Saturday, January 31, 2009
Friday, January 30, 2009
Mon, 26 Jan 2009 23:56 UTC
All governments lie in wartime. Israel is no exception. Israel waged an effective war of black propaganda. It lied craftily with its glib, well-rehearsed government spokespeople, its ban on all foreign press in Gaza and its confiscation of cell phones and cameras from its own soldiers lest the reality of the attack inadvertently seep out. It was the Arabic network al-Jazeera, along with a handful of local reporters in Gaza, which upheld the honor of our trade, that of giving a voice to those who without our presence would have no voice, that of countering the amplified lies of the powerful with the faint cries and pain of the oppressed. But these examples of journalistic integrity were too few and barely heard by us.
We retreated, as usual, into the moral void of American journalism, the void of balance and objectivity. The ridiculous notion of being unbiased, outside of the flow of human existence, impervious to grief or pain or anger or injustice, allows reporters to coolly give truth and lies equal space and airtime. Balance and objectivity are the antidote to facing unpleasant truths, a way of avoidance, a way to placate the powerful. We record the fury of a Palestinian who has lost his child in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza but make sure to mention Israel's "security needs," include statements by Israeli officials who insist there was firing from the home or the mosque or the school and of course note Israel's right to defend itself. We do this throughout the Middle East. We record the human toll in Iraq, caused by our occupation, but remind everyone that "Saddam killed his own people." We write about the deaths of families in Afghanistan during an airstrike but never forget to mention that the Taliban "oppresses women." Their crimes cancel out our crimes. It becomes a moral void. And above all we never forget to mention the "war on terror." We ask how and who but never, never do we ask why. As long as we speak in the cold, dead language of those in power, the language that says a lie is as valid as a fact, the language where one version of history is as good as another, we are part of the problem, not the solution.
"Bombs and rockets are flying between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza, and once again, The Times is caught in a familiar crossfire, accused from all sides of unfair and inaccurate coverage," New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt breezily began in writing his assessment of the paper's coverage, going on to conclude "though the most vociferous supporters of Israel and the Palestinians do not agree, I think The Times, largely barred from the battlefield and reporting amid the chaos of war, has tried its best to do a fair, balanced and complete job - and has largely succeeded."
The cliché that Israel had a right to defend itself from Hamas rocket attacks - that bombs and rockets were "flying between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza" - was accepted in the press as an undisputed truth. It became the starting point for every hollow discussion of the Israeli attack. It left pundits and columnists chattering about "proportionality," not legality. Israel was in open violation of international law, specifically Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which calls on an occupying power to respect the safety of occupied civilians. But you would not know this from the press reports. The use of attack aircraft and naval ships, part of the world's fourth-largest military power, to level densely packed slums of people who were hungry, without power and often water, people surrounded on all sides by the Israeli army, was fatuously described as a war. The news coverage held up the absurd notion that a few Hamas fighters with light weapons and no organization were a counterforce to F-16 fighter jets, tank battalions, thousands of Israeli soldiers, armored personnel carriers, naval ships and Apache attack helicopters. It fit the Israeli narrative. It may have been balanced and objective. But it was not true..
The Hamas rockets are crude, often made from old pipes, and largely ineffectual. The first homemade Qassam rocket was fired across the Israeli border in October 2001. It was not until June 2004 that Israel suffered its first fatality. There are 24 Israelis who have been killed by Hamas rocket fire, compared with 5,000 Palestinian dead, more than half of them in Gaza, at least a third of them children. This does not absolve Hamas from firing rockets at civilian areas, which is a war crime, but it does raise questions about the story line swallowed without reflection by the press. I covered the Kosovo Albanians' desperate attempts to resist the Serbs, which resulted in a handful of Serb casualties, but no one ever described the lopsided Serbian butchery in Kosovo as a war. It was called genocide, and it led to NATO intervention to halt it.
It was Israel, not Hamas, which violated the truce established last June. This was never made clear in any of the press reports. Hamas agreed to halt rocket fire into Gaza in exchange for an Israeli promise to ease the draconian siege that made the shipment of vital material and food into Gaza nearly impossible. And once the agreement was reached, the Hamas rocket fire ended. Israel, however, never upheld its end of the agreement. It increased the severity of the siege. U.N. agencies complained. International relief organizations condemned the Israeli blockade. And there were even rumblings inside Israel. Shmuel Zakai, an Israeli brigadier general who resigned as commander of the Israel Defense Forces' Gaza Division and was forcibly discharged from the military amid allegations that he leaked information to the media, told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz on Dec. 22 that the Israeli government had made a "central error" during the tahdiyeh, the six-month period of relative truce, by failing "to take advantage of the calm to improve, rather than markedly worsen, the economic plight of the Palestinians of the Strip. ... [W]hen you create a tahdiyeh, and the economic pressure on the Strip continues," Zakai said, "it is obvious that Hamas will try to reach an improved tahdiyeh, and that their way to achieve this is resumed Qassam fire. ... You cannot just land blows, leave the Palestinians in Gaza in the economic distress they're in, and expect that Hamas will just sit around and do nothing."
Israel, we know from papers such as Haaretz, started planning this assault last March. The Israeli army deliberately broke the truce when it carried out an attack on Nov. 4 that killed six Hamas fighters. It timed the attack, the heavy air and naval bombardment and the invasion of Gaza to coincide with the waning weeks of the Bush administration. Israel knew it would be given carte blanche by the White House. Hamas responded to the Nov. 4 provocation in the way Israel anticipated. It fired Qassam rockets and Grad missiles into Israel to retaliate. But even then Hamas offered to extend the truce if Israel would lift the blockade. Israel refused. Operation Cast Lead was unleashed.
Henry Siegman, the director of the U.S./Middle East Project at the Council of Foreign Relations, noted correctly that Israel "could have met its obligation to protect its citizens by agreeing to ease the blockade, but it didn't even try. It cannot be said that Israel launched its assault to protect its citizens from rockets. It did so to protect its right to continue the strangulation of Gaza's population."
There were a few flashes of integrity in the American press. The Wall Street Journal ran a thoughtful piece, "How Israel Helped to Spawn Hamas," on Jan. 24 that was unusual in view of the acceptance in U.S. press coverage that Hamas is nothing more than an Islamo-fascist organization that understands only violence. And some journalists from news organizations such as the BBC did a good job once they were finally permitted to enter Gaza. Jimmy Carter wrote an Op-Ed article in The Washington Post detailing his and the Carter Center's efforts to prevent the conflict. This article was an important refutation of the Israeli argument, although it was ignored by the rest of the media. But these were isolated cases. The publishers, news executives and editors largely accepted without any real protest Israel's ban on coverage and allowed Israeli officials to fill their news pages and airtime with fabrications and distortions. And this made the war crimes carried out by the Israeli army easier to commit and prolong.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who is acutely aware of Israel's violations of international law, has already begun to reassure his commanders that they will be protected from war crimes prosecution.
"The commanders and soldiers that were sent on the task in Gaza should know that they are safe from any tribunal and that the State of Israel will assist them in this issue and protect them as they protected us with their bodies during the military operation in Gaza," he said.
Hamas is an unsavory organization. It has made life miserable for many in Gaza and carried out a series of death-squad-style executions of alleged opponents. But Hamas, elected to power in 2006, also brought effective civil control to Gaza. Gaza, ruled by warring factions, warlords, clans, kidnapping rings and criminal gangs, had descended into chaos under Mahmoud Abbas' corrupt Fatah-led government. Hamas, once it assumed power, halted suicide bombing attacks on Israel. It ended rocket fire into Israel for almost a year. It upheld its agreement with Israel. Hamas' willingness to negotiate with Israel, albeit through Egyptian intermediaries, led al-Qaida, which has been working to make inroads among the Palestinians, to condemn the Hamas leadership as collaborators.
Israel and the United States carried out an abortive and desperate attempt to overthrow Hamas by arming and backing a Fatah putsch in June 2007. They wanted to install the pliant Abbas in power. Hamas resisted, often with violent brutality, and expelled Abbas and the Fatah leadership from Gaza to the West Bank. Israel has now decided to do the dirty job itself. It will not work. Israel broke and discredited Yasser Arafat and Fatah in much the same manner. Abbas and Fatah have no authority or credibility left. Abbas is seen by most Palestinians as a pliant Israeli stooge. Israel is now destroying Hamas. Radical Islamic groups, such as al-Qaida, far more violent and irrational, stand poised to replace Hamas. And Israel will one day look wistfully at Hamas just as it does now at Fatah. But by then, with Israel surrounded by radical Islamic regimes in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and even Jordan, as well as fighting a homegrown al-Qaida movement among the Palestinians, it may be too late.
The Israeli government bears the responsibility for its crimes. But by giving credibility to the lies and false narratives Israel uses to justify wholesale slaughter we empower not only Israel's willful self-destruction but our own. The press, as happened during the buildup to the Iraq war, was again feckless and gutless. It bent to the will of the powerful. It abandoned its sacred contract with its readers, listeners and viewers to always tell the truth. It chattered about nothing. It obscured the facts. It did this while hundreds of women and children were torn to shreds by iron fragmentation bombs in a flagrant violation of international law. And as it failed it lauded itself for doing "a fair, balanced and complete job."
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Israeli soccer matches were suspended during the assault on Gaza. When the games resumed last week, the fans had come up with a new chant: "Why have the schools in Gaza been shut down?" sang the crowd. "Because all the children were gunned down!" came the answer.
Aside from its sheer barbarism, this chant reflects the widespread belief among Israeli Jews that Israel scored an impressive victory in Gaza - a victory measured, not least, by the death toll.
Israeli pilots and tank commanders could not really discriminate between the adults and the children who hid in their homes or huddled in the UNRWA shelters, and yet they chose to press the trigger. Therefore, it is not at all surprising that the lethal onslaught left 1,314 Palestinians dead, of which 412 - or nearly one third of all of the casualties - were children
This latest assault underscores that Israel, not unlike Hamas, readily resorts to violence and does not distinguish between civilians and combatants (only the weapons at Israel's disposal are much more lethal). No matter how many times the Israeli government tries to blame Hamas for the latest Palestinian civilian deaths it simply cannot explain away the body count, especially that of the children. In addition to the dead, 1,855 Palestinian children were wounded, and tens of thousands of others have likely been traumatised, many of them for life.
Every child has a story. A Bedouin friend recently called to tell us about his relatives in Gaza. One cousin allowed her five-year-old daughter to walk to the adjacent house to see whether the neighbours had something left to eat. The girl had been crying from hunger. The moment she began crossing the street a missile exploded nearby and the flying shrapnel killed her. The mother has since been bedridden, weeping and screaming, "I have let my girl die hungry".
As if the bloody incursion was not enough, the Israeli security forces seem to be keen on spreading the flames of hatred among the Arab population within Israel. Hundreds of Palestinian citizens of Israel have been arrested for protesting at the Israeli assault and more than 200 of them are still in custody. One incident is enough to illustrate the psychological effect these arrests will likely have on hundreds more children.
A few days after the ceasefire, several men wearing black ski masks stormed the home of Muhammad Abu Humus. They came to arrest him for protesting against the killings in Gaza. It was four in the morning and the whole family was asleep when the men banged on the door. After entering the house, they made Abu Humus's wife Wafa and their four children Erfat (12), Shahd (9), Anas (6) and Majd (3) stand in a corner as they searched the house, throwing all the clothes, sheets, toys, and kitchenware on the floor. With tears in their eyes, the children watched as the armed men then took their father away and left.
Chance would have it that Abu Humus, a long-time peace activist and member of the Fatah party, is a personal friend of ours. In 2001, he joined Ta'ayush Arab-Jewish Partnership, and since then has selflessly organised countless peace rallies and other joint activities. During the past eight years, we have spent many hours at each other's homes and our children have grown up respecting and liking one other. It is hard to believe that just one month ago he attended the Bar Mitzvah of Yigal's son in a Jerusalem synagogue.
Muhammad and Wafa Abu Humus have tried over the years to instil in their children a love and desire for peace, and while the security forces may not have destroyed this, the hatred they have generated in one night cannot be underestimated. Indeed, what, one might ask, will his children think of their Jewish neighbours? What feelings will they harbour? And what can we expect from those children in Gaza who have witnessed the killing of their parents, siblings, friends and neighbours?
We emphasise the Palestinian children because so many of them have been killed and terrorised in the past month. Yet it is clear that Israeli children are suffering as well, particularly those who have spent long periods in shelters for fear of being hit by rockets.
The one message that is being conveyed to children on both sides of this fray is that the other side is a bloodthirsty monster. In Israel, this was instantly translated into gains for the hate-mongering Yisrael Beytenu party headed by the xenophobic Avigdor Lieberman, who is now the frontrunner in mock polls being held in many Jewish high schools, with the hawkish Binyamin Netanyahu coming in second.
Hatred, in other words, is the great winner of this war. It has helped mobilise racist mobs, and as the soccer chant indicates it has left absolutely no place for the other, undermining even basic empathy for innocent children. Israel's masters of war must be happy: the seeds of the next wars have certainly been sown.
Lucid commentary from an SOTT editor:
Comment: Psychopathic! It is Israelis that are not only fueling it but are most effective in acting on that hate. It is interesting in light of what Eliot Weinberger wrote concerning the events of Gaza:
Who remembers the original dream of Israel? A place where the observant could practice their religion in peace and the secular would be invisible as Jews - where being Jewish only mattered if you wanted it to matter. That dream was realised, not in Israel, but in New York City. The second dream of Israel was of a place where socialist collectives could flourish in a secular nation with democratic freedoms. Who remembers that now? 'Never again' should international Jews invoke the Holocaust as justification for Israeli acts of barbarism.As in India-Pakistan, blaming the Brits is true enough, but useless. A few days ago, to illustrate the Gaza invasion, the front page of the New York Times had a large pastoral photograph of handsome Israeli soldiers lounging on a hill above verdant fields. Unquestioning faith in the 'milk and honey' Utopia of Israel is the bedrock of American Judaism, and reality does not intrude on faith.It won't happen. So, while the likes of Weinberger can dream, real semites-the ones Shlomo Sands wrote about-are facing their own holocaust an Israeli soccer fans chant: "Why have the schools in Gaza been shut down?" "Because all the children were gunned down!"
Any hope for some sort of peace will not come from the US, even without Bush. It must come from within an Israel where the same petrified leaders are elected time and again, where masses of the rational have emigrated to saner shores and have been replaced by Russians and the American cultists who become settlers. It is hard to believe that this will be anytime soon. It is hard to believe that two states will ever be possible. So why not a new dream of Israel? A single nation, a single citizenry with equal rights, three languages - English as a neutral third - and three religions, separate from the state. Give it a new name - say, Semitia, land of the Semites.
Yitzhak Laor's piece in the same series of articles focused on reality instead of dreams:
But the the Palestinians insist on trying to live like men. Since slowly starving the Palestinians isn't efficient enough for the psychopathic Israeli state, the children are gunned down and soccer fans chant.Israel doesn't want a Palestinian state alongside it. It is willing to prove this with hundreds of dead and thousands of disabled, in a single 'operation'. The message is always the same: leave or remain in subjugation, under our military dictatorship. We are a democracy. We have decided democratically that you will live like dogs.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Suddenly, the most bewildered look was plastered on his face. "Where is Nablus?" he asked, "I've never heard of it." Then, after realizing that I knew he was bullshitting me, he pretended to remember, "Ah, Shkheim you mean?"With my insistence not to learn these ugly names that the deranged Zionists have dug up from oblivion to erase our identity, that name certainly didn't ring a bell. But now it was my turn. Although I knew where he was from, I asked "And you're... from?" As he smiled while reminding me, I replicated the same look on his face moments ago. "Israel? Where is that?" Then after a brief pause, "Ah, the land of Canaan you mean. Palestine".
You see if you want to get biblical on me, there is no such thing as Israel either, and I made that clear to this smartass. Here we were all of a sudden; my family descended from a place called Shkheim, and this guy a Palestinian. God does work in mysterious ways, but I still thanked Him for His small mercies that at least my name was not Zaid Shkheimy. "Have a nice day", I told my Israeli friend. It was in fact a very cold, but still magnificently sunny day to hit the roads. The gloves warmed up my grip on the bike, but my heart was still frozen. I just cannot stand thieves who steal your gloves, or any other kind of thieves.
It was then that it finally occurred to me. Zionism is a sickness, for it takes much more than just a twisted ideology to make people think like that. It requires a profound leap of immorality of a higher order to instill this mentality in your followers. Zionism is not merely a political movement, but in its essence represents a deeply disturbed view of the world, which is a reflection of a terrible disease of the mind.
Indeed, to deny the existence of a vibrant community such as the Palestinian society in the early twentieth century and describe Palestine as "a land without a people for a people without a land" is a disease of the mind.
To assert property claims over real estate after the lapse of more than 2000 years with the same certainty of title as if one resided there yesterday is a disease of the mind.
To describe the colonial immigration to Palestine of a European people with no proven historical link to the ancient Israelites - and whose great, great recorded ancestors have never set foot there - as some kind of a "return" to that land is indicative of a perverted misunderstanding and misapplication of the verb to "return" and can only be a result of a disease of the mind.
To blame the Palestinians for being unreasonable in rejecting a partition plan in 1947 which gave the Jews, who only owned 7 percent of the land, an astonishing half of Palestine, is a disease of the mind.
To demand of the Arabs at the time to peacefully succumb to such partition, where 86 percent of the land designated for the proposed Jewish state was Palestinian-inhabited and owned land, is a disease of the mind.
To eventually grab 78 percent of Palestine through war and to force the flight of the population through deliberate massacres and then call it a war of independence is a disease of the mind.
To deny the orchestrated massacres and eradications of hundreds of Palestinian villages in 1948 and then denounce the Israeli historians who later exposed this truth as self-hating Jews is a disease of the mind.
To claim that having escaped the horrors of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka, and Dachau is a justification for the murder, expulsion, and occupation of another guiltless people is a disease of the mind.
To legislate that any resident of Poland, Hungary, New York, Brazil, Australia, Iceland, or even Planet Mars, who happens to be blessed with a Jewish mother (yet cannot point to Palestine on the map) has a superior right to "return" and settle in Palestine to someone who has been expelled from his very own land, confined to a squalid refugee camp, and still holds the keys to his house, is a disease of the mind.
To blame God for the theft and occupation of someone else's land by claiming that it was He who had pledged this land exclusively to the Jews, and to seriously promote the myth of a land promised by the Almighty to His favorite children as an excuse for this crime, is a disease of the mind.
To milk the pockets of the world for the atrocities of the Nazis, while stubbornly refusing a simple admission of guilt, let alone compensation or repatriation, for the catastrophe that befell the Palestinian people is a disease of the mind.
To keep reminding and blackmailing the world of the plight of the Jews under Hitler 70 years ago, while at the same time inflicting on the Palestinians today the same fate of the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto, is a disease of the mind.
To impose a collective guilt overshadowing Western civilization for the Holocaust and then to criminalize all legitimate historical debate of the nature and extent of that horrific event is a disease of the mind.
To virtually incarcerate the Palestinian people inside degrading cages, destroying their livelihoods, confiscating their lands, stealing their water and uprooting their trees, and then to condemn their legitimate resistance as terrorism is a disease of the mind.
To believe you have the right to chase the Palestinians into an Arab capital city in 1982 and to indiscriminately bombard its civilians for a relentless three months, murdering thousands of innocent people is a disease of the mind.
To encircle the civilian camps of Sabra and Chatila after evacuating the fighters and to unleash on them trained dogs (while providing them with night-illuminating flares for efficiency) and then deny culpability for the carnage is a disease of the mind.
To publicly declare a policy of breaking the bones of Palestinian stone-throwers to prevent them from lifting stones again and to enact this policy is a disease of the mind.
To have the sadistic streak of exacting vengeance on the innocent families of suicide bombers by punishing them with the dynamiting of their home is a disease of the mind.
To describe the offer of giving the Palestinians 80 percent of 22 percent of 100 percent of what is originally their own land as a "generous" offer is a disease of the mind.
To believe that you have the right to continue to humiliate the Palestinians at gun point by making them queue for hours to move between their villages, forcing mothers to give birth at check-points is a disease of the mind.
To flatten the camp of Jenin on its inhabitants and deny any wrongdoing is a delusional condition which is symptomatic of a serious disease of the mind.
To build a huge separation wall under the pretext of security, which disconnects farmers from their farms and children from their schools, while stealing even more territory as the wall freely zigzags and encroaches on Palestinian land is a disease of the mind.
To leave behind, in the last 10 days of a losing war in Lebanon, more than one million cluster bombs which have no purpose except to murder and maim unsuspecting civilians is a product of an evil disease of the mind.
To believe that the entire world is out to get you and to denounce any critic of the racist policies of the State of Israel as an anti-Semite, the latest victim being none other than peace-making Jimmy Carter, is an acute stage of mass paranoia, which is a disease of the mind.
To possess, in the midst of a non-nuclear Arab world, more than 200 nuclear warheads capable of incinerating the whole planet in addition to having the most advanced arsenal of weaponry in the world while continuing to play the role of a victim is a disease of the mind.
Yes, and for that salesman in peaceful Geneva to be so insecure as to refuse to acknowledge the name of the largest West Bank city under his country's brutal military occupation is, sadly, nothing but an infectious disease of the mind.
That's all what it is, ladies and gentlemen: Zionism is an incurable disease of the mind.
Take care, and if you ride, do it safely.
Zaid Nabulsi is a lawyer. He spent many years working for the United Nations in Geneva. He has a passion for (glorious) Harley Davidson bikes.
Comment: As we have been saying on SotT, the Jewish people have been taken over by others for their own nefarious purposes. They do not care about the Jewish people, nor do they care about normal people anywhere. They have no empathy nor do they have a conscience. As the author notes, those who are known as Zionists do have a diseased mind - it's called psychopathy.
Monday, January 26, 2009
The Jerusalem Post
Sun, 25 Jan 2009 02:43 UTC
When uttered by activists or international politicians and officials, it sounds as if all that's needed is for Israel to open some mythical gate to the 360-square kilometer area wedged between Israel and Egypt.
They ignore the fact that Egypt shares a border with Gaza, too, which it is also keeping closed. And they do not take into account the difficulties posed in running the crossings since Hamas kicked out the Palestinian Authority - which operated these passages - from Gaza during a violent coup in June 2007.
When Israel left Gaza in the summer of 2005, a detailed arrangement called "Agreement on Movement and Access" was made with the PA for the passage of goods and people in and out of the area.
On the Israeli side, people were to move in and out of Erez in the north and commercial goods were to go through Karni in the center. On the Egyptian side in the south, the Rafah border crossing was designated for the passage of people and goods, but an agreement for the passage of people was finalized.
In addition, on the Israeli side, two minor crossing points, Kerem Shalom and Sufa, were set up to operate as backups to Karni, and fuel could go through Nahal Oz.
Since operating the three major crossings - Erez, Karni and Rafah - needed serious coordination on both sides of the border, the PA manned them on the Gaza side. A special EU team was also established to monitor the Rafah crossing.
In the midst of Israel's Gaza withdrawal in 2005, Interior Ministry officials held a press conference at the Erez crossing, at which they earnestly explained that in the peace that would descend within two years, it would be possible to replace the soldiers at the crossing points with trained professional staff so that they would look like any other international border terminal.
Discussions were even launched on operating the Gaza airport and a seaport.
But these plans, along with the elaborate crossing arrangements, were destroyed by the Hamas coup. After that, the PA was no longer able to monitor the crossings, which were also damaged on the Gaza side during the fighting and have yet to be repaired.
Though there were some reports over the weekend of a new willingness to cooperate, Hamas to date has not agreed to allow the PA to return. Since the coup, no solution been found that would place, as an alternative to the PA, a team of Palestinians on the Gaza side to coordinate the movement of goods and people.
[Perhaps Hamas has seen how 'effective' the PA has been in protecting the rights of Palestinians in the West Bank, and knows they are useless.]
Therefore, it is not been possible to fully operate the Erez, Karni and Rafah crossings at the pre-June 2007 level.
To be clear, as long as Hamas remains in power and holds IDF soldier Gilad Schalit captive, Israel won't fully reopen the passages to a level that would allow the free movement of people or enable a flourishing economy in the Gaza Strip.
But even if it wanted to do so, as long as Israel and Hamas refuse to coordinate with each other on the crossings and as long as no alternative body can do so, opening them remains technically impossible, from both a security and logistical perspective.
In the interim, the Erez crossing has been open in a limited fashion to people, mostly diplomats, international aid workers and medical cases.
Israel remained committed to providing humanitarian aid and limited commercial imports via the smaller crossings at Sufa and Kerem Shalom and the fuel depot at Nahal Oz.
For international aid organizations over the past 18 months - mostly the UN, which provides basic food supplies to 1.1 million out of the 1.4 million people who live in Gaza - these two passages have served as temporary portals.
But Hamas has intermittently attacked these passages and as a result, Sufa has been closed for security reasons, leaving only Kerem Shalom.
At Kerem Shalom, Israeli trucks unload their goods in a concrete lot and then pull away. The gate to the lot is then closed on the Israeli side and Palestinian trucks drive in to load the goods and take them into Gaza.
This system can handle a smaller amount of goods than Karni, where the transfer is faster and also cheaper.
International aid organizations have found, for example, that Kerem Shalom cannot process the amount of grain needed to feed both people and livestock in Gaza. As a result, Israel has opened the wheat chute at Karni, which can be operated without much coordination on the other side.
According to Maj. Peter Lerner, the spokesman for the IDF Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, last week some 1,006 trucks loaded with 27,650 tons of humanitarian aid and goods went into Gaza through Kerem Shalom, including grain chuted through Karni.
[How kind. After destroying all the tons of food UNWRA had in place with white phosphorus shells, they are allowing a small fraction in now]
In addition, he said, 1,940,000 liters of fuel for the Gaza power station went in through Kerem Shalom and Nahal Oz, along with 766 tons of cooking gas.
Overall, he said, since the start of Israel's military operation in Gaza four weeks ago, 2,361 trucks of supplies have gone in with 60,000 tons of goods, as well as 5.5 million liters of fuel for the power plant.
International aid organizations, including the UN, have said that Gaza needs an even greater level of humanitarian assistance. They have called on Israel to allow more goods to pass through both Kerem Shalom and Karni.
Lerner said that capacity is increasing and this week could be up to 250 trucks a day. He added that he is unaware of any unmet humanitarian needs.
During a brief visit to the region this week, UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes called on Israel to do more than just increase the flow of humanitarian goods into Gaza.
Kerem Shalom, he said, provides only a fraction of what is needed in Gaza.
He was not daunted, he said, by the diplomatic failure to date to return the PA to the crossings at Rafah, Karni and Erez.
While Hamas has focused on the need to open Rafah, Holmes said his goal was to see Karni fully reopened at a level that would enable the Gaza economy to flourish.
It is possible, he told The Jerusalem Post, to reopen Karni by placing an acceptable international coordinating body at that crossing, possibly drawn from the European Union or Turkey.
It is particularly important to do so if Israel and Egypt succeed in closing the tunnels under Rafah, which Palestinians have used to smuggle goods into Gaza from Sinai, Holmes said.
Most of that activity is commercial, he said, and if the tunnel route is closed down, it is important open up another avenue for the flow of goods.
Holmes added that he is not willing to join the "council of despair" that claims that Karni cannot be reopened.
What should be paramount in everyone's mind at this point, he said, "is the welfare of the people in Gaza."
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Dr. Haidar Eid
The Electronic Intifada
Thu, 22 Jan 2009 23:39 UTC
These are the desperate words of Subhi Samuni to Al-Jazeera's Gaza correspondent. Subhi lost 17 members of his immediate family, including the parents of his seven-year-old grandson. Shockingly, even as I write this article, corpses of the Samuni family are still being retrieved from under the rubble -- 15 days after the Israeli occupation forces shelled the two houses. The Israeli army locked 120 members of the family in one house for 12 hours before they shelled it.
Subhi's words echo the harsh reality of all Palestinians in Gaza: alone, abandoned, hunted down, brutalized, and, like Subhi's grandson, orphaned. Twenty-two days of savage butchery took the lives of more than 1,300 Palestinians, at least 85 percent of them civilians, including 434 children, 104 women, 16 medics, four journalists, five foreigners, and 105 elderly people.
What can one say to comfort a man who has the harrowing task of having to bury his entire family, including his wife, his sons, his daughters and his grandchildren? Tell us and we will relay your words to Uncle Subhi because his loss has made our words of condolences meaningless to our ears.
Think also of words you want to say to 70-year-old Rashid Muhammad, whose 44-year-old son Samir was executed with a single bullet to the heart in front of his wife and children. The Israeli army refused to let an ambulance pick up his corpse for 11 days so his family had to wait for the assault to stop before they could bury him. Rashid had the excruciatingly painful experience of looking at, touching, kissing, and then burying the decomposed body of his son. Tell this family how to make sense of their harsh reality -- say something to make the children sleep, to ease the anguish in the father's heart, to help the wife understand why her husband had to be taken from her.
You might prefer to talk to 14-year-old Amira Qirm, whose house in Gaza City was shelled with artillery and phosphorous bombs -- bombs which burnt to death three members of her immediate family: her father, her 12-year-old brother, Alaa, and her 11-year-old sister, Ismat. Alone, injured and terrified, Amira crawled 500 meters on her knees to a house close by -- it was empty because the family had fled when the Israeli attack began. She stayed there for four days, surviving only on water, and listening to the sounds of the Israeli killing machine all around her, too afraid to cry out in pain in case the soldiers heard her. When the owner of the house returned to get clothes for his family, he found Amira, weak and close to death. She is now being treated for her injuries in the overcrowded and under-resourced al-Shifa Hospital.
You can try to comfort 10-year-old Muhammad Samuni who was found lying next to the bodies of his mother and siblings, five days after they were killed. He would tell you what he has been telling everyone -- that his brother woke suddenly after being asleep for a long time. His brother told him that he was hungry, asked for a tomato to eat and then died. Are there any other 10-year-olds in the world who are asked to carry this experience around with them for the rest of their lives? Of course not -- this "privilege" is reserved just for Palestinian children because they were born on the land that Israel wants for itself. But it is these traumatized children who will deny Israel what it wants because their very survival is a challenge to that apartheid state. It is these same children who will surely inherit Palestine: it is their birthright and no assault can change that fact -- not today, not ever.
And through it all we were subjected to Tzipi Livni, Israel's foreign minister, adamant in her defense of the world's most "moral" army. "We don't target civilians" she lied. "We don't want the Palestinians to leave Gaza. We just want them to move within Gaza itself!" Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert too had something to say to Palestinians in Gaza: "We are not your enemy. Hamas is your enemy."
Amira, Muhammad, Rashid, Subhi and the more than 40,000 families whose houses have been demolished know differently. Those people who rushed to the cemetery after it was bombed and found the body parts of their dead relatives exposed to the elements know differently. They know that they were deliberately targeted because they are Palestinian. All the rest is propaganda to appease the conscience of those with Palestinian blood on their hands -- those who are both inside and outside Israel.
For 22 long days and dark nights, Palestinians in Gaza were left alone to face one of the strongest armies in the world -- an army that has hundreds of nuclear warheads, thousands of trigger-happy soldiers armed with Merkava tanks, F-16s, Apache helicopters, naval gunships and phosphorous bombs. Twenty-two sleepless nights, 528 hours of constant shelling and shooting, every single minute expecting to be the next victim.
During these 22 days, while morgues overflowed and hospitals struggled to treat the injured, Arab regimes issued tons of statements, condemned and denounced and held one meaningless press conference after another. They even held two summits, the first one convened 19 full days after the assault on Gaza began and the second one the day after Israel had declared a unilateral ceasefire!
The official Arab position vis-a-vis the Palestinians since 1948, with the exception of the progressive nationalist era (1954-1970) has been a lethal cocktail of cowardice and hypocrisy. Their latest collective failure to break the two-year old Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip and their lack of action to support Palestinians under brutal military assault must be questioned.
Arabs must demand answers from the spineless Arab League because there was no brotherly solidarity shown to Gazans during the Israeli assault. There was no pan-Arabism evident in their platitudes. Some, shockingly, even found it an appropriate time to blame Palestinians for the situation they found themselves in, instead of demanding that Israel stop its merciless assault.
In Gaza today, we wonder how the expressions of support for us in the streets of Arab capitals can be translated into action in the absence of democracy. We wonder whether Arab citizens of despotic regimes can nonviolently change the system. We torment ourselves with trying to discern the means that are currently available for democratic political change. With the ongoing massacre in Gaza, and the construction of an apartheid system in Palestine (in all of historic Palestine, including the areas occupied by Israel in 1967), we know that to survive, we must have the support and solidarity of our Arab brothers and sisters. We saw the Arab people rise to that challenge and stand by us for 22 days but we did not see their leaders behind them.
Archbishop Desmund Tutu of South Africa said, "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor." The UN, EU, Arab League and the international community by and large have remained silent in the face of atrocities committed by Apartheid Israel. They are therefore on the side of Israel. Hundreds of dead corpses of children and women have failed to convince them to act. This is what every Palestinian knows today -- whether on the streets of the Gaza Strip, the Tzipi Livnior refugee camps in the Diaspora.
We are, therefore, left with one option; an option that does not wait for the United Nations Security Council, Arab Summits, or Organization of Islamic Conference to convene: the option of people's power. This remains the only power capable of counteracting the massive power imbalance in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The horror of the racist apartheid regime in South Africa was challenged with a sustained campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions initiated in 1958 and given new urgency in 1960 after the Sharpeville Massacre. This campaign led ultimately to the collapse of white rule in 1994 and the establishment of a multi-racial, democratic state.
Similarly, the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions has been gathering momentum since 2005. Gaza 2009, like Sharpeville 1960, cannot be ignored: it demands a response from all who believe in a common humanity. Now is the time to boycott the apartheid Israeli state, to divest and to impose sanctions against it. This is the only way to ensure the creation of a secular, democratic state for all in historic Palestine.
This is the only answer to Uncle Subhi's puzzling questions: it is the only way to give his grandson a future, a life of dignity and equality, a life with both peace and justice, because like all children, he deserves nothing less.
Haidar Eid teaches English literature in Gaza City. He is also a political commentator and activist.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Alternative Information Center
Sun, 18 Jan 2009 19:09 UTC
Not in Their Names
You have no right to speak in the name of the martyrs of our people. You are not Anne Frank of the Bergen Belsen concentration camp but Hans Frank, the German general who acted to starve and destroy the Jews of Poland.
You are not representing any continuity with the Warsaw Ghetto, because today the Warsaw Ghetto is right in front of you, targeted by your own tanks and artillery, and its name is Gaza. Gaza that you have decided to eliminate from the map, as General Frank intended to eliminate the Ghetto. But, unlike the Ghettos of Poland and Belorussia, in which the Jews were left almost alone, Gaza will not be eliminated because millions of men and women from the four corners of our world are building a powerful human shield carrying two words: Never Again!
Not in Our Name!
Together with tens of thousands of other Jews, from Canada to Great Britain, from Australia to Germany, we are warning you: don't dare to speak in our names, because we will run after you, even, if needed, to the hell of war-criminals, and stuff your words down your throat until you ask for forgiveness for having mixed us up with your crimes. We, and not you, are the children of Mala Zimetbaum and Marek Edelman, of Mordechai Anilevicz and Stephane Hessel, and we are conveying their message to humankind for custody in the hands of the Gaza resistance fighters: "We are fighting for our freedom and yours, for our pride and yours, for our human, social and national dignity and yours." (Appeal of the Ghetto to the world, Passover 1943)
But for you, the leaders of Israel, "freedom" is a dirty word. You have no pride and you do not understand the meaning of human dignity.
We are not "another Jewish voice," but the sole Jewish voice able to speak in the names of the tortured saints of the Jewish people. Your voice is nothing other than the old bestial vociferations of the killers of our ancestors.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Sun, 18 Jan 2009 14:48 UTC
Rather than attempting to argue in writing the point that the stewards of the state of Israel appear to be the ideological descendants of the Nazis, the following photo essay of juxtaposed images of Palestinian life today in the occupied territories and Jewish life 68 years ago in Germany and Poland say much more than words ever could:
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
It's well known that the U.S. supplies the Israelis with much of their military hardware. Over the past few decades, the U.S. has provided about $53 billion in military aid to Israel. What's not well known is that since 2004, U.S. taxpayers have paid to supply over 500 million gallons of refined oil products -- worth about $1.1 billion - - to the Israeli military. While a handful of countries get motor fuel from the U.S., they receive only a fraction of the fuel that Israel does -- fuel now being used by Israeli fighter jets, helicopters and tanks to battle Hamas.
Israeli citizen. In 2008, an additional $280 million in fuel was given to the Israeli military, again at U.S. taxpayers' expense. The U.S. has even paid the cost of shipping the fuel from U.S. refineries to ports in Israel.
In 2008, the fuel shipped to Israel from U.S. refineries accounted for 2 percent of Israel's $13.3 billion defense budget. Publicly available data shows that about 2 percent of the U.S. Defense Department's budget is also spent on oil. A senior analyst at the Pentagon, who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the press, says the Israel Defense Force's fuel use is most likely similar to that of the U.S. Defense Department. In other words, the Israeli military is spending about the same percentage of its defense budget on oil as the U.S. is. Therefore it's possible that the U.S. is providing most, or perhaps even all, of the Israeli military's fuel needs.
What's more, Israel does not need the U.S. handout. Its own recently privatized refineries, located at Haifa and Ashdod, could supply all of the fuel needed by the Israeli military. Those same refineries are now producing and selling jet fuel and other refined products on the open market. But rather than purchase lower-cost jet fuel from its own refineries, the Israeli military is using U.S. taxpayer money to buy and ship large quantities of fuel from U.S. refineries.
The Israeli government obtains the fuel through the Defense Department's Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program, and pays for the fuel and the shipping with funds granted to it through Foreign Military Financing (FMF), another Defense Department program. (In 2008, Congress earmarked $2.4 billion in FMF money for Israel, and $2.5 billion for 2009.) The dimensions of the FMS fuel program are virtually unknown among America's top experts on Middle East policy. For his part, the Pentagon analyst was surprised to learn that FMS money was even being used to supply fuel to Israel. "That's not the purpose of the program," he says. "FMS was designed to allow U.S. weapons makers to sell their goods to foreign countries. The idea that fuel is being bought under FMS is very, very odd."
The fuel program, in fact, raises a number of pressing questions. The shipments have occurred during times of record-high oil prices, when American consumers have been angered by motor fuel prices that in 2008 exceeded $4 per gallon. Given those high prices, it appears to make little sense for the U.S. government to be promoting policies that reduce the volume of -- and potentially raise the price of -- motor fuel available for sale to U.S. motorists.
The U.S. fuel shipments are part of a sustained policy that has widened the energy gap between Israel and its neighbors. Over the past few years, the Israel Defense Force has cut off fuel supplies and destroyed electricity infrastructure in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon. Those embargoes and attacks on power plants have exacerbated a huge gap in per-capita energy consumption between Israelis and Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza. And that sharp disparity helps explain why the Palestinians have never been able to build a viable economy.
Edward S. Walker, former president of the Middle East Institute, a Washington-based think tank, says the fuel supply program is emblematic of U.S. military support for Israel. Walker, who has served as U.S. ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Israel, explains that the FMF money allows the Israelis to "do with it what they want. They can buy equipment or fuel. It's their choice, not the government's choice. It's the only program where we give someone a blank check and they can use it any way that they choose."
Given the recent spike in oil prices, which helped send the U.S. and the world economy into a tailspin, and Americans still smarting from paying $4 at the pump, says Walker, "Why are we supplying fuel to Israel when we are paying such high prices?"
Since 1948, oil has been a critically important commodity for both the Israel Defense Forces and the Israeli economy. And Israeli leaders have long worried about their energy security. In 1957, Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion wrote in his diary, "The only sanctions which could defeat or break us are oil sanctions."
In 1967, Egypt's blockade of the Straits of Tiran precipitated the Six Day War. The Straits, writes Israeli historian Michael Oren in his book on the conflict, "Six Days of War," were "a lifeline for the Jewish state, the conduit to its quiet import of Iranian oil." In 1973, the Yom Kippur War (Arabs call it the Ramadan War) led to the Arab Oil Embargo, an event that still reverberates in the U.S., particularly in the fanciful political rhetoric about the desire for "energy independence."
The U.S.-Israel oil relationship goes back to 1975. In September of that year, Henry Kissinger, who was then secretary of state, struck a deal with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin that led the Israelis to partially withdraw from the Sinai Peninsula. The agreement required Israel to pull out of the Giddi and Mitla passes and relinquish the Sinai oilfields the Israelis had captured during the 1967 war.
In return, Kissinger agreed that America would provide multibillion-dollar economic and military subsidies to Israel. He also agreed that the U.S. would supply Israel with oil in case of any emergency. That agreement was formalized in 1979 about the time of the Camp David peace talks. It says that the U.S. will "make every effort to help Israel secure the necessary means of transport" for the oil that it purchases. The agreement concludes by saying that the U.S. and Israel will "meet annually, or more frequently at the request of either party, to review Israel's continuing oil requirement."
Since 1979, the agreement has been quietly renewed every five years. (The most recent approval of the document was done by the U.S. State Department in November of 2005.) The U.S. does not provide any other country the same insurance.
Nor does any other country get anything close to the volume of fuel that Israel does under FMS. In 2004, more than 140 countries received FMS aid from the U.S. Of that group, only about 13 countries received fuel of any kind through the FMS program and the biggest recipient, after Israel, was Singapore, which got $7.3 million in fuel. That year, Israel received 17 times more FMS fuel than all of the other countries combined.
Why did the U.S. Defense Department begin providing oil to Israel in 1986? And why does the program persist, particularly given that Israel no longer sees its refineries as strategic assets? The Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which manages the FMS and FMF programs, referred questions about the program to the Israeli government. The press office of the Israeli Embassy in Washington did not respond to numerous requests about the program.
While the rationale for the oil transfers remains elusive, the facts behind Israel's refinery privatization are freely available. In 2006, the government sold the Ashdod refinery to Israeli tycoon Zadik Bino for about $500 million. And in early 2007, it sold the larger refinery in Haifa to a group led by Israel Corp., the shipping and chemicals conglomerate, for $1.5 billion.
The sale of the refineries marked a major turning point in Israel's attitude toward oil. In its earliest years as an independent nation, Israel's survival was made possible by using crude from the Soviet Union and Venezuela. From the 1950s to the late 1970s, Iranian crude was the lifeblood of the Zionist state. Later still, the Israelis relied on the Kuwaitis. Today, the Russians are providing much of Israel's crude needs. And the sale of the refineries is indicative of the Israeli government's confidence in its ongoing ability to purchase the oil it needs on the international market.
Nevertheless, the FMS fuel shipments to Israel have continued. The most recent shipments for which records are readily available occurred in July and October 2008.
On July 7, 2008, the spot price for U.S. crude oil hit a near-record of $141. That same day, the San Antonio Business Journal reported that San Antonio-based refiner Valero Energy Corp. had been awarded a contract by the Defense Energy Support Center (DESC) worth $46 million to provide fuel to Israel. Valero has won a number of lucrative contracts from the DESC, the Defense Department agency that handles all of the Pentagon's bulk fuel purchases. On Oct. 9, the Journal reported that Valero had been awarded a $235 million contract under FMS. Bill Day, a spokesman for Valero, says that the company "doesn't talk publicly about its contracts."
Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that U.S. taxpayers are paying the shipping costs to move the fuel from refineries -- many of them on the Texas Gulf Coast -- to Israeli ports at Haifa or Ashkelon. Shipping costs vary but one specific bid called for shipping costs of $.30 per gallon. Officials with the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the arm of the Pentagon that manages programs that "strengthen America's alliances and partnerships," has confirmed that the costs to ship the fuel from U.S. refineries to Israel have been paid for with FMF money designated for Israel by Congress.
The huge FMS fuel shipments are puzzling to the Israelis. Amit Mor, CEO of Eco Energy, an Israeli consulting and investment firm, has worked on energy issues in his home country for about two decades. In a recent e-mail, Mor says that "there is a paradox" in the fuel shipments that Israel gets from the U.S. He said that the privately owned Israeli refineries export jet fuel in "FOB prices," while the defense ministry imports jet fuel in "high CIF prices," with the funds of U.S. military assistance.
FOB, short for "free on board," means that customers must take possession of the fuel at the refinery and then pay for all shipping and related costs to get the fuel to its final destination. On the other hand, as Mor explains, the Israeli military is importing fuel from U.S. refineries located 7,000 miles away, while incurring the CIF, short for "cost, insurance and freight," of moving the fuel that distance.
Mor says Israeli refiners have "complained about this issue" but have had no luck with the Israeli government. He goes on to say that "it is the U.S. government that insisted for some reason to continue with this historical, costly and inefficient arrangement."
Energy analysts squabble about a myriad of issues. But if there is one truism that draws near-universal agreement, it's this: As energy consumption increases, so does wealth. And while that truism holds for oil use, it is particularly apt for electricity. As Peter Huber and Mark Mills point out in their 2005 book, "The Bottomless Well," "Economic growth marches hand in hand with increased consumption of electricity -- always, everywhere, without significant exception in the annals of modern industrial history."
That statement underscores the significance of the FMS fuel shipments to Israel, many of which have occurred at or near the time that the Israeli military has attacked the electric power plants of its neighbors.
In late June 2006, Israeli aircraft fired nine missiles at the transformers at the Gaza City Power Plant, the only electric power plant in the Occupied Territories. (One of the original partners in the project was Enron, but that's another story.) The missiles caused damage estimated at $15 million to $20 million and, for a time, made Gaza wholly reliant on electricity flows from Israel. The 140-megawatt power plant, owned by the Palestine Electric Co., was insured by the Overseas Private Investment Corp., an arm of the U.S. government. Thus the U.S. was providing fuel and materiel to the Israeli military, which destroyed the plant, but it was also paying to fix the damage. Call it cradle-to-grave service.
The Israeli attack on the Gaza City Power Plant offers a stark example of how the FMS fuel helps assure that Israel stays energy rich while many of the citizens in neighboring regions live in energy poverty.
Two weeks after the attack on the Gaza City plant in 2006, during Israel's month-long war against Hezbollah forces in Lebanon, Israeli aircraft attacked the 346-megawatt Jiyyeh power plant, the oldest electric power plant in Lebanon. Those attacks resulted in the largest-ever oil spill in the eastern Mediterranean. About 100,000 barrels of fuel oil that was stored in tanks at the Jiyyeh site flowed into the sea, creating an oil slick that stretched for more than 150 kilometers.
The attacks on the Jiyyeh plant occurred on July 13 and July 15. Those dates are important because they underscore the timing of the U.S. fuel transfers to Israel.
On July 14, 2006, the U.S. military issued two press releases. In one of them, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced that it would be providing up to $210 million in JP-8 jet fuel to the Israeli government. The other release, put out at 5 p.m. Eastern time, came from the Defense Logistics Agency, which said that it had awarded a $36.7 million contract to Valero as part of another JP-8 supply deal for Israel.
The July 14 release contains this rather bland description of the fuel deal: "The proposed sale of the JP-8 aviation fuel will enable Israel to maintain the operational capability of its aircraft inventory. The jet fuel will be consumed while the aircraft is in use to keep peace and security in the region. Israel will have no difficulty absorbing this additional fuel into its armed forces." The release goes on to claim that the "proposed sale of this JP-8 aviation fuel will not affect the basic military balance in the region."
While the attacks on the Jiyyeh plant were important, Lebanese citizens could get electricity from other power plants in the country. That was not true in Gaza, a province in which electricity has always been in short supply. According to the CIA Fact Book, the Gaza Strip ranks dead last -- 214th out of 214 countries and territories listed -- in the amount of electricity consumed. According to the Palestinian Energy and Natural Resources Agency, in 2004, the average Gazan used about 654 kilowatt-hours of electricity. By contrast, the 7.1 million residents of Israel consume about 6,295 kilowatt-hours of electric power per person per year, nearly 10 times as much as the average Gazan.
Although more recent energy consumption data for Gaza is not available, there's no question that the endemic poverty in the West Bank and particularly in Gaza, is due, largely, to a continuing lack of energy resources. And the Israelis have frequently cut off the flow of fuel and electricity, which has exacerbated the Palestinians' energy poverty.
Over the past few years, the Israelis have cut off the flow of energy to Gaza as retribution for various transgressions. And those cutoffs have forced the Gaza City Power Plant to shut down for lack of the fuel oil it needs to operate. When the power plant is idled, most of the residents of Gaza City are left without power and overall power supplies in the Gaza Strip decline by about 25 percent.
In May 2006, Israel cut off the flow of oil into the Occupied Territories after the Islamic group Hamas won local elections. In January 2008, the Israelis closed the border crossings into Gaza, which resulted in a fuel shortage that closed the Gaza power plant. In April 2008, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency stopped distributing aid in Gaza after it ran out of fuel. The Israelis stopped the fuel flow as retribution for attacks that killed two Israeli civilians and three Israeli soldiers. In November 2008, the U.N. Relief and Works Agency was again forced to suspend work due to lack of fuel. The fuel shortage occurred after Israel closed the border into Gaza in response to rockets and mortar shells that had been fired into Israel from Gaza.
The disparity in energy consumption between the Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza and their counterparts in Israel is just one element in the centuries-old story of tragedy and conflict in the region. But with the U.S. squarely on the side of the Israelis in the Gaza campaign, the potential for an angry backlash against the U.S. appears to be growing.
And that anger will likely only increase when Arabs begin to understand that much of the fuel that the U.S. is giving to Israel is being refined from Arab oil. The Valero refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas, which has won several of the FMS contracts for Israel, is a big buyer of Mideast crude. During the second quarter of 2006, according to data collected by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the refinery got about 40 percent of its crude oil from Kuwait or Saudi Arabia.
In short, U.S. taxpayers are paying for U.S. energy companies to buy Arab crude, ship it across the Atlantic to refineries in the U.S., refine it, and then ship it back across the Atlantic so that the Israel Defense Force can use it in its wars.
While the origination point of the crude may only matter to part of the Arab world, it is becoming apparent that bloodshed in Gaza is further complicating America's efforts to gain credibility as an honest broker in the region. Anti-U.S. sentiment is not in America's long-term interest, says former diplomat Chas Freeman, a man whose résumé in international affairs extends back nearly four decades.
Freeman is a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, as well as a former assistance secretary of defense. He served as Richard Nixon's chief interpreter during Nixon's visit to China in 1972. Now the president of the Middle East Policy Council, a Washington think tank, Freeman says the FMS fuel program for Israel runs counter to long-term goals of resolving the Palestinian conflict and America's stated goal of protecting the flow of oil out of the Persian Gulf. The Defense Department has assumed "unilateral responsibility for the protection of the oil trade in the Persian Gulf, and yet it's assuming responsibility for the delivery of aviation fuel for the Israeli military," he says. "That's confused and contradictory." The program, he adds, is "one of many elements of our relationship with Israel that is very hard to explain."
Freeman may be correct, but the House of Representatives has scant doubt about continued U.S. support for Israel. Nor has Congress shown much interest in the fuel shortages among Palestinians. On Jan. 9, the 14th day of the fighting in Gaza, the House passed a resolution sponsored by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, "recognizing Israel's right to defend itself against attacks from Gaza." The vote was 390 to 5.
Two days before the vote, UNICEF estimated that 800,000 Gazans did not have running water and 1 million were living without electricity.
Editor's note: Generous support for this article was provided by the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
The real neo-Nazis
Thu, 11 Dec 2008 02:14 UTC
The western world lives in fear of "neo-nazis"- mostly clueless, ineffectual baffoons who march around in support of the racist, whites-uber-alles principles of the Third Reich.
However, when looking for real world Nazi-like behavior, one need look no further than Israeli's ongoing "blockade" of Gaza and other areas occupied by Palestinian refugees.
The "ghetto-ization" of the Palestinians by Israel is the exact same tactic the Nazis used in their plan to destroy Jewish communities throughout Europe.
The Nazis forced Jews to live in walled-in, segregated communities (ghettos) and then choked off the normal flow of trade to those communities - depriving them of the normal supports of life.
Comment: One thing that becomes very apparent when you leave the US news media bubble is that Americans do not receive real news on conditions in Palestine.
When Palestinians are portrayed in the US news media its exclusively as poverty cases, malcontents, and "terrorists."
The fact that Palestinians have a history and a culture, and that they were removed from their lands and orchards at gunpoint and herded into "refugee camps" is completely censored.
With dual US-Israeli citizen , son of a member of an Israeli group designated as terrorist by the British government, actingas Barrack Obama's right hand man, this moral blindness is unlikely to change.
Here's one of the stories you'll never see
on US TV.
Israeli Gaza Blockade, Rahm Emmanuel, ghettoization. US fascism, Brasscheck TV