Archive | October 17th, 2014

Did I$raHell develop the doctrine behind Iraq invasion?


“Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof — the smoking gun — that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud,” US President George W. Bush said in 2002 as he set the stage for an invasion ofIraq.

The premise he invoked was that if a country believes it faces an imminent threat, a preemptive attack against that threat is tantamount to an act of self-defense.

An earlier use of this “anticipatory self-defense” doctrine occurred when Israel tried to justify its 1967 War against EgyptSyria and Jordan. Many people still believe Israel’s claim to self-defense was justified when actually it was just as fraudulent as the Bush administration’s “evidence” that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.

In The Six-Day War and Israeli Self-Defense (Cambridge University Press, 2013), John Quigley, professor of international law at Ohio State University, examines what actually happened in 1967 and how the misrepresentation of events resulted in giving credence to the doctrine of pre-emptive war. Quigley’s re-examination follows the release of documents declassified in recent years by the governments of FranceRussiaBritainand the United States, all of which were involved in monitoring the simmering conflict between Syria, Egypt and Israel.

Facts ignored

Quigley notes that many international law specialists have simply ignored the evidence showing that Israel’s claim of self-defense has been thoroughly undermined by those declassified documents. Israel’s decision to invade the Sinai Peninsula came not because it felt threatened but because it saw an opportunity to destroy the Egyptian army.

Ignoring these facts is not merely academic, Quigley argues. Because Israel’s invasion of Egypt has never been labeled an act of aggression, the United Nations Charter has been undermined.

Article 51 of that charter allows a country to seek UN approval for military action only in the event of an actual attack. The legacy of the 1967 War was not only an expanded Zionist colonization of Palestine but also an international legal framework, in which wars of aggression can be disguised as wars of self-defense.

Moreover, Israel’s insistence on its “right of self-defense” in 1967, Quigley shows, has enabled it to maintain a position of strength in so-called peace negotiations with the Palestinians. During the talks leading to the 1993 Oslo accords, Israel ensured that any discussion of how it came to occupy the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), Gazaand the Golan Heights was off-limits.

Quigley argues that this was to guarantee that only bilateral negotiations, in which the Palestinians were the weaker party, would occur.

Ehud Barak, then Israel’s prime minister, alluded to the importance of this strategy following the failed 2000 Camp David talks when he remarked, “In 1967, although we were the ones to fire the first shot, the world saw us as trying to free ourselves of strangulation by our neighbors … and our war enjoyed broad legitimacy.”

Quigley discusses in great detail how it came about that Israel fired the first shot, initially lied about it by claiming the opposite, and then cultivated a narrative of anticipatory self-defense as post facto justification.

“We decided to attack”

What’s remarkable is how candidly various Israeli officials came to acknowledge Israel’s responsibility for starting the war.

For example, in arguing for an Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, on the grounds that an attack on Israel might come from there, Menachem Begin, then Israel’s prime minister, admitted, “In June 1967, we again had a choice. The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that [Egyptian president Gamal Abdel] Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.”

Similarly, Michael Bar-Zohar, press spokesperson for the Israeli defense ministry in 1967, later conceded that “Egypt was not preparing to make war.”

The picture that emerges from statements by Israeli military leaders Yitzhak RabinAriel Sharon, Matti Peled and others is that Nasser had recklessly left the Egyptian army exposed, presenting Israel with the opportunity to destroy it, an opportunity that Israel’s general staff eagerly sought to exploit. In Rabin’s opinion, Nasser’s threat to close the Strait of Tiran to Israeli-flag vessels furthermore signaled that Israel’s military deterrence was weak, and Rabin wanted to re-establish it.

Green light from America?

Nevertheless, the United States and other Western governments warned Israel not to attack first. What was needed, said a member of the Israeli cabinet that approved the Israeli invasion, was an “alibi.”

Cabinet minister Yigal Allon suggested simply making up a story that Egypt had just attacked, and Defense Minister Moshe Dayan concurred, saying “For the first 24 hours, we have to be the victims.” The alibi turned out to be a claim that Egyptian artillery shelled several Israeli border towns and that Israel detected the movement of the Egyptian army and warplanes toward Israel.

None of it was true.

Quigley also discusses recently declassified US documents showing that the Central Intelligence Agency and the military had advised the administration of President Lyndon Johnson that Egyptian forces in the Sinai were in a defensive position and were not marshaling forces for an invasion of Israel.

At the same time, he highlights the duplicity of the US government in recounting how Meir Amit, then the head of the Israeli spy agency Mossad, received assurances from Defense Secretary Robert McNamara that the United States would not be greatly upset if Israel succeeded in destroying the Egyptian army.

That was the “green light” Israel sought before attacking.

The story Quigley tells unmasks decades of Israeli propaganda. Given that Israel has initiated every one of the wars it has engaged in, with the exception of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, it is apparent that the people of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria are the ones who live in a “tough neighborhood” dominated by a hegemonic, US-backed colonizer.

Rod Such is a former editor for World Book and Encarta encyclopedias. He is active with Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights, Jewish Voice for Peace-Portland Chapter and the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign.

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“I draw for Gaza”: the defiant art of Haneen Nofal



Artwork by Haneen Nofal

Haneen Ibrahim Nofal posted a striking image on the Internet while Israel was bombing her native Gaza in July. The drawing depicted a young woman wearing a kufiyyeh — the Palestinian checkered scarf — on her head and smiling proudly while touching a crown.

The crown was in the shape of the Arabic word for “resistance,”muqawama.

The timing was potent and, despite the horrors then befalling Gaza, offered some hope. The drawing had the air of challenge and resilience. It also recalled the Arabic phrase, in which you can describe someone as “the crown of my head” — meaning that you honor and respect them. Nofah, 23, used that phrase in accompanying messages.

I learned about Nofal when one of my friends who belongs to the same English literature class as her in the Islamic University of Gaza told me about her artwork. “She’s brilliant,” my friend said eagerly.

I looked at Nofal’s Facebook page and I was immediately fascinated by how much her drawings spoke to me. I liked every character and every story she drew.


Haneen Nofal’s illustration depicts the bloodbath in Gaza.

During the latest Israeli offensive against Gaza, her drawings also spoke to what was going on in my mind and probably the minds of everyone in Gaza. Although mainly female, her characters embraced the resistance at times with proud, defiant postures, and at other times with bent, tired and injured bodies.

That pride, defiance, exhaustion and injury were everything others and I felt during Israel’s onslaught, in addition to the prevalent anxiety and fear.

I recently had a Skype conversation with Nofal about her work.

Rawan Yaghi: When did you start drawing?

Haneen Nofal: Since I was in kindergarten. My mother used to make me busy with drawing while she did the housework.

RY: Is drawing a hobby for you, or do you consider it as a profession?

HN: It started as a hobby then I developed it into a profession. I started to make a living from it in 2011, but not in my field. [I draw] in the animation field.

RY: Is there something in particular that compels you to draw?

HN: Yeah, I usually express myself more with drawing and painting, et cetera. I think I move to another world beside this world. When I’m sad, when I’m happy, I usually express myself by drawing. And not only emotionally, but also mentally, if I have an idea or something like that, or about the society. I express my life with drawing. For me, it’s more than just a hobby.


Most of Haneen Nofal’s drawings depict female characters, like this one done before the Gaza war.

RY: You’ve just mentioned society, and I’ve noticed in many of your drawings the use of female characters. Is there a particular significance to using female characters in your work?

HN: Well, it’s obvious. Because I’m a female, a woman, I should express myself and girls like me. So I do it using female characters.


RY: Are there other things in the environment or your surroundings that drawing helps you relate to or express?

HN: Lately, the war, the last war on Gaza affected my drawings very much. For a while, I couldn’t draw anything. I was afraid. I was afraid to think, even. I was so busy with my fear to think properly or draw. I needed something to express my fear with but not that direct thing. I had to create a character, called it Jafra. You saw her with the tiger.

This happened in the last days of the war — not at the beginning. I found a way to express my fear and get rid of it by drawing this girl. She depends on a tiger. She expresses herself to him, the tiger. But I didn’t continue the project because I was busy with exams. It was a way to express myself, to criticize the war.

Sometimes I created some drawings about Palestinian children who were attacked by the Israeli forces in the last war, especially the ones who were [killed] by the sea, the Bakr children … Sometimes I find that my drawings are very weak in front of the idea I’m trying to present.


Haneen Nofal created the Jafra character during the last days of Israel’s summer assault.

RY: You say you think your drawings are weak compared to the idea you’re trying to express. In one of your Facebook posts during the attacks, you mentioned or you expressed a state of mind that didn’t allow you to either write or draw. How can you describe that state and how did you manage to eventually break through it?

HN: I usually draw at night, but night turned into a beast in Gaza during war, because the attacks intensified during that time. And I couldn’t find myself, even at night, the time during which I love to draw. We were busy running in the house. We moved from our house to another house because it was threatened and I took with me a few papers and I drew some drawings but I couldn’t publish them because I had no electricity.

Even when I drew something, I couldn’t show it to others. I felt helpless. I couldn’t express myself properly. I couldn’t find the lines that express my fear. The fear was bigger than my ability to express it.

They were difficult days. I wasn’t just afraid. It was a mixture of feelings, fear and grief and sorrow for the situation. I lost hope in achieving the dream that I used to live for. I live for my drawings. I live for a dream to become a professional artist but during that time I lost hope in this dream.

I thought I was going to die before becoming the person I want to be. It was hopeless.

RY: Do you generally see Gaza as a place that allows you to grow artistically?

HN: I have never left Gaza. I love Gaza. It’s my inspiration, my cause. And my drawings will be for my cause, for Gaza, for Palestine. I draw for Gaza. I don’t think that my artistic skills could exist without Gaza.



A drawing by Haneen Nofal from September.

RY: Can you tell us about your aesthetic influences?

HN: I love poetry. My last drawings were inspired by poems written about the last attacks on Gaza. I haven’t published them yet. When I read poetry I get very inspired. Sometimes some stories affect my drawing. My style comes spontaneously. I start drawing and the style develops with the style.

The idea influences the way I draw. The idea mostly comes from poetry. Sometimes I have an idea from society and I can’t express that thought except through drawing and that’s how the sketch comes.

RY: Can you tell us a bit about the mix of animated characters and traditional Palestinian symbolism?

HN: I usually don’t do it. I like it to be abstract. But I also use symbols. I want the viewer to find his or her own personal thought in the drawing. That character Jafra was a beautiful Palestinian girl who used to help the resistance. She was a heroine. She had the Palestinian beauty. It was an inspiration for me.

When I draw a character I try to give it the Palestinian identity … Even if it’s not a political drawing, the identity of it has to be preserved. I hope we will have funds for projects that carry the Palestinian identity.

For example, when we get funds from abroad to make an animation project about Palestine, we are forced to remove things related to resistance so the sponsors would be happy about it. That’s wrong. I like animation and drawing because I feel it allows me to send a message about the lack of support to the resistance in this area.

Animation is widespread and accessible to everyone. Everyone likes it and everyone gets it. The sad part is when sponsors don’t want you to show a wholly Palestinian identity.

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Rumors Swirling About I$raHell Shocking ‘Endgame’ Plan for Palestinians in Gaza


Map of Gaza Strip




With a surprise role by Egypt

What is Israel’s endgame in Gaza? It is a question that has been puzzling analysts and observers for some time. But indications of the future Israel and Washington may have in mind for Gaza are emerging.

Desperately overcrowded, short on basic resources like fresh water, blockaded for eight years by Israel, with its infrastructure intermittently destroyed by Israeli bombing campaigns, Gaza looks like a giant pressure cooker waiting to explode.

It is difficult to imagine that sooner or later Israel will not face a massive upheaval on its doorstep. So how does Israel propose to avert a scenario in which it must either savagely repress a mass uprising by Palestinians in Gaza or sit by and watch them tear down their prison walls?

Reports in the Arab and Israeli media – in part corroborated by the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas – suggest that Egypt may be at the heart of plans to solve the problem on Israel’s behalf.

This month the Israeli media reported claims, apparently leaked by Israeli officials, that Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, had offered the Palestinian leadership the chance to annex to Gaza an area of 1,600 sq km in Sinai. The donated territory would expand Gaza fivefold.

The scheme is said to have received the blessing of the United States.

‘Greater Gaza’ plan

According to the reports, the territory in Sinai would become a demilitarised Palestinian state – dubbed “Greater Gaza” – to which returning Palestinian refugees would be assigned. The Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas would have autonomous rule over the cities in the West Bank, comprising about a fifth of that territory. In return, Abbas would have to give up the right to a state in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The plan, which would most likely result in significant numbers of Palestinians moving outside the borders of historic Palestine, was quickly dismissed as “fabricated and baseless” by Egyptian and Palestinian officials.

Tayeb Abdel Rahim, a spokesman for Abbas, accused Israel of using the proposal to “destroy the Palestinian cause”, referring to Abbas’ efforts at the United Nations to win recognition of Palestinian statehood on parts of historic Palestine.

But Abdel Rahim’s denial raised more questions than it answered. While rejecting suggestions that Sisi had made such an offer, he made a surprising claim: a similar plan, to resettle Palestinian refugees in Sinai, had been advanced briefly by Sisi’s predecessor, Mohamed Morsi.

Morsi, who served as president for a year from summer 2012 until his ousting by Sisi in a military coup, headed a Muslim Brotherhood administration that tried to strengthen ties to the Hamas leadership in Gaza.

He said the plan was based on a proposal made by Giora Eiland, Israel’s national security adviser from 2004 to 2006. Abdel Rahim appeared to be referring to a plan unveiled by Eiland in 2004 that Israel hoped would be implemented after the withdrawal of settlers and soldiers from Gaza – the so-called disengagement – a year later.

Under Eiland’s terms, Egypt would agree to expand Gaza into the Sinai in return for Israel giving Egypt land in the Negev.

Zionist strategies

The idea of creating a Palestinian state outside historic Palestine – in either Jordan or Sinai – has a long pedigree in Zionist thinking. “Jordan is Palestine” has been a rallying cry on the Israeli right for decades. There have been parallel suggestions for Sinai.

In recent times, the Sinai option has found favour with the Israeli right, especially following the outbreak of the second intifada 14 years ago. Support appears to have intensified after the disengagement in 2005 and Hamas’ victory in the Palestinian national elections a year later.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, GazaComments Off on Rumors Swirling About I$raHell Shocking ‘Endgame’ Plan for Palestinians in Gaza

Shoving Freedom Down Our Throats

Guantanamo Force-Feeding

Here’s one story: September 11, 2001, terrorists from al-Qaeda who hated the American way of life hijacked four passenger airlines and drove them into buildings in a coordinated attack against America and all it stands for. In response, America launches a war against these terrorists as a way to protect our homeland.

Here is another story, less often told: Following decades of US terror campaigns in the Middle East – campaigns that led to the decaying of infrastructure, health care, education, and the economy in multiple countries abroad – terrorists groups, many who had been armed and trained by the United States CIA, turned against the US. On September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda, led by Osama bin Laden (who had been trained by the CIA to fight the Soviets) carried out a coordinated attack against the United States. Since that time, the United States has doubled its efforts to intervene in the Middle East, reigning terror on Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and now Syria, as well as in parts of Africa – Libya, Somalia, and Djibouti, for starters.

Here’s a parallel story, given even less attention (credit to Reprieve UK): Abu Wa’el Dhiab was born in Lebanon but lived in Syria with his family from an early age. In 2000, he got married, started a family, and began running a successful business in Afghanistan. After the September 11th attacks, Mr. Dhiab and his family were forced to flee Kabul, as the city was no longer safe for them. Just months after fleeing, he was arrested by Pakistani police. While he was charged with no crime, he was turned over to the United States (likely for a large bounty). From there, he was flown to Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan in June of 2002 and shortly thereafter to Guantanamo Bay. To this day – having been charged with no crime, having had no trial – Mr. Dhiab remains in Guantanamo Prison. Detained Indefinitely. Tortured. Deprived of his family for over a decade. Unable to provide for his wife and children. Unable to watch his children grow up. Unable to hold his wife. Unable to be heard. What’s more, Mr. Dhiab has been cleared for release since 2009 – five years ago.

I’ll let that sink in for a moment as you imagine what your life would be like if you’d missed out on the last 12 years – the monotony of solitary confinement broken up only by interrogations and torture.

Now imagine that you can’t even protest your 12 year detention. Mr. Dhiab has taken part in hunger strikes at Guantanamo for seven years of his detention, part of the mass hunger strikes that have rippled through the prison since 2005. During the peak of the strikes in 2013, an estimated 166 detainees were on hunger strike. In response, the US military began force-feeding the strikers. Now, Mr. Dhiab is challenging the force feedings, calling it a method of punishment, not a medical procedure as the government claims. This is the parallel story that is the horrific and terrible truth for over 140 detainees currently being held at Guantanamo, not to mention the countless other victims of US imperialism being held in black site secret prisons around the globe.

The International Red Cross, the World Medical Association, and the United Nations all recognize the right of prisoners to engage in a hunger strike as a means of protest. Force-feeding has been labeled as cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment and violates international law. The World Medical Association has stated that it is unethical for a doctor to participate in the force-feeding of a prisoner. And yet – the United States government continues to force-feed these men with impunity. What’s more, the methods used are brutal:

Shackled into a special chair (dubbed by prisoners as the “torture chair”) and tightly restrained, with a mask placed over the mouth, the feeding tube – measuring 3.3/4mm external diameter is pushed painfully down the nose and into the victim’s stomach. Once ready, the feeding can last for 30 minutes to up to two hours as large quantities of nutritional supplement are injected rapidly into the body, causing pain in the abdomen, nausea, and vomiting. Some of the men were even fed constipation drugs, causing them to shit themselves during the force-feeding. One prisoner, Imad Abdullah Hassan, a Yemeni who has also been cleared for transfer yet remains at Guantanamo (now for over 12 years), described this:

“People with hemorrhoids would leave blood on the chair and the linens would not always be changed before the next feeding.”

Afterward, the tube is quickly ripped out, often causing trauma to the nasal passages, and the prisoner is watched for at least 45 minutes, to ensure that they do not vomit or try to induce vomiting. If they do, the procedure is done again. The prisoners are also given Reglan, most likely without the prisoner’s consent. Reglan is an anti-nausea drug, which if administered for long periods of time, is known to cause an irreversible neurological disorder called tardive dyskinesia, which causes twitching and uncontrollable movements. Some prisoners have been force-fed thousands of times over a period of years.

During Mr. Dhiab’s court case, Steven Miles, a doctor and medical ethics professor at the University of Minnesota, told the court that olive oil had been used as a lubricant for the feeding tubes. He called this method “astonishing” since this is known to cause chronic inflammatory pneumonia. Interesting, since the government claim as to why they were force-feeding the prisoners was in order to keep them alive and safe, a difficult thing to do when you’re administering drugs known to cause irreversible neurological disorders and using methods known to cause pneumonia. Of course, the entire premise is flawed, since looking out for someone’s safety must certainly include not locking them up in a prison indefinitely, without evidence presented against them, without trial, and without a means of even challenging this practice, all the while subjecting them to torture day in and day out.

So here we have it: The United States has been waging illegal wars of terror around the globe for decades – following a pattern of arming rebel groups and later fighting against them. Sometimes on suspicion of terrorist ties, sometimes on no information at all, the US government pays thug-leaders in nations like Pakistan to hand over people who are then flown to secret detention centers around the globe, some ending at Guantanamo Prison. These men – held indefinitely, many for over a decade – are never charged with crimes, nor are they given a day in court. Many of these men the United States admits are no threat to our national security and have no ties to terrorist organizations. Despite that, they are tortured time and again. If they try to raise their heads – try to use what little autonomy they have in these US concentration camps – by protesting the very nourishment that keeps them alive, they are tortured still more – forcibly fed and silenced. This is what the United States is – the greatest purveyor of violence and suppression around the globe and at any point in history. God Bless America.

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UK Lawmakers Vote to Recognize Statehood for Palestine


‘This is not an alternative to negotiations. It is a bridge for beginning them,’ said MP Ian Lucas

The House of Commons, pictured in 2010. (Photo: UK Parliament/flickr/cc)

The House of Commons, pictured in 2010. (Photo: UK Parliament/flickr/cc)

The UK parliament on Monday voted to recognize Palestine as a state alongside Israel, passing the non-binding agreement 274 to 12 in a symbolic move that could nonetheless have implications internationally.

The House of Commons backed the agreement as a “contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution,” although less than half of Ministers of Parliament voted after the four-hour debate had finished. The measure does not actually require the British government to act.

Grahame Morris, the Labour minister who introduced the motion, said it was a “small but important symbolic step.” Middle East MP Tobias Ellwood said the UK should wait to accept Palestine as a state until it was “appropriate for the peace process,” and that the timing of their recognition would be “critical… You can, after all, only play this card once.”

Prime Minister David Cameron supported Israel during its attack on Gaza over the summer, which saw more than 2,100 Palestinians and 70 Israelis killed over weeks of shelling, bombing, and ground attacks, and Haaretz notes that despite recent political statements of waning approval for the Israeli government, “British-Israel trade has soared to record levels.”

However, Britain’s ambassador in Tel Aviv told Haaretz that Monday’s Parliamentary measure “is a sign of the way the wind is blowing, and will continue to blow without any progress towards peace.”

Morris downplayed the impact of the measure on Israeli interests, stating at the beginning of the debate that “recognition of Palestine does not mean causing any harm to Israel. The opposite, it is for Israel’s good as well.”

Almost all of the speakers, including those who supported the motion, acknowledged Israel’s right to exist in security. But even some of those who voted against recognizing Palestine offered warnings of declining support for Israel. Conservative MP Richard Ottaway, who voted against the measure on the grounds that Palestine “is not yet fit to be a state,” also said that “Israel has been slowly drifting away from world public opinion.”

“I have to say to the Government of Israel that if they are losing people like me, they will be losing a lot of people,” Ottaway said.

Ellwood seemed to agree, telling Parliament that while Israel lived in a “tough neighborhood,” its recent actions—including continued land grabs and settlement expansions in the West Bank and East Jerusalem—seemed to go against the country’s stated commitment to peace.

Shadow foreign minister Ian Lucas said the Labour party’s support of the measure was intended to “strengthen the moderate voices among the Palestinians who want to pursue the path of politics, not the path of violence.”

“This is not an alternative to negotiations. It is a bridge for beginning them,” he said.

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The U.S DOLLAR Is WORTHLESS. Its Time To Wake Up


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Who Benefits from Billions Pledged for Gaza Reconstruction?


(Photo: Ashraf Amra / APA images)

A donor conference hosted in Cairo on Sunday to raise funds for the reconstruction of war-devastated Gaza has boasted $5.4 billion in pledges from various Western and Arab governments.

Yet Israel is the true beneficiary of this aid money. The self-declared international community has once again footed the reconstruction bill as it arms Israel with the weaponry and ensures it the impunity that only rewards its brutal onslaught on Gaza and essentially guarantees its repetition.

“This is the third time in less than six years that together with the people of Gaza, we have been forced to confront a reconstruction effort,” an exasperated US Secretary of State John Kerry stated at the conference, as though this summer’s bloodshed was something other than inevitable given all those arms Washington lavished on Israel, along with the monetary aid and diplomatic cover since the large-scale assaults in November 2012 and winter 2008-09.

Parties involved in the donor conference are making only the most minimal efforts to pretend that the priority is the survivors in Gaza, where more than one in every thousand of the nearly 1.8 million Palestinians there, most of whom are refugees, were killed.

The Palestinian Authority, based in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, has already announced that half of the pledges raised at Sunday’s conference will not even make it to Gaza.

Gaza pledges diverted to Ramallah

Instead, those funds will be diverted to the Palestinian Authority’s budget for unspecified purposes.

Though the PA did not say how it will spend the money raised at the Gaza reconstruction conference that it earmarked for itself, “the security sector has grown faster than any other part of the Palestinian Authority” in the past decade, as noted by Sabrien Amrov and Alaa Tartir in a recent policy brief published by the Palestinian think-tank Al-Shabaka.

Last year, 26 percent of the PA’s budget was spent on security (compared with just 16 percent for education, nine percent for health and a minuscule one percent on agriculture, historically the backbone of the Palestinian economy). Forty-four percent of PA civil servants are employed in the security sector — more than any other, Amrov and Tartir point out.

The Palestinian Authority — which has already blocked efforts to bring Israeli war crimes in Gaza this summer before the International Criminal Court — is led by Mahmoud Abbas, who recently described collaboration with Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank as sacred.”

PA seizes opportunity

More than forty Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank so far this year; fourteen were killed during the equivalent period in 2013. “Security coordination” is obviously not concerned with securing the preservation of Palestinian lives.

As pointed out by Amrov and Tartir, “the armed resistance that was once considered an inseparable part of the Palestinian struggle for self-determination is being dealt with by the PA as a form of dissent that needs not just policing but eradication and criminalization.”

The current paradigm of security coordination, state Amrov and Tartir, is “to criminalize resistance against the occupation and leave Israel — and its trusted minions — in sole possession of the use of arms against a defenseless population.”

As the Palestinian Authority which serves as the policing arm of the Israeli occupation positions itself as the executor of Gaza’s reconstruction, this will surely be used as an opportunity for those who seek to dismantle the armed resistance (which defended Gaza and demonstrated greater discipline and tactical capability than it did during any prior confrontation with Israel).

Though the PA has jockeyed for this role to sideline the Hamas leadership in Gaza, any attempts to rebuild are subject to Israel’s ultimate authority.

(It is worth noting that the Palestine Liberation Organization told the Ma’an News Agency on Sunday that no date has yet been set for implementing reconstruction projects in Gaza.)

Reminding observers who is really in charge, West Bank-based PA ministers including Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah were initially denied permits by Israel to visit Gaza, which remains under closure and economic siege imposed by Israel and enforced by donor conference host Egypt.

“More than 50 years to rebuild”

The international aid agency Oxfam warned last week that money pledged at the global donor conference “will languish in bank accounts for decades before it reaches people, unless long-standing Israeli restrictions on imports are lifted.”

As the importation of basic construction material into Gaza has been prohibited with few exceptions since 2007, and the supply tunnels under the border with Egypt largely destroyed, Palestinians are unable to rebuild.

Oxfam added that “under current restrictions and rate of imports it could take more than 50 years to build the 89,000 new homes, 226 new schools, as well as the health facilities, factories and water and sanitation infrastructure that people in Gaza need.”

No matter how much money international donors raise for reconstruction, Israel determines what gets in and out of Gaza.

Truckloads of construction materials brought in to Gaza last month were “designated for projects pre-approved by Israeli authorities and to be implemented by international organizations in Gaza,” the United Nations Agency for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs notes in a recent weekly monitoring report.

Israel’s total stranglehold on Gaza’s economy also applies to exports — only two truckloads of which were permitted through the Israeli-controlled commercial crossing last month, the first trucks of exports since June.

Accountability or complicity

The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) condemns the failure to bring meaningful pressure on Israel to end the siege that had brought the economy to its knees even before the destruction it wrought on Gaza this summer — during which 419 businesses and workshops were damaged, with 128 completely destroyed.

“Donor money pledges are no substitute for holding Israel accountable for its grave violations of international law, including war crimes and crimes against humanity, and achieving justice for the Palestinian victims,” the BNC stated on Sunday.

“Israel’s blockade and repeated military assaults against the occupied Gaza Strip are part and parcel of systematic Israeli efforts to permanently separate the tiny Gaza Strip from the West Bank and ‘get rid’ of its large Palestinian population, most of them refugees of the 1948 Nakba with unresolved rights and claims in Israel,” the statement adds.

The BNC criticizes international agencies including the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross for operating “within the confines of Israel’s policy of separation and collective punishment.”

Without also adopting a comprehensive and binding military embargo on Israel, donor states, international agencies and nongovernmental organizations are complicit in an unjust and illegal policy of collective punishment, the BNC makes clear. And there is no mechanism of accountability to the Palestinian public.

Abandoning Gaza

Given all of these realities, it is tragic but unsurprising that young Palestinians in Gaza, facing unemployment rates as high as 60 percent, have lost hope and are putting their lives in the hands of smugglers in a bid to reach Europe and a future.

“This has never happened before … Even in the worst of times, people never considered abandoning the Gaza Strip,” Sara Roy, who has studied Gaza’s economy for three decades, told Bettina Marx in an interview for Deutsche Welle.

“The middle class has largely been wiped out,” Roy said.

Even the deliberate sinking of a ship carrying an estimated 500 passengers — many of them Palestinians from Gaza, the vast majority of whom are presumed to have drowned — off the coast of Malta last month hasn’t stemmed the mass migration from the Strip via clandestine tunnels.

In August 2012 the United Nations issued a report studying whether Gaza would be a livable place in the year 2020. But Gaza’s unlivable reality is already here.

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Will Washington Succeed in Having Northern Syria Ethnically Cleansed?


At Kobané and in its region, where more than 300,000 Syrian Kurds are threatened with extermination by the Islamic Emirate, everyone can take the measure of NATO’s duplicity. As the commander of the US Coalition declares he is fighting against the Islamic Emirate, a NATO member, Turkey, furnishes the latter with the military and medical assistance they need, preventing civilians from fleeing and PKK fighters from coming to their aid.

By Thierry Meyssan

In ancient Greek theater, every spectator knew the tragic end of the play in advance. The characters, blinded by the gods, continued to act out what they pretended to reject with their words. But the choir revealed the projects of Destiny for the spectators.

The tragedy that is being played out at Kobané (Arabic Ain al-Arab) was written to conclude with the announced genocide of 300,000 Syrian Kurds. The Islamic Emirate has already taken control of several parts of the city and many surrounding villages. If the Syrian Arab Army fails to breach the lines of the Islamic Emirate to save them, they will all be killed.

The Kurdish population is defended by PYG (autonomist party supporting the Syrian Arab Republic), but Turkey has closed its border so that civilians cannot escape and the reinforcements of the Turkish PKK (separatist party linked to PYG) cannot arrive.

Kurdish forces are controlled by Mahmoud Barkhodan, assisted by Narine Afrin (real name Mayssa Abdo). The choice of a woman as second in command has caused panic in the Islamic Emirate, the jihadists being convinced that they cannot enter heaven if they are killed by a woman.

Faced with the Kurdish resistance, the Islamic Emirate has transferred most of its forces to Syria to crush Kobané.

According to our analysis, repeatedly stated in these columns and in many radio and television stations in Latin America, Russia and the Muslim world, the Islamic Emirate is a creation of the United States tasked with ethnically cleansing the region in order to remodel it. Everyone can see that the soothing declarations of US leaders are belied by their military action on the ground, not against, but in favor of the Islamic Emirate.

The Coalition has conducted six waves of bombings in Kobané. It never targeted positions of the Islamic Emirate and has caused it no loss. However, it holds at a distance further south and west, the Syrian Arab Army which fails to open a breach to save the people.

The Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq (pro-Israeli) refuses to help Syrian Kurds, with whom it has been in conflict for a long time. To justify this passivity, it argues that it does not have direct access to Syria.

Turkey, a NATO member, refuses to assist Syrian Kurds threatened with genocide as long as they do not give up their independent status in Syria and as long as they do not join NATO’s fight against Syria and its elected President Bashar al-Assad.

According to PYG fighters, Turkey daily supplies weapons to the Islamic Emirate and welcomes its wounded into its hospitals, while they themselves have the greatest challenges to transport injured Kurds to Turkey for medical treatment.

In Turkey, the Kurdish Islamic splinter group, Hur Dava Partisi (formerly named Hezbollah in order to create confusion with the Lebanese resistance), went to war against the PKK (Kurdish majority party in the country). The Hüda-Par (abbreviation of Hur Dava Partisi) is supported covertly by AKP chairman Recep Tayyip Erdoğan both to fight against Kurdish separatism and to support the Muslim Brotherhood.

On August 30th, a leader of the Islamic Emirate, Hikmet, and two of his bodyguards were killed by the PKK in Istanbul where they were staying at the invitation of Hüda-By and under the protection of the Turkish police.

In a text message sent to all its members, the PKK gave the instruction to physically eliminate all members of Hüda-Par, accused of working for the Turkish government and assisting the Islamic Emirate.

On October 10th, making a comparison with the Srebrenica massacre (Yugoslavia, 1995) the special UN envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, challenged Turkey to open its border to prevent the fall of Kobané and the genocide of its population. He demanded in vain that Turkey open its borders.

The head of the US Coalition, General John Allen, also publicly called upon Turkey to open its border and prevent the genocide of the Kobané Kurds. However, it does not appear that the Turkish refusal has altered relations between Washington and Ankara, on the contrary.

Turkey’s new foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, said his country would not intervene as long as the Coalition formed by the United States against the Islamic Emirate (of which Turkey is a part) did not decide to impose a no-fly zone in northern Syria and has not given as its objective the overthrowing of the Syrian Arab Republic.

Moreover, the Turkish parliament authorized the government to fight both the Islamic Emirate and the PKK.

Receiving Mr. Çavuşoğlu in Paris, the French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, supported the idea of ​​creating a “security zone” in northern Syria, without specifying exactly what he meant by that, but emphasizing his agreement with Turkey.

France, also a NATO member, is directly providing weapons to the separatist Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq, without authorization from the central Iraqi government. The Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq expanded its territory by 40% in coordination with the Islamic Emirate when it seized the Iraqi Sunni Arab area. In previous years, France politically supported the Turkish PKK (pro-Syrian), she now provides militarily support to the (pro-Israeli) Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq.

Currently, the airspace in northern Syria is controlled by the coalition led by the United States. The Islamic Emirate has aircraft (MiGs stolen from Syria and F-15s stolen from Iraq), but has few pilots and technical staff to use them. The creation of a no-fly zone by NATO in Syria, in addition to being a flagrant violation of international law, would therefore have no impact on the ongoing fighting.

The idea of ​​creating a no-fly zone in Syria was promoted by Israel, which sees it as a means to dismember this country, along the lines of what was done from 1991 to 2003 in Iraq (in favor the current Kurdistan Regional Government). However, the only valid comparison to be made is with the buffer zone imposed in 1983 during the Lebanese civil war. Felt like an open recolonization of Lebanon, it turned into a fiasco after the elimination of 300 American and French soldiers.

In Turkey, the PKK multiplies demonstrations to force the Erdoğan government to reopen the border. 31 people have already been killed by the police during the suppression of the protests.

The only question is how long will the Syrian Kurds resist alone against jihadi armed and funded by the United States pursuant to a vote of Congress assembled in a secret session in January, 2014. In other words: when will Washington and its allies manage to ethnically cleanse northern Syria by their creature, the Islamic Emirate?

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The Disturbing Expansion of the Military-Industrial Complex


‘It is shocking to listen to politicians and military boast of their military prowess when in lay persons’ terms what it means is killing of human beings.’ (Photo: US Navy / flickr)

BELFAST – How can we explain that in the 2lst century we are still training millions of men and women in our armed forces and sending them to war?

There are more choices than war or peace, there are multi-optional choices and a civilian-based non-military diplomatic-political policy has more chance of succeeding in solving a violent conflict.

“Every day through our television and local culture, we are subjected to the glorification of militarism and bombarded with war propaganda by governments telling us we need nuclear weapons, arms manufacturers, and war to kill the killers who might kill us.”

In war, the cost in civilian lives is incalculable, not to mention the many military personnel whose lives are destroyed.  Then there is the cost to the environment and the cost to human potential as our scientists waste their lives planning and researching even more horrific weapons which increasingly, in modern war, kill more civilians than combatants.

For example, the United States and the United Kingdom committed genocide against the Iraqi people when, between 1990 and 2012, they killed 3.3 million people – including 750,000 children – through sanctions and wars.

We all also watched our television screens in horror in July and August this year as the Israeli military bombarded civilians in Gaza for 50 days.

But, why are we surprised at this cruelty of military when they are doing what they are trained to do – kill, at the behest of their politicians and some people?

It is shocking to listen to politicians and military boast of their military prowess when in lay persons’ terms what it means is killing of human beings.

Every day through our television and local culture, we are subjected to the glorification of militarism and bombarded with war propaganda by governments telling us we need nuclear weapons, arms manufacturers, and war to kill the killers who might kill us.

However, too many people do not have peace or the basics to help them achieve peace.

They live their lives struggling with the roots of violence, some of which are poverty, war, militarism, occupation, racism and fascism. They have seen that they release uncontrollable forces of tribalism and nationalism. These are dangerous and murderous forms of identity which we need to transcend.

To do this, we need to acknowledge that our common humanity and human dignity are more important than our different traditions; to recognise that our lives and the lives of others are sacred and we can solve our problems without killing each other; to accept and celebrate diversity and otherness; to work to heal the ‘old’ divisions and misunderstandings; to give and accept forgiveness, and to choose listening, dialogue and diplomacy; to disarm and demilitarise as the pathway to peace.

In my own country, in Northern Ireland, when faced with a violent and prolonged ethnic/political conflict, the civil community organised to take a stand, rejected all violence and committed itself to working for peace, justice and reconciliation.

Through unconditional, all-inclusive dialogue, we reached peace and continue to work to build up trust and friendship and change in the post-conflict era. The civil community took a leading role in this journey from violence to peace.

I hope this will give an example to other countries such as Ukraine, where it is necessary for an end to the war, and a solution of the problem on the basis of the Charter of the United Nations and the Helsinki Accords.

We are also challenged to continue to build structures through which we can cooperate and which reflect our relations of interconnection and interdependence.  The vision of the founders of the European Union to link countries together economically in order to lessen the likelihood of war among nations is a worthy endeavour.

Unfortunately instead of putting more energy into providing help for E.U. citizens and others, we are witnessing the growing militarisation of Europe, its role as a driving force for armament and its dangerous path, under the leadership of the United States/NATO, towards a new ‘cold’ war and military aggression.

The European Union and many of its countries, which used to take initiatives in the United Nations for peaceful settlements of conflict, are now one of the most important war assets of the U.S./NATO front.  Many countries have also been drawn into complicity in breaking international law through U.S./U.K./NATO wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and so on.

It is for this reason that I believe NATO should be abolished and that steps be taken towards disarmament through non-violent action and civil resistance.

The means of resistance are very important. Our message that armed groups, militarism and war do not solve our problems but aggravate them challenges us to use new ways and that is why we need to teach the science of peace at every level of society.

The whole of civilisation is now facing a challenge with the growth of what President Dwight Eisenhower (1953-1961) warned the U.S. people against – the military/industrial complex – saying that it would destroy U.S. democracy.

We know now that a small group made up of the military/industrial/media/corporate/academic elite, whose agenda is profit, arms, war and valuable resources, now holds power worldwide and has a stronghold on elected governments.  We see this in the gun and Israeli lobbies, among others, which wield great power over U.S. politics.

We have witnessed this in ongoing wars, invasions, occupations and proxy wars, all allegedly in the name of “humanitarian intervention and democracy”. However, in reality, they are causing great suffering, especially to the poor, through their policies of arms, war, domination and control of other countries and their resources.

Unmaking this agenda of war and demanding the implementation of justice, human rights and international law is the work of the peace movement.

We can turn our current path of destruction around by spelling out a clear vision of what kind of a world we want to live in, demanding an end to the military-industrial complex, and insisting that our governments adopt policies of peace, just economics and cooperation with each other in this multi-polar world.

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‘Assassination’ of Public Health Systems Driving Ebola Crisis, Experts Warn


Neoliberal economic policies that defund health infrastructure responsible for current crisis in West Africa and across the globe, say analysts

Doctors Without Borders staff member at the Ebola treatment Center in Monrovia. (Photo: Caroline Van Nespen/MSF)

Doctors Without Borders staff member at the Ebola treatment Center in Monrovia. (Photo: Caroline Van Nespen/MSF)

As the official West African death toll from the worst Ebola outbreak in recorded historynears 5,000, global concerns about the highly infectious disease continue to mount. Analysts and medical providers, from Liberia to the United States, say that in order to address the crisis, the international community must tackle the real culprit: western-driven economic policies defunding public health systems around the world, particularly in the countries hit hardest by the outbreak.

“The neoliberal economic model assassinated public infrastructure,” said Emira Woods, a Liberia native and social impact director at ThoughtWorks, a technology firm committed to social and economic justice, in an interview with Common Dreams. “A crisis of the proportion we’ve seen since the beginning of the Ebola catastrophe shows this model has failed.”

Gutting of West African Public Health Systems

Since the 1980s, western financial institutions have given loans to third world governments on the condition those states impose austere domestic reforms and roll back public services. This approach is encapsulated in the 1981 World Bank report Accelerated Development in Sub-Saharan Africa, which presses for “structural adjustments,” including rapid privatization, shrinking of public services and subsidies, and a shift towards export dependency as a solution to “slow economic growth.”

“In West Africa, the resulting neoliberal economic policies sought to promote growth and prosperity through structural adjustment programs (SAPs) that generally involved contraction of government services, renewed export orientation on crops or goods deemed to have a comparative advantage, privatization of parastatal organizations, removal or reduction of many subsidies and tariffs, and currency devaluations,” explain Macalester College Professor William Moseley and colleagues in a paper for the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

“What you had was a shift of public expenditures from health care, school, and essential services to a model of economic development driven by the World bank and International Monetary Fund, which said that public service provision was not passage to development, and services should be privatized,” said Woods. “There was this notion that poor people can pay, and services are better provided by the private sector.”

While years of war played a role in weakening public systems, it is the “war against people, driven by international financial institutions” that is largely responsible for decimating the public health care system, eroding wages and conditions for health care workers, and fueling the crisis sweeping West Africa today, says Woods. “Over the past six months to a year there have been rolling health care worker strikes in country after country—Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Liberia,” said Woods. “Nurses and doctors are risking and losing their lives but don’t have protective gear needed to serve patients and save their own lives. They are on the front lines and have not had their voices heard.”

Even the World Health Organization, which is tasked by the United Nations with directing international responses to epidemics, acknowledges the detrimental impact these policies have had on public health systems. “In health, SAPs affect both the supply of health services (by insisting on cuts in health spending) and the demand for health services (by reducing household income, thus leaving people with less money for health),” states the organization. “Studies have shown that SAPs policies have slowed down improvements in, or worsened, the health status of people in countries implementing them. The results reported include worse nutritional status of children, increased incidence of infectious diseases, and higher infant and maternal mortality rates.”

A “Highly Vulnerable” World

Medical responders have criticized the international community for failing to aggressively address the crisis. In a press statement issued in late August, Brice de le Vingne, Doctors Without Borders director of operations, slammed western states for their isolationist policies towards the epidemic: “Self-protection is occupying the entire focus of states that have the expertise and resources to make a dramatic difference in the affected countries. They can do more, so why don’t they?”

The WHO has recently suffered severe budget cuts that have left it weakened, under-staffed, and incapable of adequately responding to the international emergency. “There’s no doubt we’ve not been as quick and as powerful as we might have been,” Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, a WHO assistant director general, told the New York Times in an article examining the cuts.

Critics say the de-funding of public health system within western states is putting populations at risk. Despite the efforts of the Centers for Disease Control and the Obama administration to assure the U.S. public of a robust response, nurses tell a different story. Workers with the union National Nurses United have repeatedly warned that the for-profit U.S. health care system is in fact ill-prepared for an Ebola outbreak, with U.S. hospitals lacking basic protocols, training, and protective gear.

Meanwhile, Woods warns, the U.S.’s militarized response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa—including Obama’s authorization on Thursday for the Pentagon to deploy reserve and National Guard troops—raises serious concerns. “If you think about the costs of sending in the military compared to putting resources into nurses and doctors and rebuilding public health infrastructure that will last, U.S. tax payers should be really questioning the tax dollars being spent and what the long-term implications are.”

“The world will remain highly vulnerable to this and similar outbreaks unless all countries prioritize the universal right to health, including the international obligation of rich countries to pay their fair share in ensuring that basic health capacity is available everywhere,” the global justice organization U.S. Africa Network argues. “The failure to do so is a violation of human rights and our common humanity.”

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