Archive | September 2nd, 2011

Report–U.S. official advised Gadhafi to use foreign intel, including IsraHell, to defeat rebels

NOVANEWS

Report claims David Welch met with overthrown Libyan leader as late as August 2 to suggest ‘confidence-building’ measures.

Haaretz

Former U.S. assistant secretary of state David Welch advised the Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi in August on how to overpower rebels fighting to end his 42-year rule, broadcaster Al Jazeera reported Thursday, citing documents found in Tripoli.

Welch, who brokered a deal to restore diplomatic ties between the U.S. and Libya in 2008, made the advice at a meeting with officials from the Gadhafi regime at a Cairo hotel on August 2, 2011, according to the television report.

It claimed that Welch suggested several “confidence-building measures.”

The alleged document records his advice on how to undermine Libya’s rebel movement, with potential assistance from foreign intelligence agencies, including Israel, according to Al Jazeera.

“Any information related to al-Qaida or other terrorist extremist organisations should be found and given to the American administration but only via the intelligence agencies of either Israel, Egypt, Morroco, or Jordan… America will listen to them… It’s better to receive this information as if it originated from those countries,” the document read, according to Al-Jazeera.

Al Jazeera said one of its correspondents had stumbled upon the document while touring the offices of Libya’s intelligence service in Tripoli after rebels overran it last month.
The Doha-based television reported that Welch purportedly advised the Gadhafi regime to take advantage of the unrest in Syria.

“The importance of taking advantage of the Syrian situation particularly regarding the double-standard policy adopted by Washington … the Syrians were never your friends and you would lose nothing from exploiting the situation there in order to embarrass the West,” the alleged document read.

However, sources close to Welch questioned in remarks published Thursday the validity of the document.

The pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al Awsat quoted the unidentified sources as saying that Welch stressed at the meeting the necessity of Gadhafi stepping down.

The sources accused the Libyan officials who Welch met of revising the minutes of the meeting to “tell Gadhafi what he wanted to hear.”

The alleged disclosure coincided with the 42nd anniversary of Gadhafi’s coup.

Meanwhile, two of the Libyan leader’s sons have given very different statements to the press on their readiness to surrender, as the rebel forces appeared to have almost defeated loyalists.

Al-Saadi Gadhafi reportedly called for an end to the bloodshed, and was prepared to consider surrender in return for a guarantee of safety, in an interview with Al Jazeera late Wednesday. But his brother Saif al-Islam was quoted by CNN the same evening as calling on the remaining government troops to “attack the enemy wherever they are,” claiming that “victory is near.”

Both men said they were authorized to speak in the name of their father, whose whereabouts were unconfirmed, although al-Islam claimed he was well and living in a suburb of the capital. The rebels have given the remaining pockets of resistance loyal to the regime until Saturday to surrender.

International leaders were to meet Thursday in Paris to discuss the Libyan situation.

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IsraHell sees Palestinian statehood bid a ‘greater threat’ than Hamas

NOVANEWS

Agence France-Presse

The Palestinian campaign to secure full UN membership presents a greater threat to Israel than that posed by Hamas, the Israeli finance minister said on Wednesday.

“This Palestinian initiative represents a more serious threat than that posed by Hamas,” Yuval Steinitz told Israel’s public radio, referring to Gaza’s Islamist rulers whose founding charter calls for the destruction of the Jewish state.

If the Palestinians made good on their plans to seek United Nations membership, Israel would “respond,” he promised.

Although Steinitz did not spell out exactly how Israel would retaliate, his remarks were made shortly after Haaretz newspaper published a report saying the minister had blocked the payment of 380 million shekels ($106 million, 73 million euros) in tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority.

Officials in the West Bank city of Ramallah were not immediately available to comment on the report.

The minister, who belongs to the ruling Likud party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said he believed it would be impossible to stop the bid which is to take place when the UN General Assembly meets in New York next month.

Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau, who was also interviewed on public radio, said that if the Palestinian went ahead with their bid it would signal the end of all agreements signed with Israel.

“In this case, it is clear that our agreements with the Palestinians would be null and void,” said Landau, who belongs to the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party.

“We should then impose our sovereignty on territories over which there is consensus — that is, in the Jordan Valley and the major settlement blocs, and even more,” he said, reiterating a proposal raised by right-wing elements that Israel annex Palestinian land in response to the UN bid.

The Palestinians are to formally submit their request for membership on September 20 when world leaders begin gathering in New York for the 66th session of the General Assembly.

The decision comes after direct peace talks with Israel ran aground late last year in an intractable dispute over Jewish settlement construction on occupied Palestinian land.

Israel implacably opposes such a statehood move, saying negotiations are the only way to resolve the conflict and establish a Palestinian state, in a position backed by the United States.

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Iran Concerned West Will Benefit From Arab Uprisings

NOVANEWS

 

NYT

Iran’s supreme leader admonished the West and Israel on Wednesday not to seek advantage from the antigovernment uprisings convulsing the Arab Muslim world, delivering the warning in a nationally broadcast speech that appeared to reflect new unease in Tehran over the course of events among its strategic neighbors, particularly Syria.

The speech by the leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, given at Tehran University to commemorate Id al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday, was officially described in Iran’s state-run press as a respectful tribute to the revolutionary movements that have reawakened Muslim populations to “their genuine Islamic identity.”       

But the speech included a cautionary caveat that suggested Iranian leaders are worried about the possibility of outcomes that diminish their influence as these movements progress.       

“The events taking place in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Libya, Bahrain and certain other countries today are decisive and destiny making for the Muslim nations,” the ayatollah said. However, he said, “if the imperialist and hegemonic powers and Zionism, including the U.S. tyrannical and despotic regime, manage to use the ongoing conditions in their own favor, the world of Islam will definitely face big problems for tens of years.”       

The omission of Syria in his remarks was especially conspicuous, underlining Iran’s own ambivalence about how to deal with events unfolding there. Iran has been the strongest ally of Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, throughout the five-month-old antigovernment uprising in that country, which Mr. Assad has sought to suppress with ferocious brutality in the face of growing international isolation. But in recent days even Iran has asked the Assad regime to find a way to accommodate demands of the Syrian protest movement, worried that Mr. Assad’s downfall could prove destructive to Iran’s own strategic interests in the Middle East.       

On Saturday, Iran’s foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, called on Mr. Assad’s government to recognize the Syrian people’s “legitimate” demands, the first such remarks to come from Iran since the Syrian uprising began.       

Iran relies on Syria to help facilitate arming and financing Hezbollah, the powerful political, social and military movement in Lebanon, as well as Hamas, the militant Islamist group that governs Gaza. Both are avowed enemies of Israel and are considered terrorist groups by Israel and the United States.       

Ayatollah Khamenei’s speech also illustrated the awkward line that Iranian leaders have walked in commending the uprisings that have toppled or threatened autocratic leaders in neighboring countries while suppressing antigovernment demonstrations at home, particularly since the disputed 2009 Iranian presidential election that Iranian dissidents say was fixed to ensure victory for the hard-line president,Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.       

The ayatollah appeared to acknowledge Iran’s own election difficulties, saying they had always been a “challenging issue” in the 32-year-old history of the Islamic republic. But he also warned Iran’s dissidents, who have been relatively silent for months, not to make trouble in advance of the next presidential election, to be held in 2013.       

“Elections are the manifestation of religious democracy,” he said. “However, enemies seek to misuse elections to harm the country.”       

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NATO’s rhetoric on Libya ‘most cynical propaganda’ – Rogozin

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The criticism of NATO voiced at an international conference in the Czech Republic is a sign of the growing discontent with the Alliance’s policy both in Europe and in the US, stated Russia’s NATO Ambassador Dmitry Rogozin.

“I think the ‘Prague wave’, which has reached us, I mean the wave of stinging commentaries regarding NATO, indicates that the Alliance is running a serious risk of undermining its unshakeable reputation as an honest broker in matters of war and peace,” Rogozin told Interfax on Tuesday. 

His comments came at the end of a conference titled “Central Europe, EU and New Russia,” a forum organized by the independent Czech think-tank Fontes Rerom and the European movement, an international association aimed at promoting civil society. It was attended by representatives of ten European countries and the US. The Russian delegation was led by the lower house vice-chairman Aleksandr Babakov.

Rogozin said that during the conference many Europeans spoke of NATO as a “police” or even a “criminal” organization. The Russian politician noted that the current mood has been gaining ground since the start of the military operation in Libya.

“Western intellectuals are strongly disappointed with the Alliance’s actions in Libya, as well as the policies of some specific member states,” Rogozin stated, adding that the rhetoric of some NATO representatives concerning Libya is “absolutely outrageous, going beyond the most cynical propaganda.”

Their commentaries suggest that “dozens of thousands of bombs dropped on Libya hit the targets so accurately and gracefully that not a single hair stirred on the heads of ordinary Libyan citizens as the bombs flew over them,” Rogozin said.

The Russian ambassador to NATO believes that saying such things inevitably draws criticism in the West even from politicians who have been traditionally loyal to NATO.

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Turkey in warning to Israel: You have one day to apologize for Gaza flotilla raid

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Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu says UN-authored Palmer report on the 2010 incident must be published by September 2 as scheduled, and threatens sanctions if Israel doesn’t apologize beforehand.

Turkey declared Thursday that it would not tolerate further delay in the release of a United Nations report concerning Israel’s deadly raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla in 2010, and warned of consequences including sanctions should Israel continue to refuse  to apologize for the incident.

Publication of the Palmer Commission’s report into the Israel Defense Force’s raid, in whichTurkish activists died aboard the Mavi Marmara, has been postponed three times. In each case the delay took place following the consent of  both Turkey and Israel, and as a result of their joint request to the UN secretary general.

Haaretz reported earlier this week that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had suggested to both Turkey and to the United Nations secretary general that the release date again be postponed past the scheduled September 2 release date, and that the idea was dismissed by the Turks.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told the Turkish daily Today Zaman on Thursday that Ankara “could not accept a six-month extension.”

“The release date of the UN report is the last date for us. We will put Plan B into play if no [Israeli] apology,” Davutoğlu told the Today’s Zaman, without elaborating on what that “Plan B” may be.

In another reference to the possible consequences that would occur in the eventuality that Israel continued to avoid a public apology for the raid, the Turkish FM said that Turkey intended to ” impose sanctions which both Israel and other international parties are aware of.”

Davutoğlu explained, according to the Today Zaman, that Turkey has determined a very clear and principled position and that it will also do what is necessary.

According to the top Turkish official, Israel and Turkey were in fact already on their way to resolve the issue that has stood between the long-time allies for over a year, saying that the two countries were well on their way to agreeing on an apology, when Israel reportedly “stepped back” at the last minute due to what the Zaman has called “intra-coalition squabbles while making a political decision.”

We patiently waited for Israel to decide. It seems Israel has some difficulty in making a decision. Turkey has already determined its position on this issue. We have already expressed that we cannot accept that,” Davutoğlu added.

The Turkish FM also said that Ankara would fulfill all that is required from it when the UN announces the report, adding that the flotilla raid report will not be a “jointly approved report” and that there might also be some elements that Turkey won’t agree to. “We will unveil our position regarding those [elements],” he added.

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IsraHell Wages Lawfare Against Gaza Flotilla

NOVANEWS

by 

I have already reported how “lawfare,” which was defined by Air Force Deputy Judge Advocate General Maj. Gen. Charles Dunlap following 9/11, is becoming the new hot button for defenders of Washington’s and Tel Aviv’s foreign policies. Using the law itself to subvert existing constitutional arrangements and, ironically, to undermine legal restraints has been around for quite a while, having been developed by Nazi jurist Carl Schmitt in the 1930s. In its contemporary American version, lawfare initially was used by progressives to threaten unindicted war criminals and to take the offensive against egregious violations of civil rights, such as at Guantanamo Bay prison. But it has now been adopted by governments and government-supported entities to tie up opponents using lawsuits and other forms of litigation.

Lawfare is bloodless warfare. When it is used by a government or an officially sponsored group, it has two aspects. First, it can be used to expand government prerogatives, making what was illegal legal and indemnifying those government employees who have broken the law. Second, it can serve as a tool to punish those who oppose government policies. Making the illegal legal is what John Yoo and Jay Bybee did in the George W. Bush White House when they issued legal judgments supporting torture. It is also what the Barack Obama administration has been doing in obtaining legal advice in expanding the FBI use of national security letters and in saying that the war against Libya is constitutional.

The Obama administration has also protected government employees through granting de facto immunity to torturers by refusing to allow the Justice Department to prosecute them. It has used lawfare extensively to defend itself against criticism and whistle-blowers by citing the state-secrets privilege to stop legal challenges, making government employees essentially free from any accountability.

The Israeli government and its American supporters have caught on to the potential of the legal weapon and are increasingly using lawsuits to tie up and punish opponents and critics. The New York State Supreme Court recently ruledthat a lawsuit filed by a group of 84 Israelis against the Bank of China can proceed in U.S. courts even though none of the plaintiffs are U.S. citizens and the alleged crime took place outside the United States. The plaintiffs, who claim to be victims of terrorist bombings and rocket attacks carried out by Islamic Jihad and Hamas in 2006 and 2007, are asserting that the Bank of China enabled the attacks by providing wire-transfer services to both groups. The plaintiffs’ lawyer argued successfully that anyone can sue in American courts against any organization that the State Department has labeled as “terrorist.”

The law was also exploited in an attempt to stop June’s Gaza flotilla. A lawsuit filed in federal court in New York City claimed that the sponsoring organization, the Free Gaza Movement, was raising money and preparing ships to be used in “hostilities” against American“ally” Israel. This would be a violation of the U.S. Neutrality Act. The suit was initiated immediately after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the State Department made clear that they were considering even harsher measures, such as charging flotilla participants with “material support of terrorism” under the PATRIOT Act.

The New York lawsuit was filed by a U.S. citizen with the assistance of the Shurat HaDin, or the Israel Law Center, which was established as a nongovernmental organization (NGO) to use the law against groups that are perceived as being hostile to Israel. It is headed by Nitsana Darshan-Leitner and her husband, Avi, who have described their organization as a means of “fighting back,” which is particularly appropriate for Israel because, they say, “the Jews invented law.”

The organization works closely with the Israeli government even though it describes itself as an NGO. It received marching orders to stop the Gaza flotilla at all costs, as well as an offer of full support, directly from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. With Netanyahu’s backing, the group asked United States Attorney General Eric Holder to take steps to stop the American participants.

The group also approached Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, who obligingly wrote a letter to Holder suggesting that the flotilla passengers might be prosecuted as Neutrality Act violators and terrorism supporters. Dershan-Leitner explains the passion behind Perry’s support: “I once spoke at a mission that Perry took part in, in Israel. And he approached me and said ‘I love what you do. It’s amazing what you do. If you ever need help combating Israel’s enemies, I’m here to assist.’”

Shurat HaDin harasses targeted groups with litigation so that they become ineffective or, even better, bankrupted by legal costs. Shurat HaDin was also behind the filing of a lawsuit in Greece claiming, incorrectly, that the flotilla ships were engaged in hostilities and also that they had not complied with Greek safety regulations.

The suits in New York and Athens were palpably of doubtful validity, but once the legal process started grinding, all that was needed was a friendly judge in either location to jeopardize the sailing. The Greek government, needing a friendly White House to avoid economic default, was happy to oblige. Responding to the Shurat HaDin lawsuit, the Greek minister of civil protection declared that Gaza was an “illegal” destination port for ships departing Greece. He then ordered a meticulous inspection of the vessels in the flotilla, grounding six or seven over contrived safety issues.

Shurat HaDin’s website claims that it is “fighting for the rights of hundreds of terrorist victims.” In its relentless assault on the Gaza flotilla, it also went after private companies that would provide goods and services to the vessels involved. Intimidation was the name of the game. It boasted, “We are continuing our legal battle against the Islamic terrorists and extremist NGOs organizing the naval flotilla to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Last week we targeted the international insurance companies … [and] today … Shurat HaDin sent warning letters to the UK- and U.S.-based global satellite company INMARSAT, stating that it may be liable for massive damages and criminal prosecution if it provides communication services to ships used by suspected terror organizations in the Gaza flotilla planned for late June.”

Israel’s lawfare center has now expanded its activities by initiating legal action against its own citizens and foreigners connected to any and all flotillas. In 2010, Shurat HaDin petitioned the courts to hold indefinitely all detainees captured during that year’s tragic flotilla, which was intercepted by Israeli commandos, who killed nine Turks on the grounds that they were terrorist supporters. The courts rejected the demand, so Shurat Ha Din tried again. This year, on June 29, it supported the filing in Israeli courts of a “private criminal prosecution” against 13 named passengers who sailed on the flotilla of 2010. The suit contends that the 13 supported terrorist activity by being part of the flotilla.

Curiously, the suit was filed not by Shurat HaDin but by two individuals who claim to be reserve soldiers and who contend that they and their colleagues would be placed at risk by flotillas and might be subject to unprovoked attack while going about their military duties. The intention is clearly to create a legal precedent that any and all flotillas and similar humanitarian efforts should be regarded as support of terrorism, which would permit the Israeli government to bring terrorism charges against all the individuals involved. It would also permit friendly governments like the United States to follow up with their own prosecutions.

To their credit, the Israeli courts appear to be disinclined to proceed with a criminal case against the 13, none of whom is currently in Israel, and there are certain anomalies in the presentation. The alleged terrorist entity that is being supported and is the target of the petition is clearly Hamas, but the group is never named. Also, the two plaintiffs, Lior Tsuker of Kibutz Alon and Or Yirmihau Lipman of Tel Aviv, cannot be positively identified by independent investigators. According to court documents, the two plaintiffs claim that they are acting on behalf of the active-duty soldiers who were involved in stopping the flotilla who cannot be named because doing so would invite retaliation in the form of their identities appearing on lists of war criminals maintained in various jurisdictions in Western Europe, an indication that lawfare can sometimes work in two directions.

Amid all the sound and fury, it is important to recall that none of the vessels involved in the 2010 flotilla incident ever reached either Israeli or Gazan territory. They were intercepted in international waters. At that point, the passengers and crews had done absolutely nothing, illegal or otherwise. When the boats were hauled into the port of Ashdod, no weapons were found on any vessel.

Defining the flotilla’s organizers as terrorism supporters is a cheap trick, but if it passes muster in Israel, all it takes is an American judge or prosecutor to buy into the argument and bring about an indictment of any American citizen who tries to break Israel’s Gaza blockade. Eric Holder would hardly object, and it is not unimaginable that the Justice Department would make criticism of Israel de facto and de jure a crime in the United States. Could the accused be convicted in an American court “of terrorism support”given that they had done nothing illegal, particularly in light of their First Amendment rights? Maybe not, but stranger things have happened in the past 10 years.

Since lawfare as practiced by Shurat HaDin is little more than an instrument to intimidate and threaten, dragging flotilla participants into court and forcing them to pay for lawyers will be seen as a victory. More disturbing than the actions of obvious Israeli partisans like Nitsana Darshan-Leitner is the willingness of the Obama administration to go along with the charade and the enthusiasm of Republican governor and presidential wannabe Rick Perry to join in. When the U.S. criminal justice system falls in line and plays the Israeli game, we will all be in trouble.

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Former VP Cheney–Iraq War Did Not Hurt U.S. Reputation

NOVANEWS 

Former vice president Dick Cheney appeared on the “Today” show Tuesday as part of the promotion for his new autobiographical book, In My Life: A Personal and Political Memoir. In his characteristically autocratic manner, he described to NBC’s Matt Lauer the world as he saw it when in office and how he viewed the world today. As with most things, the final adjudication, for the former vice president as well as most, comes down to a matter of perception. A case in point: Cheney’s statement on “Today” where he insisted that America’s reputation had not been hurt by the Iraq War.

“I don’t think that it damaged our reputation around the world,” Cheney told Lauer. “I just don’t believe that. I think the critics at home want to argue that. In fact, I think it was sound policy that dealt with a very serious problem and eliminated Saddam Hussein from the kind of problem he presented before.”

The problem with statements like the aforementioned is the presumption that Cheney might have been discussing America’s reputation of good standing in the international community. Those who agree with Cheney did not and do not see the problems that ensued from the invasion of Iraq (the insurrection, the debacle that was the provisional government, the expansion of the number of terrorists and of terrorist groups, etc.).

They see only the end results of a limited goal structure, where Iraq now hosts a democratic government and maintains a measure of stability, where “good standing” is only relative to power and positioning. Those who disagree believe that Cheney’s arrogance and might-makes-right mentality blinds him to world perceptions.

But Cheney most likely was not talking about American diplomatic or international good standing. The American reputation for being the strongest nation — economically and militarily — on the planet and having the ability to force other nations to do its will was most likely the meaning behind Cheney’s words. And in that regard, Cheney would be correct. America’s reputation for clumsy military interventions, global bullying, and imperialism remained intact.

Cheney’s line of thinking — at least as far as foreign policy and the war in Iraq is concerned — can be described best as a 20th century edition of manifest destiny. It is embodied in the “Statement of Principles” of the Project for a New American Century, of which Cheney was a major signatory.

Among the goals of Washington organization, which pushed the idea that “American leadership is both good for America and good for the world,” was regime change in Iraq. Headed by political analyst and editor of The Weekly Standard Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan, the neoconservative group spearheaded a defense-oriented and militarily aggressive agenda.

Along with Cheney, its major signatories included Jeb Bush, President George W. Bush’s brother; Donald Rumsfeld, who became Bush’s Secretary of Defense; and Paul Wolfowicz, who became Bush’s Deputy Secretary of Defense. The organization, which took shape in response to President George H.W. Bush and President Bill Clinton’s foreign policies, would place over a dozen members in key positions in the Bush administration. Their advocacy for a war with Iraq would see fruition in March 2003 on the flimsiest of evidence.

And thus would begin the degeneration of America’s reputation — but only in some respects.

But Cheney’s America-centric worldview aside, what about his perceptions of how others regard the United States? Surely he is aware of the major series of studies undertaken by the Pew Research Center to assess what the international community thinks of Americans and American policies?

Andrew Kohut and his organization published its findings in the 2006 book, America Against The World: How We Are Different and Why We Are Disliked. They found that an overwhelming majority of nations not only disliked Americans as a people and found the nation warlike, imperialistic, and contemptuous of other nations.

The views persist. In a lecture given at the University of Delaware in March, Kohut noted that after 240,000 interviews in 57 countries regarding studies that covered polling on economic issues, public well-being, and social values, the Center had become known ” chronicling the rise of anti-Americanism during the Bush years.”

Kohut stated that the war on terrorism was seen by many nations, but most strongly in Arab and Muslim countries, as the U. S. picking on Muslim countries. “Iraq,” he said, “drove this home to many Muslim countries around the world.”

It is undoubtedly a mistake to think that former Vice President Cheney does not see or understand that these perceptions exist. Not to presume to know the mind of the former vice president, but it is far more likely that the forceful former politician simply dismisses those oppositional perceptions as irrelevant.

To repeat: it might be a mistake to think that Cheney — in his comments on the “Today” show — was talking about the views of others or the good standing — including diplomatic good standing — of the United States. Again, it is far more likely that he was talking about the reputation of the United States as a strong military and political entity on the world stage, respected and feared for its strength and its abilities, military and economic positions, and overall intent within the convoluted workings of the world community. And in that regard the former vice president would be right. The invasion and occupation of Iraq has not damaged America’s reputation at all.

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THE END OF INNOCENCE REVISITED

NOVANEWS

 GILAD ATZMON

Introduction: The following piece is a commentary I wrote and circulated amongst friends on the 15th  of  September  2001, just four days after 9/11.   At the time I didn’t regard myself as a writer. I was a jazz musician preparing for the publication of my debut  novel.

During that time I didn’t know a single editor, journal or media outlet. My commentary was circulated on the net via emails.  Eventually, nine months later, it was published by Counterpunch.  This commentary was, in fact, my first attempt to comment on world affairs, ethics and politics.

I am slightly embarrassed about some of my early formulations. I want to believe that I am a better writer now.  I am certainly more succinct and yet, I somehow managed to predict, already then, in September 2001,  that the fate of the west was doomed and the collapse of  Anglo-American strategy was inevitable. This paper is ten years old but its message may even be more devastating today.

The End of Innocence by Gilad Atzmon

15th September 2001

http://www.counterpunch.org/2002/08/03/the-end-of-innocence/

In the light of the tragedy and the devastating images from New York City, in the shadow of embarrassingly stupid remarks made by the major western ‘free world’ leaders and in the light of the call for a western jihad against a faceless enemy, I feel obliged to expose the lie that stands in the center of the current liberal democratic militant enthusiasm.

Being born in Israel in the early sixties, I was raised to believe that I lived in the ‘only democracy in the middle-east’. While being a soldier in the army I realized that I grew up among a people who deny the most basic human rights to millions of Palestinians. As soon as I was able to interpret my surrounding reality I had to acknowledge the terrible fact that this oppressive Israeli policy is being supported by America and the ‘free world’. Having managed to stop regarding myself as an innocent victim and detached myself from any Zionist beliefs, I have became very suspicious of manipulative right wing brain-washing and nationalist propaganda.

Since September 11th, we have been asked by every American official to join the struggle to maintain our ‘free world’. Ever keen to join righteous struggles for justice, I had to ask myself few questions first: Where is this free world that I am suppose to protect? Is it in the Gaza strip a land heavily populated by Palestinian refugees that has been turned into a concentration camp with the active support of the American government?

Is the ‘free world’ to be found in the streets of Baghdad, where millions of civilians are deprived of medical supplies and food because of something that looks more and more like a personal debate between one person with a moustache and another person who hasn’t started shaving yet? Is there any room in the ‘free world’ for hundreds of millions of Muslim Arabs who watch the American administration supporting the continuous humiliation of their brothers in the Holy Land? Does the ‘free world’ which I am called to protect include all those dark corrupted Arab regimes heavily supported by the American government only because they happen to have huge oil resources?

If there is such a call to protect this kind of ‘free world’ I think that they will have to fight without me. I am not going to be there among the front line soldiers. As a matter of fact, in an attempt to make this world a better place, I will try to expose this phony and manipulative demand for a ‘free world crusade’. I want to believe that the common usage of the words ‘free’ and ‘world’ together is just a clumsy slip of the tongue. At the end of the day, the American leaders must know better than anyone else that the world is not free mostly because of their own discriminatory policy that opposes anything that fails to match western interests.

Since the horrifying collapse of the twin towers we are urged by the American president to protect our western democracy. So, there is an urgent need to scrutinize this call, a call may well lead to a new world war. What is democracy supposed to be? Originally, democracy was created to express the people’s will. Democracy claims to be the manifestation of the true spirit of the people. If democracy manifests people’s will and spirit, then within a democratic society people must share a certain kind of responsibility for their government.

Unlike in dictatorial regimes –in which the sovereign power is taking a personal responsibility for the whole state policy –in democracies responsibility is somehow shared between the elected government and the electing civilians. The civilians are sharing a direct responsibility with their elected government. When the American people vote for an intellectually immature politician to be their president, they must take a direct responsibility for the danger of a world war provoked by his infantile character.

Similarly, the Israeli people can be blamed and should be blamed for all the ongoing crimes committed by their government. The Israelis have been voting every few years in favour of the continuous oppression and humiliation of the Palestinian people. It is crystal clear that the Israeli people have a direct responsibility for the miserable condition of their Palestinian neighbors. They are directly involved with the whole range of crimes against humanity that go with occupation. In a dictatorial regime the situation is very different.

While the Israeli and American people enjoy the possibility of changing their fate, the German people under Hitler (for example) did not have any civil vehicle to oppose the criminal gang that turned their state into an industrial criminal organization. Unlike dictatorships in which citizens are emptied from their legal right to oppose the ruling power, in democracies civil opposition is a must. In a democratic society, every citizen is obliged to protect the whole community from committing crimes against humanity.

Being a citizen within a democratic environment becomes a heavy moral burden. In other words, it becomes a moral commitment. Unless the members of a democratic community take an active role in opposing the wrong political decisions made by their government, they lose their innocence. Every single member in the democratic community becomes responsible for the whole society. Unfortunately, in those democratic societies which conduct military, imperial and capitalistic affairs overseas, the civilians become instantly responsible for all those who live on those foreign lands. Following that line of thinking, the Israelis who regard themselves mistakenly as a democratic people, should be made responsible for every possible aspect of Palestinian life.

For instance, the Israelis need a good excuse to justify the denial of Palestinian civil and human rights, or, at least, should explain the exclusion of the Palestinians from the democratic game. The Americans should justify their support of evil and corrupted regimes all around the world. Since there is no sign of any apologetic behaviour either on the Israeli or on the American front, we can conclude that Israeli and American societies are far from being innocent. When an act of terror takes place against Israeli and American people, the victims cannot present themselves as innocent. At most they can hide under the light shadow of naivety.

We are moving towards a new phase of political life in which ‘free people’, the citizens of the free world, are emptied of their innocence. People are drained of innocence unless they decide to fight for it, unless they start to oppose their government’s wrong policies.

Living in an era of growing terror activity and facing the unique phenomena of suicidal attacks should raise many questions among the attacked. I remember being myself under the terror of suicidal attack whilst an Israeli soldier in the early days of the Lebanon war. I can recall asking again and again what brings people to sacrifice their life over an international conflict. In our western society, soldiers have to fight from time to time but they always wish themselves to come home alive. According to our western understanding, young people go to fight in order to guarantee a better future for their own community.

In general it can be said that western people go to fight because they try to improve their conditional state of being in this actual world. Western people fight because they want to live. They want more from life than life can give. Yet, it is still hard to understand what motivates thousands of American soldiers to jump into the blue cold water of Normandy and to turn it into red. The will to live doesn’t explain why Americans rushed to die in Vietnam (or indeed in Afghanistan), but we must believe that it has something to do with the acceptance of the call to save the ‘open society’ from ‘its enemies’. A vague promise that guarantees better life but always turns out to be fairly self-destructive.

In as much as we can try to empathize with the poor soldier that swims or marches towards his death, the suicide bomber is far more difficult for us to deal with. On the surface, it is very hard to see how the collapse of the twin towers and the evil murder of thousands of civilians can improve the condition of any one anywhere. How can the death of thousands of people make our world any better? Since we cannot really provide any rational answer that is consistent with our western methodological approach, we are left with some very fundamental questions: How is it that someone is willing to give his life just to kill me? What have I done so wrong that turns someone into a mass murderer? How can I manage to turn some remote culture into cold horrific inhumane criminals? Did we do something wrong?

Are we still doing something wrong? Are we stopping our governments from supporting the continuous Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people? Did we oppose our governments’ sanctions against the Iraqi civilian population? Did we ask our government to ban Israel from developing nuclear and mass destructive weapons? Why do we ban the Arab states from having weapons of mass destruction while we keep plenty of them in our bunkers? Because the answer to all these questions is probably going to expose a great deal of ignorance toward people living in miserable conditions, I allow myself to claim that we do not really care about anyone but ourselves. Hence, we cannot see ourselves as ‘innocent victims’ anymore. At most, when being hit, we are just victims.

Since we do not show any care for anyone except ourselves, we have managed to lock ourselves within a western self-centred phony sense of ‘freedom’. ‘Freedom’ that very soon, is going to turn itself against us.

Because of the very basic character of suicidal terror activity, the terrorist, as long as he succeeds, is always the first to die. He is the first to be punished and he is delighted about it. By punishing himself, the suicidal fighter manages to demolish our common western sense of justice. He cannot be brought to trial. He cannot be confronted with his own wrongdoing. Since he is the first to die, among his victims, he is probably the first to meet God. Within his own philosophical and cultural presuppositions, the ‘shaid’ guarantees himself a luxurious state in heaven. While on earth the ‘free world’ granted him misery and humiliation, confronting God, he is listed among the greatest martyrs.

The terrorist, from his point of view, is not concerned with our human sense of morality and justice. He prefers the heavenly supreme court of justice. As we all know, God allows himself to demolish the whole world in order to purify it from its sins. Following that line of heavenly supreme justice, the suicidal terrorists are conducting a Biblical war against us. They are fighting a religious war in the name of Allah. They attack the core of our new religion, the religion of money and wealth. If we accept that money and life-style have become the spiritual mediator of new man, by hitting the world trade center, the terrorist has managed to destroy the ‘free world’ temple, the ‘Mecca of wealth’.

Although nobody has yet managed to win the war against terrorism, it looks as if the Americans are trying to pull us all into a pointless crusade against the most extreme form of terrorism, the suicidal one. Except for the fact that conflict with suicidal terrorism can lead to an enormous catastrophe, we are made blind to the fact that categorically, suicidal terror is unbeatable. Western man can never win against this enemy. In our culture ‘life’ is regarded as the highest human value.

In our culture, the death penalty is regarded as the worst possible punishment. It is a trivial and obvious truth that a culture that regards life as the most sacred value can never win in a conflict with a culture that regards death as a supreme spiritual souvenir. When it comes to a conflict with all those millions of Muslim people that are living in extreme poverty, there is very little that we can take from them except their life.

Since it seems as if they are completely blazé about giving their life away, the West is conditionally deprived of victory. We can never win in the battle against the real Other. The Other that is conditionally different from us. When you cannot win a battle you had better call off the war and start to listen to your enemy. If we really insist on considering ourselves as free agents in a ‘free world’, we must learn in detail the fury of all those remote Islamic cultures. We must confront our wrongdoings, we must look in the mirror.

We must understand that the victory in the ‘battle against terror’ leads us to a logical conflict. By winning the battle we are losing our freedom altogether. The suicidal terrorist takes his conviction and determination to die from a mighty spiritual force. While it is clear that the spiritual call to hand over your soul to God can bring some people to conduct some terrifying crimes, that very spiritual lesson is completely legitimate within our western cultural boundaries. The call for a physical sacrifice is reflected in all religions to a certain extent.

In that case, in order to protect ourselves from the suicidal terror, our only way to fight back is to clear our streets of certain spiritual leaders. Unfortunately by doing so we cease to be a ‘free world’. By the restriction of the freedom of speech we empty ourselves of the most fundamental essence of liberty. Thus, a victory in the war to maintain our ‘free world’ will be the end of our freedom. We will turn into an oppressive culture. In that case I would prefer, again, to call off the war all together.

Our only way to become free in this world is to start to listen while knowing that we might not understand. To accept the differences, to welcome the existence of different ideas and remote world-views. We must learn to regard the act of terror as an act of despair, as a call for help. If we are as strong as we think we are, we can move on and help this world to be a bit better. We must open ourselves to the Arab world and to understand Islamic fundamentalism. We must learn to accept lack of a dialogue as a legitimate form of co-existence.

We must move towards better sharing procedures of the world’s wealth. We have to remember that this war is not ours unless we really insist on making it ours. This war belongs solely to the Americans and their Zionist counterparts. We must remember that Europe can have a different role. The European can engage by providing the American people with the terrible truth of their wrong international policy regarding the Middle East and the Islamic world.

If this message gets through we might save this planet from a unique form of political incompetence represented by the new American administration. If this message does not get through, we are going to face a very different world in a very short time. If we don’t listen, if we just decide to use our mighty forces against hungry civilians, we are probably going to turn central London into a pile of rubble.

In honouring the memories of the victims buried under what is left of the world trade center, we must try to consider a peaceful approach, lead our world into the next phase of multi-culturalism, to the land of compassion and forgiveness.

 

You can now pre-order Gilad’s new book- The Wandering Who?  on Amazon.com  or Amazon.co.uk

Posted in USAComments Off on THE END OF INNOCENCE REVISITED

Open the Rafah Crossing Permanently and Unconditionally

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A deadly siege on 1.6 million people living in Gaza has been imposed by the Zionist racist regime since 2006.  It was partially and momentarily lifted when the revolutionary Egyptian movement ousted Zionist puppet  Hosni Mu-Barak and made clear that emancipation and the freedom of Palestine were joint and connected goals.Yet today, and daily, approximately 35,000 people wait to cross the border.

Meanwhile, Zionist air strikes in the past several weeks on ‘the largest Nazi open air prison on earth’ killed at least 18 people, including 2 children, and injured at least 80 more. The denial of freedom of movement for Palestinian people is also an offense to the immense ongoing struggles of the Egyptian people in pursuit of human rights and dignity.Join the growing calls from Egypt for:

recalling the Egyptian ambassador from Tel Aviv, expelling the Zionist ambassador from Egypt, opening the Rafah Crossing unconditionally, halting all moves for normalization with Zio-Nazi regime and halting trade of natural gas.

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CALL TO ACTIONjoin in international actions in solidarity with Gaza and in support of the on-going Egyptian people’s movement:

Request that the Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces honor the human dignity and freedom of its own people and the people of Gaza, and OPEN THE RAFAH CROSSING PERMANENTLY AND UNCONDITIONALLY.

Take action1.  Organize a delegation to deliver the petition to your Egyptian embassy, consulate or representative office on a Friday. Currently delegations are being organized in NYC, DC, SF, Marseille, Paris and Chicago.

2.   Contact Egyptian embassy:

Egypt Embassy

26 South Street

London, W1

Tel: 020-7499-3304

Or:

British Embassy

7 Ahmed Ragheb Street

Cairo

Egypt

Tel: 00- 2-7940852

Tel: 00-2-79408503.  

Sign and circulate the petition.

4.   “Like” and “Share” the Facebook page with your friends and organizations.

Send an email about your activities to: rafahcrossingcampaign@gmail.com

Post your activities on the campaign Facebook page.

For more information, contact us at: 
rafahcrossingcampaign@gmail.com

Posted in GazaComments Off on Open the Rafah Crossing Permanently and Unconditionally

Palestinian rights absent from IsraHell protest demands

Lia Tarachansky

 

By Lia Tarachansky, The Real News Network

http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?

option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=7238

Last week an unofficial group of protesters released an 11 page document to the media with a list of demands. The press conference was held after five weeks of social protests in Israel as part of a movement that started on July 14. While the document listed the end of privatization policies as well as housing, education, health care, and taxation reforms, it did not include previously discussed points about the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel that make up a fifth of the population.

The Real News’ Lia Tarachansky teamed up with Ha’aretz journalist David Sheen during last Saturday’s protests to talk to demonstrators about why in the fight for social justice they are avoiding speaking about equal rights to all citizens of Israel, let alone the occupation of the Palestinian territories. Tarachansky also interviewed +972 Magazine’s Joseph Dana and Muhammad Jabali, an activist who, part of the J14 movement, set up protest tents in the mixed Israeli-Palestinian city of Yafa.

 

Posted in Palestine AffairsComments Off on Palestinian rights absent from IsraHell protest demands

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