Very interesting report by Channel 4 News on Nato creating “private army” militias in Afghanistan.

“This place is run by people in the drugs trade, armed with weapons and backed by foreign countries,” says one Afghan woman.

See “exclusive pictures of America’s newest allies” here: Nato turns to militias in Afghanistan battle

Excellent documentary on the oppression of Muslims in the Central Asian Republics. While totalitarian regimes imprison Muslims for the crime of praying, the West turns a blind eye. This, in turn, stokes radicalisation and is leading to “an explosive situation”. Obama is “even more eager to accomodate dictators than Bush was”.

Source: Craig Murray

Norman Finkelstein posted this video from a student at Ben Gurion University. It is a demonstration by students supporting the Flotilla slaughter. “In local terms, these are not even really right wing students we’re talking about here, just the political centre of the Israeli society. Demos like these were held all over the country since yesterday.”

http://www.normanfinkelstein.com/a-country-over-the-cliff/

This article by Mark Steel beautifully satirises the Israeli spin attempts at justifying premeditated murder.
The Independent. Courtesy of Norman Finkelstein

It’s time the Israeli government’s PR team made the most of its talents, and became available for hire. Then whenever a nutcase marched into a shopping mall in somewhere like Wisconsin and gunned down a selection of passers-by, they could be on hand to tell the world’s press “The gunman regrets the loss of life but did all he could to avoid violence.” Then various governments would issue statements saying “All we know is a man went berserk with an AK 47, and next to him there’s a pile of corpses, so until we know the facts we can’t pass judgement on what took place.”

To strengthen their case the Israelis have released a photo of the weapons they found on board, (which amount to some knives and tools and wooden sticks) that the naive might think you’d expect to find on any ship, but the more astute will recognise as exactly what you’d carry if you were planning to defeat the Israeli army. It’s an armoury smaller than you’d find in the average toolshed in a garden in Cirencester, which goes to show the Israelis had better destroy Cirencester quickly as an essential act of self-defence.

It’s a shame they weren’t more imaginative, as they could have said “We also discovered a deadly barometer, a ship’s compass, which could not only be frisbeed at someone’s head but even had markings to help the assailant know which direction he was throwing it, and a set of binoculars that could easily be converted into a ray-gun.”

That would be as logical as the statement from the Israeli PM’s spokesman – “We made every possible effort to avoid this incident.” Because the one tiny thing they forgot to do to avoid this incident was not send in armed militia from helicopters in the middle of the night and shoot people. I must be a natural at this sort of technique because I often go all day without climbing off a helicopter and shooting people, and I’m not even making every possible effort. Politicians and commentators worldwide repeat a version of this line. They’re aware a nation has sent its militia to confront people carrying provisions for the desperate, in the process shooting several of them dead, and yet they angrily blame the dead ones. One typical headline yesterday read “Activists got what they wanted – confrontation.” It’s an attitude so deranged it deserves to be registered as a psychosis, something like “Reverse Slaughter Victim Confusion Syndrome”.

Israel and its supporters claim that Viva Palestina, made up of people who collect the donated food, cement and items for providing basic amenities such as toilets, and transport them to Gaza, wanted the violence all along. Because presumably they must have been thinking “Hezbollah couldn’t beat them, but that’s because unlike us they didn’t have a ballcock and several boxes of plum tomatoes”.

One article told us the flotilla was full of “Thugs spoiling for a confrontation”, and then accused them of being “Less about aid and more about PR. Indeed, on board was Swedish novelist Henning Mankell.” So were they thugs or about PR? Did they have a thugs’ section and a PR quarter, or did they all muck in, the novelist diverting the soldiers with his characterisation while the thugs attacked them with a lethal spirit level?

But some defenders of Israel are so blind to what happens in front of them there’s nothing at all they wouldn’t jump to defend. Israel could blow up a cats home and within five minutes they’d be yelling “How do we know the cats weren’t smuggling semtex in their fur for Hamas?”

If this incident had been carried about by Iran, or anyone we were trying to portray as an enemy, so much condemnation would have been spewed out it would have created a vast cloud of outrage that airlines would be unable to fly through.

But as it’s Israel, most governments offer a few diplomatic words that blame no one, but accept the deaths are “regrettable”. They might as well have picked any random word from the dictionary, so the news would tell us “William Hague described the deaths as ‘hexagonal'”, and a statement from the US senate said “It’s all very confusing. In future let’s hope they make every effort to avoid a similar incident.”

Brilliant piece by Joseph Massad, from Palestine Thinktank

The reason for the ongoing “violence” in Israel and Palestine is not on account of Israeli colonialism at all but rather a direct result of mistranslation. Joseph Massad provides an abridged lexicon of Zionist terminology

“Colonialism is peace; anti-colonialism is war.” This is the unalterable equation that successive Israeli governments insist must determine the basis of all current and future relations between Israeli Jews and the Palestinians. Indeed, the deployment of the rhetoric of peace between Palestinians and Israeli Jews since the 1970s has been contingent on whether the Palestinians would acquiesce in this formula or insist on resisting it. The Oslo Accords were in large measure a ratification of this formula by the Palestine Liberation Organisation. Nonetheless, Palestinian resistance, violent and non- violent, to understanding “colonialism as peace” never fully subsided, even as the Palestinian Authority insisted that it become the law of the land.

The deployment of the rhetoric of peace however was more than anything else a deployment of the rhetoric of the “peace process.” In his book about the peace process, William Quandt traces the history of this deployment:

“Sometime in the mid-1970s the term peace process began to be widely used to describe the American-led efforts to bring about a negotiated peace between Israel and its neighbors. The phrase stuck, and ever since it has been synonymous with the gradual, step-by-step approach to resolving one of the world’s most difficult conflicts. In the years since 1967 the emphasis in Washington has shifted from the spelling out of the ingredients of ‘peace’ to the ‘process’ of getting there… The United States has provided both a sense of direction and a mechanism. That, at its best, is what the peace process has been about. At worst, it has been little more than a slogan used to mask the marking of time.”

I disagree partly with Quandt’s conclusion, mostly because the “peace process” since 1993 has been a mask for nothing short of Israeli colonial settlement and attempts by the Palestinian people to resist it and by the Palestinian Authority to coexist with it.

As has become clear even to the staunchest believers in the peace rhetoric, the Oslo Accords have not only been the main mechanism by which Israel subcontracted its occupation of the Palestinian people to the Palestinian Authority but also the main instrument through which Israel maintained its colonial control of Palestinian lands. While the occupied territories had been subjected to a different set of military laws since 1967 that governed the Palestinians and their land, the Oslo Accords began to institute the principle of separation, or in South African lingo, Apartheid. It was Yitzhak Rabin, Israel’s former prime minister and the ethnic cleanser of the Palestinian population from the cities of Lydda and Ramleh in 1948, who would express Israel’s separation principle on 23 January 1995: “This path must lead to a separation, though not according to the borders prior to 1967. We want to reach a separation between us and them.” The separation or Apartheid principle will ultimately translate into Israel’s construction of the Apartheid Wall, which has already swallowed up more than 10 per cent of West Bank lands and will swallow more once it is completed. Let me remind you here that the South African Apartheid regime itself was not terribly comfortable with the term Apartheid, which means separateness in Afrikaans, and began to replace it since the 1970s with the term “separate development”.

But this Israeli separation and colonial appropriation of land was again articulated through the rhetoric of peace. Since the signing of the Oslo Accords, Israel has more than tripled its colonial settler population in the West Bank and more than doubled it across the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem. Israel continues to confiscate Palestinian lands for colonial purposes and suppresses all Palestinian resistance to its colonial efforts. In 1993, there were approximately 281,000 colonial settlers in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem (124,200 in the West Bank, 4,800 in Gaza, and 152,800 in Jerusalem). At the end of 2009, there were approximately 490,000 colonial settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. As of September 2009, there were 301,200 colonial settlers in the West Bank and 190,000 in East Jerusalem. Israeli leaders have maintained that their colonial settlement did not detract from Israel’s commitment to peace. On the contrary, Israel is clear that it was the Palestinian Authority who is to blame for the cessation of negotiations. Current Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is not only committed to “colonialism as peace”, he, like his predecessors, insists that the Palestinian Authority protests that Israeli colonial settlement must stop for negotiations to begin is nothing short of an imposition of “pre-conditions” for negotiations, which he cannot accept.

This Israeli position is hardly new. Israeli leaders have always insisted that Israeli colonialism is not only compatible with peace, but that the Palestinian leadership’s acquiescence in it will ensure peace, while it was Palestinian resistance to it that causes war and terrorism.

One of the most pressing arguments often made by Israeli leaders since 1948 is how they have always been committed to peace with the Palestinian people and their Arab neighbours only to be rebuffed time and again by them. Israeli leaders from David Ben-Gurion to Netanyahu have insisted that all the wars Israel fought were not of Israel’s choosing but imposed on it by Palestinian and Arab rejection of Israel’s right to colonise. While Israel is ready to fight all wars, they insist, its preference has always been for peace. Golda Meir had declared in 1969: “We have always said that in our war with the Arabs we had a secret weapon — no alternative.” This is not just a question of political propaganda, but also a reflection of Israel’s sincere commitment to “colonialism as peace.”

Political wisdom in Israel has it that Israeli Jews have prayed and worked for peace for the last 62 years only for their peaceful offers to be turned down by their Arab enemies. What Israelis mean by this is that they have prayed that they could continue to colonise Palestinian lands and also have peace at the same time, but instead they have had to deal with war, terrorism, and resistance to their “peaceful” colonial efforts. It is true that finally one Arab, Anwar El-Sadat, met Israel’s extended hand with a peace agreement in 1979, but he was unique in his efforts. It took King Hussein 15 years to follow suit under international pressure. Still even these peaceful agreements have not resulted in normalisation of relations with Arab states or of popular acceptance of Israel by the Arab peoples. The Palestinians while pretending to offer peace to Israel have been proven to be deceptive and not serious about peace at all, as they insist on resisting its colonial efforts. What is Israel to do in this belligerent and “tough” neighbourhood in which it lives? How can it deal with such bellicose people intent on destroying it when all it asks for is peace and security for its colonial settlement?

Just a few weeks ago President Shimon Peres insisted: “I want to say in the name of the state of Israel at large: We do not seek war… We are a nation that yearns for peace, but knows, and will always know, how to defend itself.” Even the much maligned Netanyahu also declared a few weeks ago: “We are a peace seeking nation who prays for peace… our one hand is extended in offering peace to our willing neighbours, while the other wields a sword to protect ourselves against those who seek to destroy us.”

In order to understand Israel’s commitment to peace, we need to understand what it means by that term and its commensurate companion, the term “security”. These are key concepts in the language of Zionism. Many of Israel’s detractors believe Israel is lying when it insists on peace and security. I will argue that these detractors are wrong. Israel is dead serious about its commitment to peace and is honest when it insists that war is something imposed on it by its enemies. The problem is one of translation. Israel’s enemies do not seem to understand the language of Zionism — and by that I do not mean the Hebrew language! I will translate from Zionism to English one more time: Colonialism is Peace, Anti-Colonialism is War. (more…)

31 May 2010:

An American solidarity activist was shot in the face with a tear gas canister during a demonstration in Qalandiya, today. Emily Henochowicz is currently in Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem undergoing surgery to remove her left eye, following the demonstration that was held in protest to Israel’s murder of at least 10 civilians aboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in international waters this morning.

21-year old Emily Henochowicz was hit in the face with a tear gas projectile fired directly at her by an Israeli soldier during the demonstration at Qalandiya checkpoint today. Israeli occupation forces fired volleys of tear gas at unarmed Palestinian and international protesters, causing mass panic amongst the demonstrators and those queuing at the largest checkpoint separating the West Bank and Israel.

“They clearly saw us,” said Sören Johanssen, a Swedish ISM volunteer standing with Henochowicz. “They clearly saw that we were internationals and it really looked as though they were trying to hit us. They fired many canisters at us in rapid succession. One landed on either side of Emily, then the third one hit her in the face.”

Henochowicz is an art student at the prestigious Cooper Union, located in East Village, Manhattan.

The demonstration was one of many that took place across the West Bank today in outrage over the Israeli military’s attack on the Gaza freedom flotilla and blatant violation of international law. Demonstrations also took place in inside Israel, Gaza and Jerusalem, with clashes occurring in East Jerusalem and Palestinian shopkeepers in the occupied Old City closing their businesses for the day in protest.

Tear gas canisters are commonly used against demonstrators in the occupied West Bank. In May 2009, the Israeli State Attorney’s Office ordered Israeli Police to review its guidelines for dispersing demonstrators, following the death of a demonstrator, Bassem Abu Rahmah from Bil’in village, caused by a high velocity tear-gas projectile. Tear-gas canisters are meant to be used as a means of crowd dispersal, to be shot indirectly at demonstrators and from a distance. However, Israeli forces frequently shoot canisters directly at protesters and are not bound by a particular distance from which they can shoot.

Israeli occupation forces boarded the Mavi Marmara, one of six ships on the Freedom Flotilla at 5 a.m. this morning, opening fire on the hundreds of unarmed civilians aboard. No-one aboard the ships were carrying weapons of any kind, including for defense against a feared Israeli attack in international waters. At least 9 aid workers aboard the ship have been confirmed dead, with dozens more injured. The assault took place 70 miles off the Gaza coast in international waters, after the flotilla was surrounded by three Israeli warships. The Freedom Flotilla, carrying 700 human rights activists from over 40 countries and 10,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid, was headed for the besieged and impoverished Gaza Strip. The Israeli blockade on Gaza, combined with the illegal buffer zone, has put a stranglehold on the territory. 42% of Gazans are unemployed, and food insecurity hovers around 60% according to figures from the Palestine Centre for Human Rights.

Palestinian Solidarity

RAMALLAH: The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) said on Monday that a new Israeli military order that allows the country’s government to expel thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank is “a new Nakba for Palestinian people.”

Nakba means “catastrophe” in Arabic and is a term used by Palestinians to describe the creation of the Israeli state in 1948. “(It is) a new form of racism and part of the forced displacement Israel has committed against the Palestinian people,” a PLO statement said of the Israeli order.

The decision, in its earliest phase, would target Palestinians whose ID cards had been issued in the Gaza Strip. Foreign women married to Palestinians would also be deported later, according to Haaretz.

The order also allows Israeli authorities to deal with those affected as infiltrators, who then might face a detention sentence of up to seven years. “(The order aims to) torpedo the geographic and democratic continuity of the Palestinian people and to create the independent Palestinian state on isolated islands,” the PLO statement said.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said: “These military orders belong in an apartheid state. They make it infinitely easier for Israel to imprison and expel Palestinians from the West Bank.”

Human rights activists said on Sunday the new orders could make almost any Palestinian liable for expulsion from the occupied West Bank.

Ten Israeli rights groups condemned the orders, saying in a statement that the vast majority of Palestinians in the West Bank have never been required to hold an Israeli-issued residency permit. “The military will be able to prosecute and deport any Palestinian defined as an infiltrator in stark contradiction to the Geneva Convention,” the statement said. The groups said they feared the broad wording of the orders could enable the military to expel tens of thousands of Palestinians.

Syrian President Bashar Assad urged the international community to adopt “a clear stance on Israeli attempts to adopt a policy of ethnic cleansing in the West Bank and to expel Palestinians from their homeland.”

Arab League chief Amr Moussa said: “For as long as this lasts, things will get worse and it will be more difficult to bring true peace” to the region, adding that the Arab League council would hold an “urgent meeting” on Tuesday to discuss the issue.

Arab News

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