” he said.

What the deputy press secretary conveniently leaves out of the Newspeak is that Israel would do so supplied by the US.

Daily Kos

“You’ve also got to understand the distinctiveness of Jewish anxiety about annihilation, which is real… But at the same time, anti-Semitism should never be a blinder or an impetiment of understanding the suffering of Palestinian people under occupation and the difficulty of having any serious bridge building when you are an occupied people.”

-Dr. Cornel West

The Newspeak out of Israel is that “there is no humanitarian crisis in the [Gaza] Strip.” and Israel is targeting Hamas, not the Palestinians.

If so, they’re doing a great job of missing their targets, to say the least.

Hypothetically speaking, were Hamas to target an Israel military installation on a Palestinian settlement and wound a child, the Newspeak would be that ‘Hamas is killing children’ out of Israel. When Israel targets a Hamas operative and kills 20 Palestinian civilians, the Newspeak stinks of “collateral damage” that we’re just supposed to accept as a necessary evil of self-defensive war.

The conundrum in this Newspeak is another ‘it’s wrong when they do it to us, but not when we do it to them that loses its transparency as its repeated by our leaders [sic] in the West, giving the Newspeak illegitimate credibility.

The best way to battle Newspeak is with fact (from our YouTube playlist, “Israel Attacks Gaza”):

al Jazeera – “Nowhere to Run for Those Trapped in Gaza” – 30 Dec 08 (3:11):

al Jazeera – “B’Tselem Questions Israeli Account of Attack” – 1 Jan 09 (2:38):

al Jazeera – “Gazans Struggle to Survive Amid Onslaught” – 1 Jan 09 (2:41):

ei – “Civilians are Paying the Price in Gaza” – Haider Rizvi reports from the UN:

International aid groups, including several United Nations agencies, are warning of a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza if Israel does not stop its military action there immediately.

“The consequences of [further] military action by Israel would be disastrous,” said Jeremy Hobbs, director of Oxfam International, a London-based aid organization that is providing food and water for Palestinians affected by the Israeli blockade.

Hundreds of thousands of people in Gaza depend on Oxfam and other international aid agencies for the basics of life — clean water, food and sanitation. Before the recent Israeli bombing campaign, Gaza had been cut off from the outside world for 19 months.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is also expressing similar concerns about the humanitarian situation in Gaza. The group says hospitals are “overwhelmed and unable to cope with the scale and type of injuries that keep coming in.”

At the time this article went to press on 30 December, more than 300 Palestinians are reported to have been killed — and nearly 1,000 wounded — since the Israeli air force began bombing Gaza Saturday….

Before the recent attacks on Gaza, aid organizations had repeatedly stressed that the Israeli blockade of Gaza was hindering their efforts to reach out to Palestinians who were in dire need of food and medicines.

Currently, nearly half of the population in Gaza does not have enough food to meet its basic needs. A majority of the population are refugees who were driven out of their homes by the Israeli occupation in 1948.

“The blockade is illegal and constitutes collective punishment of ordinary men, women, and children,” said Diakonia’s Christoffer Sjoholm, who, although critical of Palestinian rocket attacks, condemned Israel’s plans to carry out further attacks on Gaza….

On Monday, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) expressed deep concerns about the impact of the Israeli aerial attacks and demanded that the self-declared Jewish state must allow the humanitarian supplies to enter.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also called for Israel to take such actions.

“The frightening nature of what is happening on the ground, in particular, its effects on children who are more than half of the population, troubles me greatly,” Ban said. “I have continuously stressed the need for strict observance of international humanitarian law.”

A statement released Tuesday by the World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that many more deaths are likely as hospitals in Gaza are lacking sufficient medical supplies.

“The ability of the hospitals to cope with a problem of this magnitude, if the situation continued unchanged, will result in surge in preventable death,” a UNICEF spokesperson said in a statement. “Civilians are paying the price for a long blockade.”

In recent days, the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) has repeatedly expressed its concern over the Israeli efforts to stop aid supplies. The agency stresses that days and weeks before the current military action the blockade was already hurting some 1.5 million people.

In a statement, UNRWA’s head Karen AbuZayd said she was horrified by the current situation in Gaza and wanted the Israeli government to heed calls for ceasing its bombardment of Gaza.

ei also relays a press release from Al Mezan Center for Human Rights:

The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) has continued its military operation in the Gaza Strip for the fifth day. Today, it targeted an ambulance and its medical crew with a missile, killing a doctor and an orderly and critically injuring its driver. According to Al Mezan Center’s monitoring, the number of Palestinian casualties since the start of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead at 11:30am on 27 December 2008 has risen to 315, of whom 41 were children and nine women. At least 939 people have been injured, including 85 children and 52 women. The number of civilian objects that have been destroyed is as follows:

  • Seven mosques have been completely destroyed from direct air strikes;
  • 38 private industrial and agricultural enterprises have been completely destroyed;
  • 16 schools have been damaged;
  • Nine CBO offices were completely destroyed;
  • Eight private vehicles were destroyed;
  • 16 governmental facilities were destroyed.

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights asserts, according to its monitoring of the situation on the ground, that the IOF has perpetrated grave breaches of the international humanitarian law, amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity, in the course of its military actions in Gaza. The Center also asserts that the vast majority of IOF’s targets in Gaza are civilian targets that must not be deliberately targeted. This includes houses, mosques, police stations and at least one ambulance. Most of the casualties are not combatants and were not involved in any hostilities when they were targeted by IOF. This behavior reflects a blatant disregard of civilian life and of the international law that is supposed to protect it.

Al Mezan Center condemns the IOF’s violations of international law applicable in times of belligerent occupation and armed conflict. In particular, the violations by IOF of the Fourth Geneva Convention and its Protocol I have caused extreme suffering as well as loss of civilian life. Articles 15-19 of the Convention prohibit the disruption of the working of health facilities during times of conflict. Article 20 requires respect and protection of the persons who are involved in the search for civilians, the sick, the wounded, the elderly and mothers and care for them. IOF violates international humanitarian law by imposing a strangulating blockade that disrupts, and sometimes prevents, the provision of humanitarian aid to the population of the Gaza Strip.

Despite The New York Times bad paraphrasing, the quote from the UN official estimates “a minimum of 25 percent of all those killed are civilians and it may well be far higher.”

Another interesting Newspeak tool is to manipulate the meaning of “civilian.” Targeting Hamas and killing Gazan police officers make the police officers more “collateral damage,” but they are left out of civilian fatality estimates. The common term is “non-combatant” and that statistic is never reported.

ei:

Reports said that many of the dead were Palestinian police officers. Among those Israel labels “terrorists” were more than a dozen traffic police officers undergoing training.

Ha’aretz:

“Seventy policemen were killed there, not all Hamas members,” said S., who opposes Hamas. “And even those who supported Hamas were young men looking for a job, a salary. They wanted to live. And therefore, they died. Seventy in one blow. This assault is not against Hamas. It’s against all of us, the entire nation. And no Palestinian will consent to having his people and his homeland destroyed in this way.”

Battles between authorities, especially when one or more authorities are the State admist an election season, always harm those already oppressed under the illegitimate authority more than those dominating the oppressed. Those in power have the primary objective (meaning over all other objectives) of maintain and strengthening the power of their institution. This is the cynical nature of institutions — even those that are generally benign because were the benign institution to lose power, clout, resources, etc., the institution would struggle to exist.

The Palestinian people do not have a legitimate amount of clout in the authorities that govern them, yet are being destroyed more than their most direct dominators: Hamas, Fatah, and Israel.

A 0.29 second Google News serach of “Gaza children” wields almost 15,000 results; the first page of which can make your head spin and question the legitimacy of the governments issuing tacit consent to the TerrorState of Israel.

Tariq Ali could sum this up best:

“There is no other way. And Israeli citizens might ponder the following words from Shakespeare [The Merchant of Venice] that I have slightly altered:

“‘I am a Palestinian. Hath not a Palestinian eyes? Hath not a Palestinian hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Jew is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that…the villainy you teach me, I will execute; and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.’”


Daily Kos

(Follow-up to “The Politics of State Terror” posted yesterday.)

AntiWar.com – “Israel Military Declares Online Media ‘Another War Zone’”:

Across the world, mainstream journalists are expressing increasing disquiet at the way the Israeli government is trying to manage international coverage of its war on the Gaza Strip. Journalists have been barred not just from the strip itself, but the government is now prohibiting journalists from going to parts of Israel near the Gaza Strip.

The Foreign Press Association is petitioning the Israeli Supreme Court to overturn the ban, which is limiting the ability of media outlets to cover the attacks, and forces them to rely on second and third hand reports from Israeli military and Hamas spokesmen regarding the situation on the ground.

As the media struggles to get up-to-date information, television news coverage is narrow, and often relies on interviews with Israeli government officials explaining why the killings are righteous and legitimate expressions of democracy and freedom, more and more people are turning to online news sites (like Antiwar.com) for their war coverage.

The Israeli military has therefore announced that online media and the blogosphere are another warzone for the military to manage. To that end, the military is launching its own Youtube channel to bring the viewing public footage of “precision bombing operations” in the strip.

In ensuring that the only footage of their military operation is provided directly from them, the Israeli military is another step closer to completely managing public perception of the ongoing attacks. The military says the footage will allow the public to “know that people killed did not have peaceful intentions toward Israel,” which presumably means coverage of the killing of five children in their beds in a refugee camp last night, and the scores of other civilian deaths, will be carefully omitted from the official coverage.

To call Israel’s PR machine as exceedingly cynical isn’t irrational, as have those interpreting Israel’s actions as “electioneering with bombs.”

Even AP analysis says the attacks “seemed inevitable” and could “perhaps benefit leading politicians six weeks before a general election in Israel,” pro-Israel groups are lobbying the US Congress. More from Human Rights Watch via the AFP:

Human Rights Watch said that Israeli bombing of Gaza appeared to be “unlawful” and highlighted three incidents it said had resulted in the deaths of 18 civilians, including at least seven children.

“Additionally, Israel’s severe limitations on the movement of non-military goods and people into and out of Gaza, including fuel and medical supplies, constitutes collective punishment, also in violation of the laws of war,” the group said.

The fact is that people are dying and when people die, the first question should be concerning why they die on the simplest level followed by who caused their death and why their deaths were caused. This is a basic, conservative view of morality — conservative in the limited willingness to deviate from the standards presented. Amoral behavior can be argued as pragmatic in situations, but when human life is at stake, the utmost scrutiny is justified by people like us and crucial for institutions to legitimize their credibility. The moral relativism in foreign policy should be real and focused on holding yourself to the same standards to those you hold others and the Newspeak extends to the West in indoctrinating the American people every day to keep us in the ‘they have to follow the rules, but we don’t’ lock-step. In the effort to manipulate people, it should be no surprise that the State of Israel has resorted to bombing human rights offices.

As for the Newspeak mantra of ‘collateral damage’ and ‘these things happen in war’, Bibi Netanyahu actually does make an attempt at moral relativism with the “human shield” charge on Hamas — blaming Hamas for civilians being at Israel’s targets and that Hamas put the lives of innocent civilians at risk. Why is that supposed to be a valid argument, but once someone brings up the fact that Hamas rockets have killed 17 Israeli civilians in seven years and Israel has killed well over three times that number of Gazan civilians (not including police officers), the ‘these things happen in war’ crops up again and people presenting that statistic are clouded in ‘illegitmate arguments of proportionality’?

EXCERPT from ei – “Falling into the Moral Abyss” by Titus North – 30 Dec 08:

A state founded by Holocaust survivors should be a beacon of morality, not a black hole for it. Supporters of Israeli policy (and I distinguish between support for the Israeli people and support for its government’s policies) often justify their support by saying that Israel is the only democracy in the region. Leaving aside certain problematic aspects of that claim, I wonder if these people have ever thought of the implications of Israel, as a democracy, being engaged in continual violations of international law and human rights. Israelis, benefiting from a press that is far more open to the truth about government’s policies than the American media, know a great deal about what the leaders they elect are doing, yet they continue to elect them. Thus, the Israeli public has culpability for their government’s crimes that citizens under a dictatorship would not have.

Of course, the Israeli government could never have pursued these policies without the money, weapons, and diplomatic cover provided by the US, in particular the US Congress. After all, it is Congress’s powers over the “purse strings” rather than the President acting as commander-in-chief that has had a more direct bearing on the colonization of Palestinian territories by Jewish settlers. So many members of Congress have taken money from organizations effectively in exchange for supporting Israeli government interests. So many members of Congress have accepted all-expense paid junkets to Israel, ostensibly for educational purposes. With too few exceptions, they are fully complicit in Israeli government crimes, including war crimes.

What about the American public? I would say that the American public is largely in the dark about what is going on, thanks to a media which makes criticism of Israeli policy practically taboo. Of course, this gives the media a special culpability. Still, there are many Americans who do know the score and fail to speak out. This is particularly true with Gentiles. Let’s face it, although Jews make up only a few percent of the US population, the bulk of the outspoken critics of Israeli policy in this country seem to be Jewish-Americans. It may be that Gentiles are afraid to speak out for fear of being labeled “anti-Semitic,” but I say that as long as you are not anti-Semitic then you should not be afraid. In fact, if you are a true friend of the Israeli people then you should stand with those in their beleaguered peace movement. [read the full article]

Robert Fisk inspires the most valid argument against the Israeli Newspeak: let’s reverse the numbers and say Hamas dropped tons of bombs in extremely densely populated areas killing nearly 400 in Jerusalem in response to less than 20 civilians dead in Gaza. The West would condemn Hamas and call it for the terrorism it is.

Until then, Israel merely considers a cease-fire, which is a daily report that’s looking more like efforts to humor the global community calling for Israel to stop their attacks in Gaza.



Hasan Abu Nimah and Ali Abunimah comment on UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1850, the UN’s first resolution regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict in nearly five years.

EXCERPT from The Electronic Intifada – “Security Council undermines justice and UN Charter”:

Before analyzing what is in the resolution, it is important to note what is not. Under the UN Charter, the Security Council’s primary responsibility is to act to maintain “international peace and security.” And yet the new resolution makes no mention of Israel’s 4 November ground and air attack on the Gaza Strip killing six Palestinians and leading to the collapse of the six-month-long truce Israel negotiated with Palestinian resistance factions. It does not mention the blockade Israel has imposed on Gaza deliberately reducing 1.5 million people to eating animal feed and scavenging garbage while dozens die for lack of medical care. It ignores the desperate warnings of a mounting humanitarian crisis by officials of [UN Relief and Works Agency], the UN agency for Palestine refugees, as they shut down food distribution to hundreds of thousands of persons because Israel would not allow supplies in to Gaza.

The resolution makes no mention of these unconscionable crimes even UN officials have termed “collective punishment” — a grave breach of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Conventions by which Israel is bound as the Occupying Power in the Gaza Strip (Israel’s so-called “disengagement” in 2005 does not absolve it of these responsibilities). If the Security Council were minimally abiding by its own responsibilities it would refer Israeli political and military leaders to the International Criminal Court for arrest and trial at The Hague for these crimes as well as their escalating threats against an occupied, colonized people who have few means of self-defense. Indeed, the resolution does not even mention the word “occupation.”For the Security Council to ignore Israel’s detention and expulsion of UN human rights envoy Richard Falk just a day before it passed the new resolution sends a clear message to other outlaw regimes that UN authority can be trampled on with impunity.

Instead, resolution 1850 is full of deceptive language. The world’s highest international body welcomes, for instance, the 9 November “statement from the Quartet,” and the “Israeli-Palestinian Joint Understanding” announced at the Annapolis summit a year earlier. The Security Council also “Declares its support for the negotiations initiated at Annapolis” and its “commitment” to their “irreversibility” — whatever that means.… [read the full article]

And the absolutely amazing sage, Robert Fisk of The Independent (left), comments that ‘no one in 1967 thought the Arab-Israeli conflict would still be in progress 41 years later’ because of UNSC Resolution 242.

EXCERPT from The Independent – “Robert Fisk’s World: One Missing Word Sowed the Seeds of Catastrophe”:

It was passed in November 1967, after Israel had occupied Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Sinai and Golan, and it emphasises “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war” and calls for “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict”.

Readers who know the problem here will be joined by those who will immediately pick it up. The Israelis say that they are not required to withdraw from all the territories – because the word “all” is missing and since the definite article “the” is missing before the word “territories”, its up to Israel to decide which bits of the occupied territories it gives up and which bits it keeps.

Hence Israel can say it gave up Sinai in accordance with 242 but is going to keep East Jerusalem and much of the West Bank for its settlers. Golan depends on negotiations with Syria. And Gaza? Well, 242 doesn’t say anything about imprisoning one and a half million civilians because they voted for the wrong people. No one in 1967 dreamed that the Israeli-Arab conflict would still be in ferocious progress 41 years later. And as an Independent reader pointed out a couple of years ago, the Security Council clearly never intended the absence of a definite article to give Israel an excuse to stay in the West Bank. Alas, our reader was wrong.… [read the full article]

– More of “Robert’s Fisk’s World” at The Independent

“War, Geopolitics, History” – lecture by Robert Fisk, introduced by Prof. Noam Chomsky