Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Gaza Update 2--We Are A Party to Murder

In This Edition:

Party to Murder, Chris Hedges

if Gaza Falls, Sarah Roy

Embrace a one-state solution, Tariq Ali

Israeli Navy Attacks Gaza-Bound Aid Ship


Party to Murder
Published on Tuesday, December 30, 2008 by TruthDig.com

by Chris Hedges

TruthDig.com editor's note: In light of the recent fighting in Gaza, Truthdig asked Chris Hedges, who covered the Mideast for The New York Times for seven years, to update a previous column on Gaza.

Can anyone who is following the Israeli air attacks on Gaza-the buildings blown to rubble, the children killed on their way to school, the long rows of mutilated corpses, the wailing mothers and wives, the crowds of terrified Palestinians not knowing where to flee, the hospitals so overburdened and out of supplies they cannot treat the wounded, and our studied, callous indifference to this widespread human suffering-wonder why we are hated?

Our self-righteous celebration of ourselves and our supposed virtue is as false as that of Israel. We have become monsters, militarized bullies, heartless and savage. We are a party to human slaughter, a flagrant war crime, and do nothing. We forget that the innocents who suffer and die in Gaza are a reflection of ourselves, of how we might have been should fate and time and geography have made the circumstances of our birth different. We forget that we are all absurd and vulnerable creatures. We all have the capacity to fear and hate and love. "Expose thyself to what wretches feel," King Lear said, entering the mud and straw hovel of Poor Tom, "and show the heavens more just."

Privilege and power, especially military power, is a dangerous narcotic. Violence destroys those who bear the brunt of its force, but also those who try to use it to become gods. Over 350 Palestinians have been killed , many of them civilians, and over 1,000 have been wounded since the air attacks began on Saturday. Ehud Barak, Israel's defense minister, said Israel is engaged in a "war to the bitter end" against Hamas in Gaza. A war? Israel uses sophisticated attack jets and naval vessels to bomb densely crowded refugee camps and slums, to attack a population that has no air force, no air defense, no navy, no heavy weapons, no artillery units, no mechanized armor, no command and control, no army, and calls it a war. It is not a war. It is murder.

The U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, former Princeton University law professor Richard Falk, has labeled what Israel is doing to the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza "a crime against humanity." Falk, who is Jewish, has condemned the collective punishment of the Palestinians in Gaza as "a flagrant and massive violation of international humanitarian law as laid down in Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention." He has asked for "the International Criminal Court to investigate the situation, and determine whether the Israeli civilian leaders and military commanders responsible for the Gaza siege should be indicted and prosecuted for violations of international criminal law."

Falk's unflinching honesty has enraged Israel. He was banned from entering the country on Dec. 14 during his attempt to visit Gaza and the West Bank.

"After being denied entry I was put in a holding room with about 20 others experiencing entry problems," he said. "At this point I was treated not as a U.N. representative, but as some sort of security threat, subjected to an inch-by-inch body search, and the most meticulous luggage inspection I have ever witnessed. I was separated from my two U.N. companions, who were allowed to enter Israel. At this point I was taken to the airport detention facility a mile or so away, required to put all my bags and cell phone in a room, taken to a locked, tiny room that had five other detainees, smelled of urine and filth, and was an unwelcome invitation to claustrophobia. I spent the next 15 hours so confined, which amounted to a cram course on the miseries of prison life, including dirty sheets, inedible food, and either lights that were too bright or darkness controlled from the guard office."

The foreign press has been, like Falk, barred by Israel from entering Gaza to report on the destruction.
Israel's stated aim of halting homemade rockets fired from Gaza into Israel remains unfulfilled. Gaza militants have fired more than 100 rockets and mortars into Israel, killing four people and wounding nearly two dozen more, since Israel unleashed its air assault. Israel has threatened to launch a ground assault and has called up 6,500 army reservists. It has massed tanks on the Gaza border and declared the area a closed military zone.

The rocket attacks by Hamas are, as Falk points out, also criminal violations of international law. But as Falk notes, "... such Palestinian behavior does not legalize Israel's imposition of a collective punishment of a life- and health-threatening character on the people of Gaza, and should not distract the U.N. or international society from discharging their fundamental moral and legal duty to render protection to the Palestinian people."

"It is an unfolding humanitarian catastrophe that each day poses the entire 1.5 million Gazans to an unspeakable ordeal, to a struggle to survive in terms of their health," Falk has said of the ongoing Israeli blockade of Gaza. "This is an increasingly precarious condition. A recent study reports that 46 percent of all Gazan children suffer from acute anemia. There are reports that the sonic booms associated with Israeli overflights have caused widespread deafness, especially among children. Gazan children need thousands of hearing aids. Malnutrition is extremely high in a number of different dimensions and affects 75 percent of Gazans. There are widespread mental disorders, especially among young people without the will to live. Over 50 percent of Gazan children under the age of 12 have been found to have no will to live."

Before the air assaults, Gaza spent 12 hours a day without power, which can be a death sentence to the severely ill in hospitals. Most of Gaza is now without power. There are few drugs and little medicine, including no cancer or cystic fibrosis medication. Hospitals have generators but often lack fuel. Medical equipment, including one of Gaza's three CT scanners, has been destroyed by power surges and fluctuations. Medical staff cannot control the temperature of incubators for newborns. And Israel has revoked most exit visas, meaning some of those who need specialized care, including cancer patients and those in need of kidney dialysis, have died. Of the 230 Gazans estimated to have died last year because they were denied proper medical care, several spent their final hours at Israeli crossing points where they were refused entry into Israel. The statistics gathered on children-half of Gaza's population is under the age of 17-are increasingly grim. About 45 percent of children in Gaza have iron deficiency from a lack of fruit and vegetables, and 18 percent have stunted growth.

"It is macabre," Falk said of the blockade. "I don't know of anything that exactly fits this situation. People have been referring to the Warsaw ghetto as the nearest analog in modern times."

"There is no structure of an occupation that endured for decades and involved this kind of oppressive circumstances," the rapporteur added. "The magnitude, the deliberateness, the violations of international humanitarian law, the impact on the health, lives and survival and the overall conditions warrant the characterization of a crime against humanity. This occupation is the direct intention by the Israeli military and civilian authorities. They are responsible and should be held accountable."
The point of the Israeli attack, ostensibly, is to break Hamas, the radical Islamic group that was elected to power in 2007. But Hamas has repeatedly proposed long-term truces with Israel and offered to negotiate a permanent truce. During the last cease-fire, established through Egyptian intermediaries in July, Hamas upheld the truce although Israel refused to ease the blockade. It was Israel that, on Nov. 4, initiated an armed attack that violated the truce and killed six Palestinians. It was only then that Hamas resumed firing rockets at Israel.

"This is a crime of survival," Falk said of the rocket attacks by Palestinians. "Israel has put the Gazans in a set of circumstances where they either have to accept whatever is imposed on them or resist in any way available to them. That is a horrible dilemma to impose upon a people. This does not alleviate the Palestinians, and Gazans in particular, for accountability for doing these acts involving rocket fire, but it also imposes some responsibility on Israel for creating these circumstances."

Israel seeks to break the will of the Palestinians to resist. The Israeli government has demonstrated little interest in diplomacy or a peaceful solution. The rapid expansion of Jewish settlements on the West Bank is an effort to thwart the possibility of a two-state solution by gobbling up vast tracts of Palestinian real estate. Israel also appears to want to thrust the impoverished Gaza Strip onto Egypt. Dozens of tunnels had been the principal means for food and goods, connecting Gaza to Egypt. Israel had permitted the tunnels to operate, most likely as part of an effort to further cut Gaza off from Israel. This ended, however, on Sunday when Israeli fighter jets bombed over 40 tunnels along Gaza's border with Egypt. The Israeli military said that the tunnels, on the Gaza side of the border, were used for smuggling weapons, explosives and fugitives. Egypt has sealed its border and refused to let distraught Palestinians enter its territory.

"Israel, all along, has not been prepared to enter into diplomatic process that gives the Palestinians a viable state," Falk said. "They [the Israelis] feel time is on their side. They feel they can create enough facts on the ground so people will come to the conclusion a viable state cannot emerge."

The use of terror and hunger to break a hostile population is one of the oldest forms of warfare. I watched the Bosnian Serbs employ the same tactic in Sarajevo. Those who orchestrate such sieges do not grasp the terrible rage born of long humiliation, indiscriminate violence and abuse. A father or a mother whose child dies because of a lack of vaccines or proper medical care does not forget. A boy whose ill grandmother dies while detained at an Israel checkpoint does not forget. A family that loses a child in an airstrike does not forget. All who endure humiliation, abuse and the murder of family members do not forget. This rage becomes a virus within those who, eventually, stumble out into the daylight. Is it any wonder that 71 percent of children interviewed at a school in Gaza recently said they wanted to be a "martyr"?

The Israelis in Gaza, like the American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, are foolishly breeding the next generation of militants and Islamic radicals. Jihadists, enraged by the injustices done by Israel and the United States, seek to carry out reciprocal acts of savagery, even at the cost of their own lives. The violence unleashed on Palestinian children will, one day, be the violence unleashed on Israeli children. This is the tragedy of Gaza. This is the tragedy of Israel.
© 2008 TruthDig.com

Chris Hedges writes a regular column for Truthdig.com . Hedges graduated from Harvard Divinity School and was for nearly two decades a foreign correspondent for The New York Times. He is the author of "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. "

If Gaza falls . . .
Sara Roy
London Review of Books 1 January 2009

Israel’s siege of Gaza began on 5 November, the day after an Israeli attack inside the strip, no doubt designed finally to undermine the truce between Israel and Hamas established last June. Although both sides had violated the agreement before, this incursion was on a different scale. Hamas responded by firing rockets into Israel and the violence has not abated since then. Israel’s siege has two fundamental goals. One is to ensure that the Palestinians there are seen merely as a humanitarian problem, beggars who have no political identity and therefore can have no political claims. The second is to foist Gaza onto Egypt. That is why the Israelis tolerate the hundreds of tunnels between Gaza and Egypt around which an informal but increasingly regulated commercial sector has begun to form. The overwhelming majority of Gazans are impoverished and officially 49.1 per cent are unemployed. In fact the prospect of steady employment is rapidly disappearing for the majority of the population.

On 5 November the Israeli government sealed all the ways into and out of Gaza. Food, medicine, fuel, parts for water and sanitation systems, fertiliser, plastic sheeting, phones, paper, glue, shoes and even teacups are no longer getting through in sufficient quantities or at all. According to Oxfam only 137 trucks of food were allowed into Gaza in November. This means that an average of 4.6 trucks per day entered the strip compared to an average of 123 in October this year and 564 in December 2005. The two main food providers in Gaza are the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the World Food Programme (WFP). UNRWA alone feeds approximately 750,000 people in Gaza, and requires 15 trucks of food daily to do so. Between 5 November and 30 November, only 23 trucks arrived, around 6 per cent of the total needed; during the week of 30 November it received 12 trucks, or 11 per cent of what was required. There were three days in November when UNRWA ran out of food, with the result that on each of these days 20,000 people were unable to receive their scheduled supply. According to John Ging, the director of UNRWA in Gaza, most of the people who get food aid are entirely dependent on it. On 18 December UNRWA suspended all food distribution for both emergency and regular programmes because of the blockade.

The WFP has had similar problems, sending only 35 trucks out of the 190 it had scheduled to cover Gazans’ needs until the start of February (six more were allowed in between 30 November and 6 December). Not only that: the WFP has to pay to store food that isn’t being sent to Gaza. This cost $215,000 in November alone. If the siege continues, the WFP will have to pay an extra $150,000 for storage in December, money that will be used not to support Palestinians but to benefit Israeli business.
The majority of commercial bakeries in Gaza – 30 out of 47 – have had to close because they have run out of cooking gas. People are using any fuel they can find to cook with. As the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has made clear, cooking-gas canisters are necessary for generating the warmth to incubate broiler chicks. Shortages of gas and animal feed have forced commercial producers to smother hundreds of thousands of chicks. By April, according to the FAO, there will be no poultry there at all: 70 per cent of Gazans rely on chicken as a major source of protein.

Banks, suffering from Israeli restrictions on the transfer of banknotes into the territory were forced to close on 4 December. A sign on the door of one read: ‘Due to the decision of the Palestinian Finance Authority, the bank will be closed today Thursday, 4.12.2008, because of the unavailability of cash money, and the bank will be reopened once the cash money is available.’
The World Bank has warned that Gaza’s banking system could collapse if these restrictions continue. All cash for work programmes has been stopped and on 19 November UNRWA suspended its cash assistance programme to the most needy. It also ceased production of textbooks because there is no paper, ink or glue in Gaza. This will affect 200,000 students returning to school in the new year. On 11 December, the Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak, sent $25 million following an appeal from the Palestinian prime minister, Salaam Fayad, the first infusion of its kind since October. It won’t even cover a month’s salary for Gaza’s 77,000 civil servants.

On 13 November production at Gaza’s only power station was suspended and the turbines shut down because it had run out of industrial diesel. This in turn caused the two turbine batteries to run down, and they failed to start up again when fuel was received some ten days later. About a hundred spare parts ordered for the turbines have been sitting in the port of Ashdod in Israel for the last eight months, waiting for the Israeli authorities to let them through customs. Now Israel has started to auction these parts because they have been in customs for more than 45 days. The proceeds are being held in Israeli accounts.
During the week of 30 November, 394,000 litres of industrial diesel were allowed in for the power plant: approximately 18 per cent of the weekly minimum that Israel is legally obliged to allow in. It was enough for one turbine to run for two days before the plant was shut down again. The Gaza Electricity Distribution Company said that most of the Gaza Strip will be without electricity for between four and 12 hours a day. At any given time during these outages, over 65,000 people have no electricity.

No other diesel fuel (for standby generators and transport) was delivered during that week, no petrol (which has been kept out since early November) or cooking gas. Gaza’s hospitals are apparently relying on diesel and gas smuggled from Egypt via the tunnels; these supplies are said to be administered and taxed by Hamas. Even so, two of Gaza’s hospitals have been out of cooking gas since the week of 23 November.

Adding to the problems caused by the siege are those created by the political divisions between the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and the Hamas Authority in Gaza. For example, Gaza’s Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU), which is not controlled by Hamas, is supposed to receive funds from the World Bank via the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) in Ramallah to pay for fuel to run the pumps for Gaza’s sewage system. Since June, the PWA has refused to hand over those funds, perhaps because it feels that a functioning sewage system would benefit Hamas. I don’t know whether the World Bank has attempted to intervene, but meanwhile UNRWA is providing the fuel, although they have no budget for it. The CMWU has also asked Israel’s permission to import 200 tons of chlorine, but by the end of November it had received only 18 tons – enough for one week of chlorinated water. By mid-December Gaza City and the north of Gaza had access to water only six hours every three days.

According to the World Health Organisation, the political divisions between Gaza and the West Bank are also having a serious impact on drug stocks in Gaza. The West Bank Ministry of Health (MOH) is responsible for procuring and delivering most of the pharmaceuticals and medical disposables used in Gaza. But stocks are at dangerously low levels. Throughout November the MOH West Bank was turning shipments away because it had no warehouse space, yet it wasn’t sending supplies on to Gaza in adequate quantities. During the week of 30 November, one truck carrying drugs and medical supplies from the MOH in Ramallah entered Gaza, the first delivery since early September.

The breakdown of an entire society is happening in front of us, but there is little international response beyond UN warnings which are ignored. The European Union announced recently that it wanted to strengthen its relationship with Israel while the Israeli leadership openly calls for a large-scale invasion of the Gaza Strip and continues its economic stranglehold over the territory with, it appears, the not-so-tacit support of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah – which has been co-operating with Israel on a number of measures. On 19 December Hamas officially ended its truce with Israel, which Israel said it wanted to renew, because of Israel’s failure to ease the blockade.

How can keeping food and medicine from the people of Gaza protect the people of Israel? How can the impoverishment and suffering of Gaza’s children – more than 50 per cent of the population – benefit anyone? International law as well as human decency demands their protection. If Gaza falls, the West Bank will be next.

Sara Roy teaches at Harvard’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies and is the author of Failing Peace: Gaza and the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict.
Other articles by this contributor:
‘A Dubai on the Mediterranean’ · Trapped in Gaza

From the ashes of Gaza
In the face of Israel's latest onslaught, the only option for Palestinian nationalism is to embrace a one-state solution

by Tariq Ali

The Guardian, Tuesday 30 December 2008

The assault on Gaza, planned over six months and executed with perfect timing, was designed largely, as Neve Gordon has rightly observed, to help the incumbent parties triumph in the forthcoming Israeli elections. The dead Palestinians are little more than election fodder in a cynical contest between the right and the far right in Israel. Washington and its EU allies, perfectly aware that Gaza was about to be assaulted, as in the case of Lebanon in 2006, sit back and watch.

Washington, as is its wont, blames the pro-Hamas Palestinians, with Obama and Bush singing from the same AIPAC hymn sheet. The EU politicians, having observed the build-up, the siege, the collective punishment inflicted on Gaza, the targeting of civilians etc (for all the gory detail, see Harvard scholar Sara Roy's chilling essay in the London Review of Books) were convinced that it was the rocket attacks that had "provoked" Israel but called on both sides to end the violence, with nil effect. The moth-eaten Mubarak dictatorship in Egypt and Nato's favourite Islamists in Ankara failed to register even a symbolic protest by recalling their ambassadors from Israel. China and Russia did not convene a meeting of the UN security council to discuss the crisis.

As result of official apathy, one outcome of this latest attack will be to inflame Muslim communities throughout the world and swell the ranks of those very organisations that the west claims it is combating in the "war against terror".

The bloodshed in Gaza raises broader strategic questions for both sides, issues related to recent history. One fact that needs to be recognised is that there is no Palestinian Authority. There never was one. The Oslo Accords were an unmitigated disaster for the Palestinians, creating a set of disconnected and shrivelled Palestinian ghettoes under the permanent watch of a brutal enforcer. The PLO, once the repository of Palestinian hope, became little more than a supplicant for EU money.

Western enthusiasm for democracy stops when those opposed to its policies are elected to office. The west and Israel tried everything to secure a Fatah victory: Palestinian voters rebuffed the concerted threats and bribes of the "international community" in a campaign that saw Hamas members and other oppositionists routinely detained or assaulted by the IDF, their posters confiscated or destroyed, US and EU funds channelled into the Fatah campaign, and US congressmen announcing that Hamas should not be allowed to run.

Even the timing of the election was set by the determination to rig the outcome. Scheduled for the summer of 2005, it was delayed till January 2006 to give Abbas time to distribute assets in Gaza – in the words of an Egyptian intelligence officer, "the public will then support the Authority against Hamas."

Popular desire for a clean broom after ten years of corruption, bullying and bluster under Fatah proved stronger than all of this. Hamas's electoral triumph was treated as an ominous sign of rising fundamentalism, and a fearsome blow to the prospects of peace with Israel, by rulers and journalists across the Atlantic world. Immediate financial and diplomatic pressures were applied to force Hamas to adopt the same policies as those of the party it had defeated at the polls. Uncompromised by the Palestinian Authority's combination of greed and dependency, the self-enrichment of its servile spokesmen and policemen, and their acquiescence in a "peace process" that has brought only further expropriation and misery to the population under them, Hamas offered the alternative of a simple example. Without any of the resources of its rival, it set up clinics, schools, hospitals, vocational training and welfare programmes for the poor. Its leaders and cadres lived frugally, within reach of ordinary people.

It is this response to everyday needs that has won Hamas the broad base of its support, not daily recitation of verses from the Koran. How far its conduct in the second Intifada has given it an additional degree of credibility is less clear. Its armed attacks on Israel, like those of Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade or Islamic Jihad, have been retaliations against an occupation far more deadly than any actions it has ever undertaken. Measured on the scale of IDF killings, Palestinian strikes have been few and far between. The asymmetry was starkly exposed during Hamas's unilateral ceasefire, begun in June 2003, and maintained throughout the summer, despite the Israeli campaign of raids and mass arrests that followed, in which some 300 Hamas cadres were seized from the West Bank.

On August 19 2003, a self-proclaimed "Hamas" cell from Hebron, disowned and denounced by the official leadership, blew up a bus in west Jerusalem, upon which Israel promptly assassinated the Hamas ceasefire's negotiator, Ismail Abu Shanab. Hamas, in turn, responded. In return, the Palestinian Authority and Arab states cut funding to its charities and, in September 2003, the EU declared the whole Hamas movement to be a terrorist organization – a longstanding demand of Tel Aviv.

What has actually distinguished Hamas in a hopelessly unequal combat is not dispatch of suicide bombers, to which a range of competing groups resorted, but its superior discipline – demonstrated by its ability to enforce a self-declared ceasefire against Israel over the past year. All civilian deaths are to be condemned, but since Israel is their principal practitioner, Euro-American cant serves only to expose those who utter it. Overwhelmingly, the boot of murder is on the other foot, ruthlessly stamped into Palestine by a modern army equipped with jets, tanks and missiles in the longest-armed oppression of modern history.
"Nobody can reject or condemn the revolt of a people that has been suffering under military occupation for 45 years against occupation force," said General Shlomo Gazit, former chief of Israeli military intelligence, in 1993. The real grievance of the EU and US against Hamas is that it refused to accept the capitulation of the Oslo Accords, and has rejected every subsequent effort, from Taba to Geneva, to pass off their calamities on the Palestinians. The west's priority ever since was to break this resistance. Cutting off funding to the Palestinian Authority is an obvious weapon with which to bludgeon Hamas into submission. Boosting the presidential powers of Abbas – as publicly picked for his post by Washington, as was Karzai in Kabul – at the expense of the legislative council is another.

No serious efforts were made to negotiate with the elected Palestinian leadership. I doubt if Hamas could have been rapidly suborned to western and Israeli interests, but it would not have been unprecedented. Hamas' programmatic heritage remains mortgaged to the most fatal weakness of Palestinian nationalism: the belief that the political choices before it are either rejection of the existence of Israel altogether or acceptance of the dismembered remnants of a fifth of the country. From the fantasy maximalism of the first to the pathetic minimalism of the second, the path is all too short, as the history of Fatah has shown.

The test for Hamas is not whether it can be house-trained to the satisfaction of western opinion, but whether it can break with this crippling tradition. Soon after the Hamas election victory in Gaza, I was asked in public by a Palestinian what I would do in their place. "Dissolve the Palestinian Authority" was my response and end the make-believe. To do so would situate the Palestinian national cause on its proper basis, with the demand that the country and its resources be divided equitably, in proportion to two populations that are equal in size – not 80% to one and 20% to the other, a dispossession of such iniquity that no self-respecting people will ever submit to it in the long run. The only acceptable alternative is a single state for Jews and Palestinians alike, in which the exactions of Zionism are repaired. There is no other way.

And Israeli citizens might ponder the following words from Shakespeare (in The Merchant of Venice), which I have slightly altered:

"I am a Palestinian. Hath not a Palestinian eyes? Hath not a Palestinian hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Jew is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that … the villainy you teach me, I will execute; and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction."

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2008

Israeli Navy Attacks Gaza-Bound Aid Ship
None Injured in Repeated Rammings, But SS Dignity Heavily Damaged

Posted December 30, 2008

The SS Dignity, the chartered ship the Free Gaza Movement has repeatedly used to deliver humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip is no stranger to Israeli threats. Still, despite being condemned as “provocateurs” by an Israeli government that has threatened the use of force against the ship, the Dignity has always managed to find its way to the strip safely and without incident. Until today.

The latest voyage, laden with three and a half tons of medical aid at a time when Gaza hospitals are running dangerously short on them, ran afoul of an Israeli naval patrol boat in international waters. One of the ships passengers, 2008 US Presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney, reports the ship was rammed three times by the Israelis. Others report shots were fired at the Dignity, though this has not been confirmed.

After the attack, the Dignity’s captain was radioed by the Israelis, who accused the ship of “being involved in terrorist activity.” The ship began to take on water; passengers were ordered to put on life vests and the lifeboats were readied, but the ship managed to reach the Lebanese port city of Tyre safely.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor defended the move, saying it was because the ship refused to respond to radio contact. His story was not without its flaws however. Though he claimed the “physical contact” was because they refused to respond, he condemned the report that the ramming was intentional as “absurd.” He likewise claimed the ship was escorted by the patrol boat back to Cyprus waters, yet the ship reported after the attack that it didn’t have the fuel to return to Cyprus and is now docked in southern Lebanon, far from Cyprus. The Cypriot government will reportedly demand clarification from the Israeli government about the incident.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Gaza Update: "Do Not Fuck With The Jews" - Marty Peretz

In This Edition

Ali Abunimah on Democracy Now!
Richard Falk on Israeli violations of international law
Justin Raimondo: "The Politics of the Gaza Massacre"
Paul Craig Roberts: "May We No Longer Be Silent"
Harold Pinter 2005 Nobel Lecture (on US Morality)
Glenn Greenwald on Marty "Do not fuck with the Jews." Peretz

As the Israeli crimes continue, with nearly 400 Palestinians dead and over 1800 injured, and as Obama earns his blood money with his continued silence, I offer the following articles and their insights.
December 29, 2008
Israeli Attacks Kill Over 310 in Gaza in One of Israel’s Bloodiest Attacks on Palestinians Since 1948

AMY GOODMAN: I want to bring in Ali Abunimah, who is in Jacksonville, Florida, though usually based in Chicago, founder of the Electronic Intifada. Your comments on the situation, on Mahmoud Abbas, for example, saying that it was Hamas that brought this on?

ALI ABUNIMAH: I want to say, Amy, first of all, that we have to go back to the Warsaw Ghetto or Guernica to find crimes in the modern era of the scale of the viciousness and of the deliberateness of what Israel is committing with the full support of the United States, not just the Bush administration, but apparently as well the incoming Obama administration. We have to recognize the complicity not just of the so-called international community, but also of the Arab regimes, Egypt, President Hosni Mubarak, the Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit of Egypt. Tzipi Livni, when she issued her threats against Gaza, was in Cairo in the biggest Arab capital, and Aboul Gheit stood next to her silently.

Mahmoud Abbas is not a bystander, the so-called president of the Palestinian Authority. For two years since the elections, which Hamas won, he and his coterie have been collaborating with Israel and the United States, first to overthrow the election result and then to besiege Gaza. We have talked before of the Palestinian Contras, funded and armed by the United States, which sought to overthrow Hamas in June 2007 and had the tables turned on them. And now this. The complicity of Mahmoud Abbas is very clear and must be clearly stated. He does not have the authority, moral or otherwise, to call together the Palestinian people for anything. He has gone over to the other side. He has joined the Israeli war against the Palestinian people, and I choose my words very carefully.

And let me say this, as well, Amy, that Israel is trying to produce and promote the fiction that it is engaged in a war with a so-called enemy entity. What Israel is doing is massacring a captive population. You heard—you said in the headlines how Nancy Pelosi, our so-called progressive, liberal, antiwar Speaker of the House, gave her full support to these crimes. Obama has done the same through a spokesman. And that will not change. The United Nations issued a weak statement aimed at covering the backsides, let me say, of those who issued it, not aimed at changing the situation.

What are Palestinians calling for today? Yesterday, the Palestinian National Committee for the Campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions reissued and reaffirmed its call on all international civil society in the United States, in North America, in Europe, everywhere, to redouble the efforts for boycott, divestment and sanctions modeled on the anti-apartheid movement. This is necessary. This is moral. This is the nonviolent resistance we can all participate in. And it is more urgent than ever. Let’s not look back at these crimes like we look at the Warsaw Ghetto and like we look at Guernica and we look at the other atrocities of the twentieth century and say, “We had the chance to act, but we chose silence and complicity.” The time to stop this is now.

And we also have to be clear that those who are accountable—Ehud Barak, his orders over the past few months to withhold insulin, chemotherapy drugs, dialysis supplies, all forms of medicine from the people of Gaza, were just as lethal and just as murderous as the orders to send in the bombers and warplanes to attack mosques, to attack universities. The Islamic University in Gaza is not a military site. It is a university with 18,000 students, 60 percent of them women. Last night, Israeli warplanes attacked a female dormitory in the Islamic University. This is what Israel is attacking. They attacked the fishing port. No food gets into Gaza. People can barely fish enough to sustain them, and Israel has attacked the fishing boats that sustains them. These are historic crimes, and we cannot be silent about them.

And we have to continue this nonsense that there’s fault on both sides. We have a captive occupied population. 80 percent of the people in the Gaza Strip are refugees. 750,000 of them are children. Where else in the world can these crimes be committed while the world looks on, while our elected politicians in Congress, Democrats and Republicans, sit there applauding, when you see the shameful statement of Howard Berman, the Democrat chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, giving his full support to Israel? People have to stand up to this. We cannot sit on our hands anymore and say change is coming. Change is not coming unless we create it.
. . . .
Isn’t it convenient that we only have one president at a time, when it suits Barack Obama to stay silent on something that is enflaming the whole world? Apparently, we don’t have one president at a time when it comes to the economy or Iraq or Afghanistan or other issues. But on this, Barack Obama is content to remain silent and, in fact, to give, through the statements of David Axelrod, his more or less open support for what Israel is doing, which fits with the policies that he has enunciated consistently of supporting Israel’s attacks on Gaza, supporting the blockade of Gaza, supporting the Israeli war on Lebanon in 2006.

And this is why Israel feels so comfortable carrying out these sorts of atrocities, which cross every red line of the Fourth Geneva Conventions, of the Nuremberg Principles, of all of the laws of war that were developed in the twentieth century. Israel feels totally comfortable crossing them, because it knows that it will have full support from any US administration, no matter what political shade it is.

And this is why it’s crucially important that people don’t sit by waiting ’til January 20th. January 20th, the calendar flipping is not going to change anything. What’s going to change things is boycott, divestment and sanctions, people rising up and demanding an end to impunity, demanding, for example, that Ehud Barak, Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni be brought to account before an international war crimes court for the orders that they have given for these massacres of the civilian population of Gaza. That’s what’s going to bring change, and that’s what people must call and organize for.
. . . .
AMY GOODMAN: I want to go back to Ali Abunimah. The next step now? Israel is preparing for a ground invasion, calling up 6,500 troops. Do you hold Hamas responsible for any of this? What do you think Hamas should be doing now?

ALI ABUNIMAH: Well, what could—I mean, this thing about if they hadn’t fired rockets, this was the Israeli propaganda that Mahmoud Abbas was repeating in Cairo. And as Dr. El-Haddad said, has one single rocket ever been fired from the West Bank? No. And as Dr. Barghouti was saying, the West Bank is under constant attack. People are being killed. Amy, you had on your show the settler pogroms that were happening in front of the eyes of the world in the West Bank, the settlement construction that goes on. There has not been a single rocket fired from the West Bank. Abbas has capitulated to the Israelis. His so-called security forces, trained by the United States and armed by the United States, have been fighting the resistance in the West Bank. Did that spare one single Palestinian in the West Bank from Israeli violence or colonization? No, it did not.

This notion that Israel has a right to defend itself—against who? Against 1.5 million people who are refugees, who are starving, who are caged in the world’s largest prison or concentration camp. Don’t Palestinians also have a right to defend themselves? What should Palestinians do? I turn the question of those who keep pointing the finger at the Palestinians. Resistance is not acceptable, and so—

AMY GOODMAN: Ali Abunimah, we’re going to have to leave it there.
(More at URL above)
December 29, 2008, 8:45
'Israeli air strikes represent massive violations of international law'
Richard Falk

The Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip represent severe and massive violations of international humanitarian law as defined in the Geneva Convention, both in regard to the obligations of an occupying power and in the requirements of the laws of war.

Those violations include:

Collective punishment – the entire 1.5 million people who live in the crowded Gaza Strip are being punished for the actions of a few militants.

Targeting civilians – the air strikes were aimed at civilian areas in one of the most crowded stretches of land in the world, certainly the most densely populated area of the Middle East.

Disproportionate military response – the air strikes have not only destroyed every police and security office of Gaza's elected government, but have killed and injured hundreds of civilians; at least one strike reportedly hit groups of students attempting to find transportation home from the university.

Earlier Israeli actions, specifically the complete sealing off of entry and exit to and from the Gaza Strip, have led to severe shortages of medicine and fuel (as well as food), resulting in the inability of ambulances to respond to the injured, the inability of hospitals to adequately provide medicine or necessary equipment for the injured, and the inability of Gaza's besieged doctors and other medical workers to sufficiently treat the victims.

Certainly the rocket attacks against civilian targets in Israel are unlawful. But that illegality does not give Israel any right, neither as the occupying power nor as a sovereign state, to violate international humanitarian law and commit war crimes or crimes against humanity in its response. I note that Israel's escalating military assaults have not made Israeli civilians safer; on the contrary, the one Israeli killed today after the upsurge of Israeli violence is the first in over a year.

Israel has also ignored recent Hamas' diplomatic initiatives to re-establish the truce or ceasefire since its expiry on December26.

The Israeli air strikes today, and the catastrophic human toll that they have caused, challenge those countries that have been and remain complicit, either directly or indirectly, in Israel's violations of international law. That complicity includes those countries knowingly providing the military equipment including warplanes and missiles used in these illegal attacks, as well as those countries which have supported and participated in the siege of Gaza, which itself has caused a humanitarian catastrophe.

I remind all member states of the United Nations that the UN continues to be bound to an independent obligation to protect any civilian population facing massive violations of international humanitarian law – regardless of which country may be responsible for those violations. I call on all member states, as well as officials and every relevant organ of the United Nations system, to move on an emergency basis not only to condemn Israel's serious violations, but to develop new approaches to providing real protection for the Palestinian people.

Written by Professor Richard Falk, United Nations Special Investigator for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories

The Politics of the Gaza Massacre
Forget Hamas - it's all about the home front

Justin Raimondo
December 29, 2008


If you're looking for the cause of the most recent Israeli aggression against the Palestinians – over 300 killed so far, and many more wounded – forget Hamas. The real casus belli is politics, in Israel and America.
On the Israeli front, elections loom large. The current Israeli government is enormously unpopular, and – with polls showing a massiveswing to the right – this latest "incursion" is its last attempt to shore up their sagging power base. The rightist surge in Israel has been building for a long time, with the settler movement gaining momentum and the Likud Party likely the chief beneficiary – in which case there will be no chance of a peaceful settlement of the Palestinian question, no matter how evenhanded President Barack Obama turns out to be.

Speaking of Obama, the real focal point of the Israeli assault isn't Gaza – it's Washington, D.C. The whole point of this exercise in futility – which will not create a single iota of security for Israel, will not topple Hamas, and will not prove any more successful than the second Lebanese war – is to set the terms by which the Israelis will deal with the incoming U.S. president. Before he even gets a chance to appoint his Middle East team, his special envoys and advisers, the Israelis will have sabotaged the peace effort they can clearly see coming – and put the Americans on notice that whatever "change" is in the air will have to be to Israel's advantage. In short, the Gaza massacre is a preemptive strike against the prospect of American intervention on the Palestinians' behalf, or, at least, a more evenhanded policy framework.

I won't bother answering the "talking points" of Israel's powerful lobby in the U.S. – the Palestinians are terrorists, they deserved what they got, those missile barrages fired in recent weeks (in which not a single Israeli was killed) were ample provocation, etc. The whole world knows that none of these have anything to do with the latest Israeli military action.
The entire operation is, instead, part and parcel of a long-standing concerted campaign by the Israeli government to further marginalize and drive out the remnants of the Palestinian people who still cling tenaciously to what's left of their land. It is a policy of military and economic warfare, aimed at making life impossible for the Palestinian helots.

As the new Sparta of the Middle East runs roughshod over the laws of morality and basic human decency, Israel's amen corner in the U.S. is going into overdrive in an effort to prettify one of the ugliest incidents in a decade of unmitigated cruelty and brutality. All the familiar "progressive" voices – with certain sterling exceptions – are suddenly stilled: we hear nothing from our Democratic politicians, those fabled agents of "change," accept expressions of support for Israel's war crimes. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declares that Israel has "the right to defend itself," without deigning to inform us as to whether the Palestinians have the same right. Given her record as AIPAC's most reliable congressional ally, who can always be counted on to echo the Israel-first party line, one assumes not. Powerful foreign affairs committee chair Howard Berman concurs, as does our about-to-be-sworn-in chief executive.

Appearing on Face the Nation, Obama's chief adviser, David Axelrod, averred that "we have only one president at a time" – a consideration that hasn't stopped the world's most famous community organizer from publicly organizing the biggest raid on the U.S. Treasury in American history. In any case, as the Huffington Post put it, Axelrod "did reaffirm Obama's commitment to the 'special relationship between the United States and Israel' in a way that suggested general sympathy for the Jewish state's actions."

For all those hysterical ultra-Zionists in both Israel and the U.S. who thought Obama's election would be disastrous to the Zionist project, and their own efforts to expand it beyond its historic borders, let this be an object lesson in the danger of jumping to unwarranted conclusions. If they'd listened before they jumped – or paid attention to what they read on Antiwar.com – they would have realized how utterly misplaced their paranoia would turn out to be. Obama has been in the Israel Lobby's back pocket from the beginning, as his speech to AIPAC – a masterstroke of groveling – made all too clear.

Like all U.S. presidents since Bush the Elder, this one is committed to maintaining and elaborating on our Israel-centric Middle East policy, of which the Iraq war was only the most dramatic chapter. Obama may have opposed that particular war, but he will do nothing to reverse its consequences, the most dramatic of which appears to be the unleashing of the Israeli military machine on the region. First it was Lebanon, followed by the buzzing of Syrian airspace and the bombing of an alleged "nuclear facility" that turned out to be an ordinary weapons dump. Now we have the end of "disengagement" in Gaza and the opening up of a new front in Israel's relentless war of expansion.

It is a war that has been financed by U.S. tax dollars and fought with American weapons, with the active collaboration and support of our government. We have paid for the radical expansion of the Israeli "settlements" by armed bands of ultra-nationalist fanatics, Israel's version of the Taliban. Indeed, Israeli opinion is moving rapidly in the radicals' direction, and the victory of Benjamin Netanyahu and the far-right Likud Party in the upcoming election is virtually assured – with even more extreme elements waiting in the wings for their moment.

As the leaders of a settler colony implanted in the midst of Arab lands, the founders of the Israeli state were faced with a conundrum from the very start. No matter how enlightened and progressive the early settlers considered themselves, they could not escape their status as unwanted interlopers, the advance guard of what was essentially a foreign invasion. Living in their utopian kibbutzes and thinking they were constructing an egalitarian paradise, what they were really building was a rigidly hierarchical society, a caste system with the settlers and their descendants at the top, arranged in tiers according to their origins in the "diaspora," with the Palestinians at the very bottom – a displaced underclass forcibly segregated and routinely subjected to Israeli state violence.

Like a caged lion, grievously wounded, which nevertheless manages to roar and occasionally strike out – however ineffectually – at its tormentors, the Palestinian people are unbowed.

The Israelis – and the U.S. – rail against Hamas as a gang of terrorists, yet most of the governments of the region started out as "terrorist" gangs. Two were called the Irgun and the Haganah, the revolutionary movements that carried out attacks on civilians, including the British as well as the Arabs, in their battle to establish the state of Israel. Hamas will do no more, and no less, in their bid to establish a Palestinian state.

If nothing else, this fresh paroxysm of Israeli aggression ought to debunk, once and for all, the neocon talking point that democracies never go to war with each other. Yet here we have a country that styles itself an island of Western-style liberalism in a sea of Oriental despotism going to war with the only other democratically elected government in the immediate vicinity. Whatever the military outcome of the present conflict – in all likelihood a stalemate – this is a big political victory for Hamas, which ordinary Palestinians see actively defending them against the rampaging Israelis. The moderates on the West Bank are undercut, once again, and that has always been the Israeli strategy.

Their first target was the decidedly secular Palestine Liberation Organization, which they did everything to destroy and undercut – even to the point of providing legal status and covert funding to Hamas. These followers of radical Islamist preachers began as a religious association, formally registered with the Israeli authorities. Hamas was encouraged as a potentially more compliant competitor with the PLO. Another case of blowback, with a vengeance.
(More at URL above)

May We No Longer Be Silent
By Paul Craig Roberts

December 28, 2008 "Information Clearinghouse" -- - The title of my article comes from the sermon of the Episcopal Bishop of Washington DC, John Bryson Chane, delivered on October 5, 2008, at St. Columba Church. The bishop’s eyes were opened to Israel’s persecution of Palestinians by his recent trip to Palestine. In his sermon he called on “politicians seeking the highest office in [our] land” to find the courage to “speak out and condemn violations of human rights and religious freedom denied to Palestinian Christians and Muslims” by the state of Israel.

Bishop Chane’s courage was to no avail. As Justin Raimondo reported (Antiwar.com, 27 December), when America’s new leader of “change” was informed of Israel’s massive air attack on the Gaza Ghetto, an area of 139 square miles where Israel confines 1.4 million Arabs and tightly controls the inflow of all resources--food, medicine, water, energy--America’s president-elect Obama had “no comment.”
. . . .
According to the London Times (December 28), “Britain and the United States were on a collision course with their European allies last night after refusing to call for an end to Israeli airstrikes on Hamas targets in Gaza. The wave of attacks marked a violent end to President George W. Bush’s sporadic Middle East peace efforts. The White House put the blame squarely on Hamas.” The British government also blamed Hamas.

For the US and UK governments, Israel can do no wrong. Israel doesn’t have to stop withholding food, medicine, water, and energy, but Hamas must stop protesting by firing off rockets. In violation of international law, Israel can drive West Bank Palestinians off their lands and out of their villages and give the stolen properties to “settlers.” Israel can delay Palestinians in need of emergency medical care at checkpoints until their lives ebb away. Israeli snipers can get their jollies murdering Palestinian children.

The Great Moral Anglo-Americans couldn’t care less.

In his 2005 Nobel Lecture, British playwright Harold Pinter held the United States and its British puppet state accountable for “the systematic brutality, the widespread atrocities, the ruthless suppression of independent thought.” Everyone knows that such crimes occurred in the Soviet Union and in its East European empire, but “US crimes in the same period have only been superficially recorded, let alone documented, let alone acknowledged, let alone recognized as crimes at all,” this despite the fact that “the United States’ actions throughout the world made it clear that it had concluded it had carte blanche to do what it liked.”

Soviet crimes, like Nazi ones, are documented in gruesome detail, but America’s crimes “never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.”

America’s is “a scintillating stratagem. Language is actually employed to keep thought at bay. The words ‘the American people’ provide a truly voluptuous cushion of reassurance. You don’t need to think.”
. . . .
(More at URL above)
Harold Pinter 2005 Nobel Lecture


". . . .
“The United States supported and in many cases engendered every right wing military dictatorship in the world after the end of the Second World War. I refer to Indonesia, Greece, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Haiti, Turkey, the Philippines, Guatemala, El Salvador, and, of course, Chile. The horror the United States inflicted upon Chile in 1973 can never be purged and can never be forgiven.

Hundreds of thousands of deaths took place throughout these countries. Did they take place? And are they in all cases attributable to US foreign policy? The answer is yes they did take place and they are attributable to American foreign policy. But you wouldn't know it.

It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn't happening. It didn't matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It's a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.

I put to you that the United States is without doubt the greatest show on the road. Brutal, indifferent, scornful and ruthless it may be but it is also very clever. As a salesman it is out on its own and its most saleable commodity is self love. It's a winner. Listen to all American presidents on television say the words, 'the American people', as in the sentence, 'I say to the American people it is time to pray and to defend the rights of the American people and I ask the American people to trust their president in the action he is about to take on behalf of the American people.'

It's a scintillating stratagem. Language is actually employed to keep thought at bay. The words 'the American people' provide a truly voluptuous cushion of reassurance. You don't need to think. Just lie back on the cushion. The cushion may be suffocating your intelligence and your critical faculties but it's very comfortable. This does not apply of course to the 40 million people living below the poverty line and the 2 million men and women imprisoned in the vast gulag of prisons, which extends across the US.

The United States no longer bothers about low intensity conflict. It no longer sees any point in being reticent or even devious. It puts its cards on the table without fear or favour. It quite simply doesn't give a damn about the United Nations, international law or critical dissent, which it regards as impotent and irrelevant. It also has its own bleating little lamb tagging behind it on a lead, the pathetic and supine Great Britain.

What has happened to our moral sensibility? Did we ever have any? What do these words mean? Do they refer to a term very rarely employed these days conscience? A conscience to do not only with our own acts but to do with our shared responsibility in the acts of others? Is all this dead? Look at Guantanamo Bay. Hundreds of people detained without charge for over three years, with no legal representation or due process, technically detained forever. This totally illegitimate structure is maintained in defiance of the Geneva Convention. It is not only tolerated but hardly thought about by what's called the 'international community'. This criminal outrage is being committed by a country, which declares itself to be 'the leader of the free world'. Do we think about the inhabitants of Guantanamo Bay? What does the media say about them? They pop up occasionally a small item on page six. They have been consigned to a no man's land from which indeed they may never return. At present many are on hunger strike, being force-fed, including British residents. No niceties in these force-feeding procedures. No sedative or anaesthetic. Just a tube stuck up your nose and into your throat. You vomit blood. This is torture. What has the British Foreign Secretary said about this? Nothing. What has the British Prime Minister said about this? Nothing. Why not? Because the United States has said: to criticise our conduct in Guantanamo Bay constitutes an unfriendly act. You're either with us or against us. So Blair shuts up.

The invasion of Iraq was a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law. The invasion was an arbitrary military action inspired by a series of lies upon lies and gross manipulation of the media and therefore of the public; an act intended to consolidate American military and economic control of the Middle East masquerading as a last resort all other justifications having failed to justify themselves as liberation. A formidable assertion of military force responsible for the death and mutilation of thousands and thousands of innocent people.
We have brought torture, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, innumerable acts of random murder, misery, degradation and death to the Iraqi people and call it 'bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East'.

How many people do you have to kill before you qualify to be described as a mass murderer and a war criminal? One hundred thousand? More than enough, I would have thought. Therefore it is just that Bush and Blair be arraigned before the International Criminal Court of Justice. But Bush has been clever. He has not ratified the International Criminal Court of Justice. Therefore if any American soldier or for that matter politician finds himself in the dock Bush has warned that he will send in the marines. But Tony Blair has ratified the Court and is therefore available for prosecution. We can let the Court have his address if they're interested. It is Number 10, Downing Street, London.

Death in this context is irrelevant. Both Bush and Blair place death well away on the back burner. At least 100,000 Iraqis were killed by American bombs and missiles before the Iraq insurgency began. These people are of no moment. Their deaths don't exist. They are blank. They are not even recorded as being dead. 'We don't do body counts,' said the American general Tommy Franks.

Early in the invasion there was a photograph published on the front page of British newspapers of Tony Blair kissing the cheek of a little Iraqi boy. 'A grateful child,' said the caption. A few days later there was a story and photograph, on an inside page, of another four-year-old boy with no arms. His family had been blown up by a missile. He was the only survivor. 'When do I get my arms back?' he asked. The story was dropped. Well, Tony Blair wasn't holding him in his arms, nor the body of any other mutilated child, nor the body of any bloody corpse. Blood is dirty. It dirties your shirt and tie when you're making a sincere speech on television.

The 2,000 American dead are an embarrassment. They are transported to their graves in the dark. Funerals are unobtrusive, out of harm's way. The mutilated rot in their beds, some for the rest of their lives. So the dead and the mutilated both rot, in different kinds of graves.

Here is an extract from a poem by Pablo Neruda, 'I'm Explaining a Few Things':
And one morning all that was burning,
one morning the bonfires
leapt out of the earth
devouring human beings
and from then on fire,
gunpowder from then on,
and from then on blood.
Bandits with planes and Moors,
bandits with finger-rings and duchesses,
bandits with black friars spattering blessings
came through the sky to kill children
and the blood of children ran through the streets
without fuss, like children's blood.

Jackals that the jackals would despise
stones that the dry thistle would bite on and spit out,
vipers that the vipers would abominate.

Face to face with you I have seen the blood
of Spain tower like a tide
to drown you in one wave
of pride and knives.
see my dead house,
look at broken Spain:
from every house burning metal flows
instead of flowers
from every socket of Spain
Spain emerges
and from every dead child a rifle with eyes
and from every crime bullets are born
which will one day find
the bull's eye of your hearts.

And you will ask: why doesn't his poetry
speak of dreams and leaves
and the great volcanoes of his native land.
Come and see the blood in the streets.
Come and see
the blood in the streets.
Come and see the blood
in the streets!*

Let me make it quite clear that in quoting from Neruda's poem I am in no way comparing Republican Spain to Saddam Hussein's Iraq. I quote Neruda because nowhere in contemporary poetry have I read such a powerful visceral description of the bombing of civilians.

I have said earlier that the United States is now totally frank about putting its cards on the table. That is the case. Its official declared policy is now defined as 'full spectrum dominance'. That is not my term, it is theirs. 'Full spectrum dominance' means control of land, sea, air and space and all attendant resources.

The United States now occupies 702 military installations throughout the world in 132 countries, with the honourable exception of Sweden, of course. We don't quite know how they got there but they are there all right.

The United States possesses 8,000 active and operational nuclear warheads. Two thousand are on hair trigger alert, ready to be launched with 15 minutes warning. It is developing new systems of nuclear force, known as bunker busters. The British, ever cooperative, are intending to replace their own nuclear missile, Trident. Who, I wonder, are they aiming at? Osama bin Laden? You? Me? Joe Dokes? China? Paris? Who knows? What we do know is that this infantile insanity the possession and threatened use of nuclear weapons is at the heart of present American political philosophy. We must remind ourselves that the United States is on a permanent military footing and shows no sign of relaxing it.

Many thousands, if not millions, of people in the United States itself are demonstrably sickened, shamed and angered by their government's actions, but as things stand they are not a coherent political force yet. But the anxiety, uncertainty and fear which we can see growing daily in the United States is unlikely to diminish.

I know that President Bush has many extremely competent speech writers but I would like to volunteer for the job myself. I propose the following short address which he can make on television to the nation. I see him grave, hair carefully combed, serious, winning, sincere, often beguiling, sometimes employing a wry smile, curiously attractive, a man's man.
'God is good. God is great. God is good. My God is good. Bin Laden's God is bad. His is a bad God. Saddam's God was bad, except he didn't have one. He was a barbarian. We are not barbarians. We don't chop people's heads off. We believe in freedom. So does God. I am not a barbarian. I am the democratically elected leader of a freedom-loving democracy. We are a compassionate society. We give compassionate electrocution and compassionate lethal injection. We are a great nation. I am not a dictator. He is. I am not a barbarian. He is. And he is. They all are. I possess moral authority. You see this fist? This is my moral authority. And don't you forget it.'

A writer's life is a highly vulnerable, almost naked activity. We don't have to weep about that. The writer makes his choice and is stuck with it. But it is true to say that you are open to all the winds, some of them icy indeed. You are out on your own, out on a limb. You find no shelter, no protection unless you lie in which case of course you have constructed your own protection and, it could be argued, become a politician.

I have referred to death quite a few times this evening. I shall now quote a poem of my own called 'Death'.

Where was the dead body found?

Who found the dead body?

Was the dead body dead when found?

How was the dead body found?
Who was the dead body?
Who was the father or daughter or brother
Or uncle or sister or mother or son
Of the dead and abandoned body?
Was the body dead when abandoned?

Was the body abandoned?

By whom had it been abandoned?
Was the dead body naked or dressed for a journey?
What made you declare the dead body dead?

Did you declare the dead body dead?

How well did you know the dead body?

How did you know the dead body was dead?
Did you wash the dead body
Did you close both its eyes
Did you bury the body
Did you leave it abandoned?

Did you kiss the dead body?

When we look into a mirror we think the image that confronts us is accurate. But move a millimetre and the image changes. We are actually looking at a never-ending range of reflections. But sometimes a writer has to smash the mirror for it is on the other side of that mirror that the truth stares at us.

I believe that despite the enormous odds which exist, unflinching, unswerving, fierce intellectual determination, as citizens, to define the real truth of our lives and our societies is a crucial obligation which devolves upon us all. It is in fact mandatory.
If such a determination is not embodied in our political vision we have no hope of restoring what is so nearly lost to us the dignity of man.”
(More at URL above)
SUNDAY DEC. 28, 2008 08:14 EST
Marty Peretz and the American political consensus on Israel
"Do not fuck with the Jews."

Glenn Greenwald

Opinions about the Israeli-Palestinian dispute are so entrenched that any single outbreak of violence is automatically evaluated through a pre-existing lens, shaped by one's typically immovable beliefs about which side bears most of the blame for the conflict generally or "who started it." Still, any minimally decent human being -- even those who view the world through the most blindingly pro-Israeli lens possible, the ones who justify anything and everything Israel does, and who discuss these events with a bottomless emphasis on the primitive (though dangerous) rockets lobbed by Hamas into Southern Israel but without even mentioning the ongoing four-decades brutal occupation or the recent, grotesquely inhumane blockade of Gaza -- would find the slaughter of scores of innocent Palestinians to be a horrible and deeply lamentable event.

But not The New Republic's Marty Peretz. Here is his uniquely despicable view of the events of the last couple of days:

"So at 11:30 on Saturday morning, according to both the Jerusalem Post and Ha'aretz, as well as the New York Times, 50 fighter jets and attack helicopters demolished some 40 to 50 sites in just about three minutes, maybe five. Message: do not fuck with the Jews."

"Do not fuck with the Jews." And what of the several hundred Palestinian dead -- including numerous children -- and many hundreds more seriously wounded?
. . . .
(More at URL above)

Saturday, December 27, 2008



Israel's latest Massacre of Palestinians

Harold Pinter

Israel's latest Massacre of Palestinians

Back in 1967, my Jewish roommate and best friend, Joel, and I, were, with our immature, American media brainwashed minds, actually considering volunteering to fight with the Israeli Defense Forces against the Arab States in the Israeli inspired war of that year. Not many years after, having experienced the lies fed to American youth during the Viet Nam War period, I investigated in some detail the history of the European Jewish Zionist colonial aggression against the people of Palestine. It turned out that the real terrorists were pre-holocaust European Jews, posing as Semites from biblical Palestine, who planned as early as the late 1800’s to steal as much of Palestine as possible for a religiously oriented Jewish state or “Homeland.” They rationalized their claim on the Palestinian's land using false or distorted religious history.

The history is much too much to detail here, but for beginners, see:

See also my blog:

Since the ’67 war, it has been all down hill for the Palestinians and anyone who would dare support them, including Americans and neighboring Arab States, in particular, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq, as well as the Persian State of Iran. The American supported Israeli massacres and war crimes are also too numerous to mention, but one cannot let them pass, including today’s disruption of the Christmas season of “Peace and Goodwill” to humankind. This barbarism, some of the worst perpetrated by Israel since the '67 war, is supported by your tax dollars, so in essence, to the degree that we do not speak out against it, we are all complicit. See:

Today, in a disproportionate attack on the Palestinians, a massacre, carried out with American supplied weapons, Israel has killed well over two hundred Palestinians and wounded over 700 more. That is just the beginning, as they have said they have intentions to once again invade Gaza to root out their democratically elected government. The people slaughtered with missiles and the massive bombings were largely not the people responsible for ineffective attacks against the Israeli occupation, and many were women or children. That is the Israeli pattern. Since the cease fire ended recently, and prior to the Israeli assault, not a single Israeli had died from the pathetically inaccurate, makeshift low-tech “rockets” fired from Gaza. Only one Israeli has died from these "rockets" since Israel began its arial bombing and rocket attacks.

Bush, and perhaps the American puppet government of Egypt, have given their approval, and your savior, Barack Obama, isn’t likely to do anything about it when he becomes President, because he has already kissed AIPAC’s (American Israeli Public Affairs Committee) ass, and many of his close advisors and financial contributors are Zionist fellow travelers. He also supported Israel's criminal war against Lebanon earlier this year. AIPAC, through massive, strategically placed campaign contributions and threats, has bought the support of Congress and the Executive Branch, and the largely Zionist controlled media has brainwashed the American people to support Israel, so Israel has free reign to commit their barbaric acts without our resistance or even with our looking out for our own self-interest.

Today’s attacks will only increase world-wide terrorism, and the costs Americans and the rest of the world pay to support the criminal, religiously oriented (The Jewish State in domination of all other religions within their domain) regime of Israel. The so-called “War on Terror,” actually an illegal war on self-determination and legal resistance, continues unabated. Enjoy the consequences of the choices your government makes on your behalf. If anything, Israel has raised the specter of warfare spreading to Lebanon, Iran, syria, and perhaps even further.

If I know anything, it is that you, personally, will not know peace until the minority Jewish domination of the Palestinians, their neighbors, and of American politics is brought to an end.

The Cowardly, Barbaric, NAZI-like, Zionist State of Israel Commits Yet Another Massacre of Palestinians With American Supplied F-16s

Videos & Commentary On the Israeli Carnage Can Be Found at the Following Links:

Hamas News Conference on Israel’s Barbaric Disproportionate Attack:


At Least 230 Killed as Israel Destroys Police Stations Across the Gaza Strip
Over 700 Also Wounded as Barak Vows to Expand Operation "As Necessary"

Gaza massacres must spur us to action

By Ali Abunimah

The Electronic Intifada
27 December 2008


Massive Israeli air raids on Gaza
Israeli F-16 bombers have pounded key targets across the Gaza Strip, killing at least 225 people, local medics say.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Gaza Massacre

Israel’s Cynicism Supported by the West’s Complicity

Press release: 27.12.08

Today the Israeli army launched its long awaited strikes against the Gazan people, an unarmed, captive civilian population. The West, including the British government, has supported the last two years’ of blockade of the Palestinians in Gaza for the crime of exercising their democratic rights in a manner not to Israel’s liking. They have stood by while the people have been reduced to beggars dependent upon food aid, aid which has been consistently denied to them by Israel’s siege, resulting in malnutrition, trauma and deaths from medical neglect. This siege has been accompanied by regular military attacks on Palestinians in both Gaza and the West Bank as Israel is allowed to act with impunity. The passage of 100 trucks of aid yesterday, in the BBC’s words ‘to prevent Israel being accused of a causing humanitarian crisis’ is a cynical diversion which does not fool anyone despite the hopes of our cowardly leaders. The British government must condemn outright the current assault on Gaza, and immediately demand that the UN takes steps to end the siege with the restoration of full freedom of the borders of Gaza.

Analysis: Israel's Gaza assault

Speaking to Al Jazeera, commentators and political figures share their thoughts on the Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip.
Osama Hamdan, Hamas representative in Lebanon

"I believe what happened today is a continuity of the Israeli collective crime against the Palestinians.

"What happened in the last three years, the Palestinians were suffering under the siege.
"The Israelis expected that the people will react against the resistance and against Hamas which didn't happen in the past three years. That means they have to start very tough actions against Hamas.

"They attack 32 positions in Gaza, we expect the casualties will ... reach 200 killings.

"There is a clear reaction of the Palestinians in Gaza. They are calling for revenge. They are asking for the Palestinian resistance to react against the occupation.

"I believe Israel is not learning the lesson. They don't know that this kind of aggressive attack against the Palestinians creates a new cycle of violence inside Palestine. It will not defeat the Palestinian resistance.

"We are talking about six decades of occupation and, until now, the Palestinian people are resisting. What has happened today in Gaza will not stop the resistance, will not defeat the Palestinian people. They will find themselves under a reaction from the resistance.

"The peace process has completely failed, so we have to talk about a new process in the region which is supposed to start from the restoring of Palestinian rights and the commitment towards those rights.

"No one will accept now any talk about a peace process, because everyone knows that the Palestinian people are fed up with 17 years of negotiation without any result.

"The second thing which I believe is happening every morning is that Palestinians believe that there is no solution unless there is a resistance."

Azzam Tamimi, director of the Institute of Islamic Political Thought

"If you remember what Tzipi Livni said in Egypt after her meeting with President Hosni Mubarak and the foreign minister, she made a clear warning, not just about a tit-for-tat attitude, but about a change in Gaza.

"That's why I suspect that the operation is not only intended to be limited, but aimed at toppling the regime in Gaza altogether, otherwise why would Israel target the police force?

"They are not the ones firing missiles in Israel - the police force keeps the order in Gaza. This is an operation that will create disorder and I suspect that Egypt and Ramallah are colluding in this.

"Israel would never have carried out such a massive attack had it not been for a green light from people that matter - for instance the United States, some of the European powers and also from Egypt and Ramallah.

"Hamas did not say it wanted the truce to be renewed, it wanted to renegotiate new terms for the truce. Hamas wanted a truce with the Israelis that would bring about the end to the siege.

"Unfortunately, because the Egyptian broker was a dishonest broker, siding by Israel and siding by Ramallah, the truce did not bring the most important dividend which was ending the siege.

"So Hamas said 'if you want to renew the truce, let's end the siege and open the crossings.' The Egyptians would not agree to this. The Israelis would not agree to this.

"The Israelis were not interested in renewing a truce. Cairo was determined to give Hamas a fatal blow and they gave the green light to Israel I suspect."

Mustafa Barghouthi, former Palestinian information minister

"Israel is not targeting Hamas alone. Israel is targeting the whole Palestinian population, which has left 200 families with dead sons, husbands and fathers.

"Gaza is left today with nothing, no bread, no oil, electricity and medication even to treat the injured people.

"This criminal attack is directed at the will of the Palestinian people. It's an effort to break the Palestinian demand for freedom, independence and justice.

"Israel is responsible for this escalation. There was a ceasefire that everybody respected, including Hamas, and it was Israel that violated that ceasefire ... to prepare the ground for this bloodshed which Israeli politicians are using as their form of competition in the Israeli elections.

"This is a criminal act, unprecedented, unacceptable and Israel would not have dared to go this far if it were not for the silence of the international community at these inhuman crimes.

"It's impossible to equate Hamas with Israel. All the rockets Hamas have shot have not killed a single Israeli till today.
"During the same year of the so-called Annapolis peace process, Israel killed 546 Palestinians, including 76 children, more than half of them in the West Bank.

"The aggression is from one side. Israel has probably the fourth-largest military in the world, it is the fourth-largest military-exporter in the world, it has nuclear heads.

"Today, it used 60 sophisticated jet fighters in Gaza who have nothing to defend themselves with.
"Israel wants this escalation to break the backbone of the Palestinian people, but they won't break us."

Bush Winks at Israel’s Slaughter in Gaza,
While Obama and Clinton Are Silent

By Matthew Rothschild
December 27, 2008 "The Progressive"

Harold Pinter

Lastly, it is noteworthy that the American media (including NPR/PBS),while commemorating the life of Nobel Prize winning author Harold Pinter after his recent passing, noted he was Jewish, but did not mention his total displeasure with the Zionist enterprise that is Israel. Pinter was a signatory to the following letter that appeared in The Guardian on April 30th of this year:

We're not celebrating Israel's anniversary
The Guardian, Wednesday 30 April 2008

In May, Jewish organisations will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel. This is understandable in the context of centuries of persecution culminating in the Holocaust. Nevertheless, we are Jews who will not be celebrating. Surely it is now time to acknowledge the narrative of the other, the price paid by another people for European anti-semitism and Hitler's genocidal policies. As Edward Said emphasised, what the Holocaust is to the Jews, the Naqba is to the Palestinians.

In April 1948, the same month as the infamous massacre at Deir Yassin and the mortar attack on Palestinian civilians in Haifa's market square, Plan Dalet was put into operation. This authorised the destruction of Palestinian villages and the expulsion of the indigenous population outside the borders of the state. We will not be celebrating.

In July 1948, 70,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes in Lydda and Ramleh in the heat of the summer with no food or water. Hundreds died. It was known as the Death March. We will not be celebrating.

In all, 750,000 Palestinians became refugees. Some 400 villages were wiped off the map. That did not end the ethnic cleansing. Thousands of Palestinians (Israeli citizens) were expelled from the Galilee in 1956. Many thousands more when Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza. Under international law and sanctioned by UN resolution 194, refugees from war have a right to return or compensation. Israel has never accepted that right. We will not be celebrating.

We cannot celebrate the birthday of a state founded on terrorism, massacres and the dispossession of another people from their land. We cannot celebrate the birthday of a state that even now engages in ethnic cleansing, that violates international law, that is inflicting a monstrous collective punishment on the civilian population of Gaza and that continues to deny to Palestinians their human rights and national aspirations.

We will celebrate when Arab and Jew live as equals in a peaceful Middle East.
. . . Harold Pinter . . .

Sunday, December 21, 2008

'Tis The Season To Be Jolly!

In This Edition:

Gaza's grim reaper

The Madoff Scandal:

- "It's Kristallnacht Two!" An Ethnic Cleansing in America
- Madoff "it’s virtually impossible to violate rules."
- "The List" of victimized investors
- Israel Shamir and James Petras on Winners & Losers

__________ __________________________________________

Gaza's grim reaper
16/12/2008 10:11:00 PM GMT

Israel always manages to commit its worst deeds when no one else is looking.

By Paul J. Balles

While Americans concentrate on the cost of rescuing the U.S. financial system, and Europeans worry about how the worldwide financial crisis will affect them, Israel blithely, with U.S. government and European community approval, deprives Gaza's entire civilian population of food, medicine and clean drinking water.

When pushed to explain their behaviour, they claim self-defence. Defence against whom? More than 50 per cent of the population in Gaza is comprised of children under the age of 15. Few people outside of Gaza even notice this slow genocide.

Israel always manages to commit its worst deeds when no one else is looking. If they happen to be caught, they blame it on the Palestinians – on a few resistance fighters lobbing rockets into Israel in retaliation for a broken cease-fire. To the Israeli, the actions of a few violent Palestinians are justifiable cause for genocide of the entire Palestinian population in Gaza.

Joe Mowrey writes:

As conditions in the Gaza Strip approach a catastrophic level of deprivation, the world media, and in particular the U.S. media, remain largely silent. The United Nations, whose truckloads of food and medical supplies continue to be denied entry into Gaza by Israel, appears to be one of the few international voices of dissent concerning the collective punishment of 1.5 million human beings.

As soon as someone takes notice of what Mowrey is talking about, the Israelis open the gates to allow a smattering of fuel or food into Gaza. Ironically, Khaled Meshaal has noted even Arab and Islamic regimes have remained silent about the tragedy resulting from the "criminal blockade" of Gaza.

Andrea Becker, head of advocacy for Medical Aid for Palestinians, has written about how the blockade has affected the hospitals and medical facilities. These are hardly resistance fighters:

...a child on life support doesn't have the oxygen of a mechanical ventilator. A nurse on a neo-natal ward rushes between patients, battling the random schedule of power cuts. A hospital worker tries to keep a few kidney dialysis machines from breaking down, by farming spare parts from those that already have. The surgeon operates without a bulb in the surgery lamp, across from the anaesthetist who can no longer prevent patient pain.

The hospital administrator updates lists of essential drugs and medical supplies that have run out, which vaccines from medical fridges are now unusable because they can't be kept cold, and which procedures must be cancelled altogether. The ambulance driver decides whether to respond to an emergency call, based on dwindling petrol in the tank.

Joe Mowrey reflects on the most bitter irony of all:

Has the sense of exclusivity and entitlement created by the Zionist experiment in Israel become so great that people there no longer see themselves in the mirror of their own history? The irony of Jews ... denying food to hundreds of thousands of children in order, allegedly, to insure their own security, is breathtaking. Who could ever have imagined such a thing?

The Jewish Studies Global Directory of Holocaust Museums lists 61 memorial sites, including four in Israel and 24 in the United States. Reminders to the world? But not to Israelis? Not to Jews in America? Is it conceivable that Jews who remember the Holocaust only recognize genocide when they are the victims?

Rabbi Meir Hirsh, Neturei Karta Palestine, provides an answer:

How long will Jewish and non-Jewish leaders who claim the mantle of civilization and morality remain silent in the face of the ongoing state terrorism practised by the Zionist state against the Palestinian People, most visibly today in Gaza, where the Zionists believe they can starve the Palestinians into submission in violation of all tenets of international law, all religious values in general, including the values of the Jewish faith?

-- Paul J. Balles is a retired American university professor and freelance writer who has lived in the Middle East for many years. For more information, see pballes.com. This article appeared in Redress Information & Analysis.


Madoff Scandal

Alexander Cockburn nails it with his analysis of Madoff and, as noted previously in these pages, the larger pyramid scheme, which includes the American economic system and the "Endless Growth" paradigm:

"On the larger canvas, what exactly separates Madoff’s operation from those of the banks rewarded for their shady follies by a $700 billion bailout? Just like Madoff, the banks finally had to admit that all their public financial statements were false, that the supposed assets were worthless.

The operating assumption of the Ponzi scheme is that the tide will always rise, that old investors can be repaid by the infusions ponied up by the fresh recruits. For the past twenty years the entire American economy has become—to quote Bernie’s succinct résumé of his business to his sons —'a giant Ponzi scheme,'."

"It's Kristallnacht Two!" An Ethnic Cleansing in America



Madoff "it’s virtually impossible to violate rules."

"In today’s regulatory environment, it’s virtually impossible to violate rules. And this is something that the public really doesn’t understand. And if you read things in the newspaper and you see somebody, you know, violate a rule, you say, well, you know, they’re always doing this. But it’s impossible for you to go—for a violation to go undetected, certainly not for a considerable period of time." Bernie Madoff


The List

Bernie Madoff's Victims: The List
Henry Blodget | Dec 14, 08 9:09 AM
Bernie Madoff's Victims

Israel Shamir and James Petras on Winners & Losers

The Madoff Affair: A Guide to the Perplexed Antisemite

By Israel Shamir

The thinking-man's antisemite would be baffled what to make out of Madoff
Affair. Should he rejoice or bewail? If you read Jewish newspapers, you'd
think that "antisemites" - the vast majority of mankind, according to
Jewish sources ("scratch a goy and you'll find an anti-Semite") - should
be bursting with joy.

Bradley Burston enthused in Haaretz: "For the true anti-Semite, Christmas
came early this year. The anti-Semite's new Santa is Bernard Madoff. The
answer to every Jew-hater's wish list. The Aryan Nation at its most
delusional couldn't have come up with anything to rival this". He is
echoed by the execrable Lipstadt: "He is an antisemite's dream. The worst
of them could not have dreamt up such a story." And the ADL confirms: "We
expect the antisemites to have a field day. They will exploit it."

One would think that Jewish mega-cheats are a rare species, like white
ravens. This is hardly the case. Dr. William Pierce made his valuable
observation some years ago: "Jews aren't the only crooks, but they're
certainly the biggest crooks. If you hear about a 100-thousand-dollar
swindle, it could be anybody. If you hear about a 100-million-dollar
swindle, then you know that it has to be a Jew." Even more so if we hear
about 50-billion-dollar swindle!

Pierce reminded his readers about Michael Milken, Ivan Boesky, Marty
Siegel, Dennis Levine and the insider-trading scandal that nearly wrecked
Wall Street a dozen years ago--and incidentally bankrupted tens of
thousands of ordinary Americans who lost their investments as a result of
the artificial manipulation of stock prices. Every major actor in that
scandal was a Jew.

"Remember the enormous savings-and-loan catastrophe during the 1980s that
ended up costing American taxpayers 500 billion dollars? A big part of the
reason for the collapse of the savings-and-loan industry in the 1980s was
the huge investments in so-called 'junk bonds' by so many savings-and-loan
institutions. And the man behind the junk bonds --the financial genius
persuading the savings-and-loans to buy them--was none other than Michael

One can fine-tune Pierce: the big crooks and swindlers are not necessarily
Jews but they are devoted to Jewish causes, be it the Holocaust cult or
the Zionist cause. When it comes to charity, an American cheat, whether
goy or Jew, does not care for poor Americans or for starving Africans. He
gives his tithe to the Jewish cause. This was the case with Madoff. He
contributed a lot to Jewish causes, so he had to be a swindler. (In "The
Man Higher Up" from my book Pardes, I explain why).

So, why should the proverbial antisemite rejoice at Madoff's fall, if it
was as much to be expected as the morning dawn? Is it because there were
"a number of prominent Diaspora Jews among the victims, including Nobel
laureate Elie Wiesel, movie director Steven Spielberg, and real-estate
magnate Mortimer Zuckerman", as the Wall Street Journal reported?

James Petras thinks it should rather disappoint antisemites: "Madoff
struck a severe blow against anti-Semites who claim that there is a
'close-knit Jewish conspiracy to defraud the Gentiles', laying that canard
to rest once and for all. Among Bernard Madoff's principal victims were
his closest Jewish friends and colleagues, people who shared Seder meals
and frequented the same upscale temples in Long Island and Palm Beach." 
[An edited version of Petras' article is appended below.]

This is also the view of Michael Hoffman: "Madoff's enormous heist .
undercuts a stereotype of the Jew-haters: that Jews are always .robbing
gentiles and profiting communally from the rip-off. This is sheerest
ignorance. Contrary to the received opinion, Judaism is not good for Jews.
They may cheat the gentiles first, but sooner or later they'll give each
other a haircut too." Hoffman goes even further and says, "The biggest
victims of Judaism are not gentiles but Jews themselves."

One hesitates to disabuse his noble heart. Though Hoffman's generous
statement certainly is correct in a deep spiritual sense, the Judaic
strategy, in the medium-run, is a winning one in the practical sense.
>From bankruptcy to bankruptcy, from swindle to swindle, from one
insurance fraud to the next -- the aggregate wealth of the Jewish
community permanently grows thanks to intra-Jewish philanthropy. Yes,
Spielberg and Yeshiva University lost some cash in this debacle, but
otherwise, billions of dollars came in and remained within the Jewish

One may view Madoff as a Jewish suicide bomber: he blew himself
up financially, and the immediate losses to a few Jewish investors were
just so much collateral damage. But the bottom line was a major, permanent
transfer of gentile wealth to the Jews.

As always, denunciations of antisemitism serve to cover up the hard facts.
We hear of ruined Jewish investors, BUT the majority of Madoff's fools
were non-Jewish, correctly observed Peter Myers' correspondent Leo Schmit
from Kandahar, Afghanistan. "The majority of Madoff's fools were
non-Jewish individuals, banks, funds and firms. The claim that Jewish
foundations are taking the 'biggest hit' is evidently not true. The harm
to Jewish foundations is dwarfed by the damage done to numerous financial
institutions, funds and firms as listed by Henri Blodget."

So, antisemites have no reason to rejoice. A Jewish crook is nothing new;
a successful Jewish crook is nothing new, either. Dr Petras' joy was
premature, too, as he wrote: "The swindle may lessen funding for AIPAC's
purchase of Congressional influence and financing of propaganda campaigns
in favor of a pre-emptive US military attack against Iran." Not so fast,
Jim! Even if some Jewish and Zionist organizations lost money, the total
sum of Jewish holdings increased, and this new wealth will again find its
way to the Zionist Lobby and other such bodies. Does this mean that
nothing can be done about it? No. Where there is a will, there is a way.

While it would be unfair to confiscate the private funds of innocent
Jewish individuals in compensation for the Jewish fraudsters' misdeeds,
the holdings of "the Jewish people" are fair game. Now these vast holdings
are mortmain, as was Church property in the Middle Ages. Mortmain, or
"Dead Hand", means one can't sue them. All losses are yours, while only
the profits are theirs. Such a regime is too good to last forever. The
Reformation would never have taken place but for the Dead Hand rule of the
Church holdings. The princes finally had to expropriate the Church,
otherwise it would have become too powerful and undermined their own
economic dominion. Now is the time to deal with the Jewish Dead Hand. They
benefited from Madoff's misdeed, now let them pay for it.

These holdings are controlled by still uncaught Madoffs and other Zionist
leaders. The Jewish National Fund (JNF) "is a multi-national corporation
with offices in about dozen countries world-wide. It receives millions of
dollars from wealthy Jews around the world, most of which are tax-exempt
contributions. JNF's aim is to acquire and develop lands exclusively for
the benefit of Jews. It leases land to Jews only." Our friend Jonathan
Cook from Nazareth described it as a racist institution of immense wealth
and power. The JNF received funding from Madoff, and moreover, other
people who earned money through Madoff's schemes also supported the JNF.

Another possible mortmain body with vast holdings is the Conference on
Jewish Material Claims against Germany. This Fund, according to Haaretz,
received billions dollars' worth of real estate in East Germany under a
clause in German law that recognizes it as the owner of all assets
belonging to Holocaust victims without heirs. Do not worry: this money is
not helping poor old Jews anyway. A Haaretz headline relates that
"Survivors get tiny slice of Holocaust compensation". This bulk of cash
should be used to pay the defrauded gentiles.

While we're at it, these and other Jewish communal bodies may be charged
not only for the relatively tiny losses caused by Madoff, but for the much
bigger ones caused by the Talmud-swearing Alan Greenspan and his
Yeshiva-comrade Ben Bernanke. There is no reason to hate Greenspan or to
call him Public Enemy Number One: it will be enough to revert his main
deed, the massive transfer of wealth from ordinary Americans to the
super-rich and from them to the Jewish causes. Among these latter, the
Simon Wiesenthal Tolerance Center should also be a prime target; this
could save Jerusalem from the monstrosity that organization plans to build
in the centre of Jerusalem on top of Mamilla Cemetery. (In order to be
'tolerant', by Simon Wiesenthal Tolerance standards, you must support gag
laws and the bombing of Iran!)

Expropriation of these bodies will not harm a single honest person of
Jewish origin. It's the other way around: it would remove the major
reason for antagonism between Jews and non-Jews. Jews would know that
there are no separate funds to take care of them and would recognize that
they are in one boat with their non-Jewish fellow-citizens. And then the
Jewish Lobby would shrink to its natural size of, say, Cuban Lobby, and
the US would recover from its sickness.

We, the Israelis, would be the biggest beneficiaries of such a move. Isaac
Deutscher ascribed the negative developments in Israel to the influence of
super-rich American Jews: "A wealthy American Jew is at heart proud to be
a member of the Chosen People, and in Israel he exercises his influence in
favour of religious obscurantism and reaction. He keeps alive the spirit
of racial-talmudic exclusiveness and superiority. It feeds and inflames
the antagonism towards the Arabs". If they are made to pay for their
tricks, not only antisemites, but Jews as well will have good reason to


In Praise of Bernard Madoff

by James Petras

(edited by Israel Shamir)

Wall Street broker Bernard ('Bernie') Madoff, former president of NASDAQ,
revered and respected investor confessed to pulling off the biggest fraud
in history, a $50 billion dollar scam.

In a few days, one individual, Bernard Madoff, has struck a bigger blow
against global financial capital, Wall Street and the US Zionist
Lobby/Israel-First Agenda than the entire US and European left combined
over the past half century! He has been more successful in reducing vast
wealth disparities in New York than all the white, black, Christian and
Jewish, reform and mainline Democratic and Republican governors and Mayors
over the past two centuries.

Unlike the leftist pundits, bloggers and protest marchers, whose earnest
and public activities have had no effect on the rich and powerful, Madoff
has aimed his blows where it hurts the most: Their mega-bank accounts,
their confidence in the capitalist system, their self-esteem and, yes,
even their cardiac well-being.

There is no reason to mount the barricades for Bernard Madoff. It's
enough to recognize that he has inadvertently rendered an historic service
to popular justice by undermining some of the financial props of a
class-ridden injustice system.

It is worthwhile to list the inadvertent positive outcomes of Madoff's

1. The swindle of $50 plus billion dollars may make a big dent on US
Zionist funding of illegal Israeli colonial settlements in the Occupied
Territories, lessen funding for AIPAC's purchase of Congressional
influence and financing of propaganda campaigns in favor of a pre-emptive
US military attack against Iran. Most investors will have to lower or
eliminate their purchase of Israel bonds, which subsidize the Jewish
State's military budget.

2. The swindle has further discredited the highly speculative hedge funds
already reeling from massive withdrawals because of deep losses.

3. Madoff's long-term, large-scale fraud was not detected by the
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) despite its claims of at least
two investigations. As a result, there is a total loss of credibility.

4. Madoff's long-term association with NASDAQ, including his chairmanship,
while he was defrauding his clients of billions, strongly suggests that
the members and leaders of this stock exchange are incapable of
recognizing a crook.

5. Apart from severe bank losses, tens of thousands of influential,
affluent and super-rich lost their entire accumulated wealth. The result
is a weakening of the financial stranglehold over investor behavior and
the demise of an important sector of the parasitic 'rentier' class.

6. Since most of the money stolen by Madoff came from the upper classes
around the world, his behavior has reduced inequalities - he is the
'greatest leveler' since the introduction of the progressive income tax.

7. By swindling life-long friends, self-same ethno-religious investors,
narrow ethnically defined country club members and close family members,
Madoff demonstrates that finance capital shows no respect for any of the
pieties of everyday life:

8. Among the many ruined investors in New York and New England, there are
a number of mega slumlords (real estate moguls), sweatshop owners (fancy
name-brand clothes and toy manufacturers) and others who barely paid the
minimum wage to their women and immigrant laborers, evicted poor tenants
and swindled employees out of their pensions before moving their
operations to China. In other words, Madoff's swindle was a kind of
secular 'divine' retribution for past and present crimes against labor and
the poor.

9. Madoff struck a severe blow against anti-Semites who claim that there
is a 'close-knit Jewish conspiracy to defraud the Gentiles', laying that
canard to rest once and for all. Among Bernard Madoff's principle victims
were his closest Jewish friends and colleagues, people who shared Seder
meals and frequented the same upscale temples in Long Island and Palm

10. Madoff's swindle will likely promote greater self-criticism and a more
distrustful attitude toward other potential confidence people posing as
reliable financial know-it-alls.

The final and 11th point is the demise of Madoff's enterprise and his
wealthy liberal Jewish victims will adversely affect contributions to the
52 Major Jewish American Organizations, numerous foundations in Boston,
Los Angeles, New York and elsewhere, as well as the Clinton/Schumer
militarist wing of the Democratic Party (Madoff bankrolled both of them as
well as other unconditional Congressional supporters of Israel). This may
open Congress to greater debate on Middle East policy without the usual
high volume attacks.