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There is a firestorm ahead in the Middle East for which neither the US government nor the US public is prepared. The storm will go from Iraq to Afghanistan to Pakistan to Israel/Palestine, says Immanuel Wallerstein.
There is a firestorm ahead in the Middle East for which neither the US government nor the US public is prepared. They seem scarcely aware how close it is on the horizon or how ferocious it will be. The US government (and therefore almost inevitably the US public) is deluding itself massively about its capacity to handle the situation in terms of its stated objectives. The storm will go from Iraq to Afghanistan to Pakistan to Israel/Palestine, and in the classic expression "it will spread like wildfire."
Let us start with Iraq. The United States has signed a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with Iraq, which went into effect on July 1. It provided for turning over internal security to the Iraqi government and, in theory, essentially restricting US forces to their bases and to some limited role in training Iraqi troops. Some of the wording of this agreement is ambiguous. Deliberately so, since that was the only way both sides would sign it.
Even the first months of operation show how poorly this agreement is operating. The Iraqi forces have been interpreting it very strictly, formally forbidding both joint patrols and also any unilateral US military actions without prior detailed clearance with the government. It has gotten to the point that Iraqi forces are stopping US forces from passing checkpoints with supplies during daytime hours.
The US forces have been chafing. They have tried to interpret the clause guaranteeing them the right of self-defense far more loosely than the Iraqi forces want. They are pointing to the upturn in violence in Iraq and therefore implicitly to the incapacity of Iraqi forces to guarantee order.
The general commanding the US forces, Ray Odierno, is obviously extremely unhappy and is patently scheming to find excuses to reestablish a direct US role. Read more.
A UN Special Focus on Gaza Under Siege
By Stephen Lendman
In August 2009, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) published a special report titled: "Locked In: The Humanitarian Impact of Two Years of Blockade on the Gaza Strip." It focuses on import and export restrictions, the travel ban on "livelihoods, food security, education, health, shelter, energy and water, and sanitation." It explains how violence and human rights abuses increase the suffering of 1.5 million people.
Following Hamas' January 2006 electoral victory, all outside aid was cut off. Sanctions and an economic embargo were imposed, and the democratically elected government was falsely accused of being a terrorist organization and isolated. Stepped up repression followed as well as IDF attacks, killings, targeted assassinations, property destruction, and more. Gazans have been imprisoned ever since. In silence, the world community sanctions Israeli crimes and shares guilt for their commission.
In June 2007, Israel placed the Territory under siege and imposed an unprecedented blockade on nearly all movement and supplies in and out of the Strip, "triggering a protracted human dignity crisis with negative humanitarian consequences." At its heart is the "degradation (of) living conditions," the erosion of livelihoods, the lack of vital services in the areas of health, water, sanitation and education, and the collapse of essential infrastructure in the wake of Operation Cast Lead.
Over the past several months, Israel allowed in only small amounts of vital goods and services, far below quantities essential enough to relieve a grave humanitarian crisis. Despite the urgings of the UN, ICRC, a few nations, and numerous human rights organizations, Israel continues its blockade that includes:
Former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is No Role Model for Hawaii’s Women
By Ann Wright
A coalition of activists in Hawaii has asked Hawaii’s Governor Linda Lingle, currently the only Jewish governor of a U.S. state, to withdraw her invitation to former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to speak at Hawaii’s September 22, 2009 International Women’s Leadership Conference.
In its sixth year, the Leadership Conference brings to Hawaii “role models” for women of Hawaii. Because of her involvement in the Israeli attacks on Lebanon and Gaza, the activists consider Livni as an inappropriate role model. The Governor has not responded to the coalition’s letter demanding that the invitation be rescinded. The letter was sent three weeks ago.
Israeli jets have bombed a building in the Gaza Strip which the military says hid a tunnel that Palestinian militants could use to infiltrate Israel.
No-one was hurt in the air strike, to the east of Gaza City.
Israel said the attack was retaliation for a rocket fired from Gaza into its territory on Saturday. The rocket caused no casualties or damage.
Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, described the target of the Israeli air strike as "open ground".
However, witnesses said it was a building with two rooms and a courtyard. Read more.
Download the attached file containing the latest articles, blogs, interview and talks from January, March, May and June 2009 CODEPINK Delegations to Gaza and the Occupied Territories of Palestine; the new entries to the list are from August 14 - 24, 2009. Click on the attachment title to download, then open for review.
Some 500 tons of donations of medical equipment which flooded the Strip after Israel’s military offensive ended on 18 January sits idle in warehouses. Few donors consulted the health ministry or aid agencies working in Gaza to find out what provisions were needed. According to the health ministry, 20 percent of the donated medications had expired. WHO said much of the equipment sent was old and unusable due to a lack of spare parts.
Arafat Hamdona, 20, has been confined to the cancer unit of As-Shifa, Gaza’s primary hospital, since he was diagnosed with maxillary skin tumours in June 2008. Red lesions protrude from his face, his features are distorted and his eyes swollen shut.
In April, Arafat was permitted to travel to Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem where he received three series of chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment. He was scheduled to return for further treatment, but has not been granted permission by the Israeli authorities to leave Gaza.
“He is only given pain killers,” said Arafat’s father, Faraj Hamdona, explaining that that is all As-Shifa has to offer.
According to a July 2009 report published by the World Health Organization (WHO) in Jerusalem, Gaza doctors and nurses do not have the medical equipment to respond to the health needs of the 1.5 million people living in the Gaza Strip.
"Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union," by David Swanson is due in stores September 1st, but the publisher has it now and you can get it straight from Seven Stories Press.
Corporate Responsibility—Products for War and Occupation or Products for Peace
By Ann Wright, retired US Army Colonel and former US diplomat
In America, we don’t have many companies that fund peace activities. Most American companies seem to be more interested in making money off war.
In contrast, I am on a three week speaking tour in Japan sponsored partially by Leila, a peace, social and environmentally-conscious women’s cosmetic company. Wishing to make a major contribution to women’s peace initiatives, in 2000, Leila established the Women’s Peace Fund to be used to invite women peace activists to the annual World Conference against Atomic & Hydrogen Bombs held in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the yearly Japan Mothers’ Congress, where 10,000 women meet from all over Japan. Leila donates one yen (one cent) for each cosmetic product sold to the fund).
In 2008, the fund also sponsored international women activists to attend the Worldwide Conference on Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution-Renunciation of War, which was undermined by the Bush administration’s pressure (and continued by the Obama administration) for Japan’s participation in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in violation of Japan’s constitution. I was honored to be an international speaker at the 2008 conference on the importance of Article 9 to Japan and to the world. The New Japan Women’s Association (NJWA) or Shinfujin administers the funding provided by Leila and invites international guests to speak at these events. Over the past ten years, women from the Philippines, South Korea, Canada, China, Kazakhstan and the United States, as well as women representing international organizations have been invited to speak on issues of peace, anti-militarization of Asia and the Pacific and nuclear disarmament. From the United States, members of the 9-11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star Families Speak Out, United for Peace and Justice, the Women’s International League for Peace, CODEPINK: Women for Peace, Veterans for Peace and Abolition 2000 have spoken in Japan under the auspices of the Women’s Peace Fund.
Israel must investigate the "unlawful" killing of 11 civilians carrying white flags during its Gaza operation earlier in 2009, Human Rights Watch has said.
Five women and four children were among those killed in seven incidents detailed by the US-based rights group.
Researchers said the soldiers at best failed to protect civilians, and at worst deliberately shot at them.
Israel has launched investigations into five "white flag" incidents, but says Hamas exploited civilians with flags. Read more.
Global Depression and Regional Wars - Reviewing James Petras' New Book: Part I
By Stephen Lendman
James Petras is Binghamton University, New York Professor Emeritus of Sociology. Besides his long and distinguished academic career, he's a noted figure on the left, a well-respected Latin American expert, and a longtime chronicler of the region' popular struggles. He's also a prolific author of hundreds of articles and dozens of books, most recently his new one titled, "Global Depression and Regional Wars" addressing America, Latin America and the Middle East.
Part I - Global Depression
Variety's famous October 30, 1929 headline is again relevant: "Wall Street Lays an Egg," or as economist Rick Wolff puts it: "Capitalism hit the fan" following a familiar pattern of boom and bust cycles punctuated by bubbles that always burst. Petras explains it this way:
"All the idols of capitalism over the past three decades have crashed. The assumptions and presumptions, paradigms and prognosis of indefinite progress under liberal free market capitalism have been tested and have failed. We are living the end of an entire epoch (and bearing witness to) the collapse of the US and world financial system."
Grim prospects are ahead:
- a world depression with one-fourth of the labor force unemployed;
- global trade in free fall;
- a proliferation of bankruptcies with General Motors a metaphor for a decaying system;
- free-market capitalism in disrepute; and
- "planning, public ownership, nationalization(s and other) socialist alternatives have become almost respectable" because most sacred cow "truisms" and solutions have failed.
This week Representative Raul Grijalva and 15 other Democrats sent a letter to President Obama urging him to do more to reverse the coup in Honduras. Specifically, it urged him to speak up against human rights abuses under the coup regime: at least ten Hondurans have been killed since the coup (not 2, mainstream media.) The sixteen Democrats also urged Obama to cancel U.S. visas and freeze bank accounts of officials of the coup regime.
Religious Fundamentalism in Israel
By Stephen Lendman
Israel Shahak's (1933 - 2001) "Jewish History, Jewish Religion" argued that while Islamic fundamentalism is vilified in the West, comparable Jewish extremism is largely ignored. In the book's forward, Edward Said wrote:
"....Shahak's mode of telling the truth has always been rigorous and uncompromising. There is nothing seductive about it, no attempt made to put it 'nicely,' no effort expended on making the truth palatable....For Shahak killing is murder is killing is murder: his manner is to repeat. (He) shows that the obscure, narrowly chauvinist prescriptions against various undesirable Others are to be found in Judaism (as in other monotheistic religions) but he always goes on to show the continuity between those and the way Israel treats Palestinians, Christians and other non-Jews. A devastating portrait of prejudice, hypocrisy and religious intolerance emerges."
20,000 gather in Rabin Square over gay center shooting
By Noah Kosharek | Haaretz
Twenty thousand demonstrators or more gathered in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square Saturday night in a rally to show solidarity with Israel's gay community, including the victims shot at a TA center for gay and lesbian youth a week ago, which left two dead and a dozen wounded.
President Shimon Peres addressed the crowd, saying the shots fired at the gay and lesbian community "hurt all of us - as people, as Jews, as Israelis." Peres, who spoke against a background of a rainbow flag, mentioned the two Israelis killed in the attack, Nir Katz, 26 and Liz Trobishi, 17, saying "the person who pointed a pistol barrel at Nir Katz and Liz Trobishi pointed it all of you, all of us, at me."
The president said: "The Creator of the world did not endow anyone with the power to murder his peer." Peres added that "every person must fight against murder." Read more.
by Linda Milazzo
On March 16, 2003, Rachel Corrie, an American Evergreen College student and member of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), was run down by a Caterpillar D9R armored bulldozer. The American made bulldozer that crushed and killed Rachel Corrie was operated by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Rachel died while protesting the destruction of Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip of Palestine.
Just twenty-three at the time of her death, Rachel was an avid diarist who vividly chronicled her peace and justice actions in Palestine up to the time she died. The play, My Name Is Rachel Corrie, sponsored by Winograd For Congress this Saturday, August 8th in Los Angeles, is a powerful rendering of Rachel's writings depicting the plight of Palestinians and Rachel's lifelong passion for peace.
By David Swanson
Drafted in preparation for panel discussion at Veterans for Peace national convention August 7, 2009, on topic of "Holding the Architects of Illegal Wars and War Crimes Accountable."
Seven years to the day after the Downing Street Minutes meeting at which top British officials famously discussed U.S. President George W. Bush's intent to launch a war against Iraq whether or not any means could be found to legalize it, on July 23rd, the United Nations hosted a discussion of ways in which wars of aggression are given pseudo-legal cover. Included were remarks by Jean Bricmont and Noam Chomsky. It is not hard to imagine how different such discussions would be were the architects of the Iraq War ever held accountable for it in any way.
In serious contention for Dumbest Washington Consensus for September is the idea of cutting off Iran's gas imports to pressure Iran to stop enriching uranium. A majority of Representatives and Senators have signed on to legislation that seeks to block Iran's gas imports, a top legislative priority for the so-called "Israel Lobby." But it's a stupid idea. Let us count the ways.
One: there is no indication that Russia and China will go along with it. Even Europe is split, Reuters reports. Turkey is also likely to be unenthusiastic - a country that has good relations with Iran, has a long border with Iran, and is currently on the UN Security Council. A U.S.-sponsored gas embargo on Iran isn't likely to have much impact if Russia, China, Turkey and half of Europe aren't cooperating - after all, it's not the U.S. that's exporting gas to Iran - unless it is imposed by force.
PALESTINE / ISRAEL
GAZA, JERUSALEM, WEST BANK EYE WITNESS REPORT
This Thursday, AUGUST 6, 2009 - 6:30PM
Reformed Church - Highland Park
19 South 2nd Ave, Highland Park, NJ 08904
- Norman Finkelstein, Member of Code Pink delegation to Gaza in June
- Jane Adas, Member of NY delegation to Gaza in May
- Helen Schiff, Member of Code Pink delegation to Gaza & Israel in March & June
- Manijeh Saba, Member of Code Pink's June delegation to Gaza via Israel
- Video and slide Show
Cosponsors: CODEPINK; Somerset voices for Peace and Justice; Central Jersey Coalition Against Endless war.
The Israeli government has said that its war on the Gaza Strip earlier this year, that left up to 1,417 Palestinians dead, was "necessary and proportionate".
The government also said on Thursday that it was investigating about 100 complaints of misconduct by its forces during the three week war that began on December 27.
"Israel had both a right and an obligation to take military action against Hamas in Gaza to stop Hamas's almost incessant rocket and mortar attacks," the report published by the foreign ministry said.
The 163-page document was published ahead of a UN war crimes investigation that is due to be published in August and in the wake of accusations from human rights groups that Israeli forces committed war crimes and violated international law during the war.
'Deliberate use of force'
Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros, reporting from Jerusalem, said many see the report as a pre-emptive strike to defend the much criticised war.
She said that the report follows testimonies from witnesses and human rights organisations about soldiers' conduct during the offensive.
"What we've seen in the past few months since the end of the war are various human rights reports from Amnesty International, the United Nations, Human Rights Watch, as well as testimonies coming out from army soldiers themselves," Tadros said.
"What really ties all of these reports together is the idea that there was no proportionality and a deliberate use of force against the civilian population in Gaza." Read more.
UN and International Agencies Fear Gaza Educational System Unprepared for new school year | Press Statement
Call for immediate opening of Gaza’s borders | 28 July 2009
Together with the communities we serve, the United Nations and non-governmental humanitarian organizations working in oPt collectively call for immediate steps to end the blockade, as is required by international humanitarian and human rights law. We call on the Government of Israel to urgently facilitate entry of construction materials and supplies for schools in the coming weeks, and to ensure that students, teachers and trainers can freely exit and enter Gaza to continue learning.
The UN Humanitarian Coordinator, representing UN aid agencies in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), and the Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA), represented by at least 25 NGOs, today demand full and unfettered access into and out of Gaza in particular to restore the Gazan educational system.
During the 23 days of Israel’s operation “Cast Lead” in Gaza, 18 schools were completely destroyed and at least 280 were damaged. Today, one month before the start of the new school year, more than six months after the ceasefires, none of these schools have been properly rebuilt or rehabilitated due to lack of construction materials. Since the imposition of the blockade, students have faced chronic shortages of educational supplies including textbooks, paper and uniforms, though we acknowledge the recent moves to allow textbooks, uniforms, and stationary into Gaza. These are welcome first steps. However, the quantities, kinds and predictability of goods being permitted into Gaza are still far below what is required for normal life. Even prior to “Cast Lead” the education system was already under severe duress due to the two year blockade that has caused a crisis of “human dignity” in Gaza.
The right to learn and be educated is a fundamental child right that is uniquely central to every child’s ability to realize his or her potential - and by extension, that of their communities and countries.
Israel's Discriminatory Land Policies
By Stephen Lendman
Israel's late 1947 -1948 "War of Independence" took six months to create a new Jewish state, excluding Arabs to the greatest extent possible. To accomplish it, widespread war crimes and atrocities were committed as about 800,000 people were brutally uprooted, ethnically cleansed, or murdered in cold blood. In addition, 531 villages and 11 urban neighborhoods in Tel-Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem and other cities were destroyed and erased except in the collective memories of their inhabitants and descendants who'll always consider them their rightful homes.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) 2008 Annual Report
By Stephen Lendman
Established in 1995, PCHR functions independently in Gaza and enjoys "Consultative Status" with the UN's Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). It's also an affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists-Geneva, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) in Paris, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network in Copenhagen, the Arab Organization for Human Rights in Cairo, and the International Legal Assistance Consortium (ILAC) in Stockholm.
Palestinian lawyers and human rights activists established it to:
- "protect human rights and promote the rule of law;"
- create, develop and promote a democratic culture in Palestinian society; and
- work for Palestinian self-determination and independence "in accordance with international law and UN resolutions."
Articles, Blogs, Interviews and Talks from the January, March, May and June 2009 Delegations to Gaza and Occupied Territories of Palestine Updated for July 12 - 23, 2009
New entries to List since July 12 until July 23:
January 1 Long March in GAZA to break the Siege
“Activists plan march to break Gaza siege,” July 1, 2009, Daily Star
Alice Walker, “Overcoming Speechlessness: A Poet Encounters the “horror” in Rwanda, Eastern Congo and Palestine/Israel”
Rich Moniak, KTOO radio, Juneau, Alaska, July 13, 2009 http://www.ktoo.org/audiofile.cfm?clip=4012
"Breaking the Silence:" Testimonies of Israeli Soldiers
By Stephen Lendman
"Breaking the Silence is an organization of veteran Israeli soldiers that collects anonymous testimonies of soldiers who served in the Occupied Territories during the Second Intifada." They recount experiences that deeply affected them, including abusing Palestinians, looting, destroying property, and other practices "excused as military necessities, or explained as extreme and unique cases."
They believe otherwise in describing "the depth of corruption which is spreading in the Israeli military" to which Israeli society and most Western observers turn a blind eye. "Breaking the Silence" was established to force an uncomfortable reality into the open to "demand accountability regarding Israel's military actions in the Occupied Territories perpetrated by us in our name."
Its new booklet features 54 damning testimonies from 30 Israeli soldiers on their experiences in Operation Cast Lead. They recount what official media and government sources suppressed with comments like:
"You feel like an infantile little kid with a magnifying glass looking at ants, burning them."
Z Street: The New Zionist Extremist Group
By Stephen Lendman
On July 6, co-founders Lori Lowenthal Marcus and Allyson Rowen Taylor announced: "Z Street is launched, Will end J Street Treason." More on that below.
Continuing they said:
"Welcome to Z street! No more appeasement, no more negotiating with terrorists, no more enabling cowards who fear offending more than they fear another Holocaust. Z STREET is for those who are willing not only to support - but to defend - Israel, the Jewish State."
Never mind that no nation threatens Israel nor has for decades. It's a regional superpower - nuclearized and defended by the world's fourth most powerful military, armed with the latest state-of-the-art weapons and technology, and not reluctant to use them.
Its only adversaries are self-made and are needed to justify oppression, a culture of violence, an ethnocracy, exclusivity, privilege, and Jewish exceptionalism over others deemed inferior, legitimate enemies, and terrorists.
Zionism is corrosive, destructive, racist, extremist, undemocratic and hateful.
Last month I led a group of twenty-one human rights workers on a boat from Cyprus to challenge Israel's naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. We carried toys, medicine, olive tree saplings, toolkits, a fifty-kilo bag of cement and school supplies on our small converted ferry boat.
At 2 am on June 30, almost eighteen hours into the 230-mile journey, a colleague awakened me. The Israeli Navy was calling our boat on the VHF radio. "You are navigating towards a blockaded area. You are hereby ordered to change your course. If you do not, we will be forced to use all necessary force to stop you.” [See: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nwgreens/message/5791.]
Nervous after a previous boat of ours was dangerously rammed at sea in December by the Israeli military, I replied, "Israeli Navy, this is Arion (the registered name of our ship). We are twenty-one unarmed civilians carrying aid for the Palestinian people of Gaza. Any blockade on Gaza is unlawful as you are the occupying force in the territory and are therefore responsible for the well-being of the civilian population there. As our boat, its cargo, and the twenty-one civilians on board do not constitute any kind of threat to Israel or its armed forces, you are obliged to allow us entry. We are proceeding to Gaza. Do not use force against us."
Shortly thereafter our navigational systems were disabled for nearly four hours as the warnings continued. In their "final" warning to us, the Israeli Navy threatened to open fire. "Israeli Navy, we are unarmed civilians; do not use force against us. Do not shoot." We did not stop.
We were boarded by force. Read more.
For the winning punters chancing their luck at Hawaiian Gardens' charity bingo hall in the heart of one of California's poorest towns, the big prize is $500. The losers walk away with little more than an assurance that their dollars are destined for a good cause.
But the real winners and losers live many thousands of miles away, where the profits from the nightly ritual of numbers-calling fund what critics describe as a form of ethnic cleansing by extremist organisations.
Each dollar spent on bingo by the mostly Latino residents of Hawaiian Gardens, on the outskirts of Los Angeles, helps fund Jewish settlements on Palestinian land in some of the most sensitive areas of occupied East Jerusalem, particularly the Muslim quarter of the old city, and West Bank towns such as Hebron where the Israeli military has forced Arabs out of their properties in their thousands.
Over the past 20 years, the bingo hall has funnelled tens of millions of dollars in to what its opponents — including rabbis serving the Hawaiian Gardens area — describe as an ideologically-driven strategy to grab land for Israel, as well as contributing to influential American groups and thinktanks backing Israel's more hawkish governments. Read more.
Dangerous Untreated West Bank Wastewater
By Stephen Lendman
B'Tselem is the Jerusalem-based independent Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories (OPT) with a well-deserved reputation for accuracy and integrity. It was founded in 1989 to "document and educate the Israeli public, policymakers (and concerned people everywhere) about human rights violations in the OPT, combat the phenomenon of denial prevalent among the Israeli public (and elsewhere, especially among Jews), and create a human rights culture in Israel" to convince government officials to respect human rights and comply with international law.
Report claims Israelis used Palestinians as human shields
From Kevin Flower and Paula Hancocks | CNN
A report from an Israeli advocacy group based on what it says is the testimony of several unnamed Israeli soldiers accuses the Israeli military of intentionally putting Palestinian civilians at risk during its recent operation in Gaza.
The report, released Wednesday from a group called "Breaking the Silence" -- which includes former Israeli soldiers -- has been dismissed by the Israeli military as slanderous.
In the 110-page report, the group said some of the 26 soldiers interviewed said they used Palestinians as human shields during the military's more than two-week long ground operation in Gaza earlier this year.
"In some cases a civilian would be forced to walk in front of soldier while the soldier places his gun barrel on the civilian's shoulder," the report states.
Other soldiers talk about destroying buildings even though the structures posed no direct threat. They also said that white phosphorus was used in densely populated areas and describe the rules of engagement as "permissive." Read more.