As Babies Are Being Slaughtered, Where Are The Western Human Rights Advocates?

As Babies Are Being Slaughtered, Where Are

The Western Human Rights Advocates?

VATAN – The recent images in newspapers and on TV are inhuman. This shouldn’t be happening in the 21st century. Innocent people, including children and the elderly, are being slaughtered.

As Israel is hitting civilian targets, the world is watching.

As usual, the Arab states are keeping their silence. These undemocratic countries are just watching this slaughter in a neighboring Muslim country, and they have no idea of human rights.

But what about the so-called democratic defenders of human rights in European countries? As they see all this, are they just averting their eyes, as the situation doesn’t affect them?

Just weeks before he is set to take office, US President-elect Barack Obama, whose father was Muslim, is also staying silent. Considering the current president’s views on human rights and democracy, we don’t find his lack of comments remarkable, but I wonder if Obama is sensitive to this issue. I think there’s no difference between the two leaders. The only change in the White House is switching white skin for black. The mentality is the same.

Hamas militants, who have caused the deaths of many innocents in Gaza, are hiding out in underground tunnels. Doesn’t Hamas feel any guilt? Didn’t they know that innocents would pay the bill for their deeds? It’s a real shame!

Israel may have its reasons, but there is no cause that justifies killing innocents. Any state may fight another state to protect its interests. But wars must only be between military forces, and civilians should not be targeted. Israel has no excuse to hit civilians.

I’m absolutely sure that Turkey’s Jews also don’t approve of Israel’s bloody attacks.

While all this is happening in Gaza, neighboring Muslim countries are silent. Nothing is being heard from Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, or other Middle East countries. The biggest reaction came from our Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and then Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Erdogan’s reaction to these inhuman developments is right and should be praised. But I must express my annoyance at Erdogan sharing the stage only with Gaddafi and Ahmadinejad, who know nothing of democracy.

While all countries should protest this situation, the Western countries – advocates of democracy and human rights – are exercising a double standard, as usual.

If the slaughter of civilians, babies and the elderly in Gaza is just being watched today, then no world statesman has any right to talk about democracy and human rights!

Hundreds of thousands demonstrate denouncing Israeli atrocities

Hundreds of thousands demonstrate denouncing Israeli atrocities

Hundreds of thousand of Yemeni’s came out to demonstrate against Israeli attacks on the Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip. They condemned Arab leaders for their silence regarding the atrocities being committed against innocent Palestinians, and urged them to open all border crossings with Palestine to allow Arab youth to join the resistance against the Israeli’s, and to allow much needed food and medicine to enter the territory, which has been under a state of siege  for months. Protestors also wondered why the US, which considers itself the champion of human rights, has remained silent in the face of this violence.







Divides within the Arab world deepen after attacks


Divides within the Arab world deepen after


The deadly attacks launched on the Gaza Strip Saturday have accounted for a deepening in the divide between Islamists and authoritarian governments who are perceived as collaborators with the United States and Israel. This rift is particularly visible in Egypt, where politicians are pointing fingers from both sides of the battle lines.

Protester in Cairo holds up newspaper

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An Egyptian activist holds up a newspaper during a protest in Cairo. The paper shows Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, right, greeting her Egyptian counterpart Ahmed Abul-Gheit, and an Arabic slogan reading ‘ Airstrikes on Gaza 48 hours after Mubarak meets with Livni !!’

Deadly Israeli raids on Gaza have deepened the divide in the Arab world between Islamists with popular appeal and authoritarian governments widely seen as collaborating with Israel and the United States.

Especially in Egypt the battle lines are clearer than ever, as members of the ruling party give Egypt’s own Islamists, allies of the Palestinian movement Hamas, advice along the lines of “If you don’t like it in Egypt, you can go to Gaza”.

Hussein Megawir, a pro-government Egyptian member of parliament, said in a debate on Gaza on Saturday: “There is an Iranian plan, with Hamas and some of the (Muslim) Brotherhood, to stir up trouble in Palestine and Egypt.”

The Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s largest opposition group with one fifth of the seats in parliament, is in close alliance with Hamas, which began as a Brotherhood offshoot.

In its turn, the Brotherhood says Arabs and Muslims should rise up against “the despicable silence and connivance on the part of most Arab and Islamic regimes and governments”.

In public statements on the Israeli raids, the Egyptian government and its Palestinian allies in the Fatah movement have come close to saying that Hamas is mainly to blame for the raids, which in two days have killed more than 270 people.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said on Saturday that Egypt sent warnings about the possibility of an Israeli offensive and those who ignored the warnings were responsible for the consequences.

In Cairo on Sunday, Palestinian President and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas echoed the theme.

“We talked to them (Hamas) and we told them ‘please, we ask you, do not end the truce. Let the truce continue and not stop’ so that we could have avoided what happened,” he said.

Egyptian political commentator Hassan Nafaa, writing in the independent Al Masry Al Yom, said: “Hamas looks like the common enemy of Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian Authority.”

Israel attacks Gaza City

Israel and United States have succeeded in convincing the Egyptian and Saudi governments that “the Shi’ite tide” led by Iran is the greatest threat to the whole region, he said.

In contrast with the conservative Arabs blaming Hamas, in many parts of the Arab world demonstrators and others have criticised Arab governments for passivity towards the raids.

Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, who likes to play the role of conscience of the Arab nation, joined in the criticism of Arab leaders on Sunday.

“These characters should be ashamed of themselves. They are trading on the name of the Palestinian cause with their cowardly, weak and defeatist stands,” he said.

At a protest in Baghdad, Palestinian ambassador Galil al-Qasus said: “We were waiting for action from the Arab leaders, but now we do not want anything from them…We appealed to Arab leaders for almost 60 years, but all these efforts were in vain.”

Protesters and opposition groups have demanded that Egypt and Jordan break off relations with the Jewish state and that Egypt throw open its border with Gaza, ending the blockade imposed on the coastal strip for much of the time since Hamas won Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006.

But Egypt has repeatedly ignored public pressure to expel the Israeli ambassador and its policy on the border with Gaza is driven by fear that Israel will dump the whole Gaza morass in its lap for many years to come, diplomats say

The two Arab camps split along much the same lines as they have for the past few years — the governments of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority on one side, Hamas, Syria, the Lebanese movement Hezbollah and a wide range of Islamists, leftists and Arab nationalists on the other.

Iran, non-Arab and Shi’ite Muslim, lurks on the sidelines as an ally of those who favour resistance to Israel and U.S. plans.

The same alliances took sides on the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006. Analysts said the Arab conservatives initially hoped that conflict would damage Hezbollah but soon changed tack when the Israeli army failed to deliver a quick victory and Hezbollah proved it could survive.

The Arab League, where the conservative governments are dominant, has already postponed a ministerial meeting to take a common position on the crisis in Gaza and a proposal to hold an Arab summit is meeting some resistance, diplomats said.

Judging by past summits, Arab heads of state are unlikely to fulfill popular aspirations, especially if that would bring them into conflict with Israel and Washington.

Picture: AP

Gaza’s PRC Says International Forces Will be Treated as Invading Enemies

Gaza’s PRC Says International Forces Will be

Treated as Invading Enemies

– Abbas Demanding Ceasefire From UN

Gaza – Ma’an – The Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) in the Gaza Strip will refuse entry of any international force into the area, and would consider the act an attempt to prevent Palestinians from their legitimate right to resist.

The group’s Tuesday announcement was a response to attempts by the Palestinian Authority to push through a UN resolution that would ensure an immediate ceasefire and install observers and international troops at the borders of Gaza and Israel to ensure both sides stick to the agreement.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas arrived in New York Tuesday morning to press the case for a ceasefire resolution.

The PRC made it clear in a statement that any international troops would be treated as enemies invading the area. They announced that they refuse to separate the Gaza Strip from Palestine, and asserted that international forces would only strengthen Israeli control over Palestinian areas.

In New York, Abbas will continue meetings with members of the Arab League and UN Security Council in the hopes of preparing a draft resolution for discussion by Wednesday afternoon.

The United States, backed by Israel, scuttled an attempt on Saturday to pass a ceasefire resolution proposed by Libya, the Security Council’s only Arab member.

The resolution hoped for by Palestinian negotiators, explained Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki at a UN press conference Monday, will begin with a total ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

According to the planned draft, the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip would be lifted and international observers installed at all border crossings, including the Rafah crossing as per the November 2005 agreement with Egypt. Further, an international force would patrol the border area and ensure both Israeli and Palestinian groups maintained the terms of agreement of the ceasefire.

Asked how the negotiating team at the UNSC hoped to overcome the threatened US veto, which cut-short an earlier proposal, Al-Maliki only said the team was optimistic that the US would be receptive to the consensus achieved by the Arab League and other Security Council members.

The in-process draft resolution also contains requirements for Hamas and Fatah to meet with all Palestinian factions and work on the issue of the internal divisions in the Palestinian state.

Some concern was expressed over the fact that representatives for the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority were working for the ceasefire for the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Al-Maliki described the PA initiative as achieving through diplomacy what Hamas was trying to achieve with projectile fire: to end the siege and open the crossings and ensure the rights of Gazans.

Al-Maliki expressed disappointment over the failure of President-elect Barack Obama to make a statement against the attacks on Gaza, given the fact that he condemned the Mumbai attacks the month before.

Abbas’ program for the next few two days will be back-to-back meetings with members of the Arab league and with each member of the Security Council to attempt and gain a preliminary consensus on the draft resolution.

Al-Maliki explained that the details of the international force and the observer mission would be discussed during the Security Council meeting Wednesday.

Egyptian Complicity Exposes Deep Fear of Iran

Egyptian Complicity Exposes Deep Fear of Iran

‘People of the Arab world have longed for a leader to fight for their cause.’
By Antoun Issa

The death toll in the Gaza massacre has surpassed 500. Israel has rejected an EU cease-fire and is showing no sign of halting its operations, despite growing global opposition. But for the Arab world, the strongest repercussions to this conflict will be felt in Egypt.

The Egyptian leadership has taken a hiding from the Arab street for its inaction over Israel’s assault on the Palestinians. Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran have removed all gloves by publicly accusing Egypt’s leadership of complicity in Israel’s war on Gaza.

Not that the Arab street needed reminding of who supports who in the vicious Middle Eastern cycle of conflict. The Arabs are aware, albeit repressed, of the political landscape in the region. It is common knowledge that Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia (the Arab trio) form a pro-American axis of oppressive dictators whose primary interest is containing Iran’s growing presence in the region.

Iran, on the other hand, has enlisted the support of Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas, and enjoys vast public support from the Sunni Arab world because its primary concern is much aligned with the sentiments of the Arab street … upholding the Palestinian cause and combating American presence in the region.

The ability of Hezbollah to draw tens of thousands of demonstrators to the streets of Arab capitals, including Cairo, speaks more of Egypt’s misconstrued fears than Hezbollah’s popularity. The fear of Iran is partly motivated by sectarianism, but mostly by political survival. The US and Israel have succeeded in the past eight years in creating an atmosphere of paranoia in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, portraying Iran as an evil existential threat akin to the red Russian bear.

Indeed, Iran’s Shia proselytising has triggered a sense of urgency among Sunni Arab leaders, particularly in Saudi Arabia where strict Sunni doctrine (Wahhabism) is the norm and a strong self-belief as the custodian of the Islamic faith exists. The Sunni Arab leaders would have you believe that Iran’s rise poses a threat to 1400 years of Sunni domination in the Islamic world, and therefore demands greater attention than the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

Such rhetoric is designed for public consumption, whilst concealing the real fear held in the three Arab capitals. Iran is not simply the ‘Vatican for Shi’ites’, but has actively sought to hijack the Palestinian cause from the Arab world. After decades of squabbling, rivalry and inaction among Arab states, the Iranians have barged through the gates, swept all aside, and have boldly declared the Palestinian cause under new management.

The Arab street – equally frustrated at watching Israel and the US strangle their world whilst their governments play to the tune – were impressed. Finally, after a long sense of helplessness, someone was coming to the aid of the Arabs. Iran didn’t simply engage in empty rhetoric, as most Arab states did, but poured its energy into a deep conviction to combat Israeli reign in the Middle East.

It built the successful Hezbollah whilst Lebanon was on its knees in the 1980s. It offered Syria support when the US was bent on toppling the Assad regime. It threw its weight in Iraq to thwart American rule. And, most crucially given recent days, it gave to the Palestinians unconditionally, and supported Hamas when the Arab world abandoned it.

Perhaps for the conventional Western reader, such actions would have qualified Iran’s inclusion into the “axis of evil”. But the opinions of the Western public is not what concerns the pro-American Arab axis. Support for Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria’s beleagured regime and opposition to the US occupation in Iraq echoes the core sentiments of the Arab street, and inflames its anger towards the passive Arab dictators who offer empty statements of condemnation from their American-funded villas and palaces. Such popular sentiments can be easily transformed into a mobilised opposition that could overthrow current regimes.

Iran has actively fought on behalf – whether directly or indirectly – of millions of Arabs who regard Israel and wider American/British ‘imperialism’ of their region as the main cause for their woes. The pro-American Arab governments, US and Israel have each failed to stoke Sunni-Shi’ite tension to divert the attention of the Arab street from Israel’s brutal occupation of Palestine to Iran’s rising power.

The division in the Arab world and fear of Iran has been present since the Iranian revolution 30 years ago. However, little attention to Tehran was needed as Saddam Hussein played the important role of Arab gatekeeper and contained Iranian expansion. The removal of Saddam gave way to Iran’s desire to become the leader of the Arab/Islamic world, and quickly drew the immediate focus of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan.

Efforts to thwart Iran’s advance became frantic and ill-conceived.

Plan A – Iraq

The US occupation of Iraq failed, the country dived into civil conflict, and Iranian-backed Shi’ites gained power. Eventually, too many hands became involved in the single pie. The Saudis backed Sunni radicals in order to counter the Shi’ite rise. Unfortunately, the Sunni radicals caused further complication for the US occupation as Al-Qaida-inspired groups were just as determined to inflict harm on the US.

The other dilemma was that Syria also held considerable influence over certain fragments of the Sunni community, mainly due to the tribal and family connections that transcend the Syrian-Iraqi frontier. Therefore, any attempt by Saudi Arabia to ferment total anti-Iranian/Shia resistance amongst Sunnis was severely limited.

Plan B – Syria

The Israel/US/Arab axis then turned its attention to Syria and Lebanon. Syria has long been viewed as Iran’s right hand in the Arab world, giving Tehran a direct role in Arab affairs. Limiting Syria’s power, the Arab trio believed, would ultimately constrain Iran.

Rafik al-Hariri, former Lebanese Prime Minister, was conveniently assassinated in 2005, prompting Syria’s withdrawal from Lebanon and Syria’s isolation from the international community. The Arab trio, along with Israel and the US, kept the heat on Damascus for subsequent years, with Assad only recently coming out of the frost courtesy of France.

The original aim was to topple the Alawite regime in Syria (a Shia offshoot sect) and replace it with a Saudi-backed Sunni leadership. Contacts were made with the arch enemy of Syria’s Ba’ath rulers, the Muslim Brotherhood of Syria (not to be confused with the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt). The idea was to spark a Sunni revolt in Syria led by the Muslim Brotherhood, with the defective Abdel Halim Khaddam at its helm.

It failed. Syria’s security tightened, its opposition groups were silenced, the Assad regime persevered, and Damascus came out of isolation whilst maintaining its anti-Israel stance.

Plan C – Lebanon

Lebanon had been delivered to Syria on a silver platter by the Americans after Damascus agreed to join the US-led coalition against Iraq in the first Gulf War. What ensued was 15 years of cohesive Syrian-Saudi rule over Lebanon, which brought the infamous Hariri family to power. Saudi money, via the late entrepreneur Rafik al-Hariri, would rebuild Lebanon using 1 million Syrian labourers. The Syrian-Saudi relationship brought relative calm to Lebanon, which appeased the Clinton administration who wanted Lebanon’s squabbling silenced whilst he shifted the focus towards the Israeli/Palestinian front.

The only problem with this equation was Hezbollah, the only faction of Lebanon that was out of reach for the Saudis and Americans alike. Hezbollah, at the behest of Iran and Syria, maintained a threatening arsenal, and continued its campaign against Israel until South Lebanon was finally liberated in 2000.

Hezbollah was a real threat put on Israel’s northern borders and exploited by Iran and Syria each time they felt a need to poke Israel or the US. Chopping off this arm would severely limit Iran’s influence in the region and remove a key player that gave Syria a certain degree of flexibility in its engagements with Israel.

The Arab trio along with the United States backed an Israeli offensive that aimed to destroy Hezbollah in 2006, or at least weaken it enough to give firm control of Lebanon to America’s proxies in the country.

It backfired. Hezbollah came out stronger, inflicted a significant blow to Israel’s self-perception of military invincibility, strangled the pro-American Lebanese government by imposing a year-long political deadlock, and gave Syria and Iran a new-found confidence.

More importantly, Hezbollah won the praise of the Arab street, and for the first time, exposed the complicity of the Arab trio. The pro-American dictators in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan found themselves isolated in the face of overwhelming public popularity for their adversaries in Hezbollah, Syria and Iran.

Plan D (1) – Palestine

Riding on popularity and confidence after the Hezbollah victory in 2006, the Iranians/Syrians decided to make the next move. After a similar political impasse had paralysed the Palestinian territories, Hamas swept the Gaza Strip in 2007, removing Fatah from power and took absolute control of the tiny territory of 1.5 million Palestinians.

Israel was now confronted with the nightmare reality of having a Hezbollah to its north and south. For Egypt, its long-held fear that Iran’s growing populism would reach the streets of Cairo was moving closer to reality. The Gaza Strip is on Egypt’s doorstep, and its Hamas rulers retains deep ties to the party it evolved from … the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt. Mubarak famously remarked after Hamas’ revolt in Gaza that his country now “shares a border with Iran”.

The Muslim Brotherhood forms the largest opposition in Egypt, and the Mubarak leadership has struggled to keep the lid on the Brotherhood’s popularity, often resorting to oppression. Just as Hezbollah swept Beirut in May 2008 to force the pro-American government to yield, and Hamas forcefully evicted Fatah from Gaza, Mubarak feared an Iranian-backed scenario would soon be played on the streets of Cairo.

Hamas in the Gaza Strip is intolerable for Egypt and Israel, yet vulnerable. Iraq borders Syria and Iran. Lebanon borders Syria. Material support could sufficiently reach Hezbollah and the Iraqis, but Hamas in Gaza is isolated. Encircled by Egypt and Israel, both countries saw an opportunity to inflict maximum damage on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. The Israelis and Egyptians attempted to starve the Gaza Strip by imposing a stiff blockade that has all but effectively destroyed Gaza’s economy and created a humanitarian disaster.

Their aim was to create enough dissent at the living conditions in the dense territory that Gazans would revolt against Hamas without the Israelis or Egyptians lifting a finger. After two years of the blockade, the revolt never came.

Plan D (2) – Gaza Today

Two days prior to Israel’s 2008 Christmas War on Gaza, Tzipi Livni and Hosni Mubarak met in Cairo, which many see as an Egyptian green light to the attacks.

The timing of Israel’s war also took into consideration the internal politics of key states. Israel’s elections are a month away, and Livni’s Kadima party trailed behind the Likud hawk, Benjamin Netanyahu. Kadima is gambling on the military offensive boosting Livni’s polling.

It is also neatly timed during the US presidential transition to avoid any concrete intervention from Washington. Barack Obama, whilst maintaining the US’ bias towards Israel, has hinted at placing peace as a priority and negotiating with Iran. Whilst he has assured Israel that its security is high on his agenda, Obama has also shown a willingness to diverge from the Likudnik view of what is required to ensure such a security.

Obama wants to shift American focus away from the Middle East to the Indian subcontinent and resolve the conflict in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He is aware that in order to accomplish such a foreign policy shift, the Middle East tension needs to be defused. He wants to negotiate with Iran and Syria to ensure a smooth, trouble-free withdrawal of his forces from Iraq. He wants to allay fears of a military confrontation with Iran, which he hopes will eventually lead the Iranians to restrain Hezbollah and Hamas, bringing sustained calm and security to Israel.

The Likudniks don’t share a similar approach on securing Israel. The hawks believe the display of brutal power will eventually bring them security, despite the fact that 60 years of this policy has only brought Israel greater insecurity.

The war is also partly aimed at complicating any plan Obama had to restore an atmosphere of calm and dialogue in the Middle East. The Israeli war has effectively re-ignited inter-Arab tension, ended Syria-Israeli talks, emboldened groups like Hamas, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and given Iran greater determination to pursue a hardline policy (Iranian elections are also scheduled for mid-2009). This serves the Likudniks’ purpose of maintaining an atmosphere of tension and resentment, which assists them in pursuing a militaristic approach to the region.

Egypt’s aim, along with Saudi Arabia, is currently in line with the Likudniks and hawks in Washington. They view Iran as an existential threat that needs to be contained at any cost. Both countries are adamant in preventing a Hezbollah-like situation in Gaza, and aim to dislodge Hamas from power whilst it is still weak.

The Reality

Egypt and Saudi Arabia’s blind obsession with Iran has only created greater resentment and determination among the Arab street to have such leaderships removed. The open and direct accusation of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah that Egypt is an accomplice in Israel’s war is indeed new territory in inter-Arab rivalry.

Despite existing tension, Arabs have tended not to publicly shame each other, and maintain their disputes behind closed doors. However, Hezbollah’s public condemnation of Egypt is as much transparent as Mubarak’s open complicity in attempting to destroy Hamas.

Whilst Arab satellite networks broadcast strewn Palestinian bodies and wailing mothers for their lost children, Egypt sends its troops to the Gaza border to prevent the Palestinians from breaking through the Rafah crossing, the only border crossing between Egypt and Gaza.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit continues to blame Hamas for the fighting, publicly repeating the words of the Israeli press office that the Islamic militants must end its rocket attacks for a cease-fire to work. And in revealing the real reason behind Egypt’s position, Aboul Gheit throughout the course of the conflicted has directed his criticism at Iran.

Egypt has brought its complicity in Israel’s attacks out in the open, and Hezbollah has responded in kind.

The only obvious impression one gets from this conflict is the widening gap between the policies of the Arab trio and the mood of its people. Cairo and Riyadh will stop at no cost to contain Iran, even if it involves a deal with the devil.

However, it’s their deal with the devil that is only endangering the stability of Egypt and Saudi Arabia and strengthening Iran. The further Cairo and Riyadh move in their quest to weaken Iran, the further away they’re moving from their people. The Arab world, with the exception from Lebanon and Iraq, has not bought the Sunni-Shia sectarian propaganda. This has been reinforced by the call of Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt, Muhammed Mahdi Akef, that he has no problem with Iran spreading Shi’ite Islam in the Arab world.

Egypt and Saudi Arabia are driven by their fear that Iran’s populism in its role in the Arab/Israeli conflict, coupled by its fervent Shi’ite Islam and historic rivalries between Persia and Arabia, will ultimately instigate revolts that will topple Mubarak and the Saud family.

The Arab trio have a right to such a fear, it is indeed incredibly plausible. However, the power-corrupt dictators of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan have failed to understand Iran’s power in the Arab world. Iran is rising to its heights because it is winning the support of the Arab people. This year, Iranian elections will not only be played out on its own territory, but indeed in elections in Iraq and Lebanon (both also scheduled for this year). The role of Iran will play key factors in both elections, testing Iran’s popularity among the Arab public. The pro-Iranian camps in Lebanon and Iraq may have just received a polls boost courtesy of Egypt and Saudi conspicuous silence on Israel’s war on Gaza.

The people of the Arab world have longed for a leader to fight for their cause, and Iran has stepped up to the challenge. Moving closer to the US and aligning with Israel’s war on the Palestinians is not the path that will secure the dictators of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Instead, reverting to the popular sentiments of the Arab world, and embracing the leadership role on Arab affairs in Palestine and Iraq is what is required to combat Iran and its proxies.

In the view of many Sunni Arabs, it’s the Shi’ites that’s leading the charge to Palestine, not the Sunni Arab states. By dealing with the devil, the leaders of Egypt and Saudi Arabia have only succeeded in increasing opposition to their rule, and endangered their seats on the throne.

– Antoun Issa is a Lebanese-Australian journalist. He contributed this article to Visit his blog:

The Politics of An Israeli Extermination Campaign: Backers, Apologists and Arms Suppliers

The Politics of An Israeli Extermination Campaign: Backers, Apologists and Arms Suppliers


Because of the unconditional support of the entire political class in the US, from the White House to Congress, including both Parties, incoming and outgoing elected officials and all the principle print and electronic mass media, the Israeli Government feels no compunction in publicly proclaiming a detailed and graphic account of its policy of mass extermination of the population of Gaza.

Israel’s sustained and comprehensive bombing campaign of every aspect of governance, civic institutions and society is directed toward destroying civilized life in Gaza. Israel’s totalitarian vision is driven by the practice of a permanent purge of Arab Palestine informed by Zionism, an ethno-racist ideology, promulgated by the Jewish state and justified, enforced and pursued by its organized backers in the United States.

The facts of Israeli extermination have become known: In the first six days of round the clock terror bombing of major and minor populations centers, the Jewish State has murdered and seriously maimed over 2,500 people, mostly dismembered and burned in the open ovens of missile fire. Scores of children and women have been slaughtered as well as defenseless civilians and officials.

They have sealed off all access to Gaza and declared it a military, free fire zone, while expanding their target to include the entire population of 1.5 millions semi-starved prisoners. According to the Boston Globe (December 30, 2008): Israeli military officials said their target lists have expanded to include the vast support network on which the Islamist movement relies to stay in power “…we are trying to hit the whole spectrum, because everything is connected and everything supports terrorism against Israel (my emphasis)”. A top Israeli in its secret police apparatus is quoted saying, “Hamas’ civilian infrastructure is a very sensitive target” (ibid). What the Israeli Jewish politicians and military planners designate as “Hamas” is the entire social service network, the entire government and the vast majority of economic activity, embracing almost the entire 1.5 million imprisoned residents of Gaza.

Israel’s ‘target’ list thus involves the ‘total population’, using the totality of its non-nuclear weaponry and for an unlimited time period (until the ‘bitter end’ according to the Israeli Prime Minister). Israel’s defense ministry spokesman has emphatically reiterated the Jewish’s state’s totalitarian war concept emphasizing the targeting of civilians: “Hamas has used ostensibly civilian operations as a cover for military activities. Anything affiliated with Hamas is a legitimate target.”

Like all totalitarians in the past, the Jewish state boasts of having systematically pre-planned the extermination campaign – months in advance – up to and including the precise hour and day of the bombing to coincide with inflicting the maximum murder of civilians: The rockets and bombs fell as children were leaving school, as graduating police cadets were receiving their diplomas and as frantic mothers ran out from their homes to find their sons and daughters.

The mass military extermination campaign was a follow up of its non-stop total economic embargo and unremitting selective assassination campaign of the previous two years: Both were designed to purge Palestine of its Arab population, first via mass hunger, disease, humiliation and violent intimidation and the proxy power grab by the PLO Quislings under Zionist puppet Abbas. When they discovered that mass hunger and selective Israeli murder only strengthened the population’s links to its democratically elected government and the resolve of the Hamas government to resist Israel, the Israeli regimes unleashed its entire arsenal of weapons, including its new ‘American gifts’ up-to-date 1000 pound ‘bunker buster’ bombs and high tech missiles to incinerate large numbers of human beings within their deadly radius and to obliterate Palestinian civilization.

Moving directly from its totalitarian vision to its military blueprint to the savaging of Palestinian population centers, the Jewish state destroyed the principle university with over 18,000 students (mostly women), mosques, pharmacies, electrical and water lines, power stations, fishing villages, fishing boats and the little fishing port that provided a meager supply of fish for the starving population. They destroyed roads, transport facilities, food warehouses, science buildings, small factories, shops and apartments. They destroyed a women’s dormitory at the university. In the words of the Israel leader: “…because everything is connected to everything…” it is necessary to destroy each and every facet of life, which allows humans to exist with some dignity and independence.

The Israeli totalitarian leaders knew with confidence that they could act and they could kill with impunity, locally and before the entire world, because of the influence of the US Zionist Power Configuration in and over the US White House and Congress. They knew they had the full backing of all the major Israeli political parties (Right, Left and Center), trade unions, mass media and especially public opinion. Israeli state terror is backed by 81% of Jewish Israelis according to a poll taken by Israel’s Channel 10 (Financial Times December 30, 2008). Israeli totalitarian violence and extermination of Palestinians is extremely popular among the Jewish electorate, especially in raising support for the Labor Party candidate Minister Ehud Barak. They knew they would ‘succeed’ with virtually no casualties because they bombed, burned and dismembered a defenseless population totally lacking the minimum means to defend themselves from F16 bombers, helicopter gun ships and missile assaults. The vile depravity of the assault on the defenseless population is matched by the utter cowardice of the Israeli military command and its cheering bloodthirsty public ensconced behind their aerial monopoly. They suffered no threats of aerial retaliation, no wounded or dead pilots, helicopter gunners, as wave after wave swept in and over a defenseless imprisoned population in a crowded and besieged ghetto.

Hundreds of tanks and armored carriers are prepared to invade once the cities and towns have been leveled, once the population is too weakened by starvation to resist, once the leaders and fighters have been murdered and the normal Palestinian institutions of law and order have been pulverized, making way for the corrupt thuggish collaborators of the so-called Palestinian Authority…then and only then, will the Israeli General staff risk the skin of a precious Jewish ‘soldier’ and risk the anxiety and worry of their kin in Israel and the US.

Overseas Allies: The Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations (PMAJO)

From the moment that the Israeli Government decided it would destroy the newly elected Hamas government and punish the democratic electorate of Gaza with starvation and murder, the entire Zionist Power Configuration (ZPC) in the US, including the PMAJO, pulled all stops in implementing the Israeli policy. The PMAJO encompasses the fifty-two Jewish organizations with the largest membership, with the greatest financial clout and the most influential backers. The most prominent lobbyist within the PMAJO is AIPAC, which has over 100,000 members and 150 full-time operatives in Washington actively pressuring the US Congress, the White House and all administrative agencies whose policies may relate to the interests of the State of Israel. However Israeli political extends far beyond its non-governmental agencies. Over two score legislators in the Congress and over a dozen senators are committed Zionists who automatically back Israel’s policies and push for US funding and armaments for its military machine. Top officials in key administrative positions, in Treasury, Commerce and the National Security Council, senior functionaries in the Pentagon and top advisers on Middle East affairs are also life-long, fanatically committed Zionists, who consistently and unreservedly back the policies of the State of Israel.

Equally important, the majority of the largest film, print and electronic media are owned or deeply influenced by Jewish-Zionist media moguls who are committed to slanting the ‘news’ in favor of Israel. The composition and influence of the ZPC is central to understanding three main characteristics of Israel’s power: (1) Israel can commit what leading United Nations and international human rights experts have defined as ‘crimes against humanity’ with total impunity; (2) Israel can secure an unlimited supply of the most technologically advanced and destructive weapons and use them without limit on a civilian population in violation of even US Congressional restrictions and (3) scores of almost unanimous United Nations condemnations of the construction of genocidal apartheid barriers against a native population, starvation embargoes and the current extermination campaign in Gaza are always vetoed by the US representative.

Many critics of Israel’s genocide in Gaza also condemn what they call ‘the complicity’ of Washington or ‘the United States’ without clearly identifying the actual socio-political forces influencing policy-makers or the ‘dual’ political loyalties and identities of the ‘American’ politicians who have long-standing and deep allegiances to Israel. As a consequence, most critics fail to counter, protest or even identify the ideology and politics of the organized power configurations which define US complicity with Israel, who intimidate potential critics, who write and mouth the pro-Israel editorials in the mass media and who filter out any criticism, any truth…even when Israel engages in sustained bloody extermination campaigns.

The ZPC and the Israeli War of Extermination in Gaza

The ZPC played a major role in all stages of Israel’s extermination campaign against Gaza including a sustained propaganda effort. The ZPC orchestrated a massive successful campaign through the extensive network of American mass media, which it controls and influences. It fabricated an image of the Hamas administration in Gaza as a terrorist organization, which allegedly seized power through violence – totally denying its rise to power through internationally supervised, democratic elections and its defense of its electoral mandate against a US-Israeli backed PLO military takeover. The entire Zionist Jewish leadership backed Israel’s land grabs, its ghetto wall around Palestinians, the hundreds of road blocks, the Jewish settlers violently taking over Palestinian homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the criminal, genocidal Israeli economic embargo on Gaza designed to systematically starve the Palestinians into submission. Throughout the two years of this Israeli extermination campaign, American Zionists played a major role in leading the servile US government at home and abroad in backing each totalitarian measure: The vast majority of local synagogues became bully-pulpits defending the starvation and degradation of 1.5 million Palestinian refugees in Gaza caged on all sides by deadly force and the ‘walling off’ into economically and socially devastating cantons of the 4.5 million West Bank Palestinian population under foreign occupation. The US Congress shamelessly followed the Zionist lead, backing every single criminal measure taken by the State of Israel and approving dozens of resolutions, which in most cases were entirely written by AIPAC lobbyists acting as unregistered agents of the Israeli government (contrary to US federal statute, which requires foreign agents and lobbyists to be registered as such). Israel’s demands for the most up-to-date US warplanes, including F-16s, Apache helicopter gun ships, and 1,000 pound bombs were secured by dint of effort of the AIPAC lobbyists and their clients in the US Congress. In other words, the American ZPC created the ideological cover and military instruments for Israel’s ‘total war’ against the defenseless Palestinian population. Equally important, prominent Zionist leaders in the US Congress and members of the foreign policy establishment blocked or vetoed any international criticism of Israel – securing its impunity and immunity from any of the Congressional sanctions usually enacted against criminal states. In other words, Israeli policy makers operated with the knowledge that there would be no negative economic, diplomatic and military repercussions to their launching the planned Gaza extermination campaign because they knew, in advance, that ‘their people’ were in total control of US Middle East policy to the extent of actually repeating verbatim each and every propaganda lie in defense of Israel’s total war against the entire population of Gaza.

In Defense of Israel’s War of Extermination

The Zionist-controlled US print media, in particular the New York Times and the Washington Post, systematically fabricated an account that fit perfectly with Israel’s official line defending its massive assault on Gaza: Omitting any historical account of the hundreds of Israeli armed incursions and ‘targeted’ assassinations of Palestinian leaders and officials (even in their own homes) which repeatedly violated the ‘cease fire’ agreed by Hamas and provoked its retaliation in self-defense of its people; omitting the years of an Israeli enforced starvation embargo of food and essentials that threatened the lives of 1.5 million Palestinians and led to the desperate efforts of the elected Hamas leadership to secure supplies for the people’s survival via tunnels across the Egyptian border and through missile attacks against Israel to pressure the Jewish state to negotiate an end of the criminal blockade.

The Conference of President of the Major American Jewish Organizations, and the vast majority of Jewish communal groups and congregations, gave enthusiastic and unanimous support to Israel’s total war, its extermination campaign against the captive Palestinian population of Gaza. Even as images and reports of the massive destruction, killing and wounding of over 2,500 defenseless Palestinians filtered in the mass media, not a single major Jewish organization broke ranks; only individuals and small groups protested. All the ‘Majors’ persisted in the politics of the Big Lie: the destruction of hospitals, mosques, universities, roads, apartments, pharmacies and fishing ports were all labeled ‘Hamas targets’. The systematic all-out assault by uncontested helicopter gunships against 1.5 millions civilians was erased by tendentious accounts of Hamas’ homemade missiles falling ineffectively near Israeli towns.

A close reading of the most important propaganda organ of the PMAJO, The Daily Alert (TDA), during the first 5 days of Israel’s assault, reveals the propaganda tack taken by the leadership of the pro-Israel power configuration. TDA systematically worked to achieve the following:

    1. Exaggerate the threats to Israel by the Palestinian missiles from Gaza, citing 4 Israeli deaths, while omitting any mention of the 2,500 Palestinian dead and wounded and the total destruction of their economy and living conditions (without safe water, electricity, food, cooking fuel, medicine and heat in the winter).
    2. Promote Israel’s military assault as ‘defensive’, directed at eliminating Hamas rocket attacks while omitting mention of Israel’s clearly stated purpose of destroying all civil organizations, social welfare agencies, educational facilities, medical clinics and public security institutions connected in any way with the elected Hamas government and any auxiliary agencies.
    3. Cite select statement from Israel’s allies and clients (Washington, the US media, Germany and the UK) blaming Hamas for the conflict without mentioning the vast majority of countries in the United Nations General Assembly condemning Israel’s brutality.
    4. Reproduce Israeli slanders against any and all international human rights leaders and organizations that condemn the Jewish state’s policy of genocide against the native Palestinians. In this regard, TDA is the foremost ‘genocide denier’ in the United States and, perhaps outside of Israel, in the world.
    5. Repeatedly cite Israeli political and military leaders’ claims of acting ‘with restraint’, ‘safeguarding civilians’, and ‘targeting military objectives’, even in the face of reports and images of mass civilian destruction and loss of life documented in the vast majority of (non-US) Western media.
    6. Defend every Israeli bombing mission, every day, every hour, of every building, every home, and every economic, religious and educational institution in Gaza as ‘defensive’ or a ‘reprisal’, all the while quoting some of the most notorious, unconditional, perennial apologists of Israeli violence as if they were unbiased intellectuals, including Benny ‘Nuke Tehran’ Morris, Marty Peretz and Amos Oz.
    7. The Daily Alert quotes US writers, journalists and editors who praise and defend Israel’s ‘total war’ without identifying their long-standing affiliation and identification with Zionist organizations, giving the false image of a wide spectrum of opinion behind the assault. Never has even the most moderate Jewish or Gentile critic of Israel’s massive extermination campaign appeared in any issues of The Daily Alert.

The principle American Jewish organizations have bombarded the US Congress, influencing, intimidating and purchasing the craven so-called ‘representatives’ of the American people, the media and public notables with lies in defense of Israel’s total war to exterminate a people. Their public, brazen, open complicity in genocide can be considered crime against humanity: The willful promotion of acts of a state designed to destroy an entire people.

And yet these willing accomplices, these ‘willing executioners’ of state mass murder go uncontested within the US political class. One of their leading mouthpieces in the incoming Obama Administration, Chief Presidential Adviser David Axelrod, even cites an Obama campaign speech defending Israeli assaults on the people of Gaza.

Israel arrogantly repudiates all calls to end this mass murder, because Israel knows that ‘its people’ are still in control of US policy toward the Middle East and will use their power in the new president’s administration to block any condemnation of this crime.

To date the entire human rights and anti-war movements have failed to even mention, let along challenge, the most powerful propaganda and political organizations, which influence US policy and manipulate the mass media in favor of Israel’s extermination campaign. They will play no restraining role on Israel’s totalitarian policies as long as its principle US backers are free to lie, manipulate and defend each and every crime.

There is little hope for an independent US Congressional policy as long as Israel’s war of extermination in Gaza can be defended by the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee (and Zionist zealot) Congressman Howard Berman in the following terms: “Israel has a right, indeed a duty, to defend itself in response to the hundreds of rockets and mortars fired from Gaza over the past week. No government in world would sit by and allow its citizens to be subjected to this kind of indiscriminate bombardment. The loss of innocent life is a terribly tragedy and the blame for that tragedy lies with Hamas.” Thus Congressman Berman cynically omits the 2 years of Israel’s embargo, the daily ‘targeted’ assassinations of Palestinians, the ‘targeted’ missile attacks against civilians, the land, sea and air blockades and the blatant ‘targeted’ destruction of the infrastructure of Gaza. No government, indeed a democratically elected Islamist government, can stand by while its people are starved and murdered into submission. But according to the respected Congressmen Bermans of the world, only the lives of Jews matter, not the growing thousands of murdered, dismembered and mutilated citizens of Gaza – they do not count as people!

What is to be Done

Israel’s crimes against humanity demand a public response: social action, which will force it to cease and desist from its campaign to exterminate the people of Gaza. Because the Jewish state has assaulted a vast array of Palestinian social institutions, which resonate with those in our own society, we can and should mobilize them to condemn and boycott their counterparts in Israel:

    1. We should urge the entire academic community to denounce Israel’s bombardment of the Islamic University of Gaza and the total destruction of all of its science facilities. An organized boycott of Israeli universities and all academic exchanges, especially scientific, should become university policy throughout the country. Special attention should be paid to the 450 US university presidents, who in the recent past, denounced a call by British academics for a boycott and who remain silent and complicit in the face of Israel’s total physical annihilation of all ten faculties for 20,000 Palestinian university students.
    2. All American health workers, doctors, nurses, technicians, should organize and denounce Israel’s medical embargo against the 1.5 million Palestinians crowded into the Gaza Strip. They must condemn Israel’s bombardment of Gaza’s Children’s Hospital, the neighborhood pharmacies and the attacks on any transport of those critically wounded Palestinian victims of its aerial and missile attacks. Medical personnel should raise the fundamental ethical issues regarding the collaboration of US medical personnel and programs with the Jewish State’s ‘total war’ policies of extermination.
    3. All citizens should demand the end of all US military aid to Israel, especially F-16 fighter planes, Apache attack helicopters, missiles, 1000 pound ‘bunker buster’ bombs used by the Israeli armed forces on the civilian infrastructure of Gaza and the murder and maiming of over 2,500 Palestinians, civilians, civil servants, police and national militia. In pursuit of a cutoff of US military aid to Israel, every effort should be made to target and denounce the most forceful, aggressive and successful Zionist advocates and lobbyists who influence the elected members of the US Congress and White House on foreign military aid budgets. No progress in ending US military aid for Israel’s ethnic cleansing will succeed unless the peace movement and others appalled by Israel’s mass murder tackles the Zionist lobby head on. This includes boycotts, rebuttals and demonstrations against the AIPAC, the Jewish Anti-Defamation League and the other 50 leading American Jewish organizations, which initiate and secure US governmental endorsement of Israel’s extermination policies.
    4. US religious institutions should forcefully denounce Israel’s crimes against humanity, including its demolition of 5 mosques, uniting all faiths (Christian, Moslem, Buddhist) and especially reaching out to the tiny minority of rabbis and observant Jews willing to forthrightly denounce the totalitarian practices of the Israeli state.
    5. Port and long shore workers, sailors and other maritime workers and officials should boycott the handling of all trade with Israel and denounce its Navy’s violent illegal assault, in international waters, of civilian fishing boats and vessels carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza. No ships carrying Israeli products should be loaded or unloaded as long as Israel maintains its criminal military blockade of the port facilities of Gaza.
    6. Tens of millions of US citizens subject to the one-sided pro-Israel bias of the electronic and print media, the lop-sided presentations of Zionist ‘op-ed’ writers, ‘news’ reports and the self-styled Middle East experts, should demand equal time, coverage and reportage for non-Zionist specialists, analysts and commentators. We should demand the end of euphemisms and fabrications, which convert victims into aggressors and exterminators into victims.
    7. We should wage a battle of ideas everywhere (in every public forum) against the efforts by the Zionist Power Configuration to monopolize discussion over the Israeli policy of genocide, to censor, intimidate and slander critics of Israeli apartheid – as UN General Assembly President Manuel d’Escoto so aptly calls Israel’s Ghetto Wall surrounding Palestinian villages. The outpouring of public protest over Israel’s war of extermination is an enormous step forward in countering the Zionist monopoly of the mass media and encouraging the tens of millions of Americans who clearly recognize and privately despise Israel’s crimes against humanity and resent the local Zionist elite’s thuggery against those who speak out. Mass pressure on elected representative may sway some to reconsider their abject servility to their Zionist ‘contributors’ and their ‘Israel First’ Congressional colleagues.
    8. A patriotic nationwide campaign should demand that the Israel lobby, especially AIPAC, come clean and register as a foreign agent of the State of Israel. This might undermine the Lobby’s appeal to American Jews, reduce its influence over Congress and open up judicial processes and investigations over its abuse of tax-exemptions, money-laundering and lead to revelations over its treasonous procurement of confidential US state documents for a foreign power. There is a powerful political and legal basis for such a denial of the ‘Lobby’s’ tax-exempt status and legality, apart from the transparent and overwhelming evidence that all Zionist organizations act as transmission belts for Israeli state policies: In the early 1950’s up to 1963, the forerunner of AIPAC was obligated to register as a foreign agent of the State of Israel. More recently, an Israeli prosecutor presented evidence that the Israeli-Jewish Agency and its US counterparts were laundering billions of dollars especially for the funding of Israeli colonial settlements on occupied Palestinian land, condemned as illegal under international law. Congressional hearings, law suits and further published research would reveal the role of the Lobby as a Fifth Column for the State of Israel against the interest of the people of the United States.

Until we neutralize the pervasive power of the Zionist Power Configuration in all of its manifestations – in American public and civic life – and its deep penetration of American legislative and executive offices, we will fall short of preventing Israel from receiving the arms, funding and political backing to sustain its wars of ethnic extermination.

When told that the great majority of the world’s people are sickened and incensed by Israel’s mass murder of the citizens of Gaza, we can easily imagine the contemptuous dismissal by Israel’s top leaders, paraphrasing Joseph Stalin: How many bombers, missiles, fighter planes and powerful lobbies do they (the outraged people of the world) have?

James Petras is the author of Zionism, Militarism and the Decline of US Power, Clarity Press 2008.

Israel rains fire on Gaza with phosphorus shells


Israel rains fire on Gaza with phosphorus shells

Israel is believed to be using controversial white phosphorus shells to screen its assault on the heavily populated Gaza Strip yesterday. The weapon, used by British and US forces in Iraq, can cause horrific burns but is not illegal if used as a smokescreen.

As the Israeli army stormed to the edges of Gaza City and the Palestinian death toll topped 500, the tell-tale shells could be seen spreading tentacles of thick white smoke to cover the troops’ advance. “These explosions are fantastic looking, and produce a great deal of smoke that blinds the enemy so that our forces can move in,” said one Israeli security expert. Burning blobs of phosphorus would cause severe injuries to anyone caught beneath them and force would-be snipers or operators of remote-controlled booby traps to take cover. Israel admitted using white phosphorus during its 2006 war with Lebanon.

The use of the weapon in the Gaza Strip, one of the world’s mostly densely population areas, is likely to ignite yet more controversy over Israel’s offensive, in which more than 2,300 Palestinians have been wounded.

The Geneva Treaty of 1980 stipulates that white phosphorus should not be used as a weapon of war in civilian areas, but there is no blanket ban under international law on its use as a smokescreen or for illumination. However, Charles Heyman, a military expert and former major in the British Army, said: “If white phosphorus was deliberately fired at a crowd of people someone would end up in The Hague. White phosphorus is also a terror weapon. The descending blobs of phosphorus will burn when in contact with skin.” The Israeli military last night denied using phosphorus, but refused to say what had been deployed. “Israel uses munitions that are allowed for under international law,” said Captain Ishai David, spokesman for the Israel Defence Forces. “We are pressing ahead with the second stage of operations, entering troops in the Gaza Strip to seize areas from which rockets are being launched into Israel.”

The civilian toll in the first 24 hours of the ground offensive — launched after a week of bombardment from air, land and sea— was at least 64 dead. Among those killed were five members of a family who died when an Israeli tank shell hit their car and a paramedic who died when a tank blasted his ambulance. Doctors at Gaza City’s main hospital said many women and children were among the dead and wounded.

The Israeli army also suffered its first fatality of the offensive when one of its soldiers was killed by mortar fire. More than 30 soldiers were wounded by mortars, mines and sniper fire.

Israel has brushed aside calls for a ceasefire to allow humanitarian aid into the besieged territory, where medical supplies are running short.

With increasingly angry anti-Israeli protests spreading around the world, Gordon Brown described the violence in Gaza as “a dangerous moment”.

White phosphorus: the smoke-screen chemical that can burn to the bone

— White phosphorus bursts into a deep-yellow flame when it is exposed to oxygen, producing a thick white smoke

— It is used as a smokescreen or for incendiary devices, but can also be deployed as an anti-personnel flame compound capable of causing potentially fatal burns

— Phosphorus burns are almost always second or third-degree because the particles do not stop burning on contact with skin until they have entirely disappeared — it is not unknown for them to reach the bone

— Geneva conventions ban the use of phosphorus as an offensive weapon against civilians, but its use as a smokescreen is not prohibited by international law

— Israel previously used white phosphorus during its war with Lebanon in 2006

— It has been used frequently by British and US forces in recent wars, notably during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Its use was criticised widely

— White phosphorus has the slang name “Willy Pete”, which dates from the First World War. It was commonly used in the Vietnam era

Source: Times archives

An Experiment in Provocation

An Experiment in Provocation

Stealing Gaza


It’s a tragedy that the Israelis – a people who must understand better than almost anybody the horrors of oppression – are now acting as oppressors. As the great Jewish writer Primo Levi once remarked “Everybody has their Jews, and for the Israelis it’s the Palestinians”. By creating a middle Eastern version of the Warsaw ghetto they are recapitulating their own history as though they’ve forgotten it. And by trying to paint an equivalence between the Palestinians – with their homemade rockets and stone-throwing teenagers – and themselves – with one of the most sophisticated military machines in the world – they sacrifice all credibility.

The Israelis are a gifted and resourceful people who fully deserve the right to live in peace, but who seem intent on squandering every chance to allow that to happen. It’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that this conflict serves the political and economic purposes of Israel so well that they have every interest in maintaining it. While there is fighting they can continue to build illegal settlements. While there is fighting they continue to receive huge quantities of military aid from the United States. And while there is fighting they can avoid looking candidly at themselves and the ruthlessness into which they are descending.

Gaza is now an experiment in provocation. Stuff one and a half million people into a tiny space, stifle their access to water, electricity, food and medical treatment, destroy their livelihoods, and humiliate them regularly…and, surprise, surprise – they turn hostile. Now why would you want to make that experiment?

Because the hostility you provoke is the whole point. Now ‘under attack’ you can cast yourself as the victim, and call out the helicopter gunships and the F16 attack fighters and the heavy tanks and the guided missiles, and destroy yet more of the pathetic remains of infrastructure that the Palestinian state still has left. And then you can point to it as a hopeless case, unfit to govern itself, a terrorist state, a state with which you couldn’t possibly reach an accommodation.

And then you can carry on with business as usual, quietly stealing their homeland.

Brian Eno is a musician and music producer.

Hamas speaks

Hamas speaks

A Hamas official insists that a ‘legacy of suffering’ under Israel is what fuels Palestinian resistance.

By Mousa Abu Marzook

While Americans may believe that the current violence in Gaza began Dec. 27, in fact Palestinians have been dying from bombardments for many weeks. On Nov. 4, when the Israeli-Palestinian truce was still in effect but global attention was turned to the U.S. elections, Israel launched a “preemptive” airstrike on Gaza, alleging intelligence about an imminent operation to capture Israeli soldiers; more assaults took place throughout the month.

The truce thus shattered, any incentive by Palestinian leaders to enforce the moratorium on rocket fire was gone. Any extension of the agreement or improvement of its implementation at that point would have required Israel to engage Hamas, to agree to additional trust-building measures and negotiation with our movement — a political impossibility for Israel, with its own elections only weeks away.

Not that the truce had been easy on Palestinians. In the six-month period preceding this week’s bombardment, one Israeli was killed, while dozens of Palestinians lost their lives to Israeli military and police actions, and numerous others died for want of medical care.

The war on Gaza should not be mistaken for an Israeli triumph. Rather, Israel’s failure to make the truce work, and its inevitable resort to bloodshed, demonstrate again that it cannot permit a future built on Palestinian political self-determination. The truce failed because Israel will not open Gaza’s borders, because Israel would rather be a jailer than a neighbor, and because its intransigent leadership forestalls Palestinian destiny and will not make peace with history.

This week’s war is not an attack on the Izzidin al-Qassam units — our movement’s military wing — but is simply aggression targeting the people, infrastructure and economic life of Gaza, designed to sow terror and loose anarchy; it aims to establish new “facts on the ground” — that is, heaps of rubble with bodies trapped beneath — in advance of the coming American administration.

Israel claims loudly that it had no other choice this week but to rain death on refugees in camps, killing dozens of women and children, while Defense Minister Ehud Barak (the once and would-be prime minister) — his eye fixed on February elections — employs mass murder as his party’s latest vote-getting appeal, an electoral strategy fit to shame the most hardened Chicago political operative.

But, of course, options remained available. Israel might have relented months ago, for the sake of the truce, in its criminal determination to starve Gaza, cutting off much of its fuel and choking all commerce to a trickle, blocking relief organizations from delivering food and medicine, and consigning Gaza’s citizens to famine rations. Only the most cynical observer would call this grinding attrition “good faith” adherence to the truce. Blockades, after all, are explicitly acts of war.

Palestinians everywhere mark the closing of the Bush era with relief; nevertheless, skepticism runs high that any justice for our people might come from a new president who remained ominously silent in the presence of the latest Israeli onslaught, and who has aligned himself so thoroughly with Israel’s interests, so long in advance of taking power. Barack Obama’s helicopter ride two years ago above the Holy Land was not unusual in the annals of American parliamentarians junketed on “fact finding” trips by Israel’s lobbyists; yet his fond remarks on what he saw — “houses and streets like ones you might find” in any American suburb — were notable for their silence as to any troubling sights. Did he miss the security roads and checkpoints that riddle the West Bank, or the construction of the wall, or the illegal settlements? Perhaps his helicopter flew too high.

But now, amid Israel’s latest attack on our people, as the death toll rises in the hundreds, with thousands wounded — all victims of American taxpayers’ largesse — Palestinians wonder how Obama will react to the escalating crisis. They demand of the next White House a new paradigm of respect and accountability, because when Palestinians see an F-16 with the Star of David painted on its tail, they see America.

Palestinians are understandably guarded about the coming administration, noting its appointments with trepidation. The soon-to-be secretary of State is unforgettable for urging years ago U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s “undivided” capital, while the administration’s chief of staff bears the stain of his father’s service in the banned terrorist Irgun paramilitary, a Zionist group responsible for numerous atrocities.

Renewed calls today for our movement to “recognize the right of Israel to exist,” in the face of murderous onslaught, ring as hollow as Israel’s continuing claims to be acting in “self-defense” as her jets bomb civilians. Without debating here the Zionist state’s fictive, existential “right,” which of the many Israels, precisely, would the West have us recognize? Is it the Israel that militarily occupies land belonging to three of its neighbors, ignoring international law and scores of U.N. resolutions over decades? Is it the Israel that illegally settles its citizens on other people’s land, seizes water sources and uproots olive trees? Is it the Israel that in 60 years has never acknowledged the forced expulsion of Palestinians from their farms and villages as the foundational act of its statehood and denies refugees their right to return?

Through bitter experience, when we hear demands for “recognition” of Israel as a precondition to dialogue, what we hear is a call for acquiescence in its crimes against us, validating the injustices that have been wrought in its name.

Our spirit to fight on is the legacy of collective suffering: With tens of thousands dead or wounded by decades of the “peace process,” you cannot find a family in Palestine — Muslim or Christian, Hamas, Fatah, PFLP or Islamic Jihad — without a son or daughter killed, injured, jailed or tortured, or which does not count itself or its kin among the millions of refugees living in U.N. camps.

Hamas is not a handful of leaders. Israel may kill all of the current leadership in this round of violence, including me, and its organic, social infrastructure will not go away. We are, simply put, a homegrown national liberation resistance movement, with millions of people who support our struggle for freedom and justice.

President-elect Obama spoke courageously in his campaign for a policy of open dialogue, absent preconditions, with those deemed inimical to U.S. interests, and we were listening. One former U.S. president — a true peacemaker — has dared to visit with us and hear our side of this struggle, while offering us no shortage of criticism. It has been a refreshing exchange. Now is the time for the next U.S. president to do the same.

No American leader has ever visited a Palestinian refugee camp anywhere, much less in Gaza — a startling fact, considering the central role America has played in our people’s narrative. None has dared to look our refugees in their faces and experience their suffering directly.

In observance of the storied tradition of Arab hospitality to guests, and anticipating that day when an American president fulfills his promise of change, we extend the invitation now, and we will put the kettle on.

Mousa Abu Marzook is the deputy of the political bureau of Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement.

The weapon of cross-border terrorism

The weapon of cross-border terrorism

Huzaima Bukhari and Dr. Ikramul Haq

The year 2008 has ended leaving behind many troubles and challenges-economic slowdowns, financial crises, rising unemployment, social distresses, regional armed conflicts and above all rapidly rising tide of cross-border terrorism. At the fag end of the year, the world’s most worrisome melting pot remained Indo-Pakistan area as was the case in 2001-military buildups across the boarders and horrifying threats of war including nuclear strikes. From the Kargil misadventure of 1999 to Mumbai Carnage of 2008, both India and Pakistan witnessed many moments of ‘reconciliation’ but each time certain hidden hands, using the ugly weapon of ‘cross-border terrorism’, hindered the peace efforts. These hidden hands – working simultaneously in both the countries – take dictation from their foreign masters who arm, support and fund them. It is painful that the leadership of both states has miserably failed to counter these forces which manage to dismantle the normalisation process between the two neighbouring but belligerent countries.

The root-cause of the trouble in this region is cross-border terrorism, which has to be broadly defined in order to include state terrorism by India in Kashmir and use of force by occupant forces in Afghanistan. The issue of cross-border terrorism in this part of the world cannot be understood in isolation of the great game unleashed by imperialist and neo-imperialist forces in the historic perspective. The militant liberation movement in Kashmir and armed struggles by various groups in other states of India cannot be equated or compared with the onslaughts of Jihadis in the wake of Talibanisation of Afghanistan at the behest of forces that were keen to defeat the erstwhile communist USSR. Both India and Pakistan are victims of the short-sightedness of the policies they pursued in the aftermath of 9/11 by becoming allies of the US in the war against terrorism. They did not protest when the US started killing innocent civilians in Afghanistan in December 2001 by indiscriminate bombings under the pretext of annihilating al Qaeda operatives. In Bonn peace talks, the Taliban were left out, which was a grave mistake. Leadership of both the countries failed to take any lead in political settlement in neighbouring Afghanistan. They did not ask the UN mediators to marginalise the al Qaeda by persuading moderate Taliban leaders to take part in the peace process and the future political setup. The ouster of Taliban from peace talks and brutal killing of innocent civilians in several villages in Tora Bora and Gardez in December 2001 by the US sowed permanent seeds of hatred and revenge. This was the beginning of a wave of unabated cross-border terrorism which has now turned into an insurmountable tsunami threatening the peace and tranquillity of the entire region.

Two nuclear states are now in a fix-captives in the hand of military hawks. The war-mongers on both sides are pushing things to an extent that paranoia of hate has begun to haunt the masses. Media is making things worse by over-publicising, publishing and broadcasting irresponsible statements by imprudent politicians. The electronic media is vividly projecting war games and possible scenarios of mass destruction in the event of nuclear attacks. This shows deep penetration of war psychosis in both the countries-a lamentable attitude and nuclear mindset. There are some voices of sanity and peace-lovers across the borders, but they are weak and ineffective against the hawkish elements-agents of military establishments having control over state apparatus and popular media. Forces of terror and obscurantism are creation of those who exploited them for resisting Soviet occupation. They received generous US support, but in 1989, when Russian troops packed their bags and went home, US interest in Afghanistan waned. Once the Central Asian countries had become independent from the former Soviet Union in 1991, the US concentrated its attention in the region on Soviet nuclear leftovers, the decommissioning of which it hailed as a great success. When the Taliban took over in 1996, the US did not seem overly concerned that the bearded rulers and al Qaeda were supporting radical Islamic groups in Central Asia. Was the CIA totally oblivious of Taliban – al Qaeda nexus and their nefarious activities until 9/11? Why did the US government fail to counter their activities when they openly extended their actions into Africa and elsewhere? What lessons did the US learn when its embassies were bombed in Africa by al Qaeda? What measures were taken to stop them when an Indian plane was hijacked in December 1999 from Katmandu and taken to Kandahar? How did the hijackers, agents of Osama Bin Laden manage to get militants like Maulana Azhar and Ahmed Omar Sheikh freed from the Indian jails? Why did the US allow Musharraf for eight years to cheat everybody and keep on supporting the militants?

The above questions and their answers will unveil the tragic happening of 9/11. George Bush and Dick Cheney had already planned the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, much before 9/11. They supported Musharraf et al for implementation of their agenda. Now, Barak Obama, even before occupying the Oval Office, is also talking of controlling Afghanistan through increased military presence. What is the significance of Afghanistan in the new Great Game? The answer is simple. The hidden agenda of the US and its allies in Afghanistan and elsewhere is to promote drug trade, religious fundamentalism and mass acceptance of their policies of fascism for self-interests and economic benefits. India and Pakistan fail to realise that they are being sucked into a death trap by these forces. Certain forces in both the countries are waging continuous proxy war, funding and arming extremists within each other’s territory. This dangerous game is engineered and controlled by the CIA that forced Hamid Karzai to give a free hand to Indian agents on Pakistan’s western borders. It is an open secret that CIA operatives with the help of India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) have been funding the insurgency in Balochistan. At the same time, these CIA agents are promoting a number of militant groups in Pakistan to help the Maoists and other dissidents in India. The linkage behind troubles in both the countries is the same, i.e., the US and the CIA. Both the Indian and Pakistani governments are conveniently playing in the hands of their common enemy and ironically they are relying on US support. For this occasion, Mir Taqi Mir, the great poet, very aptly said, Mir kai sada hain bemar huai jis kay sabab, usi attar kai londay se dawa latain hain (What a simple soul is Mir that he seeks prescription from the very person who is cause of his illness).

One wonders how easily our rulers are ignoring the obvious tentacles of the dirty game plan of the neo-colonial forces in this region. The main aim behind the bizarre scheme, prepared by neo-colonialists, is to push the armed forces of Pakistan to the wall using India as conduit, get the control of nuclear arsenals and use bogey of ‘Islamic terrorism’ for the containment of China. George W. Bush Jr., before leaving the Oval office, wants to ensure that the new man taking his place should have no option but to remain engaged in wars in various parts of the world. Ruthless bombing on the innocent civilians of Gaza on December 27, 2008 is evident of these nefarious intentions. One does hope that the Indian and Pakistani leadership will understand this great conspiracy. It is high time that the Chinese, Indian and Pakistani leaders unite against the forces of neo-colonialism and foil their Great Game plan. They must understand that cross-border terrorism is a ploy in the hands of the US and its allies. It is the 21st century equivalent of the 19th century British gobbledygook.

American Late Neo-colonialism, as explained by Dr. Sachithanandam Sathananthan in his Great Game Continues, is using cross-border terrorism as political cover for intervening and, where necessary, invading resource-rich and strategic countries to overthrow nationalist leaders, install puppet regimes and savage the countries’ wealth. And of course the US is by far the most powerful terrorist force. This is the reality of cross-border terrorism and war on terrorism. The forces of obscurantism and imperialism appear to be real enemies, but in fact they are ‘friends-in-arms’ and their hidden agenda is to snatch from the world its peace and tranquillity. The great challenge before the forces of peace is to get united for stemming the rising tide of terrorism, communalism, religious bigotry and obscurantism, which is designed, funded and controlled by neo-colonialist forces.

Report: Mossad behind Ergenekon plot

[SEE: Yemen says arrests militants with links to Israel]

Report: Mossad behind Ergenekon plot

A report alleges that Israel’s national intelligence agency, Mossad has been behind the Ergenekon plot to topple the Turkish government.

A secret investigation of detained Ergenekon group members and other studies outside Turkey indicate that Mossad orchestrated coups against the Turkish government, the Turkish daily Milliyet reported Sunday.

The Ergenekon group is a Turkish neo-nationalist organization with alleged links to the military, members of which have been arrested on charges of plotting to foment unrest in the country.

Investigators uncovered evidence that show a Jewish rabbi named Tuncay Guney, who worked for Mossad and fled to Canada in 2004, was a key figure behind attempts to overthrow the Turkish government, the paper said, Fars news reported.

A document uncovered this week by the Sabah daily shows how Guney deliberately infiltrated Ergenekon and another organization known as JITEM, an illegal intelligence unit linked with the police and suspected of hundreds of murders and kidnappings.

Meanwhile, a separate report by Turkish daily Yeni Safak has claimed that Turkish security forces have discovered documents in Guney’s Istanbul house that disclose information concerning suspicious investment and economic activities by certain Jewish businessmen in Turkey.

The businessmen allegedly have significant relations with individuals, political groups and cultural organizations affiliated with the Ergenekon group.

Turkish security forces have detained many members of the Ergenekon group, including retired army generals, politicians, popular lawyers and famous journalists. The individuals currently face trail on charges of plotting to overthrow Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.