Tuesday, March 30, 2010

In support of the BDS initiative by students

Apartheid is the worst thing that can happen to any nation, especially those folks who are in the receiving end of injustice and discrimination. In our times, there is hardly a state that is as criminal as the state of Israel is in terms of practicing this unholy apartheid system on its indigenous Palestinian people. The worse problem is the Government of Israel tries to portray itself as a democracy. What a joke! It can't be a democracy where the indigenous people are not allowed to live freely. It is also an expansionist, colonial enterprise that has become so arrogant that it does not mind biting the very hands that have been feeding it for years. That arrogance and criminal mindset has to be defeated for good.

Boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) are the only ways that the rogue state of Israel can be defeated to change its apartheid character. I, therefore, support the student initiative everywhere towards divestment from Israel.

Blackwater and other mercenaries must be stopped

More than 22,000 mercenaries are operating in Iraq and Afghanistan. These unaccountable hired guns have shot civilians and participated in torture at Abu Ghraib and other detention facilities, thus putting to risk our service men and women in the harm's way. Of these mercenaries, the greatest harm done to our national security and international image is that of the Blackwater, which now goes by the name Xe Corp. It is the poster child for everything that's wrong with military contractors. They've killed civilians, they've stolen weapons, they've billed the U.S. government for a prostitute, and they've changed their name multiple times to they can keep getting contracts.

The "Stop Outsourcing Security Act", introduced by Rep. Jan Schakowsky in the House (H.R. 4650) and Bernie Sanders in the Senate (S. 3023), would prohibit hiring private mercenaries like Blackwater to perform tasks traditionally done by the military. Both the Houses must pass these resolutions so that we can stop groups like the Blackwater from waging war in our name with little regard for anything beyond their bottom line.

An Open Letter to President Obama

Dear President Obama,
I have been a great supporter of your presidency since before you got elected as the President of our nation. I continue to believe that your intentions are good. However, more and more it is becoming difficult for many like me to say that you are for a change in global injustice and against war when in reality you have escalated war in Afghanistan. I understand your dilemma like that of former President Lyndon B. Johnson. But know that Afghanistan will not find a real solution with a war ravaging over her that sees the Afghans losing their loved ones in war and bombs dropped from American planes. They have to go back to their traditional ways, something that was there before the communist rule and the Soviet invasion. That can happen again, and we can facilitate that, through honorable negotiations of the Afghan people where everyone has its due share of government, and the government formed is neither dominated by a particular ethnic community nor by our puppets.

Palestine is bleeding due to Netanyahu's hard-line and criminal policies, which must be stopped. We cannot continue rewarding Israel with our hard-earned dollars, especially when we, the ordinary Americans are suffering the worst economic disaster of the new century. Israel uses our economic and military aid to kill Palestinian civilians and build settlements that undercut our own policy, let alone declared illegal by the World Court in the Hague. We must stop all funding to Israel until a real peace is found there by allowing the Palestinians to live as a free nation in the pre-1967 border. Nothing short of it will be acceptable or right.

Instead of war, please, consider investing your administration's valuable time into peace-efforts so that our world is a better place to share rather than war that fosters hostility and tension.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sex, Scandal, Modernity and Morality

The values that I grew up with and learned as a child born in South Asia nearly half a century ago are quite different than the ones preached and practiced today in the West. In our zeal to be called civilized we have automatically assumed it to equate with modernity. Thus, in our political jargon when our western leaders talk about being civilized they mean how well we have adopted the modern western way of life. That means, to be civilized you should have not just an ordinary wired telephone but a wireless/cellular phone, TV, cars, computers and other amenities of the western modern life – running faucets, western habits and consumption patterns. Minus those modern amenities, you simply are not civilized. But that is not enough! You have to also mimic western way of life. On the top of that list comes women’s liberation. That is, if women in your culture are not ‘liberated’ by discarding the traditional garb or dress, you must be ‘oppressing’ your females, and you are uncivilized! It is no accident that France and its midget president of low IQ, and born of a broken family and himself a playboy and a freemason, Nicolas Sarkozy are now defining how the ‘cultured’ ‘civilized’ French society ought to look like.
Sarkozy is married, if I am not mistaken his third time, to Carla Bruni, a singer who is more known for exhibiting her naked body than her voice. So, as you can guess: hijab and Muslim veil, worn by many traditional Muslim women, are unacceptable in that ‘emancipated’ country whose ‘civilized’ natives still have not learned the basic hygiene, let alone the true meaning of morality. If you care not to expose your kids to sex, you better switch off the TV after sunset. In such countries of sin and immorality, where sometimes you can’t distinguish a real politician from a part-time pimp and a prostitute, and, (probably pertinently so,) run by racists and bigots, it is no wonder that immigrants with their conservative values and family-oriented culture and tradition are considered a direct threat to the very foundation of those states. It is that age-old cry and fury of the ‘liberated’ inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah: you must be like us in order to reside here; there is no place for the Prophet Lut (Lot) or his righteous kind!
Sarkozy is surrounded by guys like Bernard Kuchner who not too long ago is accused by hard-hitting investigative journalist Pierre Péan in “The World According to K.” of a “possible conflict of interests” in working as a consultant in Gabon and the Democratic Republic of Congo while serving as government-appointed head of a public body supporting health services in Africa.
In the Netherlands the far-right, anti-immigrant politician Geert Wilders of the PVV has won major gains in local elections, with results indicating that he may dominate the political scene in the run-up to the general election in June. After winning the election, Wilders told cheering supporters at a rally in Almere, “We are going to conquer the entire country … We are going to be the biggest party in the country. The leftist elite still believes in multiculturalism, coddling criminals, a European super-state and high taxes.” Wilders likens the Qur’an to Hitler’s Mein Kampf and wants Muslim immigrants deported.
Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende’s Christian Democrats remain the largest party in the Netherlands, but for how long? On March 18, 2010, the PVV gave up trying to form a governing coalition in Almere, where it won more seats than any other party. In a press release, the party said most of the other parties had refused to give ground to PVV demands on what it describes as “essential issues”. The PVV’s demands included a ban on headscarves for city council workers and in all institutions and clubs “which get even one cent of council money.” The ban would not have applied to other religious items such as Christian crosses and Jewish skull caps. Is it anything but blatant discrimination and religious bigotry?
In the French-speaking Quebec province of Canada Premier Jean Charest this week proposed an anti-niqab bill. The proposed law is misguided and described by the Ottowa Citizen as a clumsy, politically-charged hammer. The newspaper says, “Of the 200,000 or so Muslims in Quebec, maybe a few dozen women wear a niqab, a veil that covers the entire face except for a slit for the eyes. To draft legislation singling out such a tiny minority suggests the law has more to do with pandering to fears about immigration -- specifically, the failure of some immigrants to integrate -- than solving any real, non-aesthetic problem posed by niqabs… The anti-niqab bill is clearly meant to be a political statement, and an ostentatious one at that, not unlike the infamous code of behaviour drafted by the Quebec town of Hérouxville in 2007 that prohibited all sorts of practices, real or imagined, that are associated with immigrants. The joke was that Hérouxville had virtually no immigrant population.” The editor is absolutely right, but will the racist politicians in Quebec see the light, or follow their racist cousin in France?
Never mind a westerner’s preference for almost everything artificial and unnatural, cosmetics and perfumes to hide his/her natural imperfections and bad body odors, are the modern amenities the real measures of civilization?
Let’s consider TV. It has both positive and negative sides. There is no doubt that it allows us to learn about our planet and galaxy. A peasant in Lalmonirhat in Bangladesh can now get a glimpse of life in Louisiana, USA – located on the other side of the globe without ever having to sail or fly there. But news, history, geography, health and science are not the only things shown on TV. Seldom do we realize that with TV, we have brought violence and sex into our family rooms, and not the kind of things family members can watch together in the same room! Just turn on any major channel in the USA between 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. You will see soap operas about dysfunctional families where everyone seems to be cheating – husband cheating his wife and vice-versa, let alone the unmarried guys and gals whose preoccupation seems all about sex. In places like Germany and France, it is much worse; you can hardly find a channel in the evening that is free of showing sexual stuffs. If this kind of lifestyle is what a western civilization has ended up producing who in the right mind would need this poison?
Unfortunately, a dominant culture is like a magnet that attracts others to mimic its ways. Many in the third world and developing countries are, therefore, learning those bad ways faster and unquestioning. Take a look at the beaches in South America where traditional bikinis worn by women are getting fast replaced by G-string bikinis. It is no surprise that we see many young boys in South Asia today with earrings, a practice that was not known or seen in the past. Many youngsters are now addicted to drugs -- another statement to show off their borrowed modernity and liberated soul. Many possess illegal arms. It is not difficult to find a strong correlation with a rise in sex-related crimes, violence and divorce in these societies today. Women in traditional homes are discarding natural herbs for synthetic cosmetics!
In this culture of modernity often times it is the large and small screen actors that become the role models to copy. The things that they wear become our fashion and style. We are not shocked any more to learn that most Hollywood actors live immoral lives; they are into drugs and sex. Divorce and sex scandal are rather common facets of life in the Hollywood. Still, sometimes we want to believe that there are some exceptions; there are happy couples. We wanted to believe that the Oscar winning best actress Sandra Bullock was happily married. But we were terribly wrong. We recently found out that she was cheated by her husband Jesse James. They were married since July 16, 2005. In March of 2010, tattoo model and stripper, Michelle “Bombshell” McGee, claimed she had an 11-month affair with James while wife, actress Sandra Bullock, was on location filming The Blind Side, the very movie that won her the Oscar. What an irony!
Poor Sandra – Ms. Congeniality! Let’s face it: Sandra is either stupid or suffers from serious hallucination. She showed very poor judgment in marrying Jesse, who is long known for immoral habits – groping employees and customers, sexual battery and harassment. I am no mind-reader and had no clue about whom Sandra had married. But by just watching the Oscar show when Sandra was giving her acceptance award, I could sense that her hubby was unfaithful to her.
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Sex Scandal Rocks the Catholic Church
The hottest topic that dominated the media the last week was all about sexual abuse scandal within the Catholic Church. In a pastoral letter last week, read aloud at all weekend Masses in the 26 Catholic dioceses spread across the Irish Republic and the six British-governed counties of the north, and handed out in printed form to thousands of churchgoers, Pope Benedict XVI apologized directly to the victims and their families in Ireland, expressing “shame and remorse” for what he called “sinful and criminal” acts committed by members of the clergy. But the pope did not require that Roman Catholic leaders be disciplined for past mistakes as some victims were hoping, and nor did he clarify what critics see as contradictory Vatican rules that they fear allow abuse to continue unpunished.
The Pope did not call for resignation of Cardinal Sean Brady, the head of the Irish church. When appointed to lead the Irish church, Cardinal Brady, who had spent 13 years working in the Vatican, was hailed as well suited to guiding the church after its battering in the abuse scandals. But church documents that surfaced this month revealed that Cardinal Brady conducted what a church statement described as a “canonical inquiry” in 1975 into abuse accusations that two boys in Northern Ireland made against the Rev. Brendan Smyth, who was publicly exposed years later as a serial abuser. Father Smyth was convicted of pedophile offenses twice in the 1990s, and died in prison. The 1975 allegations were not reported to the police at the time, a failure that the Irish church, in statements in the past week, said was the responsibility of the bishop who oversaw the investigation, not of the then Reverend Brady, whom it described as a “notetaker.”
In the case of Germany that made headlines recently, Benedict, then Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, allowed a priest named Father Peter Hullermann who was accused in 1979 of molesting boys in the western German city of Essen to move to Munich for therapy. The diocese he oversaw did not notify civil authorities of the sexual abuse allegations. Last week, a psychiatrist who treated the pedophile priest decades ago said he had repeatedly warned that the priest should never work with children again. And yet, the priest was re-assigned to parish work almost immediately after his therapy began. In 1986 Hullermann was convicted of sexually abusing boys in the Diocese of Essen, including forcing an 11-year-old boy to perform oral sex. But then again, he was allowed to continue his work with children in a series of Bavarian parishes for the next 24 years until suspended from his duties only last Monday.
What is disturbing in all this mess is that Benedict not only served as the archbishop of the diocese where the priest worked, but also later as the cardinal in charge of reviewing sexual abuse cases for the Vatican. The future pope approved the priest’s transfer to Munich. Six years later, Father Hullermann was convicted of sexually abusing children in the Bavarian town of Grafing.
The depth and history of abuse in Germany is just now becoming clear — more than 250 cases are known, with more appearing each day. At least 14 priests are under investigation by the authorities. None of the victims has yet sought reparations, but sooner or later, the church will have to offer compensation. The American church has paid $2 billion to abuses victims since 1992; can the German church afford the same?
That is not all. As more church sex abuse lawsuits are filed, more documents that have been hidden from public view for years are making their way into the courts. It was revealed last Wednesday that Ratzinger failed to defrock an American priest, Rev. Lawrence Murphy, who molested hundreds of deaf boys, despite receiving letters from a number of American bishops pleading with him to act on the matter. The pedophile priest had worked at St. John’s School for the Deaf in Wisconsin from 1950 to 1974. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, now the Vatican’s secretary of state, was Ratzinger’s second-in-command in the mid-’90s when U.S. bishops wrote about the situation surrounding Murphy. Bertone told the bishops to begin a canonical trial that would result in Murphy’s defrocking if he was found guilty, but Ratzinger called it off after receiving a letter directly from Murphy. Instead of disciplining Father Murphy, the church moved him from the region and allowed him to continue working in schools and a juvenile detention center. He died in 1998, still a priest.

It is obvious from the reports unearthed thus far that Pope Benedict has a long history, dating at least back to 1979, of condoning such sexual abuses within the Church. As a micro-manager all his life, he was on the top of all such affairs and cannot now evade accountability. He allowed the transfer of molester priests that preyed on children. There are also questions about Benedict’s directive as a Vatican cardinal in 2001 that bishops worldwide were to keep pedophilia investigations secret under threat of ex-communication. Regrettably, the church leaders chose to protect the church instead of the children.

Religion in Germany, as in other parts of Western Europe, is already weak. In the former Communist east, only 2 percent of the population go to church on Sunday; in the western states, the number is 8 percent. Germany is not only a secular country, but a sexually liberated one as well. Many Germans find the Vatican’s demand of priestly celibacy completely alien. After all, there was no such tradition before 1022 when by a decree Pope Benedict VIII imposed the celibacy condition on priesthood. It goes without saying that Germany and the Catholic Church would be better off today by rescinding that decree, thus allowing the priests to marry and have a natural life like every Joe, Dick and Harry, which may help to stop all these crimes that have plagued the Church for centuries. Indeed, in a poll conducted last week, 87 percent of Germans said that celibacy is no longer appropriate. Will the Bavarian, ex-Nazi, Pope Benedict XVI ever have that wisdom to change? Or will he consider resigning, a demand now made by many – victims and well-wishers of the church, over the snowballing pedophile priest scandal?

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Real Civilization
As a child growing up in Bangladesh, I remember the story of a rickshaw puller who stopped by a well to help a village girl to put her water pitcher on the head. Neither the doer of the kind act nor the beneficiary had to utter a single word; he knew the kind of help the girl needed. After he was able to place the water pitcher on the head of the girl, he left for his rickshaw while the girl left for her home. No “thank you” was even needed to be uttered by the girl. It was all that natural - giving and receiving. That is what real civilization is all about: where each member of the society does continuous small acts of charity without expecting reward or recognition. It is also free of hypocrisy or pretension.

Surely, a society and civilization that prides in its modernity where immorality, sex and abuse are engrained into its very core, and fascist inclinations are interwoven with its sinful and faulty character cannot be the role model or guiding light for anyone, much less for others with strong life-giving and –sustaining ethics, values and mores.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

More on the so-called Crossfire in Bangladesh

The Crossfire Controversy in Bangladesh
By
Dr. Habib Siddiqui

In recent days, following a photo exhibit on “Crossfire” at the Drik Gallery, Dhaka, much noise has been made in the media about human rights violations in Bangladesh. Last Monday an anti-government group even hosted a news conference in the National Press Club, Washington D.C.

Extra-judicial killings are unacceptable anywhere. Having said that let's not be oblivious of the hard facts in our world. Such killings are quite common everywhere and are routinely practiced by most governments to weed out elements within the society that they consider dangerous, who might otherwise escape from a faulty judicial system.

As I write this essay, Los Angeles Police officers fatally shot late Saturday night an unarmed autistic man, Steven Eugene Washington. The officers said that they thought Washington was pulling out a weapon from his waistband area, but he turned out to be unarmed. The American Civil Liberties Union is calling on the Los Angeles Police Department to review its policies following the fatal shooting of an unarmed autistic man.

According to the US State Department's Human Rights Report on Bangladesh, released on Mar 12, the law enforcement officials were responsible for 154 deaths, 129 of which were attributed to 'crossfire' in 2009, representing a 3 per cent increase from the previous year. From published reports, on an average some 255 people get murdered every month in Bangladesh, mostly by terrorists and extortionists. The average monthly numbers for robbery, hijacking and abduction are 49, 78 and 58, respectively. The death count by alleged crossfire comprises only a small fraction of that total number (less than 5%).

The US report on crossfire victims in Bangladesh appears to be based on data compiled by Odhikar, which is often cited by the accusers of human rights violations. The report claims that of the 129 people killed by government forces in 2009, only 21 were allegedly tortured to death. These probably included 5 or 6 BDR Jawans in the aftermath of the BDR massacre. One was a trial prisoner. One may take into account the mood of the country in the aftermath of the BDR carnage, when the interrogators – probably from the armed forces – must have crossed the line. While inexcusable, we saw similar fates with many detainees and innocent victims in the post-9/11 era in the USA and UK prisons. The unnatural death of any individual in a police or military custody is unacceptable. Such cases must be tried and the offenders booked for committing such crimes.

Of the 75 politically affiliated victims, only one was from the opposition BNP and two from the ruling AL, the remainders belonging to extremist organizations or banned groups. They may well be extortionists, miscreants and touts, or violent extremists. I, therefore, fail to find any truth to the accusation of a clear pattern by the government of Bangladesh in targeting any opposition party in the report.

From the identity of those killed in crossfire, it is clear that bulk of them were terrorists, extortionists, robbers, and Pahari (tribal) extremists and Naxalites, and armed gang members. Only 2 were students in a college, 2 were garment workers (died of injuries sustained in a tear gas fired by the police), 2 were villagers, 1 was a UP Chairman, 2 were young men, 1 was a madrasa student, 1 a trader, 1 a day-labor, 1 a freedom-fighter, 1 a C&F agent, 1 a farmer and 1 a shopkeeper. That makes a total of 16 civilian victims. Unfortunately, the report is not clear on how they were killed, under what circumstances, and whether or not they were killed as a result of being kept as hostages by criminal gangs or by deliberate gunshots fired from the government force. It is worth pointing out here that by “crossfire,” Odhikar lumps everything including encounter, shootout, and gunfight (p. 21). Of all those allegedly killed by RAB, only one (Bappi) was called a case of ‘mistaken identity’ (p. 68, Odhikar report).

The Odhikar report mentions about five deaths of ethnic minorities as a result of what it calls ‘repression’ of minorities. First of all, the use of such sensation generating terms in a supposedly objective report is problematic. It only shows that the agenda of the so-called human rights group may not be all that noble or sincere and my include portraying Bangladesh negatively. It is not clear whether those killed belonged to the banned terrorist organization PCJSS, which had resorted to violent activities not only against the non-paharis living in the hilly districts but also against the moderate peace-loving pahari (tribal) groups that had signed peace treaty with the government of Bangladesh. (p. 57)

While extra-judicial killing is inexcusable and should stop, it is worth noting that only a very small fraction (nothing alarming) of those killed in ‘crossfire’ in Bangladesh was innocent. Tired of the spiraling crime and corruption, and a judicial process that is sadly perceived faulty or inadequate to put the violent criminals behind the bar by allowing them to go free on bails in higher courts of the country, the general public has been very supportive of the RAB and police actions against those criminals. With such crossfire, they see one less terrorist, murderer and extortionist like Picchy Hannan, Debashis and Shahjahan, let alone the notorious Bangla Bhai who was arrested and later hanged for terrorism. Crossfire has successfully eliminated the Mafia underworld in places like Italy where the judges were either bought or killed by those killers and hit-men.

Let’s face it: even in some prosperous countries, there are serious judicial loopholes that allow criminals to find high-priced lawyers, buy the judges and go free, while many innocents are executed on mistaken identity.

An objective analysis would show that the accusations of crossfire and deliberate attempt to eliminate opposition party members in Bangladesh are untenable by any count. They are blown out of proportion and are used by certain quarters with hidden agenda to portray a very damning image of Bangladesh and to unduly put pressure on its government.

Disturbing news about AL government's curbing of ACC power

It is sad to see the ruling AL govt in Bangladesh is not keeping up with its election promises to let the crime-Czar ACC do its task uninterrupted and uncoerced. The ACC is run by a very honest bureaucrat, Golam Rahman; and many there are very capable people to do the task with right kind of provisions made by the govt. But if it is allowed to work without the biting teeth and nails, it would turn out to be a joke. There won't be any weeding out of corruption from Bangladesh. The Mahajote government ought to know that that is not why our people have put them into power. They must never weaken the ACC's power, if they are sincere. Any curbing of the ACC's power would show that they are insincere and only care about protecting themselves.

People will not forgive such a deliberate breach of election promises. Let the government read the writings on the wall. It is never too late to correct its mis-steps and stupid decisions.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

University of Ottawa denies access to the female "devil"

Ann Coulter is a symbol of hatred, bigotry and xenophobia in our media. She got much publicity in the post-9/11 era with her hate speech against Muslims, and became an overnight celebrity amongst the racists and neocons, who looked upon her as a model or diva. But to the vast majority of global citizens, she was like a female devil, worse than a whore and a beast.

It was sad to see that Canada, where I studied for two years, had allowed this bigot to appear in university campuses. Shame on those 'conservative' student bigots who have not learned the basics of humanity and yet claim to be civilized. At the first stop on her 3-campus tour, which includes U of Calgary, Coulter addressed hundreds at the University of Western Ontario. Coulter told the crowd that Muslims should be banned from airplanes and instead use 'flying carpets.' When one Muslim student asked how she should travel, as she didn't own a flying carpet, Coulter told her to "take a camel." Just look at Ann's unfathomable and inexcusable intolerance and bigotry. And yet some conservative students in Canada had no problem to invite such a preacher of hatred in their sacred institution of learning. How despicable! What is coming to Canada these days? When did hate speech become free speech?

I am glad to learn that the U of Ottawa’s student body has denied Ann the access to spread hatred in its school campus. She should know the difference between free speech and hate speech before getting into the air.

Thanks to all those U of Ottawa students, faculty and administration that stood up against bigotry and intolerance.
Thanks for the courage and showing the way of the future.

Comments on Washington DC New Conference on Bangladesh

From the published reports in the Save Bangladesh, it is clear that Muslim human rights groups like the AMT and the CAIR have been exploited by organizers of this news conference to put pressure on the Mahajote government to rescind its decision and election promise to try the war crimes of the liberation war. The subject of war crimes remains a very divisive one in Bangladesh, which saw some 3 lakh, i.e., three hundred thousand (and not million; a mistranslation of Sk. Mujib’s Bangla word 'lakh' in English to 'million' got the currency later) people killed and thousands raped. It was a savage war bringing in sometimes the worst in humanity.

It is true that Bangabandhu out of his magnanimity had declared a general amnesty to those accused or convicted for minor crimes; and that they, under the Act, were all set free. But those accused of rape, murder, arson or plunder were not pardoned. In other words, the general amnesty kept the scope of prosecution and trial of those accused of such serious crimes under the Act.

As I understand, in restarting the trial of the war criminals, the current government wants to complete the unfinished task. I am against witch-hunt of any sort and/or making capital of the trial to clamp the opposition political parties. The trial process must be fair and just, without which it would only leave a deep scar in the politics of Bangladesh. That would be undesirable.

I also believe that all the political parties that profess democracy has as much right to politics in Bangladesh as the ruling party. Jamat and other parties that believe in the constitution of the country must not be denied that privilege. For good of democracy, the government must stop acts that are counter-productive to democratic norms and values.

Much has been made in the DC news conference about ‘crossfire’. As I noted earlier, I have failed to find a single state that does not practice this. How did Italy stop the Mafia underworld when the judges were either bought or killed by those killers and hitmen? Let’s face it: we have serious judicial loopholes that allow criminals to find a high-priced lawyer, buy the judge and go free. [As a victim of land-grabbing since 2005, thanks to Saqa Chowdhury and his criminal son FQC, we are witnesses to such a sad experience.]

As I noted earlier bulk of those killed in the so-called crossfire, according to the Adhikar report, were terrorists; and only a very small fraction of innocent bystanders were caught up in the middle during such cross fires between gangs or with the police or RAB. Nonetheless, the practice, in principle, is wrong and the only way it can be stopped is by removing the judicial loopholes, improving governance and accountability.

An Alternative View of “Crossfire” getting Cross-fired

Extra-judicial killings are unacceptable anywhere. Having said that let's not be oblivious of the hard facts in our world. Such killings are quite common everywhere and are routinely practiced by most governments to weed out elements within the society that they consider dangerous, who might otherwise escape from a faulty judicial system. Consider, for instance, the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) where some 700,000 Indian soldiers are now stationed to do the administrative 'police' work. With their unsheathed bayonets they are supervising every five meters, all the time, all year round. Or look at the eastern Indian states where the government of India is in a war against the locals, who are conveniently dumped as the Naxalites or Maoists. There under the name of Operation Green Hunt, the Indian paramilitary forces are doing the ‘army’ job, hunting down the so-called Maoists. Before Operation Green Hunt, the state government armed tribal militia, which, backed by police in a state like Chhattisgarh, burned village after village. Nearly 640 villages were emptied in a text-book way of what’s known as strategic hamletting, which the Burmese SPDC regime has been routinely practicing against the Rohingyas and the Karens in the Arakan and Karen States, respectively, of Myanmar for quite some time. It was tried by the Americans in Vietnam in the 1960s and the British in Malaysia decades before during the British occupation of the territory. The operation forces locals to move into police wayside camps so that they can be controlled, and the villages are emptied so that the forests become the refuge for the ‘terrorists.’

In the last few years, tens of thousands of freedom-loving Kashmiri Muslims and 'Naxalites' have been killed by such 'crossfire.' As to other types of crimes, e.g., disappearance, rape, destruction of homes and fields, the least said the better. Just a reading of Arundhati Roy's essays in the Outlook India.com: "Walking with the Comrades" and "Azadi: It's the only thing the Kashmiri wants. Denial is delusion." and interview in the Democracy Now with Amy Goodman and Anjali Kamat last Monday is enough to see the dirty, ugly and not-so-pleasant, undemocratic realities inside India - supposedly the largest democracy in the world today.

As I write Kanu Sanyal - the legendary founder of the Naxalite movement of the 1960s in West Bengal - that heralded a violent struggle and claimed thousands of lives, died today, apparently by committing suicide. I won't be surprised to learn that he was murdered by the Indian government agencies. Such mysterious deaths are nothing new in India.

For the last 43 years, “crossfire” is sad part of life for most Palestinians and Chechens living inside the occupied territories. Thanks to the activities of the occupation forces, it is also a fact of life for many Pakistanis, Afghans and Iraqis today! Even the USA and the UK - two flag carriers of liberal democracy in our world today -- are not immune from such extra-judicial killings where many innocent people were the victims. We have seen such “crossfire” in Germany, Spain and Italy also in their wars against home-grown terrorists and the mafia underworld.

Since 2004 when the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) went into operation in Bangladesh as an elite force, it has done a wonderful job in fighting crime and terrorism. It has arrested hundreds of criminals, smugglers, fake currency manufacturers and dealers, and drug traffickers inside the country. Under the able leadership of DG - Mr. Hasan M. Khandker, NDC, it has also succeeded in keeping its politically neutral image intact. No one can blame it as another Rakkhi Bahini!

According to the US State Department's Human Rights Report on Bangladesh, released on Mar 12, law enforcement officials were responsible for 154 deaths, 129 of which were attributed to 'crossfire' in 2009, representing a 3 per cent increase from the previous year. From published reports, on an average some 255 people get murdered every month in Bangladesh, mostly by terrorists and extortionists. The average monthly numbers for robbery, hijacking and abduction are 49, 78 and 58, respectively. The death count by alleged crossfire comprises only a small fraction of that total number (less than 5%).

While extra-judicial killing is inexcusable, it is worth noting that hardly anyone killed in a ‘crossfire’ was an innocent by-stander. Tired of the spiraling crime and corruption, and a faulty judicial process, which allows criminals to go free on bails in higher courts of the country, the general public has been very supportive of the RAB actions against those criminals. With such crossfire, they see one less terrorist, murderer and extortionist like Picchy Hannan, Debashis and Shahjahan, let alone the notorious Bangla Bhai who was arrested and later hanged for terrorism.

Without RAB’s engagement, Bangladesh would have more, and not lesss, of the top terrorists like Subrata Bain, Prokash Kumar Biswas, Shahadat Hossain, Mollah Masud (of Seven Star gang), Dakat Shaheed, Haris Ahmed alias Haris, Khorshed, Tanvir Islam Joy alias Tarek Rana and Zisan (all the above now hiding in India), Jabbar Munna, Kala Jahangir, Tokai Sagar, Ashiq and Saidul (both of Kawran Bazar), Mamunur Rashid (of Nasirabad, Chittagong), Champaiya alias Abu Hanif, Jashimuddin (of Bakolia, Chittagong), Abdur Rahim and Fayyaz (of Lalkhan Bazar, Chittagong), preying upon our vulnerable people.

And yet, a liberal section within Bangladesh is very vocal about crossfire deaths. It is not difficult to comprehend why many of our concerned citizens and expatriates see anti-Bangladesh campaigns in such allegations. They suspect deep rooted conspiracy against the people and government of Bangladesh.

As I write this essay, Los Angeles Police officers fatally shot late Saturday night an unarmed autistic man, Steven Eugene Washington. The officers said that they thought Washington was pulling out a weapon from his waistband area, but he turned out to be unarmed. The American Civil Liberties Union is calling on the Los Angeles Police Department to review its policies following the fatal shooting of an unarmed autistic man.

As I have hinted above, there is hardly a single state in our days that is not blemished by accusations of crossfire. It is, therefore, simply wrong to showcase Bangladesh as the only offender. It is hypocritical when finger-pointing comes from agencies and groups that are working for states that routinely practice such abuses.

I am not aware of any photo exhibition to protest crossfire anywhere, including India. So like many concerned Bangladeshi-Americans I am suspicious about the motive of the Crossfire exhibition in Drik Gallery in Dhaka. We are told that Mahasweta Devi, a writer and social activist, came all the way from India for the inaugurating of the exhibition. As I write, more than a thousand Bangladeshis have been killed by the Indian BSF in the border areas. I am not aware of any photo exhibit inside Bangladesh or outside to showcase such grievous violations of human rights by India. Has Ms. Devi done anything to bring an end to such routine murders, committed by her own government? Has she done anything to stop or condemn the crossfire in Kashmir? If not, why all this excitement and fuss about crossfire in Bangladesh? Never mind Kashmir, I am not aware of any photo exhibit for those unfortunate Bangladeshi victims by the photo-journalist Shahidul Alam either.

In a November 1, 2009 exhibition at the same gallery, Mr. Alam tried to show the plight of the Tibetan exiles from their homeland. The exhibition titled ‘Into Exile — Tibet 1949-2009’ was also closed down by the police. We can understand Bangladesh government's reactions to the Chinese government's disapproval of such exhibits which it finds aimed at sensation generating and harmful to its national interest. Many people suspect Mr. Alam of being used by pro-Indian groups to further their case inside Bangladesh, albeit at the expense of China – the other more powerful regional power.

In the regional tug of war between India and China for supremacy, it would be ill-advised of Bangladesh to take a side. It would be stupid of any Bangladeshi to fall into traps set by groups and states that are hostile to the territorial integrity and interest of Bangladesh. Our intellectuals ought to have clear hindsight, and know their priorities well before promoting agendas that only harm our people and our national interest.

Whether we like it or not, in this age of information super highway, perception is increasingly defining our reality. As a nation, we should never let others define that perception for us. It is sad to see how some of our journalists, working for foreign interests, are abusing their freedom to report mundane matters and making mountains out of moles when more pressing needs are ignored. Like any other country in this planet, Bangladesh has tons of problems. However, crossfire is not a priority in my Pareto chart.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Christiane Amanpour to appear in the ABC Sunday news program "This Week"

I could not agree more with Danny Gallagher's informed comments about CNN journalist Christiane Amanpour. She is probably the best known TV journalist in the world today. Her knowledge of the area she travels and covers, the issues she discusses or raises and hard-probing questions she asks surely make her the best in her business. Her joining the ABC TV is a huge gain for the ABC TV and a great loss for the CNN. I am sure that as a seasoned real journalist, away from the charlatans like Barbara Walters who give a bad name to journalism, Amanpour would be able to prove her worth even when discussing domestic issues in the USA.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Recent election results in France

French voters gave Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP party a hammering in the run-off elections for regional councils. The left opposition won everywhere except Alsace and two overseas regions.

I am glad that the French people are waking up to the harms brought about by President Sarkozy, a person of less than mediocre IQ and full of ego, racism and xenophobia. His remarks in Africa were so undiplomatic that only a moron could have delivered such a talk. His anti-Islam pogroms is making France look bad in the eyes of the world. He ought to be dumped for good. I hope that the recent failure of his party in the regional election is a real sign for Sarkozy's Waterloo.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Amazing how Israel can get away from it

This is from a friend who sent to me:

Question: Which country alone in the Middle East has nuclear weapons?
Answer: Israel .

Question: Which country in the Middle East refuses to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and bars international inspections?
Answer: Israel .

Question: Which country in the Middle East seized the sovereign territory of other nations by military force and continues to occupy it in defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions?
Answer: Israel .

Question: Which country in the Middle East routinely violates the international borders of another sovereign state with warplanes and artillery and naval gunfire?
Answer: Israel .

Question: What American ally in the Middle East has for years sent assassins into other countries to kill its political enemies (a practice sometimes called exporting terrorism)?
Answer: Israel .

Question: In which country in the Middle East have high-ranking military officers admitted publicly that unarmed prisoners of war were executed?
Answer: Israel .

Question: What country in the Middle East refuses to prosecute its soldiers who have acknowledged executing prisoners of war?
Answer: Israel .

Question: What country in the Middle East created 762,000 refugees and refuses to allow them to return to their homes, farms and businesses?
Answer: Israel .

Question: What country in the Middle East refuses to pay compensation to people whose land, bank accounts and businesses it confiscated?
Answer: Israel .

Question: In what country in the Middle East was a high-ranking United Nations diplomat assassinated?
Answer: Israel .

Question: In what country in the Middle East did the man who ordered the assassination of a high-ranking U.N. diplomat become prime minister?
Answer: Israel .

Question: What country in the Middle East blew up an American diplomatic facility in Egypt and attacked a U.S. ship, the USS Liberty, in international waters, killing 34 and wounding 171 American sailors?
Answer: Israel .

Question: What country in the Middle East employed a spy, Jonathan Pollard, to steal classified documents and then gave some of them to the Soviet Union ?
Answer: Israel .

Question: What country at first denied any official connection to Pollard, then voted to make him a citizen and has continuously demanded that the American president grant Pollard a full pardon?
Answer: Israel .

Question: What Middle East country allows American Jewish murderers to flee to its country to escape punishment in the United States and refuses to extradite them once in their custody?
Answer: Israel .

Question: What Middle East country preaches against hate yet builds a shrine and a memorial for a murderer who killed 29 Palestinians while they prayed in their Mosque.?
Answer: Israel .

Question: What country on Planet Earth has the second most powerful lobby in the United States , according to a recent Fortune magazine survey of Washington insiders?
Answer: Israel .

Question: Which country in the Middle East deliberately targeted a U.N. Refugee Camp in Qana , Lebanon and killed 103 innocent men, women, and especially children?
Answer: Israel .


Question: Which country in the Middle East is in defiance of 69 United Nations Security Council resolutions and has been protected from 29 more by U.S. vetoes?
Answer: Israel .

Question: Which country in the Middle East receives more than one-third of all U.S. aid yet is the 16th richest country in the world?
Answer: Israel .

Question: Which country in the Middle East receives U.S. weapons for free and then sells the technology to the Republic of China even at the objections of the U.S. ?
Answer: Israel .

Question: Which country in the Middle East routinely insults the American people by having its Prime Minister address the United States Congress and lecturing them like children on why they have no right to reduce foreign aid?
Answer: Israel .

Question: Which country in the Middle East had its Prime Minister announce to his staff not to worry about what the United States says because "We control America ?"
Answer: Israel .

Question: What country in the Middle East was cited by Amnesty International for demolishing more than 4000 innocent Palestinian homes as a means of ethnic cleansing.
Answer: Israel .

Question: Which country in the Middle East has just recently used a weapon of mass destruction, a one-ton smart bomb, dropping it in the center of a highly populated area killing 15 civilians including 9 children?
Answer: Israel .

Question: Which country in the Middle East routinely kills young Palestinian children for no reason other than throwing stones at armored vehicles, bulldozers, or tanks?
Answer: Israel .

Question: Which country in the Middle East signed the Oslo Accords promising to halt any new Jewish Settlement construction, but instead, has built more than 270 new settlements since the signing?
Answer: Israel .

Question: Which country in the Middle East has assassinated more than 100 political officials of its opponent in the last 2 years while killing hundreds of civilians in the process, including dozens of children?
Answer: Israel .

Question: Which country in the Middle East regularly violates the Geneva Convention by imposing collective punishment on entire towns, villages, and camps, for the acts of a few, and even goes as far as demolishing entire villages while people are still in their homes?
Answer: Israel .

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Joe Liebermann’s Rogue Family

By now everyone must have heard about how the US Vice President Joe Biden was diplomatically smacked by the Israeli government. Many have blamed the hard-line conservative Israeli interior ministry for ill-timing the announcement about Israeli government’s decision to build 1600 housing complexes in the Occupied West Bank, but not the decision itself. That is, in their estimate, if the Government of Israeli (GOI) had announced the decision at a different time than Biden’s visit to the Holy Land the apparent embarrassment could have been avoided. I simply don’t accept such an explanation! How could a clear violation of international laws and repeated UN resolutions be acceptable practice if it were done at a different time?

As I said elsewhere, the US government cannot expect the GOI to take it seriously on its opposition to the settlement activities when it continues to reward the rogue state year after year with billions of dollars of economic and military aid for every such unlawful and criminal activity. The last year, it was the Gaza, some years before that it was Jenin, and now it is Biden’s visit. Who knows what is in the sleeves of these Zionist mass murderers tomorrow!

A measured response from Biden could have entailed taking an about turn and flying back home to Washington D.C. without meeting Netanyahu. As a blind supporter of the GOI all his life and an ardent Christian Zionist himself, Biden did not have the moral courage and guts to do what was needed to show Obama Administration’s seriousness about its opposition to the illegal settlement activities in the West Bank and the goal of promoting peace in the troubled area. We should have known what not to expect from the man who had famously said, “You need not be a Jew to be a Zionist!”

Well, Biden is not the only one in Washington who feels so strongly about the rogue state. When the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) – the powerful Israeli lobby - holds its annual conference next week in Washington D.C., we shall be reminded by those sycophants how greatly they are committed to the interest of the state of Israel. The star-studded roster of American, British, and Israeli leaders include Secretary Clinton who will deliver her keynote speech on Monday. Israeli leaders Netanyahu and Livni are also expected to speak later that day. Tony Blair, ex-PM of Britain will speak on Tuesday. A host of U.S. lawmakers, Jewish and Christian Zionists, will also attend the conference. AIPAC, in statement released last Sunday, has already called the Obama Administration's statements "a matter of serious concern" and added, "AIPAC calls on the administration to take immediate steps to defuse the tension with the Jewish State." Only an organization like the AIPAC can get away from such audacious demands in the USA!

Those with Jewish heritage in the US Capitol Hill cannot suppress their emotional attachment to the spoiled kid within the family. Consider the statement from the Jewish senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, who recently said, “Let’s cut the family fighting. It’s unnecessary; it’s destructive of our shared national interest. It’s time to lower voices, to get over the family feud between the U.S. and Israel. It just doesn’t serve anybody’s interests but our enemies’.” How wonderful! So, Israel is part of the family of the USA! I didn’t know when that transformation or family link was established.

Well, we can see some similarities in birth-marks and rearing – both were colonial enterprises that had succeeded in grabbing land that did not belong to them by displacing and killing the indigenous people, albeit one was a recent demonstration of that very sad tragedy while the other one was a much older one – more than two hundred years old. Both colonization schemes were led by the white European invaders or fortune-hunters and included some refugees escaping hunger and war. For a long time, when the civilized world in Asia, Africa and Latin America (including some enlightened ones within the heartlands of Europe – the very continent that had hitherto colonized the rest of the world and gave currency to such terms as genocide, pogroms, holocaust, ethnic cleansing and xenophobia) had agreed that apartheid was a dirty word, both these countries had clung to it and voted together in the UN, opposing any condemnation of the racist system. Eventually, the USA was able to get out of that poisonous mindset and evolve, which helped to trigger the dawn of an anti-apartheid South Africa of Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and Oliver Tambo. But not Israel! She remains the only apartheid state in our time. As such, while the US domestic policy has taken a quantum leap to become internally plural and integrating, Israel -- the other racist and apartheid entity -- continues to go the opposite way deeper and deeper. Nevertheless, in the troubled Middle East, she is still deemed a partner of the USA -- a harmful one, if we can call a spade a spade!

Such an objective fact and data-based analysis, requiring condemnation of Israel for its sabotaging and backstabbing acts, however, cannot be expected from someone like Joe Lieberman who has been an unapologetic promoter of the Israeli interest in the USA. To guys like him, Israel comes first, ahead of the USA. So, it is not difficult to understand why he did not come to defend Biden and censure his Khajarite cousins in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Instead, his censuring remarks were aimed at everyone (including the Obama Administration) that had chided the rogue state for its ungrateful act during Biden’s recent visit to Israel. To him, we should all forget the embarrassment within our dysfunctional family and go about doing our usual stuffs; Israel can harm our national interest, but it is excusable since she belongs to our family!

I refuse to accept that line of claptrap, baloney explanations from anyone, much less from an unabashed friend of the state of Israel. Sooner or later the American public must come to the realization that Israeli interest has been always and remains today detrimental to our American national interest for the region. We would have been much better off today without such a blind patronage of the rogue state and its marauding activities. We won’t have all those wars in which thousands of our American soldiers died and got injured. We won't have 9/11. We won’t have Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. We won’t have Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan to deal with simultaneously. We won’t have the economic meltdown, unemployment and financial crisis that plague our economy today. Lest we forget many of those filthy rich bankers, financiers, Ponzy pyramid schemers and Wall Street crooks and frauds were dual citizens of the state of Israel, who took us for a steep downward ride in which tens of millions of our people lost all their lifetime savings, and don’t have jobs to work and homes to live in today. And yet, we continue to bankroll the rogue state while abandoning much needed stimulus activities at home. There is a term to explain our government attitude: it is called insanity. We simply have lost our minds and are unmindful of our national priorities in times of crisis. How long can we afford to behave like an ostrich with its head buried under the sand?

With her hundreds of WMDs and nuclear arsenals, the damn-care attitude in international affairs and lack of respect for human lives at home against the native Palestinians, Israel remains the most dangerous state on earth. Any objective-minded historian that has studied the past and analyzed the current activities of the rogue state will agree to this harsh review. But facts are facts and cannot be hidden under the rug, at least for too long.

In a recent press interview, broadcast by a Hebrew radio, Israeli military historian Martin van Creveld (author of the book – The Culture of War) stated that Israel could find itself one day forced to exterminate the European continent using all kinds of weapons including its nuclear arsenal if it felt its demise neared, stressing that Israel also considers Europe a hostile target. “We have hundreds of nuclear warheads and missiles that can reach different targets in the heart of the European continent, including beyond the borders of Rome, the Italian capital,” Creveld said, adding that most of the European capitals would become preferred targets for the Israeli air force. As for the Palestinians, Creveld said that Israel at the present time pursues a specific strategy based on mass deportation of the Palestinian people and has intentions to expel all Palestinians without exception, but it is awaiting the right moment to take this step. Replying to a question whether Israel has fears of being classified as a criminal state if it expelled Palestinians, he said, “Israel is a state that does not care about what others say about it and you must remember the saying of former defense minister Moshe Dayan when he said that ‘Israel must always act as a wild dog because it should be dangerous in the eyes of others, rather than be harmed.’”

This statement, straight from the mouth of Israel's military historian, sums it up for Israel's attitude towards others, including the indigenous Palestinians. In his talk, Creveld highlighted that Israel must take advantage of any incident that would give it a golden opportunity to expel the Palestinians as she did following the Deir Yassin massacre in 1948. Much that the friends of Israel won’t admit in the public, what Creveld said is the ground reality since Day 1 of her occupation of the Palestinian territories. The latest Gaza massacre was only a footnote to that blood-soaked history of elimination. What has been annexed by force will not be returned to the dispossessed people! Peace is not what Israel desires but hypocrisy is -- which allows for negotiations that are aimed at extracting more concessions from the displaced while giving away nothing. So, the Israeli security concerns become the main focus of such discussions but not the land that was annexed earlier illegally.

Currently, there are two Arab/Muslim narratives to dealing with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. One, a majoritarian view, which says that America is capable of disciplining her spoiled brat - Israel; so, give her a chance to fix the problem equitably. The other, a minority view, held by some pragmatic and yet revolutionary elements within the groups like the Hamas, which says that America is not a neutral broker and cannot, therefore, be trusted to deliver on her promise for a Palestinian homeland within the pre-1967 border; and as such, prolonged struggle with Israel is the only option left open. However, the current events, especially Israel’s preference for continued settlement activities in Arab Jerusalem and other parts of West Bank, including embarrassing Biden – a long-time cheerleader for the state, show that the majoritarian view may be wrong.

As to the Israeli side, there are three narratives, according to Thomas Friedman of the New Times. In a March 17, 2010 op/ed, he writes: “Ever since Israel occupied the West Bank and its Palestinian population in 1967, Israelis have faced a dilemma: Do they want a Jewish state, a democratic state and state in all of the land of Israel (Israel plus the West Bank)? In this world, they can have only two out of three. Israel can be Jewish and democratic, but not if it keeps the West Bank, because the Palestinians there plus all the Israeli Arabs will eventually outnumber the Jews. It can be Jewish and keep the West Bank, but then it can’t be democratic; Arabs will be the majority. It can be democratic and keep the West Bank, but then it can’t be Jewish.” However, as noted by Israeli historian Creveld and others the majoritarian view today appears to favor a Jewish state without the presence of (i.e., by expelling) the native Palestinians.

If the Obama administration is serious about a peaceful resolution to the crisis, much in common with the wishes of the vast majority in the Middle East, it is high time for it to wake up to the troubling realities of Israeli actions which undermine its stated objectives and goals for the region and get its acts together. It should know that it cannot expect to discipline a bully overnight when all these years it has not only turned blind eyes to its excesses and savagery but rewarded it handsomely with billions of dollars of aid packages, a practice which continues even today to the embarrassment of many who had believed in Obama. Those tax dollars to Israel have gone into buying Caterpillar tractors that killed an American - Rachel Corrie, let alone demolished thousands of Palestinian homes and shops, and tens of hospitals and schools, and destroyed the entire infrastructure inside the Palestinian held territories. Those American handouts have also enabled Israel to buy American ammunition, tanks and planes that killed American servicemen in the USS Liberty, let alone killing thousands of unarmed Palestinian civilians including infants. It is not difficult to understand why such aids must stop. And there is no better time than right now to act on such wise measures.

But will the White House and Capitol Hill understand such ground realities and straighten its rogue ‘family member’? Or, will it continue to defend her, risking all the goodwill in the post-Bush era? Which one?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

What will it take to dismantle the Apartheid character of the Zionist State?

In the last 62 years, the state of Israel has transformed itself from a colonial, settler Jewish state to a Zionist expansionist empire, albeit without an emperor, in the heart of the Middle East where through its racist and apartheid policies and programs it has ensured that the only way the indigenous Palestinian people could live there is by relegating upon themselves a third-class status, which is worse than what the Apartheid regime had imposed upon the Black indigenous people of South Africa. That transformation was aided and facilitated by the powerful western states, the Jewish Lobby, their pro-Israeli politicians, donors, sympathizers (thanks to the Holocaust industry and the Hollywood), merchants and promoters of war. The Israeli leaders and its ‘Amen Corner’ within the Capitol Hill have been abusing the U.S. promise to stand by a “secure” Israel as a blank cheque to undermine the stated American aims for the region. Between 1990 and 2010, the number of settlers almost quadrupled from about 78,000 in 1990 to around 300,000. Had it not been for such financial aids, military assistance and strategic cooperation the settler enterprise could not have survived, let alone do its war crimes unchecked and unpunished.
The Middle East is, however, not Israel alone. There is oil, produced in the surrounding Muslim countries, which the USA and other western friends of Israel need. That is where the face of US and EU public diplomacy comes that tries to present itself as a mediator to find an accommodation for the displaced, indigenous Palestinians in the Holy Land. In such negotiations, the United States ends up as “Israel’s lawyer” rather than an honest broker. As noted last month in a NY Times Op/ed column, there is little hope for shifting the domestic constraints and overcoming the overwhelming power of the Jewish Lobby for the Obama administration to deliver on its promise for a viable Palestinian state. With never-ending settlement activities inside the Occupied Territories of East Jerusalem for the last four decades a two-state solution seems an impossible reality. Day by day, inch by inch, the physical space for the second state, Palestine, is disappearing. America has allowed this self-defeating process to advance to near irreversibility. In fact, it has helped fund it.
The Zionists and the friends of Israel, inside and outside the apartheid state, ignore the simple truth that past persecution of the Jews cannot be a license to subjugate another people, the Palestinians. Through their devious ploys and sinister plans, let alone savagery and war crimes, the Zionists have managed to hijack and tarnish Judaism -- the religion of the great prophets of the Bible. Outside a hardcore band of Christian Zionists, there are very few sympathizers today for the Zionist state. Little do these cheerleaders realize that Israel’s own misguided policies are to blame for an erosion of public sympathy! Some of the Israeli veterans of the operation against Palestinian enclaves are also getting tired of being used as killing machines. In their testimony, cited in a booklet by the organization “Breaking the Silence” and quoted in the Goldstone Report, these veterans said that the rules of engagement included directives like “"if you see any signs of movement at all, you shoot.”
When the civilized world cries out foul about the despicable treatment of the Palestinians inside the Occupied Territories, esp. the genocide in Gaza, Israeli leaders equate activities of the Hamas to the Nazis in Germany. It is doubtful that any historian of stature would buy that comparison between Hamas and the Nazis, or between the London Blitz and the Qassam rockets on Sderot. In the Blitz, 400 German bombers and 600 fighter planes killed 43,000 people and destroyed more than a million homes. Hamas' Qassams, perhaps the most primitive weapon in the world today, have killed 18 people in eight years. Whom are the Zionists fooling? And if we can compare Hamas to the horrific Nazi killing machine, why shouldn’t others compare the Nazis' behavior to that of Israeli soldiers that killed thousands of Palestinian civilians?
How long can the Israeli leaders and their partners-in-crime blackmail the guilt-ridden western world? How long can they count on the support received from the financially-troubled West? As I write, some 15 million Americans are still without job, hundreds of schools are closing down for lack of funding, and millions don’t have basic healthcare. And yet, in his FY2011 budget request to Congress, President Obama included a record-breaking $3 billion in military aid to Israel. That tax money could have been used instead to provide more than 364,000 low-income households with affordable housing vouchers, or to retrain 498,000 workers for green jobs, or to provide early reading programs to 887,000 at-risk students, or to provide access to primary health care services for more than 24 million uninsured Americans. The contribution from my state of Pennsylvania alone towards military aid to Israel in the FY2009-2018 is $1.275 billion. This tax-money could have been spent instead for needed domestic programs, such as, to provide 15,483 households per year with affordable housing grants, or provide 21,167 job seekers per year w/green jobs training, or provide 37,702 children per year w/early reading education, or provide 1,032,659 people per year w/primary health care. According to the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem, during the Bush Administration Israel killed at least 3,107 innocent Palestinian civilians, most of them by hi-tech U.S. weapons provided to Israel at taxpayers’ expense. It won’t be too long that ordinary Americans would wake up to realize how their hard-earned tax money is spent to finance a foreign government that has indirectly contributed to their troubles and demand a change of their ‘no-question asked’, ‘blind-eye’ attitude towards Israel from their elected representatives.
Israelis must recognize that if they are against a viable Palestinian state living side by side then there will be one state between the river and the sea and very soon there will be more Palestinian Arabs in it than Jews. What then will become of the Zionist dream? Will they prefer that alternative? As children and grandchildren of ghetto-living European Jewry they ought to know that a democracy reserved for privileged citizens while all others are denied individual and national rights and kept behind checkpoints, barbed wire fences and separation walls manned by Israel’s military, is not democracy. That is why the current status quo is no solution, and will only weaken the very foundation of the Zionist state. It’s time for President Obama to ask such tough questions in public and demand of Israel that it work in practice to share the land rather than divide and rule it.
In the 1980s the Pretoria regime caved under the overwhelming weight of economic sanctions that were imposed from outside. These sanctions eventually forced the regime to change its apartheid character and become a democracy that it is today. In a Financial Times column, Henry Siegman wrote, “Prospects for such international action may serve as the only remaining inducement for Israel to accept a two-state solution. Not only its legitimacy but its survival as a Jewish and democratic state depends on it.” (Feb. 23, 2010) Will Israel need such a push to change her characteristics? Or, will it self-correct its inhuman ways before such sanctions are imposed from the civilized world?

References:
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1122612.html; http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1115418.html
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/12session/A-HRC-12-48.pdf
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1125890.html
http://www.thenation.com/blogs/notion/476734/the_goldstone_report_on_gaza
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1125593.html
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1125986.html
Human Rights Watch World Report, 2003, Human Rights Watch, p. 460.
http://articles.latimes.com/2002/may/01/world/fg-un1
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/1974389.stm
For more information on IAW, see: http://apartheidweek.org/
http://endtheoccupationblog.blogspot.com/2010/03/richard-cohen-says-its-not-apartheid.html
http://www.shovrimshtika.org/news_item_e.asp?id=30
No less demagogic was Netanyahu’s attack on the Iranian regime. “They shoot demonstrators there,” he protested vehemently, as if they don't do that in Bil'in, Na'alin and other occupied territories against the Palestinian demonstrators.
http://www.aidtoisrael.org/
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/48a4a5e6-20b2-11df-9775-00144feab49a.html?nclick_check=1

Israel and its Apartheid character

The coming Tuesday, 16 March, will be the 7th year since Rachel Corrie, an American peace activist, was killed by an Israeli Army bulldozer while trying to stop the demolition of a Palestinian building in the Rafah refugee camp. A court case brought by her family has begun in Israel. The civil action against the Israeli defence ministry will decide whether damages should be paid for her death in Gaza at the age of 23. Her family has maintained that a full investigation was never carried out. In an interview with the Democracy Now, her family says that Israel may not allow Rachel Corrie’s Palestinian doctor and the witnesses in Gaza to testify for the case. There is strong possibility that the driver who murdered Corrie will also not be allowed to take the witness stand. Well, those of us who have been following the “only” democracy in the Middle East for quite some time are not surprised by such legal stonewalling from the apartheid state.

It was not too long ago that the Israeli government rejected the conclusion of the UN Human Rights Council’s fact-finding mission on the December-January (2008-2009) Gaza conflict. The Goldstone Report accused Israel of violating international humanitarian law, committing "grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention in respect of willful killings and willfully causing great suffering to protected persons," and war crimes, possibly even crimes against humanity. The Israeli ambassador to the UN dubbed the report as being "conceived in hate and executed in sin." Imagine what would have been the reaction if the UN fact-finding mission was not headed by a Jewish judge! With a 344-36 vote, the US House of Representatives passed a non-binding resolution that urged President Obama and Secretary Clinton to oppose unequivocally any endorsement of the report. Mindful of the Israeli sensitivity and pressure from its powerful Lobby, the Obama Administration dodged the UN debate last November.

This was not the only time that the US government had bailed out the rogue state from being held accountable for its gross violations of human rights and international law. Consider the Jenin massacre of April 2002 when, according to Human Rights Watch, many of the victims were “killed willfully or unlawfully, and in some cases constituted war crimes." Examples highlighted in the Report include the case of 57-year old Kamal Zugheir who was shot and then run over by IDF tanks while in his wheelchair, and that of 37-year old Jamal Fayid, a quadriplegic crushed to death in the rubble of his home after an IDF bulldozer advanced upon it, refusing to allow his family to intervene to remove him. Israel did not allow emergency workers into the Jenin refugee camp after the massacre of Palestinians had ended. On April 19 the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a resolution to send a fact-finding mission to Jenin, which was blocked entry on April 23 by the Israeli government. On May 2, in the face of mounting pressure from the AIPAC that had influenced President Bush, Secretary General Kofi Annan disbanded the U.N. fact-finding team, which had been waiting in Geneva for nearly a week to begin its mission. Later, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution condemning Israel's military action in Jenin. The USA was one of the four countries that voted against the resolution.

Israel remains the only state in our world that has the unbridled audacity to bite the very hands that feed her. There is nothing that the generous feeder could do to stop such an unthankful conduct. Consider for instance the recent 5-day trip by the US Vice President Joe Biden to Israel to put some life back into the moribund peace process. Since day one the Obama administration has been calling for a total freeze in the settlement activities by the expansionist regime. But does the Netanyahu administration care? No. Earlier this week it approved 1,600 new homes for ultra-Orthodox Jews in East Jerusalem (West Bank), a move considered illegal under international law. The timing for the announcement could not have been any more audacious than this. Biden, a long time supporter of the Zionist state, is embarrassed. “I condemn the decision. ...,” he said in a statement. The word came after he had spent the day vowing the United States’ “absolute, total and unvarnished commitment to Israel’s security.”

In his meeting with the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday in the West Bank, Biden said, "Yesterday, the decision by the Israeli government to advance planning for new housing units in East Jerusalem undermines that very trust - the trust that we need right now in order to begin as well as produce profitable negotiations." The same day the European Union urged Israel to reverse its housing decision.
Commenting on the Israeli decision, Arab League chief Amr Moussa said, "The insult has reached a point that not a single Arab could accept." He further said, "Israel does not care about anybody, neither the mediator, nor the Palestinians." Not surprisingly, Abbas said that he would not enter indirect talks with Israel.
Last year, the US Congress approved President Obama’s FY2010 budget request for a near-record $2.775 billion in military aid to Israel—an increase of $225 million in aid to Israel compared with FY2009 budget—despite the fact that the United States was in its gravest economic crisis since the Great Depression and that there was no chemistry between Obama and Netanyahu when the two met last year. Based on IRS statistics, this amounted to an average of $17.75 for each individual taxpayer in the United States. If you thought that was amazing, consider the fact that the average taxpayer will provide Israel with $19.19 in weapons as his/her contribution towards President Obama's FY2011 budget request for $3 billion in military aid to Israel. Do you see any penalty for the Zionist state’s rogue mentality, undermining American goals? According to Congressional Research Service, the United States has provided Israel with more than $100 billion in direct military and economic aid since 1949. The U.S. aid to Israel totaled $28.9 billion over the past decade, a sum that dwarfs aid to any other nation and amounts to four times the total gross domestic product of Haiti. Between 2009 and 2018, the United States is scheduled to give Israel--the largest recipient of U.S. aid -- $30 billion in military aid.

Vice President Biden said the U.S. is committed to the creation of a "viable" Palestinian state with contiguous territory. What is he going to do now against the rogue state that does not even put a halt to settlement building? Probably nothing other than swallowing his own vomit! That has been the story of American influence on Israel. Every politician there is afraid of the power of the Jewish lobby and its media! In a New York Times editorial Thursday President Obama is blamed for Israeli actions. Just figure out!
The 6th International Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) is currently underway from March 1 to 14 March. The aim of IAW is to educate people about the nature of Israel as an apartheid system and to build Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns as part of a growing global BDS movement. The friends of Israel are quite uncomfortable with all the publicity surrounding this annual international series of events held in cities and campuses across the globe. Many of them blame President Carter for coining the phrase. However, the similarity is much older.
As noted by the US Campaign to End the Occupation the similarities (shown below) with the erstwhile Apartheid South African regime are unmistakable:
• The South African apartheid regime broke the country into 10 noncontiguous Bantustans made of 13% of the total land, which were to serve as “homelands” for the black population. Israel’s “separation wall/fence” and settlements have broken the Palestinian territories into 12 noncontiguous cantons representing only 12% of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.
• Palestinians rely on Israeli-issued “permits” to travel through a system of more than 600 checkpoints within the occupied territories. Israeli refusal to issue permits regularly prevents Palestinians from getting to schools, jobs, and even hospitals. In apartheid South Africa Blacks could be arrested to being outside of Bantustans and townships without government issued “passes.”
• Black people in South Africa could not be citizens, and Colored people were only granted limited citizenship rights. Palestinians in the occupied territories are not citizens of any state, and Palestinian citizens of Israel have different citizenship rights than Israeli Jews. Palestinian residents of Jerusalem are not citizens of Israel--instead, they have a partial "residency" status, one that can be taken away by the state if an individual is deemed to "no longer reside" in their city of birth.
• East Jerusalem and the West Bank are splintered by a network of roads leading to illegal Israeli settlements (where residence is open only for Jewish citizens of Israel); these roads can only be used by Israelis, while Palestinians must use older, often unpaved roads.
• Within Israel, Palestinian citizens are discriminated against by a series of laws, policies, and regulations, including restrictions on the right of Palestinians to own land, inequalities in funding of schools and municipalities, inequalities in the land open to development around Arab towns and cities versus Jewish towns and cities, inequalities in the granting of building permits, and citizenship laws that discriminate against Palestinians. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel recently issued a challenge to one of these discriminatory citizenship laws, which bans Palestinian spouses of Israeli citizens from gaining Israeli citizenship. (For more information on the discrimination faced by Palestinian citizens of Israel, check out the websites by the Arab Association for Human Rights, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, and Adalah Legal Center for Minority Rights in Israel).
• Citizenship laws also discriminate against Palestinian refugees, who are denied their right of return while Israel grants citizenship to any Jewish person from anywhere in the world.
• Even in language, Israel's policies toward Palestinians resemble apartheid. The Hebrew word "hafrada," which is used to refer to the Wall and to the policy of "disengagement," means separation (as in "separation barrier"). Apartheid is an Afrikaner word which also means separation.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Comments on Dr. Malik’s essay on the Peelkhana tragedy

There is no doubt that our people are somewhat dissatisfied with either the slow pace of the inquiry and trial of the captured culprits or the published government reports on the Peelkhana tragedy. Bangladesh is however not unique in such lengthy trial processes. We notice the same slow paced process with the trial of the alleged masterminds of 9/11 here in the USA; it is taking 7-8 years now. However, our public wants faster, transparent and fair process to unearth the truth.

Many Bangladeshis do suspect that the government wants to put a lid into the fact-finding process so that the real truth may never come out. A section suspects that some folks within the Awami League were involved in the murder plan. A few others also see the RAW connection to weaken our armed forces. Early in the process, a govt minister even suspected Islamist connection, only to be rejected in the subsequent CID inquiry report. A much circulated internet posting even mentioned that beside MPs like Nanok, Azam, Taposh and Dr. Alamgir, there was even involvement of PM's son Joy and Sohel Taj - the late first PM Tajuddin's son, even suggesting that the PM herself gave a nod to the murder plan. A retired Army officer even told that 2/25 was a revenge for August 15, 1975 massacre. Where is the truth in all these accusations? Are there proofs substantiating such claims or charges?

As a keen observer of the matter, esp. given the fact that I was also in Bangladesh at the time, I am very serious about finding the truth. I had met some government officials, ministers and the Police chief just around the time when the sad tragedy happened to discuss expatriate matters. Last year Sunita Paul (a ghost writer with probable foreign intelligence connection) even suggested that IGP Nur Mohammad was a party to the 2/25 crime; she even had mentioned discussions between Joy and Taj about the murder plan. I have found such charges to be too ludicrous to be taken seriously, esp. how could the IGP be a party to the crime that widows his own daughter? Where did she get such info? The stories were hemmed together as if Sunita was there as a third person when Joy and Taj communicated. It sounded too unbelievable! Are those charges all based on rumors or truth? If latter, where is the source? If not, are such disinformation campaigns part of a very calculated plan to bring about a civil war or coup in Bangladesh aimed at steering the Army against the elected government, an event which may surely bring about the curse of incursion of the Indian forces into the soil of Bangladesh? We don't have any easy answer on many such unanswered questions, thus adding to the frenzy we see with 'conspiracy' theories. My recent article in the Internet tried to bring such unanswered questions to the public's mind.

I have tried to do my own research, trying to put the puzzles together. Thanks in my effort there to the cooperation I received from some of old contacts from cadet college days that now serve or retired from the Bangladesh Army. Many of my juniors from Cadet College were killed in that sad event, which puts an extra burden on me to unearth the truth. One way to describe my findings is - it is bizarre. I am still puzzled and don't seem to have the right answer. Let me share some of the findings below:

In recent days, I have seen two PDF files that seem to record confessional statements from some killers within the BDR. There the confessors to 2/25 tragedy name some of the MPs mentioned above. Apparently these MPs were approached by the rebel planners with their demands, which I presume had no murder-clause, since the demands were even posted on various places inside the BDR HQs before the sad event. (The DG of BDR and his intelligence officers knew of those demands. To them, it was a matter that could be addressed in the Darbar Hall and settled. Obviously, they were not panicked.) The MPs seemingly promised to help the planners meet their legitimate grievances. In one such meeting, it is said that when the planners mentioned that they might take the officers as hostages in the Darbar Hall, MP Taposh cautioned them to limit the death toll to not more than two. Even that caution is rather problematic given that a single death of an officer is too many. Supposing that the PDF file is authentic, how trustworthy is that confession itself? Is the confessed killer trying to muddy the scene by putting words into the mouth of the MP, who had lost his family in 1975? If, on the other hand, the confession is 100% authentic, it shows a rather very disturbing image of our politics and an elected MP who is PM's relative. I am at a loss to express my serious disappointment! That is why in my article on the Peelkhana tragedy I suggested that an inquiry needs to happen to probe such links of the accused MPs and politicians, failing which people will always entertain serious doubts about the innocence or guilt of those politicians, rightly or wrongly.
The other facts or fictions that emerge from those two PDF files I received are that all planners were local players and that there was no mention of any outside player like the RAW or whatsoever. Is that the whole truth?
One confessor said that the planners needed to collect some money towards a fund for two butchers for killing the DG and his wife. This sounds unbelievable when we can imagine that the armed BDR jawans themselves were enough to kill those two hated personalities, and did not truly need any cow-butcher from the bazaar to finish off the task. And the PDF file suggests that they collected thousands of taka for that butcher-job. I simply don't know how much to believe in such confessions.
Another story that emerges from those two files is that all the killings happened very early on within the first hour or so of the Darbar Hall meeting, much in contrast to other "conspiracy" theories. That is even if the Army or RAB had moved in the late or mid-morning AM hours of 2/25 there was no way to save any officer unless the guy had escaped by hiding himself, which some did. (Although an Internet posting in the NFB puts a different twist to this confession.) It is true though that some looting and other harassment of the family members of some officers could have been avoided if the Army had successfully moved in to quell the mutiny. The confessors also don't mention about getting aided by any outside agency or arms suppliers. They claimed to have looted the guard house for arms early in the morning.

So, what to make of such confessions? How to explain the deaths of some witnesses that were brought in for quizzing? I don't have answers to such puzzling questions.

Whenever our country has witnessed similar scenarios, we have assumed foreign involvement, whether or not such connections were there. The 2/25 tragedy is one more event in that direction where such theories have again emerged. May be there is some truth in those claims and theories. But I have failed to unearth any foreign connection thus far for 2/25. I am also aware that to some criminals, who are worse than beasts, such kind of murders and crimes are dal-bhat type matters. We have seen those since August 15 of 1975 when two pregnant women and a nine-year old child was killed. Their crime was that they belonged to the family of Sk. Mujib. That was good enough to kill them! It was a sad and sickening event to recall such murders of innocent human beings, although there are many that celebrate such a horrendous crime and justify political murders. Unless we, as a nation, stop condoning such horrendous crimes, we shall be visited by such crimes. That is the sad lesson of history that we sometimes like to ignore.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

US Congressional Panel's Decision Against Turkey Shows Blatant Hypocrisy

Last Thursday a U.S. congressional panel approved a resolution declaring, what it called, the Ottoman-era killing of Armenians genocide. The U.S. foreign affairs committee endorsed the resolution with a 23-22 vote even though the Obama administration had urged Congress not to approve it. The resolution now goes to the full House, where prospects for passage are uncertain.

Turkey has always maintained, and rightly so based on objective investigation of the matter by unbiased historians that the Armenian toll in 1915-16 has been inflated and those killed were victims of civil war and unrest, not genocide. Turkish government has pulled its ambassador home as a protest of the U.S. congressional panel decision.

While the death of those Armenians during World War I has often been dubbed as genocide, perpetrated by the Ottoman Turks, it should be noted that the Ottoman Empire was a distant memory since 1908 after the Young Turks, run by the Freemasons, had taken effective control of the falling Caliphate. It was its Committee of Unity and Progress (CUP) that entered the war on Germany's side in 1914. Those Freemasons had little, if any, love for Islam or the old Ottoman Caliphate. To most Muslims, those secular fundamentalist - Young Turks were traitors.

The CUP never developed an anti-Armenian doctrine and yet it is accused of committing genocide. Let’s take a look at the definition of the loaded term. Article Two of the UN Convention on Genocide of December 1948 describes genocide as carrying out acts intended "to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group". From this definition, it’s easy to comprehend why the mass killings in Bosnia, Chechnya, Kosovo and Rwanda, and of course, the exterminating campaigns during the World War II against the Jews, gypsies and some other minorities qualify as genocidal campaigns. But do the case of Armenians in Turkey (1915-16) fall into that category?

The death of those Armenians remains a highly controversial subject. Like any other genocide debate it is also a very sensitive subject for the players involved. Depending on which side one listens to the opinions may vary drastically. Thus, unless one is unbiased and objective, the conclusions drawn may be wrong, further feeding to the controversy.

Armenians claim that some 1.5 million died. This number seems untenable given the fact that studies of the Ottoman census by unbiased historians and other contemporary estimates show that far fewer than 1.5 million Armenians lived in the relevant areas before the war. So, how could the number of those killed be more than the total that lived? In this context it is worth pointing out that the census bureau was headed by an Ottoman Armenian --Migirdic Shabanyan from 1897-1903. He can’t be accused of lying on behalf of the Ottoman state.

Yusuf Halacoglu, president the Turkish Historical Society (TTK), estimates that with the deportations (excluding inter-ethnic violence) a total of 56,000 Armenians perished during the period due to war conditions, and less than 10,000 were actually killed.

Almost all Turkish intellectuals, scientists and historians accept that many Armenians died during the conflict, but they do not consider these events to be genocide. A number of Western academics in the field of Ottoman history, including (late) Bernard Lewis (Princeton University), Heath Lowry (Princeton University), Justin McCarthy (University of Louisville), Gilles Veinstein (College de France), and Stanford Shaw (UCLA) have expressed serious doubts as to the genocidal character of the events. They offer the opinion that the weight of evidence instead points to serious inter-communal warfare, perpetrated by both Muslim and Christian irregular forces, aggravated by disease and famine, as the causes of suffering and massacres in Anatolia and adjoining areas during the First World War.

It is not difficult to understand why in his book "Armenia: Secrets of a 'Christian' Terrorist State" the late historian and author Samuel Weems wrote, "Many scholars and authors throughout the Western world are in agreement that rarely, in the pages of history, have facts been so deliberately altered to deceive and create an untrue picture. ... These Armenians are coming up with more Armenians murdered than there were Armenians in Anatolia."

Professor Justin McCarthy, an American historian who is an expert on late Ottoman era history, believes that orthodox Western histories of the declining Ottoman Empire are biased, since they are based on the testimonies of biased observers: Christian missionaries, and officials of (Christian) nations who were at war with the Ottomans during World War I.

And yet in spite of such overwhelming verdicts of unbiased historians, many in the West have dubbed the loss of Armenian civilian lives as the first genocide of the 20th century. A BBC report even called it the first genocide in recorded history. Forgotten in all such inflated and disingenuous charges is the mere fact that more than half a million Muslim civilians were massacred in that era by Armenian irregular units and Armenian revolutionary groups compromised of the Dashnaks, the Hunchaks, and the Ramgavars, in addition to the French Armenian Legion and the British and Russian backed Armenian volunteer units.

In their naked bias, they also ignore that there were other more horrendous crimes that were and continues to be perpetrated by the western colonizing forces. For that we need not go too far down in history lane to the extermination campaigns against the aboriginals in Tasmania and rest of Australia and New Zealand, or against the Native Americans in the Americas. Consider for instance the case of Bengal (Bangladesh) under the East India Company and the British Raj, soon after the fall of Nawabi Rule in the Battle of Plassey. It was their heavy handedness with revenue collection that led to the horrible famine of 1769-1773 (corresponding to Bangla Year 1176-1180, and more commonly therefore known as “Chiatturer monontor”) killing some 15 million people of Bengal (that included Bihar and Orissa states of India). One in every three person perished in that great famine. It was all man-made, triggered, executed and authored by the English colonizers so that the size of the conquered subjects was manageable. Even the inflated number for the so-called Armenian Genocide pales in comparison to the genocide committed by the British against the people of Bengal. As to the extermination campaign against Muslims in Russia, since the 19th century (Imperial period to Putin’s Russia), the least said the better! It was all along, and remains, a pure case of ethnic cleansing in which in some places up to one third of the Muslims died. [Interested readers may like to read this author’s speech at the University of California, Santa Barbara (1982) – The Muslim Minorities of the Soviet Union.]

Never mind that the Iraqi War of 2003 was illegal and unnecessary. What about the Anglo-American embargo against Iraq since the Bush Sr. and Clinton era when some half a million children, below the age of five, died before Bush-Cheney’s invasion of 2003? It would be utter folly and blatant hypocrisy to deny the genocidal impact of that embargo that targeted and killed civilians. While American general Tommy Frank may not like to count civilian deaths in Iraq, it is estimated that more than a million unarmed Iraqi civilians died as a result of the 2003 invasion. And all these crimes in the 21st century, in spite of all the so-called humane laws and regulations we have today, and the technically superior killing machines like the so-called “smart” bombs that are supposed to spare civilian lives! The children born in Fallujah nowadays are showing distinct signs of U.S. use of biological and chemical warfare against the Iraqis. If we are looking for an honest evaluation it is not Saddam Hussein that used WMDs but Bush & Blair, who should face International Court of Justice for committing war crimes. They committed genocide.

The level of heart defects among newborn babies in Fallujah is said to be 13 times higher than in Europe, i.e., 95 per 1,000 births. The BBC world affairs editor John Simpson visited a new, US-funded hospital in Fallujah and saw children in the city who were suffering from paralysis or brain damage - and a photograph of one baby who was born with three heads. Most of the children born in the post-invasion period in those places where uranium depleted bullets and shells were used have six fingers and toes, instead of five. (BBC.com/news, March 4, 2010) And yet there is such a disregard in the western media and governments for such a calculated genocidal campaign against Iraq by the USA and UK! Why such a double standard when the same governments and media try to exaggerate Turkish government actions of World War I era?

While no human loss is small, it is difficult to overlook western hypocrisy that tries to smear the record of the Turkish people and its government while hiding its more horrific crimes under the rug. Lest we forget it was not too long ago that the same US Congress voted against the Goldstone Report on Gaza simply because the objective, fact-finding investigations, led by the Jewish South African Judge, had accused Israel of committing war crimes in its 2008-2009 campaign in Gaza. It is worth noting that the same report, which was rejected by the US Government, was endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council. Through such a decision, the US Congressional foreign affairs committee has once again bared its ugly hypocritical self that it is part of the Israel’s Amen Corner, which hides Israeli crimes of the last year but is all agog with a century-old controversial subject! By so doing, it does a disservice to the American public and the international community that demand fairness and transparency.

What could have motivated the US congressional foreign affairs committee to get so excited on this genocide debate? Why now? Does this decision have anything to do with trying to slap Turkey for its Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s condemnation last year of Israel's offensive in Gaza, in which some 1,500 Palestinians were killed? Published media reports in Israel and the Arab world do point to that connection. It is worth recalling that at the World Economic Forum in Davos on 29 January, 2009 Erdogan told Peres: "You are killing people." Later Mr. Erdogan stormed off the stage when he was refused time by the pro-Israeli Armenian-American moderator David Ignatius to refute Peres’s 25-minute long monotone that tried to justify Israel’s genocidal campaign in Gaza.

Turkey and Israel had enjoyed good relationship in the past. However, in recent months, the widely popular government of Erdogan has improved relations with its neighbors to the east and south – Iran and Syria, a matter of much annoyance to Netanyahu’s highly racist, nationalist and fanatical government. Turkish Prime Minister has also made a landmark trip to Armenia, thus, trying to improve relationship. Turkey is reportedly against any military strike against Iran over its nuclear program. Are these too much for the pro-Israeli lobby inside the USA to swallow? Nor should we forget that it was Turkey's Grand National Assembly where President Obama made his most direct outreach to Muslims around the world on April 6, 2009 telling that the United States "is not and never will be at war with Islam." Such a scenario is surely not desirable to any hardcore Zionist. With deep connections that Israel had maintained all these decades with Turkish military generals, we may not be surprised to find out a link to the recent failed coup attempt to topple the civilian government there.

All these may explain why the Israel-firsters within the U.S. Congressional foreign affairs committee felt that it was necessary to punish Turkey with a century-old libel. However, a careful evaluation would point out that America has much more to lose from any worsening of the relationship with Turkey. It is high time for American public to question their elected officials’ actions that are harmful for the state.