Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Burden of Collaboration

August 31, 2006

Can You Really Not See?


Let us leave aside those Israelis whose ideology supports the dispossession of the Palestinian people because "God chose us." Leave aside the judges who whitewash every military policy of killing and destruction. Leave aside the military commanders who knowingly jail an entire nation in pens surrounded by walls, fortified observation towers, machine guns, barbed wire and blinding projectors. Leave aside the ministers. All of these are not counted among the collaborators. These are the architects, the planners, the designers, the executioners.

But there are others. Historians and mathematicians, senior editors, media stars, psychologists and family doctors, lawyers who do not support Gush Emunim and Kadima, teachers and educators, lovers of hiking trails and sing-alongs, high-tech wizards. Where are you? And what about you, researchers of Nazism, the Holocaust and Soviet gulags? Could you all be in favor of systematic discriminating laws? Laws stating that the Arabs of the Galilee will not even be compensated for the damages of the war by the same sums their Jewish neighbors are entitled to.

Could it be that you are all in favor of a racist Citizenship Law that forbids an Israeli Arab from living with his family in his own home? That you side with further expropriation of lands and the demolishing of additional orchards, for another settler neighborhood and another exclusively Jewish road? That you all back the shelling and missile fire killing the old and the young in the Gaza Strip?

Could it be that you all agree that a third of the West Bank (the Jordan Valley) should be off limits to Palestinians? That you all side with an Israeli policy that prevents tens of thousands of Palestinians who have obtained foreign citizenship from returning to their families in the occupied territories?

Could your mind really be so washed with the security excuse, used to forbid Gaza students from studying occupational therapy at Bethlehem and medicine at Abu Dis, and preventing sick people from Rafah from receiving medical treatment in Ramallah? Will also you find it easy to hide behind the explanation "we had no idea": we had no idea that the discrimination practiced in the distribution of water - which is solely controlled by Israel - leaves thousands of Palestinian households without water during the hot summer months; we had no idea that when the IDF blocks the entrance to villages, it also blocks their access to springs or water tanks.

But it cannot be that you don't see the iron gates along route 344 in the West Bank, blocking access to it from the Palestinian villages it passes by. It cannot be that you support preventing the access of thousands of farmers to their land and plantations, that you support the quarantine on Gaza which prevents the entry of medicine for hospitals, the disruption of electricity and water supply to 1.4 million human beings, closing their only outlet to the world for months.

Could it be that you do not know what is happening 15 minutes from your faculties and offices? Is it plausible that you support the system in which Hebrew soldiers, at checkpoints in the heart of the West Bank, are letting tens of thousands of people wait everyday for hours upon hours under the blazing sun, while selecting: residents of Nablus and Tul Karm are not allowed through, 35-year-olds and under - yallah, back to Jenin, residents of the Salem village are not even allowed to be here, a sick woman who skipped the line must learn a lesson and will be purposefully detained for hours. Machsom Watch's site is available for all; in it are countless such testimonies and worse, a day by day routine. But it cannot be that those who are appalled over every swastika painted on a Jewish grave in France and over every anti-Semitic headline in a Spanish local newspaper will not know how to reach this information, and will not be appalled and outraged.

As Jews we all enjoy the privilege Israel gives us, what makes us all collaborators. The question is what does every one of us do in an active and direct daily manner to minimize cooperation with a dispossessing, suppressing regime that never has its fill. Signing a petition and tutting will not do. Israel is a democracy for its Jews. We are not in danger of our lives, we will not be jailed in concentration camps, our livelihood will not be damaged and recreation in the countryside or abroad will not be denied to us. Therefore, the burden of collaboration and direct responsibility is immeasurably heavy.

Amira Hass writes for Ha'aretz. She is the author of Drinking the Sea at Gaza.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Gaza Watch #14:Israeli army kills 6 Palestinian civilians in Gaza Strip

Agence France Presse
30 August 2006

GAZA CITY (AFX) - Six Palestinians were killed today by Israeli tank
fire in the Gaza Strip, while the West Bank military chief of the
hardline Islamic Jihad faction, Hossam Jaradat, died after being
wounded a week ago.

Five Palestinians were killed and three wounded by tank fire in the
Shejaiya neighborhood of Gaza City, where Israeli troops have been
conducting operations since Saturday night, hospital officials said.

The operation is part of a two-month Israeli offensive in the
increasingly lawless territory that has targeted militants but often
killed civilians.

According to witnesses, two Shejaiya residents, Rami al-Gharabli,
27, and Yasser al-Gharabli, 25, were trying to escape their house
encircled by Israeli tanks when they were hit. Two other men, Raed
Isbita, 23, and Mohand Jindiya, 23, attempted to help the pair but
were struck in turn. Another man, Salman Abu Qunbus, 25, was killed
in a separate incident in Shejaiya.

According to witnesses, all five were civilians.

An army spokesman said that the tanks fired after 'armed men
approached troops operating in Shejaiya'.

Fifteen Palestinians have been killed in the neighborhood since the
Israeli operation began there on Saturday.

The Israeli army said it had discovered a large tunnel, 13 meters
deep and 150 meters long, running from a house in Shejaiya towards
the Karni crossing with Israel, which they believed was 'meant to be
used for an attack on the terminal'.

Meanwhile in northern Gaza, a 24-year-old mentally handicapped man
was killed overnight by Israeli gunfire after he approached the
border with Israel, hospital officials said.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Gaza Watch 13: Israeli incursions continue

Israeli warplanes strike on Gaza homes, 10 wounded

Deutsche Presse Agentur
25 August 2006

Gaza--DPA POLITICS Mideast Conflicts Israeli warplanes
strike on Gaza homes, 10 wounded Begins new cycle Gaza

Nine Palestinians were injured when Israeli warplanes
rocketed two Palestinian-owned homes before dawn Friday in
the northern Gaza Strip and in Gaza City, witnesses and
security sources reported.

Eyewitnesses said that three Palestinian civilians were
wounded when an Israeli warplane fired two missiles at a
house that includes a metal workshop in Gaza City. The
building was destroyed.

One of the missiles did not explode, said the residents,
adding that explosives experts were at the scene.
Ambulances and firefighters evacuated the three civilians
to a Gaza hospital.

Shortly before the house was targeted, Israeli F16
warplanes targeted another house in Jabalia refugee camp
in northern Gaza Strip, said Palestinian residents. The
four-storey building was destroyed.

Palestinian medics said that seven Palestinians were
wounded in the airstrike on the house, which belongs to a
member of al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the Fatah movement's
armed militant wing.

Palestinian security sources reported that the Israeli
army notified the owners of the two houses by telephone to


Israeli warplanes strikes Gaza

Agence France Presse
25 August 2006

GAZA CITY (AFX) - An Israeli warplane attacked and
destroyed a metal workshop in Gaza City in the early
hours, a Palestinian security official said, but had no
information about any casualties.

The Israeli military confirmed the attack.

'The target was a hidden arms cache. There was a warning
to occupants to leave before the attack,' an Israeli
military spokeswoman said.

Last night, an Israeli aircraft fired two missiles at a
three-storey building in the Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza,
which collapsed, Palestinian sources said, adding there
were no casualties.

Residents of the apartment building, which belonged to a
member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, an armed faction of
the Fatah movement of president Mahmud Abbas, were warned
in a telephone call minutes before the strike and had time
to evacuate, the sources said.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

“The World Just sat by”: An Interview with Dahr Jamail

Dahr Jamail is an award-winning, independent journalist who reported live from Baghdad for eight months in 2003. He is considered one of the best sources on War in Iraq. Recently, he returned to The Middle East, to Syria. While in Damascus, the conflict between Israel and Hizbollah began. Jamail left immediately for Beirut and sent daily dispatches from his Iraq-dispatches website. I received the chance to speak to Jamail about what he saw during this 34-day conflict in the middle East.

Christopher Brown: Dahr Jamail, it seems that in the media, this whole conflict’s narrative started when Hizbollah captured two Israeli soldiers and killed several others, when in fact this was not the case. Can you speak about this?

Dahr Jamail: Yes it’s very clear and it’s quite well documented that there were meetings between Bush and Netenyahu out in California over a year in advance of this. Also, other documented truth we could look to would be The Project for the New American Century (PNAC). Anyone can get online, go to that website and read their plans for the Middle East and it states very clearly there as well as in another document called a clean break, a similar document to the PNAC where they talk about redrawing the lines in the Middle East and how they are going to go about it. Iraq is the first step, the next step will be Lebanon; and then the next step Iran, and then after that Syria. It is mentioned and well documented in those sources that Israel would be going into Lebanon.

Now also other things we could look at is this is simply what occurred by the Hizbollah’s operation in early July, as the pretext is simply a fabrication. Because in reality these types of squirmishes on the border between Israel and Hizbollah, were a regular occurrence. Hizbollah had fired rockets into Israel; they had attacked Israeli troops before. So why did they wait for this particular time to launch this massive collective punishment war of aggression against Lebanon? There are several factors that all point really clearly that this was a policy that they were waiting to enact and simply waiting for the right pretext to justify what they did.

CB: As the conflict mounted in the region, we here in the West received information in regards to Israeli suffering by rockets fired by Hizbollah and interviews with many innocent Israelis who had to hide out in bomb shelters. But only rarely did we get any first hand accounts about innocent Lebanese victims and they’re troubles. Could you speak more on the corporate media’s lack of fairness and accuracy regarding this conflict?

DJ: Yes that is a really good point. The media coverage of this war of aggression by Israel against Lebanon, I would say, is almost as bad as the media coverage that is happening in Palestine, in Gaza, and the West Bank. Where it’s so incredibly biased. I would go so far as to say that the coverage of this war was even worse than the corporate media coverage that I’d seen of the US invasion of Iraq. It is off the charts in terms of its bias and omissions in things along those lines and we can sight example after example. For example, all the assumptions, the heavily biased assumptions, Western corporate media makes that Hizbollah is a terrorist organization. Well, they’re only referred to as a terrorist organization by the US, Israel, and the UK. Whereas in all of the Middle East, including in Lebanon, a country where they have they’re base, they are seen as a legitimate political party, a grassroots organization that employs over a quarter of a million people fully engaged in infrastructure projects like hospitals, schools and social welfare programs.

And now after the Israeli aggression against Lebanon, Hizbollah enjoys over 90% support from the people of Lebanon, which is really off the charts compared to the number prior to this invasion, which was around 40 or 50%. That means that now, and this of course is not being broadcast in the corporate media, Hizbollah is enjoying the majority support of the Christians, The Druze, and Sunni Arabs. Whereas prior to this there was only a minority support from these groups.

Then we can just look at the coverage of the casualties; I bring up Hizbollah being referred to as a terrorist organization over and over in the corporate media. When we simply look at the statistics. We have over 1,300 Lebanese killed by the Israeli war of aggression, over 90% of those civilians. And then we look at the other side where roughly 150 Israelis died over 50% of those were soldiers. So just looking at that statistic alone, whose is the terrorist organization, or more specifically who is the terrorist state?

And now, throughout the Middle East, Israel is being seen as the terrorist state rather than Hizbollah being in any way as a terrorist organization. And now, even in Lebanon, Hizbollah is being seen as the rightful defenders of Lebanon against Israeli aggression. And this is being underscored again with Israel breaking the ceasefire agreement by the UN when they launched a commando raid into the Bekka Valley, which was fought off by Hizbollah. Israel lost at least one soldier.

But, nevertheless, Israel, once again, broke the truce agreement; the UN resolution that they initially had been quite happy with; a resolution that even prompted Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to call President Bush, after the UN resolution was penned up and backed by the US, and thank him for keeping Israeli interests in mind.

But that wasn’t clearly good enough for Israel. We’ve seen time and time again Israel doesn’t have any regard for international law. And how is this being portrayed in the coverage? Where is the talk of war crimes? Where is the talk of the Geneva Conventions being broken time and time again by Israel when they’ve hit civilians; they’ve hit medical infrastructures, they’ve hit the ambulances, and really don’t even try to hide this. Where is that in the coverage of this conflict?

CB: You mentioned the casualties of the Lebanese people. Although Hizbollah controls the South, Israel’s bombing campaign extended far into the North of the country as well. Could you talk about what you saw on the ground while covering this conflict?

DJ: Yes. There are two really important points. The first is; this wasn’t just an attack on Southern Lebanon and Southern Beirut where Hizbollah is known to have the majority of its support, but it was the collective punishment of the entire country. Really, something that just amazed me in Lebanon watching the entire country being bombed into pre-industry while the World just sat by and the UN and European countries just sat and watched and really didn’t do anything to stop them from carrying out this war crime.

We’re talking about the Northern Border being hit; the city of Biblos being hit which is a predominately Christian city; the cities up in the mountains, which are the Christian and Druze areas of Lebanon being hit repeatedly; over 70 bridges being bombed; over 80 roads being bombed; milk factories, pharmaceutical plants, paper factories all being bombed; total collective punishment. Where all of Lebanon’s ports as well as airports were bombed, electrical structure all of this being bombed. Every one of these a violation of the Geneva Convention, and every one of these fits the definition of collective punishment.

And then if we look at the targeting, the deliberate targeting, of civilians I was really horrified to see pretty quickly, from reporting from Lebanon, that this deliberate targeting of civilians and medical infrastructure, it wasn’t something that was happening here and there. I quickly saw that this was a pattern: The pattern was that people would try to huddle in their homes from Israeli bombs, and if they were lucky enough not to have their homes bombed, Israeli warplanes were leafleting villages telling people to leave. Then when they got in they’re cars to leave; while flying white surrender flags, holding pillowcases or sheets out the windows so as not too be bombed, they were being hit.

And then when the Lebanese red cross or the Lebanese Civil Defense ambulances tried to reach these people, they were being bombed. And then often times, secondary ambulances were sent help the first ambulances that were hit, they to were being bombed, this is something that I can speak to after interviewing people in Qana the day after the massacre there that killed 37 children and 24 other adults, who were very much elderly people.

That attack occurred at 1am, and the Lebanese Red Cross, from the nearby city of Tyre, who tried to reach them, got the first call at 5am and dispatched two ambulances, they were nearly bombed and had to turn back. So they waited until about 7am and tried again, and they were nearly bombed again and were kept away from Qana and had to turn back.

And they weren’t allowed to reach Qana until 9am. So because of them being kept away, which were the exact words used by the Red Cross people that I interviewed; people who were in those ambulances who said; ‘We were kept away by the Israeli military. And if we had been allowed to reach there when we first received the call, maybe we could have saved the lives of a few more people.’

And this was the type of story I ran into repeatedly from those civilians and Red Cross workers. They felt they were being attacked deliberately, civilians home were being destroyed; they were outraged; ‘Why are they hitting civilians if they want to attack Hizbollah, okay, but why are they hitting civilians?’ and this is what I was hearing the entire time I was there.

CB: The US and Israel constantly stated that Syria and Iran needed to stop sending weapons to Hizbollah. And the corporate media picked up this refrain. But there was no mention from any Western country, or Middle Eastern country for the US to stop sending munitions to Israel. What are your thoughts on this?

DJ: This double standard and this bias, and I would go so far as to call it this hypocritical racism, I think this falls under the “coverage” of this war; why weren’t media outlets asking the question; ‘Well if Israel and the US are accusing Iran and Syria of supplying Hizbollah, then what position are they in to do so?’

They are the ones who are supplying Israel with their fighter jets. Israel has the second largest fleet of F-16s on the planet second only behind the US. Israel has been the single largest recipient of foreign aid since the early 1970s every single year. Right now, they are receiving over 2 billion dollars, and possible over 3 billion dollars every single year, either in grants, direct aid, or military hardware in the form of: F-16s, cluster bombs, jet fuel, tanks, laser guided weapons, white phosphorus weapons, all this was used very extensively in Southern Lebanon, and sometimes even in Southern Beirut.

The hypocrisy is really hard to understand. No media outlets in the West, none of the major ones that I know of, have ever criticized the US for supplying this unbridled financial, political and economic support for Israel. While certainly Hizbollah is using rockets from Iran, and is probably getting other aid from Syria as well. But the bottom line is that Israel is getting direct military aid unquestioned from the US as well as helpful political and diplomatic aid from the EU by their silence. And none of this is ever questioned.

CB: You speak about the silence that permeated World leaders and their governments had about Israel’s onslaught upon the Lebanese people. Why was it that the folks in Congress here in the US condoned Israel’s right to defend itself but never spoke of Lebanon having the same right after it became clear that this was not about rescuing two soldiers, but more about bombing all of Lebanon?

Where was the outcry of the disproportionate use of force from Congress concerning Israel actions?

DJ: Well I think this is when we have to look squarely at the fact that the US government and most of the US media is so heavily influenced by Jewish lobby groups like APAIC. And it’s long past time that people in this country look squarely at this and see that their politicians are essentially owned by these Jewish lobby groups. This is not my opinion, this is fact.

Anyone can get online, do a little bit of research and pull up US politicians and which lobby groups they’re taking campaign contributions from and I challenge anyone to find more than a handful of politicians, and I mean single digits, who have not taken some aid from Jewish lobby groups. And we are talking about Republicans and Democrats alike. Everyone is being financed by them and therefore everyone is beholden to them and the lobbyists pull the right strings the politicians move in the right direction.

And those directions are in complete compliance with whatever the wishes of the State of Israel might be at the time. And that’s why, during the first week of this war in Lebanon, that there was something like a moment of silence in the US House. Where all the politicians stood up and had a moment of silence for poor little Israel. Poor little Israel the only nuclear power in the Middle East; poor little Israel with the fourth most powerful army in the World, only second to that technologically the United States it’s supplier, its Grandparent if you will, as far as military support.

And this is the problem is that we have a government that will not act in the best interests of the United States. They act, instead in this entangled relationship of: What are the best interests of the State of Israel? And that trumps anything else, even following international law; even following the best policy for the United States, as opposed to what’s the best policy for Israel. And if the United States gets entangled in this mess and loses standing in the eyes of the World powers by its unbridled alliance for Israel, then that’s okay.

And that is what is going on and that is what light has to be shown and has to be criticized heavily and we need massive reform there. And of course the calls that will come out will be: ‘well that’s anti-Semitic, that’s anti-Israel.’ Well, we just need to be prepared for that, those will come.

And it’s not anti-Semitic because in reality this alliance of violence is detrimental to both the security of the US and Israel. This policy we’re watching is complete insanity and at the end of the day it is really going to jeopardize the existence of the State of Israel, not Iran, not Lebanon, not Hizbollah, not Hamas but this lunatic policy of this unbridled, this complete disregard for international law, this in the end is going to jeopardize the existence to the State of Israel far more than any perceived threat that could exist. And any US politician that doesn’t agree with that, and act appropriately, and make appropriate changes, they probably shouldn’t be in office.

CB: At the beginning of the war, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz enjoyed approval ratings in the 90s from the Israeli public. But since it’s conclusion, those ratings have dropped to below 50% for both men.

Reserve soldiers sent a letter to Olmert questioning the purpose of this war. Other soldiers acknowledge that Hizbollah resistance fighters fought bravely in the face of superior firer power.

Faced, with very low approval ratings and an upcoming mid term election in November, President Bush claimed victory for the State of Israel. Is the US public buying any of this, or is bush and Co., merely grasping at straws?

DJ: Well, we have to look at the actions and what happens on the ground as opposed to rhetoric and the propaganda coming out of the US and Israeli governments, especially regarding this situation. And if we simply look at the facts; Israel stated goals for this war against Lebanon were:

1. To pressure the Lebanese people and the Lebanese government to turn against Hizbollah. To disarm them and push them away from the border with Israel. That was one stated goal. Clearly a dismal failure over 90% of the Lebanese and most of the Lebanese government support Hizbollah now more than ever before. And certainly have no intention of disarming them or moving them away from the border with Israel.

2. To disarm Hizbollah and that, of course, did not happen and the UN appears unlikely to make strides in that direction and that of course means that most people in Lebanon don’t want Hizbollah to disarm either. This probably the only thing keeping Israel from occupying Southern Lebanon at this point.

3. To have they’re prisoners released. And they are no closer to having that happen then they were before they started dropping bombs over Lebanon from North to South and East to West.

4. If anyone is stupid enough to look at those killed by each side as an indication of who won, that is really going to be misleading. Because clearly Israel killed over 1,000 civilians in Lebanon as if that is some sort of a victory. But if we look at that statistic, over 50% of the people that Hizbollah killed in South Lebanon were Israeli combat soldiers not civilians. I think that is the more important statistic.

And really the most important indicator we should probably look at is perception in the Middle East and around the World as to who won this. And I think that one of the solid indicators of who people think won this is what was sighted in the Israeli press; less than 50% of Israelis approve of the job Olmert is doing where less than two weeks ago his approval rating was around 90%.

That shows that even the people of Israel are very much aware of the fact that Israel lost this war; they did not come close to achieving their directive; and instead they have turned everyone in the Middle East against them; they have shown the true face of Israel; that it’s a State that is willing to sponsor terrorism to kill civilians on a massive scale, and still not achieve it’s goals.

And in fact now, I feel that Israel and they’re own security are in much greater danger now than they were before conflict. This myth of Israel having this all-powerful undefeatable military is gone. Just like what happened to the US in Iraq. Where a few thousand people with Kalishnakovs and RPGs can bog down the most powerful military on the planet and are winning that war; well the same thing happened in Israel.

At the height of they’re ground invasion the last 24 hours of their ground invasion into Southern Lebanon, they lost 40 troops in 24 hours. And they did leave Lebanon with they’re tail between their legs. And it really just shows that this shock and awe air campaign is really useless in a guerrilla war. They can drop tens of thousands of bombs on Southern Lebanon and they still can’t get in there and hold one city, even six miles into the country.

So it’s really shown they’re military is not capable of protecting their own civilians; they are not successful at waging an invasion against another country; and now at the end of all of it, Israeli citizens feel that less secure now then they did before this ever occurred. And I think that that should be the strongest indicator, especially when we look at the stated goals of Israel at the beginning of this war.

CB: Currently there is a fragile cease-fire in place. Is it your opinions that this will hold or what do you feel is in store for the future?

DJ: I don’t think this cease-fire will hold because of what we have spoke of Israel encroaching into Lebanon again. At a time of they’re own choosing and a completely unprovoked. We can talk about that present tense. Already this cease-fire has failed and at any time Israel might…maybe even as we speak…they could be breaking this cease-fire agreement again. And I think that’s why it will fail.

Because Israel has complete disregard for UN resolutions. We only have to look them breeching, I’m not sure how many, UN resolutions regarding what’s going on in the occupied territories. We need to remember that the first one to break this cease-fire was Israel and they’re may come a point when Hizbollah does respond and then the corporate media will begin to place the blame squarely on Lebanon’s shoulders.

I’m going to use a crude analogy to get my point across; I use to play basketball and I was always taught that if you ever get fouled, don’t foul you’re opponent back.

Because the one who responds is usually the one who is going to get caught. And I think it’s kind of the same thing here. It is critical that Hizbollah not respond if they can at all avoid it. Because the media is so biased and the international community is so biased; if they do respond we could have another repeat of what we just saw now and probably something much worse and more sustained. Because I really don’t see Israel leaving this aside and not doing anything. They will continue to provoke until Hizbollah responds and then we will again see and all out war.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

"You Cannot Promise Victory, Produce a Humiliating Defeat and Stay in Power"

August 22 , 2006

"You Cannot Promise Victory, Produce a Humiliating Defeat and Stay in Power"

Israel Must Win


“The ceasefire in Lebanon was holding by a thread last night after Israel sanctioned a commando raid in the east of the country. Kofi Annan, the United Nations Secretary General, said Israel had violated the truce, and he was 'deeply concerned' about it.”

The Guardian

For those familiar with Israeli aggression, the IDF violation was no surprise at all. For a week or so, every Israeli cabinet member and military official promised publicly that it is just a question of time before there is a ‘second round’. Indeed, they must come up with something. Since the end of the hostilities, all Israeli political analysts and polls suggest that Israel’s political and military leadership failed completely. If elections were to be held soon, both Labor and Kadima would simply disappear. It is no secret that with each passing day, Olmert’s and Peretz’s popularity continually slumps to new lows. Jerusalem Post.

One may wonder whether the Israelis are changing their spots, do they stop approving Olmert’s policies just because peace is what they really prefer? The influential political commentator Ari Shavit provided an answer two weeks ago. Mr Olmert, so he says, had ‘failed shamefully’ and should resign. Shavit continues, "You cannot lead an entire nation to war promising victory, produce humiliating defeat and remain in power." As I mentioned more than once before, the Israeli politician has to cope with a demanding, bloodthirsty crowd.

This realisation throws some light over the reasons behind the failed Israeli operation in Lebanon just three days ago. Israelis are simply desperate to win. But it may also explain why Israeli government decided to expand its military operation pretty much at the same time it accepted the UN ceasefire resolution. Olmert knew that he must serve his voters with what they interpret as a clear-cut victory. This would mean either some severe form of revenge with lots of Arab casualties or a significant land invasion. Olmert, his ‘national unity’ government and the army leadership have to do something that would cover up four weeks of disastrous military campaign that failed to serve the Israeli public with even a single second of glory.

Indeed, the IDF military offensive doctrine is grounded on one basic axiom that was defined by David Ben Gurion in the early fifties: whatever it takes, Israel must always win! This axiom is indeed very powerful, yet, in reality, the Israeli army can’t provide the goods anymore. In the last three decades the Israeli army is constantly being beaten time after time by enemies that are getting smaller and smaller.

Yet, one may mention that the IDF isn’t very original in being defeated. The IDF fails exactly where the American army has been failing since Vietnam. Shockingly, the IDF has managed to copy every possible American mistake. It religiously adopted the new American military philosophy of a ‘compact highly sophisticated fighting force’. Undeniably, this very doctrine is very effective in producing some gigantic collateral damage i.e., war crimes. Yet, in the long run, it fails miserably in wining wars. The new American military doctrine may win a battle or two but no more than that. In the most recent years it has been totally beaten in Afghanistan, Iraq, Gaza and obviously in Lebanon.

Though the early stages of the Israeli campaign in Lebanon looked very much like the first few days of the second Gulf War (major air assault on civilian infrastructure and populated areas), there is at least one major noticeable difference. While America can stand and even ignore international criticism referring to its own war crimes, it isn’t willing to suffer much international criticism for Israeli atrocities. While in the early stages of the war America was rushing to provide Israel with air convoys loaded with its most lethal conventional arsenal, we have learned towards the last week of the war that the American administration changed its mind, it suddenly refused to provide the IDF with a shipment of cluster bombs because it “would endanger the civilian population”. Seemingly, there is a limit to what the Americans are willing to do for their ‘closest friend’ in the Middle East.

This is exactly where the Israeli limbo is. In order to maintain its status as a winning regional super power, Israel needs the blind support of America (politically, financially and logistically). Yet American blind support can be grunted to Israel only if the Jewish State is indeed a regional super power to start with. Olmert and his government are fully aware of this very complexity. They know that without being a regional super power in the first place, they have nothing to offer their almighty American brothers. Israel is crucial for the strategy of the Americans as long as it can wipe out all its enemies in six days at the most. The way things appear now, the Israeli Army is basically defeated by the two smallest nations in the Arab world, the Palestinian and the Lebanese ones.

As much as it clear to the Israelis, it is clear to the Americans that unlike the bold Hezbollah, the IDF soldier has lost his will to fight. The IDF is a spoiled, confused and tired army that is specializing solely in terrorizing civilian populations while being engaged in constant tactical withdraw. This Israeli Army is not trained to win wars anymore. Instead, its tank battalions are mainly engaged in daily shelling of schools and hospitals. Its Air Force uses the best American fighter planes to flatten neighborhoods and shoot deadly rockets at cars in the streets of Gaza. Its command units are expert in abducting democratically elected middle-aged Palestinian politicians. The IDF is basically a heavy army specializing in merciless regional bullying. Yet, it cannot win a war, and as such it has nothing to offer the American empire.

But the Israeli military defeat has some further implications. Israel without a victorious army, has nothing to offer to world Jewry either. It can never present itself as the ultimate cosmic Judeo bunker. It is pretty shocking to prospect the relative silence of the infamous Zionist media shield. While just six weeks ago the loud supporters of Anglo-American interventionism were still pushing for democracy in the Arab world and beyond, they were enthusiastic about killing in the name of human rights and about Israel being the only democracy in the Middle East. Somehow, since the war began, since Israel revealed once again its murderous tendencies and Hezbollah proved to be the new Robin Hood, these voices are caving in. Many among the global Zionists do already understand now that the Anglo-American assault on the Arab world just suffered a major blow. Some of them probably grasp that it is just a question of time before more and more Europeans and Americans join the sacred battle against the Americanized Global Zionism, i.e., neo-conservatism.

The recent victory of the Hezbollah therefore must be realized as a major event with some global implications. While the Hezbollah regards itself a paramilitary organization concerned mainly with some local issues having to do with Israeli expansionism, it has managed to cause a serious blow to neo-conservatism as a political praxis as well as a philosophy. It has beaten the Zionized Anglo-American worldview. Standing up to Zionism and Americanism, it is the Lebanese, the Palestinians, the Iraqis, the Afghanis and the Iranians who happen to be at the vanguard of the war for humanity and humanism. For those who are yet to be convinced that this indeed the case, I will mention that the fact that it is Iran who rushed to pay 3 billion dollars to rebuild Lebanon after the destruction made by ‘American interventionism’ leaves no room for interpretation. While America spreads destruction and death all over the world, it is Iran and the Hezbollah that offers a new beginning.

Olmert knows very well that if Israel doesn’t win this war, it is global Zionism that is defeated, he knows as well that without the backing of global Zionism, Israel is basically a dead entity. Olmert knows that without America, it won’t take long before Israel turns into an historic event. Israel will have to win its mighty regional power status whatever it takes. Israeli is indeed in the very eye of the neo-conservative storm. And the Hezbollah is threatening something far greater than just the Jewish State. As the Israelis keep telling us, the fight in Lebanon will resume soon and every European leader knows it.

Even now, they all know who is going to be the aggressor when violence spreads again in the region. They are all clever enough to hesitate about whether they want to send their soldiers to the region. They know that if Israel must win, it is better to stay out of its way.

Gilad Atzmon was born in Israel and served in the Israeli military. He is the author of two novels: A Guide to the Perplexed and the recently released My One and Only Love. Atzmon is also one of the most accomplished jazz saxophonists in Europe. His recent CD, Exile, was named the year's best jazz CD by the BBC. He now lives in London and can be reached at:

Monday, August 21, 2006

Doves of prey

Israel's belligerent doves should pause to ponder one small question: If they - famous
peace lovers - have turned into doves of prey after deaths of 100 Israelis, then what do they suppose is going through the minds of doves, hawks alike who have suffered 1,000 casualties, hundreds of thousands of displaced persons, and scores of pounded villages?

By B. Michael
August 12, 2006

One hundred dead Israelis - undoubtedly a horrendous figure - and a flock of local and
noisy doves have turned into a flock of angry battle doves.

Almost overnight, the calls for peace and moderation have been abandoned, replaced by
loud and angry preaching calling for the pounding, crippling and destruction of the

One hundred dead, hundreds of thousands of displaced persons, dozens of shelled homes
- and the doves have become falcons.

What about them?

It`s interesting, because the Palestinians have been suffering similar measures of
death and
destruction almost every month. And they, as they have been told over and over again,
should learn from all this death and suffering and turn into doves. They are being
told to
abandon their anger and hatred, and instead nurture love of mankind and pacifism.

And the Lebanese? They too have had a fair share of death and destruction, several
greater than the suffering Israel has had to endure. And they too are being asked to
the ultimate conclusion from the horror they have endured, namely that the time has
come to
turn into doves. They have even been told repeatedly that we shall not cease to
strike at
them, until they make an about-face, until they become doves, until they love us.

Strange. The Palestinian and Lebanese people are being asked to surmise that it is
worthwhile becoming a dove after experiencing death and suffering. However, Israeli
allow themselves to surmise the complete opposite from death and suffering: that
they ought
to become birds of prey.

Strange, but perhaps this conduct can be attributed to the difference in mentality,
and may
just be another sign of the dove`s soft flesh and feeble spine.

The lesson of the death

Owls on the other hand, as well as all other intelligent creatures, learn from all
the above
(and from the lessons learned in Iraq, Afghanistan, Ireland, Spain, Algeria and
etc.) that bombs and tanks are not necessarily the best teachers of politeness,
courtesy and
love of mankind. Death and suffering only brings more death and suffering. Relentless
brutality only brings more relentless brutality.

Aggressive recklessness only brings more aggressive recklessness. That`s how it is
that`s how it is there and that`s how it is everywhere.

Israel`s belligerent doves should pause to ponder one small question: if they - the
peace lovers - have become doves of prey after the death of 100 Israelis, then what
do they
suppose is going through the minds of those doves and hawks alike who have suffered
1,000 deaths, hundreds of thousands of displaced persons, and scores of villages almost
wiped off the face of the earth.

But how dare I compare? We are the chosen people, and they are just Arabs.

Food for thought

Who are those people fighting us in Lebanon ? Who are those determined youngsters, the
fanatics impassioned by their faith and hatred?

They are eighteen-year-olds, twenty-year-olds, and twenty-five-year-olds or perhaps
thirty-year-olds. They were born in the last century, towards the end of the 70`s
and the end
of the 80`s. They are the sons of the previous war. They are the offspring of occupied
Lebanon in 1982, children of the trampled south during the first war in Lebanon,
children of humiliated parents who grew into bitter men, full of burning hatred.

We also tried knocking some sense into their parents by bombing them. Their families
also driven out of their homes, hoping they would wander to the capital and pressure
government to disarm the militia of the time (Palestinian). Their villages were also
flattened and cleansed.

The generation that grew out of that era is the same generation fighting us now. And
years from now - if we allow the Olmerts , the Peretzes, the Halutzes and the Ramons to
continue ruling us - we shall find ourselves fighting the generation that is growing
up now.

A somewhat hollow argument

We say they `hide among civilians,` that they `use them as human shields, those lowly
cowards.` We say, `Those who allow them to do so should pay the price.`

This is a somewhat hollow argument coming from the mouths of officers and leaders whose
headquarters are located in the heart of Tel Aviv. And not far from there in the
midst of a
prestigious neighborhood, there`s a type of military airport. And in a handsome
building in
the capital, in the heart of the city, there`s a large military base, where cannons are
reportedly, often positioned so close to the settlements that schoolchildren wander
there during their breaks.

But these arguments sound all the more hollow coming from a country that invented the
`settlement undertaking.` An undertaking whose sole purpose was to send civilians,
including women and children, to perform a military assignment par excellence: gaining
control over territory, the expulsion of the residents and annexation of the spoils
to the
mother country. A classical assignment by a conquering power.

This is all being carried out under a contrite and sanctimonious civilian pretext. I
therefore, like to make myself heard loud and clear: No one asked for my permission
building the Kiriya (Tel Aviv military headquarters), I didn`t give my consent for
building the
Schneller Camp, and as far as I am concerned, let all the settlements be abandoned
as of

And even though I am being used as a human shield, many leaders and sacred weapons
are hiding behind me, and I am paying the taxes for the curse of the settlements and
the evil
of the occupation, I insist: my blood is no different from the blood of Lebanese
citizens, and
cannot be shed. And hopefully, all those who dare harm us, will find themselves
paying the
cost. Either before a local adjudicator or an international one, whatever comes first.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Thirty Three Day War

August 17, 2006

From Mania to Depression


Tel Aviv.

Thirty three days of war. The longest of our wars since 1949.

On the Israeli side: 154 dead--117 of them soldiers. 3970 rockets launched against us, 37 civilians dead, more than 422 civilians wounded.

On the Lebanese side: about a thousand dead civilians, thousands wounded. An unknown number of Hizbullah fighters dead and wounded.

More than a million refugees on both sides.

So what has been achieved for this terrible price?

"GLOOMY, HUMBLE, despondent," was how the journalist Yossef Werter described Ehud Olmert, a few hours after the cease-fire had come into effect.

Olmert? Humble? Is this the same Olmert we know? The same Olmert who thumped the table and shouted: "No more!" Who said: "After the war, the situation will be completely different than before!" Who promised a "New Middle East" as a result of the war?

* * *

THE RESULTS of the war are obvious:

* The prisoners, who served as casus belli (or pretext) for the war, have not been released. They will come back only as a result of an exchange of prisoners, exactly as Hassan Nasrallah proposed before the war.

* Hizbullah has remained as it was. It has not been destroyed, nor disarmed, nor even removed from where it was. Its fighters have proved themselves in battle and have even garnered compliments from Israeli soldiers. Its command and communication stucture has continued to function to the end. Its TV station is still broadcasting.

* Hassan Nasrallah is alive and kicking. Persistent attempts to kill him failed. His prestige is sky-high. Everywhere in the Arab world, from Morocco to Iraq, songs are being composed in his honor and his picture adorns the walls.

* The Lebanese army will be deployed along the border, side by side with a large international force. That is the only material change that has been achieved.

This will not replace Hizbullah. Hizbullah will remain in the area, in every village and town. The Israeli army has not succeeded in removing it from one single village. That was simply impossible without permanently removing the population to which it belongs.

The Lebanese army and the international force cannot and will not confront Hizbullah. Their very presence there depends on Hizbullah's consent. In practice, a kind of co-existence of the three forces will come into being, each one knowing that it has to come to terms with the other two.

Perhaps the international force will be able to prevent incursions by Hizbullah, such as the one that preceded this war. But it will also have to prevent Israeli actions, such as the reconnaissance flights of our Air Force over Lebanon. That's why the Israeli army objected, at the beginning, so strenuously to the introduction of this force.

* * *

IN ISRAEL, there is now a general atmosphere of disappointment and despondency. From mania to depression. It's not only that the politicians and the generals are firing accusations at each other, as we foresaw, but the general public is also voicing criticism from every possible angle. The soldiers criticize the conduct of the war, the reserve soldiers gripe about the chaos and the failure of supplies.

In all parties, there are new opposition groupings and threats of splits. In Kadima. In Labor. It seems that in Meretz, too, there is a lot of ferment, because most of its leaders supported the war dragon almost until the last moment, when they caught its tail and pierced it with their little lance.

At the head of the critics are marching--surprise, surprise--the media. The entire horde of interviewers and commentators, correspondents and presstitutes, who (with very few exceptions) enthused about the war, who deceived, misled, falsified, ignored, duped and lied for the fatherland, who stifled all criticism and branded as traitors all who opposed the war--they are now running ahead of the lynch mob. How predictable, how ugly. Suddenly they remember what we have been saying right from the beginning of the war.

This phase is symbolized by Dan Halutz, the Chief-of-Staff. Only yesterday he was the hero of the masses, it was forbidden to utter a word against him. Now he is being described as a war profiteer. A moment before sending his soldiers into battle, he found the time to sell his shares, in expectation of a decline of the stock market. (Let us hope that a moment before the end he found the time to buy them back again.)

Victory, as is well known, has many fathers, and failure in war is an orphan.

* * *

FROM THE deluge of accusations and gripes, one slogan stands out , a slogan that must send a cold shiver down the spine of anyone with a good memory: "the politicians did not let the army win."

Exactly as I wrote two weeks ago, we see before our very eyes the resurrection of the old cry "they stabbed the army in the back!"

This is how it goes: At long last, two days before the end, the land offensive started to roll. Thanks to our heroic soldiers, the men of the reserves, it was a dazzling success. And then, when we were on the verge of a great victory, the cease-fire came into effect.

There is not a single word of truth in this. This operation, which was planned and which the army spent years training for, was not carried out earlier, because it was clear that it would not bring any meaningful gains but would be costly in lives. The army would, indeed, have occupied wide areas, but without being able to dislodge the Hizbullah fighters from them.

The town of Bint Jbeil, for example, right next to the border, was taken by the army three times, and the Hizbullah fighters remained there to the end. If we had occupied 20 towns and villages like this one, the soldiers and the tanks would have been exposed in twenty places to the mortal attacks of the guerillas with their highly effective anti-tank weapons.

If so, why was it decided, at the last moment, to carry out this operation after all--well after the UN had already called for an end to hostilities? The horrific answer: it was a cynical--not to say vile--exercise of the failed trio. Olmert, Peretz and Halutz wanted to create "a picture of victory", as was openly stated in the media. On this altar the lives of 33 soldiers (including a young woman) were sacrificed.

The aim was to photograph the victorious soldiers on the bank of the Litani. The operation could only last 48 hours, when the cease-fire would come into force. In spite of the fact that the army used helicopters to land the troops, the aim was not attained. At no point did the army reach the Litani.

For comparison: in the first Lebanon war, that of Sharon in 1982, the army crossed the Litani in the first few hours. (The Litani, by the way, is not a real river anymore, but just a shallow creek. Most of its waters are drawn off far from there, in the north. Its last stretch is about 25 km distant from the border, near Metulla the distance is only 4 km.)

This time, when the cease-fire took effect, all the units taking part had reached villages on the way to the river. There they became sitting ducks, surrounded by Hizbullah fighters, without secure supply lines. From that moment on, the army had only one aim: to get them out of there as quickly as possible, regardless of who might take their place.

If a commission of inquiry is set up--as it must be--and investigates all the moves of this war, starting from the way the decision to start it was made, it will also have to investigate the decision to start this last operation. The death of 33 soldiers (including the son of the writer David Grossman, who had supported the war) and the pain this caused their families demand that!

* * *

BUT THESE facts are not yet clear to the general public. The brain-washing by the military commentators and the ex-generals, who dominated the media at the time, has turned the foolish--I would almost say "criminal"--operation into a rousing victory parade. The decision of the political leadership to stop it is now being seen by many as an act of defeatist, spineless, corrupt and even treasonous politicians.

And that is exactly the new slogan of the fascist Right that is now raising its ugly head.

After World War I, in similar circumstances, the legend of the "knife in the back of the victorious army" grew up. Adolf Hitler used it to carry him to power--and on to World War II.

Now, even before the last fallen soldier has been buried, the incompetent generals are starting to talk shamelessly about "another round", the next war that will surely come "in a month or in a year", God willing. After all, we cannot end the matter like this, in failure. Where is our pride?

* * *

THE ISRAELI public is now in a state of shock and disorientation. Accusations--justified and unjustified--are flung around in all directions, and it cannot be foreseen how things will develop.

Perhaps, in the end, it is logic that will win. Logic says: what has thoroughly been demonstrated is that there is no military solution. That is true in the North. That is also true in the South, where we are confronting a whole people that has nothing to lose anymore. The success of the Lebanese guerilla will encourage the Palestinian guerilla.

For logic to win, we must be honest with ourselves: pinpoint the failures, investigate their deeper causes, draw the proper conclusions.

Some people want to prevent that at any price. President Bush declares vociferously that we have won the war. A glorious victory over the Evil Ones. Like his own victory in Iraq.

When a football team is able to choose the referee, it is no surprise if it is declared the winner.

Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He is one of the writers featured in The Other Israel: Voices of Dissent and Refusal. He is also a contributor to CounterPunch's hot new book The Politics of Anti-Semitism. He can be reached at:

Friday, August 18, 2006

Birth Pangs of a new Christian Zionism? Sounds more like a miscarriage

Bellow is a link to an article on Christian Zionism. At present this is the new lobby arm that is throwing it's whole heart into glorifying Israel and demonizing Arabs. Of course, it would be nice to find out what they're views are on the sufferring of Lebanese, Syrian, Iraqi and Palestinian Christians.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

"Look What You've Done!"

August 16, 2006

AIPAC Congratulates Itself on the Slaughter in Lebanon


"My fellow American," Howard Friedman, President of AIPAC, begins his letter of July 30 to friends and supporters of AIPAC, "Look what you've done"! After warning that "Israel is fighting a pivotal war for its life," by which he means Israel's wanton slaughter and all-out destruction in Lebanon, Freiedman condemns "the expected chorus of international condemnation of Israel's actions" and Europe's call for "a cease-fire immediately." Then he exults: "only ONE nation in the world came out and flatly declared: Let Israel finish the job. . That nation is the United States of America--and the reason it had such a clear, unambiguous view of the situation is YOU and the rest of America Jewry." (All emphases in the original here and below.) Here I must take issue with President Friedman since I bet that most Jewish Americans, in contrast to the AIPAC crowd, were horrified by the slaughter in Lebanon. In fact if anyone other than President Friedman wrote this, he would be accused of fabricating a Jewish plot and labeled a nutty conspiracy theorist and scurrilous anti-semite.)

"How do we do it"? President Friedman asks a little further on. The answer is "decades of long hard work which never ends." Not only is it hard work--but it's eternal. However, President Friedman is not content with generalities and gives us some of AIPAC's trade secrets. Here are two notables:

"AIPAC meets with every candidate running for Congress. These candidates receive in-depth briefings to help them completely understand the complexities of Israel's predicament and that of the Middle East as a whole. We even ask each candidate to author a 'position paper' on their views of the U.S.-Israel relationship--so it's clear where they stand on the subject." (Would it not be great to see these "position papers"? I wonder how many candidates would release them? And what do the candidates get for all this effort? A pat on the back?)

"Members of Congress, staffers and administration officials have come to rely on AIPACs memos. They are VERY busy people and they know that they can count on AIPAC for clear-eyed analysis.. We present this information in concise form to elected officials. The information and analyses are impeccable--after all our reputation is at stake. This results in policy and legislation that make up Israel's lifeline." (Another way to read this is that the pea-brained hillbillies who make up most of the Congress can be led by the nose if the memos are simple enough. Testimony to this fact enters my mailbox, as I write, in the form of a must-read interview with Noam Chomsky, which details just how distorted the discussion of Israel and the war on Lebanon has become in the U.S.)

President Friedman's letter continues with more headliners: "Unfortunately, our work has just begun"! "Hizballah must be defeated." And finally, "The war is a diversion"!!!! This last section argues that the war in Lebanon is a "distraction," to "divert attention away from Iran's nuclear weapons program"! (In case you haven't noticed President Friedman loves exclamation points, which leads one to wonder whether a good dose of lithium might not be in order.) But this "analysis' is hopelessly confused since Israel started the war on Lebanon using a minor border skirmish as an excuse - as Chomsky points out in the interview alluded to above. It leaves one wondering about AIPAC's analyses. Are they "clear-eyed" as Friedman claims, or wild-eyed?

President Friedman closes with the exhortation: "Now is the time for us, American Jews, to stand up and tell our elected officials that they must demand Iran halt its pursuit of atomic arms." In other words, next stop Iran if AIPAC can swing it. And in that lies a great danger. The Bush administration is losing ever more of its base and only the neocon establishment and AIPAC remain securely in its camp. (Even some of the born-agains are deserting.) With the November elections coming, Rove and Bush desperately need AIPAC support, and so they may be even more susceptible than usual to its demands for going after Iran. Indeed this is a dangerous time.

John Walsh can be reached at

He thanks President Friedman for much of the material in this article, which is taken directly from his latest fundraising letter to AIPAC supporters and members.

Gaza Watch #12: Elderly Palestinian and His Son Killed when IOF Bombard their House

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
16 August 2006

Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) killed an elderly Palestinian and
his son in Khan Yunis in the early morning hours of Wednesday, 16
August 2006, when an IOF plane leveled their house with a bomb. IOF
did not give them sufficient time to evacuate the house; and they
were killed during the evacuation. In addition, a second son and two
neighbors were moderately injured by shrapnel.

PCHR's preliminary investigation indicates that at approximately
01:00 on Wednesday, an Israeli security officer called Abdel Hadi
Hasan Radwan Sha'ath (31), who is an activist in Al-Aqsa Martyrs
Brigades, on his mobile telephone. The Israeli officer told him to
evacuate his house as it will be bombarded in a few minutes. Sha'ath
was not in the house at the time of the call; and he called his
family to inform them of the warning.

The house consisted of 3 stories and was built on an area of 180
square meters. It was located in the densely-populated Sheikh Naser
area in the eastern part of Khan Yunis. The household started to
evacuate the house at night and in the dark as electricity was cut
off the area at the time.

During the evacuation, Israeli security called Mustafa Sha'ath (36),
a brother of Abdel Hadi, who is also an activist in Al-Aqsa Martyrs
Brigades. They informed him that the house will be bombarded in a
few minutes.

Fifteen minutes after the first call and as the household were
evacuating, an IOF plane dropped a bomb on the house, destroying it
completely. Hasan Radwan Shahin Sha'ath, the 69-year old owner of
the house, and his son Ibrahim (45) were killed. Their bodies were
found 10 meters away from the house. They were killed by cement
blocks shattered by the bombardment. In addition, three civilians
were injured. One of the injured is a second son of the dead house
owner. The injured were taken to Naser Hospital in Khan Yunis, where
their injuries were listed as light to moderate. The injured are:
Abdel Rahman Hasan Sha'ath (35), Abdallah Nizar Abu Taha (29), and
Mohammad Suliman Mustafa Sha'ath (35). In addition, five nearby
houses sheltering 10 families of 75 members sustained damage by the

PCHR strongly condemns the IOF killing of Palestinian civilians in
the Gaza Strip, and the destruction of their property. IOF
disproportionate use of force places the lives of civilians at
additional risk during these operations, which are a form of
reprisal and collective punishment against Palestinians, a violation
of article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The Centre

confirms that indiscriminate aggression will inflict additional
damages on civilians and civilian property. The prior knowledge that
these attacks will cause civilian casualties and destruction of
their property is a violation of the convention, and a war crime in
the first protocol additional to the convention. The Centre reminds
the High Contracting Parties of the Fourth Geneva Convention of: -
Their obligations under article 1 of the convention to ensure
respect of the convention under all circumstances;

- Their obligations in article 146 of the convention to pursue
suspects of committing serious violations of the convention, noting
that these violations are war crimes according to article 147, as
specified in the first protocol additional to the convention

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Three Worst Men

There were three men competing to see who the worst one in the world is.

The first one attacked a woman and raped her so savagely that she fainted. He turned
to the others and said, "I am the worst one of all."

The second man stepped up and beat her until her teeth fell out and she bled from
her nose and ears until she was almost dead. He turned to the others and said, "No
one can be worse than me."

The third one stepped up, smiled coldly, and said, "No, I am the worst one even
though I just stood by and watched, because this woman is my sister.

The woman here represents Lebanon and Palestine.
The first man is Israel.
The second is America & the West.
The third is the Arab world that stood by and did nothing.

Monday, August 14, 2006

To failure's credit

By Gideon Levy
13 August 2006

The bad (and predictable) news: Israel is going to comeout of this war with the lower hand. The good (and surprising) news: This ringing failure could spell good tidings. If Israel had won the battles in an easy, sweeping victory of the kind Israelis prayed so much for, it would have caused enormous damage to Israel's security policies. Another slam-bam win would have brought disaster upon us. Drugged with power, drunk with victory, we would have been tempted to implement our success in other arenas. Dangerous fire would have threatened the entire region and nobody knows what might have resulted.

On the other hand, the failure in this little war might teach us an important lesson for the future, and maybe influence us to change our ways and language, the language we speak to our neighbors with violence and force. The axiom that "Israel cannot allow itself a defeat on the battlefield" has already been exposed as a nonsensical cliche: Failure might not only help Israel greatly but, as a bonus, it might teach the Americans the important lesson that there is no point in pushing Israel into military adventures.

Since 1948's war, Israel has only achieved one sweeping military victory on its own, in the Six-Day War. There is no way of imagining an easier and sweeter victory. Israel's "deterrent capability" was restored - and in a big way - in a manner that was supposed to guarantee its security for many years. And what happened? Only six years went by and the most difficult war in Israeli history, theYom Kippur War, took place. Hardly deterrence. On the contrary, the defeat in 1967 only pushed the Arab armies to try to restore their lost honor and they managed to do so in a very short time. Against an arrogant, complacent Israel enjoying the rotten fruits of that dizzying victory, the Syrian and Egyptian armies chalked up considerable achievements, and Israel understood the limits of its power. Maybe now, this war will also bring us back down to reality, where military force is only military force, and cannot guarantee everything. Afterall, we are constantly scoring "victories" and "achievements" against the Palestinians. And what comes of them? Deterrence? Have the Palestinians given up their dreams to be free people in their own country?

The IDF's failure against Hezbollah is not a fateful defeat. Israel killed and absorbed casualties, but its existence or any part of its territory were not endangered for a moment. Our favorite phrase, "an existential war" is nothing more than another expression of the ridiculous pathos of this war, which from the start was a cursed war of choice.

Hezbollah did not capture territory from Israel and its defeat is tolerable even though it could have easily been avoided if we had not undertaken our foolish Lebanese adventure. It is not difficult to imagine what would have happened if Hezbollah had been defeated within a few days from the air, as promised from the start by the bragging of the heads of the IDF. The success would have made us insane. The U.S. would have pushed us into a military clash with Syria and, drunk with victory, we might have been tempted. Iran might have been next. At the same time we would have dealt with the Palestinians: What went so easily in Lebanon, we would have been convinced, would be easily implemented from Jenin to Rafah. The result would have been an attempt to solve the Palestinian problem at its root by pounding, erasing, bombing and shelling.

Maybe all that won't happen now because we have discovered first-hand that the IDF's power is much more limited than we thought and were told. Our deterrent capacity might now work in the opposite direction. Israel, hopefully, will think twice before going into another dangerous military adventure. That is comforting news. On the other hand, it is true that there is the danger the IDF will want to restore its lost honor on the backs of the helpless Palestinians. It didn't work in Bint Jbail, so we'll show them in Nablus.

However, if we internalize the concept whereby what does not work by force will not work with more force, this war could bring us to the negotiating table. Seared by failure, maybe the IDF will be less enthusiastic to rush into battle. It is possible the political echelon will now understand that the response to the dangers facing Israelis not to be found in using more and more force; that the real response to the legitimate and just demands of the Palestinians is not another dozen Operation Defensive Shields, but in respecting their rights; that the real response to the Syrian threat is returning the Golan to its rightful owners, without delay; and that the response to the Iranian danger is dulling the hatred toward us in the Arab and Muslim world.

If indeed the war ends as it is ending, maybe more Israelis will ask themselves what we are killing and being killed for, what did we pound and get pounded for, and maybe they will understand that it was once again all for naught. Maybe the achievement of this war will be that the failure will be seared deeply into the consciousness, and Israel will take a new route, less violent and less bullying, because of the failure. In 1967, Ephraim Kishon wrote, "sorry we won." This time it is almost possible to say, it's good we did not win.

Gaza Watch #11: Israel's Gaza far

13 August 2006

Israel had carried out 190 airstrikes and fired 3,500 artillery shells on the Gaza Strip within the last 44 days, according to a Palestinian official report published on Saturday.

The report, issued by Palestine Liberation Organization(PLO) department of Statistical Quality Control, detailed all Israeli army attacks on the Gaza Strip over the last 44 days.

"Israel carried out 768 different kinds of attacks on theGaza Strip during the period between June 28 and August10," said the PLO report.

Israel launched an air and ground offensive on the Gaza Strip on June 28, three days after one Israeli soldier were abducted by Palestinian militant groups during across-border attack.

According to medics in Gaza hospitals, 200 Palestinians, including 40 children, were killed and 600 others were injured during the Israeli offensives dubbed "SummerRains".

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat warned of political and human disasters as a result of the ongoing military air and ground operations against the Gaza Strip.

Israel said that the operations were aimed to free the captive soldier Gilad Shalit and halt Palestinian militant groups' rocket attacks against Israel.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Gaza Watch #10: Palestinian deaths rise amid fear of worse to come

By Nidal al-Mughrabi/Reuters
The Guardian
11 August 2006

Last month was the deadliest in the Gaza Strip for nearly two years, a Palestinian research group said yesterday, as Israel's six-week offensive against militants in the territory led to a surge in killings. The Palestinian Monitoring Group said 151 people were killed in the strip in July, the highest total since October 2004, when 166 people died. The majority of those killed were civilians.

"The spiralling civilian casualties caused by Israeli actions throughout the region serve to strengthen extremists, weaken peace advocates and exacerbate the conflict," said the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, commenting on the findings.

From late June, when Israel launched its offensive, until August 8, at least 170 Palestinians were killed, of whom 138 were civilians and a quarter children, the monitoring group said. Other reports have put the death toll at 200.

When the offensive was launched, Israeli warplanes bombed and partly destroyed Gaza's only power plant and also hit several bridges. The flow of fuel, food and other essential supplies was also repeatedly interrupted. The United Nations says the densely populated territory is now facing some of the worst humanitarian conditions in years.

In a report this week the UN said more than 70% of the 1.4 million population was reliant on emergency assistance to meet food needs and the price of essential goods, such as flour and sugar, had risen by between 15% and 33% this year. Waste treatment in the northern strip has reached a "critical point", threatening to flood populated areas with sewage and spread infection.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Another Letter

Dear President Bush and Prime Minister Olmert,

As we continue with the drumbeat coverage of the Israeli Occupation Forces ongoing war crimes in Gaza and the West Bank, the World's eyes are transfixed on the escalation of violence In Lebanon.

Along with others I have sat and watched the coverage of suffering that Lebanese people and Israelis have endured.

I have wondered when all of this will be resolved? Why not have an immediate cease fire now President Bush and Prime Minister Olmert? Why not stop the killing now rather than keeping it going? Why drive deeper into Lebanon and cause more death and destruction not only for the Lebanese, but also for the Israelis as well?

Do you honestly think that by destroying the entire infrastructure of Lebanon as well as Gaza and The West Bank that people will throw up their hands and say: "Oh all right you win, I know when I am beat!" is this what you think might happen?

It's wishful thinking if you ask me. Destroying a grassroots movement like Hezbollah or Hamas has never been successful in the past and there is no need to think that it will be now. What you may very well be doing is to ferment the seeds of anger not only of the Shia and Sunni in the region but the Christians and Druze as well.

It concerns me when I hear statements from Israeli Generals that they have much work to do in order to stop Hezbollah and Hamas. What of the innocents? What of the three-month old baby who was wounded yesterday by Israeli tank shells? What about the almost 100 Israelis that have died? There are hospitals in Gaza that are completely overwhelmed with injured men, women and children. What is the point of bombing any car in Tyre if you see one on the roads, you do realize that there are many in that city who did not have the means to leave after you kindly dropped leaflets warning them to go? And if this were not enough, the media due to the ongoing battle ragging in the North of Israel and Lebanon, the media have turned a blind eye to what is happening in Gaza.

I've heard the same tired expressions for the last several weeks. We are fighting against terrorists, we want Syria and Iran to stop funding weapons to Hezbollah. well, why not start Mr. Bush by stopping military aid to Israel? And please don't bring up the whole anti-Semitism thing because it's really not anti-Semitic to call out a government on indiscriminate bombing of innocents.

Oh and before I finish, I know Hezbollah might hide amongst civilian populations, but even Amnesty Intl and Human Rights Watch say that is no reason to still drop the bomb in the region of where the civilians are.

So, I'll leave you two now to mull this over for the maximum allowed five seconds and then I'm sure your the lovely Zionists and Christian Zionists will begin their rants, but it doesn't bother me.

I am reminded of what the singer Michael Franti once sung about:

"You can bomb the World to pieces
but you can't bomb the World into Peace."

Christopher Brown

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

"I Know it is a Terrible Solution"

Encounter at an Israeli Checkpoint


Hawara Checkpoint, Palestine.

Underneath his green helmet, his eyes are clear and large and blue and when he tells me about seeing his little brother blown up by a suicide bomber, he does not look at me. "I'm so sorry," I say, and I mean it.

"Oh yeah, I bet you are."

We have been at his checkpoint all morning, negotiating and pleading with him and his fellow soldiers to allow sick people, pregnant women and young children to pass through the long line of Palestinians waiting to leave Nablus, a wait that is averaging two hours today. We are annoying to him. He knows why we are here, what we stand for.

"No, I mean it, I'm so sorry, my heart is broken for you." I say it and I mean it and my eyes are filling with tears thinking about my little sisters, how much I love them, what it would be like to see someone kill them. My eyes fill with tears as I think about what I would (want to) do to someone who blew up my little sister.

He is surprised a little, to see me cry for him and he says, "I know this is a terrible solution"--he gestures toward the checkpoint where a hundred Palestinians are packed like so much cattle into narrow gangways, waiting their turn to have their IDs checked, their bags searched, their shirts lifted, their pockets patted. Some of them do this every day. They have been waiting two hours today. It is very hot. There is another checkpoint 2 miles down the road.

"I know this is not the solution," he says again.

"This is not making you safer," I say. "99% of the people that come through here are not interested in hurting you, but when you treat them like this everyday, you make them want to hurt you."

"I know. I know the conditions are terrible. I know they are frustrated. I know people should not live like this. But what else can we do? Last month we caught 5 people with bomb packs."

I am doubtful of this--it seems highly unlikely that a self-martyr would try to just walk through Hawara checkpoint, notorious for its thorough and extravagant security procedures, its unbending and merciless soldiers. There are many other checkpoints out of the city that are easier to pass through, not to mention the path over the mountains. But it doesn't matter--he is expressing to me that although he realizes that innocent people are suffering, he doesn't care because he believes this checkpoint keeps him and his people from suffering.

It is hard to argue with this. It is hard to argue about suffering with a Jewish person. I cannot reason with his heart, so I try to reason with his head.

I tell him that the bombings are reactionary, not an offensive. The profile of a self-martyr is very similar to a grassroots activist in the USA--college educated, middle class upbringing, promising future, interest in social justice and politics. I tell him about a girl whose family I met, a college girl who was engaged to be married in a couple months, a girl who went into a supermarket in Tel Aviv and blew herself up. Her family had no idea she was going to do this. Why would she want to do this? I think about it all the time. What would make me do that?

The longer I live in Palestine, and get a taste of what it's like to be Palestinian, the more I understand. When you are Palestinian, you know no one has respect for your life, and you start to lose it yourself. You see soldiers kill people and imprison people without any explanation given, without any repercussions.

You know they could do this to you and your family at any moment.
You know they could come destroy your house at any time, because you know a lot of innocent people this has happened to.

You see them building a wall in your country, and you see them illegally confiscating land from your friends and neighbors in order to do it.

You see them putting up checkpoints inside your country, not on their borders but inside your country, and they tell you when you can and can't leave.

You see that the world is OK with this, because no one seems to be stopping it, and it has been happening for 50 years.

You see that all people from Israel are obligated to serve as soldiers, and you see a chance to not only take out a few of these potential or past soldiers who are committing these crimes against you and your people, you also think that if you do this, maybe the world will pay attention to what's happening to your home.

You see that there is not much of a life for you or your children anyway.

You think that maybe this is the best thing you can do for your people. Maybe you are wrong, but you cannot keep living like this.

You cannot bear the thought of always living like this. The soldier is quiet. I have been talking a long time. He is listening to me. He is uncomfortable. I keep talking.

I tell him I don't condone suicide bombings. I think it's horrible. But I understand it. I don't think it's any less horrible than shooting missiles at people, blowing up hospitals, or forcing almost a million civilians to flee their homes. I think suicide bombings happen because of the Occupation. I don't think the Occupation is happening because of suicide bombings. I think if the Occupation ended, the bombings would stop, because Palestinians would have hope. They would have something to live for. I think if the Palestinians were given the right to a peaceful and just existence by Israel, Israel would be rewarded with peace by Palestine. You cannot oppress people and expect them not to resist. If you use violence to oppress people, they will use violence to resist it.

My president told me that attacking and occupying Iraq would keep me safer. He was wrong. It made people hate me more, it made more people want to hurt me, because I have killed thousands of innocent people in the name of my personal safety. I don't know what should've been done after September 11th. I don't know what should've been done after the Holocaust, after any of the tragedies of our time. I do know that what we do, what the United States and Israel has done, just perpetuates the evil that causes these tragedies to happen.

I don't think that my president is occupying Iraq because he is concerned for my safety; I don't think Olmert is occupying Palestine because he is concerned for the Israelis' safety. I think there are larger things at work, men fighting over money and power and land, and we are all victims of it. We are told that we need to be afraid of each other. We are told that people are trying to kill us--our whole lives we are told this. The Arabs, the Russians, the Japanese, the Native Americans--who is trying to kill us, who the enemy is--it changes every few years. People wanting to kill you is scary, so when someone tells us they can keep us safe, we believe it, and we do whatever they ask us. I tell this soldier that he is a victim of it, too, that he is being used, that his real enemy is not the Palestinians, but rather the men at the top who wage war for profit. I ask him what would happen if we all stopped being afraid of each other. If we all saw each other as brothers instead of distant strangers (thank you, Tupac).

He looks at me a long long time. I am starting to cry again, because I've just told him everything inside my heart and his face is still as hard as stone. I'm embarrassed and I leave. I look back and he is still looking at me.

Magan Wiles is an actress who teaches Theater of the Oppressed to young people through the Center for Survivors of Torture and War Trauma in Saint Louis, Missouri.