Thursday, July 24, 2014
Is The Goal Of Israel The Total Dispossession Of The Palestinians?
The standard line coming from political scientists, reporters and politicians is of Western governments acting in national ‘interests’ to protect ‘their’ citizens from military threats posed by other nations / peoples. This is certainly the frame U.S. President Barack Obama used inhis recent editorial in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz to explain his, and U.S., support for the attack by Israel on the captive, immiserated civilian population of Gaza. Left out of Mr. Obama’s condolences to parents of the slain children alleged to be in part the motivation for the latest Israeli atrocities in Gaza is his own record of callously murdering between dozens and hundreds of women, children and innocent men throughout the Middle East and Africa in illegal drone ‘strikes’ in recent years. Also left unsaid is the miraculous overlap of the nations and peoples subjected to U.S. wars of ‘liberation / self-defense’ and proven oil reserves.
Graph (1) above: U.S. benevolence in bestowing our ‘special’ care upon oil rich nations is a function of ‘our’ national interest? Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez was a ‘madman’ bent on bringing political and economic democracy to the people of Venezuela. Iran had a parliamentary democracy until the CIA and MI5 decided that the British predecessor to BP (British Petroleum) needed Iranian oil more than the Iranians did. Iraq’s ‘madman’ Saddam Hussein was installed by the CIA and was toppled by former oil company executives in the (George W) Bush administration to ‘democratize’ one million Iraqi people from their mortal coils. And President Barack Obama dispatched Libya’s ‘madman’ Muammar Gaddafi in order to ‘liberate’ the Libyan people from a ‘ruthless tyrant’ and Libya’s oil from Libyan control. Units are billions of barrels of oil. Source: EIA.
The current Israeli attack on the citizens of Gaza, and more broadly the Palestinian people, is an emergency that needs to be ended immediately. At this point in history the people of Israel are fully culpable for the actions of the Israeli government just as the citizens of the U.S. are culpable for the U.S. role in supporting Israel’s ongoing occupation and repression of the Palestinian people and for the current attack. Mr. Obama’s framing of the U.S. role in the attack as honest broker for peace ignores existing fact of joint U.S. – Israeli military infrastructure, the U.S. role in arming Israel and the fact that the U.S. has all of the lever’s needed to force an end to the attack but is not using them. Mr. Obama’s posturing as thoughtful outsider ignores decades of the U.S. acting in bad faith in concert with the Israeli government against the Palestinian people as Israel has pursued a strategy of ‘inevitability’ through expanded settlements and the systematic dispossession of the Palestinian people.
Graph (2) above: typically missing in the U.S. from discussion of Israel and the Middle East is any mention of political geography. With clearer understanding of where oil reserves lie (Graph (1) above) it is difficult to overcome the suspicion that oil geopolitics has something to do with the U.S.’s ‘special’ relationship with Israel. The U.S. was arming Iran much as it has armed Israel up until the Iranian Revolution in 1979. And in fact the Western storyline of ‘the Islamic threat’ evolved in some measure from the Iranian Revolution. Many of the antique neo-cons in the U.S. never ‘forgave’ the people of Iran from asserting their independence from the U.S. This left the high overlap of U.S. and Israeli neo-cons as an unexplained accident of history, only they are explained by history.
The human catastrophe of the Palestinian people under Israeli occupation and repression resembles quite closely the callous way that the U.S. has acted around the globe. This isn’t to take away from the particular culpability of the state of Israel and the Israeli people for these crimes, but it is to once again broaden this culpability to the U.S. and the American people. The central theoretical flaw in the ‘Israeli Lobby’ storyline of nations acting in ‘the national interest’ is that there is any such thing. Leaving for another day the World Wars of the twentieth century, none of America’s modern wars have been defensive, in a clear national interest. Likewise, the Israeli claim of self-defense in attacking the Palestinian people requires distinguishing explicitly military actions such as aerial bombardment from everyday attacks through the deprivations and repression of the occupation. Resistance against the Israeli occupation more closely resembles the civil rights movement in the U.S. or the struggle against apartheid in South Africa than the military hostilities being claimed by the Israeli government. In other words, was Israel’s goal other than annexation of everything of value through dispossession of the Palestinian people then the Israeli national interest would be in reconciliation and a just division of land and resources. Given that total dispossession is the clear goal, residual ignorance of recent and past events cannot continue to mitigate moral and political culpability for Israeli and U.S. actions against the Palestinian people.
Graph (3) above: without public expression of irony the U.S. strategic interest in oil is the U.S. strategic interest in oil. The U.S. is by far the largest total and per capita consumer of petroleum products. But the U.S. military is one of the largest domestic consumers of oil as well. When tied to U.S. wars of aggression against the oil rich states of Iraq and Libya wars for oil become a perpetual murder machine— wars for oil to fight wars for oil. Israel’s role as America’s strategic ally in the Middle East makes it a partner in crime and the Palestinian people pawns in oil geopolitics. Because Americans are by far the largest consumers of oil we all participate in repressing the Palestinian people every time we fill up our cars with gasoline. Source: EIA.
The reason why the unified national interest storyline behind the ‘Israeli Lobby’ thesis is so insidious is that it poses radically divergent interests as singularities. U.S. arms manufacturers and U.S. based multi-national oil companies have their economic interests tied to permanent chaos, war and destruction. And America’s dispossessed have interests more closely aligned with those of the Palestinian people in overthrowing the social mechanisms of repression like mass incarceration, coerced, exploitative economic participation, racist and classist strategies of dispossession and a legal system designed to serve some at the expense of ‘others.’ The hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops lied to by the (George W) Bush administration into invading and occupying Iraq were used as pawns in a cynical game of oil geopolitics. Mr. Bush could have left out the serial lies of weapons of mass destruction, ‘democratization’ and overthrowing a tyrant to provide an honest rationale, like oil geopolitics, and let the chips fall where they may. His choice to lie instead, as with Mr. Obama’s practice of murdering innocents, including American children, without providing evidence or recourse, demonstrates which side of the ‘unified interests’ line we stand on. And U.S. – Israeli ties are nowhere closer than in developing technologies of domestic surveillance and strategies of internal social control.
By changing the subject through Israel’s (renewed) attack on Gaza the Obama administration is temporarily spared the ‘embarrassment’ of explaining the devolving U.S. circumstance in Iraq in an election year. For better or worse Iraq was a developed secular state before the (latest) U.S. war and occupation. While the chaos and destruction unleashed by the war undoubtedly help fuel arms sales in the region the faux partisan bickering in the U.S. over who is ‘to blame’ for the broadening regional chaos can’t mask that America’s war on Iraq was a bi-partisan affair. With neo-con hack Hillary Clinton waiting in the wings for her turn to destroy some portion of the world in 2016, understanding the U.S. role in causing death and destruction across the Middle East is as important now as it was before the catastrophic war on Iraq was launched.
Israel’s attack on Gaza is a war crime among an ongoing series of war crimes. Even though not currently plausible, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should be regularly reminded that he faces prison or worse if he is ever convicted of his crimes. Whatever the broad American – Israeli propaganda machine is able to accomplish, most Americans have interests more closely aligned with the Palestinian people than with the American and Israeli political establishments. Finally, with the apparent goal of Israel being the total dispossession of the Palestinian people permanent peace will never be possible. But that is the fault of Israel and the U.S., not the Palestinians. The side of justice is with the Palestinian people.
Rob Urie is an artist and political economist. His book Zen Economics is forthcoming.
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
The Israeli Sniper Shoots The Palestinian Civilian Once and Wounds Him, Then Shoots Him A Second Time While He's On The Rubble In Pain, Then With A Third Shot, The Israeli Murders The Palestinian Civilian.
Gaza and Israel: The Road To War, Paved By The West
... the most immediate cause of this latest war has been ignored: Israel and much of the international community placed a prohibitive set of obstacles in the way of the Palestinian “national consensus” government that was formed in early June.
That government was created largely because of Hamas’s desperation and isolation. The group’s alliance with Syria and Iran was in shambles. Its affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt became a liability after a July 2013 coup replaced an ally, President Mohamed Morsi, with a bitter adversary, Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Hamas’s coffers dried up as General Sisi closed the tunnels that had brought to Gaza the goods and tax revenues on which it depended.
Seeing a region swept by popular protests against leaders who couldn’t provide for their citizens’ basic needs, Hamas opted to give up official control of Gaza rather than risk being overthrown. Despite having won the last elections, in 2006, Hamas decided to transfer formal authority to the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah. That decision led to a reconciliation agreement between Hamas and the Palestine Liberation Organization, on terms set almost entirely by the P.L.O. chairman and Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas.
Israel immediately sought to undermine the reconciliation agreement by preventing Hamas leaders and Gaza residents from obtaining the two most essential benefits of the deal: the payment of salaries to 43,000 civil servants who worked for the Hamas government and continue to administer Gaza under the new one, and the easing of the suffocating border closures imposed by Israel and Egypt that bar most Gazans’ passage to the outside world.
Yet, in many ways, the reconciliation government could have served Israel’s interests. It offered Hamas’s political adversaries a foothold in Gaza; it was formed without a single Hamas member; it retained the same Ramallah-based prime minister, deputy prime ministers, finance minister and foreign minister; and, most important, it pledged to comply with the three conditions for Western aid long demanded by America and its European allies: nonviolence, adherence to past agreements and recognition of Israel.
Israel strongly opposed American recognition of the new government, however, and sought to isolate it internationally, seeing any small step toward Palestinian unity as a threat. Israel’s security establishment objects to the strengthening of West Bank-Gaza ties.
Israelis who oppose a two-state solution understand that a unified Palestinian leadership is a prerequisite for any lasting peace.
... the key issues of paying Gaza’s civil servants and opening the border with Egypt were left to fester. The new government’s ostensible supporters, especially the United States and Europe, could have pushed Egypt to ease border restrictions, thereby demonstrating to Gazans that Hamas rule had been the cause of their isolation and impoverishment. But they did not.
Instead, after Hamas transferred authority to a government of pro-Western technocrats, life in Gaza became worse.
Qatar had offered to pay Gaza’s 43,000 civil servants, and America and Europe could have helped facilitate that. But Washington warned that American law prohibited any entity delivering payment to even one of those employees — many thousands of whom are not members of Hamas but all of whom are considered by American law to have received material support from a terrorist organization.
When a United Nations envoy offered to resolve this crisis by delivering the salaries through the United Nations, so as to exclude all parties from legal liability, the Obama administration did not assist. Instead, it stood by as Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, called for the envoy’s expulsion on the grounds that he was “trying to funnel money” to Hamas.
Israel is pursuing a return to the status quo ante, when Gaza had electricity for barely eight hours a day, water was undrinkable, sewage was dumped in the sea, fuel shortages caused sanitation plants to shut down and waste sometimes floated in the streets. Patients needing medical care couldn’t reach Egyptian hospitals, and Gazans paid $3,000 bribes for a chance to exit when Egypt chose to open the border crossing.
For many Gazans, and not just Hamas supporters, it’s worth risking more bombardment and now the ground incursion, for a chance to change that unacceptable status quo.
A cease-fire that fails to resolve the salary crisis and open Gaza’s border with Egypt will not last. It is unsustainable for Gaza to remain cut off from the world and administered by employees working without pay. A more generous cease-fire, though politically difficult for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, would be more durable.
The current escalation in Gaza is a direct result of the choice by Israel and the West to obstruct the implementation of the April 2014 Palestinian reconciliation agreement. The road out of the crisis is a reversal of that policy.
Nathan Thrall is a senior analyst at the International Crisis Group covering Gaza, Israel, Jordan and the West Bank.
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
The last night was extreme. The “ground invasion” of Gaza resulted in scores and carloads with maimed, torn apart, bleeding, shivering, dying – all sorts of injured Palestinians, all ages, all civilians, all innocent.
The heroes in the ambulances and in all of Gaza’s hospitals are working 12-24hrs shifts, grey from fatigue and inhuman workloads (without payment all in Shifa for the last 4 months), they care, triage, try to understand the incomprehensible chaos of bodies, sizes, limbs, walking, not walking, breathing, not breathing, bleeding, not bleeding humans. HUMANS!
Now, once more treated like animals by “the most moral army in the world” (sic!).
My respect for the wounded is endless, in their contained determination in the midst of pain, agony and shock; my admiration for the staff and volunteers is endless, my closeness to the Palestinian “sumud” gives me strength, although in glimpses I just want to scream, hold someone tight, cry, smell the skin and hair of the warm child, covered in blood, protect ourselves in an endless embrace – but we cannot afford that, nor can they.
Ashy grey faces – Oh NO! not one more load of tens of maimed and bleeding, we still have lakes of blood on the floor in the ER, piles of dripping, blood-soaked bandages to clear out – oh – the cleaners, everywhere, swiftly shovelling the blood and discarded tissues, hair, clothes,cannulas – the leftovers from death – all taken away…to be prepared again, to be repeated all over. More then 100 cases came to Shifa last 24 hrs. enough for a large well trained hospital with everything, but here – almost nothing: electricity, water, disposables, drugs, OR-tables, instruments, monitors – all rusted and as if taken from museums of yesterdays hospitals.But they do not complain, these heroes. They get on with it, like warriors, head on, enormous resolute.tAnd as I write these words to you, alone, on a bed, my tears flows, the warm but useless tears of pain and grief, of anger and fear. This is not happening!
An then, just now, the orchestra of the Israeli war-machine starts its gruesome symphony again, just now: salvos of artillery from the navy boats just down on the shores, the roaring F16, the sickening drones (Arabic ‘Zennanis’, the hummers), and the cluttering Apaches. So much made and paid in and by US.
Mr. Obama – do you have a heart?
I invite you – spend one night – just one night – with us in Shifa. Disguised as a cleaner, maybe.
I am convinced, 100%, it would change history.
Nobody with a heart AND power could ever walk away from a night in Shifa without being determined to end the slaughter of the Palestinian people.
But the heartless and merciless have done their calculations and planned another “dahyia” onslaught on Gaza.
The rivers of blood will keep running the coming night. I can hear they have tuned their instruments of death.
Please. Do what you can. This, THIS cannot continue.
Gaza, Occupied Palestine
Mads Gilbert MD PhD
Professor and Clinical Head
Clinic of Emergency Medicine
University Hospital of North Norway
N-9038 Tromsø, Norway
Mads Gilbert MD PhD
Professor and Clinical Head
Clinic of Emergency Medicine
University Hospital of North Norway
N-9038 Tromsø, Norway
Monday, July 21, 2014
Turkish premier says 'global justice is being killed' along with innocent Gaza children by Israeli strikes, as he blasts 'silent' international response.