Truth told, this American observer has attended his share of international conferences and has traveled in more than 70 countries. But never has he visited such a complex country, evolving culture, and striving energized society, populated by idealistic people of great warmth, sense of humor and caring for those in need as he experiences in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Except when traveling in his own country.
Being in Iran during these tense times is to experience an epiphany. Which is that Iranians and Americans have so very many needs and interests in common-yes even in our religious beliefs- that both peoples should immediately repair our countries relations and return to the days when 60,000 Iranian students studied in the US and thousands of Americans lived and worked in Iran- all in singular harmony and with myriad mutual benefits.
The deep connection among Muslims and Christians from the seventh century sacrifice at Karbala by Hussein bin Ali and the first century sacrifice at Calvary by Jesus Christ, established forever a claimed divine principle of sacrifice of one’s self to resist injustice for the greater good of the community. This bond underpins and connects the two religions and their followers inextricably.
There is probably no country more misunderstood in America than Iran And its due almost entirely to politically motivated demonizations and misrepresentations, including, but not limited to, what President Ahmadinejad really said during speeches relating to the US and the West and the historical imperative to liberate occupied Palestine and every country’s right to develop nuclear energy and to live independently and free of US-led western hegemony. Most Americans’ perceptions of Iran, according to Iranian friends, are limited to images of President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad accused of delivering anti-American speeches.
Another example is the media reports of the 2/09/13 celebration of the 34th anniversary of the Iranian revolution where the BBC and most other media reported the crowds were “frenzied and chanting death to America.” I was there and this report is rubbish. I did hear from time to time a few chants mixed in with revolutionary songs, religious exhortations, and just plain fun. Helping others by offering water and heavy laden older citizens or kids was the motif.
People were happy not angry and they could not have been more friendly or curious about the Americans they came upon and who helped them pick up Iranian leaflet flags that blew or were dropped onto the streets as the Americans understood Iranian pride in their flag and not wanting to see it walked on or subjected to disrespect.
One does not have to look further than the morning newspapers for examples and to find the likes of Zionist apologist, Iranophobe and Islamophode Jennifer Rubin, in her Washington Post screed. Ms. Rubin, on Valentine’s Day had only poisonous invective in her heart for any American- even cupid one imagines- who would dare express any remotely objective idea about Iran. Rubin, a former AIPAC volunteer, lambasted Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, former US Senator, Chuck Hagel, as nearly all 52 Zionist organizations in America have done this past month, because he advocates mutual respect and friendship with Iran. Hagel’s unforgiveable sins includee his words on the subject of criminal US-led sanctions against Iran and Syria and the need to build trust and normalize relations through dialogue.
Said Hagel about U.S.-Iran relations: “We shouldn’t be putting conditions on talks or putting all other issues to the side except one issue that we will ‘dictate’ to Iran.” As far back as 2007, Hagel stated that “In the Middle East of the 21st century, Iran will be a key center of gravity… a significant regional power. The United States cannot change that reality. America’s strategic 21st-century regional policy for the Middle East must acknowledge the role of Iran today and over the next 25 years.” Hagel continued: “On Afghanistan, the United States and Iran found common interests — defeating the Taliban and Islamic radicals, stabilizing Afghanistan, stopping the opium production and the flow of opium coming into Iran. From these common interests emerged common actions working toward a common purpose. It was in the interests of Iran to work with the U.S. in Afghanistan. It was not a matter of helping America or strengthening America’s presence in Central Asia. It was a clear-eyed and self-serving action for Iran.”
Hagel may have erred a bit on Afghanistan and the Taliban, but Rubin found Hagel’s point of view treasonous and has joined the the US Zionist lobby’s call for a witch-hunt when she asks her readers: “Why would the president select someone so deferential toward the Islamic revolutionary government? ..During the Congressional recess, the Senate should think about that. And it might be interesting to find out who was helping him with these intensely pro-Tehran speeches.
In Iran today one does not hear Rubinesque hate speech or even lectures about the 1953 US-UK overthrow of Iranian leader Mohammad Mossedeg or the shooting down on July 3, 1988 of the commercial passenger aircraft Iran Air Flight 655 (IIR655) or the US giving chemical weapons to Iraq, during its US backed aggression, or even the assassination of Iranian scientists or a number of other US green lighted aggressions against the country.
Much more often, conversations are likely to turn to the need to improve relations and friendly questions about what foreigners are experiencing in Iran and if they need assistance in doing something or information about their country. Iranians are as open as Americans are by their very nature, and unlike many other countries no subject for discussion is taboo. For this observer it included topics such as the “morality police”, execution of drug dealers and homosexuals, “stoning” of women, attacks on the Bahá’í Faith, which is the country’s second-largest religion after Islam, the 2009 “Green Revolution” and any other subject that came to mine, including drinking alcohol and public dating.
One hilarious conversation this observer had with four early 20’s female students during a Conference last week was about the number (more than 60%) of Chador wearing women who openly wear makeup these days, how Iranian society is changing rapidly, and the amount of hair some women expose while in public and wondering if this was not prohibited by Fatwa and how they deal with it. Their responses were immediate and nearly all at once. No one had even seen one of the Western hyped “morality police” for a long time and they are few and far between. One young lady explained that its true she wears her hijab 2/3’s the way back on her head and “if one of those guys dares to say something I will either tell him to mind his own business or if I am in a good mood I will act really, really surprised, shrug my shoulders, wink at him and say something like, “Oh so very sorry, really I am!. It was a big gust of wind that must have blown it back on my head without me noticing!” Even if there had not even been so much as a soft breeze in days.
Iranian women are smart, strong willed-even a bit pushy at times and naturally alluring. Who would want to join some “morality police” unit? The ladies explained that if one comes up to you on the street and if you are really rude to him and tell him to get lost, or worse, you might get a ticket and your parents would have to come to the police station and sign a pledge that you would try to do better about trying to observe some modesty in public. Again rather different from what the MSM tells us in the West.
And it’s clear whether attending an international conference on Hollywoodism (www.hollywoodism.org) at the Azadi (Freedom Hotel-formerly the pre-Revolution Hyatt ), traveling on the Tehran subway (far cleaner than New Yorks!) exploring street souks, visiting the Holy Defense Museum (explaining the 8 years Iran-Iraq war) or visiting the home of Imam Ruhollah Khomeini, who led the 1979 Revolution and was Iran’s leader until his death on June 3,1989 in or walking, for miles it seemed, among the nearly two million people marching to Azadi Square to commemorate this month’s 34th anniversary of the Revolution when the people of Iran overthrew the American agent, Shah Reza Palavi, that the Iranian people are kind and they are gifted.
When I got on the crowded Tehran subway, two young men immediately stood up to offer this observer their seats. And then we engaged in a very interesting long animated conversation. Said, Hamzeh, “You know, we feel like we understand America and we should be friends. Both of our countries are culturally unique somehow. Your country evolved from European culture but moved in very distinct direction. In our history Islam arrived via the Arabs but as you have been seeing I am sure, our identity is completely different from Arab countries.”
Mahmoud joined in: “Our society is also made up of many minorities, but we have a single Iranian identity and are very proud of our culture. We’re also familiar with Western ways. For the last 200 years, we were open to the Western world and influenced by European culture, even if some of the ideas, like democracy, have never had a chance to really develop properly but we will continue trying. But we also know what it’s like to be a superpower. For us it was a long time ago, but we played an important role in this part of the world for many centuries so we can never see ourselves as subject to western or eastern hegemony.”
No experience impressed a group of American visiting Iran, including this one, than the home of Imam Kohmeini and learning from his neighbors and students about the man, scholar and revolutionary. Visiting his home and Hassineyeh which have been kept just as they were the day he died, one neighbor recounted how
Ayatollah’s Khomeini’s wife Khadije Saghafi, who passed away in 2009, told her friends that she had only one wish her whole life that the Imam never granted to her. And that was that she wished for him to ask her for a glass of water at least once. But he never did. The sweet and gentle husband and father did not want even the wind to visit his family’s faces too harshly or for himself to impose on them. Another neighbor told us, “When we visited his home we often found the Imam washing the dishes, sweeping the floor, and helping in other household chores.
According to others who knew him well, the Imam led a life of utmost piety and spirituality. In the severe winters of Qom, the he would wake up each night, perform ablution the act of washing oneself for ritual purification) with ice water, and offer his night prayers. His Mafatih (prayer almanac) had to be rebound every few weeks because of how much he used it. Before he began lecturing his students on political activism, he emphasized to them the importance of spirituality and attaining the nearness of Allah.
The simplicity of life style and the modesty of Iran’s revolutionary, Imam Khomeini leader has universal appeal including American ideals.
There is every reason for Washington’s new administration to reach out to Iran, not just with words but with actions. The American and Iranian people fervently want this and it wills inestimably benefit both societies. The solution to positive the current straightened Iran-US relations includes contact, visitations, discussions and more discussions and from this both peoples can pressure their governments to leave the past behind and develop bonds of friendship.
Condemned By Every Syllable They Utter…
Tehran — Azadeh, a graduate law student from Tehran University, on the sidelines of Iran’s Third Annual Hollywoodism (www.hollywoodism.orghttp) reminded her interlocutors, of the obvious damming admissions last week by two US politicians:
“It would be a defense lawyer’s worst nightmare wouldn’t it? I mean to have one’s clients, in this case the Vice-President of the United States and the outgoing Secretary of state confess so publicly to serial international crimes against a civilian population?”
The confessions and the crimes, she correctly enumerated to her audience, were those admitted to by US Vice-President Joe Biden and outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton this past week.
Both of the US officials, in discussing US relations with the Islamic Republic, openly admitted that the US-led sanctions against Iran (and Syria) are politically motivated and constitute a “soft-war” against the nearly 80 million people of Iran (23 million people in Syria) in order to achieve regime change.
Mrs. Clinton, was the first of the dynamic duo to be heard from. She acknowledged that the harsh US sanctions were intended to target and send the people of Iran a message. “So we hope that the Iranian people will make known their concerns… so my message to Iranians is do something about this.”
Some listening concluded she meant food riots and inflation riots to overthrow the Iranian government. An Australian Broadcasting Company interviewer asked Clinton on January 31 of last year: “If you have issues with the government of Iran, why destroy the Iranian people with the current sanctions in place? It’s very difficult to find certain medicines in Iran. Where is your sense of humanity?”
What the Clinton interrogator had in mind, she explained later, were the US-led sanctions reducing Iran’s GDP growth (-1.1% GDP) resulting in an inflation of 21.0% that is being felt mostly by the civilian population. As well as periodic food shortages in the supermarkets of such staples such as rice, there are price rises on everything. For example, per page printing for students is up as much as 400% and the cost of a used car up 300%. In general, supermarket items have risen 100 to 300 percent or higher over the past twenty-four months and, devastating for many, certain lifesaving medicines are no longer available.
Clinton: “Well, first, let me say on the medicine and on food and other necessities, there are no sanctions.” This statement is utter nonsense and Mrs. Clinton knows it.
The targeting process by the US Treasury Department is well entrenched in Washington. When dear reader is next in Washington, DC, perhaps on a tour bus riding down NW Pennsylvania Avenue following a visit to the US Capitol, consider getting off the bus at 15th and Pennsylvania at the US Department of the Treasury. Walk around the main building and you will see an Annex building. This building, as Clinton knows well, and like Biden, has visited more than once, houses the Office of Financial Assets Control (OFAC). The well-funded agency’s work includes precisely targeting “food and medicines and other necessities” in order to force the civilian population of Iran to achieve regime change.
For more than two hundred years, since the War of 1812, when OFAC was founded to sanction the British, the office has become expert at imposing sanctions and it has done so more than 2000 times. OFAC currently uses a large team of specialists and computers to think-up, design, test, and send to AIPAC and certain pro-Zionist officials and members of congress their work-product topped off by recommendations.
OFAC and its Treasury Department associates have had a hand in virtually every US sanction applied to Iran since President Jimmy Carter issued Executive Order 12170 in November 1979 freezing about $12 billion in Iranian assets, including bank deposits, gold and other properties. From the State Sponsor of Terrorism Designation Act in 1979 to the Syria Accountability Act of 2004, more than a dozen Presidential Executive Orders including the 2011-2012 Executive orders which froze the US property of high-rankling Syrian and Iranian officials and more broadly E.O. 13582 which froze all governmental assets of the Syrian government and prohibited Americans from doing business with the Syrian government and banned all US import of Syrian petroleum products.
What OFAC does with its data base is science not art. It can calculate quite precisely the economic effect on the civilian population of a single action designating one company, bank, government entity or infrastructure system of a country. OFAC, on behalf of its government, electronically wages a cold war against its civilian targets.
This week OFAC and the Treasury Department blacklisted Iran’s state broadcasting authority, Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, responsible for broadcast policy in Iran and overseas production at Iranian television and radio channels, potentially limiting viewing and listening opportunities for Iran’s civilian population. Its director, Ezzatollah Zarghami, was included
in the action. Additionally sanctioned are Iran’s Internet-policing agencies and a major electronics producer. David S. Cohen, the pro-Zionist Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, who oversees the OFAC sanctions effort, reportedly following meetings with Israeli officials, said last week’s actions were meant to “tighten the screws and intensify the economic pressure against the Iranian regime.”
In reality, the sanctions target the civilian population and the “Iranian regime” won’t be much affected. The same applies to Syria. Despite the public relations language that “food and medicine are exempted from the brutal US-led sanctions, as OFAC well knows, the reality is something else. They know well the chilling effects of the sanctions on international suppliers of medicines and food stuffs with respect to a targeted country. The US Treasury department has thousands of gigabytes of data confirming that the boards of directors of international business do not, and will not allow their companies to risk millions of dollars in profits by technically violating any of the thousands of details in the sanctions — many of which are subject to interpretation — for the sake of doing business with Iran or Syria. This is why there are severe shortages of medicines and certain foodstuffs in these sanctioned countries and to state otherwise is Orwellian News-Speak.
OFAC does not operate in a vacuum. It works closely with other US agencies including the 16 intelligence agencies that together make up the UN Intelligence Community. Together they have applied sanctions of great breadth and severity against the civilian populations of Syria and Iran. These sanctions have been bolstered on occasion by several direct and/or green-lighted Israeli assassinations and cyber-assaults, hoping to foment civil unrest to achieve regime change and other political goals.
A few days after Mrs. Clinton’s somewhat inadvertent confession that the US government intentionally targets the civilian population of Iran, Vice President Joe Biden chimed in on the 4th of February that the US was ready to hold direct negotiations with Iran but added the caveat, “We have also made clear that Iran’s leaders need not sentence their people to economic deprivation,” acknowledging as did Hillary that the US sanctions are intended to target and harm the Iranian and Syrian people. A senior Obama administration official described the latest step as “a significant turning of the screw,” meaning that the people of Iran face a “stark choice” between bowing to US demands and reviving their oil revenue, the country’s economic lifeblood or more and more sanctions will follow until they do.
This targeting of Iran’s and Syria’s civilian population by US-led sanctions is a massive violation of the principles, standards and rules of international law and their most fundamental underpinnings which is the protection of civilians.
The 1977 Additional Protocols to the 1949 Geneva Conventions prohibit any measure that has the effect of depriving a civilian population of objects indispensable to its survival. Article 70 of Protocol I mandates relief operations to aid a civilian population that is “not adequately provided” with supplies and Article 18 of Protocol II requires relief operations for a civilian population that suffers “undue hardship owing to a lack of supplies essential for its survival, such as foodstuffs and medical supplies.”
Prohibition on Starvation as a Method of Warfare
• Under international humanitarian law, civilians enjoy a right to humanitarian assistance during armed conflicts.
• Art. 23 of the Fourth Geneva Convention obligates states to facilitate the free passage and distribution of relief goods including medicines, foodstuffs, clothing and tonics intended for children under 15, expectant mothers, and maternity cases.
• Art. 70 of Additional Protocol I prohibits interfering with delivery of relief goods to all members of the civilian population.
• US-led sanctions are prohibited by the principle of proportionality found in Arts. 51 and 57 of Additional Protocol I.
• Under the terms of Art. 3 common to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, humanitarian and relief actions must be taken. Pursuant to Art. 18(2) of Additional Protocol II, relief societies must be allowed to offer their services to provide humanitarian relief
• The US-led sanctions violate the Rule of Distinction between civilians and combatants
The Right to life
The US-led sanctions violate the right to life incorporated in numerous international human rights instruments including Art. 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966; Art. 2 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, 1950; and Art. 4 of the African Charter of Human Rights, 1981.
The Rights of the Child
One of the groups most vulnerable to US-led sanctions in Syria and Iran are children. The rights of children are laid down in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989, which currently stands as the most widely ratified international agreement. Most relevant in the context of the US-led sanctions are Arts. 6 and 24 of the Convention, according to which every child has the inherent right to life and the right to the highest attainable standard of health and access to medical services.
If “terrorism” means, as the United States government defines it as the targeting of civilians in order to induce political change from their government, what is it called when the American government itself applies intense economic suffering on a civilian population, causing malnutrition, illnesses, starvation and death in order to induce regime change?
The US-led sanctions against Iran and Syria are illegal, inhumane, ineffective, immoral and outrageous. They must be resisted every day by every person of good will, everywhere, until they are withdrawn.
Barring Medicines In Syria…
But that was then and now its spring in Damascus, or so it feels to those of us used to New England Januarys. It’s nearly downright balmy here. Spring flowers are bursting out all over and the city parks are crowded with mothers pushing baby carriages, kids playing and young lovers cooing softly on the park benches. Park workers are raking the dead leaves and others trimming the palm trees and piling the branches neatly on flatbed trucks.
What “civil war”? What “crisis”? One is tempted to ask himself even though there continues to be intermittent “thuds” and a jet streaking overhead now and then en route apparently to one of the suburbs where clashes erupt intermittently.
It’s been a rough winter and perhaps we are just experiencing here a false spring. Yet one senses a palpable sigh of relief and even some optimism while talking to citizens, NGO staffers and some officials. It could be partly the wonderful weather but perhaps also a realization that a corner may have been turned, peace and security will be restored and the killing ended. Some refugees are to be seen returning to Damascus. Syrians and Palestinians from Lebanon — yet there are still traffic backups with cars piled high with personal belongings crossing over to Lebanon at the Masnaa border checkpoint. Meanwhile the Ministry of Interior in Damascus has pledged various forms of help to those who heed the governments call to “come back home to your people.”
Energized by the exhilarating park ambiance this observer decided to walk to UNESCO headquarters for an appointment. Plus it can be kind of tough at times to find a taxi these days.
Perhaps I should have remained in the park. Lord knows that this observer has experienced his share of irate women shouting at him over the years. Being raised by three older sisters and a no-nonsense German/Italian mother- all of them unmercifully wanting to correct my behavior was a mere harbinger of things to come. But, even with this “training”, I was ill prepared for what the lady at the UNESCO office here in central Damascus unleashed on me.
And I had not done the lady wrong.
Except, perhaps, that I happen to be an American and there is plenty of anger here among the Syrian public, the NGO’s, and increasingly the international legal community among others — not toward the American people but toward the US government — over the effects of its sanctions which are severely and illegally targeting the civilian population. At the same time they are directly contributing to prospects of irreparably damaging many of this millenary country’s historic sites.
According to archeological experts here, Syria, with its six UNESCO world heritage sites testifying to its deserved reputation as being one of the most archeologically well-preserved cradles of civilization, may soon to be the most wantonly destroyed in modern times (Iraq being the other). This frequently-predicted catastrophe is a result, not only of war in the usual sense, but war in its more subtle form of US-led sanctions aimed at political regime change.
Of particular concern to UNESCO, whose UN mandate includes registering and protecting World historical sites, is the preservation of the Ancient Cities of Damascus, Bosra, Palmyra, Aleppo, Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’ at Salah El-Din, as well as the ancient villages of Northern Syria.
This week, the Syrian Directorate of Antiquities and Museums has released its detailed report of acts of vandalism and illegal excavations by armed groups and foreign thieves across Syria. The Directorate has documented violations against archeological sites and Syrian museums, as well the emerging phenomenon of artifact forgery. In Aleppo, the Antiquities division reported that al-Diriya caves in Samaan Mountain suffered from acts of sabotage, adding that “terrorists have looted the equipment of excavations, wooden columns and timbers.”
Also, this week, Human Rights Watch issued a report that Saudi-Qatar-US backed militants destroyed religious locations following a four-day investigation in the provinces of Latakia and Idlib. According to HRW, a Husseiniyah (a congregation hall for Shia commemoration ceremonies) was destroyed by the militants in Idlib, while two Christian churches were looted in Latakia. The Middle East director at the Human Rights Watch, Sarah Leah Whitson claimed that Syria “will lose its rich cultural and religious diversity if armed groups do not respect places of worship.”
Against this backdrop, it is not totally surprising that my UNESCO hostess, less than half a minute after I entered her office, literally threw at me a statement in French from Director Irina Bokova of the UNESCO HQ in Paris. It read:
“I am deeply distressed by the daily news about the escalation of damage to cultural heritage throughout Syria. We saw damage to the Citadel in July and the souks ten days ago, and the Umayyad Mosque, heart of the religious life of the city, one of the most beautiful mosques in the Muslim world, is being severely endangered. In Northern Syria, the region of the Ancient Villages inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2011 is heavily struck and it seems that the invaluable Saint-Simeon Byzantine complex might have been torched.”
Before I could finish reading, the lady exclaimed: “These testimonials from the past!…” raising her voice and glaring at me while pointing to the posters of Syrian historical sites on her wall, “the destruction of this heritage for which your sanctions are partly responsible. Your government is responsible today and will be tomorrow, for the whole of humanity.” When I was eventually able to get a word in sideways, I explained that I had come to her office precisely because I have been studying the immoral, illegal and “un-American” sanctions and that I was spending my time in Syria learning first-hand about the sanctions’ utter disregard for the humanitarian concerns of the Syrian people — in contravention to what one hears repeatedly from US officials.
When I added, I don’t know any Americans who would condone what the Congress and our government have been doing, if they knew the facts on the ground, she did calm down a bit and said she understood what I was saying and more or less agreed. She then mentioned a national poll conducted on 13 January by the Better World Campaign, an organization that works to support U.S.-U.N. relations, that showed that 83 percent of US citizens believe it is important that their country provide funding to UNESCO and want the US to lift its sanctioning of UNESCO and pay its withheld budget contribution, which accounts for 22% of the UN specialized agency’s budget.
“Let me tell you something!” she exclaimed and launched into describing the dire effects of the current US-led sanctions on UNESCO’s work in preserving and protecting historical sites. In her view, the American assault on UNESCO and its work began when UNESCO committed a sin in March of 2011 by admitting Palestine as a full member.
She explained: “For months our offices had been warned by Israeli officials and then Americans, that there would be a big price-tag were we to admit Palestine.” And there was. In October 2011, the U.S. cut off funding to UNESCO as payback for admitting Palestine as a member and in November 2012, the United States was one of nine member states out of 193 in the General Assembly who, on behalf of the Zionist occupiers of Palestine, tried to unsuccessfully bar Palestine from gaining non-member observer state status at the UN.
UNESCO and some other NGO staff here claim that much of the damage here could have been prevented if there was a lifting of the US 2011 cut-off of UNESCO’s budget. As a direct result, UNESCO cannot even replace more than 400 staffers who left from normal attrition or even hire “neighborhood watch,” local volunteer personnel, to coordinate the guarding by of many archeological sites around Syria.
Regarding the other layers of US-led sanctions targeting the civilian population here, a survey by NGO’s on the impact of the fake “medicine and foods” exemptions will soon be released. Its indictment of the US-led sanctions is severe. Contrary to Washington and NATO mythology, the “medicine and foods” exemptions do not exist in reality because suppliers of both fear being accused of violating the great number of sanction details. Washington and Brussels are acutely aware of this fact.
Among the data that will be presented in the soon-to-be released analysis, are cases of cancer patients who need weekly medicines but are now only able to receive them twice a month, with the expected dire consequences. The same obtains for many other long term care patients who need specific medicines, even as generic as penicillin, which are no longer available as they were before the US-led sanctions.
Just as I was preparing to leave her office, she softened a bit and asked this observer. “See here, I generally like Americans who we come in contact with here but how can you explain these sanctions — or those in Iraq or Afghanistan that have killed so many?”
I tried to explain that we have a culture clash in America that means that many Americans overwhelmingly support UNESCO and the work of all sixteen of the UN Specialized Agencies but we also have politicians like Arizona Senator John McCain and South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham who never saw a war they did not like. The former just returned from another visit to the region and apparently learned nothing except that he still wants a military solution.
The latter, who is known for his jokes on Capitol Hill that as a “true southerner” he never got over the American Civil War or what it did to American society, has repeatedly expressed his view of US “economic” sanctions by declaring recently, “Sanctions are good but they need to be tougher! Cut the bastards off at the knees.”
Senator Graham also noted his agreement with former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright who made the repulsive statement that the deaths of 500,000 children in Iraq from a US “economic sanctions” regime that “exempted foods and medicine” but in reality was a starvation program “was worth the price.”
Ironically, it was the arch-nemesis of the Confederacy, Yankee General William Tecumseh Sherman, who might agree with Graham regarding sanctions against a civilian population. What has bothered Senator Graham since he first studied the Civil War in school, according to one Congressional source, is that the Yankee February 17, 1865 captured Graham’s state capital of Columbia, South Carolina. It was not pretty and most of the central city was destroyed. But the Yankee and the Confederate might just agree on targeting civilian populations with economic sanctions. Wrote Sherman, shortly before his March to the Sea which fatally cut the south in two:
“We are not fighting against enemy armies, but against an enemy people, young and old, rich and poor, and they must feel the iron hand of war in the same way as organized armies.”
I left the UNESCO office sort of crestfallen. Not because of the lady’s roughness with me, but rather because of the realization, yet once again, that our species quite simply does not learn much from history and apparently will repeat it until the end of times. May God protect the people, everywhere, from the politicians.
Even before the historic 139 to 8 vote of the UN General Assembly on November 29 of this year which opened up a plethora of legal remedies for Palestinians, a “legal intifada” — to borrow a phrase from Francis Boyle, Professor of International Law and a longtime advocate of advancing resistance to the illegal occupation of Palestine through the rule of law — has been taking form in this region.
The reasons include nearly seven decades of countless Zionist crimes against Muslims and Christians in occupied Palestine and far beyond. As Professor Boyle has suggested, the opportunities presented to the PLO by the lopsided UN vote “…can mean numerous available legal remedies ranging from the securing of a fair share of the gas deposits off the shores of Gaza, control of Palestinian airspace and telecommunications and, crucially, bringing the Zionist regime to account at the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice.
Syria too, currently under enormous pressure from international interference into the internal affairs of the country and the subject of an intense regime change project led by the US and France, has international legal remedies immediately available to it stemming from the actions of the US, UK, France and others in imposing on Syria’s civilian population one of the most severe and clearly illegal layers of sanctions. Were Syria and others to file an Application for an Advisory Opinion with the ICJ few in the international legal community have much doubt that targeting civilians economically and attempting to destroy the Syrian economy — for no other purpose than to ignite rebellion — would be considered a violation of international law at the International Court of Justice.
Granted there are some potential jurisdictional problems given that Syria has not yet accepted the Article 36 Compulsory Jurisdiction of the World Court, as provided in the Statute of the Court, and the strong campaign at the UN that would certainly be waged by the Obama Administration to challenge ICJ jurisdiction to hear a case on behalf of Syria and its civilian population, but they can be overcome. As a general rule, an Advisory Opinion requires a simple majority affirmative vote by the UN General Assembly or an Application by one of the designated UN Specialized Agencies. This might be a tough job to secure the former but it is doable with the latter. Moreover, should Syria accept the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ it could likely quickly resolve the issue of sanctions by claiming a legal dispute with one or more states that also accept CJ and are supporters of sanctions. For example, the UK, France and their NATO and Gulf allies.
Aspects of a possible filing at the International Court of Justice on the legality of US-led sanctions are currently being researched by seasoned international lawyers and academics, at various Western and International law centers. Supporting efforts being worked on include drafting amicus curie briefs on the issue of the legality of the US-led sanctions to be submitted to the Court, plans for securing the widest possible political support for challenging the US-led sanctions from among Non-Aligned Movement countries, international peace groups, NGO’s, pro-peace websites, bloggers, social media and online activists as well as organizing a skilled media center to disseminate information about the case including quickly publishing, in paperback book form, one of the key Annexes to be submitted to the ICJ upon filing the Application. This volume will present Syrian government and International NGO prepared data on the inhumane effects of the US led sanctions in all their aspects, including by not limited to children, the elderly and the infirm, plus the effects of the US-led sanctions on the Syrian economy generally, i.e. consumer goods, medical delivery systems, financial institutions, currency values and related aspects of the lives of the civilian population of Syria.
Were Syria, and others, to take the illegal and immoral US-led sanctions case to the World Court and other available venues, they would shift their diplomatic position from a defensive status to taking the offense. Such a bold initiative would advance accountability under international law and, because the ICJ would likely grant a Petition for Interim Measures of Protection, the US-led sanctions could be suspended during the course of the judicial proceedings. Obviously this lifting/freezing of the sanctions would immediately and directly inure to the benefit of the Syrian civilian population, including the half million Palestinian refugees in Syria as well as thousands from Iraq.
This would work in concert with the “THREE B’s”, to borrow a phrase from Russia’s top middle east envoy, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Boganov, referring to Mr. Brahimi, Mr. Bogdanov, and Undersecretary William Burns, a former ambassador to Moscow, who would be urged to intensify their focus on achieving a diplomatic resolution of the Syrian crisis based on modified June 2011 Geneva formulation of a transition period leading to the 2014 elections.
According to several International lawyers surveyed between October andDecember, 2012, Syria clearly has the facts of the US sanctions case in its favor and there are ample solid legal theories to argue to and convince the World Court. Under the ICJ Statute, the Court must decide cases solely in accordance with international law. Hence the ICJ must apply: (1) any international conventions and treaties; (2) international custom; (3) general principles recognized as law by civilized nations; and (4) judicial decisions and the teachings of highly qualified publicists of the various nations. From this body of international law the International Court of Justice would find ample basis to support Syria’s claims not only for the benefit of its civilian population but also to advance the rule of law in the global community.
The ICJ is made up of 15 jurists from different countries. No two judges at any given time may be from the same country. The court’s composition is static but generally includes jurists from a variety of cultures. Among the Principles, Standards and Rules of international law that Syria may well argue to the World Court, may include but not be limited to, the following:
The US led sanctions violate international humanitarian law due to the negative health effects of the sanctions on the civilian population of Syria. This renders the sanctions illegal under international customary law and the UN Charter for their disproportionate damage caused to Syria’s civilian population;
The US led severe sanctions regime constitutes an illegitimate form of collective punishment of the weakest and poorest members of society, the infants, the children, the chronically ill, and the elderly;
The US, France and the UK, as well as their allies, have violated the UN Charter by their imposition of severe economic sanctions and threats of military force. The United States, Israel, and some of their allies, regularly threaten Damascus with the “option” of a military strike. The ICJ has ruled previously that “A threat or use of force is contrary to Article 2, paragraph 4, of the UN Charter and fails to meet all the requirements of Article 51, is therefore unlawful”. It has further ruled that “A threat of use of force must be compatible with the requirements of the international law applicable in armed conflict, particularly those of the principles and rules of humanitarian law, as well as with specific obligations under treaties and other undertakings which expressly deal with threats to members of the United Nations.”
Moreover, unilateral US sanctions, without the imprimatur of the United Nations are blatantly illegal under International Law because they are in fact multilateral and impose penalties on any country which opposes the sanctions or does not choose to participate in them;
The US led sanctions amount to an Act of War given their effects including hardships on the general public and that Syria therefore has a legal right to Self-Defense.
The US led sanctions, given their design and intent, constitute acts of aggression against Syria in violation of Article 2 (4) of the UN charter.
The indisputable facts of the US led sanctions case warrant the imposition by the ICJ of Restraining Orders designed to prevent any type of blockade or no-fly zones in Syria and the immediate cessation of the imposition of further economic sanctions against Syria, and also their efforts of securing more sanctions against Syria at the United Nations Security Council. The Restraining Orders, under the umbrella of Interim Measures of Protection, would presumably also seek to prohibit the US and its allies from the Persian Gulf region and elsewhere, from advocating aggressive military actions against Syria, including supplying funding, weapons, and jihadists, as well as Western “Special Forces” currently pouring into Syria from its northern border with Turkey and to negotiate with the Syrian government in good faith to end the current crisis.
Syria can legitimately claim, and would presumably argue at the ICJ and other international forums that the bi-lateral or multilateral economic sanctions, led by the US and its Gulf allies, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, are illegal, indeed criminal due to their assault on international humanitarian law and required state practice.
Syria could successfully argue, according to a recent survey of international lawyers conducted in Brussels and The Hague, as well as within Syria’s Maison d’Avocats, that the US led sanctions violate the international law principle of Non-intervention in the internal affairs of UN member states and that the stewards of these sanctions could themselves be subject to international sanctions plus compensatory and punitive damages for the benefit of their victims.
In summary, as Germany’s Green Party, and increasingly, legal scholars and human rights organizations generally are insisting, sanctions against Syria’s civilian population fundamentally violate international law.
Should NATO sets up a no-fly zone and were to launch airstrikes against Damascus, it can and should immediately be sued at The Hague and if the situation deteriorates NATO can and should be held to account for targeting Alawites and Christians on the basis of the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. All participating countries, 142 to date, are obliged to prevent and punish actions of genocide in war and in peacetime. Article 2 of the Convention defines genocide as any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, elements of a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group including killing members of the group, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.
Despite Syria’s strong case on both the facts and the law, and the diversity in structure and composition of the International Court of Justice, the International Tribunal has a few times over the years been criticized for favoring established powers. Under articles 3 and 9 of the ICJ Statute, the judges on the ICJ should represent “the main forms of civilization and principal legal systems of the world.” This definition suggests that the ICJ does not represent the interests of developing countries. Nevertheless, the World Courts record has been by and large exemplary in applying principles, standards and rules of international law both in contested cases and advisory opinions and Syria has an excellent opportunity to protect its citizens, thwart US and Israeli designs on the region, and advance international accountability — all to the inestimable benefit of all people and nations.
Syria, which the US and Israel and their allies are today working to keep off balance and on the defensive diplomatically, should consider immediately filing an application with the International Court of Justice, and use all other available international legal, political and humanitarian tribunals, to directly challenge and boldly confront the US led sanctions campaign against its people. The Syrian Arab Republic, by taking the offensive at the World Court and elsewhere, will help relieve the enormous pressures on its civilians and advance the principles, standards and rules of international law—for the benefit of all mankind.
A few thoughts rushed through this observers mind when he saw a distraught looking woman sitting alone, tightly holding two babies, at one corner of the vast parking lot of the central Damascus bus station known as Al-Soumariyeh. It is from here where inexpensive transportation can be had for those traveling west, east, north and south.
One thought was about a character out of a Charles Dickens novel and the other was ‘waif, frail, malnourished, frightened’, so the lady, holding the babies appeared. She managed a polite but weak smile as I passed and she said “hello.”
Long story made short, the lady and I chatted and it turned out that Souha was fleeing the al-Hajar al-Aswad neighborhood on the southern edge of Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp. This is one of the ‘hot-line’ areas of Yarmouk, where on 12/16/12 approximately 400 Jabhat al-Nusra (Nusra Front) militia fighters joined by various other salafist jihadists defeated Palestinian “popular committees” fighters supposedly loyal to Ahmed Jabil’s, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-GC (PFLP-GC). There are various unconfirmed estimates of how many ‘General Command’ fighters defected during the fighting to the rebel forces, but the PFLP-GC admits that some did. Also in the camp are some fighters from the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) and the Popular Front (PFLP).
Souha who is studying English literature, had lost her husband and was trying to travel to Ein el Helwe refugee camp in Saida, Lebanon. She had the name of a distant relative, she thought was still living in Ein el Helwe, but she was unsure how to find her but knew that she desperately needed to get out of Syria.
Nearly 70% (UNWRA puts the figure at 90%) of the 180,000 Yarmouk camp residents in the 2.1 square-kilometer camp area have, as of this morning fled. This figure was provided by, Anwar Raja, politburo member of the ‘General Command” with whom this observer had a three hour meeting during the night of 12/18/2012 inside the north edge of Yarmouk. Any camp resident with a MTN or Syriatel mobile phone got a text message, from the Syrian military to leave the camp for their own safety.
Souha asked me if I had heard about the problems of the Palestinian people and explained that she fled the bombing at Yarmouk camp and that most of her neighbors also scattered. Some of the thousands of refugees who continue to flee Yarmouk can be seen today near central Damascus, and sitting in the streets of Midan. These areas are still safe. Other are huddled in parks and camped under concrete underpasses, in schools, mosques and basically anywhere they can find a spot. Many are sleeping on sidewalks at al-Sabaa Bahrat square. A friend and I spoke last night to a family of four who had only thin UNCHR blankets for the night.
Souha said she was afraid to seek safety in a Mosque because they are no longer a safe refuge and she explained that she passed about a dozen bodies on the steps and front ground next to the Abdul Qader Al-Hosseini mosque as she left Yarmouk.
Happy to learn that there are actually non-stop vans going from central Damascus to Saida, Lebanon, without having to change vehicles, we found the driver, agreed on a price of 30 LL (about $ 45) for Souha and the same price for her two babies. I insisted on a two-for-one price for the little ones and since it was starting to get dark, the nice fellow agreed. I gave Souha what money I had and also contact information for friends in Lebanon who I knew would help her.
As the van pulled off she waved from the window and I could not help thinking that she may not get much help from the Lebanese government on arriving. Yet I knew that Palestinians there would assist her. I recalled the words of the late murdered Khalil al Wazir (Abu Jihad) when he explained nearly three decades ago, to this observer and the American journalist, Janet Stevens,: “At the end of the day, we Palestinians can rely only on ourselves.” I did not dwell much on his words at the time but since then I have come to understand very well what the great Resistance leader meant.
Yesterday morning I assumed Souha was in Lebanon and had arrived to Saida. Then I began to hear the unsettling news of long lines at the Maznaa crossing from Syria into Lebanon. The news got worse. Thousands of Palestinian refugees were lined up, some waiting for 10 hours or more to cross and many being refused entry into by Lebanese General Security because of “inadequate documents.” Many right now are being forced to return to Damascus.
Lebanon has an international humanitarian duty to ease entry and to assist refugees, as required by well-established and globally accepted international law. But with the exception of Zionist occupied Palestine, Lebanon has the worst human rights record toward Palestinians than any country on earth. The Lebanese Parliament still refuses to grant Palestinian refugees in Lebanon the elementary right to work or to own a home. Even though according to various economic studies, if Palestinians could work, they would help dramatically to build Lebanon’s weak economy.
During the morning of 12/19/12 the news got even worse regarding Souha. Someone from Reuters sent me a published photo showing her stuck on a bus at Maznaa for over 12 hours. According to one report she was forced to return to Damascus. Wherever Souha is she is hopefully someone is helping her.
Ahmed Jebril, an ally of the Syrian government is blaming foreign paid terrorists for the attack that is forcing the emptying of Yarmouk and also the rather quick defeat of his fighters. He and his GC staff told this observer that the General Command had no plans to attempt to return to Yarmouk. Reports from the camp claim that more than half of the GC’s 1000 fighters, mainly younger ones, defected to the rebels. It is difficult to know the truth, but it is fairly clear that Yarmouk has substantially been emptied and that government forces are surrounding the camp, presumably in preparation for a massive counter-attack and or aerial bombardment.
One statement that Ahmed Jebril, who contrary to a New York Times report, has not fled to Iran or Tartous, made that is probably accurate is that “As Yarmouk goes, so goes Damascus. As Damascus goes, so goes Syria”. Jabril’s aid Anwar Raja said that the camp will be used by the rebels to destroy the airport and to launch their “final assault” into the center of Damascus. They showed this observer fragments of ‘home made’ weapons similar to those collected from around Syria by military intelligence who in late October briefed this observer.
President Obama has just promised to take action against those who kill children in cold blood. One thing that he could do immediately to carry out this promise is to stop killing innocent children with all his guns, missiles and drones — for no other reason than because they were born in Afghanistan or Pakistan or Palestine instead of in Connecticut.
400 innocent Palestinian children were shot in cold blood in Gaza during Cast Lead I. 48 innocent children and 12 innocent women were shot in cold blood in Gaza during Cast Lead II. Unarmed, these innocent women and children were slaughtered as they stood and had no weapons in the face of their killers — who were armed to the teeth. Tell me again how this is different (and more justified) than what happened in Connecticut?
The shooter at Sandy Hook pretty much fits the national profile of a young person who had been prescribed anti-depressants and consequently the drugs made him nuts — a la Columbine. Also, here’s a link to Dr. Gary Kohl’s article on the sad effects of anti-depressants on adolescents. Scroll down to the bottom to see the impressively long list of young shooters who have gone postal while taking anti-depressants. http://www.globalresearch.ca/
Syrian Students Condemn American Led Sanctions currently inflating Food Prices…
“Who does that obnoxious woman think she is?” demanded a staffer who works in the Russian Embassy media office inside the vast windowless soviet style massive high walled compound which belongs to his country, here in Damascus.
“Viktor” had been invited to our table, for lunch at the “Lady of Damascus” (“sitt a cham”) restaurant in the middle class neighborhood of Shalan, having been spotted by our charming host, a Sheik and MP in Syria’s Parliament. The well-spoken gentleman was furious, after putting down his mobile phone having apparently heard some rather upsetting news. What ignited Viktor were the recent statements of the US State Department spokesperson, Victoria Nuland and her seemingly anti-Russian statements lecturing and insulting Syria’s ally, which Victor considered a bald effort to misinterpret the recent statement of Russia’s Middle East envoy, Mikhail Bodganov. Badganov, on 12/13/12 had stated, in response to a question, “One must look the facts in the face… unfortunately, the victory of the Syrian opposition cannot be ruled out.” Bogdanov also noted that the Syrian government was “losing control of more and more territory.”
Viktor explained that what has galled the Russian and his embassy colleagues here about Nuland, known for her pro-Zionist, anti-Syrian, Russian, Arab and Muslim views, was her arrogant language: “We want to commend the Russian government for finally waking up to the reality and acknowledging that the regime’s days are numbered.”
According to Viktor, “Bodganov said nothing really new. And we will issue a clarification of this very soon.” He continued, “Everyone knows that theoretically the foreign-backed rebels could win. This is not new and is always a possibility during an uprising. But Mrs. Nuland surely knows that the Syrian government has purposely pulled back from some rural areas where there is mainly open space in order to concentrate its forces to protect population centers. This is very basic military strategy and has been employed throughout history. In the English language I think it’s called something like a “strategic retreat or tactical redeployment. It is reprehensible for western and Gulf media to use our Middle East envoys statement as a form of psychological warfare while deceiving the media.” He added, “Of course we have contingency plans for an evacuation of our citizens if necessary. This is quite normal and we and other countries have such plans for Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, the Gulf countries and Palestine, among others. Russia has not lessened its support for Syria and to think otherwise is yet another in the series on many miscalculations from Washington.”
Sure enough, within hours, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Alexander Lukashevich, a friend of Viktor’s issued a statement: “We would like to remark that he (Bogdanov) has made no statements or special interviews with journalists in the last days. We once again confirm the principled Russian position about the lack of any alternative to a political solution in Syria.”
After venting on Nuland, Victor and others at our table were totally dismissive of the statement of the secretary general of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who told reporters in Brussels after a meeting with the Dutch prime minister at NATO headquarters. “I think the regime in Damascus is approaching collapse,” he told reporters after a meeting with the Dutch prime minister at NATO headquarters. “I think now it is only a question of time.”
The Syrian MP explained that Rasmussen has no credibility at all after all the lies he spoke concerning NATO in Libya and how NATO’s more than 9,000 bombing missions “protected the civilian population” whereas in truth, everyone there at the time (including this observer) knew very well that the main threat to Libya’s population, starting in March 2011 and continuing until mid-October was from NATO. From Sorman to Sabna NATO forces rained indiscriminate death on the civilian population of Libya and according to Russian President, due to meet with Obama in February, has condemned the US and NATO for deceiving Russia and the international community regarding its true aims. Viktor told us that his country fears the same deception is afoot in Syria.
Damascenes are tense, sullen, but not panicked following the recent events and what many consider terrorist acts by so-called “rebels.”
According to students I very much enjoy meeting with from Universities and Colleges here, their President, Bashar Assad, still has the support of a majority of the population. Many, as does the Assad government, accept, in principal, the April 2012 Geneva Proposals. That initiative, proposes a transitional government resulting from dialogue leading up the 2014 election which would be open to all candidates. They favor letting the Syrian people choose at the ballot box the next president whoever that may be.
It is evident here in Damascus that the main worry of the population is the manifold effects of the generally viewed illegal and immoral US led sanctions. On a another subject, “Tamara, a university student explained that the target of students and intimidation by rebel backers of students and faculty plus the kidnappings, taking of houses and cars by these same elements are affecting education here although almost all the schools and universities are still functioning.
This observer had the help of a small group of Damascus University students in conducting a survey of the effects of the US led sanctions regime on the civilian population. Virtually every person who expressed a view on this subject told this observer that the only purpose of the American sanctions is regime change by way of trying to force the population to suffer to such an extent that the long lines for bread etc. turn violent and break the bond between the Bashar Assad government and the civilian population. People here commonly refer to the US led sanctions against Iran as also being about regime change and not because Washington believes it can force Iran to abandon its perfectly legal nuclear development program.
The results of a student led survey of grocery stores in Damascus, completed on 12/12/12, shows the following increases in food prices that citizens here must pay against the backdrop of current unemployment figures currently estimated by economists as being between 40-60 percent of the population.
Damascus Student survey: Price rises for food items between May 2011 and December 2012
(Official exchange rate is currently 80 Syrian pounds for one US dollar)
Lamb—500 Syrian pounds to this week’s price of 750 sp, Chicken—200 sp to 450 sp, Milk—per liter….from 40 to 95 sp, Rice—from 40 sp to 100 sp, Eggs—160-300 sp for a carton of 30 medium sized eggs, Cooking oil—30 per liter to 60, Sugar—40 sp per kilo to 85 sp, Bread—20 sp for 10 loaves of flat bread to 55 currently in Damascus but 220 s.p. in Aleppo where, as in Homs, Hama and the east, a massive humanitarian crises in rapidly spreading.
Russia has promised wheat for this basic staple in Syria. But time is of the essence. In many areas of Syria most in need, basic food stuff supplying NGO’s are absent.
Bottled cooking gas– 500 sp now up to 1000 sp, is also becoming more difficult to find in several Damascus neighborhoods.
Heating oil which was 100 sp per liter is now on average 250 sp but becoming quite scarce. Even some of the five star hotels here in Damascus, due to a severe shortage of “mazot” fuel oil, are cutting off the heat and hot water to rooms except for periods between 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 8-10 p.m. Russia has reportedly promised a tanker of fuel oil but it will be dangerous to transport it by road to the population centers here because, according to students working as volunteers with the Syrian Arab Republic Red Crescent Society and other humanitarian organizations, rebel forces are increasing stealing or destroying aid convoys and rampaging the countryside.
Students here in Damascus intend to publish a more detailed list of consumer goods every two weeks. Yesterday some picketed the empty American embassy in protest against US led sanctions. “The Syrian people will never forget or forgive the American campaign to starve us into submission”, one sign read.
It appears to this observer that, rather as is the case with Iran, the illegal and immoral US led sanctions, which urgently need to be challenged at The Hague, imposed on the civilian population of Syria is having the opposite effect of what their cynical architects intended. The piling on of sanctions is giving credibility to the Assad government which, while employing measures to curtail prices increases here, so far with modest success, is arguing that the price rises are the result of Syria’s American and Zionist enemies. This view is widely shared among students at Damascus University and the general public.
God bless Philip Weiss, the progressive Jewish blogger brave enough to admit in public those things other Jewish ethnic activists prefer to shove under the carpet. A year ago, Weiss was brave enough to confess to me that it is‘Jewish self interests’ that stands at the core of his pro Palestinian activism. Also, a few weeks ago, the same Weiss was honest enough to announce that his Jewish ‘progressive’ internet journal, Mondowiess, changed its comment policy and “will no longer serve as a forum to pillory Jewish culture and religion as the driving factors in Israeli and US policy.”
But this week, the very same Weiss published a new polemic on his website. He now thinks that “it’s time for the media to talk about Zionism.” So, now Weiss is happy to join with the rest of us in talking about Zionism – so long as we avoid discussing ‘Jewishness’. Well, I’m afraid that Philip Weiss may have missed the train since, by now, many of us have already grasped that the time is ripe to talk about Jewishness and the role of ‘Jewish culture as the driving factor in Israeli and US policy.’
Weiss’ logic is no doubt fascinating. This Jewish ethnic activist does provide us with an insight into the level of deceit that is, unfortunately, inherent to Jewish left politics.
Weiss thinks Jews should ask themselves whether they really are ‘unsafe’ in America. Well, Weiss must know plenty about ‘safety’ since it was he himself who felt that it may be ‘risky’ to discuss Jewish culture and religion on his own Mondoweiss.
“Zionism,” he continues, “draws on a person’s worldview and has a religious character, it supplies meaning to his or her life.” Well again, Weiss should know because, like all Zionists, both overt and covert, he operates within a Jews-only political cell namely “Jews Voice for Peace’ (JVP). For some reason, just like his less enlightened brethren, this very ‘progressive’ activist prefers to surround himself with members of his own tribe.
Weiss well knows why the media avoids discussing Zionism, “it would involve a lot of squeamish self-interrogation on the part of Jews,” and Weiss knows what this means. That’s why he, and his Jewish partner Adam Horowitz, banned Jeff Blankfort from commenting on their site – Blankfort was critically discussing Jewish related topics. Weiss couldn’t allow it.
Weiss is brave enough to admit that “the acknowledgment of Jewish prominence in the Establishment, and of the power of Zionism, would make a lot of Jews uncomfortable”, but he isn’t bold enough to admit that the problem is far worse, since Jewish anti-Zionists like himself and JVP are relentlessly seeking a similar hegemony within the Palestinian solidarity discourse and openly campaign against prominent activists who challenge Jewish power. Is it possible that what we are dealing with here is a tribally-driven, power seeking tendency that is inherent to Jewish politics? The answer is a categorical yes, and I provide all the relevant information on this in my latest book The Wandering Who.
Weiss regards himself as an anti-Zionist while, as far as his language is concerned, he actually manifests every possible Zionist symptom. “Silence” on issues to do with Zionist power is “bad for Jews,” says Weiss. Like any Hasbara parrot he repeats the old mantra of ‘good’ vs. ‘bad’ for the Jews. But then isn’t this just what you would expect from a Zionist?
It doesn’t take Weiss too long to drop his political bomb: the silence over Zionist power “allows people who are justifiably angry over our foreign policy to believe that all Jews support Israel.” Here, Weiss is absolutely correct. It is about time to deliver the message to the American people and the entire world – Not all Jews support Israel! In fact, at least two dozen American Jews including Weiss oppose Zionism because, as Weiss confesses, because “it is really bad for the Jews.”
If you think you’ve had enough of Weiss’ Judeo-centrism read this: “Zionism came out of the real condition of Jews in Europe in the late 19th and 20th centuries. I can well imagine being a Zionist at other periods of Jewish history. I would have been a Zionist if I had been in Kafka’s circle in Prague in the 19-teens with the rise of anti-Semitism. I would have been a Zionist if I had been born into the family of my mother’s best friend in Berlin in the 1930s.”
In this embarrassing passage, Weiss, the so-called ‘anti’ Zionist, actually admits that considerations of Jewish safety would justify the colonization of Palestine. This non-ethical vision is also apparent in JVP’s latest ‘educational’ video. It is clearly consistent with the Zionist take on the primacy of Jewish suffering. Which is exactly what you would expect from a Jew who operates politically within Jewish racially-segregated cells. There is only one possible conclusion – Jewish anti Zionism is a myth. Jewish opposition to Zionism is just another form of Zionism-lite that, just like it’s right-wing counterpart, locates Jewish self-interest firmly at its core.
Weiss is a pretty clumsy spin-doctor. He argues that the current militant and totalitarian aspects of Israeli society flow from a ‘Zionist belief system’. Here, Weiss misleads his readers and I think he does this consciously. Israel defines itself as the Jewish State and as the true embodiment of Jewish culture. Its barbarism is the direct outcome of its interpretation of Jewish texts and spirit. If anything, Zionism was born to ‘civilize’ the Diaspora Jew who, certain 19th century emancipated secular Jews found so repellent. So it is not Zionism that makes Israel barbarous, it is the way Israelis interpret their cultural, spiritual and textual heritage. Of course, Weiss is welcome to suggest that there is another possible interpretation to Jewish heritage, but he should be precise and point to those Jewish texts that preach universal ethics and world peace.
Weiss reckons that once we should be brave enough to deal with Zionism, “liberal Zionists will be pressed to decide what they believe in more, liberalism or Zionism.” But still I’m puzzled. If Weiss is so open and tolerant, surely he would allow discussion on his own website concerning the Jewish character of the Jewish State. He would invite a discussion concerning the Jewishness of the Jewish Lobby. I believe that Philip Weiss is operating unwillingly and unwittingly as a Zionist fig leaf. He invests all his intellectual energy diverting attention from the root cause of the problem – namely Jewish culture and Jewish identity politics. And why? Probably because of his own unease with his own Anti Zionist Zionist behaviour.
The United Nations General Assembly vote of 11/29/12, which some in Lebanon’s 12 Palestinian refugee camps are calling a “birth certificate for our country” is the latest of more than 400 UN resolutions on the Question of Palestine and a rare major victory for Palestinians after 65 years of resisting occupation.
The UN action, which was backed by an overwhelm majority of UN members with a lopsided vote of 138 to 9, may well force the Zionist regime to seriously consider a just peaceful resolution of the conflict.
With due respect to the nearly 50 percent of the UN members who voted against the historic Palestine Resolution on 11/29/12 at the General Assembly, which is to say the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru ( the world’s smallest republic covering just 8.1 square miles with a population of 9, 378)), and Palau, with its approximately 20,000 inhabitants, all former U.S. Trust Territories and currently “freely associated states” of the United States, with U.S. zip/postal and telephone codes much more closely resembling American states (51st, 52nd, 53rd and 54th) than sovereign countries, the World spoke clearly in favor of Palestinian self-determination. Indeed, the only reason these dissenting four “countries” are UN Members at all is due to cold war era efforts of Washington to stack the General Assembly in its favor by running up the numbers of its safe votes.
Over the past fortnight, as the US and Israel piled layers of threats onto their mantra of derision regarding yesterday’s historic UN vote on Palestine, both countries desperately tried to dissuade the Palestinians from scrapping their application for non-member observer state membership status with the United Nations.
Way too much did Israeli officials and their US lobby protest, thus drawing more international attention and curiosity as they kept dissing the “purely symbolic empty gesture and meaningless act.”
Naftali Bennett, leader of the extremist right-wing national religious Zionist party in Israel, Habayit Hayehudi (“The Jewish Home”) warned the day before the vote that “the PA bid for non-member status at the UN has very real implications on Israel, and that we must take harsh measures in response. I don’t accept the claim that this is a symbolic move,” Bennet told Israel Radio. “This is not symbolic at all. This has very practical implications. “He added: “We must tell the Arabs, if you pursue a unilateral strategy at the UN, We will pursue a unilateral strategy in annexing settlements in the West Bank.”
There is some important symbolism in the UN admitting Palestine as a non-member observer on the 65th anniversary of the November 29, 1947, adoption by the UN General Assembly of the resolution on the partition of Palestine (resolution 181 (II)). On December 2, 1977, it was recorded that the assembly called for the annual observance of November 29 as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People (A/RES/32/40 B).
Last minute appeals by Secretary of State Hilary Clinton plus a late night pre-vote visit by US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and Middle East envoy David Hale to the hotel room of the Palestinian Authority hold-over President Mahmoud Abbas failed to convince him to withdraw the resolution and to include the demanded eviscerating codicils.
Secretary of State Clinton could not have been more mistaken as she insisted at her news conference on 11/28/12 that “the only path towards a Palestinian state was through direct negotiations. As I have said many times the only path to a two-state solution that fulfills the aspirations of the Palestinian people is through Jerusalem and Ramallah, not New York.” Few in the state department, according to congressional staff members who liaise with Clinton’s staff, believe that direct negotiations would ever lead to Israel voluntarily rejecting its current apartheid system or that the interminable “peace process” has ever been taken seriously by the Zionist regime and in fact constitute a hoax. In contradistinction, the growing reality in the Middle East and all five continents is the belief that only Resistance, with its scores of forms, will liberate Palestine from Zionist occupation.
Low balling the UN vote…
Following the 138 to 9 vote, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, intimated, as did the usual Amen chorus of anti-Arab & anti-Islam zealots, from the US Israeli lobby, including the likes of ADL’s Abe Foxman, that” just as predicted, anti-Semitism was lurking behind the lopsided vote” and that it all amounted, in the words of Netanyahu spokesman Mark Regev, “to nothing but cheap political theater that should not come as a surprise to anyone.”
The American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), as it does on any issue involving Palestine and Israel issued Talking Points for members of Congress and other Zionist organizations to be used when communicating with constituents and giving media interviews. AIPAC keeps close track of how many interviews each member gives and how closely they tow the Zionist line so as to help determine how much cash the particular member will receive for re-election as well as other perks.
For this crucial UN vote, the US Zionist lobby used U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Susan Collins (R-ME) drafted a letter from these AIPAC stalwarts to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas opposing any unilateral attempts by the Palestinian Government to pursue non-member state status at the United Nations General Assembly.
In their letter, the Senators asserted that “Palestinian statehood can only be realized as a result of a broader peace agreement negotiated with the Israelis, not through unilateral measures at the United Nations. Should you decide, however, to bypass direct negotiations and unilaterally seek upgraded status at the UN, we want to again remind you of the potential for significant consequences. As S. Res. 185 notes, any such efforts may cause consequences in regards to U.S. policy and foreign aid.”
AIPAC instructed Congress to make the following points which was included in an “urgent advisory” to every member and many staffers.
1. This UN action won’t lead to peace.
Peace will only occur through direct talks. By refusing to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and seeking recognition of a state at the United Nations, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is damaging U.S. peace efforts. (nothing in this point is accurate)
2. Recognizing a Palestinian state gives legitimacy to Hamas.
The Iranian-backed terrorist group has fired thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians and is sworn to the destruction of the Jewish state. By granting recognition of a state, the international community will reward Hamas for its terrorist actions, rather than condemn them
3. The United States has rejected the Palestinian approach.
President Obama has said that “no vote at the United Nations will ever create an independent Palestinian state” and called the Palestinian efforts at the U.N. a “mistake.”
Other talking points AIPAC told Congress to use include: while Israel Takes Steps for Peace, Palestinians run to UN , Israel Wants Talks; Palestinians Still Refuse, Palestinians Glorify Terrorists by praising the Hamas victory.
What the Zionist leaders of Israel, as they franticly try to intimidate the region by stockpiling American weapons, while grabbing more Palestinian land, fear is that the 11/19/12 UN resolution may be a game changer.
In this they are correct.
The UN action allows the Palestinians to participate in General Assembly debates and de facto grants recognition of Palestinian statehood on the pre-1967 ceasefire lines while re-enforcing the wide international consensus that the pre-1967 lines should form the basis of a permanent peace settlement.
It also opens up the 17 Specialized Agencies of the UN including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), International Labor Organization (ILO), International Maritime Organization (IMO), International Monetary Fund (IMF), International Telecommunication Union (ITU), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Universal Postal Union (UPU), the World Bank Group, World Health Organization, World Trade Organization (WTO), International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) as well as related and comparable organizations.
As noted this week by Al-Haq, the Palestinian human rights organization “ Under such a strengthened position within the international legal system, the State of Palestine will be allowed to formally accede to international human rights instruments and other technical United Nations bodies, thus improving protection of Palestinian rights at the domestic and international level”.
It is also to be expected that Palestinian citizens under brutal Zionist occupation will demand to use their new status to join the International Criminal Court and might press for investigations of Zionist international crimes, crimes against humanity, attempted genocide, and a host of other practices in the occupied territories. Investigating such international crimes and bringing punishment to those convicted is why the ICC was established.
Professor Francis Boyle reminds us that Palestine can also now sue Israel at the International Court of Justice and end the illegal siege of Gaza, and join the Law of the Sea Convention and secure its fair share of the gas fields lying off the Gaza coast with enormous economic benefits. Palestine can also now join the International Civil Aviation Organization and gain sovereignty over its own airspace; join the International Telecommunications Union and gain sovereign legal control over its own airwaves, phone lines and band-widths.
These are just some of the many reason the Obama administration, slavishly joined the Zionist leadership of occupied Palestine to defeat the UN application.
The actions of the Obama Administration and its vehement opposition to the UN vote continues to diminish the relevance of the US in the Middle East as it slides further down the wrong side of history with its client state in tow. Attempting to justify its shameful opposition to the Palestinian diplomatic undertaking in the UN, the Obama administration could only offer a weak brief from the State Department legal department accusing the PLO of acting unilaterally, in breach of signed agreements are simply parroting AIPAC talking points noted above.
Deepening Palestine’s international legal personality within the United Nations system is a legitimate presence on the world stage from which to assert rights guaranteed by fundamental principles of International Law. With more access to the United Nations system, Palestinians have gained a major political and legal framework from which to work and to encourage the international community to comply with its obligation to end Israeli crimes against them and bring Israel’s serious breaches of international law to an end.
Shatila refugee camp…
The current festive celebrations in Lebanon’s 12 Palestinian refugee camps reflect the intense euphoria being witnessed throughout Gaza and occupied Palestine, Arab and Muslim countries, as well as relief among people of goodwill globally.
This observer’s special friend from Shatila camp, Zeinab, (she refers to herself as ‘Miss International’ given all the Americans and foreigners we bring to meet her and her wonderful family) called last night and giggled, “This is wonderful! You must come! I and some of my friends were wearing black scarves in honor of Ashoura on our way to protest against the Israeli aggression in Gaza. Within half an hour after gathering at the Youth Center athletic field we heard the news of the ceasefire. Soon we were dancing and singing and celebrating.’!”
At about the same time, thirty miles south of Beirut in Ein el Helwe Refugee camp, Lebanon’s largest and most densely populated with nearly 90,000 people squeezed into less than two square kilometers, more sardine-canned than even Gaza city, the General Union of Palestinian Women (GUPW) also organized a celebration of Gaza’s victory.
Established nearly half a century ago in 1965 at the time of the founding of the Palestine Liberation Organization, GUPW has consistently achieved much for Palestinian families regardless of location or fate. Like Zeinab’s manifestation, the GUPW’s demonstration against the Zionist aggression against Gaza became a joyful rally to celebrate Gaza’s victory, and soon refugees inside and on the outskirts of the camp were dancing and singing and raising Palestinian flags.
As Lebanese journalist Mohammad Zaatari has pointed out, the women’s rally was originally scheduled to deplore the aggression against Gaza, however after a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas was reached the occasion turned into a celebration with refugees hoisting banners and flags from various PLO and resistant groups while calling for the solidarity and unity of Palestinian factions to confront the Zionist occupation of their country, Palestine. “Every grain of sand!” one university student shouted, “We must liberate all of Palestine and recover every grain of sand! Jews are most welcomed to stay if they want to live in peace as equals under the law, but forget about colonization, democracy for Jews only and apartheid. They must disappear for sure!”
“We have won in Gaza and this is only the beginning,” beamed Amina Jibril, Director of the Palestinian Women Union in Lebanon. “We haven’t just won through rockets. The kids and women and civilians who were killed in the clashes were resisting every day because their mere presence in Gaza is an act of resistance itself.”
But when the cheering stops and the placards are discarded, the many joyful demonstrations throughout Lebanon subside; most of the participants will trundle back to their bleak abject existence in Lebanon’s camps worse off in many respects than Gazans.
It is true that in Lebanon, Sunnis, Shiites, Christians, and Druze regularly condemn Israel and consistently support the “liberation” of Palestine and breaking the siege of Gaza. But few there are who have historically supported expanding the rights or improving the dire living conditions of the more than quarter million refugees within Lebanese borders. As one Palestinian wryly noted, the Lebanese “favor the liberation of Palestine and Gaza, but they oppose even the most basic civil rights for Palestinians in Lebanon.”
Without any help from the Lebanese government or the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Palestinian refugees in Lebanon have no choice but to depend on the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) as their sole source of support and protection. Unfortunately, UNRWA has not proved up to the task due to the United States and Israel politicizing and interfering with international donor contributions.
Most Palestinians in Lebanon who are cheering Gaza’s victory well into the night won’t have to be concerned about being late for work the next day because Lebanese law forbids Palestinians from working in dozens of jobs and professions. Today, according to UNRWA’s own statistics, only about 53,000 of the approximately 130,000-strong Palestinian labor force are employed at all. Most who are have “illegal” low paying work are often ruthlessly exploited by employers who know their workers cannot complain to authorities or collect any work benefits. This is because in 1964, the Lebanese Ministry of Labor instituted a policy under Ministerial Decree No. 17561 whereby professions in Lebanon could be limited to Lebanese citizens. The regulations prohibited Palestinians from working in some seventy job categories.
In the camps of south Lebanon, Ein el Helwe, Mieh-Meih, al Buss and Rasheideyeh, and up north in the still unrestored Nahr al Bared camp, approximately 85 percent of all refugees live in “abject poverty.” Among the states in which UNRWA operates, Lebanon has by far the highest number of “special-hardship cases,” i.e., the poorest of the poor, some 30-35 percent of Palestinian refugees.
Nor will most the temporary celebrants of the Hamas victory in Gaza have classes to attend when the celebrations finish. As of 2008, the pass rate of Palestinian students in UNRWA classes was less than 50 percent—10 percent less than their Lebanese counterparts in state schools. This education deficit alone limits the opportunities of Palestinians in Lebanon. UNRWA does operate seventy-four primary schools– of which approximately 25 percent try to educate with larger classes, shorter hours and in double shifts—and in the process, provides employment to 2,785 residents and as of 2006, was the largest employer of legal, skilled Palestinian labor in Lebanon.
According to the recently published 2012 Human Rights Watch report on the conditions of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon: “They continue to live in appalling social and economic conditions. 2011 saw no improvement in their access to the labor market, despite a labor law amendment in 2010 that was supposed to ease such access. The main reason was the government’s failure to implement the amendment. Lebanese laws and decrees still bar Palestinians from working in at least 25 professions requiring syndicate membership, including law, medicine, and engineering. Palestinian refugees are still subject to a discriminatory law introduced in 2001 preventing them from owning property.”
All activists and others around the world celebrating the victory in Gaza must encourage Lebanon thru its local embassy’s and consults, their own governments, Iran and the Hezbollah led Resistance in Lebanon, as well as Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt to immediately use their power and prestige, enhanced by this month’s victory in Gaza to urge Parliament to repeal the racist 2001 law that forbids only Palestinians from owning a home in Lebanon. They need to leverage the victory in Gaza to benefit Palestinians in Lebanon and assure that Parliament immediately grants Palestinians in Lebanon the same civil right to work as every other foreigner in Lebanon enjoys as does every refugee in every country in the world including Gaza. It can quickly be achieved by progressive forces that currently control Parliament using their political power to achieve these long overdue humanitarian requisites.
Indeed, if these forces will generate the political will, no more than 90 minutes of Lebanon’s Parliamentary time will be required to truly make the victory in Gaza historic while at the same time lifting the shame off Lebanon for its massive violations of international and Lebanese laws by granting Palestinian refugees the most elementary civil right to work and to own a home.
If achieved, history will forever record that it was the 2012 victory in Gaza that substantially liberated their fellow refugees in Lebanon by granting these elementary rights.
Most peoples that resist the power politics of Zionism condemn aggressive actions of the outlaw Israeli state regularly. Yet most of the western democracies that are under the control of Talmud media and Khazar finance continue to defend the apartheid policies that are designed to purge any prospect of Palestinian, right to return, to the land of their forced removal. No matter what your politics are regarding the Middle East, the indisputable fact exists that the Greater Israel design for expanded territory is a core impediment of this interminable conflict.
From the beginning, Zionists advocated a “Jewish State” not just in Palestine, but also in Jordan, southern Lebanon, and the Golan Heights as well. In 1918 Ben-Gurion described the future “Jewish state’s” frontiers in details as follows:
“to the north, the Litani river [in southern Lebanon], to the northeast, the Wadi ‘Owja, twenty miles south of Damascus; the southern border will be mobile and pushed into Sinai at least up to Wadi al-’Arish; and to the east, the Syrian Desert, including the furthest edge of Transjordan” (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 87) Click here to view the “Greater Israel” map that was submitted by the Zionists to the peace conference after WWI.
The self-justification by Zionists for enhancing strategic security enlargement of territory never deals with the central issues. The entire concept of a homogeneous “Jewish State” under a secular Zionist regime, mocks the notion of religious faithfulness to the teaching in the Torah. The meaning of a “Greater Israel” has little to do with devotion of Jehovah.
In order to comprehend this distinction read the essay Zionism, Racism and anti-Semitism.
“Zionism is a political movement. To equate motives of politics with a religious belief is specious. Judaism is NOT equivalent to Zionism. The distinction is imperative if a correct understanding of relationships and actions, in the Middle East, are to be appreciated. A Zionist often professes their acceptance of the tenants of the Jewish faith, but a ‘true believer’ in the supremacy and survivability of a political state, can and frequently are non-believers to Judaism and the Torah. This is crucial, because it is not a condition of political allegiance to share faith in Yahweh.”
Review the deplorable history of Israeli territorial designs. The Maps Tell The Story account that displays the chart of expansionist settlements.
“Starting with the United Nations Partition Plan, 1947, the original borders for the state of Israel are quite limited. This index illustrates the significant border changes after the 1949 War of Independence, after the six day war of 1967, than after the 1982 return of Sinai and the invasion of Lebanon, and finally after Palestinian autonomy and Lebanon withdrawal in 2000.
But the most notable map is the one that identifies the Israeli settlements on the West Bank. A careful analysis of the locations and the areas that are an effective no man’s land, demonstrates the consequences of the expanded settlements. It is hard to believe that Israel will ever agree to remove their own population from these areas.”
Most discussions about Israel originate under the premise that the government in Tel Aviv has an immutable right to defend itself. Thus far, the plight of the displaced Palestinians is almost exclusively relegated to condemnation for inflicting savage terrorism. At the same time the enormous military technological offensive strike capabilities of the Israeli Defend Force undertakes carnage with a disproportionate vengeance that unmasks the true vicious hatred of non-Zionists. Conferring moral authority for IDF airstrikes equates to the same erroneous rationale and hypocrisy that NeoCon proponents shower over the U.S. bombing of al-Qaeda enclaves.
The tentative cease-fire in the latest rupture of mutual hostilities just plays into the hands of the incremental Zionist expansionists. The overriding concern in Israel is not that their Iron Dome missile system can destroy incoming Hamas Fajr-5 projectiles. Their goal is to seek cover for their intended preemptive strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.
RT quotes from the account; Iran confirms military aid to Hamas, sending long-range missile technology.
“Iranian lawmaker Ali Larijani said on Wednesday his country was “proud” to defend the people of Palestine and Hamas according to remarks published on the Islamic Republic’s parliamentary website.
Larijani stressed the assistance had been both “financial and military.” On Tuesday, Larijani lauded the Palestinian missile capability, saying it had given them a “strategic [source] of power.”
Now the world press will decry Iran for their acknowledged support of Hamas. However, the Washington Post article back in 2006, Hamas Sweeps Palestinian Elections, Complicating Peace Efforts in Mideast, grudgingly reports:
“The radical Islamic movement Hamas won a large majority in the new Palestinian parliament, according to official election results announced Thursday, trouncing the governing Fatah party in a contest that could dramatically reshape the Palestinians’ relations with Israel and the rest of the world.
In Wednesday’s voting, Hamas claimed 76 of the 132 parliamentary seats, giving the party at war with Israel the right to form the next cabinet under the Palestinian Authority’s president, Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of Fatah.”
When did you last read that the radical IDF using American aircraft and smart bombs struck a sovereign country’s industrial facilities and slaughtered civilians as collateral damage? Full Spectrum Dominance, in the pursuit of eliminating any resistance to the New World Order is justified in the Zionist press. Simply put, the NWO is composed of many rabid Zionists that give a new meaning to the term extremist. However, in the bigger scheme of things it is No Surprise – Terrorism Is Winning.
“The reason that Terrorism is seen as the ultimate foe of governments is the nature of the warfare. Let no one mistake the stakes. Those who are willing to die to deliver chaos and turmoil are dangerous. But, more than that, they are unstoppable. Such an assessment may be unpopular but consider the facts. Regimes and prosperous societies have much to lose. Alienated and hostile adversaries that place little value on life, are no match for standing armed forces. By denying the temperament of the attacker and responding with overwhelming force, the inevitable futility of the end result; is guaranteed. Even tactics of aggressive proactive search and destroy strategy, fails to address or eradicate the underlying conflict. The battle may be won short term, but the war just continues.”
In spite of using the term terrorism, the reaction to systemic aggression often takes a violent response. This is the ultimate break with faith, principles and teachings of all the three eminent monotheistic religions. Warfare over territory is as old as history. Destabilizing Egypt, Libya and now Syria is part of a larger master tactic to isolate Iran as the only remaining obstacle to the greater State of Israel.
U.S. forces under the discredited pretext of weapons of mass destruction falsehoods dismantled Iraq. Co-opting Gaza so that Iran can be leveled from the air means that the jointly developed Israeli/American Iron Dome batteries can be deployed for incoming Iranian missiles after a sneak attack strike.
The article Hamas, Israel and the United States sums up the dangers of American involvement into a blood feud. Dominance of the region and impoverishment of the oil poor inhabitants drive the displacement of Palestinians into ghettos of expedient smart weapon annihilation.
“A regional dispute over land that was stolen with the blessing of Western Democracies is and always has been the nucleus of the eventual holocaust. What Americans are so unwilling to accept is that our own country has no duty or moral imperative to arbitrate between eternal enemies. It is a local conflict that can only destroy our own land by intervening. Making matters much worse are foreign policies that the United States acts as a neutral broker for peace.”
Just who is the rogue state in the Middle East? Israel is no ally. The political reality of domestic politics is hard pressed to poke the Jewish lobby in the eye. Nonetheless, attacking Iran in a joint operation with the IDF is pure madness. The old axis of evil rhetoric has deplorable consequences, when applied with JDAM-equipped bombs guided by a global positioning satellite system.
Hamas does not have clean hands, but when will the American public come to grips with the real reasons for the destruction of our own nation? The Western Democracies capitulated to the Zionists in the theft of Palestinian land. Khazar imposters are not Semite descendants of Abraham. Their own ruling class dupes sincere tribal Jews. Zionism puts them at risk. The “Greater Israel” expansionism is an impediment to any negotiated peace with justice.How much more blood needs to be shed to admit the obvious? Christian-Zionists bear a heavy responsibility in fostering the Likudnik mindset. Without a moral treatment of all peoples, not all the military weapons on the planet will ever impose peace. The Arab dynasties hardly champion the Palestinian cause. When desperation becomes genetically acceptable, the entire world loses its humanity. In order to eradicate unremitting bombing, the globe needs to face up to real rogue terrorism.
The headline stories claim that CIA Director General David Petraeus resigned as head of the CIA because of an adulterous relation with his young biographer and that General John Allen, Supreme Commander of US troops in Afghanistan, was under investigation and his promotion to top commander of US troops in Europe was on hold, because, we are told, of his ‘inappropriate’ comments in the exchange of e-mails with a civilian female friend. We are told that a ‘hard-charging’ local FBI agent, Frederick Humphries, Jr., had uncovered amorous e-mails sent by General Petraeus to his girlfriend-biographer in the course of investigating a complaint of ‘cyber-stalking’. Out of concern that the General’s ‘adulterous behavior’ posed a risk to US national security, Florida-based FBI Agent Humphries handed the evidence over to one of Washington, DC’s most powerful Republican, Congressman Eric Cantor, who in turn passed them on to the Director of the FBI… leading to Petraeus resignation.
In other words, we are asked to believe that a single, low-ranking, zealous FBI agent has toppled the careers of two top US Generals: one in charge of the principle global intelligence agency, the CIA, and the other in command of the US and allied combat forces in the principle theater of military engagement – on the basis of infidelity and flirtatious banter!
Nothing could be more far-fetched simply on prima facie evidence.
In the sphere of tight hierarchical organizations, like the military or the CIA, where the activity and behavior of subordinate functionaries is centrally directed and any investigation is subject to authorization by senior officials (most especially regarding prying into the private correspondences of the heads of the CIA and of strategic military operations), the idea that a lone agent might operate free-lance is preposterous. A ‘cowboy’ agent could not simply initiate investigation into such ‘sensitive’ targets as the head of the CIA and a General in an active combat zone without the highest level authorization or a network of political operatives with a much bigger agenda. This has much deeper political implications than uncovering a banal sexual affair between two consenting security-cleared adults despite the agent’s claim that fornication constitutes a threat to the United States .
Clearly we are in deep waters here: This involves political intrigue at the highest level and has profound national security implications, involving the directorship of the CIA and clandestine operations, intelligence reports, multi-billion dollar expenditures and US efforts to stabilize client regimes and destabilize target regimes. CIA intelligence reports identifying allies and enemies are critical to shaping global US foreign policy. Any shift at the top of the US empire’s operational command can and does have strategic importance.
The ‘outing’ of General Allen, the military commander in charge of Afghanistan, the US main zone of military operations occurs at a crucial time, with the scheduled forced withdrawal of US combat troops and when the Afghan ‘sepoys’, the soldiers and officers of the puppet Karzai regime, are showing major signs of disaffection, is clearly a political move of the highest order.
What are the political issues behind the beheading of these two generals? Who benefits and who loses?
At the global level, both Generals have been unflinching supporters of the US Empire, most especially the military-driven components of empire building. Both continue to carry out and support the serial wars launched by Presidents Bush and Obama against Afghanistan and Iraq , as well as, the numerous proxy wars against Libya , Syria , Yemen , Somalia , etc. But both Generals were known to have publicly taken positions unpopular with certain key factions of the US power elite.
CIA Director, General Petraeus has been a major supporter of the proxy wars in Libya and Syria . In those efforts he has promoted a policy of collaboration with rightwing Islamist regimes and Islamist opposition movements, including training and arming Islamist fundamentalists in order to topple targeted, mostly secular, regimes in the Middle East . In pursuit of this policy – Petraeus has had the backing of nearly the entire US political spectrum. However, Petraeus was well aware that this ‘grand alliance’ between the US and the rightwing Islamist regimes and movements to secure imperial hegemony, would require re-calibrating US relations with Israel . Petraeus viewed Netanyahu’s proposed war with Iran, his bloody land grabs in the Occupied Territories of Palestine and the bombing, dispossession and assassination of scores of Palestinians each month, were a liability as Washington sought support from the Islamist regimes in Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Gulf States, Iraq and Yemen.
Petraeus implied this in public statements and behind closed doors he advocated the withdrawal of US support for Israel ’s violent settler expansion into Palestine , even urging the Obama regime to pressure Netanyahu to reach some settlement with the pliable US client Abbas leadership. Above all, Petraeus backed the violent jihadists in Libya and Syria while opposing an Israel-initiated war against Iran, which he implied, would polarize the entire Moslem world against the Washington-Tel Aviv alliance and ‘provoke the US-proxy supplied Islamist fundamentalists to turn their arms against their CIA patrons. The imperial policy, according to General Petraeus world view, was in conflict with Israel ’s strategy of fomenting hostility among Islamist regimes and movements against the US and, especially, the Jewish state’s promotion of regional conflicts in order to mask and intensify its ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. Central to Israeli strategy and what posed the most immediate threat to the implementation of a Petraeus’ doctrine was the influence of the Zionist power configuration (ZPC) in and out of the US government.
As soon as General Petraeus’ report naming Israel as a ‘strategic liability’ became known, the ZPC sprang into action and forced Petraeus to retract his statements – at least publicly. But once, he became head of the CIA, Petraeus continued the policy of working with rightwing Islamist regimes and arming and providing intelligence to jihadi fundamentalists in order to topple independent secular regimes, first in Libya, then on to Syria. This policy was placed under the spotlight in Benghazi with the killing of the US ambassador to Libya and several CIA/Special Forces operatives by CIA-backed terrorists leading to a domestic political crisis, as key Republican Congress people sought to exploit the Obama administration’s diplomatic failure. They especially targeted the US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, whose maladroit efforts to obscure the real source of the attacks in Benghazi , have undermined her nomination to replace Hilary Clinton as Secretary of State.
General Petraeus, faced with mounting pressure from all sides: from the ZPC over his criticism of Israel and overtures to Islamist regimes, from the Republicans over the Benghazi debacle and from the FBI, over the personal investigation into his girlfriend and hyped up media smear, gave in. He ‘fessed up’ to a ‘sexual affair’, saluted and resigned. In so doing, he ‘sacrificed’ himself in order to ‘save the CIA’ and his strategy of long-term alliance-building with ‘moderate’ Islamist regimes while forming short-term tactical alliances with the jihadists to overthrow secular Arab regimes.
The key political operative behind the high-level FBI operation against Petraeus has been House Majority leader Eric Cantor, who cynically claims that the General’s romantic epistles represent a national security threat. We are told that Congressman Cantor gravely passed the e-mails and reports he had received from the ‘Lone Ranger’ FBI agent Humphries to FBI Director Mueller ordering Mueller to act on the investigation or else face his own Congressional inquiry.
Washington-based Representative Cantor is a zealous lifetime Israel-firster and has been hostile to the Petraeus report and the General’s assessment of the Middle East . Florida-based, Agent Humphries was not just any old conscientious gum-shoe: He was a notorious Islamaphobe engaged in finding terrorists under every bed. His claim to fame (or infamy) was that he had arrested two Muslims, one of whom, he claimed, was preparing to bomb the Los Angeles airport while the other allegedly planned a separate bombing. In a judicial twist, unusual in this era of FBI sting operations, both men were acquitted of the plots for lack of evidence, although one was convicted for publishing an account of how to detonate a bomb with a child’s toy! Agent Humphries was transferred from Washington State to Tampa , Florida – home of the US military’s Central Command (CENTCOM).
Despite their clear differences in station and location, there are ideological affinities between House Majority Whip Cantor and Agent Humphries – and possibly a common dislike of General Petraeus. Concerns over his Islamophobic and ideological zealotry may explain why the FBI quickly yanked Agent Humphries out from his mission of ‘obsessive’ prying into CIA Director Petraeus and General Allan’s e-mails. Undeterred by orders from his superiors in the FBI, Agent Humphries went directly to fellow zealot Congressman Cantor.
Who would have benefited from Petraeus ouster? One of the top three candidates to replace him as head of the CIA is Jane Harmon, former California Congresswomen and Zionist uber-zealot. In another twist of justice, in 2005 the Congresswoman had been captured on tape by the National Security Agency telling Israeli Embassy personnel that she would use her influence to aid two AIPAC officials who had confessed to handing classified US documents to the Israeli Mossad, if the AIPAC could round up enough Congressional votes to make her Chairwoman of the US House Committee on Intelligence, an act bordering on treason, for which she was never held to account. If she were to take his position, the ousting of CIA Director Petraeus could represent to the greatest ‘constitutional coup’ in US history: the appointment of a foreign agent to control the world’s biggest, deadliest and richest spy agency. Who would benefit from the fall of Petraeus? – first and foremost – the State of Israel.
The innuendos, smears and leaked investigation into the private e-mails of General Allen revolve around his raising questions over the US policy of prolonged military presence in Afghanistan . From his own practical experience General Allen has recognized that the puppet Afghan army is unreliable: hundreds of US and other NATO troops have been killed or wounded by their Afghan counterparts, from lowest foot soldiers to the highest Afghan security officials, ‘native’ troops and officers that the US had supposedly trained for a much ballyhooed ‘transfer of command’ in 2014. General Allen’s change of heart over the Afghan occupation was in response to the growing influence of the Taliban and other Islamist resistance supporters who had infiltrated the Afghan armed forces and now had near total control of the countryside and urban districts right up to the US and NATO bases. Allen did not believe that a ‘residual force’ of US military trainers could survive, once the bulk of US troops pulled out. In a word, he favored, after over a decade of a losing war, a policy of cutting the US ’ losses, declaring ‘victory’ and leaving to regroup on more favorable terrain.
Civilian militarists and neo-conservatives in the Executive and Congress refuse to acknowledge their shameful defeat with a full US retreat and a likely surrender to a Taliban regime. On the other hand, they cannot openly reject the painfully realistic assessment of General Allen, and they certainly cannot dismiss the experience of the supreme commander of US ground forces in Afghanistan .
When, in this charged political context, the rabidly Islamaphobic FBI agent Humphries ‘stumbled upon’ the affectionate personal correspondences between General Allen and ‘socialite’ femme fatale Jill Kelly, the Neocons and civilian militarists whipped up a smear campaign through the yellow journalists at the Washington Post, New York Times and Wall Street Journal implying another ‘sex’ scandal – this time involving General Allen. The neo-con– militarist-mass media clamor forced the spineless President Obama and the military high command to announce an investigation of General Allen and postpone Congressional hearings on his appointment to head the US forces in Europe . While the General quietly retains his supreme command of US forces in Afghanistan , he has become a defeated and disgraced officer and his expertise and professional views regarding the future of US operations in Afghanistan will no longer be taken seriously.
Key Unanswered Questions Surrounding Elite Intrigues and Military Purges
Given that the public version of a lone-wolf, low ranking, zealously Islamophobic and incompetent FBI agent who just happened to ‘discover’ a sex scandal leading to the discrediting or resignation of two of the US highest military and intelligence officials is absurd to any thinking American, several key political questions with profound implications for the US political system need to be addressed. These include:
1. What political officials, if any, authorized the FBI, a domestic security agency to investigate and force the resignation of the Director of the CIA?
2. Have the current police state structures, with their procedures for widespread and arbitrary spying led to our spy agencies spying on each other in order to purge each other’s top personnel? Is this like the sow devouring her own offspring?
3. What were the real priorities of the political power-brokers who protected the insubordinate FBI agent Humphries after he defied top FBI officials’ orders to stop meddling in the investigation of the CIA Director?
4. What were FBI Agent Humphries ties, if any, to the neo-con, Zionist or Islamophobic politicians and other intelligence operatives, including the Israeli Mossad?
5. Despite Obama’s effusive praise of his brilliant ‘warrior-scholar’ General Petraeus in the past, why did he immediately ‘accept’ (aka ‘force’) the CIA Director’s resignation after the revelation of something as banal in civilian life as adultery? What are the deeper political issues that led to the pre-emptive purge?
6. Why are critical political issues and policy disputes resolved under the guise of blackmail, smears and character assassination, rather than through open debates and discussions, especially on matters pertaining to the nation’s choice of strategic and tactical ‘allies’ and the conduct of overseas wars?
7. Has the purge and public humiliation of top US military officers become an acceptable form of “punishment by example”, a signal from civilian militarists that when it comes to dealing with politics toward the Middle East, the role of the military is not to question but to follow their (and Israel’s) directives?
8. How could a proven collaborator with the Israeli-Mossad and Zionist zealot like Jane Harmon emerge as a ‘leading candidate’ to replace General Petraeus, as Director of the CIA, within days of his resignation? What are the political links, past and present between Congressman Eric Cantor, (the fanatical leader of the pro-Israel power bloc in the US Congress, who handed Agent Humphries’ unauthorized files on Petraeus over to the FBI Director Muellar) and Zionist power broker Jane Harmon, a prominent candidate to replace Petraeus?
9. How will the ouster of Director Petraeus and Jane Harman’s possible appointment to head the CIA deepen Israeli influence and control of US Middle East policy and the US overtures to Islamist countries?
10. How will the humiliation of General Allen affect the US ‘withdrawal’ from the disaster in Afghanistan ?
The purge of top-level generals and officials from powerful US foreign policy and military posts reflects a further decay of our constitutional rights and residual democratic procedures: it is powerful proof of the inability of leadership at the highest level to resolve internecine conflicts without drawing out the ‘long knives’. The advance of the police state, where spy agencies have vastly expanded their political power over the citizens, has now evolved into the policing and purging of each other’s leadership: the FBI, CIA , Homeland Security, the NSA and the military all reach out and build alliances with the mass media, civilian executive and congressional officials as well as powerful foreign interest ‘lobbies’ to gain power and leverage in pursuit of their own visions of empire building.
The purge of General Petraeus and humiliation of General Allen is a victory for the civilian militarists who are unconditional supporters of Israel and therefore oppose any opening to ‘moderate’ Islamist regimes. They want a long-term and expanded US military presence in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
The real precipitating factor for this ugly ‘fight at the top’ is the crumbling of the US empire and how to deal with its new challenges. Signs of decay are everywhere: Military immorality is rampant; the be-medaled generals sodomize their subordinates and amass wealth via pillage of the public treasury and military contracts; politicians are bought and sold by millionaire financial donors, including agents of foreign powers, and foreign interests determine critical US foreign policy.
The disrepute of the US Congress is almost universal – over 87% of US citizen condemn ‘the House and Senate’ as harmful to public welfare, servants of their own self-enrichment and slaves of corruption. The economic elites are repeatedly involved in massive swindles of retail investors, mortgage holders and each other. Multi-national corporations and the fabulously wealthy engage in capital flight, fattening their overseas accounts. The Executive himself (the ever-smiling President Obama) sends clandestine death squads and mercenary-terrorists to assassinate adversaries in an effort to compensate for his incapacity to defend the empire with diplomacy or traditional military ground forces or to prop-up new client-states. Cronyism is rife: there is a revolving door between Wall Street and US Treasury and Pentagon officials. Public apathy and cynicism is rife; nearly 50% of the electorate doesn’t even vote in Presidential elections and, among those who do vote, over 80% don’t expect their elected officials to honor their promises.
Aggressive civilian militarists have gained control of key posts and are increasingly free of any constitutional constraints. Meanwhile the costs of military failures and burgeoning spy, security and military budgets soar while the fiscal and trade deficit grows. Faction fights among rival imperial cliques intensify; purges, blackmail, sex scandals and immorality in high places have become the norm. Democratic discourses are hollowed out: democratic state ideology has lost credibility. No sensible American believes in it anymore.
Is there a broom large enough to clean this filthy Augean stable? Will a ‘collective Hercules’ emerge from all this intrigue and corruption with the strength of character and commitment to lead the revolutionary charge? Surely the sell-out and crude humiliation of American military officials on behalf of the ‘chicken-hawk’ civilian militarists and their foreign interests should make many an officer re-think his own career, loyalty and commitment to the Constitution.
Source: Prof. James Petras | GlobalResearch.ca
Gaza is a window on our coming dystopia. The growing divide between the world’s elite and its miserable masses of humanity is maintained through spiraling violence. Many impoverished regions of the world, which have fallen off the economic cliff, are beginning to resemble Gaza, where 1.6 million Palestinians live in the planet’s largest internment camp. These sacrifice zones, filled with seas of pitifully poor people trapped in squalid slums or mud-walled villages, are increasingly hemmed in by electronic fences, monitored by surveillance cameras and drones and surrounded by border guards or military units that shoot to kill. These nightmarish dystopias extend from sub-Saharan Africa to Pakistan to China. They are places where targeted assassinations are carried out, where brutal military assaults are pressed against peoples left defenseless, without an army, navy or air force. All attempts at resistance, however ineffective, are met with the indiscriminate slaughter that characterizes modern industrial warfare.
In the new global landscape, as in Israel’s occupied territories and the United States’ own imperial projects in Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and Afghanistan, massacres of thousands of defenseless innocents are labeled wars. Resistance is called a provocation, terrorism or a crime against humanity. The rule of law, as well as respect for the most basic civil liberties and the right of self-determination, is a public relations fiction used to placate the consciences of those who live in the zones of privilege. Prisoners are routinely tortured and “disappeared.” The severance of food and medical supplies is an accepted tactic of control. Lies permeate the airwaves. Religious, racial and ethnic groups are demonized. Missiles rain down on concrete hovels, mechanized units fire on unarmed villagers, gunboats pound refugee camps with heavy shells, and the dead, including children, line the corridors of hospitals that lack electricity and medicine.
The impending collapse of the international economy, the assaults on the climate, the resulting droughts, flooding, precipitous decline in crop yields and rising food prices are creating a universe where power is divided between the narrow elites, who hold in their hands sophisticated instruments of death, and the enraged masses. The crises are fostering a class war that will dwarf anything imagined by Karl Marx. They are establishing a world where most will be hungry and live in fear, while a few will gorge themselves on delicacies in protected compounds. And more and more people will have to be sacrificed to keep this imbalance in place.
Because it has the power to do so, Israel—as does the United States—flouts international law to keep a subject population in misery. The continued presence of Israeli occupation forces defies nearly a hundred U.N. Security Council resolutions calling for them to withdraw. The Israeli blockade of Gaza, established in June 2007, is a brutal form of collective punishment that violates Article 33 of the Fourth 1949 Geneva Convention, which set up rules for the “Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.” The blockade has turned Gaza into a sliver of hell, an Israeli-administered ghetto where thousands have died, including the 1,400 civilians killed in the Israeli incursion of 2008. With 95 percent of factories shut down, Palestinian industry has virtually ceased functioning. The remaining 5 percent operate at 25 to 50 percent capacity. Even the fishing industry is moribund. Israel refuses to let fishermen travel more than three miles from the coastline, and within the fishing zone boats frequently come under Israeli fire. The Israeli border patrols have seized 35 percent of the agricultural land in Gaza for a buffer zone. The collapsing infrastructure and Israeli seizure of aquifers mean that in many refugee camps, such as Khan Yunis, there is no running water. UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) estimates that 80 percent of all Gazans now rely on food aid. And the claim of Israeli self-defense belies the fact that it is Israel that maintains an illegal occupation and violates international law by carrying out collective punishment of Palestinians. It is Israel that chose to escalate the violence when during an incursion into Gaza earlier this month its forces fatally shot a 13-year-old boy. As the world breaks down, this becomes the new paradigm—modern warlords awash in terrifying technologies and weapons murdering whole peoples. We do the same in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.
Market forces and the military mechanisms that protect these forces are the sole ideology that governs industrial states and humans’ relationship to the natural world. It is an ideology that results in millions of dead and millions more displaced from their homes in the developing world. And the awful algebra of this ideology means that these forces will eventually be unleashed on us, too. Those who cannot be of use to market forces are considered expendable. They have no rights and legitimacy. Their existence, whether in Gaza or blighted postindustrial cities such as Camden, N.J., is considered a drain on efficiency and progress. They are viewed as refuse. And as refuse they not only have no voice and no freedom; they can be and are extinguished or imprisoned at will. This is a world where only corporate power and profit are sacred. It is a world of barbarism.
“In disposing of man’s labor power the system would, incidentally, dispose of the physical, psychological, and moral entity ‘man’ attached to that tag,” Karl Polanyi wrote in “The Great Transformation.” “Robbed of the protective covering of cultural institutions, human beings would perish from the effects of social exposure; they would die as the victims of acute social dislocation through vice, crime, and starvation. Nature would be reduced to its elements, neighborhoods and landscapes defiled, rivers polluted, military safety jeopardized, the power to produce food and raw materials destroyed. Finally, the market administration of purchasing power would periodically liquidate business enterprise, for shortages and surfeits of money would prove as disastrous to business as floods and droughts in primitive society. Undoubtedly, labor, land, and money markets are essential to a market economy. But no society could stand the effects of such a system of crude fictions even for the shortest stretch of time unless its human and natural substance as well as its business organization was protected against the ravages of this satanic mill.”
There are 47.1 million Americans who depend on food stamps to eat. The elites are plotting to take these food stamps away, along with other “entitlement” programs that keep the poor from destitution. The slashing of trillions of dollars from Medicare, Medicaid and other social programs, given the political impasse in Washington and the looming “fiscal cliff,” now seems certain. There are 50 million people considered to be living below the poverty line, but because the poverty line is so low—$22,350 for a family of four—this figure means nothing. Add the tens of millions of Americans who live in a category called “near poverty,” including all those families attempting to live on less than $45,000 a year, and you have at least 30 percent of the country living in poverty. Once these people figure out that there is no economic recovery, that their standard of living is going to continue to drop, that they are trapped, that hope in the future is an illusion, they will become as angry as protesters in Greece and Spain or the militants in Gaza or Afghanistan. Banks and other financial corporations, handed trillions in interest-free money from the Federal Reserve, meanwhile hoard $5 trillion, much of it looted from the U.S. Treasury. The longer this worldwide disparity and inequality is perpetuated, the more the masses will revolt and the faster we will internally replicate the Israeli model of domestic control—drones overhead, all dissent criminalized, SWAT teams busting through doors, deadly force as an acceptable form of subjugation, food used as a weapon, and constant surveillance.
In Gaza and other blighted parts of the globe we see this new configuration of power. What is happening in Gaza, like what is happening to people of color in marginal communities in the United States, is the model. The techniques of control, whether carried out by the Israelis or militarized police units in our inner-city drug wars, whether employed by military special forces or mercenaries in Pakistan, Afghanistan or Iraq, are tested first and perfected on the weak and the powerless. Our callous indifference to the plight of the Palestinians, and the hundreds of millions of poor packed into urban slums in Asia or Africa, as well as our own underclass, means that the injustices visited on them will be visited on us. In failing them we fail ourselves.
As the U.S. empire implodes, the harsher forms of violence employed on the outer reaches of empire are steadily migrating back to the homeland. At the same time, the internal systems of democratic governance have calcified. Centralized authority has devolved into the hands of an executive branch that slavishly serves global corporate interests. The press and the government’s judiciary and legislative branches have become toothless and decorative. The specter of terrorism, as in Israel, is used by the state to divert gargantuan expenditures to homeland security, the military and internal surveillance. Privacy is abolished. Dissent is treason. The military with its mantra of blind obedience and force characterizes the dark ethic of the wider culture. Beauty and truth are abolished. Culture is degraded into kitsch. The emotional and intellectual life of the citizenry is ravaged by spectacle, the tawdry and salacious, as well as by handfuls of painkillers and narcotics. Blind ambition, a lust for power and a grotesque personal vanity—exemplified by David Petraeus and his former mistress—are the engines of advancement. The concept of the common good is no longer part of the lexicon of power. This, as the novelist J.M. Coetzee writes, is “the black flower of civilization.” It is Rome under Diocletian. It is us. Empires, in the end, decay into despotic, murderous and corrupt regimes that finally consume themselves. And we, like Israel, are now coughing up blood.
Chris Hedges, whose column is published Mondays on Truthdig, spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.
Bullies choose easy adversaries to pummel. Equal fights are shunned. It’s the same in schoolyards or battlefields.
America and Israel operate this way. They avoid foes able to give as much as they take. Rogue governments never say they’re sorry.
During Cast Lead in January 2009, Professor Jeremy Salt wrote “A Message to the brave Israeli Airmen.” His comments apply to what’s now ongoing.
What’s it like firing missiles at people you can’t see, he asked?
Does it help being unable to see who you’re killing?
Is your conscience eased by inflicting disproportionate force on people unable to fight back and civilian infrastructure?
Are you comfortable about slaughtering civilian men, women, children, and infants?
Does this weigh on your conscience, or are you at ease?
Do you sleep well or have nightmares about men, women and children you killed at home, in beds, kitchens, living rooms, schools, mosques, at work, or at play?
Do farmers in their fields, mothers with children, teachers in classrooms, imams in mosques, children at play, the elderly, frail or disabled threaten your security?
Do you ever question what you’ve done and why?
Have you no shame, no sense of decency, no idea of the difference between right and wrong?
Do you know the law? If so, why do you violate it? Doing so makes you complicit in crimes of war and against humanity? Do you know that?
Do you blindly follow orders or have a mind of your own?
Have you murdered civilians before?
Will you do it again if ordered?
Will you keep following orders blindly or do the right thing?
“Brave” Israeli airmen, soldiers, sailors, and other security force personnel are cowards. They’ve acted lawlessly for decades.
Palestinian suffering is a way of life. Imagine living every day not sure if you’ll live or die. Imagine young children growingup this way. Do Israeli children know what Palestinian ones endure? Are they told? Do they care? Do their parents?
Israel’s moving thousands of troops and heavy weapons to Gaza’s border. Mossad-connected DEBKAfile said:
“Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz and the high IDF command are pushing for the ground operation, Stage B of the Pillar of Cloud operation, to start without delay. The prime minister and defense minister prefer to wait.”
Another potential holocaust looms. Civilians always suffer most. Israel and America willfully target them. It part of the imperial strategy of both countries. Human lives don’t matter, just conquest, dominance, and exploitation.
Cast Lead took a terrible toll. Missiles, bombs, shells, and illegal weapons were used against defenseless people. Mass slaughter and destruction followed.
Horrific crimes of war and against humanity were committed. Responsible officials remain unaccountable. Security Council no-fly zone protection wasn’t ordered.
Over 1,400 Gazans perished. More than 80% were civilians. Over 300 were children. Around 5,300 were injured. Over 1,600 were children or infants. Israel willfully targeted them.
Neighborhoods, schools, universities, mosques, hospitals, UN facilities, fishing boats, civilian factories and workshops, municipal buildings, charitable foundations, civilian infrastructure, and other noncombatant sites were bombed and shelled.
Farmland was bulldozed. Power facilities and irrigations systems were destroyed. International leaders were indifferent about human slaughter and suffering. Only three low-level Israeli soldiers received punishments too minor to matter.
The al-Samouni family lost 27 members. Salah Talala al-Samouni saw his mother blown apart. Rocket and shell fire killed his two-year old daughter, father, aunt, cousin, and entire family. Media scoundrels said nothing. They support Israel’s worst crimes.
Under siege, Gazans haven’t recovered from Cast Lead. Now they face the prospect of more war perhaps worse than 2008-09.
International leaders share culpability through silence, indifference, and/or complicity. Washington is involved in all Israeli wars. Weapons, munitions and funding are supplied. Political support is given.
Obama told Netanyahu, go ahead and bomb and shell at will. Call it “self-defense” and pretend no one knows it’s not. On November 15, the Senate unanimously passed a non-binding supportive resolution. Not a single profile in courage expressed opposition.
AIPAC thanked Obama and Senate members for supporting Israel. Gazan civilians and resistance fighters are maliciously called terrorists. They’re heroes, not criminals.
On November 14, Anti-Defamation League (ADL) national director Abe Foxman expressed support for Israeli bombing and shelling, saying:
“Israel has shown tremendous restraint in the face of the unceasing rocket and mortar fire launched from Gaza. This operation is directly targeting the leadership responsible for these attacks, as well as the warehouses and facilities housing their weapons.”
“No country in the world would stand by and tolerate such attacks on more than a million civilians.”
“The international community has a clear obligation to condemn these attacks and to support the actions taken by Israel against Hamas and other terror organizations operating in Gaza as Israel carries out its basic duty to defend its civilian population.”
For almost a century, ADL fronted for Jewish supremacy. It backs occupation harshness. It’s mindless about Palestinian suffering. It conducts smear campaigns against critics.
Its entire history is loathsome. Israeli crimes are called self-defense. It plays the same blame the victim game as Israel, Washington, AIPAC, and other Zionist organizations. Only Jewish rights matter. Palestinians are criminalized for defending themselves.
Israel agreed to halt military operations during Egyptian Prime Minister Hersham Kandil’s visit. He and Egyptian cabinet ministers arrived in Gaza Thursday. He’ll return Friday. Israeli attacks continued.
At Al Shifa Hospital, Kandil visited victims. He denounced Israeli attacks, saying: “This tragedy cannot pass in silence, and the world should take responsibility for stopping this aggression.” Cairo will try to mediate a truce, he added.
Since Saturday, over 40 Palestinians were killed. Hundreds more were injured. Many are in serious condition. Dozens of air strikes continue. Death and injury numbers may rise exponentially. Current figures underestimate the toll because some victims lie beneath rubble.
The International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC) said Israel conducted 30 sorties in less than 30 minutes on Friday. At 10PM Thursday, the IDF said it struck 70 targets in the previous hour.
Civilian sites and government buildings were bombed and shelled. Two UN schools were struck. Heavy damage was reported. The Ahrar Center for Detainees’ Studies said a church under construction was targeted.
said, “Children, infants, women and elderly are among the casualties, including children whose bodies were severely mutilated and burnt due to Israeli shells. A pregnant woman and her unborn fetus are among the killed.”
Gazan resistance fighters said they won’t honor truce conditions as long as Israel keeps killing Palestinian men, women, children, infants, and the elderly. On Thursday evening, a Beit Hanoun home was bombed. Three children died. One was nine years old.
A 10-month old infant was killed when another home was struck. Through early Friday morning, at least eight children, a pregnant woman, and two elderly men died.
Thirty thousand IDF reservists were called up. Military leaves were cancelled. Tanks, armored vehicles, and troops are mobilizing on Gaza’s border. Invasion looks ominously likely.
On November 16, Mathaba said the Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) War Crimes Commission (KLWCC) “received numerous complaints on the atrocities and possible war crimes committed against the Palestinian people.”
On November 20 and 21, two days of open hearings will be held.
Commission members include former Magistrate Musa Ismail, former Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) Dean Zulaiha Ismail, Center for Global Research Director Michel Chossudovsky, and two former Iraq UN humanitarian coordinators – Hans von Sponeck and Denis Halliday.
On November 16, Alternative News.org headlined “No safe haven: Civilians under attack in the Gaza Strip.” An eyewitness visited Al Shifa Hospital. Many injured Gazans are in serious condition.
Forty-year old Salem Waqef suffered brain injury. He’s in a coma on a ventilator. It’s unclear if he’ll survive.
Ten-month old Haneen Tafesh was admitted unconscious. She suffered a skull fracture and brain hemorrhage. She’s also in a coma on a ventilator. Doctors said her condition deteriorated since admitted. Hours later she died.
Ahmed Durghmush suffered brain trauma. Shrapnel penetrated his skull. Brain matter protruded from his head wound. His condition also deteriorated after surgery.
Throughout Thursday, emergency room staff were handling numerous arrivals. Injuries range from easily treatable to severe to life threatening.
Justice Ministry public information director, Khalid Hamad, was at home when shelling targeted a neighbor’s house. Israel “targeted civilians deliberately,” he said. “The Israeli forces don’t make mistakes.”
Thirteen-year old Duaa Hejazi was brought in “bleeding a lot.” She sustained upper body shrapnel wounds. Pieces are still embedded in her chest. She sent a message to other Gazan children, saying:
“I say, we are children. There is nothing that is our fault to have to face this. They are occupying us and I will say, as Abu Omar said. If you’re a mountain, the wind won’t shake you. We’re not afraid. We’ll stay strong.”
Al Shifa director general Dr. Mithad Abbas explained the dire conditions under which hospital staff must cope, saying:
“When those cases arrive at our hospital, it is not under normal circumstances. They come on top of the siege, the blockade, which has resulted in a lack of vital medicines and required medical supplies.”
Al Shifa lacks essential medicines, some equipment and supplies. They include antibiotics, IV fluid, anesthesia, gloves, catheters, external fixators, Heparin, sutures, detergents and spare parts for medical equipment.
Power outages exceed 12 hours daily. Small amounts of fuel maintain operations at those times. Dr. Abbas said his supply will be exhausted in days if current conditions continue.
He doesn’t know where the next missile or shell will strike. Perhaps Al Shifa will be targeted. Israel considers all civilian sites fair game.
On November 15, the Global BDS Movement issued the following statement in part:
“Stop a New Israeli Massacre in Gaza: Boycott Israel Now!”
Despite biased Western media reports, Israel “initiated and escalated this new assault on the eve of its upcoming parliamentary elections, underlining the time-honored Israeli formula of Palestinian bodies for ballots.”
“Israel will continue its belligerence, aggression and state terrorism unless it is made to pay a heavy price for its crimes against the Palestinian, Lebanese and other Arab peoples.”
“It is high time for BDS against Israel. This is the clearest path to freedom, justice and equality for Palestinians and the entire region.”
At issue also is a pending November 29 vote on Palestinian UN non-member observer status. Israel and Washington have gone all out to subvert it. Member States have all the more reason to support Palestine. In less than two weeks we’ll know.
Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah urged Arab leaders to use all means to halt Israeli attacks on Gaza.
“No one is telling Arab countries today, ‘Please go open your borders and begin the operation to liberate Palestine.’ What we want is to end the attack on Gaza.”
This is everyone’s battle…We’re not asking you for a solution. We’re asking for effort.”
“Some say the Arabs don’t have the courage to stop oil production. Decrease your oil exports or raise the price a little and you will shake the United States. You will shake Europe.”
“Brothers, if you can’t cut off oil, decrease your production or raise the price. Put on some pressure. No one is calling for armies or tanks or planes.”
Nasrallah called Israel’s Gaza attack “criminal aggression.” Multiple crimes of war and against humanity are committed.
Much is at stake in Palestine, the region and beyond. Washington’s aggressive wars continue. New ones are planned. Israel’s a key partner. Both countries have imperial agendas. War features prominently in achieving them.
Michel Chossudovsky calls attacking and invading Gaza “part of the broader US-NATO-Israel military agenda.” Based on what’s happened post-9/11, expect the worst ahead.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org . His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”http://www.claritypress.com/Lendman.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
Syrian Volunteers Exhibit Their Humanity, Despite International Politicizing of Emergency Aid…
Over the past twenty months, as the Syrian crisis continued beyond most early predictions, this observer learned something about the Syrian people that I had known for decades about Palestinians. And that is their great concern for their countrymen wherever they are found and whatever their current condition. When I am in Syria I am frequently asked “how are our people doing in Lebanon as refugees from this crisis?” In Lebanon, I am often asked “how are our (internal) refugees in Syria and what of our people in Jordan, Iraq or Turkey, how are they being treated and are they getting the basic necessities they need to live?”
And many Syrian refugees there are these bitter days. As of early November, 2012, close to 700,000 have fled their country with the UN now expecting close to one million by early next year if the fighting does not stop. Soon, it is likely that there will be close to 2 million displaced persons inside Syria according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). There are currently, according to the 10/12 UNHCR Syrian Refugee Report, 205,000 in Jordan, approximately 60,000 in Iraq (the first known refugees who have sought refuge in Iraq during the past quarter century) 110,649 in Turkey and 110,095 in Lebanon. The true figures are higher by an estimated 13% if one were to include the many Syrian refugees who are unable or do not want to register with local authorities or NGO’s for various reasons.
“Many more Syrians have recently been displaced within our borders and we are bracing for a long conflict.” Dr. Abdul Rahman Attar, Director of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent told this observer during a meeting in his Damascus office. Dr. Attar explained that “internally displaced persons” now exceed 1.5 million and close to 8.5% of the entire population have fled their homes during the last 19 months of conflict. Nearly 400,000 in Damascus alone. Panos Moumtzis, UNHCR’s regional co-coordinator for Syrian refugee’s advised that more than 3,000 refugees flee to neighboring countries every day, or approximately 90,000 per month. Both agree that due to the collapse of public services, and given that perhaps 1.2 million people need humanitarian aid inside the country, it brings the total number of Syrians requiring some form of relief to 2.7 million – or roughly 12 per cent of the total population.
Politicizing Humanitarian Aid
Whereas in Syria, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq, official refugee camps are providing shelter at no cost to more than a quarter million Syrian refugees, the government in Lebanon has not yet permitted the construction of similar sites due to confessional fears that perhaps a political or other advantage might somehow accrue to a rival sect-once more exposing how deeply its current anarchist confessionalist arrangement paralyzes Lebanon. Unfortunately it is the same mentality and prejudices that so far has prevented Palestinian refugees in Lebanon from being granted the same elementary civil rights to work and to own a home that Syria and every other country granted the victims of the Zionist colonial enterprise usurpation of Palestine, six decades ago.
The number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon who fled the violence in their homeland have increased sectarian tensions with one result being Syrian workers and refugees being targeted by elements of the Lebanese government. This despite the enormous aid Syria gave Lebanese refugees during the 2006 war when hundreds of thousands of Lebanese sought safety next door in Syria. Nadim Houry, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa for Human Rights Watch, has documented growing political harassment of Syrian workers in Lebanon. He reports: “We’ve seen the army and the police detaining and roughing up a number of Syrian workers. Most recently, the Lebanese army beat up 72 workers; most of them were Syrian,” Houry reported. “The Lebanese army rounded up the migrant men in the neighborhood and decided to ‘teach them a lesson’ instead of doing police work.”
Against this dismal backdrop one can find across the border in Syria hope and even inspiration. It is coming from the Syrian people themselves and their mainly Arab friends. Between 10,000 and 11,000 volunteers, including Iraqi and Palestinian refugees, are manning across Syria more than 80 Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society (SARC) aid “sub-stations.” These include more than a dozen mobile clinics and pharmacies as well as 10 “on the spot readiness centers.” Depending on the level of localized conflict on any given day, SARC volunteers operate 24/7 anywhere from 6 and 30 ambulances, as they liaise with the Palestine Red Crescent Society volunteers, among others. Since mid-summer, SARC volunteers have been opening centers for psychological support services for children as well as adults. Recently a phone “hotline” has been set-up to help citizens find emergency help. International volunteers are most welcomed at any of SARC’s centers.
SARC’s volunteers have recently been praised by the UN World Food Program and many others for their work delivering humanitarian aid to internal refugees here in Syria. They distribute necessities of life during the chaos and killing to their fellow countrymen without regard to religion or political views. Foreign donor countries giving the most support currently include Germany, Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, Italy and Britain. Others help as well, including money and foodstuffs from Iran and cash from the American Red Cross, the latter channeled through the ICRC so as not to raise Congressional outcries about possible violations of heavy US sanctions being imposed on the Syrian people.
Founded in 1942, as the French colonizers withdrew from this 7000 year old civilization which they occupied in 1917, as part of the English-French Sykes-Picot arrangement, the Syria Arab Red Crescent society became linked with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in 1946. SARC receives no government funding. This observer had the opportunity to meet SARC staff and volunteers of such singular commitment to helping their countrymen that more than a dozen have given their lives while trying to bring assistance to those stranded in Homs, Aleppo, Idlib, Deraa and elsewhere. One SARC team leader to me: “When one of our people is killed we bury the martyr and by the next morning we have 20 or more new volunteers who want to take their place and bring aid to those trapped in the most dangerous areas. I must tell you that this hell we are living through-we are confronting directly—it has made me very proud of my people and to be Syrian. Enshallah, we will overcome this chaos and killing and we will be stronger than before as a people.”
At the United Nations on 11/5/12, a top relief official said the UN aid effort in Syria, which means mainly SARC’s volunteers, “is very dangerous and very difficult.” The official, John Ging, director of operations of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, stated that the aid efforts in Syria (mainly being done by SARC volunteers) was supplying 1.5 million people in with food and that nearly half was being delivered into areas of conflict, but “there are areas beyond our reach, particularly areas under opposition control for quite a long time.”
Despite UNCHR’s role in studying the refugee problem and coordinating yet more studies and some registration of aid applicants during the current crisis, some familiar with its activities in Syria, including a few other NGO’s and some Syrian officials, have been critical of its performance to date. One highly respected governmental official told this observer recently, “I said to UNCHR’s local administration, “We have noticed the many fine vehicles that you flew into Syria, and we have met some of the well paid staff that you have brought to help us, but please can you show us that you have to date delivered even one loaf of bread to our desperate people?”
In fairness to UNCHR, after an admittedly slow start in Syria, it has recently picked up steam and its international staff is learning much from the local Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers.
Nor is SARC is without its critics.
Tawfik Chamaa, spokesman for the Union of Syrian Medical Relief Organizations (UOSSM) speaking from his comfortable Geneva office issued an ad holmium broadside on 11/6/12 against the Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society and its nearly 11,000 volunteers. He charged that cash or materials sent to SARC was being “confiscated by the regime. It will not reach the civilians who are bombed every day or besieged,” telling reporters in Geneva, “Ninety, even 95 percent of everything that is sent to Syrian Red Crescent headquarters in Damascus goes to support the Syrian regime, especially the soldiers.”
However, according to AFP, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the UN World Food Program (WFP), which both work closely with the Syrian Red Crescent Society, strongly denied their aid was being seized by the government or anyone else. This observer, during the late night of 11/7/12 contacted “Wassim”, a friend and a volunteer at the Damascus SARC HQ who last week arranged visits for me of SARC aid distribution centers and Wassim also flatly denied the UOSSM report. Wassim informed this observer on the evening of 11/7/12 that SARC will immediately prepare a response to the USOOM allegations.
UOSSM itself has been criticized, as have a few other NGO’s working in Syria, for becoming politicized, polarized and for being inordinately top heavy administratively with bloated salaries and ” humanitarian team leaders” sitting in offices in Paris or Geneva and elsewhere far from Syria. Mr. Chamaa, himself, is a high salaried founding member of the Western group of 14 aid organizations from countries including France, Switzerland, Turkey and the United States. According to SARC volunteers working in field aid distribution centers in Syria, Mr Chamaa could learn more were he to visit Syria and actually observe what’s happening on the ground before making unsupported claims. The UOSSM was set up at the beginning of the year mainly by Syrian doctors living in NATO countries. Some speculate that UOSSM hopes to be part of a possible future NATO affiliated “transition team” while others claim its political charges against SARC volunteers, without proof, are irresponsible and hurt those suffering most in Syria. The reason is because such alarmist press releases tend to damp down much needed donations of medical aid and necessities. This affects directly the 1.5 million people inside Syria who are in need of emergency humanitarian aid.
In response to Charmaa’s sensationalistic headline grabbing charges, UN World Food Program spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs told the media on 11/7/12: ”I believe there is absolutely no confiscation. WFP food monitors are able to visit most areas to check that food is reaching the people who need it most. Even in some dangerous areas, they use WFP armored vehicles.” She insisted that the Red Crescent, “as the designated coordinator of humanitarian assistance in Syria, operates through branches in an independent manner”.
The ICRC said it was aware of Chamaa’s allegations. Its HQ stated on 11/7/12: “Whenever such facts are clearly established, which does not appear to be the case in Syria, we treat them very seriously and would address directly the management of (the Syrian Red Crescent) and Syrian authorities” ICRC spokeswoman Anastasia Isyuk stressed that the ICRC and the Syrian Red Crescent “strive to assist all populations in need without any discrimination, which is a challenging task given the deteriorating humanitarian situation and security conditions.” The ICRC and SARC volunteers recently managed to deliver medical and food aid to 1,200 people in the Old City of Homs, and since the beginning of the year they have provided food, water and other assistance to more than one million people across Syria, according to ICRC spokeswoman Anastasia Isyuk, and as reported by AFP.
On 11/8/12 exhibiting exasperation, a sense of foreboding and just a whiff of defeatism, ICRC president Peter Maurer to a conference in Geneva that “We are in a situation where the humanitarian situation due to the conflict is getting worse. And we can’t cope with the worsening of the situation. We have a lot of blank spots, we know that no aid has been there and I can’t tell you what the situation is or what we can do.”
In a late breaking development Friday morning, 11/9/12, the UN human rights chief expressed concern after the ICRC said it was struggling to deliver aid in war-ravaged Syria. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told AFP during an interview at the Bali Democracy Forum in Indonesia: “The fact that they’ve now said they are unable to perform their core functions makes the humanitarian crisis in Syria extremely critical. Nearly hopeless.”
Don’t tell that to Zeinab Tamari, a thirties something Palestinian volunteer from the Yarmouk Palestinian Refugee Camp in Damascus who is traveling across Syria bringing aid and relief to her fellow Arabs.
And don’t tell either it to Syrian student Mahar Saad whose home was destroyed during fighting in Homs and who daily risks his life remaining in his neighborhood helping his neighbors despite losing family members in the fighting. Both are SARC volunteers appeared without being asked at one of the aid organizations outlets across Syria to help. They inspire hope for Syria and for all humanity, regardless of the outcome of the current crisis.
The staff and volunteers who perform the Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society’s humanitarian work undertaken in the main by Syrians for Syrians, with Syrians are a credit to their country and warrant the blessings and support all people of good will as they risk their lives to bring aid to their countrymen.
Across Syria these days, one is able to examine massive evidence that this ancient civilization, the historic bastion of nationalist Arabism and since the 1948 Nabka, an essential pillar of the growing culture of Resistance to the Zionist occupation of Palestine, is becoming awash with foreign arms being funneled to “rebels” by countries advocating regime change.
This observer has been researching foreign arms transfers into certain Middle East countries since last summer in Libya, where to a lesser degree the identical foreign actors were involved in facilitating the transfer of arms and fighters to topple the then, “Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.”
During a recent stay in Syria, I was able to observe first hand, substantial demonstrative evidence supporting the thesis that American, Zionist and Gulf intelligence agencies as well as private arms dealers from these countries top the list of more than two dozen countries benefiting from the crisis in Syria by injecting arms. These countries gain politically and financially, via governmental and black market arms transfers.
Which countries are sending the most weapons into Syria to arm militia?
A list of the top 24 countries, among the more than three dozen that are currently involved in sending weapons to Syria to achieve regime change include: USA, Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Bahrain, UK, France, Canada, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Brazil, Portugal, Poland, Yugoslavia, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Italy, Spain, and Argentina.
Above: one of the periodic lists complied of foreign weapons confiscated from foreign fighters in Syria. Aug.-late September, 2012
Nearly two-thirds of the above listed arms suppliers are members of NATO and constitute almost half of NATO’s 28 country membership.
Russia is not included in the above list because it is the main supplier of arms to the Syrian government. Yet, one finds older USSR era weapons and even some more recent vintage Russian arms in rebel hands, the latter from the decade (12/79-2/89) of Soviet, occupation of Afghanistan. Also offering Russian weapons are a growing number of black market arms dealers of whom there is no shortage along the Turkey-Syrian border and elsewhere. This recent visitor to Syria was offered near the Old City, AK 47’s (Russian Kalashnikovs) or Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPG) for $ 1,800 (in Lebanon today and before the Syrian crisis the price was around $800. After some bargaining and starting to walk away a couple of times, the “special one-time only price for an American friend” dropped to $ 750 each. Russian made Dragunov sniper rifles are being offered at $ 6,500 but can be bought for around $ 5000.Buying arms these days in Syria is a caveat emptor proposition. Fake weapons and military rejects/defects are also being offered by hustlers from nearby countries including Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey.
The involvement of numerous countries in the Syrian crisis as arms suppliers and political operatives was tangentially referenced by the recent UN Security Council Statement of 12/25/12 which admits the existence of foreign actors and implies their arms supplying activities by urging “all regional and international actors to use their influence on the parties concerned to facilitate the implementation of the (Eid al Adha) ceasefire and cessation of violence.”
Syria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Bashar al-Jaafari observed last week: “This part of the [Security Council] press statement, mentioned for the first time, proves Syria’s view repeated since the beginning of the crisis on the existence of Arab, regional and international parties influencing the armed groups negatively or positively. Therefore, those parties need to be addressed.”
One of the key challenges for the UN and Arab League envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi whose aides told this observer at the Dama Rose hotel on 10/22/12 where we were staying, is: “We need to persuade key countries in the Middle East, but also internationally, not to support the rebels with arms.
The failed initiative of envoy El Brahimi, was the third ceasefire attempt to date following the December 2011Arab League proposal and the April 2012 Kofi Annan initiative, both of which were endorsed by the Syrian government and most of the world community. Some rebel militia, but not nearly enough, did endorse the Brahimi four day Eid al Adha ceasefire only to have it collapse this past weekend. To his credit, Brahimi continues his work.
The same Brahimi sources suggested that the United States may also be supplying man-portable air-defense systems (Manpods) to rebels in Syria. According to Russian Foregin Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich, speaking on 12/15/12: “At the same time, it is also well-known that Washington is aware of supplies of various types of arms to illegal armed groups operating in Syria. Moreover, the United States, judging by admissions by American officials that have also been published in American media, is conducting coordination and providing logistical support for such supplies.” NBC News, based in New York reported in July that Syrian insurgents had obtained two dozen US MANPADS, delivered from Turkey.
A month after the October 2011 death of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced in Tripoli that the U.S. was committing $40 million to help Libya “secure and recover its weapons stockpiles.” Congressional sources report that the Obama administration is fully aware that quantities of these arms are current in Syria and more in transit.
With respect to arms moving from Libya to Syria, on the night of Sept. 11 Libya time, in what was his last public meeting, US Ambassador Christopher Stevens met with the Turkish Consul General Ali Sait Akin, and accompanied him to the consulate front gate just before the assault began. Although what was discussed has not yet been made public, Washington sources including the pro-Zionist Fox News speculate that Stevens may have been in Benghazi negotiating a weapons transfer, from Libya to Syria.
Earlier this year, Assistant Secretary of State for Political and Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro expressed concerns that the increasing flow of Libya arms was far from under control. Speaking to the Stimson Center in Washington D.C. on 2/10/12 Shapiro said: “This raises the question — how many weapons and missiles are still missing? The frank answer is we don’t know and probably never will.”
According to a 10/14/12 report by the Times of London, a vessel flying the Libyan flag named Al Entisar (Victory), loaded with more than 400 tons of cargo, docked in southern Turkey 35 miles from the Syrian northern border. While some of the undeclared cargo was likely humanitarian, staff accompanying UN envoy Brahimi during his recent Syrian trip report the Al Entisar also carried the largest consignment of foreign weapons to date, including surface-to-air anti-aircraft missiles, RPG’s and MANPADS destined for Syria.
Partly because of the jihadists and arms entering Syria from its northern border, southern Turkey is increasingly referred to here in Damascus as “New Afghanistan”, given its matrix of jihadists, salafists, wahabists, and battle-hardened panoply of arriving foreign would-be mujahedeen and al Qaeda affiliates.
One teenage al Qaeda wannebe explained to the author that his specialty was making and using homemade specialized knives as shown in this photo. He also delivered a mini-lecture he said was based on a Koranic Hadith explaining why severing heads of animals and adversaries is actually the most humane method. He gave earnest assurances that if allowed to perform a one-time demonstration, this observer would feel no pain and he would post the photo on Facebook!
Remarkably, as was witnessed in 2007, during the conflict at the Nahr al Bared Palestinian refugee camp in north Lebanon, some of the arriving eager jihadists in “New Afghanistan” actually believe that they are fighting against Zionist forces near occupied Palestine and not killing fellow Arabs in Syria.
Some, but not all of the many types of small arms flowing into Syria in large numbers, and viewed by this observer include:
7.62mm Tabuk (Yugoslavia) rifles, Mass rifles (UK), 7.62 mm rifles (Poland), 12 mm rifles (Italy), 7.62 mm Kalashnikovs (several countries versions), 9 mm ‘fast gun’, (Austria), 7.62 mm Val (Belgium), G3 7.62 mm G3 rifles (Germany), 7.5mm model 36 rifles (France), M16 and a variety of sniper and other rifles (USA), 7.62 rifles (Bulgaria, 10.5 Uzi and other automatic machine guns, three types of hand grenades (Israel), 9 mm guns (Canada), 7 mm guns (Czech Republic), 7 mm guns (Brazil).
Photo: 10.23.12 Syria
Israeli weapons are among the most frequently found in Syria as was the case in Libya. Israeli arms dealers are claimed to have recently intensified links with Blackwater International and also are currently smuggling through the Golan Heights, the tri-border area of south Lebanon, occupied Palestine and Syria.
The observer also examined and was briefed on M72 LAW and AT-3 anti-tank missiles developed by the United States. But the extent of their use is difficult to verify. Most of the arms shown in accompanying photos are from the main urban centers and near the Turkish, Iraqi, Lebanese and Jordanian borders.
In tightly built up urban areas such as Homs, Idlib and Aleppo, door to door fighting includes a battle among snipers. According to one Syrian military intelligence source in whose Damascus office this observer discussed the subject, the most frequently confiscated sniper rifles currently being found in the hands of “rebels” include:
· the U.S. Army & USMC M1903-A4 (also: USMC M1903-A1/Unertl), the U.S. Army & USMC M1C & M1D and U.S. Army M21;
Photo: Damascus 10/23/12: American weapons from Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey and NATO stores are entering Syria with the aid of Qatar and Saudi Arabia and black market arms dealers.
· the Israeli M89SR Technical Equipment International 7.62x51mm NATO Semi-automatic, Galil Sniper Rifle and the T.C.I. M89-SR,
· the British .243 Winchester, 7.62x51mm NATO/.308 Winchester,.300 Winchester Magnum, and the 338 Lapua Magnum Bolt action sniper rifles.
Photo: Syria 10/13/12: The most frequently confiscated sniper rifles currently being found in the hands of “rebels” in Syria include the above shown U.S. Army & USMC M1903-A4. Other US sniper rifles include the USMC M1903-A1/Unertl), the U.S. Army & USMC M1C & M1D and U.S. Army M21
A few Afghanistan era Russian Dragonov SVD and SV-98 sniper rifles have also been confiscated among an assortment of others.
Foreign jihadists have some access to Soviet-era DShK heavy machine guns or ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft cannons which are used for anti-aircraft and fire support. Both use fairly scarce high-explosive rounds and armor-piercing rounds, which are capable of penetrating the armor of the Syrian military’s BMP infantry fighting vehicles. The ZU-23-2 “Sergey”, also known as ZU-23, is a Soviet towed 23 mm anti-aircraft cannon. Vehicle mounted Zu-23-2’s are relatively easy to spot by government aircraft and artillery units are used to attack a target and quickly flee to avoid counter strikes.
On 10/25/12 Russia reiterated its claims that the US assists and coordinates arms deliveries to foreign-sponsored insurgents battling the Syrian government forces. Russia’s chief military officer said that Syrian armed groups have acquired US-made weapons, including Stinger anti-aircraft missiles. This observer saw many weapons from more than a dozen types of IED’s (improvised explosive device) to medium sized artillery pieces but no missiles.
Photo: 10/24/12 Damascus, Syria
Improvised Explosive Devices are a key rebel weapon with many arriving from Iraq and camps near Hataya, Turkey. Many DIY (do it yourself) improvisations have been uncovered across Syria in both urban and rural areas. This observer examined and was briefed on several types, including those shown above.
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry issued statement of 10/25/12, “Washington is aware of the deliveries of various weapons to illegal armed groups active in Syria. Moreover, judging by the declarations of US officials published in US media, the US coordinates and provides logistical assistance in such deliveries.”
Some analysts in Damascus claim that Syria’s potential military strength has not been as effective as it could be in the current urban fights against rebels. The government appears very strong militarily if one studies the statistics regarding Syria’s large and disciplined army which continues its support and also given its sophisticated long range missiles, air defense systems that have deterred an airborne attack from Israel. One reason progress has at times appeared slow against the “rebels” according to some local analysts was a certain initial unpreparedness to confront highly motivated guerrilla militia in downtown densely populated areas. These kinds of battles, it is claimed, require a mobile infantry, armored flexibility and very effective use of light arms. The Assad government’s “adapt, catch up and go on the offensive” paradigm is developing rapidly according to US Senate Armed Service Committee sources who assert that the Syria army has actually become battle hardened, tougher, stronger and more disciplined over the past several months. But it has taken time and has incurred a significant cost.
Weapons examined by this observer in Syria during 10/12 include some of the more than 1,750 new American sniper rifles channeled from Iraq and NATO supply stores to rebel militia.
How foreign weapons are entering Syria
As widely speculated particularly in the regional media, foreign supplied weapons to “rebels” arrive by air, sea and mainly by land from Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and occupied Palestine.
Israel is reported, by some researchers in Damascus who have been covering the crisis for nearly 20 months, to be sending arms to Syria from Kurdistan, having had much experience in Africa, South America and Eastern Europe via Mossad and Israeli black market arms dealing. What Israel did in Libya in terms of a wide spread arms business it is also trying to do in Syria. Israeli arms, according to Syrian and Lebanese sources are being transported into Syria from along the tri-border area of South Lebanon, near Shebaa Farms, close to Jabla al-Saddaneh, and Gadja. In addition, Israeli smugglers have increasingly, over the past five months, been seen by locals moving arms inside Syria via the Golan Heights. These violations of Syrian and Lebanese sovereignty raise serious questions about the vigilance of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force Zone (UNDO) based in the Golan Heights as well as the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the Lebanese Army as well as National Lebanese Resistance units near the ‘blue line’ to stop the illicit Israeli arms transfers.
The recent arrival in southern Turkey and along the northern Syrian border of Blackwater mercenaries is expected to increase the foreign arms flow. Currently using the name Academi (previously known as Xena- Xe Services LLC, Blackwater USA and Blackwater Worldwide) Academi is currently, according to Jane’s Defense Weekly, the largest of the US governments “private security” contractors. Details of its relationship with the US Defense Department and the CIA are classified.
Is there a coherent US policy toward the Syrian crisis?
Secretary of State Clinton has been announcing recently that the U.S. is increasing its “non-lethal support” (i.e. direct shipments as opposed to boots on the ground or ballistic weapons) according to her Congressional liaison office. She also confirmed that Washington is working with its friends and allies to promote more cohesion among the disparate Syrian opposition groups with the aim of producing a new leadership council following meetings scheduled for Doha in the coming weeks.
Photo: Syria: 10/24/12
Examples of US, UK and NATO “non-lethal aid” equipment taken from militia in south and north Syria between 5/2011 and 10/2012.
However, to the consternation of the State Department, General David Petraeus the former US commander of NATO forces in Iraq, now director of the CIA acknowledged, during his senate confirmation hearings. “Non-lethal aid to combatants, including communication equipment, is sometimes more lethal and important than explosive devices due to the logistical advantages they provides on the battlefield.”
In tandem with the US, the UK and several European governments are supplying “non-lethal” aid to the Syrian opposition, including satellite communications equipment according to Syria security sources.
There is also plenty of anecdotal and demonstrative and probative evidence in Syria of human weapons patterned on the “Zarqawi model” which refers to the bloody al Qaeda in Mesopotamia campaign named for its leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi after U.S. troops occupied Iraq.
In a speech this week in Zagreb, Croatia, this week, Secretary of State Clinton insisted that any group seeking to oust President Bashar al-Assad must reject attempts by extremists to “hijack” a legitimate revolution. She added, “There are disturbing reports of heavily armed foreign extremists going into Syria and attempting to take over.” Clinton used her strongest words to date concerning risks that the uprising in Syria could be overtaken by militants who do not seek a democratic replacement or the reforms that the current government claims it is trying to implement. She told her conferees: “We made it clear that the SNC can no longer be viewed as the visible leader of the opposition. They can be part of a larger opposition, but that opposition must include people from inside Syria and others who have a legitimate voice. We also need an opposition that will be on record strongly resisting the efforts by extremists to hijack the Syrian revolution. There are disturbing reports of heavily armed extremists going into Syria and attempting to take over.” Clinton advised her colleagues that the US has become convinced that the SNC does not represent the interests of all ethnic and religious groups in Syria and that it has little legitimacy among on-the-ground activists and fighters, and has done little to stem the infiltration of Islamist extremists into the opposition forces.
Clinton’s language is being interpreted by some as evidence that a post-election Obama Whitehouse, she he win on November, may move toward the Russian, Chinese, and Iranian position and away from, what one Congressional source derisively labeled, “ the view from the Gulf gas stations” i.e. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and some other despotic monarchies.
The intervention in Syria by more than three dozen countries supplying weapons must be stopped. Both sides of the Syrian crisis need to manifest by actions, not just words, a serious commitment to meaningful dialogue. The above noted arms supplying countries, and others off stage, have a solemn obligation to their citizens and to the world community to immediately halt the shipment of arms.
They should, and their people should demand that they do without further delay, honor the words of Isaiah 2:3-5….”and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”
Granted, perhaps a cliché and certainly far easier said than done.
Yet, as Oregon’s late great US Senator Wayne Morse used tell audiences around America during the Vietnam War, quoting General George Marshall, “The only way we human beings can win a war is to prevent it.”
It’s time for the international community to end the Syrian crisis diplomatically, stop funneling arms and cash fueling hoped for regime change elements. Instead, they must demand that all the involved parties immediately engage in serious dialogue and settle their differences.