You are herePalestine
PCHR Calls for Full and Immediate Ending of the Closure and Warns of Repercussions of Its Institutionalization and Continuity
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) is gravely concerned over the continuity of the Israeli-imposed closure on the Gaza Strip for the eighth consecutive year and dissatisfied by the mechanism of the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip that was declared by the UN Middle East Envoy. Moreover, PCHR is concerned that this mechanism would institutionalize the Israeli closure that has been imposed since 2007. PCHR calls for fully and immediately lift the Israeli closure as it constitutes a form of collective punishment that is prohibited under the international humanitarian law. Ending the closure includes eliminating all restrictions imposed on the freedom of movement of persons and goods, including imports and exports, to and from the Gaza Strip.
According to media sources, the UN Middle East Envoy Robert Serry stated on 16 September 2014 that the United Nations, Israel and the Palestinian Authority had reached a deal to allow reconstruction work to begin in the war-torn Gaza Strip under international observation of the use of materials. According to Reuters, Serry told the UN Security Council that the United Nations had brokered the deal 'to enable work at the scale required in the strip, involving the private sector in Gaza and giving a leading role to the Palestinian Authority in the reconstruction effort, while providing security assurances through UN monitoring that these materials will not be diverted from their entirely civilian purpose.'
The only right way to end the disastrous impacts of the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip is to immediately lift the illegal closure on the Gaza Strip, allow the freedom of movement of persons and goods and make a dramatic change in the Israeli policies in order to put an end to the current crisis under which the Gaza Strip population has been living. The entry of limited types and quantities of goods will never make a real change on the economic and social levels in the Gaza Strip, but will worsen the situation. Therefore, any deal that does not include the entry of basic needs, the freedom of movement of goods, including imports from and exports to the West Bank, Israel and abroad, and the freedom of movement of persons from and to the Gaza Strip, falls within the institutionalization of the Israeli-imposed closure and does not seriously contribute to the reconstruction process or improving the deteriorating humanitarian situation. Institutionalization of the closure means disregarding the principles of the international humanitarian and human rights laws, including the Fourth Geneva convention 1949.
Since 2007, the Gaza Strip has been suffering due to the illegal Israeli closure that has resulted in disastrous impacts on all aspects of life and deterioration of the humanitarian, economic, social and cultural conditions. Moreover, the number of unemployed persons in the Gaza Strip has risen to about 200,000 supporting about 900,000 persons according to the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU). According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), the number of the poor has increased up to 700,000 persons (38.8% of the total population), 380,000 of whom suffer extreme poverty (21.1%). The latest Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip has left huge destruction, due to which the Gaza Strip needs 5 years to be reconstructed on condition that the border crossings are fully open and 300 tons of cement, 1,600 tons of construction steel and 6,000 tons of aggregate are allowed in the Gaza Strip according to construction companies' estimates.
The international community has failed throughout the past 8 years to support the application of the provisions of the international humanitarian and human rights laws. This has been a shame for the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 as they have failed to take actions under their legal obligations to compel the Israeli authorities to respect that Convention and stop all policies that violate the Palestinians' economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights.
Therefore, PCHR calls upon the international community, particularly the UN, to oblige the Israeli authorities to fully lift the closure as it is a form of collective punishment that is prohibited under the international humanitarian law, and end the restrictions imposed on the movement of persons and goods. PCHR believes that the only way to address the closure imposed on the Gaza Strip is to admit that such a policy is illegal and falls within the collective punishment policy against civilians in the Gaza Strip.
In 1969, at the height of the U.S. war against Vietnam, Edwin Starr recorded a song called ‘War’, that reached number one on the charts. Among the lyrics are these:
War: What is it good for?
Much as one would like to believe these simple lyrics, there are facts that belie them. In a report from the Financial Times from March of 2013, it is stated that private contractors earned at least a whopping $139 billion dollars from the U.S. war against Iraq up to that time, and that total is ever increasing. Kellogg, Brown and Root, a former subsidiary of Haliburton, the company once run by former Vice President Dick Cheney, the architect of this war, earned nearly $40 billion.
Talk Nation Radio: Rep. Barbara Lee on War Powers, Marjorie Cohn on Prosecuting Congress for War Crimes
Congresswoman Barbara Lee has represented the East Bay area of California since 1998. She discusses Congressional war powers.
Marjorie Cohn is a former president of the National Lawyers Guild. She lectures throughout the world on international human rights and U.S. foreign policy. Her latest book is The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration and Abuse. Her website is http://www.marjoriecohn.com She discusses a letter sent by the National Lawyers Guild, Center for Constitutional Rights, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Arab Lawyers Union, and American Association of Jurists to Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, urging her to initiate an investigation of war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity committed by Israeli leaders and aided and abetted by U.S. officials in Gaza.
Total run time: 29:00
Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.
Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.
Syndicated by Pacifica Network.
Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!
Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!
Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
By Ann Wright
About the Author: Ann Wright served 29 years in the U.S. Army/Army Reserves and retired as a Colonel. She also served 16 years as a U.S. diplomat and resigned in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq war. She is the co-author of “Dissent: Voices of Conscience.”
Responding to the Israeli aggression and the complicity of world governments
The Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC) met in Istanbul in the shadow of the latest Israeli aggression on Gaza. We have watched atrocities being committed against an already besieged population. In the two day meeting (August 10th and 11th), the FFC concluded that it is the responsibility of civil society worldwide to sail to Gaza and challenge the Israeli blockade, the source of most problems facing the Palestinian population of Gaza.
We plan to sail to Gaza during 2014, the UN International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People: http://unispal.un.org/
This initiative, following in the footsteps of the 2010 and 2011 flotillas as well as other attempts to challenge the blockade of Gaza (between 2008 and 2014), is expected to include a wider and more diverse international participation. This new flotilla is a reflection of the growing worldwide solidarity with the Palestinian people; from the US to Malaysia, from Scandinavia to South Africa.
"Calls to end the blockade of Gaza need to move from words to actions," said Ann Ighe, chairperson of Ship to Gaza and member of the FFC. We invite all interested citizens worldwide to participate in this initiative in any way you can."
These boats are also expected to carry Palestinian commercial products purchased by buyers worldwide to complete the work of Gaza's Ark, the cargo boat built by the Palestinians and the FFC in Gaza and was bombed by Israel on July 11th.
"We urge all governments to defend Human Rights and the right of the Palestinian people to freedom of movement, to facilitate the sailing of our ships to Gaza. It is their responsibility," added Ehab Lotayef of the coalition.
In addition to sailing to Gaza, the FFC will organize demonstrations at sea and in ports worldwide over the next months. Along with other projects, the initiative will support the right of Palestinians to operate international marine lines in and out of the port of Gaza.
We support the Palestinian demand to open the port of Gaza to international marine traffic. The FFC also will work on twinning ports in the Mediterranean and beyond, with Gaza City, as a sign of solidarity and support.
Finally, we assert that all that we do is peaceful, civil society driven non-governmental actions.
Freedom Flotilla Coalition members:
European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza
Freedom Flotilla Italia
International Committee for Breaking the Siege on Gaza (ICBSG)
Rumbo a Gaza
Ship to Gaza Greece
Ship to Gaza Norway
Ship to Gaza Sweden
also participating in the project:
Palestine Solidarity Alliance - South Africa
Haluan Palestin - Malaysia
Life Line to Gaza - Jordan
Miles of Smiles
By John Grant
All we are saying is give peace a chance
By Dave Lindorff
There’s an old adage that goes: “You can judge a man by the company he keeps.”
If that’s the case, then applying it to nations, the world has to judge the US to be a truly wretched and repugnant country, and should be steering clear of it.
Stop Israel’s Ongoing War Crimes & Crimes Against Humanity of Gaza's People
Thursday August 14: An Evening of Information & Inspiration Cooper Union, NYC & Live on the internet 7 pm EDT
By Alfredo Lopez
The recent news that Russian hackers have the usernames and passwords for over a billion users as well as a half billion email accounts wraps up a week of Internet craziness.
Killing Lt. Goldin...and 150 innocents: The IDF’s ‘Hannibal Protocol’ and Two Criminally Insane Governments
By Dave Lindorff
The sickness of present-day Israel, on display over the past horrible month of the one-sided slaughter of over 2000 Palestinians (including over 400 children) in the fenced-in ghetto of Gaza, has finally reached its nadir with the ugly case of the deliberate Israeli Defense Force murder of captured IDF 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin.
There's a wide and mysterious chasm between the stated intentions of the Israeli government as depicted by the U.S. media and what the Israeli government has been doing in Gaza, even as recounted in the U.S. media.
With the morgues full, Gazans are packing freezers with their dead children. Meanwhile, the worst images to be found in Israel depict fear, not death and suffering. Why the contrast? If the Israeli intent is defensive, why are 97% of the deaths Gazan, not Israeli? If the targets are fighters, why are whole families being slaughtered and their houses leveled? Why are schools and hospitals and children playing on the beach targeted? Why target water and electricity if the goal is not to attack an entire population?
The mystery melts away if you look at the stated intentions of the Israeli government as not depicted by the U.S. media but readily available in Israeli media and online.
On August 1st, the Deputy Speaker of Israel's Parliament posted on his FaceBook page a plan for the complete destruction of the people of Gaza using concentration camps. He had laid out a somewhat similar plan in a July 15th column.
Another member of the Israeli Parliament, Ayelet Shaked, called for genocide in Gaza at the start of the current war, writing: "Behind every terrorist stand dozens of men and women, without whom he could not engage in terrorism. They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there."
Taking a slightly different approach, Middle East scholar Dr. Mordechai Kedar of Bar-Ilan University has been widely quoted in Israeli media saying, "The only thing that can deter [Gazans] is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
The Times of Israel published a column on August 1st, and later unpublished it, with the headline "When Genocide Is Permissible." The answer turned out to be: now.
On August 5th, Giora Eiland, former head of Israel's National Security Council, published a column with the headline "In Gaza, There Is No Such Thing as 'Innocent Civilians'." Eiland wrote: "We should have declared war against the state of Gaza (rather than against the Hamas organization). . . . [T]he right thing to do is to shut down the crossings, prevent the entry of any goods, including food, and definitely prevent the supply of gas and electricity."
It's all part of putting Gaza "on a diet," in the grotesque wording of an advisor to a former Israeli Prime Minister.
If it were common among members of the Iranian or Russian government to speak in favor of genocide, you'd better believe the U.S. media would notice. Why does this phenomenon go unremarked in the case of Israel? Noticing it is bound to get you called an anti-Semite, but that's hardly a concern worthy of notice while children are being killed by the hundreds.
Another explanation is U.S. complicity. The weapons Israel is using are given to it, free-of-charge, by the U.S. government, which also leads efforts to provide Israel immunity for its crimes. Check out this revealing map of which nations recognize the nation of Palestine.
A third explanation is that looking too closely at what Israel's doing could lead to someone looking closely at what the U.S. has done and is doing. Roughly 97% of the deaths in the 2003-2011 war on Iraq were Iraqi. Things U.S. soldiers and military leaders said about Iraqis were shameful and genocidal.
War is the biggest U.S. investment, and contemporary war is almost always a one-sided slaughter of civilians. If seeing the horror of it in Israeli actions allow us to begin seeing the same in U.S. actions, an important step will have been taken toward war's elimination.
Yes, how many times can a man turn his head
Pretending he just doesn't see?
The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind.
By Brian Trautman
For a month now, the Palestinian territory of Gaza, one of the most densely populated places on the planet, has again come under heavy attack by Israel and its U.S-funded military might. According to Israel, the military operation, referred to as "Protective Edge," was launched in response to continuous rocket fire by Hamas, the controlling wing of the democratically-elected government of Palestine. Israel maintains it is only defending itself, and that the purpose of their latest assault is to disarm Hamas and destroy so-called "terror tunnels," which Israel claims Hamas uses to infiltrate and attack Israeli towns and cities. While the Israeli Defense Force (IDF), the military forces of Israel, is relentlessly bombarding Gaza with missiles and artillery shells, Hamas is fighting back and recruiting, launching more rockets into Israel and striking the IDF inside and across the border. Several humanitarian ceasefires and truces have been short-lived, some lasting only hours or minutes. Palestinian deaths and injuries have mounted precipitously, with no end in sight.
Since the beginning of Israel’s invasion, more than 1,800 Palestinians have been killed, mostly civilians, including over 300 children. Approximately 63 IDF soldiers have been killed. An estimated 9,000 Palestinians have been wounded, including nearly 3,000 children. Hundreds of thousands have been internally displaced, with around 300,000 currently being housed in UN schools-turned-shelters. It is a severe humanitarian crisis that is only deepening and worsening. People are struggling to meet their basic needs – food and clean water are in short supply. Electricity is only available for a couple of hours a day. Public infrastructure has been destroyed. Rubble covers the streets. A world of diverse and vibrant color has been transformed into shades of grey and red across Gaza. The levels of human suffering and unspeakable cruelty are almost too much to comprehend.
Israel argues that it is taking special precautions to protect civilians, in part by employing a so-called "knock on the roof" technique (either a telephone call or small explosion) to warn when a large strike is about to occur in a specific location. However, because of Gaza’s limited shelters (some of which have been purposely attacked by Israel) and the seven-year Israeli siege of Gaza, such an escape is extremely difficult if not impossible. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently said, "the people of Gaza have nowhere to run." As the Gaza Strip is an area only about the size of Detroit, with a population of nearly 2 million, Ki-moon’s assessment of the mobility of Gazans is clearly not an exaggeration.
One talking point of the Israeli government and its supporters has been that Hamas uses civilians as human shields. Even if this accusation were true (note that Amnesty International among other credible groups have debunked the charge), it does not justify the intentional and indiscriminate bombing of schools, hospitals or shelters, though Israel has done so with impunity. The IDF has also targeted and struck beaches, parks, mosques, markets, power plants and media outlets, killing scores of civilians in the process. The UN and International Criminal Court (ICC) must send a clear and unequivocal message to Israel that governments, no matter how powerful and influential they or their allies might be, will be held accountable for such atrocities. No nation should be above the law.
The UN has taken notice, criticizing some of Israel’s destructive actions. Citing attacks against homes and hospitals, Navi Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said there is a “strong possibility” that some of Israel’s strikes may be war crimes. On July 23, the UN Human Rights Council voted in favor of launching an international, independent inquiry into the possibility that Israel violated international humanitarian law and international human rights during its assault on Gaza. Of the 47 members of the Council, 29 nations voted in support of the inquiry, passing the resolution. Seventeen countries abstained, mostly European nations. The United States was the only country to vote against the resolution.
Among the latest deadly strikes by Israel was one outside a UN shelter in Rafah on August 3. The action was strongly condemned in a statement released on behalf of the UN Secretary-general It read in part: "the attack is yet another gross violation of international humanitarian law, which clearly requires protection by both parties of Palestinian civilians, UN staff and UN premises, among other civilian facilities…This attack, along with other breaches of international law, must be swiftly investigated and those responsible held accountable. It is a moral outrage and a criminal act."
History reveals that when people are oppressed and their lands are stolen through repeated invasion and illegal military occupation, their access to basic needs is blocked, and their dignity is eroded, sooner or later they resist. Blaming Hamas for the apartheid and slaughter in Gaza defies logic, justice and morality. Israel’s excuse that it is simply defending itself fails to hold up under scrutiny – the brutal nature of their military offensive over the past four weeks should be evidence enough; however, it only scratches the surface of the persecution long endured by Palestinians. Israel’s aggression in and usurpation of Palestinian territories is deliberate and systematic, mirroring imperial and colonial land grabs throughout history.
The major media have painted Israel’s war against Gaza with the brush of moral equivalence – leading Americans to believe that Israel is acting merely to protect its citizens. The Obama administration and the U.S. Congress staunchly defend Israel and continue to fund its war machine – the US has given Israel roughly $121 billion in military aid since the state’s founding. Today the US sends Israel about $3.1 billion annually, or $8.5 million per day. And as demonstrated by a recent vote for a resolution supporting Israel, even so-called progressive Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have sided with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the Zionist lobby. Having backed the apartheid government of South Africa and other repressive regimes, the US is once again finding itself on the wrong side of history.
Hamas’ rocket fire into Israel is wrong and counterproductive, despite the fact that most of the rockets either never reach populated areas or get erased by Israel’s "Iron Dome" missile defense system (which, incidentally, the United States Senate voted on August 1 to allocate $225 million in emergency funding). In addition, Hamas must recognize the right of Israel to exist. No question. Irrespective of Israel’s continued military occupation and theft of Palestinian lands and confinement of its people in conditions tantamount to an open-air prison, Hamas’ current policy toward Israel cannot be condoned and must change. Until then, Israel will continue pointing to Hamas as the justification for its ongoing appropriation of Palestine’s lands and extermination of its people and will continue gleaning sympathy and support from different world powers.
Israel’s actions in Gaza are criminal and affront to humanity. Stories of entire families being shattered, literally and figuratively, have come out of Gaza since Israel’s offensive began. People of conscience have a moral obligation to overcome their fear of being accused of anti-Semitism and find the courage to denounce Israel’s war against a mostly defenseless civilian population. Apartheid, genocide and ethnic cleansing must be called out and stopped no matter who is committing it or why it is being committed.
Americans can speak out nonviolently through protest but also via boycott and divestment (BD) – – from banks, pension funds and businesses that deal commercially and financially with Israel. The BDS movement, which also includes government sanctions (e.g., arms embargo), can still be effective in the modern world. In an interview with Z Communications, renowned intellectual and political activist Noam Chomsky argued that "Divestment from US firms is particularly significant because it not only punishes Israel for its crimes, but focuses attention on the crucial US role in supporting them, a necessary focus if there is to be any hope of real progress." Chomsky emphasizes, however, that "BD initiatives will have only limited effect." He believes government sanctions will also be needed before Israel acquiesces and ends its policy of aggression toward Palestine.
Temporary ceasefires and short-term truces are not enough. A long-term political solution is urgently needed, and must include Hamas’ recognizing Israel’s fundamental right to exist, as well as an end to the blockade, the removal of Israel settlements from the West Bank, and a two-state solution according to the 1967 lines. The Palestinian people want a peaceful two-state solution and no more war. Israeli citizens do, too. The more the world turns a blind eye to the tragic situation, the more anger and frustration get fueled across the Mideast. When Israel’s current assault on Gaza finally ends; when the smoke clears and all the Palestinian and Israeli dead have been buried, neither Israel nor Hamas will be any safer, as violence begets violence and terror begets terror. It always has and it always will.
Brian J. Trautman is a military veteran and an instructor of peace studies at Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield, MA. He is also a peace activist involved with a number of groups, including Veterans for Peace and Berkshire Citizens for Peace and Justice. On Twitter @BriTraut.
By John Grant
At a birthday dinner with friends last night, the Israeli assault on Gaza came up. One friend said having to helplessly watch the violence infuriated him and made him ill. Another said it made him want to cry.
Among those who cheer when a cease-fire ends and killing resumes are those who want more Palestinians slaughtered as a form of mass punishment for fictional offenses. Also among those cheering are certain mainstream U.S. newspaper columnists. In fact, at least one person is clearly in both of the above categories.
My local newspaper in Charlottesville, Va., printed a column on Friday from Thomas Sowell, distributed by Creators Syndicate but actually written for the right-wing Jewish World Review. Sowell writes:
"It is understandable that today many people in many lands just want the fighting between the Israelis and the Palestinians to stop. Calls for a cease-fire are ringing out from the United Nations and from Washington, as well as from ordinary people in many places around the world. According to the New York Times, Secretary of State John Kerry is hoping for a cease-fire to 'open the door to Israeli and Palestinian negotiations for a long-term solution.' President Obama has urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to have an 'immediate, unconditional humanitarian cease-fire' -- again, with the idea of pursuing some long-lasting agreement."
Here is where Sowell might logically object to Washington shipping Israel more weaponry in the midst of proposing cease-fires and mumbling quietly about the inappropriateness of particular bits of the mass-murder underway. John Kerry doesn't hope for a long-term solution any more than he knew Syria used chemical weapons or Putin shot down a plane or Iraq deserved to be destroyed before it didn't but after it did. John Kerry knows the U.S. provides the weaponry and the criminal immunity to a nation intent on completing the process of eliminating its native peoples, as Kerry's own nation effectively did long ago. There's no solution possible in that context other than a Final Solution for Palestinians. But this is not what Sowell goes on to say.
"If this was the first outbreak of violence between the Palestinians and the Israelis, such hopes might make sense. But where have the U.N., Kerry and Obama been during all these decades of endlessly repeated Middle East carnage?"
Well, the same place all of their Republican and Democratic predecessors have been, supporting endless armaments for Israel and most of its neighbors, and vetoing any U.N. resolutions that would impose any consequences for Israel's occupation, blockade, and Apartheid repression on the basis of religion and race.
"The Middle East must lead the world in cease-fires. If cease-fires were the road to peace, the Middle East would easily be the most peaceful place on the planet."
Stop for a moment and appreciate the unfathomable stupidity of that remark. One might as well say the Middle East must lead the world in U.S. weapons imports or the Middle East must lead the world in wars. If these were paths to peace, the Middle East would easily be the most peaceful place on the planet. One might also just as easily say the Middle East must lead the world in the brevity of its cease-fires, with cease-fires elsewhere lasting longer, and with as many broken agreements lying in the sand of the Middle East as anywhere since the last big batch of promises made to Native Americans. One might even just as easily say the Middle East must lead the world in resumptions of fighting, rather than in halts to fighting. But that's not where Sowell is headed. He's out to reverse Benjamin Franklin's notion that there has never been a good war or a bad peace.
"'Cease-fire' and 'negotiations' are magic words to 'the international community.' But just what do cease-fires actually accomplish? In the short run, they save some lives. But in the long run they cost far more lives, by lowering the cost of aggression."
Here it comes. Just as the Jewish World Review wants to make poor people "self-sufficient" by denying them any assistance, Sowell wants to teach the people of Palestine a lesson for their own good. Of course people dispossessed of their land, made refugees, entrapped and blockaded, and targeted with missiles that level their homes and explode in their schools and hospitals and shelters are unusual suspects to accuse of aggression. And for those who shoot rockets, so ineffectively and counter-productively, into Israel, the lesson Sowell wants to teach through mass slaughter is demonstrably not taught. Everyone in Gaza will tell you that Israeli violence increases support for Palestinian violence. Not every Palestinian understands that the reverse is also true, that the rockets fuel Israeli attacks, but that hardly justifies their murder or creates a lesson where Sowell imagines Israeli missiles teaching one.
"At one time, launching a military attack on another nation risked not only retaliation but annihilation. When Carthage attacked Rome, that was the end of Carthage."
Ah, the good old days, when any colony or challenger that stepped out of line could be wiped out, starved out, and cleansed from the earth.
"But when Hamas or some other terrorist group launches an attack on Israel, they know in advance that whatever Israel does in response will be limited by calls for a cease-fire, backed by political and economic pressures from the United States."
The political pressure of Kerry groveling before Netanyahu? Of Susan Rice explaining to the world that Kerry never meant to negotiate and has always been 100% in Israel's camp? Of Obama joining Sowell in blaming the victims? The economic pressure of the free weapons continuing to flow from the U.S. to Israel? What sort of fantasy is this?
One possibility is that it's a fantasy of racism or culturalism. Americans are rational beings in this fantasy. It would only make sense to apply obvious points of pressure for a cease-fire once you've proposed one. Arming the Middle East for peace would be insanity. So, Sowell perhaps fantasizes that sanity and rationality prevail. Except in places like Palestine or Iran:
"Those who say that we can contain a nuclear Iran, as we contained a nuclear Soviet Union, are acting as if they are discussing abstract people in an abstract world. Whatever the Soviets were, they were not suicidal fanatics, ready to see their own cities destroyed in order to destroy ours. . . . Even if the Israelis were all saints -- and sainthood is not common in any branch of the human race -- the cold fact is that they are far more advanced than their neighbors, and groups that cannot tolerate even subordinate Christian minorities can hardly be expected to tolerate an independent, and more advanced, Jewish state that is a daily rebuke to their egos."
Since when does Iran not tolerate minorities? Since when is it populated by 76 million suicidal fanatics?
You see, not only do the Gazans want to die, in the view of Sowell and so many others we've been hearing from via our so-called public airwaves, because it makes good footage, because they have a culture of martyrdom -- you've heard all the explanations for Gazans stubbornly remaining in their homes and hospitals rather than swimming to Cyprus as normal people would do -- but the source of Gazans' irrational aggression against the benevolent power that stole their land and starves their children and bans the importation of books is -- wait for it -- jealousy. It's wounded egos. Just as poor Americans are jealous of the success of those with the wisdom and fortitude to be born into the families of billionaires, so Palestinians resent the superiority, the Ubermenschness of the people who have been clever enough to get born into Pentagon subsidies.
As a contrasting view of the world to Sowell's allow me to offer this new Willie Nelson video (http://youtu.be/MezGqmMCrwo):
This moment in history is a watershed moment for Humankind. It has been triggered by the senseless and premeditated extermination of innocent and largely defenseless children, women and men in the largest open-air concentration camp on earth called Gaza by an overwhelming force for only one purpose: making life itself unbearable.
The response to and condemnation of what I have no name for is universal. It transcends all political, ideological, religous, national, continental, gender and age boundaries. It is unique as it is not based on gaining any advantages or fighting for or against anything. It simply is the outpouring of everything that is good within human beings. It is the universal expression of what we really are. Sentient, loving, caring, compassionate creatures.
Sarah Ali is a Palestinian living in the Gaza Strip. She has lost friends and neighbors in the current war on Gaza. She speaks to us about conditions under the bombing. Sarah Ali studied English and literature and currently is working as a teacher in Gaza City. She contributed a short story called "The Story of the Land" to the book Gaza Writes Back: Short Stories from Young Writers in Gaza, Palestine. We close the show by reading that story.
Total run time: 29:00
Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.
Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.
Syndicated by Pacifica Network.
Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!
Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!
Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
As Israel continues its unspeakable brutality, violating not only international law but basic human decency by targeting children, hospitals, mosques and private residences, its many outrages are being widely publicized, thanks to social media. One can access YouTube and see Israeli soldiers using Palestinian children as human shields. Facebook is awash with pictures of bloody, dismembered, dead children, victims of ‘the most moral army in the world’. Twitter is filled with links, all showing not only the horrors that Israel is inflicting, but the many worldwide demonstrations supporting Palestine. Numerous large such demonstrations have been held in Israel itself.
Chris Hedges says that Palestinians have the right to self-defense in the form of rockets, without including any consideration of whether the rockets make the Palestinians more or less defended. There is, after all, a reasonable argument that the rockets are counter-productive and endangering, rather than protecting, Palestine.
Legally, if we ignore the Kellogg-Briand Pact and stick to the U.N. Charter, much less its frequent abuse by the powerful nations of the world, there is no doubt that Hedges is correct. If demolishing Iraqi or Afghan or Libyan or Pakistani or Yemeni homes is "defense" of the United States, then surely the people of Gaza, under actual attack, have the legal right to shoot rockets at Israel. That's just basic Western consensus with the hypocrisy removed.
"[M]any Palestinians, especially young men trapped in overcrowded hovels where they have no work and little dignity," writes Hedges, "will risk immediate death to defy the slow, humiliating death of occupation. I cannot blame them."
Here are the false choices framed: either we blame the victims of Israel's vicious and massive assault on a trapped population, blame them for reacting as virtually anyone else in the so-called developed world would, or we advocate for the right to fight defensive wars -- regardless of whether it helps or hurts the situation. Those are not the only options.
I'm not sure I can prove that the rockets hurt the situation, but to render the question inadmissible seems fatally flawed. The justification that the U.S. Congress and White House use for arming Israel and seeking to shelter Israel from legal consequences is always and exclusively the rockets. The justification that Israeli spokespeople use on television is likewise almost entirely the rockets. In a world without the rockets, would other excuses prove successful? It's hard to say for sure. But the rockets provide the public packaging for Israeli war-making, accomplish virtually nothing in military terms, and almost certainly do more to frighten and enrage the people of Israel than to bring Israelis around to sympathizing with the plight of their government's victims.
I've just spoken by phone with a smart writer in Gaza named Sarah Ali for an upcoming edition of Talk Nation Radio. She explained to me quite eloquently how Israeli attacks on Gaza were generating support for Hamas and violence against Israel. She described the emotional need to fight back. So, I asked her if rocket attacks on Israel weren't likewise counterproductive. No, she said, she imagined that Israelis saw the rockets and began to understand the point of view of Palestinians. In the absence of any evidence of that phenomenon, I can only say that I'll believe it when I see it. In every case I'm aware of in which one nation has militarily attacked another, it has done far more to enrage than to stimulate sympathy in the people coming under attack.
Of course, I have no right to tell the people of Gaza what to do or not do from the comfort of my home in the heart of the imperial monster that is funding their apocalypse. Of course I cannot know the situation as they know it. But it's not clear to me that every Gazan has as deep a familiarity with Israelis or every Israeli with Gazans as one might imagine from their geographic vicinity. The division between these two societies is extreme. How else could Israelis imagine children as their enemies? And how else could those children's parents imagine that firing rockets would win over hearts and minds?
Probably the biggest news story of 1928 was the war-making nations of the world coming together on August 27th and legally outlawing war. It's a story that's not told in our history books, but it's not secret CIA history. There was no CIA. There was virtually no weapons industry as we know it. There weren't two political parties in the United States uniting in support of war after war. In fact, the four biggest political parties in the United States all backed abolishing war.
Cue whining, polysyllabic screech: "But it didn't wooooooooork!"
I wouldn't be bothering with it if it had. In its defense, the Kellogg-Briand Pact (look it up or read my book) was used to prosecute the makers of war on the losing sides following World War II (an historic first), and -- for whatever combination of reasons (nukes? enlightenment? luck?) -- the armed nations of the world have not waged war on each other since, preferring to slaughter the world's poor instead. Significant compliance following the very first prosecution is a record that almost no other law can claim.
The Kellogg-Briand Pact has two chief values, as I see it. First, it's the law of the land in 85 nations including the United States, and it bans all war-making. For those who claim that the U.S. Constitution sanctions or requires wars regardless of treaty obligations, the Peace Pact is no more relevant than the U.N. Charter or the Geneva Conventions or the Anti-Torture Convention or any other treaty. But for those who read the laws as they are written, beginning to comply with the Kellogg-Briand Pact makes far more sense than legalizing drone murders or torture or bribery or corporate personhood or imprisonment without trial or any of the other lovely practices we've been "legalizing" on the flimsiest of legal arguments. I'm not against new national or international laws against war; ban it 1,000 times, by all means, if there's the slightest chance that one of them will stick. But there is, for what it's worth, already a law on the books if we care to acknowledge it.
Second, the movement that created the Pact of Paris grew out of a widespread mainstream international understanding that war must be abolished, as slavery and blood feuds and duelling and other institutions were being abolished. While advocates of outlawing war believed other steps would be required: a change in the culture, demilitarization, the establishment of international authorities and nonviolent forms of conflict resolution, prosecutions and targeted sanctions against war-makers; while most believed this would be the work of generations; while the forces leading toward World War II were understood and protested against for decades; the explicit and successful intention was to make a start of it by outlawing and formally renouncing and rendering illegitimate all war, not aggressive war or unsanctioned war or inappropriate war, but war.
In the never-ending aftermath of World War II, the U.N. Charter has formalized and popularized a very different conception of war's legality. I've just interviewed Ben Ferencz, aged 94, the last living Nuremberg prosecutor, for an upcoming edition of Talk Nation Radio. He describes the Nuremberg prosecutions as happening under the framework of the U.N. Charter, or something identical to it, despite the chronological problem. He believes that the U.S. invasion of Iraq was illegal. But he claims not to know whether the U.S. invasion and ongoing over-12-year war on Afghanistan is legal or not. Why? Not because it fits either of the two gaping loopholes opened up by the U.N. Charter, that is: not because it is U.N.-authorized or defensive, but -- as far as I can make out -- just because those loopholes exist and therefore wars might be legal and it's unpleasant to acknowledge that the wars waged by one's own nation are not.
Of course, plenty of people thought more or less like that in the 1920s and 1930s, but plenty of people also did not. In the era of the United Nations, NATO, the CIA, and Lockheed Martin we have seen steady progress in the doomed attempt, not to eliminate war, but to civilize it. The United States leads the way in arming the rest of the world, maintaining a military presence in most of the world, and launching wars. Western allies and nations armed, free-of-charge, by the United States, including Israel, advance war-making and war-civilizing, not war-abolition. The notion that war can be eliminated using the tool of war, making war on war-makers in order to teach them not to make war, has had a far longer run than the Kellogg-Briand Pact had prior to its supposed failure and the Truman Administration's remaking of the U.S. government into a permanent war machine in the cause of progress.
Civilizing war for the benefit of the world has been an abysmal failure. We now have wars launched on unarmed defenseless people thousands of miles away in the name of "defense." We now have wars depicted as U.N.-authorized because the U.N. once passed a resolution related to the nation being destroyed. And just seconds before the Israeli military blows up your house in Gaza, they ring you up on the telephone to give you a proper warning.
I remember a comedy sketch from Steve Martin mocking the phony politeness of Los Angeles: a line of people waited their turn to withdraw cash from a bank machine, while a line of armed robbers waited their turn in a separate line to politely ask for and steal each person's money. War is past the point of such parody. There is no space left for satire. Governments are phoning families to tell them they're about to be slaughtered, and then bombing the shelters they flee to if they manage to flee.
Is mass-murder acceptable if done without rape or torture or excessive targeting of children or the use of particular types of chemical weapons, as long as the victims are telephoned first or the murderers are associated with a group of people harmed by war several decades back?
Here's a new initiative that says No, the abolition of the greatest evil needs a renaissance and completion: WorldBeyondWar.org.
By Robert C. Koehler
“Israel regrets every injury to civilians. I call on the residents of Gaza: Don’t stay there. Hamas wants you to die, we want you to be safe.”
This is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as quoted in the Jewish Daily Forward, cleansing the nation’s collective conscience. Is it really that easy to sweep away the moral sting of violent action? A captive population is being pummeled with missiles. Well over 500 Palestinians have died so far in Operation Protective Edge, three-quarters of them civilians and, of course, many of them children. But “we want you to be safe” and wish we didn’t have to do this.
Netanyahu, pushed into a public relations corner by global sympathy for the Palestinians, also made this slightly more cynical, less regret-tinged comment: “They want to pile up as many civilian dead as they can. They use telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause. They want the more dead, the better.”
Glenn Greenwald compared this remark to a 1941 comment by Joseph Goebbels, belittling the Jews for plucking the sympathy strings of soft-hearted Germans: “One suddenly has the impression,” the Nazi propaganda minister wrote, “that the Berlin Jewish population consists only of little babies whose childish helplessness might move us, or else fragile old ladies.”
Violence begets violence in a never-ending cycle. And violence is almost always perpetrated against the powerless. The perpetrators have “interests” at stake but almost nothing to lose. Bombing a civilian population is the moral equivalent of torture. This is the story of Western civilization; it’s the story of “progress.” On and on it goes.
Writer Naomi Klein, who is Jewish-American, put it this way when she spoke in Israel in 2009, according to Haaretz: “The debate boils down to the question: ‘Never again to everyone, or never again to us?’”
Nations aren’t formed around the first possibility, which requires an evolutionary leap we haven’t made as a species: to build collective structures that honor the whole of humanity. Nations require enemies. Last week, writing about nationalism, I quoted historian Michael Howard, who wrote: “From the very beginning, the principle of nationalism was almost indissolubly linked, both in theory and practice, with the idea of war.”
Israel is the contemporary poster child of this principle.
In an open letter addressed to the United Nations and the nations of the world, 64 public figures — among them, seven Nobel Peace Prize recipients — called for an arms embargo against Israel, whose “ability to launch such devastating attacks with impunity largely stems from the vast international military cooperation and trade that it maintains with complicit governments across the world.”
This is the hegemonic complicity, one might say, that rules the world. Richard Falk, former U.N. special rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, called it “accountability for enemies of the West, impunity for the West and its friends.”
He went on: “Such double standards highlight the tensions between law and justice. There is currently no greater beneficiary of this deformed political culture of impunity than the political leadership and military command structure of Israel.”
The most chilling sentences in the open letter signed by the Nobel laureates and others were these: “Israel’s military technology is marketed as ‘field-tested’ and exported across the world. Military trade and joint military-related research relations with Israel embolden Israeli impunity in committing grave violations of international law and facilitate the entrenchment of Israel’s system of occupation, colonization and systematic denial of Palestinian rights.”
Field-tested? There’s more going on here than alleged self-defense, or even the pursuit of territorial interests. This is about business. Israel is one of the world’s leading arms exporters, ranking number six globally in 2012, behind the United States, Russia and France. Britain and Germany, according to IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly. Periodically bombing the Gaza Strip is apparently the way it field-tests its weapons and maintains a position of global respect among the international war-mongering and moneyed classes — which own the world, or at least assume they do.
Indeed, Israeli journalist Yotam Feldman is the director of a 2013 documentary called “The Lab,” which asserts that the occupied territories, whatever else they are, have become a lab for testing and showcasing Israel’s weapons systems.
There’s such a thing as self-defense, but there’s no such thing as a principled, or legitimate, war. Murder is always murder: a zero-sum game of winning and losing through sheer, violent domination.
As individuals, we can look at the carnage that our own and other governments wreak and cry, from the depth of our souls, “Never again.”
When we band together in armed groups, we link in fear and hatred and cheapen our salvation. “Never again to us (and only us)” is a battle cry of the lost, guaranteeing perpetual war and everyone’s ultimate demise — even the profiteers’.
Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. His book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound (Xenos Press), is still available. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at commonwonders.com.
© 2014 TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, INC.
Stop the Slaughter of Palestinian Civilians in Gaza!
Members of Veterans For Peace will deliver a letter to Israel's Embassy, 3514 International Dr. NW, Washington, D.C. 20008, at 1:30 pm Monday afternoon, July 21. The letter calls on the government of Israel to immediately halt the bombing of Palestinian civilians and to withdraw all its troops and military assets from Gaza. Colonel Ann Wright, who has visited Palestine and Israel several times, will head up the delegation.
The letter reads as follows:
To: Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer
From: Veterans For Peace National Board of Directors
Dear Ambassador Dermer,
As veterans who have witnessed the horror of war, we are deeply outraged by the state of Israel's slaughter of many innocent civilians in Gaza. The military assault against children, women and men, by air, by sea and now by land, is a clear violation of international laws of war and of human rights. More than 300 Palestinians have been murdered, almost all of them civilians, nearly a quarter of them children. Thousands are wounded, including nearly 1,000 children.
Veterans For Peace joins millions of people all around the globe who are shocked by this vicious, one-sided slaughter. We understand the huge injustice of the Israeli occupation. Palestinians have been ethnically cleansed from their homes and forced to live in the Occupied West Bank, or in the open-air prison that is Gaza.
Mr. Ambassador, please tell the government of Israel to stop the massacre now! There should be an immediate end to all bombing and an immediate withdrawal of all Israeli military from Gaza.
Mr. Ambassador, please remind Prime Minister Netanyahu that you can bomb the world into pieces, but you cannot bomb it into peace.
Veterans For Peace calls for an end to the 8-year blockade of Gaza, so that normal trade and travel can occur.
Mr. Ambassador, please remind the government of Israel of the billions of dollars in aid that is provided to Israel by the United States. Veterans For Peace will push for an end to all military aid to Israel until such time as the Israeli occupation gives way to real peace negotiations based on the human rights of all the people concerned.
Veterans For Peace recommits itself to participating in the international campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel and Israeli products.
We encourage all parties to search for a nonviolent path to peace. We urge both Hamas and the government of Israel to refrain from targeting civilians. We especially call on the state of Israel to stop its massive violence now. It is time to recognize the human rights of the Palestinian people, including their right to return to the homes from which they were forced to flee in 1948.
Mr. Ambassador, the peoples of Palestine, Israel and the world deserve to live in peace and harmony. The ultimate goal of Veterans For Peace is to abolish war. In the meantime, we stand ready to assist those Israelis and Palestinians who seek peace and reconciliation.
[signed] Patrick McCann, President
for National Board of Directors
VETERANS FOR PEACE