Monday, June 28, 2010

One Man's Story of the Israeli Assault on the Flotilla

Kevin Neish, Canadian activist aboard the Mavi Marmara, witnessed the Israeli commando assault.

Eyewitness to the Israeli Assault on the Mavi Marmara
By Dave Lindorff / June 15, 2010

Kevin Neish of Victoria, British Columbia, didn’t know he was a celebrity until he was about to board a flight from Istanbul to Ottawa. “This Arab woman wearing a beautiful outfit suddenly ran up to me crying, ‘It’s you! From Arab TV! You’re famous!’” he recalls with a laugh. “I didn’t know what she was talking about, but she told me, ‘I saw you flipping through the Israeli commando’s book! It’s being aired over and over!’”

A soft-spoken teacher and former civilian engineer with the Canadian Department of Defense, Neish realized then that a video taken by an Arab TV cameraman in the midst of the Israeli assault on the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza of him flipping through a booklet had been transmitted before the Israelis blocked all electronic signals from the flotilla. The booklet had pictures and profiles of all the passengers, and he'd found it in the backpack of an Israeli Defense Force commando.

Neish, 53, was on the second deck of the flotilla’s lead ship, the Turkish Mavi Marmara, with a good view of the stern, when the IDF, in the early morning darkness of May 31, began its assault with percussion grenades, tear gas and a hail of bullets. He then moved to the fourth deck in an enclosed stairwell, from which he watched and took photographs as casualties were carried down past him to a makeshift medical station. Several IDF commandos, captured by the passengers and crew, were also brought past him.

“I saw them carrying this one IDF guy down,” he recalls. “He looked terrified, like he thought he was going to be killed. But when a big Turkish guy, who had seen seriously injured passengers who had been shot by the IDF, charged over and tried to hit the commando, the Turkish aid workers pushed him off and pinned him to the wall. They protected this Israeli soldier.”

That was when he found the backpack which the soldier had dropped. “I figured I’d look inside and see what he was carrying,” Neish says. “And inside was this kind of flip-book. It was full of photos and names in English and Hebrew of who was on all the ships. The booklet also had a detailed diagram of the decks of the Mavi Marmara.”

Meanwhile, he says, more and more people were being carried down the stairs from the mayhem above—people who'd been shot, and people who were dying or people already dead. “I took detailed photos of the dead and wounded with my camera,” he says, adding, “There were several guys who had two neat bullet holes side by side on the side of their head--clearly they were executed.”

Neish smuggled his photos out of Israel to Turkey despite his arrest on the ship and imprisonment in Israel for several days. “I pulled out the memory card, tossed my camera and anything I had on me that had anything to do with electronics, and then kept moving the chip around so it wouldn’t be found,” he says. “The Israelis took all the cameras and computers. They were smashing some and keeping others. I put the chip in my mouth under my tongue, between my butt cheeks, in my sock, everywhere, to keep them from finding it,” he says. He finally handed it to a Turk who was leaving for a flight home on a Turkish airline. He says the card ended up in the hands of an organization called Free Gaza, and he has seen some of his pictures published, so he knows they made it out successfully.

Neish says that claims that the Israeli commandos were just armed with paint guns and 9 mm pistols are “Bullshit--at one point when I was in the stairwell, a commando opened a hatch above, stuck in a machine gun, and started firing. Bullets were bouncing all over the place. If the guy had gotten to look in and see where he was shooting, I’d have been dead, but two Turkish guys in the stairwell, who had short lengths of chain with them that they had taken from the access points to the lifeboats, stood to the side of the hatch and whipped them up at the barrell. I don’t know if they were trying to hit the commando or to use them to snatch away the gun, but the Israeli backed off, and they slammed and locked the hatch.”

“I never saw a single paint gun, or a sign of a fired paint ball!” he says.

He also didn't see any guns in the hands of people who were on the ship. “In the whole time I was there on the ship, I never saw a single weapon in the hands of the crew or the aid workers,” he says. Indeed, Neish, who originally had been on a smaller 70-foot yacht called the Challenger II, had transferred to the Mavi Marmara after a stop in Cyprus, because his boat had been sabatoged by Israeli agents (a claim verified by the Israeli government), making it impossible to steer. “When we came aboard the big boat, I was frisked and my bag was inspected for weapons,” he says. “Being an engineer, I of course had a pocket knife, but they took that and tossed it into the ocean. Nobody was allowed to have any weapons on this voyage. They were very careful about that.”

What he did see during the IDF assault was severe bullet wounds. “In addition to several people I saw who were killed, I saw several dozen wounded people. There was one older guy who was just propped up against the wall with a huge hole in his chest. He died as I was taking his picture.”

Neish says he saw many of the 9 who were known to have been killed, and of the 40 who were wounded, and adds, “There were many more who were wounded, too, but less seriously. In the Israeli prison, I saw people with knife wounds and broken bones. Some were hiding their injuries so they wouldn’t be taken away from the others.” He also says, “Initially there were reports that 16 on the boat had been killed. The medical station said 16. There was a suspicion that some bodies may have been thrown overboard. But what people think now is that the the other seven who are missing, since we’re not hearing from families, may have been Israeli spies.”

Once the Israeli commandos had secured control of the Mavi Marmara, Neish says the ship’s passengers and crew were rounded up, with the men put in one area on deck, and the women put below in another area. The men were told to squat, and had their hands bound with plastic cuffs, which Neish says were pulled so tight that his wrists were cut and his hands swelled up and turned purple (he is still suffering nerve damage from the experience, which his doctor in Canada says he hopes will gradually repair on its own).

“They told us to be quiet,” he says. “But at one point this Turkish imam stood up and started singing a call to prayer. Everybody was dead quiet--even the Israelis. But after about ten seconds, this Israeli officer stomped over through the squatting people, pulled out his pistol and pointed at the guy’s head, yelling ‘Shut up!’ in English. The imam looked at him directly and just kept singing! I thought, Jesus Christ, he’s gonna kill him! Then I thought, well, this is what I’m here for, I guess, so I stood up. The officer wheeled around and pointed his gun at my head. The imam finished his song and sat down, and then I sat down.”

While the commandeered vessels were sailed to the Israeli port of Ashdot, the captives were left without food or water. “All we were given were some chocolate bars that the Israelis pilfered from the ship’s stores,” says Neish. “You had to grovel to get to go to the bathroom, and many people had to just go in their pants.”

Things didn’t get much better once the passengers were transferred to an Israeli prison. He and the other prisoners with him, who hadn’t eaten for more than half a day, were tossed a frozen block of bread and some cucumbers.

On the second day, someone from the Canadian embassy came around, calling out his name. “It turned out he’d been going to every cell looking for me,” says Neish. “My daughter had been frantically telling the Canadian government I was in the flotilla. Even though the Israelis had my name and knew where I was, they weren’t telling the Canadian embassy people. In fact the Canadians--and my daughter--thought I was dead, because people had said I’d been near the initial assault. The good thing is that as they went around calling out for me, they discovered two Arab-born Canadians that they hadn’t known were there.”

“Eventually they got to my cell and I answered them. The embassy official said, ‘You’re Kevin? You’re supposed to be dead.’”

After being held for a few days, there was a rush to move everyone to the Ben Gurion airport for a flight to Turkey. “It turned out that Israeli lawyers had brought our case to the Supreme Court, challenging the legality of our capture on international waters. There was a chance that the court would order the IDF to put us back on our ships and let us go, so the government wanted to get us out of Israel and moot the case. But two guys were hauled off, probably by Mossad (the Israeli intelligence agency). So we all said, ‘No. We don’t go unless you bring them back.’”

The two men were returned and were allowed to leave with the rest of the group.

“I honestly never thought the Israelis would board the ship,” says Neish. “I thought we’d get into Gaza. I mean, I went as part of the Free Gaza Movement, and they had made prior attempts, with some getting in, and some getting boarded or rammed, but this time it was a big flotilla. I figured we’d be stopped, and maybe searched. My boat, the Challenger II, only had dignitaries on board including three German MPs, and then Lt. Col. Ann Wright and myself.

At one point in the Israeli prison, all the violence finally got to this man who had witnessed more death and mayhem than many active duty US troops in Iraq or Afghanistan. “I broke down and started crying,” he admits. “This big Turkish guy came over and asked me, ‘What’s wrong?’ I said, ‘Sixteen people died.’”

“He said to me, ‘No, they died for a wonderful cause. They’re happy. You just go out and tell your story.’”

Source / This Can't Be Happening

Thanks to Jeffrey Segal / Fluxed Up World

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Toronto Model (or the St. Paul Model, or ...)

Police use pepper spray to break up a group of protesters during a rally at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul Monday. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

When police stick to phony script
By Catherine Porter / June 26 2010

They call it the Miami Model.

But it could be called the Genoa model, the Pittsburgh model and, after this weekend, the Toronto model.

It refers to police tactics used in Miami seven years ago, during the Free Trade Area of the Americas summit, and, more importantly, the protests erupting on the streets outside.

Manny Diaz, Miami’s then-mayor, called the police methods exemplary — a model to be followed by homeland security when confronting protesters.

Human rights groups including Amnesty International called it a model of police brutality and intimidation.

Protesters were beaten with tear gas, sticks, rubber bullets . . . You can watch police stun cowering protesters with Tasers on YouTube. Last year, the city agreed it had trampled citizens’ right to free speech by forcing marchers back from planned protests and settled out of court with Amnesty International.

What is the Miami Model?

I called Naomi Archer to find out. She is an indigenous rights worker from North Carolina who happened to be giving a lecture on the Miami Model yesterday at the U.S. Social Forum — the G20 for community activists.

Archer, who was in Miami as a liaison between protesters and police, has a 40-box checklist to identify the Model. Here are the main themes.

• Information warfare. This starts weeks before the event. Protesters are criminalized and dehumanized, and described as dangerous “anarchists” and “terrorists” the city needs to defend against.

“Often, a faux cache is found,” says Archer. “They are usually ordinary objects, like bike inner tubes, camping equipment, but the police make them out to look threatening. It lays the groundwork for police to be violent and it means there’s a reduced accountability of law enforcement.”

• Intimidation. Police start random searches of perceived protesters before any large rallies. They are asked where they are staying, why they are walking around. Police raid organizer’s homes or meeting places, “usually just before the summit, so there’s maximum chaos organizers have to deal with,” says Archer.

“All this is meant to dissuade participants. The best way to make sure you don’t have a critical mass of people taking over the streets like in Seattle is to reduce the numbers at the outset.”

This is usually made possible by last-minute city regulations, curtailing the right to protest. In Miami, the city commission passed a temporary ordinance forbidding groups of more than seven to congregate for more than 30 minutes without a permit.

• “They threw rocks.” That’s the line police use after tear-gassing or beating protesters most times, Archer says. Urine and human feces are variations on the theme. But it’s always the protesters who triggered the violence. A popular police tactic is called “kettling.” Officers on bike or horses herd protesters into an enclosed space, so they can’t leave without trying to break through the police line. Take the bait; you provoke a beating or arrest. And of course, there are the famous agent provocateurs, outted publicly two years ago in Montebello. Police officers dressed up like militant protesters to protect the peaceful crowd, they say; Archer says it’s to instigate trouble.

In Montebello, one of the three cops dressed in black was holding a rock.

“It’s the same lies every single protest,” she says. “It’s justification by law enforcement for their violent actions. This is a propaganda war.”

• Job well done. At the end, regardless of the bodies clogging the temporary holding cells and hospitals, the police always congratulate themselves. And by the time the cases go to court, the story is long forgotten and the circus has moved to a new unsuspecting town.

More than 270 people were arrested in Miami during the summit seven years ago . How many were convicted, in the end? I called the American Civil Liberties Union to find out.

“None,” said lawyer Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, who was the president of the Miami chapter back then.

So far in Toronto, the police show has unrolled according to script; we’ve seen the propaganda, the cache, the intimidation, the secretive new regulations, the scary military arsenal. . . .

Next up, rocks. Will we all believe that one too?

Source / Toronto Star

Fluxed Up World

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

BP and Iraq: Same Story, Different Details

Twin Oil Disasters: BP and Iraq
Bloody Friday in Iraq Leaves 27 Dead, over 80 Wounded

By Juan Cole / June 19, 2010

The wave of violence in Iraq on Friday, wherein guerrillas killed at least 27 and wounded dozens, underlined how fragile the country still is. In many ways, American Iraq resembles BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil gusher. In the cases both of Iraq and of Deepwater Horizon, oil men were trying to get a big reserves of petroleum that had earlier been out of their reach. Iraq’s 115 billion barrels of oil had been put off limits by sanctions pushed for in Congress by, among others, the Israel lobbies. The Deepwater Horzizon lay deep under the Gulf of Mexico, under a mile of water and 2 further miles of the earth’s crust– the deepest oil well in history.

In both Iraq and Deepwater Horizon, corners were cut and the people behind them tried to succeed on the cheap. Instead of nearly half a million troops in post-war Iraq, then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld sent a little over 100,000, and they could not keep order. Instead of a whole range of safety measures on the Deepwater Horizon rig, BP made do with no relief well and skimped on a number of other key pieces of equipment.

Both Iraq and Deepwater Horizon are long-term catastrophes. Iraq has been destabilized into the foreseeable future. By the definition of the University of Michigan’s Correlates of War project headed by the late David Singer, Iraq is still in a civil war, with civilian deaths likely to range between 3000 and 4000 this year. Despite holding parliamentary elections on March 7, Iraq has been unable to form a government and there is not one in sight. There was no plan B once the Neoconservative fantasy of installing Ahmad Chalabi as a soft dictator was revealed as completely impractical. And, the US military is leaving Iraq a waste dump of toxic materials. Likewise, BP had no plan B once its rig blew up and killed 11 crewmen. Top kill, junk shot, etc., all failed. Millions of gallons of petroleum have jetted into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening it with dead zones and extensive damage to coastal marshes. The damage, as with Iraq, will last for many years.

Both the Iraq tragedy and the BP tragedy are testimonies to greed and hubris. They speak of gigantic endeavors undertaken with insufficient forethought and too few resources. They are enterprises that made a handful of ruthless men wealthy, and impoverished everyone else. In the cutting of corners for short term petty profit, in the extractive determination, in the disregard for any rule of law or prudent regulations, these two projects were both stamped with the personality of Dick Cheney (who met with energy corporations and worked tirelessly to remove them from regulatory oversight, so that he is at the matrix of both disasters).

Neither the Iraq catastrophe nor the BP calamity would have happened if we developed alternative forms of energy to replace petroleum.

Many of the attacks in Iraq on Friday took the form of reprisals by militant Sunni Arabs against what they see as collaborators, and some targeted Iraqi and US troops.

Near the Syrian border at Qa’im, gunmen killed 7 Iraqi soldiers at a checkpoint. Since caretaker Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has repeatedly blamed Syria for harboring Baathist Iraqi officers, the Qaim attack may well again inflame passions between Baghdad and Damascus.

In Fallujah, guerrillas fired a rocket at a US military base but it landed on three civilian houses and kill 4 persons and wounded 7. Those who want to put a US military base in Fallujah for the long term should keep in mind two words: in and coming.

In Tuz Khurmato north of Baghdad, the scene of much past violence, guerrillas set off a car bomb that killed 8 persons and wounded 69– with most of the casualties being women. The bombing may have targeted the home of Niazar Nomaroglu, a Turkmen provincial councillor.

Another target, in Salahuddin province, had been a translator for the Us military. He was killed as a collaborator by members of his own family. His plight increased the dread of many Iraqis who cooperated with US troops. There are now only 90,000, down from a peak of 160,00, and the number is headed for 50,000 this fall. As their numbers dwindle, both they and their Iraqi allies become more vulnerable.

Source / Informed Comment

Fluxed Up World

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Nima Shirazi: The Subjugation Will Be Televised

World Cup Domination & Entertaining the Empire: One Aim Changes Everything
By Nima Shirazi / June 17, 2010

"Our situation is like a football match. The superpower countries are the players, and we are just the ball to be kicked around." - A young Pakistani civilian, North Waziristan

The Great Game is indeed alive and kicking. This summer's World Cup tournament is providing yet another way for the United States to project its power across the globe, though not as a result of the American national team's action on the pitch.

Rather, this year, the subjugation will be televised.

While the presence of U.S. Marine Corps recruiting advertisements at each and every commercial break is perhaps mundane at this point, far more surprising is the frequent, scripted announcement by various British and Scottish play-by-play commentators on ESPN that "we'd like to welcome our men and women in uniform, serving in over 175 countries and territories, watching today's 2010 FIFA World Cup match on AFN, the American Forces Network." Other various comments have also been made about how proud the ESPN color men are of the American troops, what a fine job they are doing, and that the commentators "sincerely hope [the soldiers] are enjoying the broadcast."

Beyond the surreal fact that announcers from the UK, like Adrian Healey, Martin Tyler, and Ian Darke, are eagerly praising American soldiers and sailors during the broadcast as their own ("our brave men and women..."), how can the rest be said with a straight face or without the most shameful sense of hypocrisy? That there are US troops stationed in over 175 countries around the world is a stunning fact in itself - although well-known by now if you've been paying attention at all for the past decade. At this point, there's probably an 'App' for that.

But again, this is the World Cup, and overseas ESPN announcers are lauding the attention, entertainment, and service of U.S. world domination forces, a military that has invaded, occupied, overthrown, exploited, bombed, blasted, burned, and reduced to rubble many - if not most - of the countries that now vie for the cup of all cups. The same Armed Force that now gets to enjoy the harmonious excitement of the 'beautiful game' in all its High Def glory has stoked tension and supported instability (to say the least) in countries like Greece (1947-49, over 500 U.S. armed forces military advisers sent to administer hundreds of millions of dollars in their civil war), Brazil (1964, U.S. backs a coup d'etat to overthrow popular president João Goulart), Chile (1973, U.S.-supported military coup overthrows - and murders - democratically-elected president Salvador Allende and brings dictatorship of Pinochet to power), Uruguay (1973, U.S.-backed coup brings military dictatorship to power), Argentina (1976, military junta deposes government of Isabel Perón with U.S. knowledge and support), Honduras (besides past interventions in 1905, 1907, 1911, and 1943, in 1983 over 1000 troops and National Guard members were deployed to help the contra fight against Nicaragua, not to mention the U.S. support for last year's coup), Slovenia and Serbia (1992-6, U.S. Navy joins in a naval blockade of Yugoslavia in Adriatic waters; 1999, U.S. participated in months of air bombing and cruise missile strikes in Kosovo 'war').

The U.S military is still essentially occupying Germany (52,440 troops in over 50 installations), Japan (35,688 troops with an additional 5,500 American civilians employed by the DoD - oh yeah, and Japan pays about $2 billion each year for the US to be there as part of the 'Omoiyari Yosan,' or 'compassion budget'), and South Korea (28,500 U.S. troops). There are 9,660 U.S troops still stationed in Italy, 9,015 in the United Kingdom, over 1,300 in Serbia and over 1,200 in Spain.

Furthermore, Denmark, Greece, the Netherlands, France, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, Algeria, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Honduras, Mexico, Paraguay, and Uruguay all suffer the presence of at least a few American soldiers who are officially stationed there (some of these countries are forced to host 400-800 US troops). All told, there are about 78,000 American military personnel in Europe, along with approximately 47,240 in East Asia and the Pacific, 3,360 in North Africa, the Near East, and South Asia (obviously not including the 92,000 troops in Iraq and about 100,000 in Afghanistan and Pakistan), 1,355 in sub-Saharan Africa, and an additional 1,940 in the Western Hemisphere outside the United States itself.

When broadcasting from the new Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on the east coast of South Africa, Scottish announcer Derek Rae has made sure to point out that "U.S. sailors and Marines are with us today...on AFN, the American Forces Network."

As of 2008, the U.S. Navy had over 90,000 sailors afloat in and around the United States and its satellite territories around the world. Another 18,280 are deployed in foreign waters, accompanied by over 4,300 Marines. There are about 10,500 Naval personnel stationed in East Asia and the Pacific alone.

Continuing, Rae states, "We'd like say hello to the crews of all the ships at sea. And we are just a stone's throw from the ocean ourselves, the Indian Ocean, in this case. Great to have you with us."

The island of Diego Garcia, located about 1,000 miles from the southern coasts of India and Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean, is a British colony, part of the British Indian Ocean Territory, and serves as a massive U.S. military naval and airbase under an arrangement made in 1971 (for which the UK does not charge the U.S. any rent). The agreement led to 2,000 native islanders being forcibly evicted to the Seychelles and Mauritius. (Reportedly, the U.S. is "opposed to anyone other than military personnel and their employees living anywhere in the Chagos archipelago, asserting that security will be compromised." Ethnic cleansing in action.) Currently, about 50 British military staff are stationed on the island, with more than 3,200 U.S. personnel.

The Diego Garcia installation acts as a refueling and support station for the U.S. Navy and Air Force and is home of a U.S. naval prepositioning squadron (responsible for the readiness of naval vessels as part of the Military Sealift Command in the Indian Ocean). The aerial bombardment and invasions of both Afghanistan and Iraq were launched from the island. More recently, Diego Garcia is home to forward deployed U.S. guided missile nuclear submarines, in stark violation of the African Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Treaty, and has been used a "black site" in the Bush administration's illegal extraordinary rendition program, a program protected and continued by Obama.

Earlier this year, the Scottish Sunday Herald revealed that "hundreds of powerful US 'bunker-buster' bombs" had been "shipped from California to the British island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean in preparation for a possible attack on Iran." The cargo included "195 smart, guided, Blu-110 bombs and 192 massive 2000lb Blu-117 bombs," which are "used for blasting hardened or underground structures" such as Iran's fortified nuclear energy facilities. Dan Plesch, director of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at the University of London and co-author of a recent study on US preparations for an attack on Iran, has stated that the United States is "gearing up totally for the destruction of Iran...US bombers are ready today to destroy 10,000 targets in Iran in a few hours."

Literally, the only country in this year's World Cup proceedings without any sort of token or actual United States military presence is - surprise surprise - North Korea. And even this might change if Obama gets his way. That would put American troops in every single one of the 32 countries currently competing in South Africa, along with over 140 others.

A press release distributed by U.S. Africa Command (US AFRICOM) this week excitedly reports, "Through the cooperation of a host of international television licensees, the American Forces Network Broadcast Center (AFN-BC) has been granted permission by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) to distribute the full complement of matches of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa."

A recent article in Stars and Stripes, quotes Lt. Col. Steve Berger, an intelligence planner with U.S. Army Africa stationed in Vicenza, Italy, as saying, "It’s really great for the soldiers to see, especially for an emerging sport in the U.S.” And especially so that they can get a glimpse of the kinds of people they'll be ordered to kill next! Even more exciting is the fact that, "Because AFN doesn’t pay for programming, it was important that it receive the rights to the World Cup for free, AFN chief of affiliate relations Larry Sichter said." Apparently, the military can invade your country and station troops there indefinitely, but it sure as hell won't pay for television broadcasting! Especially not with the $531 billion allocated this fiscal year for U.S. military spending (a total which is expected to rise by $18 billion next year along with an additional $272 billion for the ongoing occupation of Iraq, the escalation in Afghanistan, the illegal predator drone bombings in Pakistan, and rebuilding and updating a nuclear arsenal in clear violation of the requirements of the NPT). The U.S. armed forces just can't spare a square.

FIFA probably had no choice but to comply with the requests of the U.S. military for fear of having their offices occupied or blown to pieces. What a relief a deal was struck! How global! How peaceful! How imperial! How obvious, unsurprising, and embarrassing.

"Having the most-watched sports event on the planet play out on AFN is a real feather in our cap," notes Jeff White, Executive Director of AFN-BC, in the text of the military press release filed from Riverdale, CA via Stuttgart, Germany. "But more importantly," White continues, "we'll be able to deliver the entire compliment of matches to the side that means the most -- our brave men and women in uniform serving their country overseas and in harm's way. It doesn't get any better than this."

That, out of the planetary pride, representation, and unification that the World Cup is supposed to be all about, the U.S. military would be "the side that means the most" is in itself upsetting - but hey, it's a military press release and the guy's name is White after all.

But White is wholly wrong about "it" not getting "any better than this." There is a very simple way for things to be much, much better. If the U.S. reduced its dominating and destructive presence and aggressive involvement around the world and dismantled the hundreds of foreign installations and imperial infrastructure that keep the rest of the world in submissive subjugation and under American occupation, these brave men and women in uniform could - and should - be watching these 64 soccer games from the comfort of their own homes in the United States, on the couch with their families.

For the sake of the entire world, it truly wouldn't get any better than that.

Source / Wide Asleep in America

Fluxed Up World

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Treatment of the Palestinians Is America's Shame

And what is truly critical to understand is that the vast majority of the members of Congress (both houses) are consistent in their concurrence with Senator Schumer's perspective. In short, they are all sympathetic toward, if not directly condoning, crimes against humanity. Shame, shame.

Richard Jehn / Fluxed Up World

Schumer’s Sippenhaftung and the Children of Gaza
By Juan Cole / June 12, 2010

“Gaza” is an abstraction to most Israelis, including Sen. Charles Schumer of New York. A majority of the 1.5 million Gazans is not even from Gaza, but rather is from what is now Israel.

Americans do not know, and perhaps do not care, that 68% of Gazans are refugees living in 8 refugee camps, who were ethnically cleansed and violently expelled from their homes in 1947-48, in what is now Israel. And no, they were not combatants, just civilians caught up in a civil war of sorts. They lost massive amounts of property and their homes, which would now be worth billions, but have never received a dime from the Israelis in reparations or compensation. Then in winter of 2008-2009, the Israeli military destroyed one in every eight Palestinian homes, rendering even more people homeless.

Schumer accuses the Gazans of not ‘recognizing’ Israel, which is sort of like accusing the pelicans in the Gulf of Mexico of not ‘recognizing’ BP. If Schumer wants the recognition and good will of the Gazans, he should arrange for them to be paid for the homes and farms out of which they were chased by the Israelis, who made them homeless refugees in a kind of vast concentration camp in Gaza, and are now half-starving them.

Think Progress reveals that Schumer told an Orthodox audience:

SCHUMER: The Palestinian people still don’t believe in the Jewish state, in a two-state solution. More do than before, but a majority still do not. Their fundamental view is, the Europeans treated the Jews badly and gave them our land — this is Palestinian thinking [...] They don’t believe in the Torah, in David [...] You have to force them to say Israel is here to stay. The boycott of Gaza to me has another purpose — obviously the first purpose is to prevent Hamas from getting weapons by which they will use to hurt Israel — but the second is actually to show the Palestinians that when there’s some moderation and cooperation, they can have an economic advancement. When there’s total war against Israel, which Hamas wages, they’re going to get nowhere. And to me, since the Palestinians in Gaza elected Hamas, while certainly there should be humanitarian aid and people not starving to death, to strangle them economically until they see that’s not the way to go, makes sense.

So anything short of ‘starving to death’, i.e. mass extermination in the camps, is all right as long as it convinces the enemy?

How about something short of starving to death, such as 10% of children being stunted from malnutrition? Would that be worth it? Or a majority of Gazans being ‘food insecure’ according to the United Nations? [pdf]. Both are the current situation, which is supported by Schumer.

How about Gaza children Looking for food in garbage?

Some 56% of Gazans are children, who hardly voted for Hamas but whom Schumer wishes to punish economically.

Meanwhile, Schumer doesn’t recognize a Palestinian state, but he nevertheless gets three solid meals a day.

Sen. Charles Schumer at crumpets and tea.

As Think Progress explained, nothing Schumer said is true. A majority of Palestinians favors a two-state solution. Moreover, Palestinians are Christians and Muslims, who do in fact acknowledge the Torah (the Hebrew Bible, which the Qur’an praises as full of guidance and light) and David (whom the Qur’an calls “Da’ud.”) Schumer is shamelessly ignorant about Palestinian culture, but it is true that they do not draw from David’s existence or from the Qur’an’s praise of the Torah or Bible the same conclusion as contemporary political Zionists or Jewish nationalists, that Jews have a right to expel local people from Palestine and usurp their property without compensation. But then virtually no Jews drew such a conclusion in the United States until after World War II, and most diaspora Jews rejected such an idea until that era.

As for the idea that all Gazans, including children, should be economically punished until they agree with Schumer’s Zionism, there is only one way that makes sense. Since the children of Gaza did not vote for Hamas, if they are being punished for Hamas’s crimes, then it must be because they are related to Hamas members.

Punishing people because they are related to enemies of the state is called in German Sippenhaft or Sippenhaftung. Look it up. I don’t usually like such analogies from the 1930s and 1940s in Europe to contemporary Zionist thinking because they inevitably offend even a sympathetic Jewish audience. But it should be noted that Sippenhaftung was implemented against gentile German family members of dissidents such as those involved in the plot to assassinate Hitler, and that Stalin also deployed the tactic of punishing relatives of perceived dissidents. And there is no other way to read Schumer’s prescription for putting Gazan children on a diet than as a contemporary form of Sippenhaftung.

And it is shameful, and he deserves the comparison for these inhumane sentiments.

Here is the video of Schumer saying what he said.

Source / Informed Comment

Fluxed Up World

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