Saturday 26 September 2009

How Israel Targets and Suppresses Opposition to Its Annexation Wall


26/09/2009 Stephen Lendman - Global Research
September 23, 2009

Established in 1992, the Addameer (Arabic for conscience) Prisoners Support and Human Rights Association helps Palestinian prisoners, and works to end torture, arbitrary arrests and detentions, other forms of abuse, and unjust, unequal treatment in Israel's criminal justice system that handles Jews one way and Palestinians another.

In July 2009, in cooperation with the Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (Stop the Wall) and the Palestinian Prisoners Support and Human Rights Association, Addameer published a report titled "Repression allowed, Resistance denied" that documents resistance to Israel's apartheid wall and the "staggering level of repression, arrests and violence" by Israeli authorities.

On July 9, 2004 in a unanimous decision, the International Court of Justice (IJC) ruled that "the construction of the Wall being built by Israel, and its associated regime, are contrary to international law...." It said construction on it must cease. Built sections must be dismantled, Palestinian land returned, and compensation paid for property destroyed. The UN General Assembly endorsed the decision. Israel rejected it out of hand, keeps seizing Palestinian land, continues the wall's construction, and ruthlessly suppresses efforts to halt it.

In defiance of international law, Israel's High Court ruled that erection of a "barrier" may continue for security reasons even though its purpose is solely to steal resources and land that will include over 12% of the West Bank when completed.

The consequences for Palestinians have been devastating. Communities have been divided, isolated and ghettoized. Farmers have been separated from their land and water sources. Militarized control is repressive, and free movement is more restricted than ever.

The ICRC called the Wall contrary to international humanitarian law and repeatedly urged Israel to halt it. Article 2(c) of the Apartheid Convention says the Wall and checkpoints are key to maintaining apartheid in the West Bank. Article 2(d) adds that "the Wall and its infrastructure of gates and permanent checkpoints suggest a (permanent) divide the West Bank into racial cantons," and the South African Human Sciences Council stated:

"Restrictions on the Palestinian right to freedom of movement are endemic in the West Bank, stemming from Israel's control of checkpoints and crossings, impediments created by the Wall and its crossing points." They constitute an illegal matrix of control affecting all aspects of Palestinians' lives.

Popular non-violent, direct action resistance emerged in self-defense as well as lobbying through the courts and national and international media campaigns. It was entirely blacked out in the major media.

Most visible are weekly demonstrations, protests and marches involving Palestinians, Israelis, other Jews, and international human rights activists - in defiance of Israeli military orders that call these activities and all organized resistance "criminal offenses," punishable by arbitrary arrests, targeted killings, brutal repression, disproportionate violence, and collective punishment in violation of international law, including Fourth Geneva protections.

Addameer "provide(s documented) evidence to show that injuries and deaths inflicted by the Israeli military at protests and activity surrounding them are intentional, not accidental." Indiscriminate arrests are made, family members threatened, including children, and many are tried, convicted, imprisoned, fined, and ruthlessly punished for defending their rights. Israel wages low intensity warfare against a popular resistance in a futile effort to break an indomitable spirit, at a cost that includes:

-- premeditated, systematic punitive attacks and collective punishment;

-- entire communities targeted by state-sponsored terror;

-- mass arrests, killings, beatings, torture and other abuses;

-- children imprisoned or shot for throwing stones or being in the wrong place at the wrong time; and

-- Palestinians victimized by decades of unremitting, systemic violence and repression, and in Gaza under siege and attack, of course, it's much worse.

Addameer's report "is a preliminary summary of (its) findings, based on (extensive interviews, other primary research, and) the experiences of a few protagonist villages in the struggle against the Wall." Follow-up reports are planned to continue documenting the affects on "a wider number of villages affected by the Wall."

When completed, it will span over 760 kilometers, be more than five times longer than the Berlin Wall, and far more imposing with its sensors, trenches, security roads, mine fields, checkpoints, terminals, watchtowers, surveillance cameras, electronic sensory devices, and military patrols using killer dogs.

Around 20% of the Wall follows the "Green Line." The rest expropriates over 12% of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and with the settlements, military zones, and for-Jews only infrastructure amounts to about 46% of the Territory and growing as Israel keeps seizing more land.

It displaces thousands of Palestinian families, entraps all Palestinians in the West Bank, steals their land and resources, and has nothing to do with security. It's a land grab/collective punishment scheme to enclose an entire people inside disconnected cantons in violation of international law and the ICJ ruling.

Organized Resistance Against the Wall
After Israel began construction in June 2002, spontaneous demonstrations, community actions, and meetings followed. The first public statement read:

The Wall represents "the Occupation in its ugliest face. (It's) and water, and....changing....the historical and demographic status of these areas. (It's) uprooting....trees and (destroys) nature. (It's) in opposition to all that is human and civilized."

In October 2002, opposition groups were formed, including the Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (Stop the Wall) in response to a need for a coordinated popular resistance and to offer advocacy, research, legal challenges, and support for the communities affected. Efforts thereafter grew, and from September 2003 became a national and international priority. Israel responded with permit restrictions to bar free movement and prevent people from accessing their lands. Since then, many anti-Wall farmers lost their livelihoods when they were denied permits to cultivate their own land.

Demonstrations, protests and strikes have continued in targeted West Bank communities and villages. Campaigns not to recognize the permit system were organized. Israeli forces responded harshly. Time passed. Crops rotted in fields and livelihoods were destroyed. Yet villagers resisted despite severe collective punishment imposed. Since then, eight West Bank popular committees have been represented in the Campaign's General Assembly, and five of the 11 members of the Campaign's coordinating committee are representatives from local groups.

In 2004, anti-Wall resistance became widespread. The first martyrs were killed in defending their rights. The ICJ ruled the Wall illegal and ordered its demolition. Increased land theft and human fallout drew international attention and encouraged mass protests and solidarity against state-sponsored terror.

Direct actions blocked bulldozers, breached sections of fences and razor wire separating villagers from their lands, slowing construction and forcing constant rebuilding. Media strategies were also developed through international contacts. In addition, committees held rallies, demonstrations, and sit-ins to pressure the Palestinian National Authority (PA) to support affected communities, raise the Wall issue at an international level, and act to implement the ICJ decision.

Yet when UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan came to Palestine in March 2005, he refused to speak out or visit the Wall. Around 5,000 Palestinians demonstrated in protest.

Since late 2005, popular resistance had to reorganize for numerous reasons. So much of the Wall was completed that actions to stop bulldozers ceased. Since international support failed to materialize, new forms of protest were needed to sustain a long-term struggle. Friday demonstrations replaced daily ones so a semblance of daily life was possible.

Yet in areas like Anata in East Jerusalem, daily protests continued because Wall construction ran straight through school courtyards. Students were involved and sustained many injuries for their efforts.

Frustration with the Palestinian leadership also grew as campaigning for the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) began in late 2005. It heightened the split between Fatah and Hamas because effective popular resistance was futile without leadership sustaining and capitalizing on it.

National actions like Land Day, the Week against the Apartheid Wall, and other events gained prominence. In March 2007, Land Day activities took place in over 20 locations with popular committees and students participating. Thereafter, Stop the Wall and popular committees have been key players in other national action days.

Resistance solidified and expanded south with new campaigns against Wall construction. People in the Jordan Valley protested against being isolated from the rest of the West Bank. Media and civil society organizations finally noticed, and political and material support began to arrive.

Since mid-2008, weekly protests gained strength in a number of villages - in Bil'in, Al Ma'sara, Irtas, Ni'lin, Jayyus, Nahalin, and elsewhere with hundreds of people facing down soldiers and risking arrests, injuries or death.

In addition, popular committees are focusing on settlements and renaming themselves "Committees Against the Wall and The Settlements" because both represent occupation leaving Palestinians dispossessed, walled-in, ghettoized, and repressed unless organized movements resist.

The villages of Burqa, Bizzariya, Silat, ad-Dhahr, Sabastiya, and Beit Imrin led protests against the resettlement of Homesh, a settlement evacuated during the "disengagement." After a month, Homesh settlers left with all their belongings.

Other actions included boycotting Israeli products and legally challenging companies that support the Wall and occupation. "The mobilizing capacity of the popular committees and Stop the Wall (have) become (key) actor(s) at national action days, such as Land Day and the 60 years Nakba Commemoration." During Operation Cast Lead, they sacrificed two lives in supporting Gazans under attack.

Movements against the Wall have become a "politically mature network of activism and resistance" despite escalated repression against them.

Violent Repression of Palestinian Anti-War Protests
They're ongoing in dozens of villages, and "immediate action is require to counter it." In Bil'in, Ni'lin, Al Ma'sara and Jayyus over 1,566 people have been wounded and six killed while protesting. IDF actions are vicious and beyond the bounds of "crowd control, security or self-defense." They involve:

-- threats to inflict individual and collective punishment;

-- premeditated shooting with intent to injure, disable, kill and send a message to other protesters;

-- night terror raids, curfews, closures, tear-gassing, and property destruction; and

-- entire villages targeted with collective punishment, including mass arrests and unconscionable viciousness.

A Friends of Freedom and Justice video recounted a recent Bi'lin incident:
"At around 2:30AM, two groups of around 35 soldiers (70 total) descended on the village....They raided several houses, detained their inhabitants, and searched (inside). When members of the ISM and the Popular Committee of Bi'lin confronted the soldiers, they called all of Bi'lin a closed military zone and threatened to arrest anyone out of their house or anyone on top of a house taking pictures."

"They kidnapped a 16 year old boy (Mohsen Kateb)....and took him away into the night. Haitham al-Katib, a respected Palestinian activist....was video taping....when soldiers aggressively pushed him against a wall and threatened him with arrest.....(the son of) Iyad Burant, the head of the popular committee, (was threatened) if he didn't produce a camera....This raid follows on the heels of others that have happened almost every night for two weeks." Arrests are made and people threatened because they campaign against the "loss of 60% of (their) farmland due to the construction of the apartheid wall and the illegal settlements" that continue to expand.

Israeli policy focuses on ruthless deterrence to break popular resistance by inflicting serious harm. Threats are made collectively and against village officials. Violence is systemically employed. Activists are threatened, killed or arrested. Live fire is used against peaceful demonstrators.

One popular committee member said: "once, soldiers broke into my home and told my mother that if her son did not stop, they would break his legs and he would never walk again." Others recounted death threats. Parents are told "we are going to take revenge on you and on your children." Leaflets are distributed promising "punishment (and) final warnings" to communities that keep protesting.

Home demolitions are also threatened. Farmers are told their land and crops will be destroyed. Force follows, including beatings, live fire, tear-gassing, willful killings, including against children. Soldiers justify it as "crowd (or) riot control" and that soldiers fire only in self-defense.

In fact, actions are grossly excessive against activists and peaceful demonstrations, and include ambushes, shootings from rooftops and concealed locations, and extreme aggression against a civilian population. At an early 2004 Biddu protest, soldiers unleashed a massive attack, killed two, injured 70 others, some severely, and caused an elderly man to die of a tear gas-induced heart attack. Numerous other demonstrations, then and now, were disproportionately attacked by "massive retaliatory violence" with dozens killed and thousands more injured throughout the West Bank. Prominent activists are targeted for removal, willful disabling, or death.

Illegal weapons are used, including bullets that break into pieces on contact leaving shrapnel slivers inside bodies that are very hard or impossible to remove. Besides willful killings, legs are targeted to inflict disabling injuries, including against children. Head shots are also used with rubber bullets and tear gas canisters dangerous enough to cause cranial fractures and permanent memory problems. Ambushes and other surprise attacks are employed using indiscriminate fire with lethal weapons unrelated to crowd or riot control.

Indiscriminate attacks also occur that are passed off as unfortunate errors, when, in fact, they're deliberate, for revenge, and "constitute an integral part of" oppressing popular resistance and right of Palestinians to be free. Innocent civilians are wounded, disabled or killed in cold blood because soldiers are ordered to do it.

Collective punishment is systemic and longstanding in the form of:

-- night terror raids to intimidate entire communities and villages; children are especially affected by shooting, explosions, and shouting through loudspeakers;

-- harassing curfews on entire villages prohibiting anyone from leaving homes on threat of being shot or arrested; while in force, soldiers break into homes, search them, and arrest occupants for interrogations that include beatings, humiliation and torture;

-- village closures and sieges are also imposed allowing no one and nothing in or out; throughout, homes are raided, people tear-gassed, arrested and shot, and property is destroyed;

-- besides outdoor tear-gassing, canisters are fired into homes without pretext, damaging property, human health and causing fires; a Jayyus resident said:

"I cannot count how many times they fired tear gas inside my house....As a result of everything, I had a heart attack, and have had two operations. My daughter has also been in the hospital."

-- willful property destruction occurs, including windows, possessions, and village water tanks; items are also stolen, including money, computers and books; and

-- fields are set afire, crops and trees uprooted, and land effectively destroyed.

State-Sponsored Repression

The above incidents show that "death, maiming and injury resulting from military violence....form a consistent pattern of repressive violence....Individual and collective punishment are two, complementary parts of this strategy" that aim to weaken solidarity, create divisions, and crush the will to resist - to kill it "from the roots."

Intimidating munitions are used, including:
-- hollow point bullets that expand in human flesh to maximize tissue and organ damage;

-- exploding or fragmenting bullets to tear apart human flesh and leave hard to remove metal fragments inside;

-- .22 caliber bullets designed to be less lethal but more deadly than rubber-coated ones that at times can maim or kill; and

-- 40 mm high-velocity tear gas rounds that resemble shells and explode internally for added velocity and impact; when fired directly at crowds, they're like missiles able to cause serious injuries and deaths.

Collective Punishment and Community Blackmailing
Collective punishment includes threats that it will continue as long as demonstrations persist. It also aims to divide communities, families in the interest of their children, hurt economically by destroying property, deny permits to hamper movement, and break the will to resist.

Violating Civil and Political Rights
As explained above, Israel employs a range of repressive tactics, including threats, physical pressure, curfews, blockades, isolation, arrests, property destruction, and targeted and indiscriminate killings on pretexts such as:

-- stone-throwing;

-- interfering with soldiers' activities;

-- resisting arrest;

-- being in a closed military zone; and

-- threatening the security of Israel, even though the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) affirms that assembling and peaceful protests are lawfully protected activities.

Since 1967, however, over 750,000 Palestinians (as much as 40% of the male population) have been victimized by systematic arrests, detentions and brutalizing treatment in custody.

"Over the years, thousands of Palestinians have been detained and charged with maintaining ties to an organization, institute, office, movement, branch, centre, committee, faction, group, or whatever the law defines as 'a body of persons' branded 'hostile' or 'terrorist' and included in an ever-expanding list of unlawful associations."

Israel's Military Court System

Unlike Israelis, Palestinians are processed, tried, and sentenced in military courts located inside Israeli military bases. From the outset, they haven't a chance under a system rigged to convict. Less than 1% are acquitted. Individual rights are denied. Institutionalized racism prevails. International human rights laws are defiled, and according to the UN Human Rights Committee:

-- a state of emergency never justifies deviation from fundamental principles of fair trials;

-- military courts should never be used, except in cases where civil ones aren't able to function;

-- when used, military tribunals must afford all protections guaranteed under ICCPR's Article 14 that stipulates: "All persons shall be equal before the courts and tribunals....shall be presumed to be innocent until proved guilty," shall have a fair and impartial trial, and be granted all rights according to established international law.

Israel's military courts defile all of the above and offer no possibility for justice. Judges are hanging ones. Children as young as 16 are tried as adults. Secret evidence is used, and the right to appeal flawed verdicts and sentences is severely compromised.

Israel targets anyone suspected of resisting as well as children for the "crime" of assembly, throwing rocks, or having a family member previously arrested. Popular committee heads are especially sought as a way to remove leaders and weaken movements. A Bil'in village head, Iyad Burnat, was arrested twice - in 2005 when he blocked bulldozers beginning work on a segment of the Wall. He was beaten severely enough to require hospitalization. Then in 2008, he was arrested again during a demonstration, tried and fined. Similar incidents occur regularly in other villages.

Youths are frequently targeted because they're among the staunchest and most proactive demonstrators, yet more vulnerable, less aware of their rights, and as a way to intimidate parents. At times, military raids provoke them to react and crack down hard indiscriminately when they do.

According to Defence for Children International/Palestine Section 2009 Annual Report on Palestinian Child Prisoners, when soldiers clash with youths, they go after "any child in the vicinity, regardless of whether that child was actually involved in the unrest of not." During interrogations, they're then subjected to psychological and physical abuse, just like adults, to extract confessions of whatever authorities want - "which (most) Palestinian children do not understand."

During arrests, violence is standard practice. Samed Mohammad Hassn Salim's experience was typical. On February 18, 2009 in Jayyus, he and 60 others were arrested for participating in a weekly protest against the Wall. His pregnant wife was thrown to the ground and later suffered a miscarriage. A medical report confirmed it resulted from the fall and sound grenades used in the assault.

Those in detention face intimidation, humiliation, threats of recriminations against family members, long interrogations, physical and psychological torture and abuse, demands to sign confessions and provide information on other protesters, denial of medical care, poor sanitary and hygiene conditions, inadequate quantity and poor quality of food and water, and exposure to the elements.

According to one detainee: "They always beat you - that is normal." Another said: "They were beating me. It felt like they were trying to kill me. They handcuffed me and forced me into a chair. My neck still hurts from the beatings I received. They were strangling me. I lost consciousness."

At times, treatment is severe enough to leave permanent psychological and/or physical scars. Detainees are forced to sign confessions in Hebrew they don't understand, confess to crimes, and deny they were tortured. Nonetheless, one military commander said that for every 1000 detainees, only one will provide information, and even that might prove useless.

Palestinian human rights activists are generally treated harshest of all, including severe treatment and longer sentences for resisting repression and standing up for their rights that include peaceful demonstrations and displaying the Palestinian flag.

Israeli, International and Palestinian Protesters: Different Rights, Different Jurisdiction, Drastically Different Repercussions

Israel and international activists face far different treatment under Israel's judicial standards. In detention, they're generally treated humanely, endure no long interrogations as a rule, most often are released in a few hours, may or may not face charges, but if so are tried in civil courts under a completely different system of justice. Acquittals are more common, fines lower, first offenses forgiven, if sentences are imposed they're for much shorter periods, and the right of appeal is assured.

In the first seven months of 2009, 129 Israeli activists were indicted, 15 convicted, and the majority got suspended sentences or convictions reversed on appeal. Deportation was how most internationals were handled. "To date, there have been no reported cases of an Israeli or international activist serving more than a week in prison, or being placed in administrative detention," and most are rarely sentenced. Currently, no international activists are in prison for having participated in an anti-Wall protest.

In contrast, Palestinians charged with throwing stones face up to 20 years in prison although generally they're released within a year.

Under ICCPR's Article 14, fair, impartial trials are guaranteed. Under the UN Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, access to competent counsel must be granted within 48 hours. Adequate time and facilities must be available to communicate privately, and if detainees can't afford to pay, proper representation must be provided anyway.

Nonetheless, Palestinians are affected by factors such as counsel's citizenship and residency status, as well as military orders, Israeli laws and prison procedures that violate international standards, so their right to fair, impartial justice is impossible.

Inflated and multiple charges also assure convictions on at least one offense regardless of the validity of evidence. The result is less than 1% acquittals as explained above and 97% resolutions by plea bargain agreements for the most leniency lawyers can get.

Military tribunal justice is near-impossible when charges of throwing stones or owning a gun are inflated to "trying to kill" and prosecutors rely solely on soldiers' testimonies for corroboration. Lymore Goldstein who's represented a number of Palestinian and Israeli activists cites Israel's apartheid justice with Jews treated one way and Palestinians another:

"The evidence used against people is never verified, for instance, all the (Palestinians) who touched the microphone (at a specific protest) were charged with incitement - there was no mention of what they had said" or what, in fact, they incited. "This is a very typical example," but for Jews it's entirely opposite. Even when Palestinians can prove their innocence, acquittals are rarely gotten.

Attorney Sahar Francis expressed frustration saying:
"I'm against the military courts. Let the occupiers do this job for themselves. Why should lawyers go there and try to do things when we know at the beginning" how things will turn out.

From their time of arrest, Palestinians have almost no chance to prevail under a system of kangaroo court justice, so it's why up to 12,000 languish in Israeli prisons at any time and endure torture and other dehumanizing treatment.

Mohammed Brijiah, from Al Ma'sara described his arrest and trial ordeal:
"Three times during the night, they came and attacked my house, took out my brothers and nieces....and my children, including my 1-year-old daughter. They made my family stand outside for 3 - 4 hours. They damaged the furniture, told me to get dressed and that they would take me to prison. I was arrested twice (in November 2007 and December 2008). They brought me to a court and then released me....I stayed one week, but the arrest was because of the demonstration. (Another) accusation was that I beat a soldier, but (video evidence) clearly shows that I did nothing like this."

Prosecutors did all they could to extend his detention and brought up baseless old charges to delay his trial hearing. Brijiah was luckier than most others who disappear for months or years in Israel's criminal justice system that affords none of it to Palestinians. No bail, long sentences, high fines, and brutalizing treatment are common, nearly always in violation of international law. For example, under Military Order 378, stone throwing carries a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment, and the threshold of evidence to convict on mere suspicion is low enough to prevail.

Former soldier, now writer and journalist Seth Freedman says it's common for the military to select targets, regardless of whether they're committing the act in question. Then it's their word against defendants, nearly always they prevail, and many innocent youths are imprisoned for offenses they didn't commit but have no way to prove it. They can't prove a negative.

Nor can they defend against threats that serve as "a powerful coercive means of intimidating - and harassing - protestors." In detention, death or physical harm threats are made during interrogations. Also making them against family members is commonplace as a way to induce cooperation.

Further, collective punishment, mass arrests, and various forms of intimidation are repeated throughout the West Bank. They comprise ways "to punish anyone exercising their right to self-determination and resistance. Their impact will be manifold, affecting family's livelihoods, freedom of movement, as well as their rights to express themselves and assemble freely."

Israeli authorities act in violation of the fundamental right to assemble, demonstrate, and protest peacefully. Violent and aggressive measures are used repeatedly in violation of international law. Palestinian activists risk arrest, interrogation, long detentions, kangaroo trials, imprisonment, torture and other forms of abuse. Nonetheless, they persist, and according to one interviewee:

"The army has created a lot of obstacles but it hasn't prevented the protests." Those arrested do it again, at times more cautiously, but others with a determination to prevail.

The entire judicial process is racially biased and blatantly discriminatory. Indiscriminate arrests are made. Demonstrators are intimidated and targeted. Popular committee leaders and youths are most vulnerable. State terror is common practice, and in detention humiliation, torture and other abuses are employed for extended periods - to break their spirit, crush their will to resist, make them docile and submissive, or simply give up and leave. For over four decades under occupation, Palestinians, on their own, have continued their struggle to live freely on their own land, in their own country as international law affirms.

-- on July 20, 2004, the ICJ ruled the Wall illegal and called for its demolition; the UN General Assembly endorsed the decision; it's time for the UN "to follow through on its mandate to develop relevant measures to ensure the implementation of the ICJ decision;"

-- Israel should be pressured by targeted sanctions, including an arms embargo;

-- the UN Human Rights Council and Special Rapporteur for Human Rights should address these issues;

-- the international community should:

(1) "Take real action to ensure that Israel complies with the" ICJ's decision;

(2) protect the lawful right of Palestinians to protest against the Wall and land confiscation to build it;

(3) affirm Palestinians' right to resist against Israeli repression;

(4) hold Israel accountable under international law and pressure it to halt arbitrary arrests, indiscriminate violence, mass arrests, torture, and other human rights violations;

(5) assure international standards and legal guarantees protect Palestinians brought to trial;

(6) until and unless Israel fully complies, "suspend cooperation, free trade, research and development," and other normal relations with a rogue state; and

(6) sanction companies that "aid or assist the construction or maintenance of the Wall, and follow the same course of action with regards to companies that construct, invest or operate in the settlements."

-- Palestinian, international, and other NGOs should continue their active support for "the popular committees on the ground through their services and capacities."

Like people everywhere, Palestinians yearn to live freely on their own land as international law affirms. They deserve universal support for the most fundamental of all rights without which all others are compromised.

How Does the World Protect Itself from Israel and the Scourge of Zionism?


by Roger Tucker

There are many people, "progressive" Zionists included, who loudly object to the Occupation in the Palestinian territories, but see no problem with the continued existence of an Israel that privileges Jews over all others who happen to live there, particularly the Muslim, Christian and other non-Jewish" citizens." These people are referred to by Zionists as the "Arab-Israelis," but they are, of course, Palestinians. This population also includes a small number of Jews, people whose residence in Palestine pre-dated the Zionist immigration that started in the late 19th century. Those among them - and they may constitute the majority - who never bought into the Zionist ideology and are opposed to the State of Israel are treated pretty much the same as the other Palestinians, as less than human, untermenschen. This may come as a surprise to many, but it is perfectly understandable when one realizes that the Zionist project, although initially proposed and marketed by Western Europeans, became in due course an entirely Ashkenazi endeavor dominated by Eastern Europeans, the kind of people despised by the highly educated, cosmopolitan Viennese Jews like Theodor Herzl. These Ashkenazim (my ancestors) spoke Yiddish as their first language, no matter which country they happened to have been born in. The form of Zionism they promulgated has become known as "political Zionism," dominated by the followers of Vladimir Jabotinski, the father of 20th century Zionism, and the progenitor of the Likud Party. The opposition Labor Party stems from Ben Gurion, but the two parties are like the Republicrats in the U.S., two sides of the same coin.

Political Zionism is a far cry from the idealistic form that refined, cosmopolitan Jews like Herzl and his Western European (and North American) admirers thought that they had bought into. That is why the vast majority of them became disillusioned with the whole project long before Kristallnacht and then WWII. People like Einstein, Freud, Hannah Arendt, Judah Magnes and Martin Buber smelled a rat, and they made it clear that they had no interest in supporting the creation of a Jewish State in Palestine. This was, in fact, the prevailing sentiment among the vast majority of Western European and North American Jews. All of that began to change in the late 30's and by the time of the liberation of the camps in 1945 this vociferous opposition faded away among Jewish liberals, progressives, socialists and humanists. European fascism of the Italian and German varieties ensured the success of political Zionism, the mirror image of Nazism, but with "the Jewish People" now cast as being simultaneously "the victims" and the "Master Race," just like their role models, the Nazis, before them. History not only repeats itself - it plays practical jokes.

Being against the Occupation is easy. After all, it violates numerous international conventions, entails daily crimes against humanity and just plain stinks to heaven. With a modicum of imagination, one can see that the Israelis, with their Matrix of Control, have erected a number of open air prisons, virtual concentration camps, but with the guards outside. So convenient - prisons in which the prisoners have to fend for themselves for the necessities of life - food, water, electricity - all of it supplied or witheld at the whim of the wardens who watch from a distance, utilizing collaborators and the latest in high-tech surveillance gear. Occasionaly, usually prompted by some act of desperation by a powerless people (a suicide bombing or a stray Qassam rocket, the modern equivalent of sling-shots), or merely a rumor that something's going on, they make periodic forays inside to "send a message," arrest "troublemakers," usually using Palestinian children as human shields and to touch off whatever booby traps might have been placed along the way. Occasionally, "sending a message" takes the form of a full-fledged massacre, as happened recently in Gaza. It's utterly despicable, reeking of the most egregious racism imaginable without even the slightest regard for human rights. But from the Israeli point of view the Palestinians aren't really human - they are "them," "the other," "the enemy."

However, there are those perfectly aware of the facts who still cling to the doomed fantasy of a Jewish State. They are people like Benny Morris, the Israeli historian who scrupulously chronicled the Nakba, but continues to support the existence of the Jewish State, even if that entails the total ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. Likewise the old warhorse Uri Avnery, one of the most decent and courageous human beings I know of, who has heroically spoken out for decades against the obscenities perpetrated by Israel, yet clings to the notion that Israel could and should somehow survive as a Jewish nation, no matter how truncated. And then there is the army of so-called "progressives," who think likewise, and avidly support an imagined, reformed Israel while protesting against the Occupation. These people have co-opted any possibility that the world could easily come together to put an end to apartheid Israel as it did white supremacist South Africa.

The "Separation Wall" introduces an additional level of surrealism. Its similarity to the ghetto walls that the European Jews were so familiar with, that in a curious way provided a sense of comfort, familiarity and security to their residents - whatever the intentions of the builders may have been - has been noted by many. The transparently silly notion that it would "keep out terrorists" is far less convincing than the realization that it was a familiar reflex of the ancient paranoia - a tangible, if pathetic, defense against the goyim of whichever land the Jews were trespassing in. Always the trespassers, always the strangers in a strange land, doomed to stave off, for as long as possible, the inevitable rage their presence sooner or later engendered, the restrictions, the pogroms, and then, like clockwork, the expulsions. Behind the bellicose, militaristic, macho aggression of the Israelis - the arrogance and the gratuitous cruelty - lie the old fears, the inescapable paranoia, the unvoiced fear that "the Chosen Ones" were really chosen to suffer, and that sooner or later the ax would fall - as it surely will, because even the Zionists can't repeal the law of cause and effect. Who was it, Einstein, who defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result?

But let's assume that, miraculus miraculorum, the Israelis decide to back off (or, much more likely, are pressured to by the Obama administration and/or other forces currently percolating just beneath the surface), and, having completed their Apartheid wall, agree to remain behind it, content in their air-conditioned ghetto. At this point in time such an action would involve an actual commitment to allowing the creation of at least some facsimile of a Palestinian State on the other side of the wall, to somehow overseeing the evacuation of some half million Israelis from the West Bank (which would entail the forcible eviction of tens of thousands of fanatical settlers), to giving up control of all of the major water sources, to allowing the Palestinians the freedom to come and go as they see fit, and so on and so forth. When looked at closely, ending the Occupation at this juncture would necessitate unimaginable difficulties, not the least of which would be giving up the Zionist fantasy of Greater Israel, from the river to the sea. I don't speak of the grander version, meaning from the Euphrates to the Nile, but merely from the Jordan River to the Med.

In fact, it would entail giving up on Zionism altogether, because ethnocentric tribal fascism has an internal logic to it, a compulsion to conquer and expand or die - perpetual war is a necessary precondition for maintaining the dominance of its ruling class, whose very existence is predicated on doing battle with and defeating "the enemy," over and over again. Such a process inevitably plays itself out in defeat, as Alexander and the Macedonians discovered, as did the Romans, and most recently the Nazis. The Israeli power elite may be very smart and knowledgeable, technologically and militarily superior, but they are clearly ignoring Santayana's maxim that those who don't know history are bound to repeat it. No people are guiltier of that mistake than the Jews, who after centuries of getting themselves expelled from country after country, are setting themselves up for something that will make even what happened to them under Hitler look like a cakewalk.

When we talk about Zionism we are discussing an ideology, a set of ideas, narratives and myths that together constitute the political world view of a those who self-identify as belonging to the group professing that ideology, in this instance "the Jewish people." Although ideologies may present themselves as being universally true, they are generally based on some sort of group identification: tribal, ethnic (racial), national, religious, caste, and most recently, economic status. There is always an "Us" vs. "Them."

What after all is Zionism, stripped of its racial romanticism and mythology? It's essentially the last gasp of the same old European colonialism that has characterized the "modern" period of history, during which various European powers came to dominate the political, technological and economic landscape of the planet. Zionism evolved as a political ideology and a strategy to solve the problem that European Jews found themselves in, stateless and dispersed following the predations of the Mongols under Genghis Khan and the subsequent collapse of the Khazarian Empire. Their status pretty much everywhere in Europe was that of a despised minority (for perfectly understandable reasons too complex to go into here). In response, they developed a tribal mythology, based mostly on some stories in the Hebrew bible, in which they played the role of "the Chosen People," heroes of an epic in which they were constantly set upon, persecuted and threatened with destruction, but somehow feisty enough to survive. In other words, one could say that they developed a collective case of paranoid schizophrenia, according to which they (simultaneously the Elect of God and His victims) were constantly under attack by superior forces, but could imagine a way to escape and secure for themselves the sense of security they so desperately sought, a ghetto with walls strong and durable enough to keep the wolf perpetually at bay.

All this came to a head in the 19th Century, when the idea occurred to Theodor Herzl that the way out of this depressingly familiar pattern would be for the Jews to have a nation state of their own. This happened, not coincidentally, at the height of European Colonialism. Based on this rather simple notion an entire ideology had to be constructed in order to sell the idea, not only to the major players themselves, but to the so-called Jewish people. In order to do that, and this is just one aspect of a very complicated and not very funny joke, the "Jewish People" had to be invented. This is the subject of the Israeli historian Shlomo Sand's book, The Invention of the Jewish People. The forthcoming English translation (it will be available on October 19th) is eagerly anticipated . We can leave aside the fact that the notion that a Jewish colony could and should be planted in Palestine was actually a hare-brained scheme concocted in the first decade of the 19th Century in the British Foreign Office, where the idea soon died a quiet and unlamented death. And nevermind that gathering the Jews together in a ghetto constructed in the very epicenter of a people understandably indisposed to being dispossessed might bring about precisely the fate that the Zionists were and are so terrified of.

If one roots around in the online repository called "Zionist Quotes" one can find the intellectual building blocks that created modern Israel.They reveal that very process of inventing the necessary ideology, as well as the development of an overall strategy for going about the creation of the colonialist-settler nation state. Contained therein are numerous reflections about the nature of "the Jewish People" and Jewish identity that would have "the Inquisition" (those who maintain the Zionist orthodoxy) in a characteristic uproar about "antisemitism" and "self-hating Jews." They largely saw themselves as outcasts, almost like lepers who have decided they themselves would build a leper colony wherein they could be quarantined and thus left alone. It becomes clear from these texts that the early Zionists almost reveled in guilt and self-hatred, something that is so characteristic of Jewish literature, and lies, shadow-like, at the root of modern, triumphalist Zionism. As Karin Friedemann points out, "The Palestinians’ ancestors created the Hasmonean Kingdom, composed the Hebrew Bible, followed Jesus, wrote the New Testament, compiled the Mishnah, and redacted the Jerusalem Talmud. The Palestinian people constitute the living link to the earliest beginnings of the heritage from the Torah and Gospel. Zionists are almost pitiable, for they are so ashamed of their own history that they have usurped one belonging to another people."

There is a category of political ideologies that Zionism fits perfectly into. It is called fascism. Although the dictionaries define fascism as the particular ideology espoused by Hitler and Mussolini in the 20th century, the roots of fascism go back to the very first emergence in human history of what could be termed political thought . Those familiar with the great spiritual traditions are aware that the principal obstacle to human wisdom and happiness is considered to be our habit of putting our own interests before those of others, as opposed to some variation of the Golden Rule, the point where all wisdom traditions, even theistic religions, agree. The opposite, neurotic tendency derives from the mistaken belief that we are solid, continuous individuals, self-existing and autonomous. Hence the notions of "self," or "soul," as well as belief systems that inculcate the notion that God (a religious metaphorical term that solidifies and embodies all that is not "me") is at least on "our" side. All wisdom paths teach that dissolving this mistaken belief in the existence of "ego" is the only way of arriving at any sort of genuine sanity.

What is not talked about so much is the problem of "group ego," which is essentially the same psychological phenomenon, but applied to a collection of people with whom we closely identify rather than just our individual selves. This propensity manifests itself first in our close identification with our family and then extends out to include our felt bond with friends, neighbors, town or city, and so on, until it includes such collective concepts as our co-religionists, our gender, nation, race, class and so forth. This is the Us and Them duality that mirrors the basic duality of Self and Other. It is the underlying rationale for all wars and acts of officially sanctioned aggression against the "Other." Consequently, building a sane human society is not possible without conquering this tendency to elevate and privilege "our" group over others. Psychologically speaking, rooting for the Red Sox or the Yankees involves the same psycho-dynamics that lead to deadly riots in soccer stadiums, and on to wars of aggression. It is neither good nor bad, rather it is simply a stage to be experienced and then left behind on the path to maturity, a condition that is characterized by, among other things, the awareness that all beings are connected and interdependent.

The development of both individual and group egos are artifacts of a natural psychological process. Just as the butterfly is the final form following embryo, larva and pupa; and the lotus flower follows seed, root and stem, human beings undergo a similar metamorphosis. Conventional political views are characteristic of an adolescent stage of life that primarily concerns itself with one's perceived individual and group interests. Such views naturally clash with how others perceive their interests, and the results are obvious when we watch the news. The conditions created by invoking the "I" as opposed to "You," or the "We" as opposed to "Them," creates a battleground wherein the destructive emotions of passion, aggression, ignorance, arrogance and envy are given full play. Clearly, human society as a whole has not yet evolved beyond this stage of social development. But the possibility is there, just as the seed prefigures the flower. A number of people, those who have embodied wisdom from many places and traditions, have shown the way, though few follow. The path to a genuine "adulthood" is difficult, particularly from within the lunatic asylum where we find ourselves, but it is traversible.

What we have been talking about is fascism, the ideological underpinning of the Jewish State. There is also a religious underpinning (not Judaism - the Jewish Zionists, after all, are and always have been overwhelmingly secular), and that is the Holycause (not to say that Jewish religious fundamentalism doesn't play a part). The ideology and the religion are symbiotic, as has always been the case in human societies. Church and State reinforce and support one another. The Holycause is remarkably similar to the underlying myth of Christianity, that someone, after undergoing unimaginable agony, died for our sins. In the case of the Holycause, six million Jews died so that Israel could be born. Never mind that the six million number goes back to 1912 (a vague guess at the number of Jews in Europe at the time) and only later became attached to the Jewish victims of the Third Reich (one of many disputed or easily refutable "facts" enumerated by the "official" version of the Holocaust, but woe betide any truthseekers who dare to undertake a critical analysis of what actually happened - you will be hauled before the ever vigilant officers of the Holycause Inquisition, and betimes taken to the rack). We are talking about a religion and therefore facts are fungible, as their meaning is symbolic rather than historical. And never mind that the actual survivors of that catastrophe who now live in Israel are a despised underclass (one third of them living in dire poverty), treated with utter contempt by the native born Israelis who are so fiercely proud of their manly, heroic battle against the fearsome foe. It is not the real victims who matter (the Zionists willingly sacrificed hundreds of thousands of European Jews in pursuit of their goal), but the symbolism of their victimhood.

The Zionists remain in total denial. As Saree Makdisi points out, they are able to blithely build a "Museum of Tolerance" above the graves of a centuries old Palestinian cemetary, the people they have been assiduously trying to exterminate, without showing any signs of cognitive dissonance. He refers to it as a horizontal wall, to complement the vertical Separation Wall being constructed in Jerusalem. The whole process of creating an impregnable ghetto, bristling with overpowering firepower, only invites destruction. This is, indeed, the goal of Christian Zionism, the cult of the Rapture, which foresees the end of the world and the final elimination of the Jews. They are perhaps even more psychotic than the Jewish Zionists. One could say, in the poetic language of the Abrahamic tradition, that the State of Israel is the Devil's masterpiece.

There is really only one way to resolve the dilemma posed by the existence of the Jewish state in humanity's heartland, and that is to change the existing configuration, a Rube Goldberg political contraption designed to maintain a Jewish majority in a putative Western-style democracy. The obvious alternative is the gold standard of contemporary nation states, a secular, pluralistic democracy consisting of all those who have an obvious right to be there (this includes all of the Palestinians, wherever they happen to be currently residing, as is clearly enshrined in international law), but does not necessarily include recent immigrants, particularly the fanatics from Brooklyn who form the majority of the illegal settlers (well, they're all illegal, but what is meant here is illegal even according to Israeli law), nor would it include recently arrived terrorists like the Moldavian Avigdor Lieberman. Anyone not born there would be subject to deportation. To use a well known phrase, this would entail wiping Israel off the map. That would be a great boon to the mapmakers, as the Israelis have always refused to define their borders, pending the establishment of Greater Israel.

This can be brought about through a purely political process that doesn't require the spilling of one drop of blood. It would be like extinguishing a raging fire that has gotten totally out of control and is threatening to consume much of the world. Yes, they do have nuclear weapons, and they aren't shy about what they call "the Sampson option." There is no use in hoping that governments will solve this problem - the Zionists have managed to get their hands on all the levers of power in most of what is called the First World, particularly in the U.S., the heart of the Empire. Only ordinary people, and most particularly those Jews who haven't fallen under the hypnotic spell of Zionist hasbara - by fearlessly proclaiming truth to power - have any hope of waking up slumbering humanity and avoiding the seemingly inevitable. Zionists take heed - to quote a poetic metaphor from the bible, "Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord, and I shall repay." Or, as it is expressed in post-modernist America, "what goes around comes around."

Posted by VINEYARDSAKER: at 9:40 AM



By Damian Lataan
September 26, 2009

For years I have been writing at this blog and elsewhere about the inevitability of a ‘final confrontation’ between Israel and the US, and Iran and its allies, Hezbollah and Hamas. Today US President Obama moved a step closer toward that final confrontation.

In rhetoric reminiscent of the threats Bush made about Iraq ‘coming clean’ about its nuclear activities, Obama has told Iran that it must ‘come clean’ about its nuclear activities. At a news conference at the conclusion of the G-20 meeting, Obama told reporters "Iran is on notice that when we meet with them on Oct. 1 they are going to have to come clean and they are going to have to make a choice." He went on to say that if the Iranian’s didn’t ‘give ground’ that they would be “on a path that is going to lead to confrontation”.

The world seems to have learnt nothing from the mistakes of the Iraq war and the deceit that led up to it. The Middle East is headed down the path to disaster that has been instigated by Zionists and neoconservatives.

This is not about Iran pursuing nuclear weapons; this is about Israel seeking regime change in Iran and using the ‘Iran has a nuclear weapons program’ meme to con the world into bringing about that regime change for them. Once regime change has been affected, Israel will feel free to deal with Hezbollah and Hamas. This they will do using any attack against Iran as cover arguing that in doing so they would be fighting a pre-emptive war – a war that this time there will be no going back from.

The world should wake up before this nonsense blows up in all of our faces – yet again.


US Military Action Against Iran Would Only 'Buy Time': Gates

US Military Action Against Iran Would Only 'Buy Time': Gates
Readers Number : 191

26/09/2009 Any possible military action against Iran would only "buy time" and delay Tehran's nuclear program by about one to three years, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Friday.

"The reality is there is no military option that does anything more than buy time," Gates told CNN.

"The estimates are one to three years or so," he said when asked about the impact of possible military options on Iran's nuclear sites.

The Pentagon chief meanwhile told ABC television's "This Week" program that "the Iranians have the intention of having nuclear weapons," but stressed that whether Tehran had formally decided to develop them "is in doubt."

Gates, a former CIA chief, said the second plant revelation did "not necessarily" challenge a 2007 National Intelligence Estimate that found Iran had halted its nuclear weapons development program in 2003, a judgment challenged by Israel and other US allies in Europe.
"What it does mean is that they had a covert site, they did not declare it. If this were a peaceful nuclear program, why didn't they announce this site when they began to construct it? Why didn't they allow IAEA inspectors in from the very beginning?" asked Gates.

"This is part of a pattern of deception and lies on the part of the Iranians from the very beginning with respect to their nuclear program. So it's no wonder that world leaders think that they have ulterior motives that they have a plan to go forward with nuclear weapons."
The defense secretary told CNN's "State of the Union" program that while the United States would not rule out the use of force, there was still time for diplomacy and sanctions to persuade Iran to give up uranium enrichment work.

"The only way you end up not having a nuclear-capable Iran is for the Iranian government to decide that their security is diminished by having those weapons as opposed to strengthened," he said.

"While you don't take options off the table, I still think there's room left for diplomacy," he said.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, speaking at a New York news conference, said Iran had informed the International Atomic Energy Agency early about the facility, which the Western leaders on Friday labeled a direct challenge to the international community.

"It's not a secret site. If it was, why would we have informed the IAEA about it a year ahead of time," Ahmadinejad said, adding that Iran was not obliged to tell the Obama administration of every uranium enrichment plant it has.

“Israel” Increases Its Ethnic And Religious Cleansing In Al Quds

{Silwan neighborhood} By Abda’Allah Darqawi

{Silwan neighborhood} By Abda’Allah Darqawi

NEWS: Hundreds of Israeli settlers desecrate Ishaq’s tomb in the Ibrahimi Mosque

By Yusuf Fernandez, taken from Al manar

September 23, 2009

In recent months, Israel has increased its efforts to strengthen its presence in East Jerusalem (Al Quds), which it captured in the 1967 war. According to the international law, East Jerusalem is Palestinian and an occupied territory, just like the West Bank or Gaza. The Palestinians want to make East Jerusalem the capital of their future state. The holy city is home to Al-Haram Al-Sharif, which includes Islam’s third holiest shrine Al-Aqsa Mosque, and represents the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

In September 2000, it was a visit by opposition leader Ariel Sharon to Al Haram al Sharif -accompanied by 1,000 armed security guards -that sparked the Second Intifada. Now, Israeli and Palestinian peace activists warn that the provocative actions of government-backed settlers within Jerusalem could spark yet another serious escalation of tensions and even a Third Intifada.

After the 1967 war Israel annexed East Jerusalem to Israel in a move recognized by no other country. Israeli efforts to destroy the Arab-Islamic-Christian identity of East Jerusalem started immediately after 1967. Four days after seizing the city Israeli army bulldozers razed the Maghariba and Sharaf neighborhoods. The Palestinian inhabitants were expelled at gunpoint. Two mosques, two religious schools or Zawiyas and 135 houses were blown out. Since the Israeli annexation, more than 35% of East Jerusalem´s territory has been expropriated.

Israel has moved more than 180,000 Jewish settlers to its settlements in the East Jerusalem or event to some Arab enclaves. About 240,000 Palestinians live in the East part of the city. Almost all the city’s Palestinians refuse to vote or run in municipal elections, saying that it would be recognition of Israeli rule.

Israel has used the Apartheid Wall, which it is building in the West Bank, to cut off many Palestinian neighborhoods from Jerusalem. Actually this process started almost immediately after the 1993 Oslo “Peace” Accords were concluded. While they were negotiating the “peace” with the Palestinians, the Israeli authorities erected roadblocks and other measures designed to cut off the city´s Palestinians from their compatriots (including close family members) in the West Bank.

While playing tricks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other Arab leaders, the Israeli apartheid regime is accelerating the pace of ethnic cleansing in East Jerusalem by using draconian and racist against Palestinian residents. Recently, the world condemned the recent evictions of two families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. Palestinians and international activists organized several protests in the city against the evictions. Hatem Abed Al Qader, the head of Jerusalem Affairs Unit in the Fatah Movement has stated that the Israeli municipality of Jerusalem has issued 1,200 demolition orders against Palestinians families in East Jerusalem in the first half of this year.

Israel has tried to justify these measures by saying that the constructions were “illegal”. However, the truth is that, according to Haaretz, is extremely difficult for East Jerusalemites (Palestinians) to get construction permits in contrast to Jewish settlers who, merely by being Jews, have the automatic right to live in the place they want in Jerusalem. Human Rights groups operating in occupied Palestine have described these policies as “obviously racist.” The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) estimates that 23,535 Palestinian homes overall have been destroyed from information gotten from the Israeli Ministry of Interior.

Palestinian urban development is also being impeded by depriving East Jerusalem of most of the still vacant areas available for economic and demographic growth. Palestinians from East Jerusalem get tiny municipal budgets that greatly restrict essential public services – in sharp contrast to areas where Jews live both in West Jerusalem and East Jerusalem settlements.

At the same time, Israeli press has recently revealed that the racist measure of stripping native Palestinian Jerusalemites of their “residency rights” in their own city by the apartheid Israeli government was being carried out at an accelerated pace. Palestinians in East Jerusalem have the status of permanent residents in Israel, the same status granted to foreigners who settle in the Zionist entity. “Treating these Palestinians as foreigners who entered Israel is astonishing since it was Israel that entered east Jerusalem in 1967,” said the Israeli group B´Tselem.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz has recently reported that the number of East Jerusalem residents whose “permanent residency status” has been revoked increased by more than six times in just one year. In 2005, the number of residencies revoked stood at 222, according to the Haaretz. This number rose to 1,363 in 2006, when an Interior minister, member of the fundamentalist Jewish Shas Party, ordered that the residency cards of thousands of Palestinians were revoked. On the other hand, Israel imposed excessive taxes on Palestinian real estate, including homes.

These measures seek to force Palestinians to migrate. When a Palestinian leaves Jerusalem to live in another place he/she loses his/her residency card, even though he/she was born in the city, and he/she can never return there. Arab residents of East Jerusalem have to constantly prove that they live, work and pay taxes in the city to maintain their residence permits. Israeli authorities think that these measures will allow them to achieve this goal: the expulsion of Muslim and Christians from Jerusalem and the Judaization of the city as well as the destruction of its Arab, Christian and Islamic identity.

Moreover, a Palestinian from Jerusalem who marries a woman from the West Bank, Gaza or any foreign country cannot bring his/her partner to live in the city. This last law, which has been upheld by Israeli Supreme Court, violates the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the Convention for the Rights of the Child, according to human rights organizations.

In some occasions, the settlers have tried to directly steal the land and houses from their legitimate Palestinian owners. On June 11, a group of Palestinian residents managed to stop Israeli settlers from taking over their land located east of Jerusalem’s Old City. The land, of 1,75 acres, is owned by two Palestinian families from East Jerusalem. Witnesses told the Palestine News Agency WAFA that the settlers arrived at the locations along with Israeli city planners but the residents were at their lands and stopped the process. Actually, the settlers were supported by the Israeli municipality, which plans to use the land to expand the nearby Israeli illegal settlement of Beit Oret. Hateem Abed Al Qader, the Palestinian Minister of Jerusalem Affairs, was at the location and said that the residents would keep a 24-hour presence on the land to protect it.

On March 12, Palestinian sources reported that a group of extremist Jewish settlers attacked dozens of Palestinian homes and stores in East Jerusalem. The settlers were marching in the city and chanting slogans against Arabs and Palestinians, calling for their expulsion from the city. The Israeli police did not attempt to intervene, and allowed the settlers to continue their march. The settlers chanted “death to Arabs” and other racists slogans while marching in Arab markets and the alleys of the Old City.

On the other hand, Israel continues to build settlements in and around the city, an act that is illegal under international law. Palestinian sources said Israel is working on a new settlement plan that is equal to the grab of nearly 140-thousand acres of Arab land near Jerusalem. “The new project focuses on the areas located around Al Quds by expanding the Maale Adumim settlement and connecting other settlements around the city,” the sources said. Based on the same plan, Israeli authorities have envisaged altering the current Arab-Jew proportion of the population in the city. By 2020, they are expecting the Jewish settlers to form 88% of the whole population. Of particular concern are “settlements inside the Old City, where there were plans (for) 35 housing units in the Muslim quarter, as well as (more) for Silwan, just outside the Old City walls”. “They are indulging in ethnic cleansing in broad daylight. They are chasing Palestinians out of their homes. They are trying to decapitate Arab existence in East Jerusalem, step by step, home by home, neighborhood by neighborhood, while they continue to lie about their desire for peace,” said Rafiq Al-Husseini, a senior aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Among the most dangerous and explosive aspects of Israel’s efforts to Judaize East Jerusalem is the ongoing excavation and digging beneath the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Palestinian religious officials told the Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram that “digging beneath the Al-Aqsa Mosque is seriously undermining the foundations of Islamic shrine and the nearby Dome of the Rock.” Sheikh Mohamed Hussein, head of the Supreme Muslim Council in Jerusalem, warned that it was only a matter of time before a “major disaster” occurred as a result of Israeli diggings in the vicinity of the Haram Al-Sharif (Al-Aqsa Mosque) esplanade. He accused the Israeli authorities of constructing subterranean tunnels beneath Islamic holy places without any consideration for the safety of Islamic shrines. “I can say without the slightest exaggeration that the Al-Aqsa Mosque is facing the danger of collapse as a result of these excavations,” he told Al Ahram.

A confidential EU report, dated 15 December 2008 and published in the British newspaper The Guardian, accused Israel “of using settlement expansion, house demolitions, discriminatory housing policies and the West Bank (Separation) barrier as a way of “actively pursuing the illegal annexation” of East Jerusalem.” More still, including restrictive permits, “closure of Palestinian institutions,” and various other ways to “increase Jewish presence in the city, impede Palestinian urban development, and separate East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank” incrementally to annex it.

The report points out that these plans are now accelerated and have undermined the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) credibility as well as weakened support for peace. It calls “Israel’s actions in and around Jerusalem….one of the most acute challenges to Israeli-Palestinian peace-making (yet) have limited security justifications.” In addition, they are illegal.

“There are plans for 3500 housing units, an industrial park, two police stations and other infrastructure in a controversial area known as E1, between East Jerusalem and the West Bank settlement of Maale Adumin, home to 31,000 settlers,” it adds. The EU report called Israeli E1 measures “one of the most significant challenges to the….peace process.” Along with continued home demolitions, expanding the Maaleh Adumin settlement into area E1 threatens to completely encircle the city with Jewish settlements and split the West Bank in two. Once the Separation Wall is completed, East Jerusalem will be isolated physically, politically, commercially and socially.

The EU report cites Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention that prohibits “Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory….” Neither shall “The Occupying Power….deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” In addition, numerous UN resolutions established “no legal validity” for settlement building or for East Jerusalem’s annexation.

Extremist Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu has promised that Jerusalem will remain united as the capital of Israel. Israel continues to expand its Jews-only settlements in East Jerusalem in defiance of international protests. Some of groups have accused Israeli Primer Minister, who wants to force Palestinians to “recognize” that Israel is a “Jewish state”, of seeking to legalize the brutal discrimination who suffer Palestinians living in Israel and the fundamental priviledges that Jews have over non-Jews.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has been forced to set up its headquarters in nearby Ramallah, not in Jerusalem. The Israelis have prevented the PA from locating any of its institutions in East Jerusalem. Israel has also moved to suppress Palestinian cultural activities associated with the city being declared the capital of Arab culture for 2009. On 19 March heavily armed policemen violently dispersed a meeting at the Ambassador Hotel in East Jerusalem, confiscating posters, leaflets, placards and computers. Israeli police also raided schools, social clubs and community centres to foil activities celebrating Arab culture in the occupied city. Several organizers, including East Jerusalem lawmaker Hatem Abdel-Qader, were arrested on charges of disturbing peace.

The Palestinian Authority has denounced the expansion and called on the international community to stop all settlement activities in East Jerusalem. Addressing the Arab-Muslim world, Abbas said: “I urge our Arab and Muslim brothers to come to the rescue of Jerusalem, protect Jerusalem from the act of rape to which the city is being subjected… Jerusalem is being Judaised by force, its Arab identity is being obliterated, its history is being falsified, its people are being oppressed and tormented. Its homes are being demolished. Jerusalem is the beginning and the end, it is the ultimate address of peace. Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine.”

Israeli authorities can carry out an ethnic cleansing because world leaders, above those of the Unites States, exempt Israel from international law and give its government license to plunder, oppress and kill defenseless Palestinians with impunity, separate them in isolated cantons, keep them under military occupation, starve them to death in Gaza under siege and ruthless bombings, and purge them relentlessly from Jerusalem. When a Washington Post reporter questioned her about the 143 Palestinian homes in Jerusalem that Israel intended to demolish in the following weeks, Hillary Clinton described the demolitions as “unhelpful” -maybe she did not find a softer word-, noting that they violated Israel’s obligations under the US “road map” for peace.

Israeli officials were unimpressed by Clinton’s warnings. Jerusalem’s Jewish mayor, Nir Barkat, described her words as “a lot of air”. Shortly after her statement, Israeli officials revealed that the number of Palestinian homes that Israeli occupation forces intended to destroy had increased from 143 to 179, which would affect more than 2,000 Palestinians, most of whom had lived in the city for generations.

However, according to AFP, the United States could have completely abandon its complaints over Israeli construction in East Jerusalem. If this is true, it would be certainly a stupid move because no Palestinian will ever accept an state without East Jerusalem as its capital. Otherwise, any “peace process” will be doomed to failure since its very beginning. Addressing Israel, Abbas said: “Peace can’t be made through the building and expansion of settlements, brute force and military insolence. What happened in Gaza recently reflects the Israeli mindset, and with such a mindset, it is clear there can be no peace.”

{RB note: Abbas and his lot won’t do anything it is the Palestinian people and their true supporters who will stand against these crimes. }

The risks of de-contextualizing Gaza war crimes


Goncalo de Almeida Ribeiro, Vishaal Kishore and Nimer Sultany, The Electronic Intifada, 26 September 2009

"By drawing attention to one short but bloody outburst of violence, an outburst that is cast and investigated as unusual, other periods may implicitly be rendered normal." (MaanImages)

The recent release of a report by the United Nations fact-finding mission chaired by jurist Richard Goldstone concerning the Israeli onslaught on Gaza in late December 2008 through January 2009 sheds important light on human rights violations in Israel/Palestine. One would hope that upon reading this report (or indeed any other from the long list of reports concerning the Occupied Palestinian Territories released by various human rights organizations) readers will be outraged by the ongoing atrocities committed in the region.

Despite expressly claiming to take into account the historical background to the Gaza events, the report, by its very nature, singles out a particular set of facts, and a limited period of time as the primary locus for investigation. In part this is justified. The conflict in Gaza involved levels of violence that are more or less exceptional. Yet, we fear that such a high-profile report, crafted specifically to address what is perceived to be an extreme or peculiar period of time in the lives of Palestinians under occupation, might have significant negative consequences. Particularly, we maintain that such a report, by focusing on one "drastic" period in the Israeli occupation, might in fact have the effect of overshadowing or downplaying the harsh and ongoing reality of the last 43 years of Israeli occupation.

By drawing attention to one short but bloody outburst of violence, an outburst that is cast and investigated as unusual, other periods may implicitly be rendered normal. But these "normal" periods involve Palestinian suffering and hardship that are well beyond the pale of decency. These periods -- which involve low-level Palestinian resistance to occupation and low-level Israeli oppression -- are the deeply implicated historical and contextual backdrop for all of the events that follow. While many tragically lose their lives in conflict, the less dramatic but longstanding and profoundly soul-crushing policies pursued by the Israeli state hinder not only Palestinians' freedom, but also warp and truncate their life prospects.

There is a risk, we claim, associated with narrowly focused reports such as that of the Goldstone committee, that the misery of these periods will be forgotten, or at the very least, pushed to the margins and rendered less objectionable. Through myopic attention on the symptom of the problem -- the Gaza onslaught -- the root cause is obscured, and the Israeli occupation is stripped of its true context and gravity. Thus, the manifold and interconnected ways in which oppression works to subjugate normal people in their daily lives are left unexamined. In other words, the report describes and evaluates human rights violations without paying attention to the larger factual and moral context within which they occurred.

Indeed, defenders of Israel having been using such de-contextualizing arguments to divert the discussion. Their argument maintains that had Palestinians not resorted to violence against the Israeli people and army, Israel would not have been forced to attack them, and consequently their lives would not be miserable. Such an argument, however, fails to recognize the possibility that occupation itself is already making Palestinians' lives so miserable that they are willing to sacrifice those lives to win back their homeland, freedom and dignity. This amounts to picking an arbitrary -- and indeed self-serving -- starting point to begin moral and political condemnation.

The natural tendency of those who are busy reporting human rights violations is to refrain from making moral or political judgments concerning the participants of violence and their pasts, so as to be able to claim neutrality. As a result, the parties to the conflict are seen as identically situated agents of violence.
This is a distortion of reality, particularly when coupled with the arbitrary de-contextualization that comes with specifying a limited and "exceptional" temporal and factual frame for investigation. Most conflicts involve parties with different means at their disposal and pursuing different ends. Even if it is always wrong to violate human rights, it is certainly the case that moral and political condemnation for such violations is not only a matter of quality, but also of degree. Surely the Palestinians can choose from a much more limited set of means to fight than the State of Israel. It follows that human rights violations by the latter should be seen as especially grave, given all of the circumstances.

Does this mean that we should do away with reports and leave the history of human rights violations untold? Obviously not -- that question involves a false choice. Rather, what human rights reports (and the mandates upon which they rely) should attempt to do is stretch beyond the confines of a period of extreme violence. Human rights violations have to be placed in a larger factual and moral context. Doing so may, of course, come at the cost of political controversy and the hostility of those who are content with half-truths. That, it seems to us, is a moderate price to pay when so much is at stake.

Goncalo de Almeida Ribeiro is a doctoral candidate at Harvard Law School, working in the fields of Private Law Theory, Jurisprudence and Political Philosophy. He holds an LL.B. from the Universidade Nova de Lisboa (Portugal).

Vishaal Kishore is a doctoral candidate at Harvard Law School, working in the fields of International Economic Relations, Political Economy and Legal and Social Theory. He holds degrees from the University of Melbourne (Australia).

Nimer Sultany is a Palestinian citizen of Israel and currently a doctoral candidate at Harvard Law School. He has worked as a human rights lawyer in the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and as the head of the political monitoring project at Mada al-Carmel (the Arab center for applied social research).

Sabri: Two-state solution an illusion

Sabri: Two-state solution an illusion

[ 26/09/2009 - 08:38 AM ]

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Sheikh Ekrema Sabri, the higher Islamic authority chairman and preacher of the Aqsa Mosque, has charged that the reported two-state solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was impractical and illusionary.

He said, while addressing the Friday congregation in the Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem, that the solution stabilizes occupation and lures more Arab countries into normalizing relations with Israel.

The Sheikh underlined that the Israeli settlement drive was on the rise leaving no land in the West Bank for the establishment of a Palestinian state.

He reiterated his rejection of exchanging lands between the Palestinians and Israel, and added that if Jerusalem and the right of return for millions of Palestinian refugees were shelved then what is left for the Palestinians.

For his part, MP Yasser Mansour told the PIC on Friday that the two-state solution meant recognition of Israel as a "Jewish state".

He described the solution as "Zionist par excellence", and described negotiations and meetings between Mahmoud Abbas, the former PA chief, and Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu as useless and only entailed more losses for the Palestine cause.

Mansour, who was released from Israeli jails recently, also called for an immediate end to the state of division within the Palestinian arena.

U.S., NATO Poised For Most Massive War In Afghanistan's History

U.S., NATO Poised For Most Massive War In Afghanistan's History

26/09/2009 Rick Rozoff - Global Research
September 24, 2009

Over the past week U.S. newspapers and television networks have been abuzz with reports that Washington and its NATO allies are planning an unprecedented increase of troops for the war in Afghanistan, even in addition to the 17,000 new American and several thousand NATO forces that have been committed to the war so far this year.

The number, based on as yet unsubstantiated reports of what U.S. and NATO commander Stanley McChrystal and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen have demanded of the White House, range from 10,000 to 45,000.

Fox News has cited figures as high as 45,000 more American soldiers and ABC News as many as 40,000. On September 15 the Christian Science Monitor wrote of "perhaps as many as 45,000."

The similarity of the estimates indicate that a number has been agreed upon and America's obedient media is preparing domestic audiences for the possibility of the largest escalation of foreign armed forces in Afghanistan's history. Only seven years ago the United States had 5,000 troops in the country, but was scheduled to have 68,000 by December even before the reports of new deployments surfaced.

An additional 45,000 troops would bring the U.S. total to 113,000. There are also 35,000 troops from some 50 other nations serving under NATO's International Security Assistance Force in the nation, which would raise combined troop strength under McChrystal's command to 148,000 if the larger number of rumored increases materializes.

As the former Soviet Union withdrew its soldiers from Afghanistan twenty years ago the New York Times reported "At the height of the Soviet commitment, according to Western intelligence estimates, there were 115,000 troops deployed." [1]

Nearly 150,000 U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan would represent the largest foreign military presence ever in the land.

Rather than addressing this historic watershed, the American media is full of innuendos and "privileged" speculation on who has leaked the information and why, as to commercial news operations the tawdry world of Byzantine intrigues among and between American politicians, generals and the Fourth Estate is of more importance that the lengthiest and largest war in the world.

One that has been estimated by the chief of the British armed forces and other leading Western officials to last decades and that has already been extended into Pakistan, a nation with a population almost six times that of Afghanistan and in possession of nuclear weapons.

Two weeks ago the Dutch media reported that during a visit to the Netherlands "General Stanley McChrystal [said] he is considering the possibility of merging...Operation Enduring Freedom with NATO's ISAF force." [2] That is, not only would he continue to command all U.S. and NATO troops, but the two commands would be melded into one.

The call for up to 45,000 more American troops was first adumbrated in mid-September by U.S. armed forces chief Michael Mullen, with the Associated Press stating "The top U.S. military officer says that winning in Afghanistan will probably mean sending more troops." [3]

Four days later, September 19, Reuters reported that "The commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan has drawn up a long-awaited and detailed request for additional troops but has not yet sent it to Washington, a spokesman said on Saturday.

"He said General Stanley McChrystal completed the document this week, setting out exactly how many U.S. and NATO troops, Afghan security force members and civilians he thinks he needs." [4]

The Pentagon spokesman mentioned above, Lieutenant-Colonel Tadd Sholtis, said, "We're working with Washington as well as the other NATO participants about how it's best to submit this," refusing to divulge any details. [5]

Two days later the Washington Post published a 66-page "redacted" version of General McChrystal's Commander's Initial Assessment which began with this background information:

"On 26 June, 2009, the United States Secretary of Defense directed Commander, United States Central Command (CDRUSCENTCOM), to provide a multidisciplinary assessment of the situation in Afghanistan. On 02 July, 2009, Commander, NATO International Security Assistance Force (COMISAF) / U.S. Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A), received direction from CDRUSCENTCOM to complete the overall review.

"On 01 July, 2009, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe and NATO Secretary General also issued a similar directive.

"COMISAF [Commander, NATO International Security Assistance Force] subsequently issued an order to the ISAF staff and component commands to conduct a comprehensive review to assess the overall situation, review plans and ongoing efforts, and identify revisions to operational, tactical and strategic guidance."

The main focus of the report, not surprising given McChrystal's previous role as head of the Joint Special Operations Command, the Pentagon's preeminent special operations unit, in Iraq, is concentrated and intensified counterinsurgency war.

It includes the demand that "NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) requires a new strategy....This new strategy must also be properly resourced and executed through an integrated civilian-military counterinsurgency campaign....This is a different kind of fight. We must conduct classic counterinsurgency operations in an environment that is uniquely complex....Success demands a comprehensive counterinsurgency (COIN) campaign."

McChrystal's evaluation also indicates that the war will not only escalate within Afghanistan but will also be stepped up inside Pakistan and may even target Iran.

"Afghanistan's insurgency is clearly supported from Pakistan. Senior leaders of the major Afghan insurgent groups are based in Pakistan, are linked with al Qaeda and other violent extremist groups, and are reportedly aided by some elements of Pakistan's ISI [Inter-Services Intelligence].

"Iranian Qods Force [part of the nation's army] is reportedly training fighters for certain Taliban groups and providing other forms of military assistance to insurgents. Iran's current policies and actions do not pose a short-term threat to the mission, but Iran has the capability to threaten the mission in the future."

That the ISI has had links to armed extremists is no revelation. The Pentagon and the CIA worked hand-in-glove with it from 1979 onward to subvert successive governments in Afghanistan. That Iran is "training fighters for certain Taliban groups" is a provocational fabrication.

As to who is responsible for the thirty-year disaster that is Afghanistan, McChrystal's assessment contains a sentence that may get past most readers. It is this:

"The major insurgent groups in order of their threat to the mission are: the Quetta Shura Taliban (05T), the Haqqani Network (HQN), and the Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin (HiG)."

The last-named is the guerrilla force of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the largest recipient of hundreds of millions (perhaps billions) of U.S. dollars provided by the CIA to the Peshawar Seven Mujahideen bloc fighting the Soviet-backed government of Afghanistan from 1978-1992.

While hosting Hekmatyar and his allies at the White House in 1985 then President Ronald Reagan referred to his guests as "the moral equivalents of America's founding fathers.”

Throughout the 1980s the CIA official in large part tasked to assist the Mujahideen with funds, arms and training was Robert Gates, now U.S. Secretary of Defense.

Last December BBC News reported:

"In his book, From the Shadows, published in 1996, Mr Gates defended the role of the CIA in undertaking covert action which, he argued, helped to win the Cold War.

"In a speech in 1999, Mr Gates said that its most important role was in Afghanistan.

"'CIA had important successes in covert action. Perhaps the most consequential of all was Afghanistan where CIA, with its management, funnelled billions of dollars in supplies and weapons to the mujahideen, and the resistance was thus able to fight the vaunted Soviet army to a standoff and eventually force a political decision to withdraw,' he said." [6]

Now according to McChrystal the same Gulbuddin Hekmatyar who was cultivated and sponsored by McChrystal's current boss, Gates, is in charge of one of the three groups the Pentagon and NATO are waging ever-escalating counterinsurgency operations in South Asia against.

To make matters even more intriguing, former British foreign secretary Robin Cook - as loyal a pro-American Atlanticist as exists - conceded in the Guardian on July 8, 2005 that "Bin Laden was...a product of a monumental miscalculation by western security agencies. Throughout the 80s he was armed by the CIA and funded by the Saudis to wage jihad against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan. Al-Qaida, literally 'the database', was originally the computer file of the thousands of mujahideen who were recruited and trained with help from the CIA to defeat the Russians."

Russian analyst and vice president of the Center for Political Technologies Sergey Mikheev was quoted in early September as contending that "Afghanistan is a stage in the division of the world after the bipolar system failed. They [U.S. and NATO] wanted to consolidate their grip on Eurasia...and deployed a lot of troops there. The Taliban card was played, although nobody had been interested in the Taliban before." [7]

Pentagon chief Gates' 27 years in the CIA, including his tenure as director of the agency from 1991-1993, is being brought to bear on the Afghan war according to the Los Angeles Times of September 19, 2009, which revealed that "The CIA is deploying teams of spies, analysts and paramilitary operatives to Afghanistan, part of a broad intelligence 'surge' that will make its station there among the largest in the agency's history, U.S. officials say.

"When complete, the CIA's presence in the country is expected to rival the size of its massive stations in Iraq and Vietnam at the height of those wars. Precise numbers are classified, but one U.S. official said the agency already has nearly 700 employees in Afghanistan.

"The intelligence expansion goes beyond the CIA to involve every major spy service, officials said, including the National Security Agency, which intercepts calls and e-mails, as well as the Defense Intelligence Agency, which tracks military threats."

U.S. and NATO Commander McChrystal will put the CIA to immediate use in his plans for an all-out counterinsurgency campaign. The Los Angeles Times article added:

"McChrystal is expected to expand the use of teams that combine CIA operatives with special operations soldiers. In Iraq, where he oversaw the special operations forces from 2003 to 2008, McChrystal used such teams to speed up the cycle of gathering intelligence and carrying out raids aimed at killing or capturing insurgents.

"The CIA is also carrying out an escalating campaign of unmanned Predator missile strikes on Al Qaeda and insurgent strongholds in Pakistan. The number of strikes so far this year, 37, already exceeds the 2008 total, according to data compiled by the Long War Journal website, which tracks Predator strikes in Pakistan."

Indeed, on September 13 it was reported that "Two NATO fighter jets reportedly flew inside Pakistan's airspace for nearly two hours on Saturday.

"The airspace violation took place in different parts of the Khyber Agency bordering the Afghan border." [8]

Two days later "NATO fighter jets in Afghanistan...violated Pakistani airspace and dropped bombs on the country's northwest region.

"NATO warplanes bombed the South Waziristan tribal region....Moreover, CIA operated spy drone planes continued low-altitude flights in several towns of the Waziristan region." [9]

The dramatic upsurge in CIA deployments in South Asia won't be limited to Afghanistan. Neighboring Pakistan will be further overrun by U.S. intelligence operatives also.

On September 12 a petition was filed in the Supreme Court of Pakistan contesting the announced expansion of the U.S. embassy in the nation's capital.

"Pakistani media have been reporting that the United States plans to deploy a large number of marines with the plan to expand its embassy in Islamabad." [10]

The challenge was organized by Barrister Zafarullah Khan, who "said that Saudi Arabia was also trying to get 700,000 acres (283,400 hectares) of land in the country."

He was quoted on the day of the presentation of the petition as warning "Giving away Pakistani land to U.S. and Arab countries in this fashion is a threat for the stability and sovereignty of the country" and "further added that the purpose of giving the land to U.S. embassy was to establish an American military base...there.

"He maintained that such a big land was enough even to construct a military airport." [11]

Intelligence personnel and special forces are being matched by military equipment in the intensification of the West's war in South Asia.

On September 10 Reuters revealed in an article titled "U.S. eyes military equipment in Iraq for Pakistan" that "The Pentagon has proposed transferring U.S. military equipment from Iraq to Pakistani security forces to help Islamabad step up its offensive against the Taliban...."

A U.S. armed forces publication a few days afterward wrote that "U.S. hardware is moving out of Iraq by the ton, much of it going straight to the overstretched forces in increasingly volatile Afghanistan" and "The U.S. military has already started moving an estimated 1.5 million pieces of equipment - everything from batteries to tanks - by ground, rail and air either to Afghanistan for immediate use...." [12]

In the middle of this month "U.S. military leaders infused Gen. Stanley McChrystal's ideas of how to win the war in Afghanistan" by conducting a large-scale counterinsurgency exercise in Grafenwoehr, Germany.

"Dozens of Pashtun speakers joined more than 6,500 U.S. troops and civilians in an exercise for the Afghanistan-bound 173rd Airborne Brigade and Iraq-bound 12th Combat Aviation Brigade. It was the largest such exercise ever held by the U.S. military outside of the United States...." [13]

The Pentagon and NATO have their work cut out for them.

"A security map by the London-based International Council on Security and Development (ICOS) showed a deepening security crisis with substantial Taliban activity in at least 97 percent of the war-ravaged country.

"The Council added that the militants now have a permanent presence in 80 percent of the country." [14]

The United States is not alone in sinking deeper into the Afghan morass.

On September 14 U.S. ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder, in celebrating the "resilience and deep-seated support from our allies for what is happening in Afghanistan," was equally enthusiastic in proclaiming "Over 40 percent of the body bags that leave Afghanistan do not go to the U.S. They go to other countries...." [15]

Daalder also gave the lie to earlier claims that NATO troop increases leading up to last month's presidential election were temporary in nature by acknowledging that "Many of the extra troops that NATO countries sent to Afghanistan for the August presidential elections would stay on." [16]

Leading up to the Washington Post's publication of the McChrystal assessment, NATO's Military Committee held a two-day conference in Lisbon, Portugal which was attended by McChrystal and NATO's two Strategic Commanders, Admiral Stavridis (Supreme Allied Commander, Operations) and General Abrial (Supreme Allied Commander, Transformation) which "focused mainly on the operation in Afghanistan and on the New Strategic Concept." [17]

The 28 NATO defense chiefs present laid a wreath to the Alliance's first war dead, those killed in Afghanistan.

Earlier this month the Washington Post reported that "The U.S. military and NATO are launching a major overhaul of the way they recruit, train and equip Afghanistan's security forces," an announcement that came "in advance of expected recommendations by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal." [18]

The article quoted Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee:

"We're going to need many more trainers, hopefully including a much larger number of NATO trainers. We're going to need a surge of equipment that is coming out of Iraq and, instead of coming home, a great deal of it should be going to Afghanistan instead." [19]

According to the same report, this month NATO will "will establish a new command led by a three-star military officer to oversee recruiting and generating Afghan forces.

"The goal is to 'bring more coherence' to uncoordinated efforts by NATO contingents in Afghanistan while underscoring that the mission 'is not just America's challenge'..." [20]

Contributing to its quota of body bags, NATO has experienced losses in Afghanistan that have reached record levels. "According to the icasualties website, 363 foreign soldiers have died in Afghanistan so far this year, compared to 294 for all of 2008." [21]

This month Britain lost its 216th soldier in the nearly eight-year war. Canada lost its 131st. Denmark its 25th. Italy its 20th. Poland, where a recent poll showed 81 percent support for immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan, its 12th.

Russian ambassador to Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov, who had been in the nation in the 1980s, was cited by Associated Press on September 12 as reflecting that in 2002 the U.S. had 5,000 troops in the nation and "Taliban controlled just a small corner of the country's southeast."

"Now we have Taliban fighting in the peaceful Kunduz and Baghlan (provinces) with your (NATO's) 100,000 troops. And if this trend is the rule, if you bring 200,000 soldiers here, all of Afghanistan will be under the Taliban."

Associated Press also cited Kabulov's concern that "the U.S. and its allies are competing with Russia for influence in the energy-rich region....Afghanistan remains a strategic prize because of its location near the gas and oil fields of Iran, the Caspian Sea, Central Asia andthe Persian Gulf."

He also said "Russia has questions about NATO's intentions in Afghanistan, which...lies outside of the alliance's 'political domain'" and "Moscow is concerned that NATO is building permanent bases in the region."

The concerns are legitimate in light of this month's latest quadrennial report by the Pentagon on security threats which "put emerging superpower China and former Cold War foe Russia alongside Iran and North Korea on a list of the four main nations challenging American interests." [22]

At the same time a U.S. military newspaper reported on statements by Pentagon chief Robert Gates:

"Gates said the roughly $6.5 billion he has proposed to upgrade the [Air Force] fleet assures U.S. domination of the skies for decades.

"By the time China produces its first - 5th generation - fighter, he said, the U.S. will have more than 1,000 F-22s and F-35s. And while the U.S. conducted 35,000 refueling missions last year, Russia performed about 30.

"The secretary also highlighted new efforts to support robust space and cyber commands, as well as the new Global Strike Command that oversees the nuclear arsenal." [23]

To add to Russian and Chinese apprehensions about NATO's role in South and Central Asia, ten days ago the U.S. ambassador to Kazakhstan, which borders Russia and China, "offered to Kazakhstan to take part in the peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan."

At the opening ceremony of the NATO Steppe Eagle-2009 military exercises in that nation envoy Richard Hoagland said "Kazakhstan may again become part of the international NATO peacekeeping force in Afghanistan." [24]

Radio Free Europe reported on September 16 that NATO was to sign new agreements with Kyrgyzstan, which also borders China, for the use of the Manas Air Base that as many as 200,000 U.S. and NATO troops have passed through since the beginning of the Afghan war.

On the same day NATO' plans for expanding transit routes through the South Caucasus and the Caspian Sea region were described. "[T]he air corridor through Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan is the most feasible.

"This route will be best suited if ISAF transport planes fly directly to Baku from Turkey or any other NATO member....Moreover, it [Azerbaijan] is not a CSTO [Collective Security Treaty Organization] member, which allows Azerbaijan more freedom for maneuver in the region when dealing with NATO." [25]

Just as troops serving under NATO command in the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan now include those from almost fifty countries on five continents, so the broadening scope of the war is absorbing vaster tracts of Eurasia and the Middle East.

America's longest armed conflict since that in Indochina and NATO's first ground war threatens to not only remain the world's most dangerous conflagration but also one that plunges the 21st Century into a war without end.


1) New York Times, February 16, 1989

2) Radio Netherlands, September 12, 2009

3) Associated Press, September 15, 2009

4) Reuters, September 19, 2009

5) Ibid

6) BBC News, December 1, 2008

7) Russia Today, September 7, 2009

8) Asian News International, September 13, 2009

9) Press TV, September 15, 2009

10) Xinhua News, September 12, 2009

11) Ibid

12) Stars and Stripes, September 19, 2009

13) Stars and Stripes, September 13, 2009

14) Trend News Agency, September 11, 2009

15) Reuters, September 14, 2009

16) Ibid

17) NATO, September 20, 2009

18) Washington Post, September 12, 2009

19) Ibid

20) Ibid

21) Agence France-Presse, September 22, 2009

22) Agence France-Presse, September 15, 2009

23) Stars and Stripes, September 16, 2009

24) Interfax, September 14, 2009

25) Jamestown Foundation, Eurasia Daily Monitor, September 16, 2009