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By Noam Chomsky

Almost every day brings news of awful crimes, but some are so heinous, so horrendous and malicious, that they dwarf all else. One of those rare events took place on July 17, when Malaysian Airlines MH17 was shot down in Eastern Ukraine, killing 298 people.

The Guardian of Virtue in the White House denounced it as an “outrage of unspeakable proportions,” which he attributed to “Russian support.” His UN Ambassador thundered that “when 298 civilians are killed” in the “horrific downing” of a civilian plane, “we must stop at nothing to determine who is responsible and to bring them to justice.” She also called on Putin to end his shameful efforts to evade his very clear responsibility. 

True, the “irritating little man” with the “ratlike face” (Timothy Garton Ash) had called for an independent investigation, but that could only have been because of sanctions from the one country courageous enough to impose them, the United States, while Europeans had cowered in fear. 

On CNN, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor assured the world that the irritating little man “is clearly responsible…for the shoot down of this airliner.” For weeks, lead stories reported on the anguish of the families, the lives of the murdered victims, the international efforts to claim the bodies, the fury over the horrific crime that “stunned the world,” as the press reported daily in grisly detail. 

Every literate person, and certainly every editor and commentator, instantly recalled another case when a plane was shot down with comparable loss of life: Iran Air 655 with 290 killed, including 66 children, shot down in Iranian airspace in a clearly identified commercial air route. The crime was not carried out “with U.S. support,” nor has its agent ever been uncertain. It was the guided-missile cruiser USS Vincennes, operating in Iranian waters in the Persian Gulf. 

The commander of a nearby U.S. vessel, David Carlson, wrote in the U.S. Naval Proceedings that he “wondered aloud in disbelief” as “’The Vincennes announced her intentions” to attack what was clearly a civilian aircraft. He speculated that “Robo Cruiser,” as the Vincennes was called because of its aggressive behavior, “felt a need to prove the viability of Aegis (the sophisticated anti-aircraft system on the cruiser) in the Persian Gulf, and that they hankered for the opportunity to show their stuff.” 

Two years later, the commander of the Vincennes and the officer in charge of anti-air warfare were given the Legion of Merit award for “exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service” and for the “calm and professional atmosphere” during the period of the destruction of the Iranian Airbus, which was not mentioned in the award. 

President Reagan blamed the Iranians and defended the actions of the warship, which “followed standing orders and widely publicized procedures, firing to protect itself against possible attack.” His successor, Bush I, proclaimed that “I will never apologize for the United States — I don’t care what the facts are… I’m not an apologize-for-America kind of guy.” 

No evasions of responsibility here, unlike the barbarians in the East. 

  

There was little reaction at the time: no outrage, no desperate search for victims, no passionate denunciations of those responsible, no eloquent laments by the US Ambassador to the UN about the “immense and heart-wrenching loss” when the airliner was downed. Iranian condemnations were occasionally noted, but dismissed as “boilerplate attacks on the United States” (Philip Shenon, New York Times). 

Small wonder, then, that this insignificant earlier event merited only a few scattered words in the US media during the vast furor over a real crime, in which the demonic enemy might have been indirectly involved. 

One exception was in the London Daily Mail, where Dominick Lawson wrote that although “Putin’s apologists” might bring up the Iran Air attack, the comparison actually demonstrates our high moral values as contrasted with the miserable Russians, who try to evade their responsibility for MH 17 with lies while Washington at once announced that the US warship had shot down the Iranian aircraft — righteously. What more powerful evidence could there be of our nobility and their depravity? 

We know why Ukrainians and Russians are in their own countries, but one might ask what exactly the Vincennes was doing in Iranian waters. The answer is simple. It was defending Washington’s great friend Saddam Hussein in his murderous aggression against Iran. For the victims, the shoot-down was no small matter. It was a major factor in Iran’s recognition that it could not fight on any longer, according to historian Dilip Hiro. 

It is worth remembering the extent of Washington’s devotion to its friend Saddam. Reagan removed him from the terrorist list so that aid could be sent to expedite his assault on Iran, and later denied his terrible crimes against the Kurds, including the use of chemical weapons, blocking congressional condemnations. He also accorded Saddam a privilege otherwise granted only to Israel: there was no serious reaction when Iraq attacked the USS Stark with missiles, killing 37 crewmen, much like the case of the USS Liberty, attacked repeatedly by Israeli jets and torpedo ships in 1967, killing 34 crewmen. 

Reagan’s successor, Bush I, went on to provide further aid to Saddam, badly needed after the war with Iran that he launched. Bush also invited Iraqi nuclear engineers to come to the US for advanced training in weapons production. In April 1990, Bush dispatched a high-level Senate delegation, led by future Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole, to convey his warm regards to his friend Saddam and to assure him that he should disregard irresponsible criticism from the “haughty and pampered press,” and that such miscreants had been removed from Voice of America. The fawning before Saddam continued until he turned into a new Hitler a few months later by disobeying orders, or perhaps misunderstanding them, and invading Kuwait, with illuminating consequences that are worth reviewing once again, though I will leave this interesting matter aside here. 

Other precedents had long since been dismissed to the memory hole as without significance. One example is the Libyan civilian airliner that was lost in a sandstorm in 1973 when it was shot down by US-supplied Israeli jets, two minutes flight time from Cairo, towards which it was heading. The death toll was only 110 that time. Israel blamed the French pilot, with the endorsement of the New York Times, which added that the Israeli act was “at worst…an act of callousness that not even the savagery of previous Arab actions can excuse.” The incident was passed over quickly in the United States, with little criticism. When Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir arrived in the US four days later, she faced few embarrassing questions and returned home with new gifts of military aircraft. 

The reaction was much the same when Washington’s favored Angolan terrorist organization UNITA claimed to have shot down two civilian airliners at the same time, among other cases. 

Returning to the sole authentic and truly horrific crime, the New York Times reported that American UN ambassador Samantha Power “choked up as she spoke of infants who perished in the Malaysia Airlines crash in Ukraine [and] The Dutch foreign minister, Frans Timmermans, could barely contain his anger as he recalled seeing pictures of `thugs’ snatching wedding bands off the fingers of the victims.” 

At the same session, the report continues, there was also “a long recitation of names and ages — all belonging to children killed in the latest Israeli offensive in Gaza.” The only reported reaction was by Palestinian envoy Riyad Mansour, who “grew quiet in the middle of” the recitation. 

The Israeli attack on Gaza in July did, however, elicit outrage in Washington. President Obama “reiterated his `strong condemnation’ of rocket and tunnel attacks against Israel by the militant group Hamas,” The Hill reported. He “also expressed ‘growing concern’ about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths in Gaza,” but without condemnation. The Senate filled that gap, voting unanimously to support Israeli actions in Gaza while condemning “the unprovoked rocket fire at Israel” by Hamas and calling on “Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to dissolve the unity governing arrangement with Hamas and condemn the attacks on Israel.” 

As for Congress, perhaps it’s enough to join the 80% of the public who disapprove of their performance, though the word “disapprove” is rather too mild in this case. But in Obama’s defense, it may be that he has no idea what Israel is doing in Gaza with the weapons that he is kind enough to supply to them. After all, he relies on US intelligence, which may be too busy collecting phone calls and email messages of citizens to pay much attention to such marginalia. It may be useful, then, to review what we all should know. 

Israel’s goal had long been a simple one: quiet-for-quiet, a return to the norm (though now it may demand even more). What then is the norm? 

For the West Bank, the norm has been that Israel carries forward its illegal construction of settlements and infrastructure so that it can integrate into Israel whatever might be of value to it, meanwhile consigning Palestinians to unviable cantons and subjecting them to intense repression and violence. 

For the past 14 years, the norm has been that Israel kills more than two Palestinian children a week. The latest Israeli rampage was set of by the brutal murder of three Israeli boys from a settler community in the occupied West Bank. A month before, two Palestinian boys were shot dead in the West Bank city of Ramallah. That elicited no attention, which is understandable, since it is routine. “The institutionalised disregard for Palestinian life in the West helps explain not only why Palestinians resort to violence,” the respected Middle East analyst Mouin Rabbani reports, “but also Israel’s latest assault on the Gaza Strip.” 

Quiet-for-quiet has also enabled Israel to carry forward its program of separating Gaza from the West Bank. That program has been pursued vigorously, always with US support, ever since the US and Israel accepted the Oslo accords, which declare the two regions to be an inseparable territorial unity. A look at the map explains the rationale. Gaza provides Palestine’s only access to the outside world, so once the two are separated, any autonomy that Israel might grant to Palestinians in the West Bank would leave them effectively imprisoned between hostile states, Israel and Jordan.  The imprisonment will become even more severe as Israel continues its systematic program of expelling Palestinians from the Jordan Valley and constructing Israeli settlements there, enjoying quiet-for-quiet. 

The norm in Gaza was described in detail by the heroic Norwegian trauma surgeon Mads Gilbert, who has worked in Gaza’s main hospital through Israel’s most grotesque crimes and returned again for the current onslaught. In June 2014, immediately before the latest Israeli onslaught, he submitted a report on the Gaza health sector to UNRWA, the UN Agency that tries desperately, on a shoestring, to care for refugees. 

“At least 57 % of Gaza households are food insecure and about 80 % are now aid recipients,” Gilbert reports. “Food insecurity and rising poverty also mean that most residents cannot meet their daily caloric requirements, while over 90 % of the water in Gaza has been deemed unfit for human consumption,” a situation that is becoming even worse as Israel again attacks water and sewage systems, leaving over a million people with even more severe disruption of the barest necessity of life.  

Gilbert reports that “Palestinian children in Gaza are suffering immensely. A large proportion are affected by the man-made malnourishment regime caused by the Israeli imposed blockage. Prevalence of anaemia in children <2yrs in Gaza is at 72.8%, while prevalence of wasting, stunting, underweight have been documented at 34.3%, 31.4%, 31.45% respectively.” And it gets worse as the report proceeds. 

The distinguished human rights lawyer Raji Sourani, who has remained in Gaza through years of Israeli brutality and terror, reports that “The most common sentence I heard when people began to talk about ceasefire: everybody says it’s better for all of us to die and not go back to the situation we used to have before this war. We don’t want that again. We have no dignity, no pride; we are just soft targets, and we are very cheap. Either this situation really improves or it is better to just die. I am talking about intellectuals, academics, ordinary people: everybody is saying that.” 

Similar sentiments have been widely voiced: it is better to die with dignity than to be slowly strangled by the torturer. 

For Gaza, the plans for the norm were explained forthrightly by Dov Weissglass, a confidant of Ariel Sharon, the person who negotiated the withdrawal of Israeli settlers from Gaza in 2005. Hailed as a grand gesture in Israel and among acolytes and the deluded elsewhere, the withdrawal was in reality a carefully staged “national trauma,” properly ridiculed by informed Israeli commentators, among them Israel’s leading sociologist, the late Baruch Kimmerling. 

What actually happened is that Israeli hawks, led by Sharon, realized that it made good sense to transfer the illegal settlers from their subsidized communities in devastated Gaza, where they were sustained at exorbitant cost, to subsidized settlements in the other occupied territories, which Israel intends to keep. But instead of simply transferring them, as would have been simple enough, it was clearly more useful to present the world with images of little children pleading with soldiers not to destroy their homes, amidst cries of “Never Again,” with the implication obvious. What made the farce even more transparent was that it was a replica of the staged trauma when Israel had to evacuate the Egyptian Sinai in 1982. But it played very well for the intended audience at home and abroad. 

Weissglass provided his own description of the transfer of settlers from Gaza to other occupied territories: “What I effectively agreed to with the Americans was that [the major settlement blocs in the West Bank] would not be dealt with at all, and the rest will not be dealt with until the Palestinians turn into Finns” – but a special kind of Finns, who would quietly accept rule by a foreign power. “The significance is the freezing of the political process,” Weissglass continued. “And when you freeze that process you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state and you prevent a discussion about the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package that is called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed from our agenda indefinitely. And all this with [President Bush's] authority and permission and the ratification of both houses of Congress.” 

Weisglass explained further that Gazans would remain “on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger” – which would not help Israel’s fading reputation. With their vaunted technical efficiency, Israeli experts determined precisely how many calories a day Gazans needed for bare survival, while also depriving them of medicines and other means of decent life. Israeli military forces confined them by land, sea and air to what British Prime Minister David Cameron accurately described as a prison camp. The Israeli withdrawal left Israel in total control of Gaza, hence the occupying power under international law. And to close the prison walls even more tightly, Israel excluded Palestinians from a large region along the border, including a third or more of Gaza’s scarce arable land. The justification is security for Israelis, which could be just as well achieved by establishing the security zone on the Israeli side of the border, or more fully, by ending the savage siege and other punishments. 

The official story is that after Israel graciously handed Gaza over to the Palestinians, in the hope that they would construct a flourishing state, they revealed their true nature by subjecting Israel to unremitting rocket attack and forcing the captive population to become martyrs to so that Israel would be pictured in a bad light. Reality is rather different. 

A few weeks after Israeli troops withdrew, leaving the occupation intact, Palestinians committed a major crime. In January 2006, they voted the wrong way in a carefully monitored free election, handing control of the Parliament to Hamas. The media constantly intone that Hamas is dedicated to the destruction of Israel. In reality, its leaders have repeatedly made it clear and explicit that Hamas would accept a two-state settlement in accord with the international consensus that has been blocked by the US and Israel for 40 years. In contrast, Israel is dedicated to the destruction of Palestine, apart from some occasional meaningless words, and is implementing that commitment. 

True, Israel accepted the Road Map for reaching a two-state settlement initiated by President Bush and adopted by the Quartet that is to supervise it: the US, the European Union, the United Nations, and Russia. But as he accepted the Road Map, Prime Minister Sharon at once added fourteen reservations that effectively nullify it. The facts were known to activists, but revealed to the general public for the first time in Jimmy Carter’s book “Palestine: Peace not Apartheid.” They remain under wraps in media reporting and commentary. 

The (unrevised) 1999 platform of Israel’s governing party, Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud, “flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river.” And for those who like to obsess about meaningless charters, the core component of Likud, Menahem Begin’s Herut, has yet to abandon its founding doctrine that the territory on both sides of the Jordan is part of the Land of Israel. 

The crime of the Palestinians in January 2006 was punished at once. The US and Israel, with Europe shamefully trailing behind, imposed harsh sanctions on the errant population and Israel stepped up its violence. By June, when the attacks sharply escalated, Israel had already fired more than 7700 [155 mm] shells at northern Gaza. 

The US and Israel quickly initiated plans for a military coup to overthrow the elected government. When Hamas had the effrontery to foil the plans, the Israeli assaults and the siege became far more severe, justified by the claim that Hamas had taken over the Gaza Strip by force – which is not entirely false, though something rather crucial is omitted. 

There should be no need to review again the horrendous record since. The relentless siege and savage attacks are punctuated by episodes of “mowing the lawn,” to borrow Israel’s cheery expression for its periodic exercises of shooting fish in a pond in what it calls a “war of defense.” Once the lawn is mowed and the desperate population seeks to reconstruct somehow from the devastation and the murders, there is a cease-fire agreement. These have been regularly observed by Hamas, as Israel concedes, until Israel violates them with renewed violence. 

The most recent cease-fire was established after Israel’s October 2012 assault. Though Israel maintained its devastating siege, Hamas observed the cease-fire, as Israeli officials concede. Matters changed in June, when Fatah and Hamas forged a unity agreement, which established a new government of technocrats that had no Hamas participation and accepted all of the demands of the Quartet. Israel was naturally furious, even more so when even the US joined in signaling approval. The unity agreement not only undercuts Israel’s claim that it cannot negotiate with a divided Palestine, but also threatens the long term goal of dividing Gaza from the West Bank and pursuing its destructive policies in both of the regions. 

Something had to be done, and an occasion arose shortly after, when the three Israeli boys were murdered in the West Bank. The Netanyahu government knew at once that they were dead, but pretended otherwise, which provided the opportunity to launch a rampage in the West Bank, targeting Hamas. Netanhayu claimed to have certain knowledge that Hamas was responsible. That too was a lie, as recognized early on. There has been no pretense of presenting evidence. One of Israel’s leading authorities on Hamas, Shlomi Eldar, reported almost at once that the killers very likely came from a dissident clan in Hebron that has long been a thorn in the side of Hamas. Eldar added that “I’m sure they didn’t get any green light from the leadership of Hamas, they just thought it was the right time to act.” The Israeli police have since been searching for two members of the clan, still claiming, without evidence, that they are “Hamas terrorists.” 

The 18-day rampage however did succeed in undermining the feared unity government, and sharply increasing Israeli repression. According to Israeli military sources, Israeli soldiers arrested 419 Palestinians, including 335 affiliated with Hamas, and killed six Palestinians, also searching thousands of locations and confiscating $350,000. Israel also conducted dozens of attacks in Gaza, killing 5 Hamas members on July 7. 

Hamas finally reacted with its first rockets in 19 months, Israeli officials reported, providing Israel with the pretext for Operation Protective Edge on July 8. 

There has been ample reporting of the exploits of the self-declared Most Moral Army in the World, which should receive the Nobel Peace Prize according to Israel’s Ambassador to the US. By the end of July, some 1500 Palestinians had been killed, exceeding the toll of the Cast Lead crimes of 2008-9, 70% of them civilians including hundreds of women and children. And 3 civilians in Israel. Large areas of Gaza had been turned into rubble. During brief bombing pauses, relatives desperately seek shattered bodies or household items in the ruins of homes. The main power plant was attacked – not for the first time; this is an Israeli specialty — sharply curtailing the already very limited electricity and worse yet, reducing still further the minimal availability of fresh water. Another war crime. Meanwhile rescue teams and ambulances are repeatedly attacked. As atrocities mount throughout Gaza, Israel claims that its goal is to destroy tunnels at the border. 

Four hospitals had been attacked, each yet another war crime. The first was the Al-Wafa Rehabilitation Hospital in Gaza City, attacked on the day the ground forces invaded the prison. A few lines in the New York Times, within a story about the ground invasion, reported that “most but not all of the 17 patients and 25 doctors and nurses were evacuated before the electricity was cut and heavy bombardments nearly destroyed the building, doctors said. `We evacuated them under fire,’ said Dr. Ali Abu Ryala, a hospital spokesman. `Nurses and doctors had to carry the patients on their backs, some of them falling off the stairway. There is an unprecedented state of panic in the hospital’.” 

Three working hospitals were then attacked, patients and staff left to their own devices to survive. One Israeli crime did receive wide condemnation: the attack on a UN school that was harboring 3300 terrified refugees who had fled the ruins of their neighborhoods on the orders of the Israeli army. The outraged UNWRA Commission-General Pierre Kraehenbuehl said “I condemn in the strongest possible terms this serious violation of international law by Israeli forces…. Today the world stands disgraced.” There were at least three Israeli strikes at the refugee shelter, a site well known to the Israeli army. “The precise location of the Jabalia Elementary Girls School and the fact that it was housing thousands of internally displaced people was communicated to the Israeli army seventeen times, to ensure its protection,” Kraehenbuehl said, “the last being at ten to nine last night, just hours before the fatal shelling.” 

The attack was also condemned “in the strongest possible terms” by the normally reticent Secretary-General of the UN Ban Ki-moon. “Nothing is more shameful than attacking sleeping children,” he said. There is no record that the US Ambassador to the UN “choked up as she spoke of infants who perished” in the Israeli strike – or in the attack on Gaza altogether. 

But White House spokesperson Bernadette Meehan did respond. She said that “We are extremely concerned that thousands of internally displaced Palestinians who have been called on by the Israeli military to evacuate their homes are not safe in UN designated shelters in Gaza. We also condemn those responsible for hiding weapons in United Nations facilities in Gaza,” she added, omitting to mention that these facilities were empty and that the weapons were found by UNRWA, who had condemned those who hid them. 

Later, the administration joined in stronger condemnations of this particular crime – while at the same time releasing more weapons to Israel. In doing so, however, Pentagon spokesman Steve Warren told reporters. “And it’s become clear that the Israelis need to do more to live up to their very high standards … for protecting civilian life” – the high standards it has been exhibiting for many years while using US arms, and again today. 

Attacks on UN compounds sheltering refugees is another Israeli specialty. One famous incident is the Israeli bombardment of the clearly identified UN refugee shelter in Qana during Shimon Peres’s murderous Grapes of Wrath campaign, killing 106 Lebanese civilians who had taken refuge there, including 52 children. To be sure, Israel is not alone in this practice. Twenty years earlier, its South African ally had launched an airborne strike deep into Angola against Cassinga, a refugee camp run by the Namibian resistance SWAPO. 

Israeli officials laud the humanity of the army, which even goes so far as to inform residents that their homes will be bombed. The practice is “sadism, sanctimoniously disguising itself as mercy,” in the words of Israeli journalist Amira Hass: “A recorded message demanding hundreds of thousands of people leave their already targeted homes, for another place, equally dangerous, 10 kilometers away.” In fact, no place in the prison is safe from Israeli sadism. 

Some find it difficult to profit from Israel’s solicitude. An appeal to the world by the Gaza Catholic Church quotes a priest who explains the plight of residents of the House of Christ, a care home dedicated to looking after disabled children. They were removed to the Holy Family Church because Israel was targeting the area, but now, he writes, “The church of Gaza has received an order to evacuate. They will bomb the Zeitun area and the people are already fleeing. The problem is that the priest Fr George and the three nuns of Mother Teresa have 29 handicapped children and nine old ladies who can’t move. How will they manage to leave? If anyone can intercede with someone in power, and pray, please do it.” 

Actually, it shouldn’t be difficult. Israel already provided the instructions at the Wafa Rehabilitation hospital. And fortunately, at least some states are interceding, as best they can. Five Latin American states — Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador and Peru – withdrew their ambassadors from Israel, following the course of Bolivia and Venezuela, which had broken relations in reaction to earlier Israeli crimes. These principled acts are another sign of the remarkable change in world relations as much of Latin America begins to free itself from western domination, sometimes providing a model of civilized behavior to those who controlled it for 500 years. 

The hideous revelations elicited a different reaction from the Most Moral President in the World, the usual one: great sympathy for Israelis, bitter condemnation of Hamas, and calls for moderation by both sides. In his August 1 press conference, he did express concern for Palestinians “caught in the crossfire” (where?) while again vigorously supporting the right of Israel to defend itself, like everyone. Not quite everyone. Not of course Palestinians. They have no right to defend themselves, surely not when Israel is on good behavior, keeping to the norm of quiet-for-quiet: stealing their land, driving them out of their homes, subjecting them to a savage siege, and regularly attacking them with weapons provided by their protector. 

Palestinians are like black Africans, the Namibian refugees in the Cassinga camp for example, all terrorists for whom the right of defense does not exist. 

A 72-hour humanitarian truce was supposed to go into effect at 8am on August 1. It broke down almost at once. As I write, a few hours later, there are conflicting accounts and a good deal remains unclear. According to a press release of the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights in Gaza, which has a solid reputation for reliability, one of its field workers in Rafah, at the Egyptian border in the south, heard Israeli artillery firing at about 8:05am. By about 9:30am, after reports that an Israeli soldier had been captured, intensive air and artillery bombing of Rafah was underway, killing probably dozens of people and injuring hundreds who had returned to their homes after the ceasefire entered into effect, though numbers could not yet be verified. 

The day before, on July 31, the Coastal Water Utility, the sole provider of water in the Gaza Strip, announced that it could no longer provide water or sanitation services because of lack of fuel and frequent attacks on personnel. Al Mezan reports that by then, “almost all primary health services have stopped in the Gaza Strip due to the lack of water, garbage collection and environment health services. UNRWA had also warned about the risk of imminent spreading of disease owing to the halt of water and sanitation services.” Meanwhile, on the eve of the cease-fire, Israeli missiles fired from aircraft continued to kill and wound victims throughout the region. 

When the current episode of sadism is finally called off, whenever that will be, Israel hopes to be free to pursue its criminal policies in the occupied territories without interference, and with the US support it has enjoyed in the past: military, economic, and diplomatic; and also ideological, by framing the issues in conformity to Israeli doctrines. Gazans will be free to return to the norm in their Israeli-run prison, while in the West Bank they can watch in peace as Israel dismantles what remains of their possessions. 

That is the likely outcome if the US maintains its decisive and virtually unilateral support for Israeli crimes and its rejection of the longstanding international consensus on diplomatic settlement. But the future will be quite different if the US withdraws that support. In that case it would be possible to move towards the “enduring solution” in Gaza that Secretary of State Kerry called for, eliciting hysterical condemnation in Israel because the phrase could be interpreted as calling for an end to Israel’s siege and regular attacks. And – horror of horrors – the phrase might even be interpreted as calling for implementation of international law in the rest of the occupied territories. 

It is not that Israel’s security would be threatened by adherence to international law; it would very likely be enhanced. But as explained 40 years ago by Israeli general Ezer Weizman, later president, Israel could then not “exist according to the scale, spirit, and quality she now embodies.” 

There are similar cases in recent history. Indonesian generals swore that they would never abandon what Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans called “the Indonesian Province of East Timor” as he was making a deal to steal Timorese oil. And as long as the ruling generals retained US support through decades of virtually genocidal slaughter, their goals were realistic. Finally, in September 1999, under considerable domestic and international pressure, President Clinton informed them quietly that the game was over and they instantly withdrew – while Evans turned to his new career as the lauded apostle of “Responsibility to Protect,” to be sure, in a version designed to permit western resort to violence at will. 

Another relevant case is South Africa. In 1958, South Africa’s foreign minister informed the US ambassador that although his country was becoming a pariah state, it would not matter as long as US support continued. His assessment proved fairly accurate. Thirty years later, Reagan was the last significant holdout in supporting the apartheid regime, which was still sustaining itself. Within a few years, Washington joined the world, and the regime collapsed – not for that reason alone of course; one crucial factor was the remarkable Cuban role in the liberation of Africa, generally ignored in the West though not in Africa. 

Forty years ago Israel made the fateful decision to choose expansion over security, rejecting a full peace treaty offered by Egypt in return for evacuation from the occupied Egyptian Sinai, where Israel was initiating extensive settlement and development projects. It has adhered to that policy ever since, making essentially the same judgment as South Africa did in 1958. 

In the case of Israel, if the US decided to join the world, the impact would be far greater. Relations of power allow nothing else, as has been demonstrated over and over when Washington has demanded that Israel abandon cherished goals. Furthermore, Israel by now has little recourse, after having adopted policies that turned it from a country that was greatly admired to one that is feared and despised, a course it is pursuing with blind determination today in its resolute march towards moral deterioration and possible ultimate destruction. 

Could US policy change? It’s not impossible. Public opinion has shifted considerably in recent years, particularly among the young, and it cannot be completely ignored. For some years there has been a good basis for public demands that Washington observe its own laws and cut off military aid to Israel. US law requires that “no security assistance may be provided to any country the government of which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.” Israel most certainly is guilty of this consistent pattern, and has been for many years. That is why Amnesty International, in the course of Israel’s murderous Cast Lead operation in Gaza, called for an arms embargo against Israel (and Hamas). Senator Patrick Leahy, author of this provision of the law, has brought up its potential applicability to Israel in specific cases, and with a well-conducted educational, organizational, and activist effort such initiatives could be pursued successively. That could have a very significant impact in itself, while also providing a springboard for further actions not only to punish Israel for its criminal behavior, but also to compel Washington to become part of “the international community” and to observe international law and decent moral principles. 

Nothing could be more significant for the tragic Palestinian victims of many years of violence and repression. 

By "ICH" 

where lies OIC Headquarter,does not allow it full freedom.OIC HQ should be shifted to Turkey or Malaysia

Shah Abdul Hannan

ISLAMABAD: Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) Secretary-General Iyad Ameen Abdullah Madani admitted on Monday that the Arab states cannot take any practical steps to stop Israel from attacking Gaza.

Mr Madani was speaking at an event titled ‘Contemporary Challengers of the Muslim World: The Vision and Role of the OIC’ at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad.

“In 1967, the Arabs faced a defeat as Israeli forces entered the Sinai Desert, West Bank of the Jordan River and the Golan Heights. Arabs cannot imagine stopping the support for Palestinians, but practically they are not in a position to do anything,” he claimed.

“OIC has been trying its best to classify the killing of Palestinians as a ‘war crime’, but unfortunately the preachers of human rights are not only supporting Israel but are also providing political shield to it,” he said.

Know more: Arab states support Israel against Hamas: NYT  

However, while discussing the issues of Central Africa and Myanmar, Mr Madani claimed that OIC played its due role in resolving these issues.

Mr Madani said, at the moment, Muslim countries were facing more problems within the state than from outside their borders.

“The main issue is sectarian conflict. Every sect claims that their Islam should be implemented. Extremism is also affecting the countries. OIC has been trying to resolve the issues,” he said.

He added that OIC’s human rights wing has been trying to ensure equal rights to the citizens of the 57 member states, even non-Muslims.

“Being a founding member, Pakistan is one of the most important members and it has been playing its role for the development of the Muslim world. OIC has started focusing on science, technology and economic development of member countries,” he said.

Regarding the Kashmir dispute, Mr Madani said that although he has come to Pakistan to devise a strategy for the Kashmir issue, under an agreement India and Pakistan labeled Kashmir as a bilateral issue.

“In India there are more Muslims compared to any other country, so OIC has to consider all aspects,” he said.

Retired Lt-Gen Mohammad Asad Durrani, who also served as Pakistan’s ambassador in Saudi Arabia, declared that OIC had become dysfunctional.

“However I believe that it is not OIC’s fault, it is the fault of the Muslim Ummah which is not taking the organisation seriously,” he said.

Political analyst Rasul Bakhsh Rais said it was a crucial time to resolve the issues between the Muslim countries.

Published in Dawn, Aug 5th, 2014 

 

 

U.S. Jewish Leader Henry Siegman to Israel: Stop Killing Palestinians and End the Occupation

 http://www.democracynow.org/2014/7/31/us_jewish_leader_henry_siegman_to 

    
 
2014-07-31

U.S. Jewish Leader Henry Siegman to Israel: Stop Killing Palestinians and End the Occupation

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In the second part of our interview, Henry Siegman, the former head of the American Jewish Congress and the Synagogue Council of America, discusses the assault on Gaza, Hamas’ rocket attacks on Israel, and how peace could be attainable if the Obama administration reverse decades-long support for the Israeli occupation. Born in 1930 in Germany, Siegman fled as the Nazis came to power, eventually arriving in the United States. His father was a leader of the European Zionist movement pushing for the creation of a Jewish state. In New York, Siegman studied and was ordained as an Orthodox rabbi by Yeshiva Torah Vodaas. He now serves as president of the U.S./Middle East Project. Commenting on the Hamas charter that calls for Israel’s destruction, Siegman says: "The difference between Hamas and Israel is that Israel is actually implementing [a destruction policy] — actually preventing a Palestinian state which doesn’t exist. Millions of Palestinians live in this subservient position without rights, without security, without hope, and without a future." Commenting on Israeli justifications for killing Palestinians in the name of self-defense from 1948 through today, Siegman responds: "If you don’t want to kill Palestinians, if that’s what pains you so much, you don’t have to kill them. You can give them their rights, and you can end the occupation. And to put the blame for the occupation and for the killing of innocents that we are seeing in Gaza now on the Palestinians — why? Because they want a state of their own? They want what Jews wanted and achieved? This is a great moral insult."

Click here to watch part 1 of this interview.

 

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. As we continue our coverage of the Israeli offensive on Gaza, we turn to part two of our conversation with Henry Siegman, the former head of the American Jewish Congress and the Synagogue Council of America. What he says about the future of Israel and the ongoing assault on Gaza may surprise you. Siegman was born in 1930 in Frankfurt, Germany. His family fled Germany as the Nazis came to power. He eventually arrived in the United States in 1942. His father was a leader of European Zionism, pushing for the creation of a Jewish state. In New York, Henry Siegman studied and was ordained as an Orthodox rabbi by Yeshiva Torah Vodaas. He now serves as president of the U.S./Middle East Project. He recently wrote a piece for Politico headlined "Israel Provoked This War: It’s Up to President Obama to Stop It."

Democracy Now!'s Nermeen Shaikh and I sat down with Henry Siegman on Tuesday. I asked him about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's claim that Israel is just responding to the thousands of rockets that Hamas and other groups are firing from Gaza.

HENRY SIEGMAN: My response is that they wouldn’t be firing those rockets if you weren’t out—if you didn’t have an occupation in place. And one of the reasons you say you do not have an occupation in place is because you really don’t have a united partner, Palestinian partner, to make peace with, and when Palestinians seek to establish that kind of a government, which they just recently did, bringing Hamas into the governmental structure, Palestinian governmental structure, that is headed by Abbas, you seek to destroy that. You won’t recognize it. And this is why I say there are several reasons for the Israeli action. A primary one is to prevent this new government from actually succeeding. It’s an attempt to break up the new unity government set up by the Palestinians.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Why would they do that? Why would they want to do that?

HENRY SIEGMAN: They want to do that, for the first time—for years, I have been suggesting and arguing that they want to do that because they are intent on preventing the development of a Palestinian state. To put it bluntly, they want all of it. They want all of Palestine.

Now, this is something that Netanyahu said openly and without any reservations when he was not in government. He wrote about it, published a book about it, his opposition to a Palestinian state, that Israel couldn’t allow that. The difference between the time that he—and he, incidentally, opposed not just Palestinian statehood. He opposed peace agreements with Egypt. He opposed peace agreements with Jordan. Any positive step towards a stabilization and a more peaceful region, Netanyahu has been on record as opposing.

And when he came into office as prime minister, he understood that it is not a smart thing to say that Israel’s policy is to maintain the occupation permanently. So, the only difference between his positions in the past and the position now is that he pretends that he really would like to see a two-state solution, which, as you know, is the affirmation he made in his so-called Bar-Ilan speech several years ago. And some naive people said, "Ah, you know, redemption is at hand," when, to his own people, he winked and made clear, and as I just read recently—I didn’t know that—that it’s on record that his father said, "Of course he didn’t mean it. He will attach conditions that will make it impossible." But that was his tactic. His tactic was to say, "We are all in favor of it, but if only we had a Palestinian partner."

Now, in fact, they’ve had a Palestinian partner that’s been willing and able—they set up institutions that the World Bank has said are more effective than most states that are members of the U.N. today. And that, of course, made no difference, and continued to say we do not have a partner, because you have nearly two million Palestinians in Gaza who are not represented. So the unity government became a threat to that tactic of pretending to be in support of a Palestinian state.

AMY GOODMAN: In a response to the piece that you wrote for Politico that was headlined "Israel Provoked This War," the Anti-Defamation League writes, quote, "Hamas has a charter which they live up to every day calling for Israel’s destruction. Hamas has used the last two years of relative quiet to build up an arsenal of rockets whose sole purpose is to attack Israel. Hamas has built a huge network of tunnels leading into Israel with the purpose of murdering large numbers of Israelis and seizing hostages." Henry Siegman, can you respond?

HENRY SIEGMAN: What I would point out to my former friend Abe Foxman of the ADL is that, too, is Israel’s charter, or at least the policy of this government and of many previous governments, which is to prevent the emergence of a Palestinian state. And they have built up their army and their armaments to implement that policy. And the difference between Hamas and the state of Israel is that the state of Israel is actually doing it. They’re actually implementing it, and they’re actually preventing a Palestinian state, which doesn’t exist. And millions of Palestinians live in this subservient position without rights and without security, without hope and without a future. That’s not the state of—the state of Israel is a very successful state, and happily Jews live there with a thriving economy and with an army whose main purpose is preventing that Palestinian state from coming into being. That’s their mandate.

But sadly and shockingly, they can stand by, even though international law says if you’re occupying people from outside of your country, you have a responsibility to protect them. I mean, the responsibility to protect is the people you are occupying. The soldiers who are there, ostensibly to implement that mandate, will watch settler violence when it occurs when they attack Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, and they won’t do a thing to prevent it. They won’t intervene to protect the people they are supposed to protect, and they will tell you, "That’s not our job. Our job is to protect the Jews."

NERMEEN SHAIKH: On the question of the support, the successive U.S. administrations supporting Israel, I’d like to again quote from something you said in a 2002 New York Times interview with Chris Hedges. You said, "The support for Israel," in the United States, "fills a spiritual vacuum. If you do not support the government of Israel then your Jewishness, not your political judgment, is in question." So could you explain what you mean by that and what the implications of that have been, in terms of U.S. governments supporting Israeli government policy?

HENRY SIEGMAN: Well, what I meant by that, and that was an interview quite a while ago—

NERMEEN SHAIKH: 2002, yes.

HENRY SIEGMAN: I see, OK, which is not all that long ago, for me anyway. I meant by that something quite simple, that for many American Jews—and, I suspect, for most American Jews—Israel has become the content of their Jewish religious identification. It has very little other content. I rarely have been at a Shabbat service where a rabbi gives a sermon where Israel isn’t a subject of the sermon. And typically, they are—the sermons are not in the spirit of an Isaiah, you know, who says, "My god, is this what God wants from you? Your hands are bloody; they’re filled with blood. But he doesn’t want your fast. He doesn’t want—he despises the sacrifices and your prayers. What he wants is to feed, to feed the hungry, to pursue justice and so on." But that’s not what you hear from rabbis in the synagogues in this country. So, what I meant by that is that there’s much more to Judaism and to the meaning that you give to your Jewish identity than support for the likes of Netanyahu.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And Henry Siegman, what do you think the Obama administration has done since his first administration? And what do you think he ought to be doing differently, on the question of Israel-Palestine and, in particular, his response to this most recent military assault on Gaza?

HENRY SIEGMAN: Look, I have written about this for years now. It’s not all that complicated. It is quite clear that, left to its own devices, if Israel—if the United States says to the Palestinians, "Hey, you guys have got to talk not to us; you’ve got to talk to the Palestinians—to the Israelis, and you have to come to an understanding that’s how peace is made, but we can’t interfere. You know, we cannot tell Israel what to do"—left to their own devices, there will never be a Palestinian state. And the question is—I have very serious doubts that we have not gone beyond the point where a Palestinian state is possible. The purpose of the settlement movement was to make it impossible. And I believe they have succeeded: That project has achieved its goal.

AMY GOODMAN: The Jewish settlements.

HENRY SIEGMAN: The Jewish settlers have achieved the irreversibility of the settlement movement, in terms of the vast infrastructure that has been put in place. So, even if there were a leftist government, so-called leftist government, that came to power, it would not be able to do it, because of the upheaval that would be necessary to create such a state.

There is only one thing—as far as I’m concerned, there are only two things that could happen that could still, perhaps, produce a Palestinian state. The first one is for the—because the United States remains absolutely essential in terms of Israel’s security, to its continued success and survival. If at some point the United States were to say, "You have now reached a point—we have been your biggest supporters. We have been with you through thick and thin. And we have based—we have treated you"—you know, a lot of people say, criticizing the U.S. and the international community, that we have double standards, that we expect things of Israel that we don’t expect of the rest of the world. We do have double standards, but it works the other way around: We grant Israel privileges and tolerate behavior that we would not in other allies. We may say there’s nothing we can do to change that, but we don’t give them billions of dollars. And we don’t go to the U.N., at the Security Council, to veto when the international—efforts by the United Nations to prevent that bad behavior. So we have double standards, but it works the other way. But if the United States were to say to Israel, "It’s our common values that underlie this very special relationship we have with you and these privileges that we have extended to you, but this can’t go on. We can’t do that when those values are being undermined. The values—what you are doing today contradicts American values. We are a democratic country, and we cannot be seen as aiding and abetting this oppression and permanent disenfranchisement of an entire people. So, you’re on your own." The issue is not America sending planes and missiles to bomb Tel Aviv as punishment; the issue is America removing itself from being a collaborator in the policies and a facilitator, making it easy and providing the tools for Israel to do that. So, if at some point the United States were to say what is said in Hebrew, ad kan, you know, "So far, but no further. We can’t—this is not what we can do. You want to do it? You’re on your own," that would change—that could still change the situation, because the one thing Israelis do not want to do is have the country live in a world where America is not there to have their back.

And the other possibility, which I have also written about, is for Palestinians to say, "OK, you won. You didn’t want us to have a state. We see that you’ve won. You have all of it." So our struggle is no longer to push the border to—to maintain a '67 border, where nobody is going to come to their help, because borderlines—international opinion doesn't mobilize around those issues. But this is a struggle against what looks and smells like apartheid—we want citizenship, we want full rights in all of Palestine—and make that the struggle. If Palestinians were to undertake that kind of a struggle in a credible way, where the Israeli public would see that they really mean it and they are going to fight for that in a nonviolent way, not by sending rockets, for citizenship, I am convinced—and I’ve seen no polls that contradict that belief—that they would say to their government, "Wait a minute, that is unacceptable, in fact, for us, and we cannot allow that. We don’t want a majority Arab population here." I’ve talked to Palestinian leadership and urged them to move in that direction. There is now a growing movement among younger Palestinians in that direction. And that, I hope, may yet happen. Now, it has to be a serious movement. It can’t just be a trick to get another state, but only if it is serious, where they are ready to accept citizenship and fight for it in a single state of all of Palestine, is it possible for the Israeli public to say, "This we cannot want, too, and we have to have a government that will accept the two states."

AMY GOODMAN: Why would Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has said he supports a two-state solution, create a situation that makes it virtually impossible, since it leads to this second possibility, which is a one-state solution, to the possibility that he does not want, which would be a majority Arab country?

HENRY SIEGMAN: He obviously believes that a one-state—well, I said earlier in our conversation that he never meant—when he said in his Bar-Ilan speech that he embraces a two-state, that was totally contrived. It was dishonest. Or, in simple English, he lied. And I appreciated the fact that several weeks ago, two weeks ago, he had a press conference in which he said—he didn’t say, "I lied," but he said, "There will never be a truly sovereign Palestinian state anywhere in Palestine." So, it’s quite clear now, and one of his friends, the former editor of The Jerusalem Post, who now edits The Times of Israel, had this big headline: "Finally, Now We Know It." We know he never meant it. He didn’t say this critically; he said this positively. "Finally, he’s back in the fold, and we know he will never allow a sovereign Palestinian state." Now, what will he do with a majority Arab population? He will do what the head of HaBayit HaYehudi, Bennett, has been advocating and proposed.

AMY GOODMAN: That means Jewish Home party in Israel.

HENRY SIEGMAN: That means the Jewish Home, and the Jewish Home meaning everywhere. And what he has said is that we’ll solve this problem of a potential apartheid in Israel in the following way: We will allow certain enclaves where there are heavy population—heavily populated by Palestinians, in certain parts of the West Bank, and those enclaves will be surrounded by our military. In other words, a bunch of Gazas; there will be several Gazas. Gaza, of course, will be shed or will become one of those enclaves, so they’re not part of the population of Israel. All the rest of Israel—the Jordan Valley, Area C, all of Area C, which is over 60 percent of the West Bank—will be annexed unilaterally by Israel. So, we will have shed two million Palestinians from Gaza. We will have shed another million and a half that live in the cities and in the more populated urban areas, in those enclaves—in those, essentially, bantustans. And the rest, that there are—what did he say? There are 50,000 Palestinians who live in Area C. We will make them citizens, and voila, apartheid is solved. That is—I believed that for the longest time, but that is the plan of Bibi Netanyahu. He may have to settle for less than 60 percent of the West Bank, but essentially he thinks he can solve this problem, this demographic bomb, as it’s been described, in this manner.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: You’ve also expressed in an interview in 2012 with The Jewish Daily Forward a concern that if Israel continues on its present path, its path in 2012, which I think it’s safe to say it continues today, that Israel will not be able to exist even for another 50 years. Could you explain what you mean by that? Why couldn’t it exist in the form that you’ve just described, for instance?

HENRY SIEGMAN: In which form?

NERMEEN SHAIKH: What you were saying earlier about the way in which the—

HENRY SIEGMAN: You mean in Bennett’s form?

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well—

HENRY SIEGMAN: Well, it certainly would not be existing as a Jewish state, and neither as a democratic state or a Jewish state.

AMY GOODMAN: Because?

HENRY SIEGMAN: Because a country that creates—for the same reason that South Africa could not claim it is a democratic state, because it has a bunch of bantustans.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you see Israel as an apartheid state?

HENRY SIEGMAN: If they were to implement Bennett’s plan, absolutely. I don’t know if technically this is apartheid, but it certainly would not be a democratic state. It would lose its right to call itself a democracy.

AMY GOODMAN: Henry Siegman, I wanted to ask you about media coverage of the conflict right now in Gaza. In a comment to close the CBS show Face the Nation on Sunday, the host, Bob Schieffer, suggested Hamas forces Israel to kill Palestinian children.

 

BOB SCHIEFFER: In the Middle East, the Palestinian people find themselves in the grip of a terrorist group that is embarked on a strategy to get its own children killed in order to build sympathy for its cause—a strategy that might actually be working, at least in some quarters. Last week I found a quote of many years ago by Golda Meir, one of Israel’s early leaders, which might have been said yesterday: "We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children," she said, "but we can never forgive them for forcing us to kill their children."

 

AMY GOODMAN: That was the host, the journalist Bob Schieffer, on Face the Nation. You knew Prime Minister Golda Meir.

HENRY SIEGMAN: Yes, I did. I wasn’t a friend of hers, but I knew her, and I heard her when she made that statement. And I thought then, and think now, that it is an embarrassingly hypocritical statement. This statement was made by a woman who also said "Palestinians? There are no Palestinians! I am a Palestinian." If you don’t want to kill Palestinians, if that’s what pains you so much, you don’t have to kill them. You can give them their rights, and you can end the occupation. And to put the blame for the occupation and for the killing of innocents that we are seeing in Gaza now on the Palestinians—why? Because they want a state of their own? They want what Jews wanted and achieved? I find that, to put it mildly, less than admirable. There is something deeply hypocritical about that original statement and about repeating it on the air over here as a great moral insight.

AMY GOODMAN: Henry Siegman, president of the U.S./Middle East Project, former head of the American Jewish Congress and the Synagogue Council of America, recently wrote a piece for Politico headlined "Israel Provoked This War." Visit democracynow.org for part one of our conversation with Henry Siegman.

This is Democracy Now! When we come back, Iron Dome or Iron Sieve? How effective is the Iron Dome that Israel has touted? Stay with us.

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Sent: Saturday, August 09, 2014 1:42 PM
To: Hussain Khan, Tokyo
Subject: Fwd: Tariq Ali on Gaza

 

 



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Tariq Ali on Gaza

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 http://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2014/07/31/tariq-ali/disgrace/