Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Speak on, Bishop Williamson

Richard N. Williamson, SSPX

By Michael Hoffman
www.RevisionistHistory.org

There is a rather startling hue and cry for the head of Bishop Richard Williamson, the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) bishop who doubts the existence of execution gas chambers in Auschwitz-Birkenau, and whose excommunication, along with that of his three brother bishops, has been lifted by Pope Benedict XVI.

Extraordinary misrepresentations amounting to false witness have been made against this bishop and World War II revisionists in general. Ignorant persons who have never read a revisionist text have concocted wild fantasies about the character of revisionists and what they believe.

Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre,
the founder of the SSPX who was an implacable foe of Judaism, is being made out to be a prelate solely focused on restoring the old Latin Mass, as if that restoration alone, separated from all the ills that beset us, is a panacea. This is an error which Msgr. Lefebvre never indulged. He insisted on the Kingship of Christ in our culture and society. How can such kingship exist when an enormous homicidal gas chamber fraud shackles the minds of millions of Christians?

Some considerable portion of the constituency of the traditional Catholic movement consists of middle class reactionaries and aesthetes almost exclusively concerned with protocol and looking good in the eyes of the Vatican and the world, so as to have at their disposal a lovely liturgy, music, incense, bells and candles. Christ's radical teaching is not part of their
gestalt, and I venture to say they would be embarrassed by Him if He were among them today, since He had a tendency to utter harsh truths about Pharisaic Judaism in very public venues, something considered bad form for those engaged in lobbying the Vatican (and the Zionist media!) today.

Whether or not Bishop Williamson "denies" the existence of execution gas chambers operating in Auschwitz-Birkenau, should not in the least effect his standing in the Church of Christ, or his right to speak, teach and publish, anymore than Neocon Catholics who deny that the recent Israeli massacre of 1300 Palestinians, including 400 children, some of them burned by phosphorous poison gas (irony of ironies), lose any standing in the hierarchy, or their local church, with their abject denial of the Israeli holocaust against Arabs. 

God said, "My ways are not your ways," but many of Richard Williamson's detractors imagine God to be as the Talmud envisions him, a subsidiary of the ruling Sanhedrin, the rabbinic judiciary before whom we are all expected to genuflect, swallowing their outrageous exaggerations and lies in order that we may be considered good little boy scouts.

One is free to reject or embrace Bishop Williamson's views, but we should all defend his right to express them, especially in light of the fact that some 
"Holocaust survivors" seem to think that their suffering under the Nazis (both real and imagined), gives them a license to massacre the indigenous inhabitants of Palestine with impunity.

If Bishop Williamson's courageous remarks, however ill-timed, cause us to think twice about the alibi for Israeli genocide, then people of good will should be heartened. Instead, we witness the sorry spectacle of prissy Catholic school marms frantically running amok, seeking to smooth the ruffled feathers of
rabbis whose talons are fresh with the blood of Gaza.

Holocaustianity is the last truly believed state religion in the otherwise agnostic West. Auschwitz has replaced the Resurrection as the central ontological event in our history, a substitution easy to prove: no one goes to jail for denying the Resurrection. Meanwhile, revisionists are serving long prison sentences in Europe for doubting the homicidal gas chamber icon. Among those prisoners of conscience is the brilliant, former Max Planck Institute doctoral candidate in chemistry, Germar Rudolf.

Far from complementing Christianity, as the Vatican imagines, Holocaustianity is its deadly rival for the hearts and minds of mankind. The typical "ultimate lesson of the Holocaust" imparted in the synagogues dedicated to the Six Million idol which masquerade as "holocaust history museums," hold that the historic Christian faith, as recorded in the Gospel of John and implemented by the early and medieval church, inevitably fostered the "evil bigotry" that "paved the way for the mass gassings in Auschwitz."

In spite of the thundering anathemas of the prostitute press and the prelates of newchurch, how can any true shepherd submit to this false religion and its Orwellian "Holocaust" Newspeak, which at its core represents the pernicious and perpetual libel of Jesus Christ and His authentic disciples?

Speak on, Bishop Williamson, the victims of counterfeit-Israel desire that you give voice to the agony of the oppressed and the bondage of the free
.

Copyright © 2009. All Rights Reserved

This column has been translated into Italian here


Monday, January 19, 2009

The Unilateral People

by Gilad Atzmon

They withdraw unilaterally
They ceasefire unilaterally
They invade unilaterally
They win unilaterally
They destroy unilaterally
They massacre unilaterally
They bathe in blood unilaterally
They spread white phosphorus unilaterally
They kill women and children unilaterally
They drop bombs unilaterally
They live on stolen land unilaterally
They support their homicidal leaders unilaterally
They love their ‘Jewish Only State’ unilaterally
Their democracy is unilateral
They love themselves unilaterally
They are the unilateral people.
Living behind walls of concrete, hatred and arrogance
They are still united and lateral failing to love their neighbors

***

Israeli propaganda lines for use in Gaza

"An Israeli military official involved in the operations said Hamas had three main goals: harming Israel, ruling in Gaza and extending its rule to the West Bank.

“He understands that he needs to get bloodshed and delegitimize us in the international arena,' the official said of Hamas. 'So he cynically used people and hit us from within schools and mosques and inside civilian places. If our army wants to hit back, it has to hurt the civilian population.” --Ethan Bronner, "Parsing,' Jan. 19, 2009 N.Y. Times

Hoffman observes: It's never their fault. Israelis slaughter 400 children and it was all a case of a cynical Hamas hiding behind the children in schools, hospitals and U.N. facilities. Hence, poor little 'Israel' was forced, against its will, to flatten the schools, hospitals, UN buildings and apartment blocs.

Judaics are never guilty for anything, not even for crimes broadcast for all to see. Always they invent a rabbinic loophole to exculpate their guilt. But who besides the most degraded pew-warmer in some Protestant fundamentalist megachurch, believes the Israeli alibi for mass murder?

***

NYTimes admits Israeli policy was to go insane in Gaza

...The Israeli theory of what it tried to do here (in Gaza) is summed up in a Hebrew phrase heard across Israel and throughout the military in the past weeks: “baal habayit hishtageya,” or “the boss has lost it.” It evokes the image of a madman who cannot be controlled.

“This phrase means that if our civilians are attacked by you, we are not going to respond in proportion but will use all means we have to cause you such damage that you will think twice in the future,” said Giora Eiland, a former national security adviser.

It is a calculated rage. The phrase comes from business and refers to a decision by a shop owner to cut prices so drastically that he appears crazy to the consumer even though he knows he has actually made a shrewd business decision.

The Palestinians in Gaza got the message on the first day when Israeli warplanes struck numerous targets simultaneously in the middle of a Saturday morning. Some 200 were killed instantly, shocking Hamas and indeed all of Gaza...

"Parsing Gains of Gaza War" by Ethan Bronner | N.Y. Times, Jan. 19, 2009

***

Norman Finkelstein: Israel is a Satanic state

American Jewish Professor Norman Finkelstein has heavily criticized Israel over its operation in Gaza. A son of Holocaust survivors, Finkelstein has been barred from Israel for 10 years and was denied tenure at DePaul University in Chicago because of his critical stance on Israeli policies.

According to Finkelstein, Israel, a state built on the ashes of the Holocaust, is now committing a holocaust against Palestinians in Gaza. In a telephone interview with "Today's Zaman," Finkelstein said Israel was a "terrorist state" created by the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in 1948. Praising Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Turkish people for their courage in supporting Palestinians, Finkelstein referred to Israel as a  "satanic" and "lunatic" state. Finkelstein's parents survived the Nazi camps in World War II and then immigrated to the US.

After his book “The Holocaust Industry,” in which he accused many prominent Jewish leaders of abusing the victims of the Holocaust, was published, Finkelstein was almost declared persona non grata by America’s influential Zionist circles.

What does Israel want to achieve with this operation?

Basically, Israel wants to achieve two goals: to restore what it calls its deterrence capacity -- that means to spread fear among Arab states about itself. This is a core principle of Israeli strategic doctrine. Arab states have to be afraid of Israel, afraid of its military might, and Arabs should do what Israelis want. They shall follow Israeli orders.

Israel’s military deterrence suffered a setback in May 2000, when Hezbullah succeeded to expel Israeli occupying forces from south Lebanon. Almost immediately in the aftermath of the failure, Israel planned another war with Hezbullah to re-establish its deterrence capacity. In 2006, after long preparation and using its air force, Israel suffered another ignominious defeat in Lebanon against Hezbullah.

The second goal was to defeat the Palestinian peace offensive. This has been another basic principle of Israeli doctrine: You do not negotiate with Arabs. You give them orders. The Palestinian organization Hamas was becoming too moderate; it was transmitting, giving the signal that it was ready to go along with the two-state settlement based on pre-1967 borders. The leadership of Syria and the West Bank have also been making statements like this. So Israel started to get worried that it would be obliged to negotiate a settlement which the international community has been supporting for the last 30 years.

Those who are against this settlement are the US or Israel, backed by the US. So when Hamas was becoming moderate and holding to the cease-fire it agreed in June 2008, it was showing herself to be a credible negotiating partner. Hamas was standing by its word. In the meantime, Israel has neglected another core principle of cease-fire, namely easing the blockade. So Israel had to defeat this Palestinian peace offensive. It always does this. It provokes Palestinians into reacting, and it wants to either destroy Hamas or inflicts so much damage that Hamas will have to say it will never negotiate with Israel. That is exactly what Israel wants. Israel never wants a moderate negotiating partner because if there is one, pressure on Israel will grow. Hamas is willing for a settlement; Hamas stands by its word. But Israel does not want to negotiate.

What you are basically saying is that Israel is not interested in peace at all.

Israel wants peace in its terms, and its terms are that West Bank should belong to their state.

Will the operation be successful?

First of all, we have to use proper language. There is no operation, and there is no war. What is happening is a slaughter, a massacre. When you have 200 to 300 kids killed, that is not a war. When you have a strong military going in against a defenseless population, that is not a war. When you shoot a fish in a barrel, we do not call it a war. As an Israeli columnist put it, it does not need too much courage to send jets and helicopter gunships to shoot inside a prison. What just happened was not a war. One-third of the casualties were children. It was not a war; it was a just a massacre.

In terms of the Israelis’ goals, you have to say it was successful. It inspired fear among Palestinians and Arabs generally that Israel is a lunatic state and that you have to follow its orders. No. 2, it destroys Hamas as a negotiating partner. You now hear from Hamas that it will not negotiate peace. That is what Israel wanted.

On your Web site, there is an argument that the grandchildren of Holocaust survivors are doing to the Palestinians exactly what was done to them by the Nazis. Do you agree with that?

I think Israel, as a number of commentators pointed out, is becoming an insane state. And we have to be honest about that. While the rest of the world wants peace, Europe wants peace, the US wants peace, but this state wants war, war and war. In the first week of the massacres, there were reports in the Israeli press that Israel did not want to put all its ground forces in Gaza because it was preparing attacks on Iran. Then there were reports it was planning attacks on Lebanon. It is a lunatic state.

But do you agree with the characterization?

Look at the pictures and decide for yourself. I am not going to tell people what they should think about it. But what I say is they should look at the pictures and decide for themselves. (For the pictures go to: http://www.normanfinkelstein.com/article.php?pg=11&ar=2510)

Why have you been barred from entering Israel for 10 years? As the son of Holocaust survivors, you cannot enter Israel.

Let’s be clear on a certain point. I was not entering Israel; I have no interest in going to Israel. I was going to see my friends in the occupied Palestinian territories. And Israel blocked me to go and see my friends in the West Bank. Under international law, I do not think they have any right to do that. I was not posing any security threat to Israel. The day after I was denied entry to Israel, the editorial of "Haaretz" was asking, “Who is afraid of Norman Finkelstein?” They were also saying that I was not a security threat. I do not have any particular interest to go and visit that lunatic state.

There are Jewish intellectuals who now call Israel a “terrorist state.” Is that a correct description?

I am not sure how you cannot agree with that. The goal of the operation was to terrorize the civilian population so that Palestinians would be afraid of Israel. This is the dictionary definition of terrorism. The dictionary definition of terrorism is targeting a civilian population to achieve a political goal. The goal of this operation or rather massacre was to terrorize the civilian population and to wreck and destroy as much civilian infrastructure such that the Palestinians would submit. When you attack schools, mosques, ambulances, hospitals, UN relief organizations, what is that? If this is not terrorism, then what is terrorism?

In your famous book, The Holocaust Industry, you argue that the state of Israel, one of the world’s most formidable military powers, with a horrendous human rights record, cast itself as a victim state in order to garner immunity to criticism. Have we seen this during the Gaza operation?

They tried to use the Holocaust; it was funny in a very sick way. The leader of the American Jewish Committee, David Harris, wrote an article, and he said it is no coincidence that this war in Gaza is occurring around Jan. 27, which is Holocaust Remembrance Day. He wants to pretend some connection. In fact there is a connection, and the connection is Israel is committing a holocaust in Gaza. But that is not the connection he had in mind. He wanted to play the Holocaust card; I think that it is not working very much anymore. It was clear that during this last massacre in Gaza, liberal Jewish public opinion turned against Israel. If you look at the petitions, demonstrations, letters, support to Israel, not only in the international community but also among the Jewish community, is diminishing. So the Holocaust card, the anti-Semitic card, is not working as efficiently as it was working once.

You will probably be called anti-Semitic as well.

I do not think this propaganda is successful anymore.

In your book Beyond Chutzpah, you argue that Israel was created after the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, but the question whether it was premeditated remains to be answered. If it is premeditated, then can it be called genocide?

Well, it was premeditated, and I think the record is pretty clear. Even Israel’s former minister of foreign affairs, Shlomo Ben-Ami, in his book published several years ago called “Scars of War,” said that it was quite clear that it was a premeditated expulsion in 1948 and it was anchored in the Zionist philosophy of transfer. Ethnic cleansings are ethnic cleansings, and they are war crimes.

Why do you think US media is so one-sided and so pro-Israeli?

I think it has two components. First of all, Israel serves American interests in the region and American media always give a free pass to those states that serve American interests. That is the overall picture and not much different from other parts of the world. The horrendous governments like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, they also get free passes in the American media. This is the larger context.

And there is, of course, the secondary factor, which is the ethnic element. In many of these newspapers and the media in general, there is a large Jewish presence, and there is a sense of Jewish ethnic solidarity, which plays a role. But I think we have to qualify the secondary factor in two ways. We should not lose sight of the primary factor, which is Israel is the client state of US.

No. 2: In this past war, the liberal Jewish population mostly under the age of 40 completely defected from the war, the massacre. They have been opposed to the massacres from the first day.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been very critical of Israel on Gaza, and some American circles lambasted him in return. What do you think about his stance?

I wish he had gone further. I wish he had gone as far as Qatar, Mauritania, Bolivia and Venezuela in breaking diplomatic relations with that lunatic state. But as far as he has gone, the point on which he stands, has been terrific. And I was glad to see Hamas respected the gestures of the Turkish government and said they would be willing to have Turkish troops stationed on “our border.” That is a very high praise for the Turkish government.

Turks are showing Palestinians compassion, decency and justice. All the Turkish people should take pride in this stance, as was the case on the eve of the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. It was the Turkish people and government who showed courage. Ninety-six percent of the Turkish people opposed the war in Iraq. The Turkish government refused to give Americans use of their land to attack Iraq. Now Turkish people and the Turkish government are redeeming themselves again by standing on what is right, what is decent and what is just. I say the highest praise for Erdogan and the Turkish people.

How do you feel about Israel’s operation in Gaza personally as the son of Holocaust survivors?

It has been a long time since I felt any emotional connection with the state of Israel, which relentlessly and brutally and inhumanly keeps these vicious, murderous wars. It is a vandal state. There is a Russian writer who once described vandal states as Genghis Khan with a telegraph. Israel is Genghis Khan with a computer. I feel no emotion of affinity with that state. I have some good friends and their families there, and of course I would not want any of them to be hurt. That said, sometimes I feel that Israel has come out of the boils of the hell, a satanic state. Ninety percent of the population continues to cheer, to exalt and feel proud and heroic. They send a Sherman tank to a playground and torch children. Is this heroism? Is this courage?

You were not allowed to teach at DePaul University despite a very good academic record and also had some problems in getting your Ph.D. from Princeton. Why?

Well, I had some problems. I really cannot discuss my problems in the face of what is going on in Gaza. It will be so silly, trivial and stupid. Three hundred or so children -- they were incinerated to death; phosphorus bombs were thrown indiscriminately over Gaza. Everything these people wanted to rebuild was destroyed again. This Israeli state invaded in 1978, again in 1982, again in 1993, again in 1996, again in 2006, and 2008, and it always destroys, destroys and destroys. And then these satanic narcissistic people throw their hands up in the air and ask, “Why doesn’t anybody love us? Why don’t our neighbors want us to be here?” Why would they?

Interviewed by
SELÇUK GÜLTASLI

"Today's Zaman" (Turkey) Jan. 19, 2009

***

Actual purpose of the Israeli invasion of Gaza

Another War, Another Defeat

The Gaza offensive has succeeded in punishing the Palestinians but not in making Israel more secure.

John J. Mearsheimer
University of Chicago

Israelis and their American supporters claim that Israel learned its lessons well from the disastrous 2006 Lebanon war and has devised a winning strategy for the present war against Hamas. Of course, when a ceasefire comes, Israel will declare victory. Don’t believe it. Israel has foolishly started another war it cannot win.

The campaign in Gaza is said to have two objectives: 1) to put an end to the rockets and mortars that Palestinians have been firing into southern Israel since it withdrew from Gaza in August 2005; 2) to restore Israel’s deterrent, which was said to be diminished by the Lebanon fiasco, by Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, and by its inability to halt Iran’s nuclear program.

But these are not the real goals of Operation Cast Lead. The actual purpose is connected to Israel’s long-term vision of how it intends to live with millions of Palestinians in its midst. It is part of a broader strategic goal: the creation of a “Greater Israel.” Specifically, Israel’s leaders remain determined to control all of what used to be known as Mandate Palestine, which includes Gaza and the West Bank. The Palestinians would have limited autonomy in a handful of disconnected and economically crippled enclaves, one of which is Gaza. Israel would control the borders around them, movement between them, the air above and the water below them.

The key to achieving this is to inflict massive pain on the Palestinians so that they come to accept the fact that they are a defeated people and that Israel will be largely responsible for controlling their future. This strategy, which was first articulated by Ze’ev Jabotinsky in the 1920s and has heavily influenced Israeli policy since 1948, is commonly referred to as the “Iron Wall.” What has been happening in Gaza is fully consistent with this strategy.

Let’s begin with Israel’s decision to withdraw from Gaza in 2005. The conventional wisdom is that Israel was serious about making peace with the Palestinians and that its leaders hoped the exit from Gaza would be a major step toward creating a viable Palestinian state. According to the New York Times’ Thomas L. Friedman, Israel was giving the Palestinians an opportunity to “build a decent mini-state there—a Dubai on the Mediterranean,” and if they did so, it would “fundamentally reshape the Israeli debate about whether the Palestinians can be handed most of the West Bank.”

This is pure fiction. Even before Hamas came to power, the Israelis intended to create an open-air prison for the Palestinians in Gaza and inflict great pain on them until they complied with Israel’s wishes. Dov Weisglass, Ariel Sharon’s closest adviser at the time, candidly stated that the disengagement from Gaza was aimed at halting the peace process, not encouraging it. He described the disengagement as “formaldehyde that’s necessary so that there will not be a political process with the Palestinians.” Moreover, he emphasized that the withdrawal “places the Palestinians under tremendous pressure. It forces them into a corner where they hate to be.”

Arnon Soffer, a prominent Israeli demographer who also advised Sharon, elaborated on what that pressure would look like. “When 2.5 million people live in a closed-off Gaza, it’s going to be a human catastrophe. Those people will become even bigger animals than they are today, with the aid of an insane fundamentalist Islam. The pressure at the border will be awful. It’s going to be a terrible war. So, if we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill. All day, every day.”

In January 2006, five months after the Israelis pulled their settlers out of Gaza, Hamas won a decisive victory over Fatah in the Palestinian legislative elections. This meant trouble for Israel’s strategy because Hamas was democratically elected, well organized, not corrupt like Fatah, and unwilling to accept Israel’s existence. Israel responded by ratcheting up economic pressure on the Palestinians, but it did not work. In fact, the situation took another turn for the worse in March 2007, when Fatah and Hamas came together to form a national unity government. Hamas’s stature and political power were growing, and Israel’s divide-and-conquer strategy was unraveling.

To make matters worse, the national unity government began pushing for a long-term ceasefire. The Palestinians would end all missile attacks on Israel if the Israelis would stop arresting and assassinating Palestinians and end their economic stranglehold, opening the border crossings into Gaza.

Israel rejected that offer and with American backing set out to foment a civil war between Fatah and Hamas that would wreck the national unity government and put Fatah in charge. The plan backfired when Hamas drove Fatah out of Gaza, leaving Hamas in charge there and the more pliant Fatah in control of the West Bank. Israel then tightened the screws on the blockade around Gaza, causing even greater hardship and suffering among the Palestinians living there
.

Hamas responded by continuing to fire rockets and mortars into Israel, while emphasizing that they still sought a long-term ceasefire, perhaps lasting ten years or more. This was not a noble gesture on Hamas’s part: they sought a ceasefire because the balance of power heavily favored Israel. The Israelis had no interest in a ceasefire and merely intensified the economic pressure on Gaza. But in the late spring of 2008, pressure from Israelis living under the rocket attacks led the government to agree to a six-month ceasefire starting on June 19. That agreement, which formally ended on Dec. 19, immediately preceded the present war, which began on Dec. 27.

The official Israeli position blames Hamas for undermining the ceasefire. This view is widely accepted in the United States, but it is not true. Israeli leaders disliked the ceasefire from the start, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the IDF to begin preparing for the present war while the ceasefire was being negotiated in June 2008. Furthermore, Dan Gillerman, Israel’s former ambassador to the UN, reports that Jerusalem began to prepare the propaganda campaign to sell the present war months before the conflict began. For its part, Hamas drastically reduced the number of missile attacks during the first five months of the ceasefire. A total of two rockets were fired into Israel during September and October, none by Hamas.

How did Israel behave during this same period? It continued arresting and assassinating Palestinians on the West Bank, and it continued the deadly blockade that was slowly strangling Gaza. Then on Nov. 4, as Americans voted for a new president, Israel attacked a tunnel inside Gaza and killed six Palestinians. It was the first major violation of the ceasefire, and the Palestinians—who had been “careful to maintain the ceasefire,” according to Israel’s Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center—responded by resuming rocket attacks. The calm that had prevailed since June vanished as Israel ratcheted up the blockade and its attacks into Gaza and the Palestinians hurled more rockets at Israel. It is worth noting that not a single Israeli was killed by Palestinian missiles between Nov. 4 and the launching of the war on Dec. 27.

As the violence increased, Hamas made clear that it had no interest in extending the ceasefire beyond Dec. 19, which is hardly surprising, since it had not worked as intended. In mid-December, however, Hamas informed Israel that it was still willing to negotiate a long-term ceasefire if it included an end to the arrests and assassinations as well as the lifting of the blockade. But the Israelis, having used the ceasefire to prepare for war against Hamas, rejected this overture. The bombing of Gaza commenced eight days after the failed ceasefire formally ended.

If Israel wanted to stop missile attacks from Gaza, it could have done so by arranging a long-term ceasefire with Hamas. And if Israel were genuinely interested in creating a viable Palestinian state, it could have worked with the national unity government to implement a meaningful ceasefire and change Hamas’s thinking about a two-state solution. But Israel has a different agenda: it is determined to employ the Iron Wall strategy to get the Palestinians in Gaza to accept their fate as hapless subjects of a Greater Israel.

This brutal policy is clearly reflected in Israel’s conduct of the Gaza War. Israel and its supporters claim that the IDF is going to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties, in some cases taking risks that put Israeli soldiers in jeopardy. Hardly. One reason to doubt these claims is that Israel refuses to allow reporters into the war zone: it does not want the world to see what its soldiers and bombs are doing inside Gaza. At the same time, Israel has launched a massive propaganda campaign to put a positive spin on the horror stories that do emerge.

The best evidence, however, that Israel is deliberately seeking to punish the broader population in Gaza is the death and destruction the IDF has wrought on that small piece of real estate. Israel has killed over 1,000 Palestinians and wounded more than 4,000. Over half of the casualties are civilians, and many are children. The IDF’s opening salvo on Dec. 27 took place as children were leaving school, and one of its primary targets that day was a large group of graduating police cadets, who hardly qualified as terrorists. In what Ehud Barak called “an all-out war against Hamas,” Israel has targeted a university, schools, mosques, homes, apartment buildings, government offices, and even ambulances. A senior Israeli military official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, explained the logic behind Israel’s expansive target set: “There are many aspects of Hamas, and we are trying to hit the whole spectrum, because everything is connected and everything supports terrorism against Israel.” In other words, everyone is a terrorist and everything is a legitimate target.

Israelis tend to be blunt, and they occasionally say what they are really doing. After the IDF killed 40 Palestinian civilians in a UN school on Jan. 6, Ha’aretz reported that “senior officers admit that the IDF has been using enormous firepower.” One officer explained, “For us, being cautious means being aggressive. From the minute we entered, we’ve acted like we’re at war. That creates enormous damage on the ground … I just hope those who have fled the area of Gaza City in which we are operating will describe the shock.”

One might accept that Israel is waging “a cruel, all-out war against 1.5 million Palestinian civilians,” as Ha’aretz put it in an editorial, but argue that it will eventually achieve its war aims and the rest of the world will quickly forget the horrors inflicted on the people of Gaza.

This is wishful thinking. For starters, Israel is unlikely to stop the rocket fire for any appreciable period of time unless it agrees to open Gaza’s borders and stop arresting and killing Palestinians. Israelis talk about cutting off the supply of rockets and mortars into Gaza, but weapons will continue to come in via secret tunnels and ships that sneak through Israel’s naval blockade. It will also be impossible to police all of the goods sent into Gaza through legitimate channels.

Israel could try to conquer all of Gaza and lock the place down. That would probably stop the rocket attacks if Israel deployed a large enough force. But then the IDF would be bogged down in a costly occupation against a deeply hostile population. They would eventually have to leave, and the rocket fire would resume. And if Israel fails to stop the rocket fire and keep it stopped, as seems likely, its deterrent will be diminished, not strengthened.

More importantly, there is little reason to think that the Israelis can beat Hamas into submission and get the Palestinians to live quietly in a handful of Bantustans inside Greater Israel. Israel has been humiliating, torturing, and killing Palestinians in the Occupied Territories since 1967 and has not come close to cowing them. Indeed, Hamas’s reaction to Israel’s brutality seems to lend credence to Nietzsche’s remark that what does not kill you makes you stronger.

But even if the unexpected happens and the Palestinians cave, Israel would still lose because it will become an apartheid state. As Prime Minister Ehud Olmert recently said, Israel will “face a South African-style struggle” if the Palestinians do not get a viable state of their own. “As soon as that happens,” he argued, “the state of Israel is finished.” Yet Olmert has done nothing to stop settlement expansion and create a viable Palestinian state, relying instead on the Iron Wall strategy to deal with the Palestinians.

There is also little chance that people around the world who follow the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will soon forget the appalling punishment that Israel is meting out in Gaza. The destruction is just too obvious to miss, and too many people—especially in the Arab and Islamic world—care about the Palestinians’ fate. Moreover, discourse about this longstanding conflict has undergone a sea change in the West in recent years, and many of us who were once wholly sympathetic to Israel now see that the Israelis are the victimizers and the Palestinians are the victims. What is happening in Gaza will accelerate that changing picture of the conflict and long be seen as a dark stain on Israel’s reputation.

The bottom line is that no matter what happens on the battlefield, Israel cannot win its war in Gaza. In fact, it is pursuing a strategy—with lots of help from its so-called friends in the Diaspora—that is placing its long-term future at risk.

Emphases supplied

The American Conservative | Jan. 26, 2009

***

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Thirteen Editorial Rules for Middle East Reporting

1) In the Middle East it is always the Arabs who attack first and always Israel that is defending themselves. This defense is called a reprisal.

2) The Arabs, Palestinian or Lebanese have no right to kill civilians. That is called “terrorism.”

3) Israel has the right to kill civilians. That is called “legitimate defense.”

4) When Israel kills civilians en masse, the western powers claim that it is more measured. This is called “reaction of the international community.”

5) The Palestinians and the Lebanese have no right to capture soldiers of Israel inside military installations with sentries and combat posts. This is called, “Kidnapping of defenseless people.”

6) Israel has the right to kidnap anytime and anywhere as many Lebanese and Palestinians as they want. Currently there are more than 10 thousand, 300 of whom are children and a thousand are women. No proof of guilt is needed. Israel has the right to keep kidnapped prisoners indefinitely, even if they are authorities democratically elected by the Palestinians. This is called “terrorist prisoners.”

7) When the word Hezbollah is mentioned, it is compulsory in the same sentence to contain the words “supported and financed by Syria and by Iran.”

8) When the word "assassination" is mentioned, it is compulsory to say in the same sentence, "Syria's role in an assassination in Lebanon in 2005," and never mention Israel's role in the assassination of Elie Hobeika in Lebanon in 2002 (shortly before Hobeika was to testify in Belgium concerning Ariel Sharon's war crimes).

9) When you mention “Israel” it is forbidden to make any mention of the words “supported and financed by the U.S.” This may give the impression that the conflict is uneven and that Israel’s existence is not in danger.

10) When referring to Israel, expressions that are prohibited: “Occupied Territories,” “UN resolutions,” “Violations of human rights” or “Geneva Convention.”

11) Both the Palestinians and the Lebanese are always “cowardly,” they are hidden among the civilian population, which does not want them. If they sleep in their homes and live with their families, they are using "human shields." Israel has a right to destroy with bombs and missiles the homes, apartment blocs and neighborhoods where they are sleeping. This is called a “precision surgical operation.”

12 The Israelis speak better English, French, Spanish or Portuguese than the Arabs. Therefore they and those who support them must be interviewed more and have more opportunities than the Arabs to explain the present Rules of the Editorial Staff (from 1 to 11) to the general public. That is called “journalistic neutrality.”

13) All those who are not in accordance with the preceding editorial rules are “highly dangerous anti-Semitic bigots and terrorist sympathizers."

***

Friday, January 16, 2009

Inside the Israeli terror arsenal

Is Israel using illegal weapons in its offensive on Gaza?

By Amira Hass

Haaretz, Jan. 16, 2009

The earth shaking under your feet, clouds of choking smoke, explosions like a fireworks display, bombs bursting into all-consuming flames that cannot be extinguished with water, mushroom clouds of pinkish-red smoke, suffocating gas, harsh burns on the skin, extraordinary maimed live and dead bodies.

All of this is being caused by the bombs Israel is dropping on the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, according to reports and testimonies from there. Since the first day of the Israeli aerial attack, people have been giving exact descriptions of the side effects of the bombing, and claiming that Israel is using weapons and ammunition that they have not seen during the past eight years.

Furthermore, the kinds of grave injuries doctors at hospitals in the Strip have reported are providing yet another explanation for the overwhelming dread inhabitants are experiencing in any case.

It is precisely for this reason that Marc Garlasco, a senior military analyst at Human Rights Watch (HRW), has come to Israel. His mission: to examine whether the weapons that both sides are using are themselves legal and whether the use of them is legal.

The American-born Garlasco has not been permitted to enter Gaza - as is also the case with people from other human rights organizations and foreign journalists. Therefore, he says, since he is unable to examine actual remnants of the explosives and see the wreckage with his own eyes, he can only guess or make assumptions in some cases. But even from afar, he has no doubt: Israel is using white phosphorus bombs. That was immediately clear to him while he stood last week on a hill facing the Gaza Strip and observed the Israel Defense Forces' bombings for several hours.

Last Saturday HRW hastened to publish a call to Israel to "stop unlawful use of white phosphorus in Gaza." The use of white phosphorus is permitted on the battlefield, explains Garlasco, but the side effects on humans and the environment are severe and highly dangerous. The statement notes that the "potential for harm to civilians is magnified by Gaza's high population density, among the highest in the world."

The fireworks-like explosions, the thick smoke, suffocating gas, and flames that are not extinguished by water, but rather are heightened by it - all of these are characteristic of the white phosphorus bombs the IDF is using. Garlasco believes the decision to make such extensive use of these bombs, manufactured by America's General Dynamics Corporation, stems from conclusions drawn from the Second Lebanon War, in which the IDF lost many tanks.

"The phosphorus bombs create a thick smokescreen and if Hamas has an anti-tank rocket, the smoke prevents the rocket from tracking the tank," he explains. There are two ways to use the bombs: The first is to impact them on the ground, in which case the resulting thick smokescreen covers a limited area; the second way is an airburst of a bomb, which contains 116 wafers doused in phosphorus. 

The moment the bomb blows up and the phosphorus comes in contact with oxygen - it ignites. This is what creates the "fireworks" and billows of jellyfish-shaped smoke. The fallout covers a wide area and the danger of fires and harm to civilians is enormous. The phosphorus burns glass, and immediately ignites paper, trees, wood - anything that is dry. The burning wafers causes terrible injury to anyone who comes in contact with them. The irony is that tear gas is included in the Chemical Weapons Convention and is subject to all kinds of restrictions, whereas phosphorus is not.

And in the meantime, in the hospitals in Gaza there are people lying in beds - among them many children - whose severe injuries and burns have appalled the medical teams.

Missing the target

Another new weapon that has forced itself upon Gazans is the GPS-guided mortar - a system equipped with satellite navigation, developed in Israel in late 2006-early 2007, in the wake of the Second Lebanon War. According to local military sources, it was this kind of mortar that missed its target by 30 meters and erroneously hit a United Nations Relief and Works Agency school last week; according to the UN report, 30 people were killed immediately and others died later of their injuries. "It really boggles my mind," Garlasco comments. "According to the literature, it has 3 meters' error - not 30." It is a mortar that is launched in an arc toward an unseen target, he explains, with the intention of being precise and to some extent minimize civilian casualties.

Garlasco says this is the first time the weapon has been used in any military conflict: "The Palestinians say, 'Oh, they use it on us, experiment with it for the Americans.' Experimenting has a different meaning for Americans. We think animal experimenting, but it is indeed a field test."

The new mortar was developed jointly by the Israeli weapons industry and a private American company called Alliant. Israel, notes Garlasco, has learned a lot from the wars the U.S. is waging in Afghanistan and Iraq, but above all learned from its own war in Lebanon in 2006. The mortar that was not supposed to have landed on the school was developed with the knowledge that troops "are fighting an enemy that is in a densely populated area, and here is the first time they use it."

Another important lesson Israel learned from the Lebanon war is that it cannot rely entirely on the U.S. to provide weapons. During that war, when the IDF ran out of cluster bombs, Israel asked for an emergency shipment of 1,200 such munitions (each containing 644 bomblets). The United States refused, and at that point, Garlasco notes, Israel realized it could not rely solely on American help in this realm.

Therefore, Israel has, for example, developed a new type of rifle, the (Tavor) TAR-21 ("an incredible weapon," says Garlasco; he can't help being complimentary) to take the place of the U.S.-made M-16. It has also invented the Delilah guided missile, but Garlasco does not know whether it has been used in Gaza. But not to worry, he adds: Despite the cluster bombs and independent Israeli development, Israel and the United States "still have a great relationship. By and large, the weaponry that Israel is using is American."

Not all of the weapons are new and innovative. Most, in fact, are American products developed during the Cold War. The artillery and incendiary weapons in Israel's possession were designed to destroy Russian tanks "and not Palestinian homes," he notes. The weapons being produced now are developed in the knowledge that the target is militants who operate from within a civilian population. Yet, much of the killing and destruction in Gaza are the result of old-fashioned, cheaper and less-sophisticated weapons.

Only last September did the United States grant Israel's request to supply it with 1,000 bombs of a new type, the GBU-39. They arrived at the beginning of December, and inhabitants of Rafah have witnessed their use - without knowing what they were - since the first day of the aerial attacks on the tunnels there. (The Jerusalem Post was the first to identify these as GBU-39s.) Gazans were surprised when they did not hear an explosion immediately after the Israeli aircraft fired; instead, the earth shook beneath their feet.

The manufacturer of the GBU-39 is the Boeing Corporation. The small diameter and light weight of these guided bombs ensure that any fighter plane can carry a large number of them and thus increase the number of attacks in every sortie. Garlasco says that the weapon is very accurate and penetrates deep into the earth. It is also designed to minimize collateral damage, since it does not explode over a large area like other bombs do. But other types of bombs are also being used and are destroying houses along the border with Egypt.

Gazans have noticed that there are bombs that produce mushroom clouds in various shades of red. Here, Garlasco admits, "I can only speculate. It looks like Israel is maybe using a new weapon that it was not using before: DIME - the dense inert metal explosive, consisting of 25 percent TNT and 75 percent tungsten, a heavy metal. You mix the two, in a fine grain, like pepper, and when the bomb hits the ground it aerosolizes. In less than a second, the mist dissipates and explodes."

He says the advantage of DIME is that "it strikes a very small area, 10 to 20 meters, and the fire it ignites burns out very quickly; if it hits us now, we will die, but no one around us will be hurt. The problem is that when you are killed - you are ripped to shreds and there is nothing left." Indeed, the injuries DIME causes are in general more severe than those caused by a "regular" bomb.

A paramedic at the Al-Awda Hospital in the Jabalya refugee camp has told the Palestinian Center for Human Rights that about 90 percent of the wounded he has rescued during the past few weeks were brought in with at least one limb missing. Is it the DIME that is causing the severe injuries being reported by the medical staff? Garlasco says there are "only rumors. No one has ever seen it used before, maybe it is being used now, but with Israel not letting in journalists and human rights organizations, these rumors are growing, and people say that Israeli is using terrible new weapons."

Perhaps, he says, the redness is a result of the metal in the explosives, but it will only be possible to ascertain this if experts are allowed into the Gaza Strip, or they talk to the IDF. Garlasco notes that herein lies the big difference between the Israeli army and the American army: As a worker for a human rights organization, he receives daily e-mails from the U.S. Air Force with a detailed report of the bombs it has dropped in Afghanistan and Iraq. "The Israelis would never do that," he explains. "They would never talk about what weapons they use and will never allow any discussion in society of whether the weapons should be used."

Another new weapon that he believes is now in use is the Spike: "It is very new, [from] 2005-2006, a special missile that is made to make very high-speed turns, so if you have a target that is moving and running away from you, you can chase him with the weapon. It was developed by the U.S. Navy jointly with Rafael [the Israel Armament Development Authority]. Rafael is the manufacturer."

Drones, incidentally, are a totally Israeli product, he notes; Israel is the world leader in this field, and America is learning a lot from it. The warships bombing Gaza are also Israeli made. But the cannons on the ships are Italian, produced by the Oto Melera company.

From his frustrating observation point outside Gaza, and on the basis of Israel's "very bad record of using cluster bombs in Lebanon and selling them to Georgia," Garlasco says he is worried that Israel is also now using the APAM (Anti Personnel/Anti Materiel) - a new type of round, or unit of ammunition, for tanks that was developed after Lebanon, each of which contains six cluster bombs. The tank guns aim above a target that is hiding behind some kind of cover and the ammunition explodes above people's heads - like those of Iz al-Din al-Qassam cells, for example, when they are firing rockets.

The other side

Garlasco and Human Rights Watch also examine the other side, and he says, "We believe that the Grad and Qassam are illegal weapons because they are not accurate enough to be used in this situation." He adds that Hamas makes frequent use of land mines and explosive charges that are liable to injure civilians.

However, because he and his fellow experts can't go into Gaza, "We don't know what the extent of any [Palestinian] civilian casualties is because of Hamas - whether they are shooting soldiers and their bullets end up killing civilians, or whether their anti-tank missiles miss an Israeli tank and hit a house. We don't know."

In 2005, Garlasco met with a political representative of Hamas and told him that use of Grads is a contravention of the Geneva Convention. The reply he got from the Hamas man was: "'All Israelis are military.' And I explained to them that their reading of international law is wrong." It is amazing, he adds, that the Palestinians can manufacture the Qassams under the conditions in Gaza. The Grad, however, "is a real military weapon, three meters long. It has a significant warhead. The problem is that it is designed to be fired in mass, to be fired 21 rockets at a time, so that you are covering an area and you are having a shock effect. You don't only have an explosion, but also a shock and it covers a big area. Shooting one at a time is almost useless from a military perspective."

As for the Israeli claim about weapons and ammunition being hidden in public buildings such as mosques, Garlasco reiterates that only independent sources will be able to examine this claim and clarify its veracity. If the mosques blown up in the heart of densely populated residential neighborhoods indeed served as hiding places for weapons and ammunition, he would expect to see many secondary explosions, which would have caused significant collateral damage and deep craters. It is difficult to analyze the Israeli claims on the basis of photographs, he notes.

Garlasco is not prepared to accept without question the Israeli claim that Hamas hides behind civilians and makes use of civilians. "Israelis are very quick to say they are doing it, but very short on proof. By keeping the independent people out, they leave doubt in people's minds." Furthermore, he believes, Israel has a record of not telling the truth: "They said in Lebanon they did not use cluster bombs. We found 4 million. They evade answering that they use phosphorus, and we stand there every day watching. They claim to have bombed a truck full of Grad missiles, and according to witnesses who spoke with Haaretz, it turned out to be a truck with oxygen tanks. Not everything that is long is a missile. How can anyone trust the Israeli military?'"

The IDF Spokesman responds: "The IDF is fighting the terror elements while meticulously observing the rules of engagement under international law. For understandable operational reasons, the IDF will not relate to a detailing of the materiel that is in its possession and the parameters in which it used. It should be emphasized, however, that the IDF uses only methods and materiel that are permitted under international law."

***

U.S. Promotes Israeli Genocide Against the Palestinians

By Professor Francis A. Boyle

(Excerpted from Tackling America’s Toughest Questions)

As long ago as October 19, 2000, the then United Nations Human Rights Commission (now Council) condemned Israel for inflicting “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” upon the Palestinian people, most of whom are Muslims. The reader has a general idea of what a war crime is, so I am not going to elaborate upon that term here. 

But there are different degrees of heinousness for war crimes. In particular are the more serious war crimes denominated “grave breaches” of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Since the outbreak of the first Intifada in 1987, the world has seen those heinous war crimes inflicted every day by Israel against the Palestinian people living in occupied Palestine: e.g., willful killing of Palestinian civilians by the Israeli army and by Israel’s illegal paramilitary settlers. These Israeli “grave breaches” of the Fourth Geneva Convention mandate universal prosecution for the perpetrators and their commanders, whether military or civilian, including and especially Israel’s political leaders.

But I want to focus for a moment on Israel’s “crimes against humanity” against the Palestinian people—as determined by the U.N. Human Rights Commission itself, set up pursuant to the requirements of the United Nations Charter. What are “crimes against humanity”? 

This concept goes all the way back to the Nuremberg Charter of 1945 for the trial of the major Nazi war criminals in Europe. In the Nuremberg Charter of 1945, drafted by the United States Government, there was created and inserted a new type of international crime specifically intended to deal with the Nazi persecution of the Jewish people:

Crimes against humanity: namely, murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, before or during the war, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds in execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where perpetrated.

The paradigmatic example of “crimes against humanity” is what Hitler and the Nazis did to the Jewish people. This is where the concept of “crimes against humanity” came from. And this is what the U.N. Human Rights Commission determined that Israel is currently doing to the Palestinian people: crimes against humanity. 

Expressed in legal terms, this is just like what Hitler and the Nazis did to the Jews. That is the significance of the formal determination by the U.N. Human Rights Commission that Israel has inflicted “crimes against humanity” upon the Palestinian people. The Commission chose this well-known and long-standing legal term of art quite carefully and deliberately based upon the evidence it had compiled.

Furthermore, the Nuremberg “crimes against humanity” are the historical and legal precursor to the international crime of genocide as defined by the 1948 Genocide Convention. The theory here was that what Hitler and the Nazis did to the Jewish people was so horrific that it required a special international treaty that would codify and universalize the Nuremberg concept of “crimes against humanity.” And that treaty ultimately became the 1948 Genocide Convention.

Article II of the Genocide Convention defines the international crime of genocide in relevant part as follows:

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

As documented by Israeli historian Ilan Pappe in his seminal book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2006), Israel’s genocidal policy against the Palestinians has been unremitting, extending from before the very foundation of the State of Israel in 1948, and is ongoing and even intensifying against the 1.5 million Palestinians living in Gaza. Zionism’s “final solution” to Israel’s much touted “demographic threat” allegedly posed by the very existence of the Palestinians has always been genocide.

Certainly, Israel and its predecessors-in-law—the Zionist agencies, forces, and terrorist gangs—have committed genocide against the Palestinian people that actually started on or about 1948 and has continued apace until today in violation of Genocide Convention Articles II(a), (b), and (c). For at least the past six decades, the Israeli government and its predecessors-in-law—the Zionist agencies, forces, and terrorist gangs—have ruthlessly implemented a systematic and comprehensive military, political, and economic campaign with the intent to destroy in substantial part the national, ethnical, racial, and different religious (Jews versus Muslims and Christians) group constituting the Palestinian people. 

This Zionist/Israeli campaign has consisted of killing members of the Palestinian people in violation of Genocide Convention Article II(a). This Zionist/Israeli campaign has also caused serious bodily and mental harm to the Palestinian people in violation of Genocide Convention Article II(b). This Zionist/Israeli campaign has also deliberately inflicted on the Palestinian people conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction in substantial part in violation of Article II(c) of the Genocide Convention.

Article I of the Genocide Convention requires all contracting parties such as the United States “to prevent and to punish” genocide. Yet to the contrary, historically the “Jewish” state’s criminal conduct against the Palestinians has been financed, armed, equipped, supplied and politically supported by the “Christian” United States. A

lthough the United States is a founding sponsor of, and a contracting party to, both the Nuremberg Charter and the Genocide Convention, as well as the United Nations Charter, these legal facts have never made any difference to the United States when it comes to its blank-check support for Israel and their joint and severable criminal mistreatment of the Palestinians—truly the wretched of the earth!

The world has not yet heard even one word uttered by the United States and its NATO allies in favor of “humanitarian intervention” against Israel in order to protect the Palestinian people, let alone a “responsibility to protect” the Palestinians from Zionist/Israeli genocide. The United States, its NATO allies, and the Great Powers on the U.N. Security Council would not even dispatch a U.N. Charter Chapter 6 monitoring force to help protect the Palestinians, let alone even contemplate any type of U.N. Charter Chapter 7 enforcement actions against Israel – shudder the thought!

The doctrine of “humanitarian intervention” so readily espoused elsewhere when U.S. foreign policy goals are allegedly at stake has been clearly proved to be a joke and a fraud when it comes to stopping the ongoing and accelerating Israeli campaign of genocide against the Palestinian people.

Rather than rein in the Israelis—which would be possible just by turning off the funding pipeline—the United States government, the U.S. Congress, and U.S. taxpayers instead support the “Jewish” state to the tune of about 4 billion dollars per year, without whose munificence this instance of genocide – and indeed conceivably the State of Israel itself – would not be possible. What the world witnesses here is (yet another) case of “dishumanitarian intervention” or “humanitarian extermination” by the United States and Israel against the Palestinians and Palestine. In today’s world genocide pays so long as it is done at the behest of the United States and its de jure or de facto allies such as Israel.

Of course miracles can always happen. But I anticipate no fundamental change in America’s support for the Israeli campaign of genocide against the Palestinians during the tenure of the Obama/Clinton administration.

Boyle is Professor of International Law at the University of Illinois

***

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Democrat Controlled Congress Supports Israeli war crimes

In a direct challenge to the credibility of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Red Cross and other reputable humanitarian organizations, an overwhelming bipartisan majority in both houses of Congress has gone on record supporting President George W. Bush's position that the Israeli armed forces bear no responsibility for the large and growing numbers of civilian casualties from their assault on the Gaza Strip.

...Shattering hopes that an expanded Democratic congressional majority and a new Democratic administration might lead to a more moderate foreign policy, the resolutions put forward an extreme reinterpretation of international humanitarian law, apparently designed to exonerate nations with superior firepower from any liability for inflicting large-scale civilian casualties.

The Senate resolution, primarily written and sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., passed the Senate by unanimous consent on a voice vote. Among the 33 co-sponsors were such otherwise liberal Democratic senators as Barbara Boxer, Calif,; Richard Durbin, Ill,; Carl Levin, Mich.; Sherrod Brown, Ohio; Barbara Mikulski, Md.; and 2004 presidential nominee John Kerry, Mass.

An even stronger House resolution, sponsored by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., passed the House by a lopsided 390-5 roll call vote (with 22 members voting "present"). Both resolutions placed the blame for the death and destruction exclusively on the Palestinian side and are being widely interpreted as a rebuke to the international human rights community and the United Nations, which have cited both Hamas and the Israeli government for war crimes.

The resolutions favorably quote Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice extensively, as well as Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, regarding responsibility for civilian deaths and for the causes of the conflict. No one else is cited in the resolutions, indicating who Pelosi, Reid and the resolutions' other sponsors see as the authoritative sources of information on international humanitarian law in the region.

Although some analysts are already referring to the Gaza war as "a final and eloquent testimony to the complete failure of the neoconservative movement in United States foreign policy," Pelosi, Reid and virtually the entire Democratic membership of Congress have decided to ally themselves with this failed ideology of the outgoing Bush administration rather than blaze a new trail of moderation and common sense in anticipation of new leadership in the White House. Indeed, Pelosi's and Reid's strategy in pushing through these resolutions may have been part of an attempt to box in Obama -- to force him to continue Bush's hard-right foreign policy. That is, a policy in which, in the name of the "war on terror," fundamental principles of international law are deemed to be expendable.

To the Right of Bush

Some of the language in the resolution put forward by Pelosi, Reid and their colleagues even place the Democratic Party to the right of the Bush administration. For example, while the Jan. 8 U.N. Security Council resolution -- which received the endorsement of Rice and other administration officials -- condemns "all acts of violence and terror directed against civilians," the congressional resolution only condemns the violence and terror of Hamas.

Indeed, just as the Security Council unanimously passed its resolution stressing "the urgency of and calls for an immediate, durable and fully respected cease-fire, leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza," Congress immediately weighed in with language apparently designed to prevent one. The Senate and House resolutions called for a cease-fire only on the condition that it "prevents Hamas from retaining or rebuilding the capability to launch rockets and mortars against Israel." Given that most of these rockets and mortars are of a rather crude design that can be made in local machine shops from scrap metal and other easily obtainable materials, and is therefore the kind of capability that can not really be completely eliminated, it appears that this clause would make a cease-fire impossible. Emboldened by this strong bipartisan support from the legislative branch of its most important ally, Israel rejected the U.N.'s terms for a cease-fire.

Also on Jan. 8, Israeli forces killed two U.N. humanitarian aid workers as they were attempting to provide relief supplies, and the International Red Cross released a strongly worded statement noting that the Israeli military had "failed to meet its obligation under international humanitarian law to care for and evacuate the wounded." The Nobel Prize-winning humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders noted that "Palestinian humanitarian aid and health workers have been killed, and hospitals and ambulances have been bombed." Congress, however, went on record in the resolutions praising Israel for having "facilitated humanitarian aid to Gaza."

Both resolutions "hold Hamas responsible for breaking the cease-fire," despite the fact that there had been scores of minor violations during the months of the cease-fire by both sides and that Israel had launched a major incursion into the Gaza Strip on Nov. 4, 2008, assassinating several Hamas leaders, an action the Israeli press speculated was designed to provoke Hamas into not renewing the cease-fire when it expired the following month. Israel then tightened its siege on Nov. 5, banning even humanitarian aid from coming through. Hamas appeared willing to renew the cease-fire in return for Israel renouncing further such incursions and lifting the siege, but Israel refused.

While these Israeli provocations do not justify Hamas' failure to renew the cease-fire and certainly not Hamas' decision to once again begin firing rockets into civilian-populated areas of Israel -- which is a war crime -- the language of the resolutions gives a very misleading understanding of the events leading up to the war. Ironically, despite blaming Hamas exclusively for not renewing the cease-fire, the resolutions also claim that returning to the terms of that cease-fire agreement "is unacceptable." Yet these were by no means the most egregious misrepresentations in these Democratic-led congressional initiatives.

Redefining International Humanitarian Law

In perhaps the most dangerous clause of the resolution, the House called "on all nations … to condemn Hamas for deliberately embedding its fighters, leaders and weapons in private homes, schools, mosques, hospitals and otherwise using Palestinian civilians as human shields."

According to international humanitarian law, however, "human shields" require the deliberate use of civilians as a deterrent to avoid attack on one's troops or military objects. Despite repeated calls to the offices of the resolutions' principal Democratic sponsors, not one of them could provide a single example of this actually occurring during the current wave of fighting. Similar accusations in a 2006 resolution supported by Pelosi, Reid and other Democratic leaders during the five weeks of devastating Israeli attacks on Lebanon that summer were later systematically rebuked in a detailed and meticulously researched 249-page report by Human Rights Watch.

NY Times war cheerleader urges pain for Gaza civilians

Tom Friedman offers a perfect definition of "terrorism"

The New York Times war cheerleader urges that Hamas be "educated" by "inflicting heavy pain on the Gaza population"

By Glenn Greenwald Jan. 14, 2009 

Thomas Friedman, one of the nation's leading propagandists for the Iraq War and a vigorous supporter of all of Israel's wars, has a column in the Jan. 14 New York Times explaining and praising the Israeli attack on Gaza. For the sake of robust and diverse debate (for which our Liberal Media is so well known), Friedman's column today appears alongside an Op-Ed from The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg, one of the nation's leading (and most deceitful) propagandists for the Iraq War and a vigorous supporter of all of Israel's wars, who explains that Hamas is incorrigibly hateful and radical and cannot be negotiated with. 

One can hardly imagine a more compelling exhibit demonstrating the complete lack of accountability in the "journalism" profession -- at least for those who are loyal establishment spokespeople who reflexively cheer on wars -- than a leading Op-Ed page presenting these two war advocates, of all people, as experts, of all things, on the joys and glories of the latest Middle East war. In any event, Friedman's column today is uncharacteristically and refreshingly honest. He explains that the 2006 Israeli invasion and bombing of Lebanon was, contrary to conventional wisdom, a great success. To make this case, Friedman acknowledges that the deaths of innocent Lebanese civilians was not an unfortunate and undesirable by-product of that war, but rather, was a vital aspect of the Israeli strategy -- the centerpiece, actually, of teaching Lebanese civilians a lesson they would not soon forget:

"Israel’s counterstrategy was to use its Air Force to pummel Hezbollah and, while not directly targeting the Lebanese civilians with whom Hezbollah was intertwined, to inflict substantial property damage and collateral casualties on Lebanon at large. It was not pretty, but it was logical. Israel basically said that when dealing with a nonstate actor, Hezbollah, nested among civilians, the only long-term source of deterrence was to exact enough pain on the civilians — the families and employers of the militants — to restrain Hezbollah in the future.

"Israel’s military was not focused on the morning after the war in Lebanon — when Hezbollah declared victory and the Israeli press declared defeat. It was focused on the morning after the morning after, when all the real business happens in the Middle East. That’s when Lebanese civilians, in anguish, said to Hezbollah: 'What were you thinking? Look what destruction you have visited on your own community! For what? For whom?”

Friedman says that he is "unsure" whether the current Israeli attack on Gaza is similiarly designed to teach Palestinians the same lesson by inflicting "heavy pain" on civilians, but he hopes it is:

"In Gaza, I still can’t tell if Israel is trying to eradicate Hamas or trying to “educate” Hamas, by inflicting a heavy death toll on Hamas militants and heavy pain on the Gaza population. If it is out to destroy Hamas, casualties will be horrific and the aftermath could be Somalia-like chaos. If it is out to educate Hamas, Israel may have achieved its aims."

The war strategy which Friedman is heralding -- what he explicitly describes with euphemism-free candor as "exacting enough pain on civilians" in order to teach them a lesson -- is about as definitive of a war crime as it gets. It also happens to be the classic, textbook definition of "terrorism." Here is how the U.S. Department of State defined "terrorism" in its 2001 publication, Patterns of Global Terrorism:

"No one definition of terrorism has gained universal acceptance. For the purposes of this report, however, we have chosen the definition of terrorism contained in Title 22 of the United States Code, Section 2656f(d). That statute contains the following definitions:

"The term 'terrorism' means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant (1) targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience. . . .

"(1) For purposes of this definition, the term 'noncombatant' is interpreted to include, in addition to civilians, military personnel who at the time of the incident are unarmed and/or not on duty."

Other than the fact that Friedman is advocating these actions for an actual state rather than a "subnational group," can anyone identify any differences between (a) what Friedman approvingly claims was done to the Lebanese and what he advocates be done to Palestinians and (b) what the State Department formally defines as "terrorism"? I doubt anyone can. Isn't Friedman's "logic" exactly the rationale used by Al Qaeda: we're going to inflict "civilian pain" on Americans so that they stop supporting their government's domination of our land and so their government thinks twice about bombing more Muslim countries? It's also exactly the same "logic" that fuels the rockets from Hezbollah and Hamas into Israel.

It should be emphasized that the mere fact that Tom Friedman claims that this is Israel's motivation isn't proof that it is. The sociopathic lust of a single war cheerleader can't fairly be projected onto those who are actually prosecuting the war. But one can't help noticing that this "teach-them-a-lesson" justification for civilian deaths in Gaza appears with some frequency among its advocates, at least among a certain strain of super-warrior, Israel-centric Americans -- e.g.: Marty "do not f**k with the Jews" Peretz and Michael "to wipe out a man's entire family, it's hard to imagine that doesn't give his colleagues at least a moment's pause" Goldfarb -- who love to cheer on Middle East wars from a safe and sheltered distance.

Some opponents of the Israeli war actually agree with Friedman about the likely goals of the attack on Gaza. Writing last week in The New York Times, Columbia Professor Rashid Khalidi noted: "This war on the people of Gaza isn’t really about rockets. Nor is it about 'restoring Israel’s deterrence,' as the Israeli press might have you believe. Far more revealing are the words of Moshe Yaalon, then the Israeli Defense Forces chief of staff, in 2002: 'The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people.”

This AP article of Jan. 13 described how "terrified residents ran for cover Tuesday in a densely populated neighborhood of Gaza City as Israeli troops backed by tanks thrust deeper into the city." It reported that "an Israeli warplane fired a missile at the former Gaza city hall, used as a court building in recent years . . . . The 1910 structure was destroyed and many stores in the market around it were badly damaged." And it quoted an Israeli military officer as follows: "Soldiers shoot at anything suspicious, use lots of firepower, and blast holes through walls to move around."

...One might ordinarily find it surprising that our elite opinion-makers are so openly and explicitly advocating war crimes and terrorism ("inflict substantial property damage and collateral casualties on Lebanon at large" and "'educate' Hamas by inflicting heavy pain on the Gaza population"). 

But when one considers that most of this, in the U.S., is coming from the very people who applied the same "suck-on-this" reasoning to justify the destruction of Iraq, and even more so, when one considers that our highest political officials are now so openly -- even proudly -- acknowledging their own war crimes, while our political and media elites desperately (and almost unanimously) engage in every possible maneuver to protect them from any consequences from that, Friedman's explicit advocacy of these sorts of things is a perfectly natural thing to see.

...UPDATE...for an American citizen to criticize Israel's wars without criticizing every similar or worse act of aggression is not to "hold Israel to a higher or different standard." The U.S. Government funds Israel's actions, specifically provides the arms for their various bombing campaigns and invasions, and continuously uses its U.N. veto power to protect what Israel does. American citizens therefore bear a responsibility for Israel's actions that is not the case for actions which the U.S. Government does not fund and otherwise enable.

This objection ("why are you complaining about Israel but not the rebels in Sri Lanka?") rests on the same fallacy as the accusation that American citizens are being "anti-American" when they criticize the actions of their own government more than the actions of other governments ("Why are you complaining that Bush waterboards when North Korea starves its citizens to death and Iran stones gay people?"). Citizens bear a particular responsibility to object to unjust actions which their own Government engages in or enables. It shouldn't be the case -- but it is -- that Americans fund, arm and enable Israel's wars. Those are American weapons which, at least in part, are being used to destroy Gaza, and Americans therefore bear a special responsibility for condemning Israel's unjust actions to a far greater extent than the actions of any other country except for the U.S.

 Meanwhile, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting -- in an item entitled "Terrorism on the New York Times Op-Ed Page" -- examines Friedman's history of making similar statements, and raises this question: is it even possible to imagine an Op-Ed or column being published by a major newspaper that enthusiastically trumpeted all of the great strategic benefits that would accrue to Muslims from the violent deaths of large numbers of Israeli civilians, the way Friedman today did with regard to the deaths of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians?

-- Glenn Greenwald (emphasis supplied)

Friedman advocated the same sort of terror against Serbian Christian civilians, writing in the NY Times (April 6, 1999) that "people tend to change their minds and adjust their goals as they see the price they are paying mount. Twelve days of surgical bombing was never going to turn Serbia around. Let's see what 12 weeks of less than surgical bombing does. Give war a chance" (emphasis supplied).

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Photos of the Israeli holocaust in the Gaza ghetto

Jan. 15, 2009: an Israeli terror-bombing of a United Nations agency in Gaza City destroyed a warehouse full of hundreds of tons of food and medicine and came a week after  40 children were killed when Israeli terrorists bombed a United Nations school.

"Israeli officials, including Mr. Olmert, on Thursday justified the attack on the refugee agency headquarters, saying that Hamas militants had fired at Israeli forces from within the compound. United Nations officials vehemently denied the allegations. Mr. Ging, as he often has during the war, denounced Israel in extended televised interviews, and he questioned why Israeli liaison officers had never mentioned Hamas activity in the area, even though he said they were in constant contact...Christopher Gunness, a spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, said that in a meeting with its representatives on Thursday, Israeli Army officials 'privately admitted' that the source of the militants' fire was several hundred yards away from the compound. 'With every false allegation, the credibility of those accusing us is incrementally diminished," Mr. Gunness said." Source: NY Times

Israeli terror bomb explodes in Gaza

Young Palestinians view the rubble of their neighborhood in the aftermath of a bombing by Israeli terrorists

Another view of a Palestinian neighborhood destroyed by the Master Race