Saturday, August 23, 2014

Western Conquerors were never Liberators

On August 5 of this year, Major General Harold J. Greene was killed in Afghanistan by a lone gunman. Greene was the highest-ranking U.S. military officer to be killed in a war zone in four decades. Before him, according to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial database, Maj. Gen. John Albert B. Dillard Jr. was killed on May 12, 1970 when his helicopter was shot down. Later Rear Adm. Rembrandt Cecil Robinson, who was the Navy’s equivalent of a major general, was killed on May 8, 1972 when his helicopter crashed. Five other American officers of comparable rank were killed in the Vietnam War, all in air crashes, whether accidental or caused by hostile action. Lt. Gen. Timothy L. Maude, who was the Army’s deputy chief of staff for personnel, was killed at the Pentagon site on September 11, 2001.

 What is noteworthy here is that Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene died not at the hand of a sworn enemy like the Taliban but from a burst of gunfire by a soldier in an allied army who had been largely paid, trained and equipped with the American and NATO support. One of the most puzzling developments has been such insider attacks, in which Afghan personnel have opened fire on their foreign military counterparts.

 Why? Why did Maj. Gen. Greene die? Is there something wrong he did, and/or symbolized or represented that was at the heart of the reason behind his killing? How about the other killings that have happened in the occupied territories? Surely, for every effect there is at least a cause behind; nothing of that sort happens without a reason. What could have motivated the Afghan soldiers to killing Greene and other occupying soldiers?

 Occupation of a foreign territory is never an easy task. Even when the former foes are defeated, newer ones have always emerged to continue the old fight. Occupying forces have, therefore, always tried to create its surrogate army by recruiting from inside the occupying territory to work as a buffer force. That is how they have been able to rule vast territories of India and other colonies in our world while their own forces accounted for a very small fraction of the total force.

 Occupation of a foreign territory with an alien culture is even harder. That could well explain the reasons behind much of the problems faced by the occupation forces in Afghanistan. In 2010 an American and a Canadian colonel and two American lieutenant colonels were killed in a suicide car bombing. Per account of a coalition official, that event sent “more than a little shock and numbness” at coalition headquarters. Another coalition official compared General Greene’s death to the killings of American advisers at Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry by an Afghan government employee in 2012. That attack came in the midst of a wave of anti-American violence over burnings of the copies of the Holy Qur’an at Bagram Air Field, a sprawling base north of Kabul. A German brigadier general and a senior Afghan commander were among the wounded.

 The “inside attacks” phenomenon became noticeable in 2008 and surged for the next few years. In 2012, there were 60 such attacks, including the fatal shooting of two American advisers by a government worker inside the Interior Ministry. By June of this year, 87 insider attacks had killed 142 coalition troops and wounded another 165, according to the Long War Journal, an online publication focused on American counterterrorism.

 There was no similar incident before the shooting of Maj. Gen. Greene on August 5. According to a senior Pentagon official, the general and some other Afghan and American officers were standing by a water purification tank when the Afghan soldier opened fire without warning.

 It was also unclear what provoked two other “insider attacks” that week: a firefight Tuesday between an Afghan police guard and NATO troops near the governor’s office in southern Paktia province, and an incident Wednesday in Uruzgan province in which an Afghan policeman poisoned his colleagues’ food, then shot at least seven of them before fleeing in a police truck, officials said.

 As (late) Professor Edward Said mentioned in his lecture at a seminar in Cal Tech some 30 years ago, which I had the pleasure of attending, nowhere did the occupation forces encounter as much resistance as they did in Muslim territories. Muslims were militarily defeated and their lands occupied by the western forces, but the resistance against occupation continued for decades making it very difficult for new rulers to sustain their gains. This, in spite of all the propaganda of the occupation forces trying to portray its so-called kinder, gentler mission. From the time of Napoleon, these western occupiers, who had defeated Muslims militarily, claimed that they intended to restore, protect, and liberate their new subjects. They even sounded as if they had no quarrel with the religion of Islam and the culture of Muslims.

 After his royal entry to Alexandria, Egypt in 1798, Napoleon Bonaparte proclaimed, "You will be told that I have come to destroy your religion; do not believe it! Reply that I have come to restore your rights, to punish the usurpers, and that more than the Mamluks, I respect God, his Prophet, and the Qur'an." One of his generals, Jacques Ménou, even converted to Islam to show his respect for Islam.

 Similarly, soon after his arrival in Baghdad in March 1917, Stanley Maude, the British commander, after having defeated the Ottomans, addressed "the People of the Baghdad Vilayet" saying: “Our armies have not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators. Since the days of Hulaku your citizens have been subject to the tyranny of strangers, your palaces have fallen into ruins, your gardens have sunken into desolation and you yourselves have groaned in bondage. ... the Turks have talked of reforms, yet do not the ruins and wastes of today testify the vanity of those promises?

It is the wish not only of my King and his peoples, but it is also the wish of the great nations with whom he is in alliance, that you should prosper even as in the past. ... Between your people and the dominions of my King there has been a close bond of interest. …

It is the hope of the British Government that the aspirations of your philosophers and writers shall be realised and that once again the people of Baghdad shall flourish, enjoying their wealth and substance under institutions which are in consonance with their sacred laws and their racial ideals. …

I am commanded to invite you, through your nobles and elders and representatives, to participate in the management of your civil affairs in collaboration with the political representatives of Great Britain who accompany the British Army, so that you may be united with your kinsmen in North, East, South, and West in realising the aspirations of your race.”

Eight months later, in November 1917, the Soviet communist conquerors of Central Asia announced in a missive titled "To All the Muslim Workers of Russia and the East":

Muslims of Russia…all you whose mosques and prayer houses have been destroyed, whose beliefs and customs have been trampled upon by the tsars and oppressors of Russia: your beliefs and practices, your national and cultural institutions are forever free and inviolate. Know that your rights, like those of all the peoples of Russia, are under the mighty protection of the revolution...”

 As noted by a neocon analyst in his 2009 essay “Western Conquerors or Liberators of Muslims?” the history of Europe is replete with such statements. After Britain secured its rule over India, its officials made repeated professions of respect for Islam, so as to diminish Muslim hostility to their rule. … According to him, a particularly bizarre instance dates to 1937, when the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini arranged for Muslim notables from Italian-ruled Libya to gird him with the "sword of Islam" during a visit to Tripoli. "Muslims may rest assured," Mussolini intoned on that occasion, "that Italy will always be the friend and protector of Islam throughout the world."

 All those western conquerors, perceived more as crusaders than liberators, were hypocritical. This perception was not altogether lost soon after 9/11 when President George W. Bush wanted to present his administration as anti-Taliban, and anti-al-Qaeda but not anti-Islam. However, the often bigotry-ridden, inflammable and hostile remarks from some members within his administration could not hide the real intent. The American-led invasion of Afghanistan, originally referred to one time by President Bush as a "crusade", was then haughtily, almost in a Pharaonical way, dubbed   "Operation Infinite Justice", which was finally called "Operation Enduring Freedom" to present itself as saving Afghans from tyranny of the Taliban. Although the Taliban was replaced, genuine freedom remained a far cry for most Afghans. And the same is true for the Iraqis who were rid of former dictator Saddam Hussein.

 The occupation forces have replaced the old guards and trained new ones. But nothing seems to be working towards stabilizing the current regimes. In Iraq there is ISIS (or ISIL), which is threatening the Shia-led government. The American-led invasion, occupation and re-intervention have gone so wrong that a major US newspaper last week put up a cartoon depicting Saddam Hussein taunting “Do you miss me?”


>> To be continued...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A response on the Rohingya issue from Carlos Sardina Galache

which has appeared in the DVB, which I share in to to (BTW: DVB has failed to post some of my responses):
According to Mr. Tonkin, the Rohingya identity might be "imposed from above". Of course, he doesn't provide any evidence to support that, but this insinuation is particularly insulting in view of the more than credible reports of the authorities trying to impose the "Bengali" identification, often using violence against those that refuse it.
He claims that the name Rohingya is offensive to Rakhines and Burmese alike. That's irrelevant. Any individual/group has the right to self-identify, not the right to decide others' self-identification. Rakhines have all the right to correct me if I call them Bamar (or even Burmese if they like), in the same way that a Basque have the right to self-identify as such and not as a Spaniard (regardless of how offended a person from Madrid might feel), and it's only for Rohingyas to decide how I should call them. Period.
It might well be true that Muslims in Arakan didn't identify themselves widely as Rohingya until the 20th Century. But many other ethnic groups in Burma didn't identify themselves using their current designations until quite recently. Ethnic groups and boundaries are not eternal fixed categories (as the British believed in colonial times and Mr. Tonkin seems to believe even now), but the (somewhat unstable over time) results of complex historical and political processes, as well as the interaction with other groups. Many authors have proved that ethnic categories were infinitely more fluid in pre-Colonial times, and that it was the British who imposed a rigid grid on a bewildering and confusing variety of human groups. Mr. Tonkin would do well in reading authors like Fredrik Barth, F. K. Lehman, Edmund Leach or James C. Scott to move beyond his Victorian-era and essentialist views on ethnicity.
Professor Michael Charney showed clearly in his PhD thesis ("Where Jambudipa and Islamdom Converged: Religious Change and the Emergence of Buddhist Communalism in Early Modern Arakan, 15th-19th Centuries") that there were substantial Muslim communities in Arakan from the 17th century on. It's clear that the descendants of these communities plus those of the migrants from Bengal arrived in colonial times (now it would be impossible to distinguish between them) are the present-day Rohingyas.
Mr. Tonkin would like us to believe that the problem lies in the fact that the Rohingyas are trying to claim a name and an ethnicity which "offends" the Rakhines and the Burmese, and they should renounce to their identity in order to achieve peace. He seems to forget who are the main victims in Arakan State since at least 1974, and who initiated the persecution to "purify" Burma of those who don't fit in a too narrow and historically false definition based on "blood and soil" of who belong in Burma.
Of course, there's a lot of mythology in the accounts by Rohingya historians (some of them claim erroneously that Arakan was a Muslim kingdom at times, on the basis of the Muslim/Bengali tittles some kings adopted, for instance); that's scarcely surprising and it shouldn't serve as a reason to deny their identity altogether. There's a lot of mythology and plenty of anachronisms and mystification in the history that any ethnic/national group tells about itself, including also the Rakhines, the Burmese, the Thais, the Spanish, the British or whatever other group in the world. Official Burmese history is full of bogus claims about a mythical pre-colonial Burma roughly encompassing present-days borders, and even beyond, which has little basis on fact. Sadly, it seems that Mr. Tonkin has decided to direct his (highly selective) criticism to the weak side's historical "mythology" (that of the Rohingyas), and to take at face value the official Burmese and Rakhine "histories".

Monday, August 18, 2014

Feminism - in the eyes of the monotheistic religions

Feminism has become a buzz word these days, esp. within the women communities around the globe. How does various religions see the issue? Do Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have the same conception of women? Are they different in their conceptions? Do Judaism and Christianity really offer women better treatment than those offered in Islam? What is the truth?

Here is an article that is quite illuminating.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Response to Derek Tonkin's article in the JAS

This is in response to Derek Tonkin’s article: The R-word, and its ramifications, which was posted in the JAS:

 As I first noted in one of my articles, Derek Tonkin,  former British Ambassador to Thailand and Advisor to Bagan Capital Limited, is in the business of promoting the agenda of the Burmese government, as this is part of his job making some money out of that friendship that he enjoys. He has been intellectually dishonest on the issue of the Rohingya cause knowing that his Burmese patrons in the administration of Thein Sein and his British patrons for whom doing business in Myanmar is more important than human rights of the persecuted minority. So, time and again, he comes out of his turtle nest to repeat flawed theory. In this endeavor, he does not miss to quote another intellectually dishonest researcher Jacques Leider, well known for anti-Muslim, missionary bias.
Mr. Tonkin may like to read the British report of 1826 in which the then British administrator Paton cited the presence of 30% Muslims in Arakan soon after the territory was annexed by the East India Company. What did happen to those Muslims? Are they not the forefathers of today's Rohingya people? What about the report of the British surgeon, Dr. Buchanan, who visited Burma in the pre-colonial days of the late 18th century when he mentioned the Rohingya people? None of these historical facts, let alone tomes of literature - prevalent in Bengal and Arakan - pointing to the rich history of Rohang, Roshang - desh and its people matter to paid agents like Derek Tonkin. He is a joke and sounds like an intellectual fraud.
One of the signs of genocide is denying the right of a group to self-identify itself. And that is what the Burmese authorities and their racist Buddhists have been doing for the past half a century when it comes to the Rohingya people. Instead of twisting facts to hide such a horrendous crime, what Tonkin and Leider ought to do is to take a moral stand and condemn it vehemently. That would be proper rather than wasting everyone's times with nonsense that is untrue and cannot be justified under any circumstance.

Derek Tonkin is Founder & Chairman of Network Myanmar - an organization promoting engagement with Myanmar. During the 90s, Mr. Tonkin was Chairman of the Beta Vietnam Fund and the Beta Mekong Fund, that made investments in Myanmar. He is also in the Advisory Board of Bagan Capital, which promotes business with Burma.

You can find the info about his activities by clicking
As to the group's justification of business with Burma, see the quote below from its website:

Why Myanmar?
Myanmar is the last frontier market opportunity in Southeast Asia.

Myanmar is a country with enormous economic potential based on its strategic location, its size and its stock of human and physical resources.

Since elections in 2010, Myanmar has been caught in a whirlwind of excitement, intrigue and change. The Government has demonstrated a general commitment to the far-reaching political and economic reforms that began over two years ago – with new laws, policies and engagements. As a result, a rapprochement with western economies and lifting of most of their sanctions has renewed investor interest in the country.

Reforms have seen the Myanmar Government moving to dismantle anti-competitive elements of the domestic business environment and encourage foreign investment, with the aim of increasing economic efficiency and driving economic growth.  Reform of the banking system and development of the financial sector is also well under way. We believe government policy has now established a base for extensive social and economic renewal in Myanmar, allowing the country to make the leap into the 21st century.  There is immense potential for rewarding participation by foreign investors.

Are people misled by propaganda about ISIS?

In times of war and troubles, truth is one of the first casualties. As we have seen many times before  with Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and other troubling places in the world, so is the case with ISIL or ISIS, or so it seems. From published reports, I have not found anything to show that there is anything good about this extremist group. My opinion about their evil prowess has not changed. If published reports are true they are monsters who have no respect for Islam and are abusing the name to create hatred towards the faith of a billion and six hundred million Muslims.

The group first emerged amongst the Sunnis as a resistance movement against American occupation forces in Iraq. Later the local Sunnis had enough of their brand of extremism and were able to throw them out. Unfortunately, with Nuri al-Maliki's sectarian rule in Iraq which marginalized the Sunnis, the group resurrected from the ashes of Anbar under a new battle-hardened leadership in Syria. They have been able to gravitate many disgruntled Sunnis to fight Maliki's Iraqi forces and in so doing are allegedly committing horrendous crimes. Unlike Judaism and Christianity, there is no place in Islam for killing unarmed non-believers, and yet ISIS is accused of such brutality. They are accused of demolishing Shia mosques and shrines.

They are even presented as child killers. How true are such claims about ISIS? 

The source of the claim comes from Mark Arabo in an interview with CNN. Arabo says that ISIS is “systematically beheading children” and that “there is a park in Mosul in which heads of beheaded children are put on a stick.” Arabo has been instrumental in promoting House Resolution 663, a resolution that expresses an “urgent need to protect religious minorities from persecution.” Fueling the speculation has been websites, like Catholic Online, that purport to have pictures of children beheaded by ISIS.

One of the pictures that Catholic Online includes — and that has become ubiquitous on social media — shows a baby with three rifles pointed at his head. While the image is outrageous, it was not a photo taken of ISIS in northern Iraq.

The photo originally appeared online April 11, 2014 on the Facebook page of a person from Yemen. Numerous people on that page attest that the clothes the child is wearing are obviously Yemeni. A few days later, though, the image started popping up on pro-Syrian Army websites claiming that it was an Armenian child who was taken by Syrian rebels. Whatever the original context for the photo, we know based on the date alone that it was not recently taken in Mosul or northern Iraq.

You can find out the real truth about this story circulated in the popular media by clicking here.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

What a week!

This past week, Hollywood actor Robin Williams, one of the funniest guys in the planet, took his own life by committing suicide. He was suffering from depression, anxiety and the early stages of Parkinson’s disease. It is so difficult to believe that Robin who amused so many through his acting and spontaneous jokes was himself in such a dire condition that he probably needed more amusement to hang onto life than others that he had entertained all these decades!

Fifty years ago, America's living rooms were interrupted with images of peaceful protesters in Selma or Washington or Chicago being bitten by police dogs, sprayed with fire hoses and pummeled by batons. At that time, the mainstream media, comprising mostly white journalists, failed miserably to tell the truth about the protest marches. Like the embedded journalists that we saw during Bush Jr.’s genocidal campaign in Iraq in 2003, the White media relayed the viewpoint of the police. They simply could not relate to the life experience of a Black American.

This created an atmosphere of distrust and hostility and eventually it became unsafe for white reporters to venture into the black community.

Fifty years later, Missouri is burning. Americans again are witnessing similar images. The shooting death of a black teenager - Michael Brown - by a white policeman and the subsequent police clampdown on protests in 2014 is similar to how law enforcement treated civil rights marchers and the media in 1964. This time, instead of dogs and water hoses, their tools are stun grenades and assault weapons. The police force is now fully militarized who are using war gears. In recent years, the Pentagon has supplied local police forces with military equipment worth billions of dollars, which are now used against its own citizens.


In recent days, Ferguson has witnessed riot and widespread looting and as a result curfew has been imposed from midnight to sunrise by the state governor to stop such incidents.


From reports in the TV media and other news outlets, we are told that Brown and Dorian Johnson, 22, were walking in the middle of the street, en route to either Brown's grandmother's house (according to Brown's mother and grandmother) or to Johnson's house (according to Johnson), when a Ferguson police officer confronted them. The officer told the young men either "Get the f*** on the sidewalk" or "Get the f*** out of the street."  

The young men replied that they were "not but a minute away from our destination, and we would shortly be out of the street," Johnson told CNN. The officer drove away but stopped and backed up, almost hitting the pair, Johnson said. He said he wasn't sure what prompted the officer to return. Johnson told MSNBC the officer said something to the effect of "What'd you say?"


"We were so close, almost inches away, that when he tried to open his door aggressively, the door ricocheted both off me and Big Mike's body and closed back on the officer," Johnson said. Later Mike was killed by the police officer.


On Friday, six days after the shooting, Ferguson police revealed that Brown was the "primary suspect" in the strong-arm robbery of a convenience store moments before he encountered police and was killed.


A store surveillance video shows a man pushing a clerk before walking out the front door with a box of Swisher Sweets cigars worth $48.99, according to information released by police. The Brown family lawyer, Benjamin Crump, said that the person in the video appears to be Michael Brown. Even then it does not justify the killing of an unarmed teenager.


On Friday, police revealed the officer as Darren Wilson, 28, who is white and a six-year veteran of the department without any history of disciplinary action.


Racial tension has long been simmering for years. Despite Ferguson being 68% black, Ferguson's police force is nearly all white. Blacks in the town comprise 86% of all vehicle stops and 85% of all arrests. Over the past week, black residents of the town have complained of racial harassment from law enforcement. That, combined with the trend of unarmed black men being the victims of extrajudicial killings, makes the racial implications of Brown's death quite strong.

Ferguson remains one of the most segregated places in America and the crime statistics is very high in this city.


Racism is obviously not dead in the USA. It is simmering and sometimes comes out in the open. We got a good dose of it earlier from the highly publicized case with former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, a white, Jewish American.  He was heard telling his girlfriend that he didn't want her to bring black people to his games or post pictures with black people on Instagram.


Many of the U.S. lawmakers are outright racists, esp. in the southern and more conservative states. Many are unabashedly bigots also.


Gavin Ellzey, the vice chairman of the Kansas Republican 3rd Congressional District Committee, advised on Twitter in early July that “offending Muslims is the duty of any civilized person.” Ellzey added, “Especially with a .45.”


Clay Barker, executive director of the Kansas Republican Party, said the state party has “no responsibility for or connection to the public statements of private citizens who perform volunteer work for the party.”


When such is the attitude of a lawmaker, what can we expect from ordinary John Doe’s, who are taught, preached and programmed to hate the ‘other’ people? Thus, we learn that on July 19 a 26-year-old Muslim woman when walking to her car with her 5-year-old daughter was attacked by a group of three — two men and one woman — all white in outside the local mall in the Meridian County of Michigan. They surrounded her and attempted to pull off the woman’s niqab and abaya — the traditional veil and cloak that some Muslim women wear in public. The woman was knocked to the ground while her attackers shouted slurs and cursed at her. The assailants fled after the woman’s husband, a Ph.D. student, heard her cries and rushed to the scene. The woman was hospitalized for 36 hours, complaining of chest pain and numbness in her left arm.


Meridian Township Police announced that one of the attackers, Jonathan Patrick Deuel, will be the only suspect charged in the attack. The ethnic intimidation charge is a felony which could cost Deuel up to two years in prison and a $5,000 fine. The misdemeanor charge could carry an imprisonment of up to 93 days and fines of up to $500. The two other attackers have not been charged by the police and remain on the loose.

Well, not everything was bad the past week.

On a positive note, Chadian troops have rescued 85 Nigerians by Boko Haram. An official of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in Maiduguri confirmed the rescue of the 63 male and 22 female hostages. Something to cheer for in these days of hopelessness and global disorder!

Massacre in Shujaiya and Khuzaa

Thanks to Nahum Barnea, a prominent journalist at Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, it is now learnt that prominent settler and former Israeli army chief rabbi Avichai Rontzki delivered a “messianic, fiery speech” to Israeli forces prior to the devastating massacre of the Gaza City neighborhood of Shujaiya during Israel's latest genocidal campaign in Gaza. He reported from a soldier who related that before their invasion of Shujaiya, troops were gathered to “listen to the words” of Rontzki, who “praised the miracle of God’s army.”

Israel’s ground assault on the Gaza Strip began late on Thursday 17 July, with tanks receiving orders “to open fire at anything that moved.”  Over the next few days, the Shujaiya district of Gaza City was subjected to intense and indiscriminate bombardment, including 600 shells fired by an artillery battalion and 100 one-ton bombs dropped from the air.

Rontzki’s speech to Israeli soldiers recalls his time as Israeli army chief rabbi, when, in 2009, he told religious students that troops who “show mercy” towards the enemy in wartime will be “damned.” During Israel’s so-called “Operation Cast Lead” massacre in 2008-09, the army rabbinate under his leadership distributed inflammatory publications that referred to the massacre as “a war on murderers.”

Rontzki was one of the founding members of Itamar, a fanatical Israeli settlement colony near Nablus, where has also led a yeshiva, or religious seminary.

You can learn more about this by clicking here.

In the 30-day Israel's barbarous invasion of Gaza, nearly 2000 unarmed Palestinians were killed and tens of thousands injured. Nearly a quarter of a million Palestinians are now homeless. Israeli savagery knew no bounds. Tens of mosques, including some historic ones, were also deliberately demolished and bombed by the evil IDF. There was no justification for destroying such historical religious sites used by Muslims to pray.

Khuzaa, which is east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, is an area where Palestinians have still been unable to recover all the bodies of loved ones killed in Israeli attacks. ITV journalist Rageh Omaar, who visited the area on Friday, August 1, found a neighborhood that “had almost been completely obliterated, looking like a post-apolcalyptic scene.”

“The stench of decomposing bodies filled the whole area,” Omaar said, as Palestinians returning to the area for the first time in three weeks during a short-lived “humanitarian ceasefire” began to recover bodies from the ruins.

The Daily Beast’s Jesse Rosenfeld reported that he saw decomposing bodies gathered in a bathroom of a house on the edge of Khuzaa amid “haunting signs of what looks like the summary execution of several Palestinians.”

But for the Israeli soldiers destroying Khuzaa, the violence is cause for celebration. Click here to view how the IDF demolished a historical mosque.

The Israeli soldiers apparently from the Givati brigade dedicate the mosque destruction to their fallen comrades and cheer as a massive explosion obliterates it. “Long live the State of Israel!” a voice exclaims. According to the narration by the videographer, the detonation took place on 30 July in Khuzaa.

Part of the transcript and translation, by Dena Shunra, of what the videographer says is shared below:
Khirbat Khuzaa, 30 July 2014, Operation Tzuk Eitan.
"We’re waiting for the explosion of something like eleven tons of explosive above – and below – the ground.
This explosion is dedicated to the memory of the three people from the battalion who have fallen since the beginning of the operation – Amit Yeori of blessed memory, Guy Boylend of blessed memory, and Moshiko Dvino, of blessed memory."

You can learn more by clicking here.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations – to what end?

On January 31, 1970, the great philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote a message on the conflict in the Middle East, which was read on February 3, the day after his death, to an International Conference of Parliamentarians meeting in Cairo. He wrote, “The development of the crisis in the Middle East is both dangerous and instructive. For over 20 years Israel has expanded by force of arms. After every stage in this expansion Israel has appealed to “reason” and has suggested “negotiations”. This is the traditional role of the imperial power, because it wishes to consolidate with the least difficulty what it has already taken by violence. Every new conquest becomes the new basis of the proposed negotiation from strength, which ignores the injustice of the previous aggression. The aggression committed by Israel must be condemned, not only because no state has the right to annex foreign territory, but because every expansion is an experiment to discover how much more aggression the world will tolerate.”

Israel obviously has perfected the art of negotiating from a position of strength. The Western nations - all former colonial powers - through their support of this rogue state have epitomized the art of double standard! In their condemnation of the Palestinian resistance movement they won’t tell us that the tragedy of the people of Palestine is that their country was “given” by a foreign power to another (European Jewish) people for the creation of a new state (Israel) which resulted in expulsion of more than 700,000 innocent people who were made permanently homeless. They also don’t want us to know that the then government of Great Britain had no authority to assign the land of Palestine to anyone other than the people who were living there (i.e., the Palestinians). They also don’t tell us that when the United Nations assigned a portion of Palestine to the European Jewish immigrants in the so-called Partition of Palestine in 1947, it violated its own Charter which stated that it had no right to do so without obtaining the consent of the mandate territory's population.

What happened in Palestine was classical Western colonialism, which can sustain itself only via its superior military or economic resources and by enforced occupation. As aptly noted by Peter Cohen, a retired sociologist from the University of Amsterdam and a Jewish-Dutch World War II survivor, in a recent article in the Huffington Post, superior strength, however, does not create legitimacy. Israel has none. Cohen writes, “It is a territory in the Middle East under Western occupation, which possesses no political legitimacy now, nor can it ever acquire such legitimacy in the future because it has no raison d'être and cannot create one.

Instead, Israel's policy has always been to create faits accomplis, conquests that have been consolidated with the aid of its constituent Western states in Europe and North America. To date, this policy has never been effectively challenged, and so it continues in the same vein. Israel can carry on creating more and more faits accomplis, perpetuating its status as an ever-expanding occupation with vastly superior military strength. But if it loses the West's support, it will no longer have the means to defend itself, having nothing that could preserve its existence, nor the raw materials to sustain itself. It could use atomic weapons, but this does not in any sense bolster the legitimacy of the Western implant.”

Israel, as a colony, is a constant source of violence and conflict. And it will remain so unless the very colonial structure on which it is founded is brought down - something that has happened in our time with apartheid South Africa. With every new conflict since the birth of Israel the number of refugees has grown. And the worst problem is: these refugees are safe nowhere, not even in the UN compounds, schools, mosques and hospitals of Gaza. There are scores of international laws that state that the refugees have every right to the homeland from which they were driven, and the denial of this fundamental right is at the heart of the continuing conflict.

How much longer is the world willing to endure this spectacle of wanton cruelty of Israel? It is abundantly clear that no people anywhere in the world would accept being bombed and expelled en masse from their own country. How can anyone require the people of Palestine to accept a punishment which nobody else would tolerate? Will the Palestinian people be ever free? Will they ever get justice for the crimes inflicted on them by the powerful against them?

I am beginning to doubt. I am very skeptical these days. True to the words of Bertrand Russell, Israel as a colonial enterprise has been able to abuse the process of negotiation to her advantage to extract further concession towards expanding its control while curtailing everything for the vanquished, occupied Palestinians. Every negotiation since the unholy birth of the state of Israel has been a deception, a farce, a show for public consumption to not only legitimize its illegitimate grab of the Palestinian land but also to delegitimize Palestinian struggle and aspiration for freedom.  

And the Israelis have partners in their crimes – and it is not the USA, UK and western powers alone that dominate the UN and world bodies – but our own criminals ruling some of the Muslim countries. These governments who don’t allow any form of democracy – the kingdoms, sheikhdoms and military dictators – are some of the worst enemies of the people of Palestine. Thus, not a single bullet has been fired in defense of the violated Palestinians by these regimes. And this, in spite of the fact that each of these Arab regimes spend billions of dollars every year to buy arms and ammunitions from their western patrons and beneficiaries! You wonder why they have all those deadly toys in their arsenal if they are never going to use such for what is right and just! Are those ‘toys’ supposed to be used against desert flies then?

A knowledgeable friend of mine said that he read somewhere that some of the rich, anti-Brotherhood, anti-Hamas, and by default, anti-Qatari, governments had actually bank-rolled Israel’s latest massacre in Gaza. I don’t know the veracity of his claim. But I won’t be surprised if the story ever turns out to be true.

Many of the reactionary, anti-people regimes in the Middle East do not tolerate anything that could destabilize their regimes. The popular movements like the Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood are perceived as existential threats to these regimes. They did not like the Arab Spring a bit. What became popular among the ordinary masses of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya in northern Africa were nightmares for the rulers in neighboring countries (and their western patrons). They have done everything since the people’s revolution in Tunisia and Egypt had succeeded in unseating the hated dictators to put the genie back to the bottle where it belonged. Thus, the popularly elected President Dr. Mohammad al-Morsi was soon toppled by their man – Sisi, the neo-Pharaoh of Egypt. All the leaders of Muslim Brotherhood are now awaiting death sentences or long prison terms. They wanted to put the death-nail on Hamas, too, which had historical ties with Muslim Brotherhood.

Sadly, as the Gazans bled to death, and their homes and businesses, mosques, schools, colleges, universities and hospitals were bombed by Netanyahu’s criminal IDF, the Obama and Cameron governments of the USA and the UK resupplied Israel with more arms and ammunitions during the current conflict while hypocritically speaking about the need for de-escalation of the war through negotiation. Are these western patrons oblivious of the magnitude of their crimes? Don’t they know that their actions, which have resulted in the death of thousands of innocent civilians, constitute war crimes? Will they pay compensation for the Palestinian victims? Just the reconstruction of bombed out facilities inside Gaza may cost ten billion US dollars! How about the dead and the injured people?

Israel and her patrons are for ‘negotiations’ - those same old parleys which have only endorsed Israeli aggression and dehumanized their victims! Those ‘negotiations’ have become part of textbook case for Israeli propaganda with the added impetus to extract further concessions, let alone requiring that the Palestinians accept the lawfulness of their expulsion.

Was not it Avigdor Lieberman, Netanyahu's Foreign Minister, who candidly explained what such negotiations meant for Israel? Four years ago when speaking to the readership of the right-wing Makor Rishon paper, he said: "I do not think there is anything to be expected from negotiations. Even if lasting 16 years they will produce no agreement. But my travels around the globe have shown me that the world is very interested in seeing peace talks start, even if only for the sake of appearance. A willingness to talk and talk is something we can give. Why not?" (Makor Rishon, April 30, 2010, translation Adam Keller)

Moshe Feiglin, aspiring to push Netanyahu out of his job as Likud leader and PM, was also heard saying in 2010, "We will win because we represent what most Likud members really want -- a government which says loud and clear that this country is ours and ours only. I definitely want to deprive Arabs of civil rights, unless they prove their loyalty to the state, and give them financial encouragement to emigrate from here. Any area from which Israel is attacked should be conquered and its whole population expelled." (Yediot Aharonot - April 23, 2010, translation Adam Keller

Dozens of Israeli leaders from top to bottom can be cited to show that statehood of the Palestinians with a just peaceful settlement of the crisis has never been the real intent of the Israeli leaders. Israel's laws make it clear that the Palestinians are not only militarily incapacitated but have also been stripped of all their legal rights.

Not surprisingly, we are told that Hamas is not falling for such old tricks put forth by the joint Israeli-Egyptian team where the Zionists set all the rules of the game. They are demanding opening up the Port of Gaza and easing of cross-border movement of goods. Upon their arrival in Cairo, the Palestinians had been informed by Egyptian security chiefs – speaking on behalf of Netanyahu – that the very issue of opening Gaza’s sea port (and airport) is “not on the agenda”. How about easing of conditions for the prison conditions under which a million and eight hundred thousand Gazans are held in Gaza - world’s largest concentration camp by the two closely colluding warders, Israeli and Egyptian, who control all their access to the outside world? Fat chance!

We are told that this weekend missiles were fired from Gaza killing none and that IDF had bombed inside Gaza destroying a mosque and some homes, killing many Gazans. The death toll is now nearly 2,000.

Blame it all on Hamas for refusing to be duped again! And now criminal Netanyahu’s government says that it will not negotiate under fire: the ‘deadly’, ‘Iron-door-shattering’ missiles fired by Hamas must cease in order to make it possible to talk. To these neo-Nazis of Israel lying and deception come very easily. They don’t want us to know that of the Palestinian victims almost all were civilians, and that on the Israeli side only 3 civilians had died, which included a Thai worker. Out of a total 66 Israeli dead, 64 were soldiers. Thus, 97% of the dead Israelis were the IDF soldiers, and not civilians. And yet, Netanyahu’s lies are parroted by the Obama administration and other western governments and their yellow journalists.

It seems that Gazans would have to fight – and fight hard whether or not Obama, Cameron, Sisi and other friends of Israel in the opposite camp like it.  Their struggle is for freedom and human dignity. And they have a right for such values which we all take for granted without having to die for.

In his last message Bertrand Russell said, “Justice requires that the first step towards a settlement must be an Israeli withdrawal from all the territories occupied in June, 1967. A new world campaign is needed to help bring justice to the long-suffering people of the Middle East.” That call, sadly, remains unfulfilled. How long can the friends of Israel dupe us with hypocritical negotiations that reward the aggressor while ignoring the real issue which is Israeli colonialism?

The Root Cause of the Israel-Palestine conflict and how to fix it

Peter Cohen is a retired sociologist from the University of Amsterdam and a Jewish-Dutch World War II survivor. He is critical of Israel and considers it a colonist enterprise. In his latest article posted in the Huffington Post, Cohen says:

"The 1917 Balfour Declaration is regarded as one of these justifications [for establishment of Israel]. However, no one maintains that the then government of Great Britain had any authority to assign the land of Palestine to anyone other than the people who were living there. Similarly, although the United Nations assigned a portion of Palestine to the immigrants in the so-called Partition of Palestine in 1947, its own Charter stated that it had no right to do so without obtaining the consent of the mandate territory's population.3
Given their poor economic and political development, the local inhabitants of the British mandate territory were unable to prevent the Zionist immigration, although the British could see that this immigration was highly detrimental to the local population's interests. ...

What happened in Palestine, of course, was classical Western colonialism that can sustain itself only by dint of its superior military or economic resources and by enforced occupation.
However you look at it, the immigrants who went to Palestine from about 1890 onwards, or after the completely unlawful "partitioning" by the UN in 1947, are just that: immigrants. They descended on a mandate territory against the express wishes of the population and against the rules of international law as set down in the UN Charter. The population of Palestine and their leaders tried to put up some sort of resistance, with the primitive means at their disposal, but were defeated by the immigrants' superior financial and military organization, derived from the West.7
This superior strength does not create legitimacy, however. All colonialism was achieved by virtue of vastly superior military and economic strength compared to those who were colonized. Not until colonies armed and organized themselves were they able to throw off the occupying forces. Examples include Vietnam, Indonesia, India, and Algeria. Where no such liberation was achieved, in Palestine, South America, Australia, and the United States, the indigenous people live in dire conditions. ..

It is time to call a spade a spade: Israel, as a colony, is a constant source of violence and conflict. It is not an ex-colony, nor is it an accepted part of the world for many. It is a territory in the Middle East under Western occupation, which possesses no political legitimacy now, nor can it ever acquire such legitimacy in the future because it has no raison d'être and cannot create one.
Instead, Israel's policy has always been to create faits accomplis, conquests that have been consolidated with the aid of its constituent Western states in Europe and North America. To date, this policy has never been effectively challenged, and so it continues in the same vein. Israel can carry on creating more and more faits accomplis, perpetuating its status as an ever-expanding occupation with vastly superior military strength. But if it loses the West's support, it will no longer have the means to defend itself, having nothing that could preserve its existence, nor the raw materials to sustain itself. It could use atomic weapons, but this does not in any sense bolster the legitimacy of the Western implant.8...

Almost all critics of Israel's policies allow themselves to get hopelessly bogged down in a debate about the best status to aim for in the development of the conflict. For Israel, this debate is valuable as a perpetual vaudeville show, a show of trained animals performed far away but of enormous relevance in propaganda terms.9
A great many of these trained animals defend the most desirable scenario, in which Israel makes "peace" with the Palestinians, who will have "their own State." This would of course require the Palestinians to accept the lawfulness of their expulsion. In this fantasy future, the Zionists and the Palestinians will live separate lives, each inhabiting their own piece of Palestine. Israel has sustained this fantasy ever since its earliest beginnings. The only problem is that there has at no time been a leader, or the right moment, or sufficiently resigned acceptance of the fait accompli, to offer or achieve that peace. In a situation where the Zionists set all the rules of the game, no such "peace" can ever be achieved.
Instead, the colonization process has continued to expand since 1948, and Israel's laws make it clear that the Palestinians are not only militarily incapacitated but have also been stripped of all their legal rights. Palestinian opposition to Israel's policy of "ever-expanding occupation" is exploited to serve as further justification for prolonging this policy. In the tiny, unlivable and socio-economically devastated part of Palestine that now remains, people are enclosed in a territory under despotic and often lethal military administration, hemmed in by walls, fortified settlements, and road blocks. It astonishes me that many people continue to believe, in spite of all this, that the Zionists will "make peace" with the original inhabitants. Under the banner of this utopian pipe dream, all Israel had to do, to become what it is today, was to endlessly postpone this phantom "peace." Israel has become so large and powerful that people now dare to say out loud what used to be clear only to its strongest critics: the colonists seek to rid the whole of Palestine of Palestinians, thereby fulfilling the ideological -- and racist -- essence of Zionism.10,11
The so-called "one -state solution" is also based on a utopian vision, in which the impoverished Palestinians will acquire, by some miraculous means, the same rights as the colonists. How anyone can believe in the one-state solution is incomprehensible to me. No colonial power has ever relinquished its domination without a massive struggle. Could such a struggle succeed in Palestine? Could the Palestinians ever acquire enough people, weapons and allies to make this a realistic possibility? Of course not. The one-state solution is a deluded fantasy.
The same applies to the "two-state solution." As long as the Zionists are left in charge they will never share the country; it was given to them and to them alone, by God and the atom bomb. They have used the past sixty years to make this crystal-clear. This leaves only one realistic solution: the complete dissolution of the colony, and the ending of the expulsions and land dispossession that was initiated in 1948. The only way to achieve this is by offering incentives for current and later generations of Zionists to resettle elsewhere, while removing the Western foundations of that colonization: the military, ideological, and economic support that sustains it.
This vantage point has the effect of redefining criticism of Israel: instead of criticism aimed at Israeli policies, it becomes primarily criticism of the inhumane policy pursued by the West. An "improved" Israel is a contradiction in terms. We must have the courage to finally end the Second World War, and to dismantle Israel in a sensible way."

You can read his entire article by clicking here.

Friday, August 8, 2014

John Dugard debunks Israel's Self-defense Argument

John Dugard is emeritus professor of international law at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands and former U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory.

He exposes the lie that has been repeated by Israel and many Western leaders.

Israel's claim that it is acting in self defense is entirely baseless and fraudulent. Click Here to find out why Israel's argument is baseless.


Thursday, August 7, 2014

FOX TV journalist with hands caught in the cookie jar!

I have never been fond of Fox News, or anything  with its brand of trashy, yellow journalism.  The people who work for Rupert Murdoch's empire appear to me as rejects, low-lives who have no qualms about morality. Personally, many of them live a life of hypocrisy. What they say, they don't often practice. Many of them sound too right-wing, too extreme, too conservative, too anti-progress, too anti-plurality, anti anything that are important in the 21st century. I avoid those misfits who are trying to make our world a poisonous world.

As such, I had no knowledge of who Sabrina Rodriguez was, well, until today. I found out that she was a Fox40 reporter in Sacramento who recently was arrested for something she's reported about before ... shoplifting.  She turned herself in Thursday after a warrant was issued for her arrest for grand theft, burglary and conspiracy in a shoplifting incident that took place in 2013 -- which means she's facing felony charges.
According to local stations, police say she helped steal $2,500 worth of merchandise from a Coach outlet store, and an employee recently recognized her as a local TV reporter. Rodriguez made bail and has been released. The man police say acted as her accomplice -- her former fiancé Nicholas Gray -- was also arrested and faces additional unrelated charges.
Rodriguez made bail and has been released. The man police say acted as her accomplice -- her former fiancé Nicholas Gray -- was also arrested and faces additional unrelated charges.
According to KOVR, he's behind bars for charges of arson, battery, manufacturing meth and possession of marijuana. She will be arraigned Aug. 29 in the Sacramento County Superior Court.

This incident once again shows that who serve trash journalism are themselves trashes! It is high time to turn off Fox TV!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Final Toll from Gaza Massacre

Here is the latest toll numbers (courtesy of the PBS News) from Israel's murderous campaign in Gaza:
More than 1900 Palestinians - almost all civilians - were killed by Israel.
Sixty-four Israeli soldiers (IDF) and 3 civilians (including a Thai worker) got killed from attacks by Hamas militants.

You do the math: who has targeted civilians?
Answer: Israel.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Maximizing the number of civilian casualties has been Israel's goal

I have long maintained and rightly so that Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel is an evil monster who has no human conscience for non-Jews. He is an utterly evil person. Like many of his predecessors lying and deception come too easily for him.

When facing difficult questions in front of international media, Netanyahu often wants to portray his mission of mass murder in Gaza as a humane one, and of not targeting civilians. The facts are just the opposite:  some 1,700 Palestinians have already died and nearly a quarter of Gaza's population - more than two hundred thousands have been rendered homeless because their homes have been destroyed in massive attacks from the IDF. His mass murdering soldiers and pilots did not discriminate between UN Schools, hospitals, mosques, businesses, apartments, anything. To them, under his evil leadership, everything owned or lived by Palestinians was a fair target.

Here in the USA, we are bombarded with false propaganda from Israel's mouthpieces in the media, the Fox channels, CNN and other newspapers and TV and radio stations, let alone the immoral 'Amen' Corner in the Capitol Hill, that Israel does not target civilians; and that it is all the fault of the Hamas and the poor Palestinians who refused to bow down.

As I have shared earlier, fortunately, some Americans and westerners have been very critical of Israel's campaign calling it a genocide. Hollywood celebrities have also weighed in against the offensive. Actor Javier Bardem called it a “genocide."

"In the horror that is happening in Gaza, there is no room for distance or neutrality," Bardem wrote in a letter to Spanish newspapers. "It is an occupational war and an extermination one against a town with no means, confined to minimum territory, without water and where hospitals, ambulances and children are targets and alleged terrorists.”

In an audio tape, presented here, (for video tape, click here), you can hear Netanyahu contradicting such popular notions that many Americans entertain about him and his latest extermination campaign in Gaza. In his welcome speech to Hillary Clinton in Jerusalem recently, Netanyahu is seen and heard saying: "I know that you are very concerned about the civilian casualties. Well, we do not share your concerns about the civilian casualties at all. In fact, we are conducting these surgical operations against schools, mosques, hospitals, universities, children. And one of things we are doing is to maximize the number of civilian casualties. We prefer that. I know that you understand this. But if not, this is something that I don't have to explain to Americans, president Obama, you, and the international community. Welcome to Jerusalem."

I am told that the audio and video tape posted in the YouTube is altered or a fake one to show his real sinister self. But facts are in the grounds of Gaza for all to see the horror Netanyahu has committed. The tolls on the Gaza side has been overwhelmingly civilians - almost 95%, while the casualties on the Israeli side has been just the reverse: less than 5% were civilians, 95% IDF soldiers. And there is no escape from judging him harshly from those facts.

You decide whether he should face charges of war crimes or not. If not now, when? And why not?

Monday, August 4, 2014

UK has also been providing deadly weapons to Israel that killed Palestinians civilians

As we know too well, it is not the US government alone which has been providing arms to Israel, which ended up killing hundreds of unarmed Palestinian civilians and wounding many more. Now we know for sure that the British government has also been guilty of similar crimes. You can read the full story by clicking here.

In what follows below, I provide some excerpts from the Independent, UK:

Documents shown to The Independent reveal that arms export licences worth £42m have been granted to 130 British defence manufacturers since 2010 to sell military equipment to Israel. These range from weapons control and targeting systems to ammunition, drones and armoured vehicles.
Among the manufacturers given permission to make sales were two UK companies supplying components for the Hermes drone, described by the Israeli air force as the “backbone” of its targeting and reconnaissance missions. One of the two companies also supplies components for Israel’s main battle tank.

The Hermes drone has been widely used during Operation Protective Edge, the ongoing Israeli military action in Gaza, to monitor Palestinians and guided missile strikes.

Labour MP Katy Clark told The Independent: “By refusing to investigate this vital question the British Government are trying to bury their heads in the sand. This is a shameful approach to take and frankly makes the Government look as if it has something to hide.

“The British public have the right to know the level of support which the United Kingdom has provided to the Israeli armed forces through arms sales.”

In 2009, the Foreign Secretary David Miliband said some IDF equipment used in a previous, heavily criticised offensive in Gaza that year had “almost certainly” contained British-supplied components and vowed all future export applications would take this into account.

Past sales of UK weaponry have included head-up displays for F-16 jets made and parts for Apache attack helicopters made by at least half a dozen UK companies or subsidiaries. Both weapons have also been used in Gaza in recent weeks.

Israel is one of the biggest customers for British exports of so-called “dual-use” equipment capable of both civilian and military deployment in a trade worth more than £7bn last year.

But documents obtained by the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) under the Freedom of Information Act reveal for the first time the full extent of sales of military-only equipment, along with the names of the companies granted export licences by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). Of the £42m of so-called “military list” exports approved since 2010, some £10m has been licensed in the last 12 months.

The data reveals that dozens of highly specialised UK defence companies have secured deals with Israeli partners and the Israeli military, ranging from bulletproof garments to naval gun parts and small arms ammunition. The sales are entirely lawful and form part of Britain’s £12bn annual arms export trade.

But evidence exists that British-made components feature in weapons being deployed during Operation Protective Edge. The Israeli military has been criticised for what some see as heavy-handed tactics during its assault on Gaza. Some 1700 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have died, alongside 63 Israelis, including three civilians.

Drones have played a significant role in the action, flying above the Occupied Territory using sophisticated surveillance technology to pinpoint targets and guide in missile and smart bomb strikes. The drones are also used to deliver “warning shots” by firing smaller missiles into targeted buildings prior to heavy munitions delivered by jets such as the American-built F-16.

Schleifring Systems Ltd, a Berkshire-based subsidiary of a German defence company, is listed in the Government documents as having received 21 licences for military-use equipment in 2010, including four approvals for drone technology, one for armour plating and one for 12mm calibre firearms and accessories.
In one of its brochures, the company states that it supplies an advanced transmission device, known as slip ring, for the Hermes drone made by Elbit Systems, a large Israeli defence company. Both variants of the drone have been deployed over Gaza in the last three weeks according to military experts. The company also states that it supplies technology for other Israeli weaponry, including the Merkava IV main battle tank, also used in Gaza.
Schleifring did not respond to requests from The Independent to comment on its sales to Israel or whether its components feature in Hermes drones or other equipment used in Operation Protective Edge.
A Staffordshire-based subsidiary of Elbit, UAV Engines Ltd, is also listed as having obtained a licence to supply equipment relating to “target acquisition, designation, range-finding, surveillance or tracking systems”.
The company’s principal activity is the manufacture of drone engines. It has previously been listed in its own publicity material as supplying the engine for the Hermes 450, described by Elbit as “the ‘backbone’ of Israeli army and air force ISTAR [Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance] missions”.

Other UK suppliers include BAE Systems, which provided head-up display units for US-built F16s delivered to Israel prior to 2002. The company said yesterday it had not supplied equipment since then and additional head-up displays used by the Israelis were provided by a domestic manufacturer.
Campaigners said the worsening situation in Gaza made it incumbent on the Government to halt weaponry sales to Israel. Andrew Smith, of CAAT, said: “There must be an immediate embargo on all arms sales and military collaboration with Israel. When governments sell weapons into war zones they cannot absolve themselves of responsibility for what happens when they are used.”

In a statement, a Government spokesman said: “We are currently reviewing all existing export licences to Israel.  All applications for export licences are assessed on a case by case basis against strict criteria. We will not issue a licence if there is a clear risk that the equipment might be used for internal repression, or if there is a clear risk that it would provoke or prolong conflict.”

An Israeli supporter's response to Eno's letter

Many Jews are very opposed to Israel's murderous policies and practices against the Palestinian people. And yet, there are many more who remain loyal to the state of Israel. Included amongst them are many Jewish Americans whose loyalty to Israel is seemingly more than that to the USA.  Peter Schwartz is a Jewish immigrant and child of Holocaust survivors, who has posted a response to Eno's letter in the Independent, UK.

While I have some disagreement with some of his views, I agree with some other points he made. I quote from his writing -

"And I believe that creating the Jewish state of Israel was a historic mistake that is likely to destroy the religion behind it. The actions nation states take to assure their survival are usually in contradiction to any moral values that a religion might espouse. And that contradiction is now very evident in Israel’s behaviour. Israel will destroy Judaism.

First, the history has two important intersecting threads, Zionism and the end of the Ottoman Empire. Zionism began near the end of the 19th century as a response to a millennium of anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe. An end to the diaspora and a return to the biblical homeland were seen as the only hope of escaping the persistent repression of places such as Hungary, Ukraine, Russia, etc. The British government with its Balfour declaration (1917) and the League of Nations Palestine Mandate (1922) gave impetus to that hope. And of course, the Second World War and the Holocaust sealed the deal.

The murder of six million Jews was seen as sufficient reason to pursue a Jewish state, and the UN granted that wish with the partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states in 1947....

Until the mid-1970s, Israel was seen as having the moral high ground based on the Holocaust and Arab behaviour. But beginning with the Israeli incursion into Lebanon in the early 1980s, that moral position began to erode."

Schwartz continues, "Israel’s behaviour in Lebanon was the first major example of aggressive action and attacks against vulnerable populations." He is wrong here. It was not Israel's first such aggressive action. Even before Israel's incursion into Lebanon, its leaders had lost moral authority in its execution and treatment of Palestinians dating back, at least to 1949 during her so-called war of Independence, in places like Deir Yassin and scores of villages which were wiped out and Palestinians expelled  en masse.

He continues, "I don’t think there is any honour to go around here. Israel has lost its way and commits horrors in the interest of its own survival."

You can read Schwartz's full response by clicking here.

Brian Eno's letter to Americans on the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza

Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno, professionally known as Brian Eno or simply as Eno, is an English musician, composer, record producer, singer, and visual artist.

When the musician Brian Eno saw a picture of a Palestinian man carrying the remains of his dead son in a plastic bag, he was moved to write a cri de coeur to his American friends, asking them to explain their country’s unconditional support for Israel. I provide below his entire letter, which was posted in the Independent, UK, on August 1, from the link here.

He wrote:
"Dear All of You,
I sense I’m breaking an unspoken rule with this letter, but I can’t keep quiet any more.Today I saw a picture of a weeping Palestinian man holding a plastic carrier bag of meat. It was his son. He’d been shredded (the hospital’s word) by an Israeli missile attack – apparently using their fab new weapon, fléchette bombs. You probably know what those are – hundreds of small steel darts packed around explosive which tear the flesh off humans. The boy was Mohammed Khalaf al-Nawasra. He was four years old.

I suddenly found myself thinking that it could have been one of my kids in that bag, and that thought upset me more than anything has for a long time.

Then I read that the UN had said that Israel might be guilty of war crimes in Gaza, and they wanted to launch a commission into that. America won’t sign up to it.

What is going on in America? I know from my own experience how slanted your news is, and how little you get to hear about the other side of this story. But – for Christ’s sake! – it’s not that hard to find out. Why does America continue its blind support of this one-sided exercise in ethnic cleansing? WHY? I just don’t get it. I really hate to think it’s just the power of AIPAC [the American Israel Public Affairs Committee]… for if that’s the case, then your government really is fundamentally corrupt. No, I don’t think that’s the reason… but I have no idea what it could be. The America I know and like is compassionate, broad-minded, creative, eclectic, tolerant and generous. You, my close American friends, symbolise those things for me. But which America is backing this horrible one-sided colonialist war? I can’t work it out: I know you’re not the only people like you, so how come all those voices aren’t heard or registered? How come it isn’t your spirit that most of the world now thinks of when it hears the word “America”? How bad does it look when the one country which more than any other grounds its identity in notions of Liberty and Democracy then goes and puts its money exactly where its mouth isn’t and supports a ragingly racist theocracy?

I was in Israel last year with Mary [a mutual friend]. Her sister works for UNRWA [the UN agency for Palestinian refugees] in Jerusalem. Showing us round were a Palestinian – Shadi, who is her sister’s husband and a professional guide – and Oren Jacobovitch, an Israeli Jew, an ex-major from the IDF [Israel Defence Forces] who left the service under a cloud for refusing to beat up Palestinians. Between the two of them we got to see some harrowing things – Palestinian houses hemmed in by wire mesh and boards to prevent settlers throwing shit and piss and used sanitary towels at the inhabitants; Palestinian kids on their way to school being beaten by Israeli kids with baseball bats to parental applause and laughter; a whole village evicted and living in caves while three settler families moved on to their land; an Israeli settlement on top of a hill diverting its sewage directly down on to Palestinian farmland below; The Wall; the checkpoints… and all the endless daily humiliations. I kept thinking, “Do Americans really condone this? Do they really think this is OK? Or do they just not know about it?”

As for the Peace Process: Israel wants the Process but not the Peace. While “the process” is going on, the settlers continue grabbing land and building their settlements… and then when the Palestinians finally erupt with their pathetic fireworks they get hammered and shredded with state-of-the-art missiles and depleted uranium shells because Israel “has a right to defend itself” (whereas Palestine clearly doesn’t). And the settler militias are always happy to lend a fist or rip up someone’s olive grove while the army looks the other way. By the way, most of them are not ethnic Israelis – they’re “right of return” Jews from Russia and Ukraine and Moravia and South Africa and Brooklyn who came to Israel recently with the notion that they had an inviolable (God-given!) right to the land, and that “Arab” equates with “vermin” – straightforward old-school racism. That is the culture our taxes are defending. It’s like sending money to the Klan.

But beyond this, what really troubles me is the bigger picture. Like it or not, in the eyes of most of the world, America represents “The West”. So it is The West that is seen as supporting this war, despite all our high-handed talk about morality and democracy. I fear that all the civilisational achievements of The Enlightenment and Western Culture are being discredited – to the great glee of the mad Mullahs – by this flagrant hypocrisy. The war has no moral justification that I can see – but it doesn’t even have any pragmatic value either. It doesn’t make Kissingerian “Realpolitik” sense; it just makes us look bad.

I’m sorry to burden you all with this. I know you’re busy and in varying degrees allergic to politics, but this is beyond politics. It’s us squandering the civilisational capital that we’ve built over generations. None of the questions in this letter are rhetorical: I really don’t get it and I wish that I did."