Friday, July 31, 2009

Comments on BBC News: Corruption still haunts Bangladesh

Ref: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/8106069.stm

None of these reports in the BBC or elsewhere should surprise anyone. Just look at the corruption perception index between 2004 and 2007 to understand what direction Bangladesh was heading.

2008: Ranked 147 out of 180
2007: Ranked 167 out of 179
2006: Ranked 156 out of 163
2005: Ranked 158 out of 158
2004: Ranked 145 out of 145

Does government have a role in this trend? Sure. Is it the only party to the vice? No. What we have is a vicious cycle in which corruption begets corruption and creates a society where you are either a giver or taker of bribe. Corruption has lost its color and badge in our society where being a sycophant is a sure way to become successful in this duniya, esp. for the mediocre and less bright ones.

This past week a marketing company that is interested about importing chemicals from the USA and Canada to Bangladesh contacted an expatriate. It was for a big supply requiring quite a bit of knowledge and correspondence with suppliers. When asked WIIFM, the owner said that the agent should try to get kickback from the supplier, i.e., can't expect any percentage from the buyer. He did not understand that what he proposed is illegal in this country.

Last week, we had a small gathering in my home. There, a family friend who was chairman in Engineering at Swarthmore College, PA - a liberal arts college - was sharing his sad experience about Bangladesh. He was also upset with some of our friends, even those living in our Philadelphia neighborhood, that were buying properties from known crooks in the housing sector, simply because the price was lower than the market price from a genuine developer. If that be the attitude of our educated people, I am afraid that we truly don't deserve any better. We seem to care more about our nafs, selfish desires than what is right and wrong.

Remember the criminal land-grabbing syndicate of Salauddin Qader Chowdhury that victimized my family back in 2005? Well, after they had demolished nine homes and evicted our 16 tenants and did so many other crimes, we were fortunate by the grace of the Almighty to recover our Khulshi properties. Within days, the honest police officer who had investigated our case was promptly transferred by Saqa to Mymensingh and was sued for interfering in our case by the crime syndicate. The same person is now accused of being a party to the 2004 arms-hauling crime in having helped the BNP-govt. Where is the truth in the midst of many such "politically-charged" cases? I simply don't know. My prayer is that let no innocent become a victim.

Last February while I was in Bangladesh, Saqa's crime syndicate bribed Chittagong city additional magistrate Asaduzzaman Khan to issue an arrest warrant against my 83 old father, without any police inquiry. Asaduzzaman took Tk. 40,000 bribe to issue the warrant against my dad, sister, two brothers-in-law that live in Chittagong. My father was shown to be a man of 52 and my sister of 38! The syndicate charged that my father tried to kill Saqa's front-man Jaker Hosain Chowdhury, a madrasa-daptari, much given to forgery of land-deeds and illegal grabbing under political patronage, by squeezing his balls (and what else is possible for an 83-old man!) on Feb. 15, 2009 in our premises! Our properties have been under 16-men Ansar guard for few months. Any person with an iota of intelligence could have seen the serious flaw with the accusation and would have thrown it on the face of the accuser, but not a corrupt magistrate. My father had to come to Dhaka with others, leaving my sick mother (a writer and retired college professor) behind, who needed constant care because of her serious sickness - cervical spondylolisthesis (she had her surgery yesterday). After months of moving between courts (city to HC), just last week, we got a quashment from the High Court. It ended up costing us close to a quarter million taka -- just on legal fees. For what? To fight a completely false case.

When I reflect upon the fact that we are by the grace of the Almighty financially well off and could handle such false cases, albeit under lots of physical, monetary and mental torture, what chances do our ordinary folks have in fighting against criminal syndicates? Nada, zero. Why such crimes when we are sure of our accountability before God for every act that we do on the Day of Judgment? Shame on us!

Is there a future for Bangladesh getting out of this mighty mess of immorality and corruption? I don't know but do feel that something ought to be done fast because if we don't, we all become a nation that breeds and sustains a system that is so bad that only those who are buried under the ground are better off than those living on it. But the living ones deserve better!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Aye Chan's seminar at SOAS, UK

My attention has been drawn to Aye Chan's seminar at the SOAS, UK: "Rohingya” from a Political Rhetoric to a Southeast Asian Branch of International Islamic Militancy.
A quick look at the topic is enough to show that as a xenophobic, racist and an intellectual fraud, Aye Chan is trying to tie up Bush's failed "Global War on Terror" with the Rohingya people's legitimate call for equality in Burma. By portraying the Rohingyas, who are peace-loving/craving Muslims, as terrorists, what he is doing is absolutely unbecoming of an honest intellectual. He is neither striving for analysis that are based on facts and figures nor is he promoting fairness in judgment. He is, instead, promoting narrow chauvinism and making a living out of mis-characterizing a persecuted minority. It is obvious that Aye Chan is unwilling to forgo his despicable past record of racism and bigotry. In the past through his poisonous writings, he has called the Rohingya "enclaves" inside the Arakan as outsider "Influx Viruses" that need to be exterminated. That is a call for genocide of the Rohingya people. His writing is a hate speech of the highest order. As a matter of fact there are laws against such preaching of hatred in the EU, to which UK is a signatory. The EU member nations cannot allow and should not allow a racist who calls for extermination of an endangered minority - the Rohingya community - to enter the UK, and preach xenophobia and hatred.

This matter of Aye Chan's coming visit should be brought to the attention of SOAS, whose space is going to be used for such a seminar. The matter ought to be also discussed with British MPs and authorities so that Aye Chan is either arrested on his arrival in the UK soil or being barred for life from entering any of the EU countries, esp. the UK, the venue of the seminar. The British government simply cannot allow access to a racist in their soil whose writings have been used to foment violence and extermination of the persecuted Rohingya minorities in Burma.

Aye Chan's linking the legitimate call of the Rohingya people for integration and citizenship to the terrorist cells is simply unacceptable. The Rohingyas, of all the persecuted groups, are the most peaceful of peoples that make up today's Burma. There is not a single armed Rohingya group that is today fighting against the brutal racist and murderous regime that has marginalized the Rohingya people. And yet, when they are blamed to have links with the terror cells outside is not analysis or facts, but paralysis of independent thinking and is nothing short of mere propagation of lies in the tradition of Goebbels. It is disingenuous attempt of a modern-day Arakanese Julius Streicher.

Comments on Aye Chan's seminar, hosted by the BDMA, UK

The Burmese Democratic Movement Association, UK cannot behave like an entity that is supporting the hated SPDC regime through its hosting meetings and seminars that promote division, exclusion and xenophobia. It is simply unacceptable of any organization that pretends to be a democratic movement and yet airs views of a Rakhine racist who does not want inclusion of the minority Rohingyas of Burma, who falsely depicts them as foreigners who had infiltrated the country from Bangladesh. Rohingyas are not intruders but are the indigenous people who lived in the Arakan since before the Mongoloids from Tibet - the forefathers of today's Rakhaing - migrated into the territory. It is sad to see that Aye Chan's sickening mentality, and foggy, highly flawed and biased research from a third rate university has not allowed him to correct his deplorable chauvinism and make him a force in uniting the democratic movement that is struggling to find common grounds for unity and cooperation that binds the mosaic of various religious and ethnic minorities and the Burman majority that live inside and outside Burma today. His is a sickening mind that needs to be treated as a pariah, a promoter of hatred and bigotry.

As we have established elsewhere (including the First International Conference on the Rohingya people in Japan), Aye Chan's rhetoric, flawed and half-baked theories provide the blueprint for extermination of a minority. As a promoter of genocide against the Rohingya minority, he should be castigated as a person non-grata by not only the BDMA, UK but also all organizations that care about human rights, democracy and freedom around our globe. As a signatory to the EU rules against hate speech, the government and institutions within the UK ought to ensure that the dark and evil forces of bigotry, xenophobia, and racism are not allowed to poison their soils.

If the BDMA, UK is serious about unity, democracy and freedom, it needs to walk the talk and not appear as a phony, hypocritical organization that is actually strengthening the grip of the hated SPDC regime through divisive programs that promote hatred and bigotry. It must stop itself from being abused and exploited by forces of division and exclusion. It is a shameful and highly condemnable act that they got into by sponsoring a seminar where a bigot is invited. The BDMA, UK ought to rescind its invitation to Aye Chan and desist from such activities in the future.

Lies Can’t Sanctify the Apartheid State

Journalists, authors and media experts play an important role in shaping public opinion. It is no-brainer that like so many governments around the globe that Israel would use her cronies to create a positive image about the rogue state that is guilty of practicing one of the worst forms of apartheid system our generation has ever seen. And nothing could be better if such sycophants can be found from within the victims.

Let’s take the example of Khaled Abu Toameh (KAT), an Israeli Arab who writes for the Jerusalem Post. He is often touted as a ‘real’ journalist with a ‘unique’ voice of ‘straightforward’ reporting from the West Bank and Gaza. He proposes that Israel should simply wait until the Palestinians stop killing each other and create a credible political entity that can make a deal. He also says, “Israel is a wonderful place to live and we are happy to be there. Israel is a free and open country. If I were given the choice, I would rather live in Israel as a second class citizen than as a first class citizen in Cairo, Gaza, Amman or Ramallah.” With comments like these it is only a question of time when this much touted “brave” journalist from the Occupied Territories would be honored with the Pulitzer Award in journalism!
Walid Shoebat, another Palestinian, now makes a living by selling similar stories. As a convert from Islam to radical Christianity, he is described these days as a "reformed sinner". He claims to have once been a PLO terrorist who "participated in acts of terrorism against Israel," and was imprisoned "for incitement and violence against Israel." However, according to an investigative piece in the Jerusalem Post, there is no record of the terrorist attacks in which Shoebat claims to have participated. He claimed of growing up in a culture of violence and religious fundamentalism, which when examined by the New York Times was found highly unlikely. He objects to the creation of a Palestinian state, referring to the West Bank as "Judea and Samaria". He suggests that Israel should retake and populate the Gaza Strip and that Israel should exile anyone, even a native Israeli, who "questioned Israel’s right to exist.”
Nonie Darwish, an Arab American, is the founder of a group called Arabs for Israel. Like Shoebat, she claims to have been “born and raised as a Muslim in Cairo, Egypt and the Gaza Strip.” She says that the Israeli army assassinated her father in 1956. She is now a Christian who has become a spokeswoman for the cause of radical Christian Zionism.

The trio first came to the attention of most American Muslims before the last year's presidential election in the USA when some 28 million copies of a DVD - Obsession - Radical Islam's War Against the West - were distributed freely as an advertising supplement in newspapers in key battleground states. The DVD was paid for by the Clarion Fund, a nonprofit group established by the film’s Israeli producer with the goal of exposing what it called the threat of radical Islam. The hour-long film featured graphic, violent images and made comparisons of Islam to Nazism. Interestingly, the arguments used to attack Islam and Muslims in America were the same arguments that anti-Semites used in pre-World War II Nazi Germany to attack the Jewish community. It was a clear case of Islam-phobia at its worst since it was scripted, produced and distributed by the same group that smells anti-Semitism with the slightest criticism of the rogue state of Israel. As former victims they seemed to have learned the trade of xenophobia, bigotry and hate-speech quite well from their former tormentors! It is also obvious that they have been able to create Quislings or its American version “Benedict Arnolds” to parrot for the pariah state of Israel.
(For the full version, see Media Monitors Network: http://usa.mediamonitors.net/content/view/full/64935)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Book Review: Innocent Abroad: An Intimate Account of American Peace Diplomacy in the Middle East by Martin Indyk, Simon & Schuster, New York (2009)

Books written by diplomats are usually very helpful to understand views of the governments that they represented. Martin Indyk’s book is an attempt to provide such an account of his diplomatic mission in the Middle East where he was the U.S. Ambassador to Israel from April 1995 to September 1997 and from January 2000 to July 2001, coinciding with the Clinton and (first six months of the) Bush administrations. Before that he was Clinton’s Middle East adviser on the National Security Council (NSC) and an Assistant Secretary for Near East Affairs in the State Department. Prior to his Federal government appointment, as an ardent Zionist, Indyk visited Israel a few times, including being a volunteer in a kibbutz during the 1973 Yom Kippur war. In 1978 he served as Australia's deputy director of current intelligence for the Middle East for ten months. In 1982, after coming to the USA, he became the deputy research director for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a pro-Israel lobbying group in Washington. From 1985 to 1993, he served as the founding Executive Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a pro-Israel research institute, which was founded by AIPAC. He was a senior member of Secretary of State Warren Christopher's Middle East peace team and served as the White House representative on the U.S. Israel Science and Technology Commission. He is currently the director of the pro-Israeli Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.

Indyk’s appointment in the NSC and as a diplomat to Israel is rather incredible considering the fact that he was born in the UK, educated in Australia and only became a U.S. citizen in 1993, just about a week before his NSC appointment. To qualify for such federal jobs as naturalized citizens one usually has to go through a very lengthy process requiring background check and security clearance at the highest level. Only his Jewish, pro-Israel lobbyist credential made the difference with the Clinton administration hastening the process of getting Indyk the U.S. citizenship by overriding such lengthy time-consuming requirements.

With that kind of professional background, a reader does not have to dig deep to discover Indyk’s deplorable pro-Israel bias and one-sided castigation of ‘bad guys’ – all reserved for the Muslim leaders of the Middle East – in his lengthy book of 494 pages. His description of the courtiers of the Moroccan King Hassan in page 46 is unbecoming of a diplomat. He recalls his encounter with Yaser Arafat in 1994 after the Hebron massacre of unarmed Muslims in the Ibrahimi masjid by a Jewish terrorist Dr. Baruch Goldstein as “signature theatrical performance, one part conspiratorial, one part paranoid, one part plaintive victimhood, and one part pure mythology.” (p. 112) In contrast, he has all the praises for Israeli leaders. For instance, he depicts Rabin as having a penchant for analysis, resembling a scientist who tried to test his hypothesis that he developed. It is quite fascinating that in a recent interview with two Israeli reporters (reported in the Yediot Achronoth), he now sounds a little bit more balanced: “We failed, among other reasons, because President Clinton did his best to meet the wishes of your prime ministers.”

Indyk recounts America’s failed Middle East diplomacy in three parts. In the first part it is about the "dual containment" policy, which was announced in May 1993 by Indyk himself, and where else, in a WINEP meeting. That policy was about containing both Iraq and Iran at the same time. The second part deals with the fate of that policy. The third part chronicles downward spiral of violence following Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination to Arafat’s rejection of Clinton’s parameters for an Israeli-Palestinian final settlement put forth in the last days of Clinton’s presidency. The last two chapters deal with the reflections of a failed diplomat providing suggestions for effective diplomacy. In that sense, a keen observer of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict may save time by skipping the first 19 chapters and jump into the last two.

As an inside player of failed Middle East diplomacy, Indyk shares Clinton’s rage in name-calling Arafat. According to Clinton, Arafat had failed his people and destroyed the chances of peace. (p. 14) As we know better from other reliable accounts, including President Carter’s book, Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, Clinton and Indyk are not reliable here. We were told that Palestinians rejected a “generous offer” put forward by Prime Minister Barak with Israel keeping only 5% of West Bank. The fact is, as Carter disclosed, “no such offers were ever made.” (Carter, p. 152)

Indyk is disingenuously silent about Israel’s expansionist policy that saw rapid rise of settlement activities during Clinton Administration, the same time, he was ambassador there. A major settlement between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, previously halted during the Bush Sr. administration, because threat of cutting aid to Israel, was rapidly completed during the Clinton era. (Carter, p. 132) As Carter noted, during the Clinton-era there was a 90% growth in the number of settlers in the occupied territories, with the greatest increase during the Labor government of Ehud Barak. By the end of the year 2000, Israeli settlers in the West Bank and Gaza numbered 225,000. The best offer to the Palestinians – by Clinton, not Barak – had been to withdraw 20% of the settlers, leaving more than 180,000 in 209 settlements, covering about 10% of the occupied land, including land to be “leased” and portions of the Jordan River valley and East Jerusalem. (Carter, pp. 150-151)

According to Carter, “The percentage figure is misleading, since it usually includes only the actual footprints of the settlements. There is a zone with a radius of about four hundred meters around each settlement within which Palestinians cannot enter. In addition, there are other large areas that would have been taken or earmarked to be used exclusively by Israel, roadways that connect the settlements to one another and to Jerusalem, and “life arteries” that provide the settlers with water, sewage, electricity, and communications. These range in width from 500 to 4000 meters, and Palestinians cannot use or cross many of these connecting links. This honeycomb of settlements and their interconnecting conduits effectively divide the West Bank into at least two noncontiguous areas and multiply fragments, often uninhabitable or even unreachable, and control of the Jordan River valley denies Palestinians any direct access eastward into Jordan. About 100 military checkpoints completely surround Palestine and block routes going into or between Palestinian communities, combined with an uncountable number of other roads that are permanently closed with larger concrete cubes or mounds of earth and rocks. There was no possibility that any Palestinian leader could accept such terms and survive, but official statements from Washington and Jerusalem were successful in placing the entire onus for the failure on Yasir Arafat.” (Carter, pp. 151-2)

In page 54, Indyk erroneously says that King Faisal was assassinated by Wahabi religious fanatic. Fact is: the king was shot and killed by his own nephew Faisal bin Musa'id. Popular belief in Saudi Arabia is that the assassin was a pawn in a Western conspiracy to assassinate King Faisal for the latter’s oil embargo and devotion to the cause of Islam and Palestine. Ibn Musa’id’s American girlfriend was believed to have incited him to commit the murder.

In page 75, Indyk says the Israel’s 1982 Lebanon invasion was provoked by “Arafat’s terrorist activities.” However, fact is that Israel decided to launch the military operation after the assassination attempt against Israel's ambassador to the UK, Shlomo Argov, by the Abu Nidal Organization. The latter’s mercenary organization was opposed to Arafat’s PLO. As noted by CATO Institute’s Sheldon L. Richman one of the major reasons for the Israeli invasion was "the discrediting and destruction of the PLO, which, by June 1982, had observed its cease-fire with Israel for about a year and had been pursuing a diplomatic strategy." The Lebanon has been a part of Zionist annexation plans since the birth of Israel which regarded the Litany River to its north as its natural boundary.

The book is full of such examples of reversing cause and effects by trying to deliberately put the onus of all the troubles on the Arabs while excusing Israeli atrocities and crimes that initiate and catalyze violence, which are major contributing factors for America’s failures in diplomacy. In a January 8, 2009 (coinciding with the last days of Bush) debate with Norman Finkelstein (a prolific author and American Political scientist) in Democracy Now, when Indyk was asked about Israeli assault in the Gaza Strip that had killed more than a thousand Palestinians, with many thousands more wounded, Indyk falsely blamed the Hamas for breaking the ceasefire with a prolonged series of rocket attacks on Israeli civilians in southern Israel. However, the fact of the matter is Israel broke the ceasefire by going into the Gaza and killing half a dozen Palestinian militants, which provoked Hamas to retaliate by firing missiles. As Finklestein pointed out, according to Ha’aretz, Defense Minister Barak began plans for that invasion in March before the ceasefire even began in June 17, 2008. This was done to defeat the peace offensive – e.g., Hamas’s readiness to accept the diplomatic settlement of the conflict along the June 1967 border. So, Israel, true to her expansionist goals, sought to dismantle Hamas and defeat their peace offensive.
Indyk’s account of the negotiations that culminated in the Camp David and Taba meetings is also wrong. He says it was the Palestinians that were blocking a settlement. The record, instead, shows that in every crucial issue raised at Camp David, then under the Clinton parameters, and then in Taba, at every single point, all the concessions came from the Palestinians. Israel didn’t make any concessions. There, as also stated by Finkelstein in his debate with Indyk, “The Palestinians repeatedly expressed a willingness to settle the conflict in accordance with international law. The law is very clear. July 2004, the highest judicial body in the world, the International Court of Justice, ruled Israel has no title to any of the West Bank and any of Gaza. They have no title to Jerusalem. Arab East Jerusalem, according to the highest judicial body in the world, is occupied Palestinian territory. The International Court of Justice ruled all the settlements, all the settlements in the West Bank, are illegal under international law.” He also noted that “on all those questions, the Palestinians were willing to make concessions. They were willing to allow Israel to keep 60 percent of the settlements, 80 percent of the settlers. They were willing to compromise on Jerusalem. They were willing to give up basically on the right of return. They made all the concessions. Israel didn’t make any concessions.”
Flawed as it is, Indyk’s book nonetheless, shares the mindset of Washington policy makers on the Middle East, and who they are. Indyk tells us that Secretary Christopher hated to dine with the Arab leaders while he cherished dinner with Rabin. Almost all the key players deciding America’s foreign relations in the Muslim world have been either pro-Israel Zionists or Jews – a fact which shouldn’t surprise anyone who had been following the State Department for years. Dennis Ross, Bush Sr.’s foreign policy adviser, was appointed by Secretary Christopher as the Special Middle East Coordinator (SMEC) with overall responsibility for the peace process. Two other prominent members in the peace team were Daniel Kurtzer who served as the deputy for the negotiations in the State Department’s Near Eastern Bureau and Aaron Miller who had worked for Dennis Ross under James Baker. After Kurtzer had left the group on policy disagreement and Ross’s appointment, Robert Malley joined the group. Sam Lewis, the ex-ambassador to Israel, became head of Christopher’s Policy Planning Staff. Like the other key players above, he, too, was Jewish.

Henry Kissinger is quoted to have said in his many shuttle trips to Damascus, “You cannot make war in the Middle East without Egypt and you cannot make peace without Syria” – a view which may not be tenable any more. Thus, it is not difficult to understand why the first chapter is called “Syria First”, which details Clinton administration’s priorities in the early stage to make a land for peace deal between Israel and Syria. Syria’s Hafez al-Asad wanted full Syrian sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

What also becomes abundantly clear is that American strategy for the region has been essentially a joint strategy with Israel. This is something Indyk himself admits to in his recent interview with two Israeli journalists Nahum Barnea and Shimon Shiffer. As to the failure of the “Syria first” policy, he says, Barak did not have the courage to make the deal. The timing was not on his side! Even back in October 1995, a few weeks before the assassination, Rabin was in Washington, when he said, according to Indyk, “he had to halt the negotiations with the Syrians, because he stood before elections. He doubted his
ability to achieve a majority for withdrawal from the Golan.”

So, unmistakably, peace in the Middle East has often been held a hostage to internal politics of Israel - the weak coalition governments that are afraid to take bold decisions and suspicious leaders that don’t trust each other and are selfish about making name at the exclusion of others. Indyk admits to this problem in his interview with Israeli reporters where he says, “All the prime ministers I knew refused to coordinate their moves with the foreign ministers.”

Indyk also admits that the relationship between the USA and Israel is an asymmetrical one in which Israeli tail often wags the American dog. (p. 89) Since the time of Eisenhower, no American president has been prepared to take a stand against the Jewish state. And when he does, he usually ends up backing down. The poor Bush sr. had to even lose his reelection bid against Clinton for standing up to Israel, a lesson his not-so-bright son took it to heart when he became President after Clinton era ended. In page 175, we are told how President Clinton felt awed and intimidated by older Rabin, and that “Clinton looked up to Rabin as a father figure.”

Indyk is not happy about Bush’s decision to disengage from the peace process, which caused deaths of some four thousands people within the first term of Bush Jr. (an eight-fold increase compared to Clinton’s last four years), mostly on the Palestinian side. Violence totally destroyed any semblance of trust between the two sides. He says that Bush Jr. blessed the Quartet’s Road Map for a two-state solution only as a sop to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who needed the president’s endorsement of an Israeli-Peace initiative to bolster support within his Labor Party for the Iraq War effort. (p. 381) It was a hypocritical move altogether, Bush never meant it, and as such, remained aloof from the peace process. He let the Israelis kill Palestinians like ants. And even after Arafat had died and a more moderate leader Abu Mazen emerged in the Palestinian leadership, he simply did nothing to revive the stalled peace process.

Indyk says Bush considered the Islamist extremists as mortal enemies of the USA, but ironically acted as a midwife to deliver Hamas’s victory in what was a free and fair election. (pp. 382-3)

He believes that the Saudi proposal of Crown Prince Abdullah in February of 2002, which was subsequently endorsed by the Arab League, was the only positive unintended consequence of Bush’s unwillingness to engage in the peace process. He opines that Abdullah proposed this out of utter frustration with the Bush Administration to stop the bloodshed. The proposal offered Israel full recognition, normalization and an end to the conflict from the entire Arab world in exchange for Israel’s withdrawal to the 1967 lines. (p. 384)
As we all know, Crown Prince Fahd had a similar proposal back in 1981. The elements of the eight-point plan were loosely based on UN Resolutions 242 and 338: Israel to withdraw from 1967-captured territories, including East Jerusalem (but not the whole city), dismantling of settlements, recognition of the PLO as the Palestinian representative, establishment of an independent Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital, and secure guarantees of peace. At the Twelfth Arab Summit Conference, held in Fez, Morocco September 9, 1982, the League of Arab States adopted a version of the Fahd plan, which became known as the Fez Initiative. King Hassan of Morocco was a key supporter of the plan and its provision that implicitly recognized Israel's right to exist. His support at Fez led to a formal visit by Israeli Prime Minister Perez in 1986. Back in 1982 there was a mood of optimism everywhere, which faded after the Israeli expansion of their incursion into southern Lebanon in mid-September 1982, which led to a temporary cooling of relations between Israel and the US. Israel rejected the Fez Initiative claiming that it made all the usual demands of Israel but did not have anything new to provide for Israel's security.
As can be seen, Israel, true to her colonist character, has never accepted any of those peace offers. Sadly, but not surprisingly, Bush, Powell and Rice did nothing either other than paying lip service to the 2002 Arab initiative. [History will record the latter two individuals more for their lying and incompetence than diplomacy.] According to Indyk, Bush’s failure to undertake serious diplomatic engagement during his eight years has now left the USA in a very difficult situation in the Middle East. (p. 390) The geo-strategic location of the Middle East, however, makes it impossible for America to ignore the region. Besides, America has taken on the obligation to ensuring Israel’s survival, which it cannot abandon.
Indyk attributes America’s failure in diplomacy in the Middle East to her idealism which seems to generate a troubling naiveté that is part innocence, part ignorance and part arrogance. In that process, lots of false assumptions are made about Middle East and its leadership. He forgets to mention that in the last 40 plus years that piece of diplomacy, strategy and tactics were all scripted by individuals like him who were letting America’s interests come second to those of Israel. When America required them to be neutral and fair, they acted as cheer-leaders for Israeli crimes, thereby prolonging tension in the region and creating America’s own nemesis in the persons of OBL and Ayman al-Zawahiri – accused of being the 9/11 masterminds.

Indyk’s advice for future presidents is to never to give up or move into a crisis management mode but rather to pursue a more realistic approach that is modest in goal-settings with realistic assumptions. They must focus on the big picture and resist temptations to be dragged into local events. They must also use their leverage effectively. (p. 399) He opines that the most important requirements of successful diplomacy in the region are humility, flexibility and agility. (p. 396) American cannot expect the Middle Eastern leaders to follow her diktats. He says that Arab leaders have little incentive to take risks unless they feel that they can no longer abide the status quo, or circumstances have so changed that they must adjust their approach. He believes that when they decide to make peace or alter their behavior in other fundamental ways, it is because they believe their own survival is on the line and not because of the demand from the U.S. president. Indyk’s statement here is difficult to sustain for historical events like Anwar Sadat’s visit to Israel, or even the peace proposals made by the Saudi Crown Princes. Indyk suggests that the American president must engage himself to enable the Middle Eastern leaders to take risk, who otherwise are often risk-averse. He suggests that appointment of a special Middle East envoy, reporting to the president through the secretary of state as the best way to organize for a presidential peace initiative.

Indyk is critical of the Palestinian leadership in its failure to compromise with the usurping Israeli leadership that didn’t want to go back to the 1967 lines. He describes Arafat as a man who lacked courage while Abu Mazen lacked capability. He forgets that a burned cow does not want to return to its barn. Through the draconian measures taken to create dysfunctional administrations within the Occupied Territories, Israeli leaders have also ensured that no Palestinian leadership is capable of leading or delivering results that are meaningful.

Indyk thinks that for a viable resolution to the conflict, Palestinians must give up their claim to a right of return to Israel and that Israelis would have to concede their claim to Arab parts of Jerusalem. For such compromises, he thinks both parties will require visionary leaders like Sadat, Begin, Rabin and Hussein (of Jordan). He forgets that the issues like the return of the Palestinian refugees and the Israeli withdrawal from all the annexed territories in 1967 are already big concessions over the original UN Partition Plan. Even then, as we noted earlier, Palestinian leaders were willing to compromise on all such vital issues.

Indyk believes that disarming Hizbullah should be a Lebanese responsibility, perhaps in the context of an Israeli-Lebanese peace negotiation that resolves the remaining minor border issues. He also believes that peace with Syria can be attained through a full Israeli withdrawal to the June 4, 1967 line. (pp. 413-5)

Innocent Abroad allows us to understand the obstacles to peace in the Middle East and how American policy has been a highly biased one, often scripted and dictated by Israel or its Zionist supporters within the U.S. State Department to protect Israeli interest. Such excessive considerations for Israel and her internal politics, sadly, have failed to find a just and balanced solution to the conflict. This book also helps us to unmask the hypocritical side of guys like Indyk whose on-duty activities as a Middle East expert or diplomat working for the U.S. government were a sharp contradiction to his after-the-fact, off-duty, introspection and retrospection of how those matters ought to have been done right.

Indyk knows that all the members of the Arab League favor a two-state settlement on the June 1967 border, and so do the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas. The one and only obstacle has been Israel, which, backed by the United States, refuses to go back to the 1967 border, to abide by international law, and to abide by the opinion of the international community. And yet, as an ardent Zionist, Indyk failed to call a spade a spade, and misdirected the U.S. peace initiative to a zero-sum result that helped to prolong occupation and misery, albeit at the cost of thousands of innocent civilians, mostly on the Palestinian side. His state department job demanded neutrality in judgment, vision in policy making and fairness in dealings. He failed in that test miserably. Even today, when he is outside the state department, his blind support for Israel is really inexcusable. More sickening is the realization that American government allows such zealots to act as its advisers on matters of national security and interest. No wonder that the international community has despised America for her unbalanced foreign policy!

In Innocent Abroad, Indyk systematically misrepresents the record of the peace process. He’s lying not only to his readers, but to the American people. I can’t recommend his book. A curious reader will find Carter’s book a more honest rendering of the Middle East conflict with practical solutions to resolve it.

References:
http://radioislam.org/islam/english/jewishp/usa/indyk.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saban_Center_for_Middle_East_Policy
Indyk, op. cit., p. 27.
http://www.israelpolicyforum.org/blog/ambassador-indyk-tells-all-pretty-amazing-interview
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faisal_bin_Musa%27id
http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=1019&full=1
For information on Finkelstein, see, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Finkelstein
http://www.democracynow.org/2009/1/8/former_amb_martin_indyk_vs_author
http://www.democracynow.org/2009/1/8/former_amb_martin_indyk_vs_author
http://www.democracynow.org/2009/1/8/former_amb_martin_indyk_vs_author
Indyk, op. cit., pp. 23-28.
http://www.israelpolicyforum.org/blog/ambassador-indyk-tells-all-pretty-amazing-interview
http://www.israelpolicyforum.org/blog/ambassador-indyk-tells-all-pretty-amazing-interview
http://www.israelpolicyforum.org/blog/ambassador-indyk-tells-all-pretty-amazing-interview
http://www.palestinefacts.org/pf_1967to1991_fahd_1981.php
Indyk admits to this in his interview with Israeli reporters: “We worked for you… Clinton felt that Barak had used him for his own purposes, misled him.” http://www.israelpolicyforum.org/blog/ambassador-indyk-tells-all-pretty-amazing-interview.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1035414.html

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Khaled Abu Toameh’s Journalism Tries to Buy Legitimacy for the Apartheid State

These days Khaled Abu Toameh (KAT), an Israeli Arab journalist who writes for the Jerusalem Post, is often touted as a ‘real’ journalist with a ‘unique’ voice of ‘straightforward’ reporting from the West Bank and Gaza. Soon after publication of my article “Israel – the Apartheid State”, a reader who has been following KAT’s version of reporting from the Occupied Territories wrote to me stating that before criticizing Israel for apartheid policies, I should urge Palestinians to stop murdering fellow Palestinians. He continued, “Abu Toameh thinks Israel should simply wait until the Palestinians stop killing each other and create a credible political entity that can make a deal. If the Palestinians cannot live in peace with each other, it will be futile to think that a Palestinian state and a Jewish state can live peacefully side by side.” I am sorry to say that such are jaundiced views of the reality within the Occupied Territories of Palestine.

I am aware of the fact that for his pro-Israel Zionist views, in recent years, KAT has become a darling in the anti-Muslim and Islam-bashing media. KAT first came to the attention of most American Muslims before the last year's presidential election in the USA when some 28 million copies of a DVD - Obsession - Radical Islam's War Against the West - were distributed freely as an advertising supplement in newspapers in key battleground states. It was paid for by the Clarion Fund, a nonprofit group established by the film’s Israeli producer with the goal of exposing what it called the threat of radical Islam. The hour-long film featured graphic, violent images and made comparisons of Islam to Nazism. The theme of the DVD was that all Muslims want to take over America, they want to impose their culture on the rest of the American people; they want to destroy the indigenous culture, they want even to lust after women of other cultures. KAT appeared in that video and was heard saying: “They want to defeat the West. They want to defeat Christianity. They want to defeat Judaism.” Interestingly, the arguments used to attack Islam and Muslims in America were the same arguments that anti-Semites used in pre-World War II Nazi Germany to attack the Jewish community. It was a clear case of Islam-phobia at its worst since it was scripted, produced and distributed by the same group that smells anti-Semitism with the slightest criticism of the rogue state of Israel. As former victims they seemed to have learned the trade of xenophobia, bigotry and hate-speech quite well from their former tormentors!

Hearing KAT in that DVD and reading his pro-Israeli views in the Jewish media have made it abundantly clear that his deranged views are not of a fact-finding journalist who understands or cares about the pains of a people that were robbed of their ancestral land and denied basic human rights, who face daily discrimination and persecution in a dehumanizing, apartheid state called Israel.

In my earlier article, I have compared the Zionist state with the Pretoria regime and shared enough citations from credible sources to prove that the Israel is an apartheid state. Since her illegitimate birth, Israel’s behavior has not been of a civilized nation but of a rogue state that has no human concern for others. That is why for every single death of her people she has no remorse, no moral qualm in killing some 200 Arabs. It is pure savagery! It is not difficult to understand why Norwegian writer Jostein Gaarder, winner of several awards, said: "We no longer recognize the state of Israel. We could not recognize the apartheid regime. We call child murderers 'child murderers'. We do not recognize the principle of a thousand Arab eyes for one Israeli eye." (Aftenposten, Op/Ed, August 5, 2006)

Let me also share the views of South African ex-Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils, who is Jewish. He was co-author of a petition that was circulated amongst South African Jewry protesting at the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. On May 10, 2007, Kasrils accused Israel of conducting a policy against the Palestinians that was 'worse' than (South Africa's system of) apartheid. He said, “South Africa's townships had never been attacked by helicopter gunships and tanks." Kasrils accused Israel of committing genocide against the Palestinians. He said, "Israelis claim that they are the chosen people, the elect of God, and find a biblical justification for their racism and Zionist exclusivity… This is just like the Afrikaners of apartheid South Africa, who also had the biblical notion that the land was their God-given right. Like the Zionists who claimed that Palestine in the 1940s was 'a land without people for a people without land', so the Afrikaner settlers spread the myth that there were no black people in South Africa when they first settled in the 17th century. They conquered by force of arms and terror and the provocation of a series of bloody colonial wars of conquest."

In an earlier article, dated September 2, 2006, written shortly after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, Kasrils wrote, “With the illegal Jewish settlements, security road network and the construction of the monstrous wall around the militarily occupied West Bank, the remaining Palestinians are ghettoised within 12% of their original territory. This dispossession is reminiscent of apartheid and its 13% of Bantustan homelands. For many this is the fundamental cause of the conflict.”

Achmad Cassiem is an ANC member who was arrested at the tender age of 17 for opposing the apartheid regime in South Africa. He spent many years in prison at Robben Island with Nelson Mandela. In an interview with the IHRC in February 2002, he had this to say: "1. Both the Zionist regime and the apartheid regime were racist based on statutory racism - they use the police, the courts of law, the judiciary and the army to impose racism on its inhabitants. 2. Both are chauvinistic - they believe that they are above all others, they are the superior group. 3. Both are expansionist in their political concepts - they wanted to conquer the surrounding territories... 4. Both are colonialist entities - these are not indigenous people who are controlling the territories and the government. 5. Both are imperialist outposts and up to this date they remain imperialist outposts - South Africa as well as Israel, because they are implementing the policies of the super powers... But my submission is that the Zionist regime is worse than the apartheid regime because the Zionist regime claims that Jews are superior on the basis of Biblical scripture and they claim the land of Palestine on the basis of scripture - that makes it a more serious issue...”

Historian John Kaminski has this to say about Israel: “When you read the history of Israel from objective sources, you discover that it is an outlaw state, created by the powers that be by stealing the land from its original inhabitants, and systematically exterminating them ever since.”

KAT cannot be unaware of the despicable state of affairs prevailing inside the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In August 26, 2002, he reported that “approximately 80,000 Palestinians have left the West Bank and Gaza Strip since the beginning of the year, a rise of 50 percent compared to last year” and that another 50,000 Palestinians were trying to leave through the Jordan River bridges and the Rafah border crossing; of those who had left, half would settle in another country. As to the reason for the exodus, he quoted Jordanian writer and columnist Fahed Fanek, who said: “One cannot blame them as individuals, because life in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is intolerable for both economic and security reasons.”

Now we don’t hear such reporting from KAT. He earns a living by justifying Israel’s crimes against his own society. He has become their parrot. He says, “Israel is a wonderful place to live and we are happy to be there. Israel is a free and open country. If I were given the choice, I would rather live in Israel as a second class citizen than as a first class citizen in Cairo, Gaza, Amman or Ramallah.” With comments like those it is only a question of time when this much touted “brave” journalist from the Occupied Territories would be honored with the Pulitzer Award in journalism!

A quick browsal of the daily reports from the International Middle East Media Center is sufficient to belie KAT’s assertions. A glimpse of Palestinian life inside the Occupied Territories can also be obtained from murdered anti-war activist Rachel Corrie’s letters to friends and family members that were made available by the Guardian, UK (see, e.g., the March 18, ’03 issue). On Feb. 7, 2003, Corrie wrote, "I have been in Palestine for two weeks and one hour now, and I still have very few words to describe what I see. It is most difficult for me to think about what's going on here when I sit down to write back to the United States. Something about the virtual portal into luxury. I don't know if many of the children here have ever existed without tank-shell holes in their walls and the towers of an occupying army surveying them constantly from the near horizons. I think, although I'm not entirely sure, that even the smallest of these children understand that life is not like this everywhere. An eight-year-old was shot and killed by an Israeli tank two days before I got here, … Nevertheless, no amount of reading, attendance at conferences, documentary viewing and word of mouth could have prepared me for the reality of the situation here. You just can't imagine it unless you see it - and even then you are always well aware that your experience of it is not at all the reality: what with the difficulties the Israeli army would face if they shot an unarmed US citizen, and with the fact that I have money to buy water when the army destroys wells, and the fact, of course, that I have the option of leaving. Nobody in my family has been shot, driving in their car, by a rocket launcher from a tower at the end of a major street in my hometown."

In another letter to her mother, on Feb. 27, Rachel Corrie wrote, "I have bad nightmares about tanks and bulldozers outside our house and you and me inside. Sometimes the adrenaline acts as an anesthetic for weeks and then in the evening or at night it just hits me again - a little bit of the reality of the situation. I am really scared for the people here. Yesterday, I watched a father lead his two tiny children, holding his hands, out into the sight of tanks and a sniper tower and bulldozers and Jeeps because he thought his house was going to be exploded. .. Sunday about 150 men were rounded up and contained outside the settlement with gunfire over their heads and around them, while tanks and bulldozers destroyed 25 greenhouses - the livelihoods for 300 people. … If any of us had our lives and welfare completely strangled, lived with children in a shrinking place where we knew, because of previous experience, that soldiers and tanks and bulldozers could come for us at any moment and destroy all the greenhouses that we had been cultivating for however long, and did this while some of us were beaten and held captive with 149 other people for several hours - do you think we might try to use somewhat violent means to protect whatever fragments remained? I think about this especially when I see orchards and greenhouses and fruit trees destroyed - just years of care and cultivation. … Just want to write to my Mom and tell her that I'm witnessing this chronic, insidious genocide and I'm really scared, and questioning my fundamental belief in the goodness of human nature."
Is this eye-witness account simply an imagination of a 23-year-old peace activist from Olympia, USA? No. Within weeks of her above letters, on Sunday, March 16, ’03, Rachel Corrie was crushed to death by a bulldozer as she tried to prevent the Israeli army destroying homes in the Gaza Strip. Greg Schnabel, 28, from Chicago, said the protesters were in the house of Dr. Samir Masri when the tragedy happened. "Rachel was alone in front of the house as we were trying to get them to stop," he said. "She waved for bulldozer to stop and waved. She fell down and the bulldozer kept going. We yelled 'stop, stop', and the bulldozer didn't stop at all. It had completely run over her and then it reversed and ran back over her," he said.
Rachel Corrie’s views of Israel were no different than those made by Bishop Tito and former President Carter – two distinguished citizens of our planet. What value does Israel put to Palestinian lives when it could commit such a cold-blooded murder of an American citizen, whose government has been subsidizing the rogue state billions of dollars every year? Zero.

KAT should tell his ‘discoveries’ about Israel to Mohammed Omer (the Martha Gellhorn prize winner in journalism) who has been the voice to the voiceless in the besieged Gaza Strip since 2003. It was almost a year ago, on June 26, 2008 (the very date designated by human rights groups as the International Day Against Torture), that Mohammed was detained, interrogated, and tortured for several hours by Shin Bet and border officers after he returned from the award ceremony in London. Detention is rather common with most Palestinian adults (i.e., anyone above the age of 12 per Jewish law). Last June, more than 380 Palestinians were detained after being kidnapped from the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem. International human rights organizations estimate that since 1967 more than 630,000 Palestinians in the occupied territories have been detained at some time by the Israeli government. A recently released report from the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), which is based on 547 cases of arrests and dozens of interrogations conducted over the past year, confirmed that Israeli army and the internal security forces routinely “shackle detainees in painful and humiliating manners that, in a number of instances, rise to the level of torture.” In April of this year a Palestinian detainee, Ahmad Ismail Samara, arrested in 1989 who was sentenced to 21 years imprisonment after he was convicted on “criminal charges” and of staying in Israel without a permit died at the Hasharon prison. A few days earlier another detainee was found dead in a detention center. It is estimated that of the current 8500 detainees, 10 per cent are children -- half of those aged 13 and 14. In its 2008 Annual Report, released on 5 Feb. 2009, B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights group, says that of the 548 Palestinians Israel is detaining without trial, 42 have been held for over two years. In that sense, Mohammed must count himself among the lucky ones to be now free and alive!

KAT’s views also differ from the 2008 annual report of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) entitled “The State of Human Rights in Israel and the Occupied Territories” that noted that “Arab Israelis are disadvantaged, persecuted, endangered, and live under third-world conditions.” So, why this charade and myth-making to hide the ugly side of the apartheid state?

KAT is, as any psychiatrist would tell him, in a self-hating mode, a mental trauma caused by prolonged occupation and its cruel treatment of his own people. It is very similar to the Stockholm syndrome where the hostage identifies with the abductor and sees no evil with its criminal actions. KAT feels alienated from the very society that reared him and is committing acts that are ignoble, if not treasonous. He is incapable of independent analysis and, like embedded journalists of the post-9/11 period, is a joke to the noble profession of journalism!

It is, however, true that there is inter-Palestinian rivalry. It is sad and must stop immediately. While condemning it, we should recognize that the violence between the Hamas and the PLO owes its origin to Bush administration’s decision to delegitimize Hamas’s victory in the general election and continues to be aided by the Israeli government which sees the internal strife as a great way to further cripple popular Palestinian resistance against the apartheid state and prolong its illegal occupation. That election was a fair election in which, as noted elsewhere by Toameh, “Hamas owes its victory to the corruption of Fatah.” Nor should we forget that such internal rivalries are not exceptions to the norm and did exist within almost all national liberation movements. Gandhi’s Indian National Congress and Mandela’s African National Congress saw similar problems. Bangladesh faced similar problems during and after her liberation in 1971. (Nor should we forget that even the colonizers had faced similar problems, too, with some splinter groups with more aggressive agenda killing those deemed more moderate or treasonous to the cause. ) But such internal rivalries within the national liberation movements do not make apartheid, colonization and occupation legal or kosher. Israeli politicians have to learn that if they want to join civilized nations, they must dismantle the apartheid state apparatus fully and end occupation now. No ifs and buts about it. They cannot prolong their apartheid system under Machiavellian claims that there is no unity amongst the Palestinians and as such they are not ready and don’t deserve freedom and equality.

It would be silly to play down Israel’s apartheid character and expansionist policy. She has continued her expansionist policy since day one, and even uses such as a bargaining chip for zero-sum peace-talks. She refuses to listen to Nelson Mandela who during his visit to the state in 1999 had said, “My view is that talk of peace remains hollow if Israel continues to occupy Arab lands.” As any honest intermediary would do, Mandela told Israeli reporters that "Israel should withdraw from all the areas which it won from the Arabs in 1967, and in particular Israel should withdraw completely from the Golan Heights, from south Lebanon and from the West Bank."

As the colonists know each other, so do the national liberation movements through their long struggle for freedom and equality. While the State of Israel was the foremost supporter of the Pretoria’s apartheid regime in South Africa (even to the very last day) the Palestinian leadership was supporting the ANC. As a long time supporter of the Palestinian cause, in his address at the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, Dec. 4, 1997, President Mandela said, “I have come to join you today to add our own voice to the universal call for Palestinian self-determination and statehood. We would be beneath our own reason for existence as a government and as a nation, if the resolution of the problems of the Middle East did not feature prominently on our agenda. When in 1977, the United Nations passed the resolution inaugurating the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, it was asserting the recognition that INJUSTICE AND GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS WERE BEING PERPETRATED IN PALESTINE. In the same period, the UN took a strong stand against apartheid; and over the years, an international consensus was built, which helped to bring an end to this iniquitous system. But we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians ….”

It was no accident that, after Mandela’s release from prison in 1990, when almost all the countries had invited him to visit, Israel did not. Still, when he eventually visited Israel in 1999, Mandela showed a spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation when he said, "To the many people who have questioned why I came, I say: Israel worked very closely with the apartheid regime. I say: I've made peace with many men who slaughtered our people like animals. Israel cooperated with the apartheid regime.”

The apartheid regime in South Africa is a distant memory today. But the pains of Israeli apartheid system still linger. It refuses to read the writings on the wall. Through its monumental crimes it gives a bad name to Judaism. We can only share Ronnie Karsails’s anguish who in 2006 wrote, “How much longer will the world permit Israel to get away with land theft and child murder? The sieges and check-points, the collective punishment and targeted executions, the house demolitions and ethnic cleansing, and the abduction of legally elected parliamentarians and government ministers. When Israel's new military chief, Dan Halutz, ordered a one-ton bomb dropped on an apartment block in Gaza City to take out a Hamas leader, he said that his only feeling was the sensation of the bump of the plane as the device was released. No remorse for the women and children blown to smithereens along with the target. He said he slept well at night…. Like Gaarder, we must call baby killers "baby killers" and declare that those using methods reminiscent of the Nazis be told that they are behaving like Nazis. May Israelis wake up and see reason, as happened in South Africa, and negotiate peace. And finally, yes, let us learn from what helped open white South African eyes: the combination of a just struggle reinforced by international solidarity utilising the weapons of boycott and sanctions.”

Will the leaders of Israel today have the moral fortitude and vision to tear down its apartheid wall?

References:
For a good review of the DVD, see, e.g., http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/who_is_behind_relentless_obsession_and_the_third_jihad1/0016736, http://www.jewsonfirst.org/obsession/main01.html and http://www.jewsonfirst.org/obsession/s1.html
http://usa.mediamonitors.net/content/view/full/64268
http://www.aftenposten.no/meninger/kronikker/article1411153.ece; http://informationclearinghouse.info/article14532.htm; for an Israeli version of the comment, see: http://news.haaretz.co.il/hasen/pages/ShArtStEng.jhtml?itemNo=749493&contrassID=1&subContrassID=1&title=%27Norway%20up%20in%20arms%20after%20author%20asserts%20Israel%20has%20lost%20right%20to%20exist%27&dyn_server=172.20.5.5
As quoted in http://zionismexplained.org/apartheid/apartheid.html, see this site for an excellent comparative analysis between apartheid state of Israel and South Africa; iafrica.com, May 11, 2007.
See an excellent article by Chris McGreal, The Guardian, UK, Feb. 7, 2006, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/feb/07/southafrica.israel.
http://www.mg.co.za/article/2006-09-02-rage-of-the-elephant-israel-in-lebanon
http://www.inminds.co.uk/qa-imam-achmad-cassiem.html
http://johnkaminski.info/
http://www.freeman.org/m_online/sep02/toameh.htm
http://www.saujs.co.za/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=111&Itemid=101
See this author’s article with footnotes on Rachel’s tragic death: http://www.mediamonitors.net/habibsiddiqui5.html
A journalist beaten – one year later by Mohammed Omer, Agence Global, June 26, 2009, http://www.agenceglobal.com/Article.asp?Id=2042
http://www.imemc.org/article/61070
See this author’s article: Israel – the Apartheid State – for details.
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2009\06\25\story_25-6-2009_pg4_3
http://www.imemc.org/article/59892 ; http://israelpalestinenewscompiler.wordpress.com/2009/04/12/palestinian-prisoner-dies-in-israeli-detention-center/
“Stolen Youth: The Politics of Israel’s Detention of Palestinian Children” by Catherine Cook, Adam Hanieh and Adah Lay, http://www.mawared.org/english/?q=node/251
http://www.btselem.org/english/press_releases/20090205.asp; see also http://www.actionpalestine.org/from-palestine/five-administrative-detention-orders-for-16-year-old/
For the full report see: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=12546
http://www.hudsonny.org/2009/05/islam-today-1.php
For an interesting reading on internal fighting in Nkrumah’s Ghana, see http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/features/artikel.php?ID=163221
Outside the INC, there were many religion- and region- based parties that competed for authority in India during the British Raj. Hostile manifestations against British rule became more and more frequent, particularly in Bengal. The more radical nationalists resorted to assassination, bombings, and other acts of terrorism. Gandhi himself was killed by a Brahmin Hindu - Nathuram Godse of the RSS, which was an offshoot from the Hindu Mahasabha that had opposed the INC bitterly. Subhas Chandra Bose, a charismatic leader within the INC, resented Gandhi’s brand of politics and later formed the Forward Bloc before forming Azad Hind Government. See, http://www.sa.org.au/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=567&Itemid=106 for an interesting reading on Gandhi’s politics, which was not so non-violent. Animosity between the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and the African National Congress (ANC) is well known. In the past, there have been several dozen deaths a year from ANC versus IFP violence—mostly Zulu against Zulu. The elections of 1994 and 2000 were especially bloody; several candidates were killed, and many others were attacked or intimidated. There is further, less violent, division within the IFP itself between moderates who want greater integration into the South African system and extremists who want more autonomy/traditional power; http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/topic,463af2212,469f2f272,469f3ad2c,0.html.
During and after the 1971 War of Liberation, pro-Chinese left-wing communists killed many Bangladeshi freedom fighters. They also targeted many leaders and workers of the Awami League and pro-Moscow National Awami Party and Communist Party of Bangladesh for assassination.
See this author’s article – ‘Allegations’ of Israeli Terrorism - http://www.palestine-pmc.com/details.asp?cat=3&id=1698 – for an analysis on activities of extremists within the Jewish population before the state of Israel was created.
For a report on Israeli violence against Palestinian children, see, http://lawrenceofcyberia.blogs.com/news/2009/01/poor-misunderstood-israel.html
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/mandela-says-israel-must-give-up-arab-land--but-only-for-peace-740133.html
http://www.jweekly.com/article/full/11885/mandela-bears-message-of-peace-in-first-visit-to-israel/
http://www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/history/mandela/1997/sp971204b.html
http://www.jweekly.com/article/full/11885/mandela-bears-message-of-peace-in-first-visit-to-israel/
http://www.mg.co.za/article/2006-09-02-rage-of-the-elephant-israel-in-lebanon

Letter to President Obama to convict Dick Cheney

I was simply horrified to learn that the former vice president Dick Cheney himself ordered the CIA to keep his personal international assassination a secret from the Congress. For the sake of our nation and its rich tradition, it is urgent to get to the bottom of the rogue government operating inside the White House, and to hold those criminals at the highest level fully accountable under the law.

I am calling out for justice and add my voice to Senator Feingold and others to demand real accountability. Please, convict Dick Cheney and his entourage responsible for such a rogue operation within the White House.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Are there lessons to be drawn from the Farakka Barrage?

Subsequent to publication of my three articles on the Tipaimukh and a presentation at the FOBANA conference in Houston, TX, questions have been raised on a number of issues relating to the proposed project in India. Here below I share two such questions from the Tehelka (http://www.tehelka.com/) principal correspondent (NE India) Teresa Rehman:

A. Do you think Bangladesh needs to draw lessons from the Farraka Barrage? How and why?
B. What is your stand on the dam -- should it be scrapped altogether or some compromise formula can be worked out?

My answers are: A. Bangladesh has already drawn lessons from the Farakka Barrage which has proven to be a real disaster in every sense of the term. Recently, a friend of mine Dr. M. Aminul Karim, who visited the dam affected rivers in northern Bangladesh had this to say about the Teesta river: "We had to physically push the boat like you push a bullock cart." That says a lot about what these Indian dams are doing to Bangladesh!

My article on Farakka has already provided a list of reasons why Farakka was bad not only for Bangladesh but did not even benefit the targeted West Bengal. Prominent researchers (e.g., Bridge and Husain in the USA) have linked the arsenic poisoning in ground-waters with the Farakka Dam. As to its impact the South Asian Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), report (Nov. 1999) to the World Commission on Dams is quite revealing. It says, “Farakka Barrage Project taken up for the resuscitation of the navigational status of the Port of Calcutta has resulted in massive devastation in Malda on its upstream and Murshidabad on its downstream in West Bengal. Huge sedimentation, increasing flood intensity and increasing tendency of bank failure are some of its impacts. Erosion has swept away large areas of these two districts causing large scale population displacement, border disputes with Bihar and Bangladesh, pauperization and marginalisation of the rural communities living by the river and creation of neo-refugees on the chars.”

Dams are known for causing the following problems:
1. Environmental damage: can be disruptive to surrounding aquatic ecosystem both upstream and downstream of the plant site. Generation of hydroelectric power changes the downstream river environment. Water exiting a turbine usually contains very little suspended sediment, which can lead to scouring of river beds and loss of riverbanks.
2. Greenhouse gas: The reservoirs of power plants in tropical regions may produce substantial amounts of methane and CO2.
3. Population relocation: In February 2008, it was estimated that 40-80 million people worldwide had been physically displaced as a direct result of dam construction.
4. Dam failures: Although rare, failures can happen which can kill many people, and making many survivors to become homeless.
5: Flow shortage: The results of diminished water can be devastating to farmers and fishermen who depend on water for their livelihood.
The downstream effects of dams are: river- and coast-line erosion, decrease in fish population, salinity in coastal territories which affect vegetation and agriculture, even limit people's access to fresh water, disease, forced relocation of people living close by who had hitherto depended on river for their livelihood, poverty and slow but definite climate change.

Bangladesh has seen all the above effects as a result of the Farakka and cannot therefore welcome another deathtrap put on the Barak River.

The immediate effects included:
• Reduction in agricultural products due to insufficient water for irrigation;
• reduction in aquatic population;
• river transportation problems during dry season;
• increased salinity threatening crops, animal life drinking water, and industrial activities in southwest Bangladesh.

The long term effects, which are already being felt, include:
(a) One fourth of the fertile agricultural land will become wasteland due to a shortage of water;
(b) thirty million lives are affected through environmental and economical ruin;
(c) an estimated annual economic loss of over half a billion dollars in agricultural, fisheries, navigation and industries;
(d) frequent flooding due to environmental imbalance and changes in the natural flow of the Ganges;
(e) root cause behind arsenic poisoning with groundwater in Bangladesh and West Bengal State of India (Bridge and Husain);
(f) A BSS report of 2004 stated that over 80 rivers of the country dried up during last three decades due to the construction of the Farakka barrage on the Indian side of the river Ganges.

Building such dams on international rivers is simply unacceptable these days. They violate the letter and principle of already agreed upon international regulations on international rivers. The overall harm India has caused to Bangladesh as a result of the Farakka Barrage is estimated at more than a billion dollars.

If India cares about her people in the eastern and north-eastern corner, she must know that creating a forced poverty upon Bangladesh does not help her long term objectives. Already Bangladesh has more than her share of population density in a country that sees natural calamities in an increased frequency these days, thanks to climate change, deforestation in the Himalayas , man-made disasters, etc. Most of her southern territories are getting flooded forcing people to move away. Where will they go? Dams like those of the Farakka simply worsen the situation, while they need not to be. They also create animosity between two neighbors and strengthen the forces that desire nothing better than an unfriendly relationship between India and Bangladesh. India has more to lose than gain from her unilateral decisions to build dams on international rivers. Only a fool, criminal and arrogant policy maker can be oblivious to the effects and concerns I have shared above.

B. I have long-held belief, and I have not been proven wrong on this, that hydroelectric dams are wrong ways to go for meeting energy needs. India has better alternatives, e.g., nuclear power option, to meet her energy needs. I strongly believe that India should scrap the Tipaimukh project altogether and look for alternative options like the nuclear power energy to meet energy needs in the north-east corner. This I say against any compromise, irrespective of the amount of guarantee that India may propose for the share of water with Bangladesh, because our experience has shown that India cannot be trusted to keep her side of the promise in share of water. So, what will compromise do to Bangladesh? Nothing, nada.

Robert McNamara – the man and his legacy - the Vietnam War

When Robert Strange McNamara died in his home on July 6 very few people noticed. He was 93. He joined a diverse band of celebrities who died within two weeks of his death. It included Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Billy Mays, Steve McNair, and most notably Michael Jackson – the emperor of pop music.
Ed was famous for his work on television for the NBC late night show - The Tonight Show. From 1962-1992, he was Johnny Carson’s announcer and sidekick.
Farrah was the Hollywood actress famous, not so much for her acting as for her sexy appeal, as private investigator Jill Munroe in the Charlie’s Angels. With a record of more than 12 million copies of her iconic 1976 pin-up poster sold, first published in Life magazine in 1976, she was an international sex symbol in the 1970s and 1980s.
Billy Mays was a bearded advertisement sales guy who could hardly be missed by anyone watching American television for his loud, high-pitch voices. He promoted sales of cleaning, home-based, and maintenance products.
Steve was a very talented American football quarterback who spent the majority of his NFL career with the Tennessee Titans. He later played for the Baltimore Ravens before retiring in 2008. He was shot dead by her girl friend who committed suicide after killing him.
McNamara was the primary architect of the Vietnam War. In his capacity as secretary of defense during the presidencies of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, McNamara directed a U.S. military buildup in Southeast Asia during the critical early years of a Vietnamese conflict that escalated into one of the most divisive and bitter wars in U.S. history. He was also a key figure in the Bay of Pigs fiasco and the Cuban missile confrontation with the Soviet Union. He changed the balance of nuclear forces in the world with the development of the multiple-warhead missile.
The Vietnam War was a devastating and terrible war not only for the victims in Indo-China but also for America in which she dropped two or three times as much bombs in North and South Vietnam as were dropped by all Allied Forces throughout World War II against all enemies. When the war finally ended, there was over 58,000 Americans dead and some five million Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodians dead. More than 21 million US gallons of Agent Orange (manufactured by Dow Chemical) were sprayed across South Vietnam. 4.8 million Vietnamese people were exposed to Agent Orange, resulting in 400,000 deaths and disabilities, and 500,000 children born with birth defects.
During those troubling years, America’s national social fabric had been torn asunder. With rising casualties amongst Americans and forced conscription, the war became very unpopular within the student community. Thanks to the investigative report from the journalist Seymour Hersh in Nov. 12, 1969, the anti-war movement got its necessary boost from the revelation about the My-Lai massacre (1968) in which some 500 unarmed Vietnamese civilians were killed, majority of whom were women, children, and elderly people. Many of the victims were sexually abused, beaten, tortured, and some of the bodies were found mutilated. The initial news reports suggested that “128 Viet Cong and 22 civilians” were killed in the village during a “fierce fire fight”. Even General William C. Westmoreland, commander for the operation in Vietnam, congratulated the unit on the “outstanding job”.
While 26 US soldiers were initially charged with criminal offenses for their war crimes at My Lai, only Lt. William Calley was convicted. He served only three years of an original life sentence, while on house arrest. None of these should come as a surprise to all those who have been watching America’s War on Terror in Iraq and Afghanistan (and add now Pakistan). Like the whistle-blowers of the Abu Ghraib, three U.S. servicemen made an effort to halt the My Lai massacre and protect the wounded. Sadly, those brave soldiers received hate mail and death threats from pro-war citizens, and were even denounced by war-mongering U.S. Congressmen.
Sick of the war and desirous of a change, the American population sent the Republican candidate Richard Nixon to the White House in 1968. Nixon promised gradual withdrawal of troops. In 1971 Australia and New Zealand withdrew their soldiers. Finally, on 15 January 1973, soon after getting reelected, President Nixon announced the suspension of offensive action against North Vietnam. On 27 January 1973, the Paris Peace Accords on “Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam” were signed, officially ending direct U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.
As hinted earlier, McNamara was the primary culprit in America’s ill-fated military engagement in the Vietnam War. He was a brilliant guy, with a BA in Economics from UC, Berkeley (1937) and an MBA from Harvard (1939), who became the President of the Ford Motor Company in 1960. But what America needed during the Vietnam War era was not a whiz kid, but a leader of vision, moral courage and scrupulous honesty. And that is where McNamara failed miserably. Historians like Deborah Shapley (author of the book Promise and Power) point out that as early as November 3, 1965, the secretary of defense knew that the Vietnam War was “unwinnable militarily” and yet, according to Shapley, McNamara chose to deceive the American people by hiding the bad news while raising troop levels to 400,000, then 500,000, when he could have resigned, told the- ‘truth’ and stopped the American involvement.
McNamara said that the Domino Theory, espoused by Eisenhower in 1954, was the main reason for entering the Vietnam War. If the West loses control of Vietnam, the security of the West will be in danger; i.e., “the dominoes will fall,” in Eisenhower’s words. In an interview in June, 1996, McNamara explained, “The loss of Vietnam would trigger the loss of Southeast Asia, and conceivably even the loss of India, and would strengthen the Chinese and the Soviet position across the world, weakening the security of Western Europe and weakening the security of North America.” In that interview he also stated, “Kennedy hadn’t said before he died whether, faced with the loss of Vietnam, he would [completely] withdraw; but I believe today that had he faced that choice, he would have withdrawn.”
As Douglas Brinkley has said in a 1993 article in the Foreign Affairs, “The McNamara story is one of tragedy, for a dedicated public servant and for America, fueled by our frustration that a man of such promise chose, out of a misguided sense of mission, not to tell the American people what he knew about the dim prospects for victory in the Vietnam War when it might have made a difference.”
McNamara left office on February 29, 1968. The President awarded him both the Medal of Freedom and the Distinguished Service Medal for his efforts. McNamara then went on to become president of the World Bank, a position he held for the next 13 years.
Shortly after McNamara departed the Pentagon, he published “The Essence of Security” in which he discussed various aspects of his tenure and position on basic national security issues. He did not speak out again on defense issues or Vietnam until after he left the World Bank. He did not even try to defend himself against critics of his role in Vietnam or to justify the escalation there. He became aloof and silent when he needed to speak out against war. Like most highly talented guys, McNamara was a very complex man.
In his bestseller, In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam, Robert McNamara wrote in 1995, “We of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations who participated in the decisions on Vietnam acted according to what we thought were the principles and traditions of this nation. We made our decisions in light of those values. Yet we were wrong, terribly wrong. We owe it to future generations to explain why. I truly believe that we made an error not of values and intentions, but of judgment and capabilities.”
McNamara wrote that he and others had not asked the five most basic questions: Was it true that the fall of South Vietnam would trigger the fall of all Southeast Asia? Would that constitute a grave threat to the West’s security? What kind of war — conventional or guerrilla — might develop? Could we win it with U.S. troops fighting alongside the South Vietnamese? Should we not know the answers to all these questions before deciding whether to commit troops? He is famously quoted to have said, “And the conventional wisdom is - don’t make the same mistake twice, learn from your mistakes. And we all do. May be we make the same mistake three times, but hopefully not four or five.”
In the 1996 interview, McNamara said, “But there are certain things bombing can’t accomplish. They can’t break the will of people under certain circumstances. They didn’t break the will of the North Vietnamese.” He also said, “We have much to learn from them that can be applied to the world of today and tomorrow. How to avoid these conflicts is something the human race has to learn. This century will go down as the bloodiest century in all of human history. We’ll have lost 160 million people, killed by conflict. Is that what we want in the 21st century? I don’t think so. If we want to avoid it, we have to learn from our mistakes in this century. Vietnam was one of those.”
In a 2004 interview with Toronto’s Globe & Mail, McNamara was asked to comment on America’s occupation of Iraq. He replied, “We’re misusing our influence. It’s just wrong what we’re doing. It’s morally wrong, it’s politically wrong, it’s economically wrong.” He also offered his advice on how to prevent future Vietnam-like wars, arguing that the US should submit to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court to govern wartime behavior and prevent atrocities, and that the details of US nuclear strategy should be publicly discussed and debated.
In his last major article, titled “Apocalypse Soon” and published in Foreign Policy magazine in 2005, McNamara expressed his concerns about the immorality and danger of placing reliance on nuclear weapons as foreign policy tools. He particularly focused on the United States and Russia having the weapons on alert. Those arms “are potent signs that the United States is not seriously working toward the elimination of its arsenal and raises troubling questions as to why any other state should restrain its nuclear ambitions,” he wrote.
A little over three months ago, Walter Pincus of the Washington Post met McNamara at one of his last public outings at the Cosmos Club. There, he sounded hopeful about initial steps taken by President Obama on nuclear weapons, but fearful about the US’s growing involvement in Afghanistan -- a situation so much like Vietnam.
If these be the after-war reflections of Robert McNamara, who sounded like the cold-blooded, calculating Dr. Strangelove when he was the Secretary of Defense, it is obvious that America has learned nothing from Vietnam and from its architect. After all, McNamara taught us all we needed to know about the folly of war, about aftermath and about regret. As columnist William Rivers Pitt, has rightly observed, “Nobody listened, nobody learned, except for the dead.” The soldiers who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan would recognize McNamara through his latter-day replacements – Rumsfeld and Gates, and the other Bush administration officials like Cheney, Powell, Wolfowitz, Rice, Feith, Rove and Libby.
According to journalist Will Bunch, “The life of Robert McNamara was a personal tragedy, but it was also an American tragedy, our tragedy -- because even after McNamara spelled out everything that went so horribly wrong in Vietnam, he lived long enough to see a new generation of the self-appointed “best and brightest” in Washington pay absolutely no mind to the lessons of our recent past. In Iraq, as in Vietnam, there was no plan for the proper military follow-up to a period of “shock and awe” bombing. In Iraq, as in Vietnam, we totally misjudged the “nationalism” of the people who lived there and how they would react to a long American occupation. And perhaps most importantly, in Iraq, as in Vietnam, there was no real “public debate” as we marched headlong and foolishly into the 2003 -- with way too many “unexamined assumptions,” “unasked questions,” and “readily dismissed alternatives.”
It took nearly 30 years for Robert McNamara, the architect of the Vietnamese catastrophe in which over five million South East Asian peasants were murdered, to confess that he was wrong. One wonders how long it would take Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld to confess that they were wrong with Iraqi War! Would the world conscience demand trial of these war criminals of our new century? Or, should we let the likes of Hulagu Khan write the books of history justifying their wanton massacre and cruelty?

References:
See this author’s article on Michael Jackson: http://usa.mediamonitors.net/content/view/full/63837
http://karws.gso.uri.edu/Marsh/Vietnam/mcnamara.html
http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/48974/douglas-brinkley/the-stain-of-vietnam-robert-mcnamara-redemption-denied
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31760364/ns/politics-more_politics/
http://karws.gso.uri.edu/Marsh/Vietnam/mcnamara.html
http://karws.gso.uri.edu/Marsh/Vietnam/mcnamara.html
http://www.nndb.com/people/387/000022321/
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=2829&print=1
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/06/AR2009070603771.html?hpid=sec-politics
The connection to Dr. Strangelove – the computer of death – was made by Douglas Brinkley in his 1993 article: http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/48974/douglas-brinkley/the-stain-of-vietnam-robert-mcnamara-redemption-denied?page=show
www.truthout.org/070709R
http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/attytood/Robert_McNamara_1916-2009_--_and_the_tragedy_of_disremembered_past.html
See this author’s article – Fooled me once, shame on Bush: http://www.bangladesh-web.com/view.php?hidRecord=26911

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Israel - the Apartheid State

Is Israel an apartheid state? Comparisons between apartheid South Africa and Israel have often been made, but not always clearly explained. Before we delve into the subject, let us try to understand what the term apartheid really means. The word originated in South Africa and is derived from Afrikaans meaning, literally, apartness or separateness. The term originated as a political slogan coined by Dr Daniel F. Malan, leader of the South African National Party, in 1944. The policy of apartheid was included in the party platform during the successful election campaign in 1948, forging a coalition of disunited Afrikaner (White) groups and classes, and would serve as the basis for the regime’s racial program until it was repealed in 1991-92.

The purpose of apartheid was separation of the races: not only of whites from nonwhites, but also of nonwhites from each other, and, among the Africans (called Bantu in South Africa), of one group from another. Initial emphasis was on restoring the separation of races within the urban areas. A large segment of the Asian and Colored (i.e., mixed races) populations was forced to relocate out of the so-called white areas, as were the native Africans whose townships were demolished and occupants forcibly removed.

The main architect of apartheid was Hendrik F. Verwoerd (1901-66), the leading intellectual and ideologue of the National Party. Under his prime ministership, apartheid developed into a policy known as “separate development,” whereby each of the nine Bantu groups was to become a nation with its own homeland, or Bantustan. An area totaling about 14% of the country’s land was set aside for these homelands, the remainder, including the major mineral areas and the cities, being reserved for the whites. The basic tenet of the separate development policy was to reserve within the confines of the African’s designated homeland rights and freedoms, but that outside it blacks were to be treated as aliens.

According to Ian Campbell, “Having been assigned a national homeland, or Bantustan, Africans settled and working in South Africa would lose their residence and other rights and became liable to deportation in the event of political unrest or large-scale unemployment. Under the guise of ‘trusteeship’, government policy was to confine the African majority to reserves that could not support them, thus ensuring the continuation of a cheap, compliant labor force.”

The African population, three-quarters of the total, was disenfranchised and subject to coercion backed by law. Non-whites were required to carry identification papers. Laws forbade most social contacts between those of European descent and others, authorized segregated public facilities, established separate educational standards, restricted each group to certain types of jobs, curtailed nonwhite labor unions, and denied nonwhite participation in the national government. Movement to and between other parts of the country was strictly regulated, the location of residence or employment (if permitted to work) was restricted, and the urban African workers were seen as transients. Only those holding the necessary labor permits, granted according to the labor market, were allowed to reside within urban areas without their spouses. None of the African reserves were viable nations. They were made up of broken tracts of poor-quality land, riddled with erosion and incapable of supporting their large designated populations. With no industry, opportunities for employment were few.

So, how realistic is the comparison of Israel’s policy towards the indigenous Palestinian people with those practiced by the White racists, segregationists in South Africa? None is probably better equipped to answer this question than Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, who won the Nobel Prize for peace. Speaking about his visit to Israel in April, 2002, he said, “I've been very deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about.”

The similarity does not end there. It is much deeper. Like White settlers who colonized South Africa, Israel has been a settler enterprise of the European Zionists to colonize Palestine inhabited by indigenous Palestinians. It was no accident that Theodor Herzl, the father of political Zionism, had written about his plan to Cecil Rhodes, the most typical of British colonialists of his time: “How then, do I happen to turn to you, since this is an out of way matter for you? How indeed? Because it is something colonial … And what I want you to do is … to put the stamp of your authority on the Zionist plan and to make the following declaration to a few people who swear by you: I, Rhodes, have examined this plan and found it correct and practicable.”

Lies and Deceptions:
The Zionist plan was more hideous than that of the Afrikaners. In South Africa, the white settlers sought to dominate, rather than expel, the native population by incorporating them as inferior citizens in a polity under exclusively white control. Zionists, on the other hand, tried to take control of the entire Palestine by excluding its indigenous non-Jewish population, whose very existence they tried to deny before the Israeli state was born. With misleading slogans: “people without a land for a land without a people”, they tried to claim ownership of an “un-inhabited” Palestine, which by the time of partition had some 1.3 million Palestinians living.

Land-grabbing and Expulsion of Palestinians:
The expulsion of the Palestinian people and occupation of their land was a deliberate and systematic undertaking. Joseph Witz, head of the Jewish National Fund, responsible for land acquisition, wrote in 1940: “Between ourselves, it must be clear that there is no room for both peoples together in this country … The only solution is Eretz Israel, at least the Western Israel, without Arabs, and there is no other way but to transfer the Arabs from her to the neighboring countries; to transfer them all … Only after this transfer will the country be able to absorb millions of our brethren.”

As one can see this devious program was formulated well before Israel was born. It was criminal and racist to the core. In 1980, Professor Israel Shahak of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem noted, “Basically, the State of Israel was founded on by people who were not conscious of the rights of non-western people … They had absolutely no sense of justice for people outside this group.” He noted that the dominant attitude of the Israeli state was “fundamentally racist.”

When the Partition Plan was announced on Nov. 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly made a non-binding recommendation (Resolution 181) for a three-way partition of Palestine into a Jewish State, an Arab State and a small internationally administered zone including the religiously significant towns Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Jews were allotted 56% of the Mandatory Palestine and Arabs 43%. The Jewish territory was to include some 0.47 million Arabs living with nearly half a million Jews.

The Arab League rejected the plan because of being too unfair to the majority Palestinians who comprised more than two-thirds of the overall population. Initially, most of the Zionist leaders, including those from the Jewish Agency and Ben Gurion, also criticized the Plan. Menachem Begin, the progenitor of today’s Likud, warned that the partition would not bring peace because the Arabs would attack the Jewish state and that “in the war ahead we’ll have to stand on our own, it will be a war on our existence and future.” Many extremist Zionist settlers simply wanted an Israel that would have no non-Jew inhabitant. To them, the important question was: how to create a Jewish majority in a country with majority indigenous Palestinian people? The answer was: expulsion of the indigenous population and promotion of Jewish immigration to the new colony.

On April 1, 1948, the Security Council adopted Resolution 44 “to consider further the question of the future government of Palestine.” However, the Zionist leaders did not want to wait too long and, being prepared militarily, declared independence of the state of Israel unilaterally on May 14, 1948. As expected when the war broke out with the Arabs, the Zionists sought to establish Jewish demographic dominance by expelling nearly 770,000 indigenous Palestinians. By the time the Armistice Agreement was signed in July of 1949, the Zionists ended up grabbing nearly 78% of the original territory, leaving a mere 22% of the land to the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza. Out of a total of 475 villages existing in 1948, 420 Palestinian villages were destroyed within the new state of Israel where Jews were settled. In 1950 Israel used the Absentee Property Law to expropriate property belonging to the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who fled their homes during the 1948-49 war. The Israeli law violates Article 46 of the Hague Convention, which prohibits confiscation of private property in occupied territory.

Denial of Citizenship:
The apartheid doctrine is officially professed by the Zionist state in its proclamation of special status for the Jewish people, the Law of Return for the Jews and the Law on Nationality. Under Israeli law, a Jew from Philadelphia or anywhere on earth becomes an Israeli citizen at the very moment he sets foot on Tel Aviv airport, whereas a Palestinian, born in Palestine of Palestinian parents, may be treated as stateless. He has no right of return to his ancestral home once he was forced out in the wars. Nor is his property rights honored if he is an absentee landlord, even though he may be residing inside the West Bank and Gaza. The same apartheid that applies to citizenship is in force where rights of residence and marriage are concerned. It was no fluke that when the UN General Assembly passed the Resolution 2279 in 1975 equating “Zionism as a form of racism and racial discrimination” it did so for the right reason.

Segregation and Discriminatory Laws:
During the 1948-67 period while no structured physical segregation of the Palestinian population from the usurping Israelis was attempted, the Israeli military administration controlled Israeli Arabs’ movements, imposed curfew on them, controlled where they lived and confiscated their land to favor Jewish occupation. It also prevented structural dependence on the Palestinian economy, particularly on its labor. Before 1948 less than a third of the workers in the Jewish sector were Palestinian. From 1948-67, the remaining Palestinian Arabs supplied no more than 15% of the labor force.

Following the pre-emptive strikes in June of 1967, Zionist settlers were able to consolidate their authority over the entire territory, while making sure that Palestinian grip of their own territories ever shrinks. The 1967-War brought some one million Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories. The Israeli government resorts to forced eviction of the Palestinian people so as to lower their proportion in comparison to the settler Jews. It also encourages Jewish immigration from Russia and elsewhere to Israel giving them the right to citizenship to maintain an edge in population over the Palestinians. Conversely, it denies such rights of return, let alone citizenship, to all those Palestinians who fled the country.

As can be seen from the above analysis, South African apartheid wanted the land and the people, albeit with segregation; the Israeli leadership tried to take the land without the people. Since 1967, Israeli government developed a detailed policy of territorial integration and demographic separation. It encouraged encroachment of Zionist settlers into Palestinian territories in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Israeli law also allows Jewish settlers to carry arms.

Like the South African White settlers, within the Occupied Territories, the Israeli government enacted different laws and decrees to regulate lives of its Palestinian population. Like the Blacks in South Africa, the Palestinian people don’t have freedom of movement. Like South Africa, Israel’s highly discriminatory and strangulating economic decrees forces the indigenous people into not only providing cheap labor for the Israeli market but also selling their properties at a cheaper price to the settler Jews and Jewish agencies. Between 1967 and 1990, according to Dr. Leila Farsakh, a Palestinian political economist, who teaches at University of Massachusetts, “More than a third of the Palestinian labor force was employed in Israel and generated over a quarter of the territories’ GDP.” So horrible is the condition of Palestinians inside the Occupied Palestine that they are forced to reflect everyday if exodus is not a better option for them to live, raise their children and care for the elderly.

Expansionism, Settlements and Religious Myths:
Ben-Gurion said, “We have set up a dynamic state, bent upon creation and reform, building and expansion.” Expansionism is at the heart of an apartheid state, which Israel has practiced since day one. In order to justify its aggression and annexation, like South Africa, Israel also draws motivation from the Bible. The settler state of Israel is depicted as a fulfillment of God’s promise to the Jewish people (Genesis 15:18). Forgotten there is the mere fact that the Ashkenazi Jews (the so-called thirteenth tribe) who form a majority of world Jewry today and govern the state of Israel have no blood connection with the “seed” of Abraham, while Arabs – the children of Ishmael – are a better claimant to that promise.

As an expansionist entity, Israel has never, in its past 60 years, defined its border. It was as if the Zionist leaders were applying the Biblical verse to the letter: “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that I have given unto you, as I said unto Moses.” (Joshua 1:3) As has been duly recognized by experts like Roger Garaudy, this is the conception of Eretz (Greater) Israel, the permanent objective of political Zionism. Moshe Dayan declared in July 1968, “During the last hundred years our people have been in a process of building up the country and the nation, of expansion, of getting additional Jews and additional settlements in order to expand the borders here. Let no Jew say that the process has ended. Let no Jew say that are near the end of the road.” In 1972, Golda Meir, replied to a question on territorial needs for Israel’s security, “There must be changes in the border. We want changes in borders, on all our borders, for security’s sake.”

This notion of Israeli expansionism (Eretz Israel) has never left the Zionist leaders – from Ben-Gurion to today’s Netanyahu. Gen. (Reserve) Shlomo Gazit who was the President of the Ben-Gurion University explained this concept in 1982, “The first objective is to ensure that historic Eretz Israel is not partitioned again … The second objective is to ensure that historic Eretz Israel will remain entirely under Jewish control and, moreover, that it will remain a basically Jewish state. The third objective is a full solution to the problem of Arabs of historic Eretz Israel … The solution for them must be found outside historic Eretz Israel.” Nor should we be surprised to hear the same solution repeated some 27 years later from the same university campus by Netanyahu in his June 14, 2009 speech.

Settlements and outposts are means to solidify expansion. In 1948 there were 2,810 Jews that lived in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza. After annexation of these territories, including the Golan Heights in 1967, the Jewish population grew to 10,608 in 1972. By 1993, Israel had constructed more than 145 settlements where some 196,000 Jews were settled by confiscating Arab land. Half of the settlers lived in ten settlements around East Jerusalem. By the end of the year 2000, Israeli settlers in the West Bank and Gaza numbered 225,000. More than 2,500 houses and 52 settlement outposts were constructed just between September 2000 and January 2003. In January 2009, Israeli political activist group Peace Now stated that settlement construction rose by 60 percent from 2007 to 2008. According to Knesset Member Yaakov Katz, head of the National Union party, currently, there are some 650,000 settlers in the Occupied Territories of which some 300,000 live around East Jerusalem. As noted by the Israeli human rights group Yesh Din, a classified Israeli Government database, recorded that many West Bank Israeli settlements were built on land privately owned by Palestinian citizens without compensation. Through the enactment of the 1950 Absentee Property Law, Israel has given a legal basis for continued expropriation of land in East Jerusalem (annexed in 1967) owned by Palestinians who live elsewhere (usually in the West Bank) without compensation. The Palestinians owners cannot "transfer, sell or lease any real estate property".

As a settler state, situated in a semi-arid area, Israel has built most of its settlements over Palestinian aquifers so that it can have full control of its consumption for economic development, and meeting water needs of the settler Jews. After the occupation of the Golan Heights, West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip in 1967, Israel began taking control of all water resources. According to Palestinian researcher Abu Kishek, as noted in the IMEMC news report (January 8, 2007), Israel controls 80 percent of Palestinian water resources threatening Arab water security. Since 1949, water has assumed top priority for Israel, which worked to gain control of the groundwater and surface water in the Jordan River basin, threatening the most fertile agricultural area. Israel has dug 500 water devices along the boundary of the West Bank, while along the northern edge of the Gaza Strip Israeli pumps operate 18 hours per day.

The Israeli government denies permits to Palestinians to dig new wells on their own land while inside Israeli settlements water drilling continues. The Israeli aim is to drive the Palestinians out of their territory, so water is used as an effective weapon of war against indigenous Palestinians. Once a well is dry and with no new permits to drill a new one, they are left with no option but to move away.

Settlements are built on less than three percent of the area of the West Bank. However, due to the extensive network of settler roads and restrictions on Palestinians accessing their own land, Israeli settlements dominate more than 40 percent of the West Bank. As former President Carter has observed from his trips to Israel, there is a zone with a radius of about four hundred meters around each settlement within which Palestinians cannot enter. In addition, there are other large areas that would have been taken or earmarked to be used exclusively by Israel, roadways that connect the settlements to one another and to Jerusalem, and “life arteries” that provide the settlers with water, sewage, electricity, and communications. These range in width from 500 to 4000 meters, and Palestinians cannot use or cross many of these connecting links. This honeycomb of settlements and their interconnecting conduits effectively divide the West Bank into at least two noncontiguous areas and multiply fragments, often uninhabitable or even unreachable, and control of the Jordan River valley denies Palestinians any direct access eastward into Jordan. About 100 military checkpoints completely surround the Occupied Palestinian Territories and block routes going into or between Palestinian communities, combined with an uncountable number of other roads that are permanently closed with larger concrete cubes or mounds of earth and rocks.

These settlements are, in essence, responsible for bantustanization of the Palestinian territories. President Carter observed, “There has been a determined and remarkably effective effort to isolate settlers from Palestinians, so that a Jewish family can commute from Jerusalem to their highly subsidized home deep in the West Bank on roads from which others are excluded, without ever coming in contact with any facet of Arab life.” According to Dr. Farsakh, “By institutionalizing the societal separation and territorial integration that Israel created between 1967 and 1993, the Oslo process has prepared for the bantustanization of the WBGS (West Bank and Gaza Strip), transforming the Palestinian territories into fragmented population reserves, neither sustainable economically nor sovereign politically.”

The UN Security Council Resolution 465, unanimously adopted in 1980, made it clear that “Israel’s policy and practices of settling parts of its population and new immigrants” in the Occupied Territories constitutes “a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East”. The Security Council called upon Israel to “dismantle the existing settlements and in particular to cease, on an urgent basis, the establishment, construction or planning of settlements in the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem”. The World Court and European Union have deemed both the official settlements and the outposts to be illegal under international laws, including the Geneva Conventions, which set out the basis for international humanitarian law. In September 2006, Olmert authorized construction bids for another 690 homes in the occupied West Bank. A total of 9,000 further housing units have been approved in East Jerusalem, and approximately 2,600 new housing units are being built east of the original Green Line, comprising 55% of all settlement construction activity. The current government of Netanyahu is committed to building more settlements.

As to the reality of settlements in the West Bank, former President Carter observes, “It is obvious that the Palestinians will be left with no territory to establish a viable state, but completely enclosed within the barrier and the occupied Jordan River valley. The Palestinians will have a future impossible for them or any responsible portion of the international community to accept, and as Israel’s permanent status will be increasingly troubled and uncertain as deprived people fight oppression and the relative number of Jewish citizens decreases demographically (compared to Arabs) both within Israel and Palestine.”

The Apartheid Wall (Segregation Fence):
When Sharon took power in 2001, to him, a worthy heir of David Ben-Gurion and Zeev Jabotinsky, the 1948 war of independence wasn’t finished. He spent the next two years by resuming complete control of the West Bank. But, as Dominique Vidal has pointed out elsewhere, that was not enough. He faced a major challenge – demographic, which said that Palestinian population would soon outnumber the Jewish population. He had two solutions – expel all the Palestinians or allow the creation of a Palestinian state. He rejected the second choice and recognized that the first one was impractical to carry out. So he came up with a third option that involved erection of a segregation wall that would allow Israel to annex the remaining half of the West Bank, in particular the blocs where 80% of the settlers live. The Wall, at least 3.5 times Israel’s international recognized border, not only separated Jews physically from Palestinians but also divided Palestinian villages separating them from each other, and separated Palestinian farmers from their own fields. The other major impacts on the indigenous people include loss of land, increased difficulty in accessing medical services in Israel, restricted access to water sources, and adverse economic effects.

The route of the Wall in the West Bank was set to take the Palestinian water supply into Israeli boundaries, in addition to what is already taken by the Israeli settlements inside the West Bank. Thus, as much as the Israeli government has managed to control the continuity of its landmass from those within the pre-1967 border to those settlements and outposts located deep inside the WBGS via the connecting roads, it is clear that it has also been able to control and connect all its water resources in the Occupied Territories.

On 20 July 2004, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution condemning the barrier with 150 countries voting for the resolution with only six countries opposing. Earlier, in July 9, 2004, the International Court of Justice determined that the wall was illegal and called on Israel to cease construction of the wall, to dismantle what has already been built in areas beyond Israel’s international recognized border, and to compensate Palestinians who have suffered as a result of the wall’s construction.

Life within Palestinian Bantustans:
Israelis, irrespective of whether they are nominal civilians or military personnel, impose exodus upon the Palestinian population through harassment, whose ultimate goal is expulsion of the natives. As hinted earlier, access to water, e.g., remains a persistent issue. Each Israeli settler uses five times as much water as a Palestinian neighbor, who must pay four times as much per gallon. There are Israeli swimming pools adjacent to Palestinian villages where drinking water had to be hauled in on tanker trucks and dispensed by the bucketful. Most of the hilltop settlements are on small areas of land, so untreated sewage is discharged into the surrounding fields and villages. Palestinian researchers have accused Israel of destroying large parts of the water utilities, such as the demolition of wells and the destruction of irrigation systems, reservoirs and water lines in the West Bank. Such crimes result in a major deficit in the underground reservoir, and the increasing suffering of the population for access to drinking water on a daily basis. Israel's destruction of the water supply for many Palestinian cities added to the salt content of the well water in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which has also led to a decline in agricultural production.

As noted by Dr. Farsakh in her book - Palestinian Labour Migration to Israel: Labour, land and occupation, the West Bank aquifers and water from the Jordan River produced a total of 1.9 billion cubic meters of water per year, which is 70% of total water resources available in the pre-1967 Israel and the WBGS. The denial and limited supply of this water to the indigenous Palestinians is criminal to the core. It is reducing farmers to beggars and strangulating Palestinian economy forcing the emergence of a captive labor force for the Israeli colonial settler state. According to Farsakh, “The release of labor from the Palestinian economy is affected through four main channels: land expropriation, extraction and control of water resources, industrial and economic policy that handicaps the development of productive local employment; and transformation of the Palestinian into a captive market for Israeli goods.”

Palestinians are deprived of their most basic human rights. They have little freedom of movement or independent activity. Any demonstration against Israeli abuses results in mass arrests of Palestinians, including children throwing stones, bystanders who are not involved, families of protesters, and those known to make disparaging statements about the occupation. Once incarcerated, they have little hope for a fair trial and often have no access to their families or legal counsel. Most of these cases are tried in military tribunals, but 90% of the inmates are being held in civilian jails. One of the attorneys told former President Carter, “Here there is one system under civil judges and another under the military. Most of our cases, no matter what the subject might be, fall under the military. They are our accusers, judges, and juries, and they all seem the same to us.”

From September 2000 until March 2006, 3,982 Palestinians and 1,084 Israelis were killed in the second Intifada and these numbers include many children: 708 Palestinians and 123 Israelis. During the Israel-Lebanon conflict of 2006, while world’s attention was in Lebanon, Israeli forces killed more than 200 Palestinians, 44 of them children, in Gaza. During its December 2008-January 2009 war on the Gaza Strip alone, Israel killed nearly 1,200 Palestinian non-combatants.

The Oslo Peace was supposed to let Palestinian National Authority (PNA) to control most of the West Bank by 1996. Instead, by July 2000 it had jurisdiction over only 19%, or less, of the West Bank.

In a recent article, dated June 10, 2009, Stephanie Westbrook of the U.S. Citizens for Peace & Justice in Rome, Italy, wrote, “Not only are Palestinians restricted in their movement in and out of Gaza, but also within. In late May, Israel began dropping thousands of leaflets near the border areas warning the people of Gaza not to come within 300 meters of the border or they would be fired upon. Farmers are forced to risk their lives in order to work their fields that fate has placed too close to the border. The same restrictions are imposed on Palestinian fishermen. The sound of shots pierce the silence nightly, as Israeli gunboats fire on fishing boats that dare to venture far enough away from the shore in order to catch fish to sell and provide a living for their families. These are the absurdities that have become the norm in Gaza. But perhaps most absurd of all is how anyone can believe that Israel's severity in the closures, the destruction of the economy and social fabric of the Gaza Strip, will serve to convince Palestinians to place their trust in international law.”

John Pilger, the award-winning journalist and documentary film maker, writes, “At 7.30 in the morning on 3 June, a seven-month-old baby died in the intensive care unit of the European Gaza Hospital in the Gaza Strip. His name was Zein Ad-Din Mohammed Zu’rob, and he was suffering from a lung infection which was treatable. Denied basic equipment, the doctors in Gaza could do nothing. For weeks, the child’s parents had sought a permit from the Israelis to allow them to take him to a hospital in Jerusalem, where he would have been saved. Like many desperately sick people who apply for these permits, the parents were told they had never applied. Even if they had arrived at the Erez Crossing with an Israeli document in their hands, the odds are that they would have been turned back for refusing the demands of officials to spy or collaborate in some way.” This happened just the day before Obama’s historic speech in Cairo.

Truly, in the 21st century, there is hardly a place more closely resembling Bantustan of the South African apartheid days than Gaza. In 1948 there were 90,000 natives in Gaza. The population more than tripled by 1967, and there are now more than 1.4 million – 4,118 people living per sq. km, making it one of the most densely populated places in our planet. There, before Sharon’s plan for disengagement in June 2004, 8,000 Israeli settlers (comprising 0.6% of the overall population) were controlling 40% of the arable land and more than one-half the water resources. These settlers were defended by 12,000 Israeli troops. Israel does not allow air and sea transportation from Gaza. In his fact finding mission there, President Carter observed that fishermen were not allowed to leave the harbor, workers were prevented form going to outside jobs, the import or export of food and other goods was severely restricted and often cut off completely and the police, teachers, nurses, and social workers were deprived of salaries. Per capita income decreased 40% during 2004-06, and poverty rate reached 70%. This was the situation before reinvasion of Gaza in July 2006.

When asked, “Is it an irresponsible overstatement to associate the treatment of Palestinians with [the] criminalized Nazi record of collective atrocity?” Richard Falk, the United Nations special rapporteur for human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories and emeritus professor of international law at Princeton University, who is Jewish, replied, “I think not.”

Detention:
International human rights organizations estimate that since 1967 more than 630,000 Palestinians (about 20%) of the total population) in the occupied territories have been detained at some time by the Israelis. In addition to time in jail, the pre-trial periods can be quite lengthy. Palestinian detainees can be interrogated under special laws for a total of 180 days and denied lawyer visits for intervals of 90 days. Accused persons are usually in military courts in the West Bank, and incarcerated in prisons inside Israel, in violation of the 4th Geneva Convention.
Like South Africa, Israel has her version of Robben Island. It is Facility 1391. It is not marked on maps, it has been erased from aerial photographs and recently its numbered signpost was removed. Censors have excised all mention of its location from the Israeli media, with the government saying that secrecy is essential to “prevent harm to the country’s security”. As a newspaper described it, Facility 1391 is “Israel’s Guantanamo”. Outside a few senior Israeli government and security officials no one knows how many inmates there are in Facility 1391. Testimonies from former inmates suggest it is crowded with detainees, many of them Lebanese captured during Israel’s 18-year occupation of south Lebanon. What little information is available suggests that interrogation methods using torture are routine. A high-profile detainee, Mustafa Dirani of the now defunct Lebanese Shia militia Amal, has alleged that he was raped by his interrogators.
The Permit System:
Israel introduced the permit system and fragmented the WBGS territorially in order to control the al-Aqsa intifada. In April 2002 Israel declared that the WBGS would be cut into eight main areas, outside which Palestinians could not live without a permit. Dr. Farsakh finds that by institutionalizing the permit and closure system, Israel imposed on Palestinians similar conditions to those faced by blacks in South Africa under the pass laws. Although the pass system in South Africa was created to ensure the control and supply of cheap labor, while in the WBGS it was introduced for security reasons, the consequences were the same.

Conclusion:
Nearly half a century ago, a South African newspaper Die Transvaler that covered matters of apartheid had this to say: “Is there any real difference between the way that the people of Israel are trying to maintain themselves amid non-Jewish peoples and the way the Afrikaner is trying to remain what he is?” The then Prime Minister Verwoerd’s answer is quite revealing: “Jews took Israel from the Arabs after the Arabs had lived there for a thousand years. In that I agree with them. Israel, like South Africa, is an apartheid state.”

From the brief analysis above, it is obvious that despite their initial differences, the Zionist state of Israel and the apartheid South Africa have become similar since June 1967, and especially so with the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993. As a matter of fact, the Israeli apartheid state is more dangerous and more racist than the Apartheid regime ever was in South Africa. The Palestinian bantustans are of course neither as clearly defined nor as large as those of South Africa. Thanks to influx of some quarter million Jewish workers from outside, Israel has less need of the Palestinian labor force. As Dr. Farsakh has rightly recognized, if the current situation continues, the two-state solution is in peril. The disappearance of that option would definitely condemn Israel to being an apartheid and bi-national state, unless it embarks on a massive program of population transfer.

The Zionist settler leaders know it very well that they are running out of options. The settlements and segregation wall that they built to grab Palestinian land in the West Bank are illegal per international laws. There is no denying that Israel has always put confiscation of Palestinian land ahead of peace. Back in the Bush Sr. era, such land-grabbing provoked an official White House statement: “The United States has opposed, and will continue to oppose, settlement activity in territories occupied in 1967, which remain an obstacle to peace.” From the State Department, Secretary Baker added, “I don’t think there is any greater obstacle to peace than settlement activity that continues not only unabated but at an advanced pace.” The US government, in spite of being Israel’s most trusted ally, has consistently maintained that settlements are illegal. That position has not changed with the current Obama Administration either, which already has advised Netanyahu to stop all settlement activities in the Occupied Territories.

Given the kind of sympathy Israel enjoys amongst the Christians because of their collective guilt for causing the Jewish Holocaust, and afraid of being dumped as anti-Semites for speaking out against Zionist savagery that is responsible for on-going Palestinian Holocaust since 1948, it is going to be very difficult to dismantle the apartheid character of Israel. Nor should we forget that while the neocons were defeated in the 2008 election, they still wield enormous control in how American policy makers think and act. Many of the high-level advisers to the Obama Administration are pro-Israel Jewish hawks, whose unwavering allegiance to the pariah state in the past have only highlighted America’s hypocrisy and worsened her image abroad. The Amen Corner within the U.S. Congress is still willing to nod and dance with the Israeli tune and do bidding for the rogue state. Christian Zionism still raises much passion amongst intellectually disadvantaged Americans who are continuously mesmerized by radio junkies like Rush Limbaugh. And, then, as rightly pointed out by Professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, there is the all-powerful Jewish Lobby and let’s not kid about their influence in the USA. No politician in the USA today can afford to be viewed as anti-Israel.

Thus, it should come as no surprise that in his Fiscal Year 2010 budget, sent to the Congress in May, President Obama requested a near-record $2.2775 billion in military aid to Israel, which is an increase of $225 million in aid to Israel compared with this year’s budget. This increase in funding is quite interesting given the fact that the United States is currently in its gravest economic crisis since the Great Depression. Lest we forget, according to Congressional Research Service, the United States has provided Israel with more than $100 billion in direct military and economic aid since 1949.

In a recent article John Chuckman writes, “Israel, it is a nation which has attacked every neighbor that it has, at one time or another. In the last two years alone, it has killed more people in Lebanon and Gaza than the number who perished in 9/11. It is also a secret nuclear power, having broken every rule and international law to obtain and assist in proliferating nuclear weapons.”

Israel killed more than 3,000 innocent Palestinian civilians, which included more than 1,000 children, often with U.S. weapons, during the George W. Bush Administration. Yet the State Department did not notify Congress even once that Israel had violated these laws which are supposed to sanction countries that commit human rights abuses with U.S. weapons.

On July 1, Israel committed an act of piracy by kidnapping 21 human rights activists and journalists in international waters who were sailing on the Free Gaza Movement boat “Spirit of Humanity” and who had hoped to deliver badly-needed humanitarian supplies to the besieged and collectively-punished people of the Gaza Strip. These 21 people included former Representative Cynthia McKinney. Lest we forget, Israeli authorities have no jurisdiction to arrest them in international waters. As I write this essay, Ms. McKinney has still not been released by the Israeli government. I am not sure if Secretary Clinton or her staffs are doing anything to see the former Congresswoman released.

As I have noted many times, the Zionist state possesses no legitimacy whatsoever – Biblical, moral, historical and juridical – to have been established as a state in historical Palestine. Much in common to the wishes of its ideologue Theodor Herzl, Israel has remained a rampart of the West. Its behavior is that of a settler apartheid state that is continuously at war with its natives and is bent upon dehumanizing them. And its Zionist leaders know its evil character too well. Thus, it wants to force the robbed and maimed Palestinians into recognizing the rogue state of Israel unconditionally. For the Palestinian leadership that would be like writing its own suicide note with a gun pointed to the head!

Can a workable solution be still found that allows the Jews and Palestinian Muslims and Christians to live as equals in the same land? As common sense dictates even a bastard child born of gang rape does not deserve to be killed.

For too long the Zionists have said that it is impossible to share the territory with the Arabs who want to “drive them into the sea.” We know better. It is a filthy lie. If past behavior is any guide, we can safely conclude that it is these settler Zionists who are actually drowning the Palestinians. In a meeting with President Carter in 1990 Chairman Arafat said, “The PLO has never advocated the annihilation of Israel. The Zionists started the ‘drive the Jews into the sea’ slogan and attributed it to the PLO. In 1969 we said we wanted to establish a democratic state where Jews, Christians and Muslims can all live together. The Zionists said they do not choose to live with any people other than Jews… We said to the Zionist Jews, all right, if you do not want a secular, democratic state for all of us, then we will take another route. In 1974 I said we are ready to establish our independent state in any part from which Israel will withdraw.”

As noted by experts like Roger Garaudy and others, the solution to the Palestinian-Israeli problem can come only from the international community. The solution must be as fair as possible given the level of injustice already inflicted upon the native Palestinian people in the last 62 years. Given the birth of the bastard state of Israel that the UN itself sanctioned, it would be unfair, although not unjust, today for the Palestinians to claim territorial rights over the entire Palestine. Its own leadership has duly recognized the complexity of the problem and has therefore compromised showing willingness to accept the truncated territories based on the pre-1967 border. The Arab proposal put forth in the last few decades has also echoed the same sentiment. The objection thus far has come only from the Zionist expansionists who still are locked in their unfounded myths. If they are wise and prudent, they must change that poisonous mindset, shun their violent means to subdue the native population and let the Palestinians live freely and securely without being violated. The world community, including the Arab League, will ensure the security of the Israeli state within the pre-1967 border.

As the most powerful nation on earth and Israel’s greatest benefactor, the United States has a very critical role to play in finding a peaceful solution to the crisis. America needs to take a bold stand that is moral, just and fair. She cannot afford to have her national interest mortgaged to Israel or to her pro-Israel lobby within. As Professors Mearsheimer and Walt had said, “Powerful states can maintain flawed policies for quite some time, but reality cannot be ignored for ever. What is needed is a candid discussion of the Lobby’s influence and a more open debate about US interests in this vital region. Israel’s well-being is one of those interests, but its continued occupation of the West Bank and its broader regional agenda are not. Open debate will expose the limits of the strategic and moral case for one-sided US support and could move the US to a position more consistent with its own national interest, with the interests of the other states in the region, and with Israel’s long-term interests as well.”

The Israeli leaders must answer this existential question now: what is better - the prevalent apartheid character of the Zionist state or a peaceful solution with the native Palestinians that allows them to live in peace with their neighbors within the pre-1967 border? Before answering this crucial question, they may like to reflect that the days of Bantustan are over. It did not work in South Africa and it won’t work in today’s Israel. Israel gains more from a viable and functioning Palestinian state than without, and surely not with its horrible apartheid apparatus intact.

The Israeli leaders may also like to listen to former President Carter who said, “Peace will come to Israel and the Middle East only when the Israeli government is willing to comply with international law… It will be a tragedy – for the Israelis, the Palestinians, and the world – if peace is rejected and a system of oppression, apartheid, and sustained violence is permitted to prevail.”

References: (see Media Monitors Network)