Archive for March, 2008

The ‘Rogue Entity’

Posted in World Affairs on March 31, 2008 by albasheer
The ‘Rogue Entity’
Stuart Littlewood – March 29, 2008
Twenty Questions Radio/TV interviewers avoid asking about Israel….

The abysmal performance of western TV and radio interviewers when dealing with issues surrounding Israel – that ‘Rogue Regime’ or ‘Zionist Entity’, as many now call it – is not only embarrassing but a blot on the escutcheon of journalism.

Even the most fearsome inquisitors purr like a pussycat. Their rottweiler instincts evaporate, their investigative skills desert them, objectivity takes a nosedive. Penetrating questions are seldom asked, lies go unchallenged. Any Israeli spokesperson or cheerleader is guaranteed an easy ride.

Have the nation’s truth-seekers fallen under some wicked Zionist spell? Are their researchers on strike? Did somebody nobble the programme editors?

While we wait with mounting frustration for our broadcasters to get their act together, here are 20 simple questions the BBC and others seem anxious not to ask……

On Rockets and Sieges

The numbers of home-made Qassam rockets launched at Israel are diligently counted and quoted, but how many sophisticated munitions have Israel’s F-16s, helicopter gun-ships, armed drones, tanks, occupation troops and navy patrol boats fired into the crowded humanity that packs the Gaza Strip? We are never told.

(2) Why should we believe the claim that the siege of Gaza is about rockets “raining down” on Sderot? Palestinians in the West Bank don’t fire rockets yet the Israelis are still in occupation after 40 years, still stealing their land and water, and now dumping their toxic waste there.

(3) Israelis say that if the rockets stop, things will be OK…. Does that mean Gaza will be able to trade freely with the outside world like any other country, and people will be able to come and go freely? Will you and I be able to visit Gaza without Israeli hindrance?

On the Collective Punishment of Gazans

(4) Why can’t Gaza’s 3,000 licensed fishermen put to sea and earn their living without being harassed and fired on? What is the status of Palestinian territorial waters under international law? Why are half the hospitals’ dialysis machines out of action and the chronically sick dying in agony for want of proper medication?
(5) Which parts of the Declaration of Human Rights and Geneva Conventions don’t Israelis understand?

On the War on Christianity

(6) Israelis use ‘administrative’ controls to disrupt the life and work of the Christian Church in the Holy Land. No Muslim or Palestinian Christian living outside Jerusalem is allowed to visit the Holy Places in the Old City without special permission. Christian priests, many of whom are Jordanian, cannot go home to see their families because Israel’s new visa policy would prevent them returning to their parishes. The Catholic priest in Gaza has been trapped there for 9 years knowing that if he visits his folks the Israelis won’t allow him back into the Strip. “We seek a life of freedom—a life different from the life of dogs we are currently forced to live,” he says. What should be our response to attempts by Israel to paralyse the Church?

(7) Is it not shameful that our elected politicians, who are mostly Christian themselves, show so little concern? Is it not doubly shameful how the leaders of western Christendom seem oblivious to the Israeli government’s war against Christian communities? Beware those pseudo-Christians in high places, who talk the talk but won’t walk the walk. How many top brass have visited Gaza to show solidarity with the flock? At the present rate there will soon be no Christians left in the place where Christianity began, and churchmen will wake up one morning to find the Holy Land, from which their whole power and purpose are derived, stolen from under their noses.

On illegal Settlements

(8) Israel has expropriated agricultural land and key water resources in the Palestinian West Bank for its own use. More than 38% of the territory now consists of Israeli settlements, outposts, military bases and closed military areas, Israeli-declared nature reserves or other infrastructure that’s off-limits to Palestinians. Jews-only highways linking settlements to Israel, and the 580 checkpoints and roadblocks, have fragmented Palestinian communities, blocked access to their lands and severely restricted movement. How can this be right?

(9) The freezing and dismantling of Israeli settlements are a cornerstone of major peace initiatives. The most recent, the Quartet’s 2003 ‘roadmap’ endorsed by the UN Security Council, is perfectly clear on the question of illegal settlements. Israel is under an obligation to….

a) immediately dismantle settlement outposts erected since March 2001,
b) freeze all settlement activity (including natural growth of settlements) consistent with the Mitchell Report,
c) take “no actions undermining trust, including confiscation and/or demolition of Palestinian homes and property”.
Why have none of these obligations been met?

(10) A year ago the General Assembly reaffirmed that Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, “are illegal and an obstacle to peace” and demanded “the immediate and complete cessation of all Israeli settlement activities”. Why is Israel still stealing Palestinian land for more illegal construction? By vowing to press ahead with settlement building, Israel’s prime minister Olmert again signals contempt for international law and world opinion… further proof (if ever it were needed) that Israel isn’t interested in peace.

On the Evil of the Wall

(11) In 2004 the International Court of Justice, sitting at the request of the UN General Assembly, concluded that the route chosen for the Separation Wall “gives expression in loco to the illegal measures taken by Israel with regard to Jerusalem and the settlements”. The ICJ ruled the Wall illegal and declared that it should be dismantled where it encroaches onto Palestinian land. Why hasn’t this been done? Why is Israel still building it? If Israelis feel a wall is necessary for security reasons why don’t they build one on their own territory?

On House Demolitions and the Right of Return

(12) In 1948 the newly established state of Israel began demolishing the homes of Palestinian refugees to prevent their return. More than 125,000 houses were systematically destroyed. Since 1967 18,000 more have been demolished, making another 100,000 Palestinians homeless. Demolishing homes is a deliberate Israeli strategy to….

· inflict collective · punishment and break the Palestinians’ will to resist the occupation
· achieve a silent ethnic transfer
· ensure that Israel’s control of the Occupied Territories and their resources becomes permanent

Apart from the fact that these acts breach every rule in the book, every convention and every declaration governing civilised conduct, how would the Israelis like it if they were the victims?
(13) Why can any Jew from anywhere in the world, who has never before lived in Israel and whose ancestors have never lived in Israel, go and live in Israel – or ‘squat’ in an illegal outpost in Palestine with Israel’s blessing – while Palestinians who can prove title to their former houses may not?

On Imprisonment

(14) Nearly 10,000 Palestinians, including women and children, have been abducted and languish in Israeli prisons, many without charge or trial. 30+ Palestinian parliamentarians, democratically elected, are also imprisoned. What civilised country would do this?

On Ethnic Cleansing

(15) The ethnic cleansing of Palestine, begun in the months before and after the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, is still going on in and around Jerusalem and in Gaza. Israel’s Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger argues for an ethnic cleansing programme to transfer Gazans out and dump them in the Sinai desert. Haaretz reports that he wants Britain, the EU and the US to assist in the construction of a Palestinian state in the middle of nowhere. “They will have a nice country, and we, the Jews, shall have our country and we shall live in peace.” This leading advocate of ethnic cleansing says Muslims should recognize that “our land is the Holy Land and Jerusalem belongs to us”. Do we in Britain wish to associate with people who hold such views?

On Terror

(16) Since the land occupied by Israel was taken by terrorist means, employing gangs such as the one that blew up the British mandate government in the King David Hotel in 1946 killing 90, by what moral yardstick do British and other western leaders ‘do business’ with the Israeli Government but not with Palestine’s democratically elected Hamas leadership?

(17) Remembering that most Israeli prime ministers have been responsible for authorising war crimes against the Palestinian people, why are the words ‘terrorist’, ‘militant’ and ‘extremist’ applied only to Palestinians? They fit successive Israeli governments like a glove, and given Israel’s lawless and inhuman conduct in Palestine and Lebanon, which has outraged world opinion, why isn’t it branded a terrorist state?

On our (uncritical) Support

(18) For decades Occupied Palestine has received British and European aid. If Palestinians had been left in peace, free to trade and develop in the normal way, there would no need for aid. In effect British and EU taxpayers are subsidising Israel’s illegal occupation and the economic strangulation it imposes. Why should we think this acceptable and continue to pick up the tab?

(19) Why is there such strong support for Israel at the heart of British government? Why have so many MPs and MEPs allowed themselves to be drawn into the ‘Friends of Israel’ web? How can supposedly bright people with information at their fingertips still be ignorant of Israel’s apartheid practices, wholesale land thefts, careless slaughter of children and other atrocities? Can we take it that they approve of the slow genocide inflicted on defenceless civilians, the middle-of-the-night snatch squads, the house demolitions, the torture and assassinations, and the crushing of Christian and Muslim communities? Is it not foolish and insulting for them to claim we share Israel’s beliefs and values, and should even share foreign policy? A well-respected Jewish MP recently called the Israeli government “a gang of amoral thugs”. Isn’t that about right?

On the Two-State solution

(20) Israel and its Zionist stooges are pushing for a two-state solution… eventually, when it suits them and their land grab is complete. To warped minds this will give the racist regime and its supremacist ideals some kind of seal of approval. By that time the shrunken and shredded remnants of Palestine will have become a permanently impoverished and ghettoized mini-state, trashed and raped of its resources, traumatised, subservient, easy to control and never capable of prospering. Israel’s scheming allies, who include western governments (though not western peoples), go along with this grubby plan. Can someone please explain why we, the citizens of a Christian democracy once mandated with responsibility for Palestine’s future wellbeing, would wish to soil our hands with it? The ethical choice, surely, is a single state with Jews living alongside their Arab neighbours as equal citizens and sharing the land within a common legal and democratic framework. That, after all, was the original intention, and the developments of the last 60 years are a gross perversion and betrayal. Only the Palestinians themselves have had the courage to resist it.

When the Day of Reckoning comes to the Middle East – and engulfs the meddlesome West – much of the blame will rest squarely on the lack of journalistic rigour here and in the US, which has allowed a delinquent political élite to work their evil too long.


Stuart Littlewood

28 March 2008

Stuart Littlewood is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation. For further information please visit

Darfur: Those Trying to Make a Quick Buck Out of Human Misery

Posted in World Affairs on March 31, 2008 by albasheer
Darfur: Those Trying to Make a Quick Buck Out of Human Misery
Dr. Mohammed Abdu Yamani, Arab News
I pray to Allah to forgive those who caused the Darfur disaster. It is possible they did it with entirely good intentions and didn’t imagine the harmful consequences (the death of thousands of innocent and powerless people) of their actions.

More than four years of conflict in Darfur has left more than 200,000 people dead and 2.5 million displaced, many to eastern Chad. No one would have expected that things would deteriorate to the extent that Darfur children will be sold publicly in some European capitals.

Some NGOs and charitable organizations, like the French Children Rescue/Arche de Zoe (Zoe’s Ark), claim that their objective is to save orphans and homeless kids. The fact is they were making a quick buck out of human misery.

Zoe’s Ark says it wanted to rescue children from Darfur but nine French nationals, six of them members of the Zoe’s Ark and three journalists, face jail sentence on charges of kidnapping and extortion, while seven Spanish flight crew are charged with complicity.

For some time, there has been doubts about this nongovernmental organization founded by Eric Breteau, a volunteer fireman from Paris. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) called the attempt to separate the 103 kids (21 girls and 82 boys, the youngest being about one-year-old and the oldest about 10) from their parents and then take them to France for adoption as an “illegal and totally irresponsible move.” The UN said the kidnapped kids had families in Chad and Sudan, had been living with family members in villages and were not at all “war orphans” as the group claimed.

Annette Rehl, an officer of the UN refugee agency UNHCR, told Reuters in the eastern Chadian city of Abeche that, “Those kidnapped kids are not orphans and they were not sitting alone in the desert in Chad. They were living with their families in communities.”

UNICEF spokesperson Veronique Taveau told journalists in Geneva that what happened violated international rules, such as The Hague Convention on International Adoption and the Convention of the Rights of the Child. He said this was not an isolated incident given the large number of children involved. According to one French newspaper, the Europeans offered sweets and biscuits to encourage the children to leave their homes.

Ten-year-old Mariam, who was one of the victims along with her younger sister, said their mother was dead but their father was still alive. “A car came with two white men and one black man who spoke Arabic. The driver said ‘come with me, I’ll give you some money and biscuits and then I’ll take you home,’” she said.

“We were taken to the white people’s house and they gave us medicine, a small white tablet. I was not ill. All the children were given pills. They told us that we would not longer be able to go home,” Mariam said.

Radio Netherlands said that the French government is at a loss as to what to do about the arrest in Chad of French citizens and how to deal with lots of unanswered questions about what has become known as “the Zeo’s Ark affair.”

The French government has condemned the abduction, but its own role in the affair is far from clear. Many observers believe that it is involved in the scandal.

As a result of this grave crime against children, the authorities in the Republic of Congo have suspended the international adoption of children.

It was reported that hundreds of Chadian women hurled abuses at the 16 Europeans accusing them of “child-trafficking”. Protesters threw stones at foreign journalists in the Chadian town of Abeche, shouted slogans accusing the former colonial power of a role in the bid to abduct Sudanese and Chadian children to France to be sold. They chanted, “No to the slave trade! No trafficking in children. We want those responsible to be tried in Abeche”.

Idriss Deby, the Chadian president called the operation “pure and simple abduction” and went on to assert that the children could have ended up being sold to a pedophile ring or used to supply human organs. He was quoted as saying on Chad’s presidency website, “These people.. treat us like animals. So this is the image of the Savior Europe, which gives lessons to our countries. This is the image of Europe which helps Africans.”

French diplomats said they had warned Zoe’s Ark for months against the project, but Christophe Letien, a spokesman for the charity insisted its intentions were humanitarian. This proves that Sarkozy’s government was involved and was aware of the operation. Many European families has each paid the aid group several thousands euros to adopt, not merely host, a child from Darfur as French officials have said. This stands as clear evidence that the French authorizes had knowledge of the operation before it took place.

More important is the fact that the group of aid workers who are convicted in this shameful crime included the president of Zoe’s Ark, a doctor, three journalists and four firefighters who are all French nationals.

The scandal has caused outrage and condemnation across Africa. Many consider it a throwback to the dark history from the colonial era, when slave traders, missionaries and colonial officials blithely separated African families with no regard to their wishes or interests.

Let us pray to Allah that those kids get good care until they are reunited with their families and that the current situation in Chad and Darfur will not affect the trial process of those who are involved in this crime.

The most wanted list

Posted in World Affairs on March 30, 2008 by albasheer
The most wanted list
By Noam Chomsky

There are 3 categories of crimes: murder with intent, accidental killing, and murder with foreknowledge but without intent. Israeli & U.S. atrocities fall into the third category.

On February 13, Imad Moughniyeh, a senior commander of Hezbollah, was assassinated in Damascus. “The world is a better place without this man in it,” State Department spokesperson Sean McCormack said, “one way or the other he was brought to justice.” Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell added that Moughniyeh has been “responsible for more deaths of Americans and Israelis than any other terrorist with the exception of Osama bin Laden.”

Joy was unconstrained in Israel too, as “one of the U.S. and Israel’s most wanted men” was brought to justice, the London Financial Times reported. Under the heading, “A militant wanted the world over,” an accompanying story reported that he was “superseded on the most-wanted list by Osama bin Laden” after 9/11 and so ranked only second among “the most wanted militants in the world.”

The terminology is accurate enough, according to the rules of Anglo-American discourse, which defines “the world” as the political class in Washington and London (and whoever happens to agree with them on specific matters). It is common, for example, to read that “the world” fully supported George Bush when he ordered the bombing of Afghanistan. That may be true of “the world,” but hardly of the world, as revealed in an international Gallup Poll after the bombing was announced.

Global support was slight. In Latin America, which has some experience with U.S. behavior, support ranged from 2% in Mexico to 16% in Panama, and that support was conditional upon the culprits being identified (they still weren’t eight months later, the FBI reported), and civilian targets being spared (they were attacked at once). There was an overwhelming preference in the world for diplomatic/judicial measures, rejected out of hand by “the world.”

* Following the terror trail

In the present case, if “the world” were extended to the world, we might find some other candidates for the honor of most hated arch-criminal. It is instructive to ask why this might be true.

The Financial Times reports that most of the charges against Moughniyeh are unsubstantiated, but “one of the very few times when his involvement can be ascertained with certainty [is in] the hijacking of a TWA plane in 1985 in which a U.S. Navy diver was killed.” This was one of two terrorist atrocities the led a poll of newspaper editors to select terrorism in the Middle East as the top story of 1985; the other was the hijacking of the passenger liner Achille Lauro, in which a crippled American, Leon Klinghoffer, was brutally murdered. That reflects the judgment of “the world.” It may be that the world saw matters somewhat differently.

The Achille Lauro hijacking was a retaliation for the bombing of Tunis ordered a week earlier by Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres. His air force killed 75 Tunisians and Palestinians with smart bombs that tore them to shreds, among other atrocities, as vividly reported from the scene by the prominent Israeli journalist Amnon Kapeliouk. Washington cooperated by failing to warn its ally Tunisia that the bombers were on the way, though the Sixth Fleet and U.S. intelligence could not have been unaware of the impending attack. Secretary of State George Shultz informed Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir that Washington “had considerable sympathy for the Israeli action,” which he termed “a legitimate response” to “terrorist attacks,” to general approbation. A few days later, the UN Security Council unanimously denounced the bombing as an “act of armed aggression” (with the U.S. abstaining). “Aggression” is, of course, a far more serious crime than international terrorism. But giving the United States and Israel the benefit of the doubt, let us keep to the lesser charge against their leadership.

A few days after, Peres went to Washington to consult with the leading international terrorist of the day, Ronald Reagan, who denounced “the evil scourge of terrorism,” again with general acclaim by “the world.”

The “terrorist attacks” that Shultz and Peres offered as the pretext for the bombing of Tunis were the killings of three Israelis in Larnaca, Cyprus. The killers, as Israel conceded, had nothing to do with Tunis, though they might have had Syrian connections. Tunis was a preferable target, however. It was defenseless, unlike Damascus. And there was an extra pleasure: more exiled Palestinians could be killed there.

The Larnaca killings, in turn, were regarded as retaliation by the perpetrators: They were a response to regular Israeli hijackings in international waters in which many victims were killed — and many more kidnapped and sent to prisons in Israel, commonly to be held without charge for long periods. The most notorious of these has been the secret prison/torture chamber Facility 1391. A good deal can be learned about it from the Israeli and foreign press. Such regular Israeli crimes are, of course, known to editors of the national press in the U.S., and occasionally receive some casual mention.

Klinghoffer’s murder was properly viewed with horror, and is very famous. It was the topic of an acclaimed opera and a made-for-TV movie, as well as much shocked commentary deploring the savagery of Palestinians — “two-headed beasts” (Prime Minister Menachem Begin), “drugged roaches scurrying around in a bottle” (Chief of Staff Raful Eitan), “like grasshoppers compared to us,” whose heads should be “smashed against the boulders and walls” (Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir). Or more commonly just “Araboushim,” the slang counterpart of “kike” or “nigger.”

Thus, after a particularly depraved display of settler-military terror and purposeful humiliation in the West Bank town of Halhul in December 1982, which disgusted even Israeli hawks, the well-known military/political analyst Yoram Peri wrote in dismay that one “task of the army today [is] to demolish the rights of innocent people just because they are Araboushim living in territories that God promised to us,” a task that became far more urgent, and was carried out with far more brutality, when the Araboushim began to “raise their heads” a few years later.

We can easily assess the sincerity of the sentiments expressed about the Klinghoffer murder. It is only necessary to investigate the reaction to comparable U.S.-backed Israeli crimes. Take, for example, the murder in April 2002 of two crippled Palestinians, Kemal Zughayer and Jamal Rashid, by Israeli forces rampaging through the refugee camp of Jenin in the West Bank. Zughayer’s crushed body and the remains of his wheelchair were found by British reporters, along with the remains of the white flag he was holding when he was shot dead while seeking to flee the Israeli tanks which then drove over him, ripping his face in two and severing his arms and legs. Jamal Rashid was crushed in his wheelchair when one of Israel’s huge U.S.-supplied Caterpillar bulldozers demolished his home in Jenin with his family inside. The differential reaction, or rather non-reaction, has become so routine and so easy to explain that no further commentary is necessary.

* Car bomb

Plainly, the 1985 Tunis bombing was a vastly more severe terrorist crime than the Achille Lauro hijacking, or the crime for which Moughniyeh’s “involvement can be ascertained with certainty” in the same year. But even the Tunis bombing had competitors for the prize for worst terrorist atrocity in the Mideast in the peak year of 1985.

One challenger was a car-bombing in Beirut right outside a mosque, timed to go off as worshippers were leaving Friday prayers. It killed 80 people and wounded 256. Most of the dead were girls and women, who had been leaving the mosque, though the ferocity of the blast “burned babies in their beds,” “killed a bride buying her trousseau,” and “blew away three children as they walked home from the mosque.” It also “devastated the main street of the densely populated” West Beirut suburb, reported Nora Boustany three years later in the Washington Post.

The intended target had been the Shia cleric Sheikh Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, who escaped. The bombing was carried out by Reagan’s CIA and his Saudi allies, with Britain’s help, and was specifically authorized by CIA Director William Casey, according to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward’s account in his book Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA, 1981-1987. Little is known beyond the bare facts, thanks to rigorous adherence to the doctrine that we do not investigate our own crimes (unless they become too prominent to suppress, and the inquiry can be limited to some low-level “bad apples” who were naturally “out of control”).

* “Terrorist villagers”

A third competitor for the 1985 Mideast terrorism prize was Prime Minister Peres’ “Iron Fist” operations in southern Lebanese territories then occupied by Israel in violation of Security Council orders. The targets were what the Israeli high command called “terrorist villagers.” Peres’s crimes in this case sank to new depths of “calculated brutality and arbitrary murder” in the words of a Western diplomat familiar with the area, an assessment amply supported by direct coverage. They are, however, of no interest to “the world” and therefore remain uninvestigated, in accordance with the usual conventions. We might well ask whether these crimes fall under international terrorism or the far more severe crime of aggression, but let us again give the benefit of the doubt to Israel and its backers in Washington and keep to the lesser charge.

These are a few of the thoughts that might cross the minds of people elsewhere in the world, even if not those of “the world,” when considering “one of the very few times” Imad Moughniyeh was clearly implicated in a terrorist crime.

The U.S. also accuses him of responsibility for devastating double truck-bomb attacks on U.S. Marine and French paratrooper barracks in Lebanon in 1983, killing 241 Marines and 58 paratroopers, as well as a prior attack on the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, killing 63, a particularly serious blow because of a meeting there of CIA officials at the time.

The Financial Times has, however, attributed the attack on the Marine barracks to Islamic Jihad, not Hezbollah. Fawaz Gerges, one of the leading scholars on Lebanon, has written that responsibility was taken by an “unknown group called Islamic Jihad.” A voice speaking in classical Arabic called for all Americans to leave Lebanon or face death. It has been claimed that Moughniyeh was the head of Islamic Jihad at the time, but to my knowledge, evidence is sparse.

The opinion of the world has not been sampled on the subject, but it is possible that there might be some hesitancy about calling an attack on a military base in a foreign country a “terrorist attack,” particularly when U.S. and French forces were carrying out heavy naval bombardments and air strikes in Lebanon, and shortly after the U.S. provided decisive support for the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, which killed some 20,000 people and devastated the south, while leaving much of Beirut in ruins. It was finally called off by President Reagan when international protest became too intense to ignore after the Sabra-Shatila massacres.

In the United States, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon is regularly described as a reaction to Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) attacks on northern Israel from their Lebanese bases, making our crucial contribution to these major war crimes understandable. In the real world, the Lebanese border area had been quiet for a year, apart from repeated Israeli attacks, many of them murderous, in an effort to elicit some PLO response that could be used as a pretext for the already planned invasion. Its actual purpose was not concealed at the time by Israeli commentators and leaders: to safeguard the Israeli takeover of the occupied West Bank.

It is of some interest that the sole serious error in Jimmy Carter’s book Palestine: Peace not Apartheid is the repetition of this propaganda concoction about PLO attacks from Lebanon being the motive for the Israeli invasion. The book was bitterly attacked, and desperate efforts were made to find some phrase that could be misinterpreted, but this glaring error — the only one — was ignored. Reasonably, since it satisfies the criterion of adhering to useful doctrinal fabrications.

(Watch video: Carter speaking out against Israeli occupation)

* Killing without intent

Another allegation is that Moughniyeh “masterminded” the bombing of Israel’s embassy in Buenos Aires on March 17, 1992, killing 29 people, in response, as the Financial Times put it, to Israel’s “assassination of former Hezbollah leader Abbas Al-Mussawi in an air attack in southern Lebanon.” About the assassination, there is no need for evidence: Israel proudly took credit for it. The world might have some interest in the rest of the story. Al-Mussawi was murdered with a U.S.-supplied helicopter, well north of Israel’s illegal “security zone” in southern Lebanon. He was on his way to Sidon from the village of Jibshit, where he had spoken at the memorial for another Imam murdered by Israeli forces. The helicopter attack also killed his wife and five-year old child. Israel then employed U.S.-supplied helicopters to attack a car bringing survivors of the first attack to a hospital.

After the murder of the family, Hezbollah “changed the rules of the game,” Prime Minister Rabin informed the Israeli Knesset. Previously, no rockets had been launched at Israel. Until then, the rules of the game had been that Israel could launch murderous attacks anywhere in Lebanon at will, and Hezbollah would respond only within Israeli-occupied Lebanese territory.

After the murder of its leader (and his family), Hezbollah began to respond to Israeli crimes in Lebanon by rocketing northern Israel. The latter is, of course, intolerable terror, so Rabin launched an invasion that drove some 500,000 people out of their homes and killed well over 100. The merciless Israeli attacks reached as far as northern Lebanon.

In the south, 80% of the city of Tyre fled and Nabatiye was left a “ghost town,” Jibshit was about 70% destroyed according to an Israeli army spokesperson, who explained that the intent was “to destroy the village completely because of its importance to the Shia population of southern Lebanon.” The goal was “to wipe the villages from the face of the earth and sow destruction around them,” as a senior officer of the Israeli northern command described the operation.

Jibshit may have been a particular target because it was the home of Sheikh Abdul Karim Obeid, kidnapped and brought to Israel several years earlier. Obeid’s home “received a direct hit from a missile,” British journalist Robert Fisk reported, “although the Israelis were presumably gunning for his wife and three children.” Those who had not escaped hid in terror, wrote Mark Nicholson in the Financial Times, “because any visible movement inside or outside their houses is likely to attract the attention of Israeli artillery spotters, who… were pounding their shells repeatedly and devastatingly into selected targets.” Artillery shells were hitting some villages at a rate of more than 10 rounds a minute at times.

All of this received the firm support of President Bill Clinton, who understood the need to instruct the Araboushim sternly on the “rules of the game.” And Rabin emerged as another grand hero and man of peace, so different from the two-legged beasts, grasshoppers, and drugged roaches.

This is only a small sample of facts that the world might find of interest in connection with the alleged responsibility of Moughniyeh for the retaliatory terrorist act in Buenos Aires.

Other charges are that Moughniyeh helped prepare Hezbollah defenses against the 2006 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, evidently an intolerable terrorist crime by the standards of “the world,” which understands that the United States and its clients must face no impediments in their just terror and aggression.

The more vulgar apologists for U.S. and Israeli crimes solemnly explain that, while Arabs ‘purposely’ kill people, the U.S. and Israel, being democratic societies, do not intend to do so. Their killings are just accidental ones, hence not at the level of moral depravity of their adversaries. That was, for example, the stand of Israel’s High Court when it recently authorized severe collective punishment of the people of Gaza by depriving them of electricity (hence water, sewage disposal, and other such basics of civilized life).

The same line of defense is common with regard to some of Washington’s past peccadilloes, like the destruction in 1998 of the al-Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Sudan. The attack apparently led to the deaths of tens of thousands of people, but without intent to kill them, hence not a crime on the order of intentional killing — so we are instructed by moralists who consistently suppress the response that had already been given to these vulgar efforts at self-justification.

To repeat once again, we can distinguish three categories of crimes: murder with intent, accidental killing, and murder with foreknowledge but without specific intent. Israeli and U.S. atrocities typically fall into the third category. Thus, when Israel destroys Gaza’s power supply or sets up barriers to travel in the West Bank, it does not specifically intend to murder the particular people who will die from polluted water or in ambulances that cannot reach hospitals. And when Bill Clinton ordered the bombing of the al-Shifa plant, it was obvious that it would lead to a humanitarian catastrophe. Human Rights Watch immediately informed him of this, providing details; nevertheless, he and his advisers did not intend to kill specific people among those who would inevitably die when half the pharmaceutical supplies were destroyed in a poor African country that could not replenish them.

Rather, they and their apologists regarded Africans much as we do the ants we crush while walking down a street. We are aware that it is likely to happen (if we bother to think about it), but we do not intend to kill them because they are not worthy of such consideration. Needless to say, comparable attacks by Araboushim in areas inhabited by human beings would be regarded rather differently.

If, for a moment, we can adopt the perspective of the world, we might ask which criminals are “wanted the world over.”

— Noam Chomsky is the author of numerous best-selling political works. His latest books are Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy and What We Say Goes, a conversation book with David Barsamian, both in the American Empire Project series at Metropolitan Books. The Essential Chomsky (edited by Anthony Arnove), a collection of his writings on politics and on language from the 1950s to the present, has just been published by the New Press.

Copyright 2008 Noam Chomsky

Cracking Somali Government

Posted in World Affairs on March 30, 2008 by albasheer
Cracking Somali Government

CAIRO — The US-backed interim government in Somali is on life support losing the hearts and minds of the people as well as conceding major cities to the armed opposition.

“We haven’t been paid in eight months,” a government soldier named Hassan told the New York Times on Saturday, March 29.

“We rob people so we can eat.”

Last week government soldiers went to a market in the capital Mogadishu and, at gunpoint, stole sacks of grain.

The innocent civilians were only rescued by fighters of the ousted Supreme Islamic Courts of Somalia (SICS).

Interim Premier Nur Hassan Hussein knows that his troops rob civilians.

“This is the biggest problem we have,” he said in an interview this month.

The prime minister also admitted that every month, more than half of the government’s revenue are stolen by “our people.”

Backed by the US, the Ethiopian army invaded Somalia last year to the SICS, which ruled for six months after routing a US-backed alliance of warlords and restored unprecedented order and stability for the first time in 15 years.

SICS fighters captured on Wednesday, March 26, the two strategic towns of Jowhar and Mahadai from the interim government.

Recent months have seen a strong comeback for the Courts which had seized four smaller towns and a military checkpoint near Mogadishu earlier this month.

“I feel this slipping away,” admitted government representative at the US Mohamed Abdirizak.

Failed US Policy

The looming failure is raising questions about Washington’s strategy of installing the interim government by force.

“The policy has failed,” said Representative Donald M. Payne, Chairman of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health.

“We’re Baghdad-izing Mogadishu and Somalia,” he said.

The Ethiopian military intervention in neighboring Somali was backed and supported by the Bush administration.

Washington reportedly supplied the Ethiopian with intelligence on SICS forces and oppositions, making it easy to defeat them in a couple of weeks.

US gunships had targeted Somali resistance leaders in a series of air strikes.

A recent US strike on the southern Somali city of Dobley targeted Aden Hashi Farah Ayro, the leader of Al-Shabaab group, the SICS military wing, but instead claimed the lives of many civilians.

The strike was the fourth by the US on Somali territories in the past 14 months.

On January 8, 2007, a US AC-130 gunship killed ten civilians in a failed attack on figures in southern Somalia.

A few days later, the US launched another raid on fleeing SICS fighters.

The US Navy carried out a third strike last June against what it described as “Islamist fighters” hiding in the mountains in the northern Puntland region.

To counter the resurgent resistance, the US State Department earlier this month designated Shabaab a terrorist organization.

The move was questioned not only by many Somalis but also European diplomats and critics in Congress.

They fear it will only raise the group’s profile among the increasingly disillusioned populace.

“We’re making people feel wrongly treated and pushing them toward more radical positions,” said Representative Payne.

The Rabbi of hate

Posted in World Affairs on March 29, 2008 by albasheer
The Rabbi of hate
By Khalid Amayreh

“So I believe that I act in the spirit of the Almighty God. By defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.” – Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, 1924

“A thousand non-Jewish lives are not worth a Jew’s fingernail” – Dov Lior, Rabbi of Kiryat Arba

“We will carry out a greater holocaust against the Palestinians,” – Matan Vilnai, Deputy Defense Minister, 1 March, 2006

Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual leader of the ultra-orthodox Shas party, which represents Jews from the Middle East, has urged Jews around the world to pray for Israeli soldiers, not only on the Jewish Sabbath, Saturday, but also on Mondays and Thursdays.

According to the Israeli newspaper, Ha’aretz, Yosef told his followers that Israeli soldiers need to be blessed by the Almighty for killing and maiming hundreds of Palestinians, mostly innocent civilians, in the past few days.

“Had it not been for them, would we have time to study the Torah? To turn the books,” Yosef was quoted as saying Saturday night during his weekly sermon in Jerusalem.

It is really lamentable that Yosef thinks that it is only through murder and genocide of Palestinians that Jews can sit down and study the Torah.

Jews, after all, have been studying the Torah for many centuries without “Jewish soldiers” engaging themselves in mass murder, mass terror and mass oppression. Does the rabbi think that linking Torah studies to mass murder in Gaza brings honor to the Torah and to Judaism?

Yosef, who on several occasions called Palestinians “rats,” is considered by many in Israel as one of the greatest living sages of the Torah. However, his enthusiastic support for ethnic cleansing and genocide against the Palestinians caricatures a sinister man who quotes ancient texts to justify every conceivable crime against humanity and every abomination against God and man.

Yosef is not unaware of the Nazi-like atrocities the soldiers he is blessing have committed and are committing in Gaza.

He knows too well that an army that murders innocent civilians, including babies in their mothers’ laps, is not an army of righteous soldiers, but rather an army of thugs and criminals, not unlike the Gestapo and SS and wehrmacht.

I understand that some Zionist rabbis tend to believe in the horrible idea that in war time, there is no such a thing as “innocent civilians of the enemy.” In other words, “All’s fair in love and war.”

But this is a stunningly immoral concept that degrades man to cannibalistic savagery. Because then every mass murderer from Adolph Hitler, to Joseph Stalin, to Ariel Sharon, to Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak could justify the mass murder of civilians on the ground that in wartime, no holds are barred. Indeed, this would be the most comfortable justification for all the holocausts, genocides, pogroms and inquisitions in the world since Adam and Eve.

Well, I really wonder how these rabbis of evil, people such Yosef, Dov Lior, David Batsri, and many many others, would react if a Nazi apologist argued that the mass killings of Jews during the holocaust was a perfectly justified and legitimate act “since we viewed European Jewry as our number-1 enemy, and we were at war, and in wartime there is no such a thing as innocent civilians of the enemy.”

Now, what is the difference between a rabbi praying for and blessing an army that has just murdered and maimed hundreds of innocent people in Gaza, and a German Nazi priest praying for and blessed Nazi killers who had just carried out one of those pacification raids in central or Eastern Europe?

Does the rabbi think that a holocaust by Jews is kosher? Does he think that non-Jewish children and women and men are un-human, or lesser humans? What kind of Torah is he studying? Does he think that the Torah prohibition against murder covers only “Jews”?

Rabbi Yosef is more than just an unenlightened old man; he is actually an evil man. He is evil because in the name of the Torah and in the name of Judaism, he tries to make evil look good, ugliness look fair and cardinal sins against God and man look as great acts of charity.

It is really hypocritical that while many Zionists don’t stop denouncing Catholic religious leaders for supporting the Third Reich and for keeping silent in the face of the Holocaust, rabbis, even prominent rabbis, such as Yosef, are more or less indulging in the same evil behavior they are denouncing.

Yosef may be a learned man in matter of Jewish theology. But he seems to be a dwarf in understanding the moral messages of the Torah. Because if he were truly faithful to the true spirit of Judaism, he should realize that murdering innocent people-non-Jews as well as Jews- is the greatest crime under the sun.

Doesn’t he read “Thou Shall not murder”? Doesn’t he read “thou shall not oppress?” Is this his way of making “Tikkun Ha’olam,” or fixing the world, by blessing and encouraging child killers and mass murderers?

It is sad how men of religion who think they are hallowing the name of God are actually doing Satan’s work.

And we wonder why the world is in such a mess!

— Khalid Amayreh resides in the West Bank

Merchants of Lethal Deceit

Posted in World Affairs on March 29, 2008 by albasheer
Merchants of Lethal Deceit
Tariq A. Al-Maeena,
Five years into the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, US President George Bush claims it’s been worth the haul. And although he claims he sheds tears for every one of the 4,000 soldiers he has sent to their death, little or no mention is made of an estimated one million or more innocent Iraqi civilians who have lost their lives as a result of his grand adventure.

Remember the proponents of the aggression then? One of the strongest, Tony Blair of UK, is now keeping himself as far away from Bush as possible, and privately conceding that this adventure was a “horrible mistake”. Was he led into this deceitful adventure by the smooth-talking neocons of the Bush administration and the gentle prodding by Bush himself?

Whatever happened to Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, and Donald Rumsfeld, those active cheerleaders of a murderous and unlawful invasion of countries that harbored no ill will toward the United States or the American people?

Now facts have proven that this carnage was built on an orchestrated deception, first among Bush’s constituents through selective manipulation of the media, and later by presenting false evidence to the world community, the United Nations.

These past five years will remain embedded in the minds of those who had lost their loved ones in Iraq and Afghanistan with pain and anguish. For it was under the US commander in chief’s instructions that US soldiers used their most brutal practices among the prisoners by systematic acts of rape, sodomy and torture. They dehumanized their captives. Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo have become synonyms for gross human rights violations.

This continued and sustained assault on these two countries is a violation that has for the most part remained unchecked. Most nations are noticeably quiet on US transgressions in the region. It has not, however, failed to create deep chasms of animosity and suspicion of Bush’s intentions. His talk of “spreading democracy in the Middle East” is now met with derision.

For poll after poll has proven that the inhabitants of Afghanistan and Iraq see themselves as worse off today than before the acts of aggression began. And really, what was it that Bush was after?

There were no weapons of mass destruction. Nor was there any sign of ill will in either country toward the United States. Was it the oil? Well maybe, but there was always the specter of an Israeli lobby dictating terms and manipulating things.

Many of those smooth-talking neocons who convinced their constituents of a doomsday situation if Iraq was not invaded are not around today parading in front of the world’s media with their false assertions. Perhaps they are keeping a low profile for fear of being charged for these crimes against humanity in some tribunal sometimes in the future.

For, if you strip away all irrational rhetoric, what is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan is indeed a crime. A war crime to match the Israeli aggression and occupation of Palestine! How closely were the two operations orchestrated with Bush and Sharon in power?

And while one languishes in a vegetative state, the other is free to continue his acts of violence unchecked and unfettered.

And not satisfied with the amount of innocent blood already spilled, he is now pushing for another bloody adventure, this time against Iran.

Iran is an Islamic state, and Bush should think long and hard before contemplating any such moves. He lacks credibility when he talks about Iran’s threat to the region and his evidence is dismissed as a joke.

The people in this region have seen and heard enough. The real threat has never been Iran. The real threat has been the willingness of some to believe what Bush says.

While Bush and his remaining neocons work covertly with the Israelis in an effort to convince the world body of the threat Iran poses, such alarmist talk has indeed been falling on deaf ears in the region.

As for the tears Bush says he sheds for the fallen, everyone knows they are as fake as the evidence he presented to justify his wars of aggression in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Terrorism — Compare and Contrast

Posted in World Affairs on March 29, 2008 by albasheer
Terrorism — Compare and Contrast
Tanya Hsu,

Last week in Arab News, columnist Fatin Bundagji wrote of a letter from an American, rather typical of the refrain we have heard for the past five years. Accusing Ms. Bundagji of “conveniently” forgetting that Arab terrorists attacked the US, the writer implied that America has every right to retaliate against anybody, an individual or nation, it considers an enemy. Thus the rightful invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, neither state having had anything to do with 9/11 whatsoever.

It is fallacious logic. One cannot compare apples to oranges.

No Arab nation has ever attacked the United States. The same cannot be said of the West, who has for the past century been invading the Middle East repeatedly in its quest for control of the region’s resources. Instead, the argument should be made with all elements being equal.

The 9/11 attacks were terrorist acts, to be certain, but not by an Arab state. One must compare a terrorist to a terrorist, and contrast the results. An example of an American terrorist who did attack Arabs on their own soil would be Baruch Goldstein.

Born and bred in Brooklyn, New York, Goldstein walked into the Cave of the Patriarchs in Jerusalem on Feb. 25, 1994, at 5.20 a.m., opening fire on 500 Palestinian Muslims at a Friday-morning prayer in Ramadan. Spraying the worshippers with his automatic rifle, he emptied 110 bullets in less than a minute and a half. Thirty Palestinians were killed immediately, and three were trampled to death in the ensuing panic. Those who fought back beat Goldstein to death. More than 20 further Palestinians were killed the same day in retaliation for Goldstein’s death, including fiver killed by the Israeli Defense Forces.

Deaths of Arab civilians at the hands of this American terrorist amounted to 1/500ths of a percent of the total Arab population in Israel. The 9/11 attacks resulted in the deaths of 1/1000ths of a percent of the total American population. In other words, comparing terrorist act to terrorist act, one man alone, Goldstein, massacred twice as many Arabs in a single incident as per capita deaths on 9/11. If one includes all Israelis, Muslim and Jewish citizens alike, Goldstein still murdered half as many per capita as those who were killed in the US on 9/11.

Yet not one Arab state launched a retaliatory attack on Israel. No one invaded Israel; not a single Arab nation decided that the Israeli people should pay the collective price for a massive act of civilian terrorism. In fact, Israel and America barely raised an eyebrow, and Goldstein was praised in New York by the Jewish extremist organization Kahane Kach. Instead, Baruch Goldstein was buried as a martyr and hero in Israel.

Today pilgrims visit Goldstein’s gravesite daily, his burial plaque reading: “Here lies the saint, Dr. Baruch Kappel Goldstein, blessed be the memory of the righteous and holy man, may the Lord avenge his blood, who devoted his soul to the Jews, Jewish religion and Jewish land. His hands are innocent and his heart is pure. He was killed as a martyr…”

Meanwhile, the US continues to cite 9/11 to justify a war resulting in the death of over one million Iraqis (according to the British Opinion Research Business report in 2007).

As for US troop casualties, the Pentagon releases only death reports for troops killed on the field, from bullets or bombs (4,000). They do not include deaths sustained “not in direct combat”, e.g. those who die during evacuation, Humvee accidents, hospital deaths, those killed off duty, or private contractors (as many in Iraq as US troops). Also not included are suicides: 120 traumatized veterans kill themselves per week, according to a CBS 2007 investigation.

Thousands will die of cancer or kidney toxicology from depleted uranium exposure; thousands more have been infected with “Sandfly Disease” that can be fatal. Little wonder that the Pentagon bans the publication of photos of caskets flown home under cover of darkness.

If sheer statistics account for a sound argument, more than a million have paid the price for 9/11. How many more before the US is satisfied? As Dick Cheney himself said after the 1991 Gulf War (146 US troops killed), as to why the US left Iraq: “How many additional dead Americans is Saddam worth?…not very many”. George W. Bush this week announced that it “makes no sense” for the US to retreat from Iraq, and suggestions to the contrary are unpatriotic. But his vice president said in 1991, “I do not think the United States wants to have US military forces accept casualties and accept the responsibility of trying to govern Iraq. I think it makes no sense at all.” If the US did that, Cheney prophesied in 1991, it would cause the US to be “involved in a civil war inside Iraq (that) would literally be a quagmire.”

Neither Iraq, Afghanistan, nor Saudi Arabia was responsible for 9/11, in the same way that America was not responsible for the Goldstein massacre. One must compare military state action to military state action, not terrorist to nation state.

The equation seems simple:

Arab kills Americans = mass retaliatory military force required in revenge that is morally justifiable.

American kills Arabs = hero.

— Tanya Cariina Hsu is a political analyst originally from London. She lives in Riyadh.