Tuesday, January 13, 2009
A resident of southwest Gaza City on Monday showed a reporter a piece of metal casing with the identifying number M825A1, which Marc Garlasco, a military analyst with Human Rights Watch, identified as white phosphorus, typically used for signaling, smoke screens and destroying enemy equipment.
In recent years, experts and rights advocates have argued over whether its use to intentionally harm people violates international conventions.
Major (Jacob) Dallal (an Israeli military spokesman) would not say whether Israel was using white phosphorus, but said, “The munitions we use are consistent with international law.”
Still, white phosphorus can cause injury, and a growing number of Gazans report being hurt by it, including in Beit Lahiya, Khan Yunis, and in eastern and southwestern Gaza City. When exposed to air, it ignites, experts say, and if packed into an artillery shell, it can rain down flaming chemicals that cling to anything they touch.
Luay Suboh, 10, from Beit Lahiya, lost his eyesight and some skin on his face Saturday when, his mother said, a fiery substance clung to him as he darted home from a shelter where his family was staying to pick up clothes.
The substance smelled like burned trash, said Ms. Jaawanah, the mother who fled her home in Zeitoun, who had experienced it too...
Monday, January 12, 2009
Copyright ©2009. www.RevisionistHistory.org
This writer has the sorrowful distinction of having observed and reported more than twenty-six years' worth of Israeli massacres of Arabs, beginning with Beirut in the summer of 1982, when Ariel Sharon's military terror-bombed schools, hospitals, apartment blocs and nursing homes in an incredible orgy of violence. There were many more Israeli atrocities to follow: in Qana, Jenin, Gaza 2006, and of course carpet-bombing throughout Lebanon in 2007.
Then as now, an impotent Arab "street" along with leftist intellectuals and protesters in Europe, issued demands and furiously paraded with "smash Zionism" placards. The UN met in special session and "deplored" Israeli actions. Investigations were called for, and in Jenin, "war crimes investigations" were demanded, which, in the case of Jenin, were rebuffed by Shimon Peres, who defiantly declared, "No one judges Israel!"
As usual the Israelis in Gaza are taking a crap on an entire people, along with the infrastructure of Gaza's government, housing, educational system and their fire-fighting and medical facilities. This is not just an attack on Hamas, but as we saw in Jenin, on the Palestinian people's ability to govern, educate, house and protect themselves.
As always happens when these Talmudic war crimes transpire, Israeli hasbara (propaganda) operations go into high gear, and we are seeing the pattern repeat in Gaza now. Every single atrocity is explained away as either collateral damage or "terrorists using the civilian population as a shield." By that standard the US government was "shielding itself" in the Twin Towers in New York City in September, 2001.
Imagine if in Oakland, California, African-American guerrillas fired rockets at Sacramento in protest over the killing of a black man by transit cops. In response, the California National Guard attacks an all-black school in Oakland, slaughtering 40 children because the rocket-firings by the militants took place "near" the school. This is what occurred at the United Nations school in Gaza after Hamas fighters allegedly fired mortars in the vicinity. Would the world forgive California for the deaths of the children in Oakland because black militants had been firing near the school? Such a racist devaluation of the lives of the black children collectively punished for acts of armed resistance by guerrilla fighters in their neighborhood would appall and shock the world.
The racist component of the devaluation of Palestinian life so evident in Gaza since Dec. 27 is barely mentioned because it tends to show that the "Jewish" state is sick at its core and any such admission would tend toward an investigation into the spiritual and religious roots of the Zionist pathology which, patently, are in the religion of Orthodox Judaism, which institutionalizes the enshrinement of the humanity of the souls of Judaics while derogating the humanity of non-Judaic souls.
To counter any serious investigation of Zionism's Orthodox rabbinic patrimony, in the last stage of hasbara surrounding any massacre by Judaics in the Middle East, we witness the phenomenon of "Jews Against Zionism" and "Rabbis for Peace," intended to deflect attention away from the Mishnah, Gemara, Mishneh Torah, Shulchan Aruch and other sacred rabbinic texts which teach that when necessary, non-Judaics may be killed with impunity because they are not fully human.
Judaic protests against Israeli violence are commendable when they also condemn the roots of Israeli violence as found in the ideological doctrines of Chazal (the "sages") of Orthodox Judaism, or at the very least when not denying those roots. For example, to their credit, in the Guardian newspaper in Britain on January 10, over seventy Judaic activists wrote to condemn Israeli atrocities in Gaza. While they did not trace the roots of Zionist mass murder to the Talmud, neither did they deny it. They did, however, make an astute and damaging comparison between Governor-General Hans Frank in Nazi-occupied Poland and Matan Vilnai, the Israeli defense minister who actually spoke last February of perpetrating a shoah (extermination) in Gaza.
The hasbara does emerge in statements by Judaics such as Alexei Sayle who told a crowd of demonstrators in London, "It is long past time to stop allowing the state of Israel to call itself the 'Jewish state."
The masters at this sort of disinformation are the Neturei Karta sect of Hasidic Judaism who were received by the Iranian President at the revisionist conference in Tehran and who parade around the US and Europe condemning Zionism as being against "the Torah" (that's the Torah Shebeal Peh, the traditions of the rabbis, not the Torah of Yahweh, which the rabbis nullify).
Neturei Karta and the larger Satmar body of Hasidim, who are also anti-Zionist, are a function of the Cryptocracy at one of its highest levels of operation. The many befuddled and ignorant goyim who cooperate with these groups in disseminating the propaganda that the rabbinic Torah (Talmud) is a document of peace and love inimical to Zionism and the Israeli state, serve to rescue the religion of Judaism from the odium it so richly deserves as the ideological engine that drives the Israeli war machine.
Those who support and promote the anti-Zionist Orthodox rabbinic movements should at least be aware that they are backing 1700 years of Talmudic Judaic dogma as it existed from the aftermath of the Bar Kokhba revolt in the second century A.D. through the nineteenth century. After their disastrous ancient military uprising against Rome, the rabbis taught that Judaism should, until the coming of the Moshiach ("Messiah"), advance almost exclusively through stealth, guile and the armies of the goyim. This "Neturei Karta" style Judaism was just as much the enemy of Christendom as Orthodox Judaism is today. The difference being that in our time the majority of Orthodox rabbis believe the most effective road to dominion is through the teachings of Moses Hess, Rabbi Kook and the "religious Zionism" that came into full flower in the twentieth century and which advocated the development of Judaic armies and the projection of Judaic military power.
The Neturei Karta rabbis are perpetrating a hoax. Zionism is just as authentically Talmudic as Neturei Karta Judaism, with the exception being that whereas Neturei Karta Judaism prefers camouflage and deceit, the religious Zionism of the Israeli state favors camouflage, deceit and Judaic military power.
As the Israeli army and air force brazenly butcher Gazans in a bloodbath on the world stage, the Arab world and the West are repeating their useless pattern of issuing the same tired and impotent protests and resolutions. Effective action and remedies are never put into place: the Israelis have too strong a hold on western institutions to be dragged before European courts for war crimes' prosecution as the Christian Serbs were, or to become the target of ironclad national "divestment" and "boycott" campaigns, as were the whites of South Africa.
This Israeli hold on the West can only be weakened and eventually dissolved if the world will come to view the connection between Orthdox Judaism and Zionism the way it perceives the connection between Islamic Wahabist fundamentalism and Al Qaeda.
The actions of the Israeli military in Gaza --mass murder and constantly lying about it--are derived from the rabbinic law ("halakha") of Orthodox Judaism, as documented in this writer's book, Judaism Discovered. This is the missing element in the analysis of Israeli war crimes and deception. The "sages," from Rabbi Shimon ben Yohai to Rabbi Moses Maimonides onward, teach the followers of Orthodox Judaism to lie and, when it is deemed politic, to slaughter dehumanized non-Judaics. Until this is widely understood, the Israelis will massacre civilian populations repeatedly and with impunity, as the history of the Zionist state, from Deir Yassin to Qana, Jenin and Zeitoun, demonstrates.
Judaism Discovered: A Study of the Anti-Biblical Religion of Racism, Self-Worship, Superstition and Deceit by Michael Hoffman
[Banned by Amazon.com]
For ordering information: http://www.revisionisthistory.org/page1/news.html
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
The IDF's initial justification for the attack on the Al-Fakhura school was that Hamas had used the building to fire mortars from, and its tanks had responded. Implicit in this was an admission that they had targeted the school on purpose. The tank shells, presumably shot from quite nearby, were fired by soldiers operating under orders from command centres equipped with detailed targeting intelligence. As is now known, the Israeli military had the GPS coordinates not only of this UN school but of the other UN schools that it attacked. And the first thing the IDF let us know is that it was done on purpose. Their excuse was barbaric, of course. The idea that an invading force may attack a building filled with hundreds of terrorised civilians just in order to kill two of those resisting the invasion is nothing short of grotesque.
The second thing that the IDF claimed was that there were Hamas troops hiding inside the building, nestling among the refugees, thereby forcing the Israelis to slaughter the innocent. This is quite a different claim, and the first thing that would occur to any reasonable observer would be that the sudden embellishment reflected some sort of dishonesty ('the elaborations of a bad liar', as Hannibal Lecter would put it). Or perhaps there had been a failure by everyone to get their stories straight and stick to them. At any rate, the logic of the astounding claim that Israel acted in self-defense remained as tortuous as it had been. But Israel claimed to have identified the bodies of Hamas members, and even fed two names to the media, (so once again you were invited to get bogged down in the merits of Israel's claim rather than decide on an appropriate response to the slaughter).
The next part of the story is the most interesting. In order to get around the absurd idea that Hamas military operatives had sneaked into the building and launched mortars without anyone in the school noticing, Israel's spokespeople claimed that Hamas gunmen had taken over the UN building, taken the civilians hostage and used the base to fire mortars at Israeli soldiers. Mark Regev said it was a "very extreme example of how Hamas operates". Such a claim was obviously checkable in a matter of minutes. Any UN personnel present in the school at the time could easily say whether in fact they had all been suffering under Hamas captivity until Israel 'liberated' the building.
So, the Israeli government topped that brazenness with a stroke of effrontery that is somehow not adequately captured by the word 'chutzpah'. Israel announced that as it was lodging a complaint with the UN for allowing the building to be secretly used by Hamas. Now it appears that Israeli diplomats admit that no rockets were fired from the school. They are now briefing that there was some mortar fire, but that it came from outside the school. Now, there is no evidence that there was any mortar fire at all, but perhaps you aren't really supposed to believe it. Actually, you were never supposed to believe any of it. There was no way that you were ever expected to be taken in by this pitiful subterfuge. They didn't even present a very convincing lie, or a very good case.
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
The Guardian (UK) 7 January 2009
The resort to brute military force is accompanied, as always, by the shrill rhetoric of victimhood and a farrago of self-pity overlaid with self-righteousness.
The only way to make sense of Israel's senseless war in Gaza is through understanding the historical context. Establishing the state of Israel in May 1948 involved a monumental injustice to the Palestinians. British officials bitterly resented American partisanship on behalf of the infant state. On 2 June 1948, Sir John Troutbeck wrote to the foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin, that the Americans were responsible for the creation of a gangster state headed by "an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders". I used to think that this judgment was too harsh but Israel's vicious assault on the people of Gaza, and the Bush administration's complicity in this assault, have reopened the question.
I write as someone who served loyally in the Israeli army in the mid-1960s and who has never questioned the legitimacy of the state of Israel within its pre-1967 borders. What I utterly reject is the Zionist colonial project beyond the Green Line. The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of the June 1967 war had very little to do with security and everything to do with territorial expansionism. The aim was to establish Greater Israel through permanent political, economic and military control over the Palestinian territories. And the result has been one of the most prolonged and brutal military occupations of modern times.
Four decades of Israeli control did incalculable damage to the economy of the Gaza Strip. With a large population of 1948 refugees crammed into a tiny strip of land, with no infrastructure or natural resources, Gaza's prospects were never bright. Gaza, however, is not simply a case of economic under-development but a uniquely cruel case of deliberate de-development. To use the Biblical phrase, Israel turned the people of Gaza into the hewers of wood and the drawers of water, into a source of cheap labour and a captive market for Israeli goods. The development of local industry was actively impeded so as to make it impossible for the Palestinians to end their subordination to Israel and to establish the economic underpinnings essential for real political independence.
Gaza is a classic case of colonial exploitation in the post-colonial era. Jewish settlements in occupied territories are immoral, illegal and an insurmountable obstacle to peace. They are at once the instrument of exploitation and the symbol of the hated occupation. In Gaza, the Jewish settlers numbered only 8,000 in 2005 compared with 1.4 million local residents. Yet the settlers controlled 25% of the territory, 40% of the arable land and the lion's share of the scarce water resources. Cheek by jowl with these foreign intruders, the majority of the local population lived in abject poverty and unimaginable misery. Eighty per cent of them still subsist on less than $2 a day. The living conditions in the strip remain an affront to civilised values, a powerful precipitant to resistance and a fertile breeding ground for political extremism.
In August 2005 a Likud government headed by Ariel Sharon staged a unilateral Israeli pullout from Gaza, withdrawing all 8,000 settlers and destroying the houses and farms they had left behind. Hamas, the Islamic resistance movement, conducted an effective campaign to drive the Israelis out of Gaza. The withdrawal was a humiliation for the Israeli Defence Forces. To the world, Sharon presented the withdrawal from Gaza as a contribution to peace based on a two-state solution. But in the year after, another 12,000 Israelis settled on the West Bank, further reducing the scope for an independent Palestinian state. Land-grabbing and peace-making are simply incompatible. Israel had a choice and it chose land over peace.
The real purpose behind the move was to redraw unilaterally the borders of Greater Israel by incorporating the main settlement blocs on the West Bank to the state of Israel. Withdrawal from Gaza was thus not a prelude to a peace deal with the Palestinian Authority but a prelude to further Zionist expansion on the West Bank. It was a unilateral Israeli move undertaken in what was seen, mistakenly in my view, as an Israeli national interest. Anchored in a fundamental rejection of the Palestinian national identity, the withdrawal from Gaza was part of a long-term effort to deny the Palestinian people any independent political existence on their land.
Israel's settlers were withdrawn but Israeli soldiers continued to control all access to the Gaza Strip by land, sea and air. Gaza was converted overnight into an open-air prison. From this point on, the Israeli air force enjoyed unrestricted freedom to drop bombs, to make sonic booms by flying low and breaking the sound barrier, and to terrorise the hapless inhabitants of this prison.
Israel likes to portray itself as an island of democracy in a sea of authoritarianism. Yet Israel has never in its entire history done anything to promote democracy on the Arab side and has done a great deal to undermine it. Israel has a long history of secret collaboration with reactionary Arab regimes to suppress Palestinian nationalism. Despite all the handicaps, the Palestinian people succeeded in building the only genuine democracy in the Arab world with the possible exception of Lebanon. In January 2006, free and fair elections for the Legislative Council of the Palestinian Authority brought to power a Hamas-led government. Israel, however, refused to recognise the democratically elected government, claiming that Hamas is purely and simply a terrorist organisation.
America and the EU shamelessly joined Israel in ostracising and demonising the Hamas government and in trying to bring it down by withholding tax revenues and foreign aid. A surreal situation thus developed with a significant part of the international community imposing economic sanctions not against the occupier but against the occupied, not against the oppressor but against the oppressed.
As so often in the tragic history of Palestine, the victims were blamed for their own misfortunes. Israel's propaganda machine persistently purveyed the notion that the Palestinians are terrorists, that they reject coexistence with the Jewish state, that their nationalism is little more than antisemitism, that Hamas is just a bunch of religious fanatics and that Islam is incompatible with democracy. But the simple truth is that the Palestinian people are a normal people with normal aspirations. They are no better but they are no worse than any other national group. What they aspire to, above all, is a piece of land to call their own on which to live in freedom and dignity.
Like other radical movements, Hamas began to moderate its political programme following its rise to power. From the ideological rejectionism of its charter, it began to move towards pragmatic accommodation of a two-state solution. In March 2007, Hamas and Fatah formed a national unity government that was ready to negotiate a long-term ceasefire with Israel. Israel, however, refused to negotiate with a government that included Hamas.
It continued to play the old game of divide and rule between rival Palestinian factions. In the late 1980s, Israel had supported the nascent Hamas in order to weaken Fatah, the secular nationalist movement led by Yasser Arafat. Now Israel began to encourage the corrupt and pliant Fatah leaders to overthrow their religious political rivals and recapture power. Aggressive American neoconservatives participated in the sinister plot to instigate a Palestinian civil war. Their meddling was a major factor in the collapse of the national unity government and in driving Hamas to seize power in Gaza in June 2007 to pre-empt a Fatah coup.
The war unleashed by Israel on Gaza on 27 December was the culmination of a series of clashes and confrontations with the Hamas government. In a broader sense, however, it is a war between Israel and the Palestinian people, because the people had elected the party to power. The declared aim of the war is to weaken Hamas and to intensify the pressure until its leaders agree to a new ceasefire on Israel's terms. The undeclared aim is to ensure that the Palestinians in Gaza are seen by the world simply as a humanitarian problem and thus to derail their struggle for independence and statehood.
The timing of the war was determined by political expediency. A general election is scheduled for 10 February and, in the lead-up to the election, all the main contenders are looking for an opportunity to prove their toughness. The army top brass had been champing at the bit to deliver a crushing blow to Hamas in order to remove the stain left on their reputation by the failure of the war against Hezbollah in Lebanon in July 2006. Israel's cynical leaders could also count on apathy and impotence of the pro-western Arab regimes and on blind support from President Bush in the twilight of his term in the White House. Bush readily obliged by putting all the blame for the crisis on Hamas, vetoing proposals at the UN Security Council for an immediate ceasefire and issuing Israel with a free pass to mount a ground invasion of Gaza.
As always, mighty Israel claims to be the victim of Palestinian aggression but the sheer asymmetry of power between the two sides leaves little room for doubt as to who is the real victim. This is indeed a conflict between David and Goliath but the Biblical image has been inverted - a small and defenceless Palestinian David faces a heavily armed, merciless and overbearing Israeli Goliath. The resort to brute military force is accompanied, as always, by the shrill rhetoric of victimhood and a farrago of self-pity overlaid with self-righteousness. In Hebrew this is known as the syndrome of bokhim ve-yorim, "crying and shooting".
To be sure, Hamas is not an entirely innocent party in this conflict. Denied the fruit of its electoral victory and confronted with an unscrupulous adversary, it has resorted to the weapon of the weak - terror. Militants from Hamas and Islamic Jihad kept launching Qassam rocket attacks against Israeli settlements near the border with Gaza until Egypt brokered a six-month ceasefire last June. The damage caused by these primitive rockets is minimal but the psychological impact is immense, prompting the public to demand protection from its government. Under the circumstances, Israel had the right to act in self-defence but its response to the pinpricks of rocket attacks was totally disproportionate. The figures speak for themselves. In the three years after the withdrawal from Gaza, 11 Israelis were killed by rocket fire. On the other hand, in 2005-7 alone, the IDF killed 1,290 Palestinians in Gaza, including 222 children.
Whatever the numbers, killing civilians is wrong. This rule applies to Israel as much as it does to Hamas, but Israel's entire record is one of unbridled and unremitting brutality towards the inhabitants of Gaza. Israel also maintained the blockade of Gaza after the ceasefire came into force which, in the view of the Hamas leaders, amounted to a violation of the agreement. During the ceasefire, Israel prevented any exports from leaving the strip in clear violation of a 2005 accord, leading to a sharp drop in employment opportunities. Officially, 49.1% of the population is unemployed. At the same time, Israel restricted drastically the number of trucks carrying food, fuel, cooking-gas canisters, spare parts for water and sanitation plants, and medical supplies to Gaza. It is difficult to see how starving and freezing the civilians of Gaza could protect the people on the Israeli side of the border. But even if it did, it would still be immoral, a form of collective punishment that is strictly forbidden by international humanitarian law.
The brutality of Israel's soldiers is fully matched by the mendacity of its spokesmen. Eight months before launching the current war on Gaza, Israel established a National Information Directorate. The core messages of this directorate to the media are that Hamas broke the ceasefire agreements; that Israel's objective is the defence of its population; and that Israel's forces are taking the utmost care not to hurt innocent civilians. Israel's spin doctors have been remarkably successful in getting this message across. But, in essence, their propaganda is a pack of lies.
A wide gap separates the reality of Israel's actions from the rhetoric of its spokesmen. It was not Hamas but the IDF that broke the ceasefire. It di d so by a raid into Gaza on 4 November that killed six Hamas men. Israel's objective is not just the defence of its population but the eventual overthrow of the Hamas government in Gaza by turning the people against their rulers. And far from taking care to spare civilians, Israel is guilty of indiscriminate bombing and of a three-year-old blockade that has brought the inhabitants of Gaza, now 1.5 million, to the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe.
The Biblical injunction of an eye for an eye is savage enough. But Israel's insane offensive against Gaza seems to follow the logic of an eye for an eyelash. After eight days of bombing, with a death toll of more than 400 Palestinians and four Israelis, the gung-ho cabinet ordered a land invasion of Gaza the consequences of which are incalculable.
No amount of military escalation can buy Israel immunity from rocket attacks from the military wing of Hamas. Despite all the death and destruction that Israel has inflicted on them, they kept up their resistance and they kept firing their rockets. This is a movement that glorifies victimhood and martyrdom. There is simply no military solution to the conflict between the two communities. The problem with Israel's concept of security is that it denies even the most elementary security to the other community. The only way for Israel to achieve security is not through shooting but through talks with Hamas, which has repeatedly declared its readiness to negotiate a long-term ceasefire with the Jewish state within its pre-1967 borders for 20, 30, or even 50 years. Israel has rejected this offer for the same reason it spurned the Arab League peace plan of 2002, which is still on the table: it involves concessions and compromises.
This brief review of Israel's record over the past four decades makes it difficult to resist the conclusion that it has become a rogue state with "an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders". A rogue state habitually violates international law, possesses weapons of mass destruction and practises terrorism - the use of violence against civilians for political purposes. Israel fulfils all of these three criteria; the cap fits and it must wear it. Israel's real aim is not peaceful coexistence with its Palestinian neighbours but military domination. It keeps compounding the mistakes of the past with new and more disastrous ones. Politicians, like everyone else, are of course free to repeat the lies and mistakes of the past. But it is not mandatory to do so.
Avi Shlaim is a professor of international relations at the University of Oxford and the author of The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World and of Lion of Jordan: King Hussein's Life in War and Peace.