- Arthur Silber: The Necessary Violence of the Murderous National BullyTo think that Israel "lost" reveals a significant failure to understand the operations of the State, and of a particular kind of State. Just as the U.S. drive to American global hegemony means that the U.S. government intends to have its way no matter what, Israel intends to have its way within the smaller territory which it claims for its own dominance. From this perspective, it can be seen that the exercise of power in the manner just demonstrated by Israel is not a strategy toward a further end: the exercise of power is the end. Terrorizing an entire captive population, making large numbers of people (including many entirely innocent people) believe they have no choice but to obey, and visiting destruction and death upon them if they do not do exactly as they are told -- all of that is the purpose. To summarize this point, which applies to the governments of both the United States and Israel:The fundamental lesson is unmistakable, and unmistakably evil in intent and execution (a word made horribly appropriate in more than one sense by our government's actions): you will do exactly as we say -- or else.Israel did all this -- and no one stopped it. When Israel does it again, it is almost certain that no one, certainly not the U.S. government, will stop it then, either. That, I submit, is precisely what victory looks like.
- As the Arabs see the Jews, His Majesty King Abdullah, The American Magazine, November, 1947Our case is quite simple: For nearly 2,000 years Palestine has been almost 100 per cent Arab. It is still preponderantly Arab today, in spite of enormous Jewish immigration. But if this immigration continues we shall soon be outnumbered—a minority in our home.
. . .
Our position is so simple and natural that we are amazed it should even be questioned. It is exactly the same position you in America take in regard to the unhappy European Jews. You are sorry for them, but you do not want them in your country.
We do not want them in ours, either. Not because they are Jews, but because they are foreigners. We would not want hundreds of thousands of foreigners in our country, be they Englishmen or Norwegians or Brazilians or whatever.
. . .
Such fragmentary records as we have indicate that the Jews were wandering nomads from Iraq who moved to southern Turkey, came south to Palestine, stayed there a short time, and then passed to Egypt, where they remained about 400 years. About 1300 BC (according to your calendar) they left Egypt and gradually conquered most—but not all—of the inhabitants of Palestine.
. . .
Only once, during the empire of David and Solomon, did the Jews ever control nearly—but not all—the land which is today Palestine. This empire lasted only 70 years, ending in 926 BC. Only 250 years later the Kingdom of Judah had shrunk to a small province around Jerusalem, barely a quarter of modern Palestine.
In 63 BC the Jews were conquered by Roman Pompey, and never again had even the vestige of independence. The Roman Emperor Hadrian finally wiped them out about 135 AD. He utterly destroyed Jerusalem, rebuilt under another name, and for hundreds of years no Jew was permitted to enter it. A handful of Jews remained in Palestine but the vast majority were killed or scattered to other countries, in the Diaspora, or the Great Dispersion. From that time Palestine ceased to be a Jewish country, in any conceivable sense.
This was 1,815 years ago, and yet the Jews solemnly pretend they still own Palestine! If such fantasy were allowed, how the map of the world would dance about!
- LA Times: Israel declares unilateral cease-fire in Gaza StripIsrael faced growing international pressure to halt the incessant airstrikes and thundering ground offensive, which by today had killed more than 1,200 Palestinians, a third of them children, according to Gaza Health Ministry figures that the United Nations deemed credible. At least 13 Israelis -- 10 soldiers and three civilians -- have died.
Officials in Israel also said they wanted to stop the fighting before Barack Obama is sworn in as president Tuesday to avoid clouding a historic day for the Jewish state's main ally and creating friction with the new U.S. administration.
. . .
The Jewish state has imposed a blockade on Gaza since Hamas won Palestinian legislative elections in 2006 but continued to preach Israel's destruction. Hamas took exclusive control of the territory in June 2007, ending a power-sharing government with the rival Fatah faction, which now controls only the West Bank.
- Chris Floyd: Sham, Shock and Awe: False Peace Process Bears Bitter Fruit in GazaAlthough Siegman does not cast it in these terms, what we have been witnessing in Palestine over the past several decades is a remarkable echo of the dispossession and destruction of the Native American nations by the United States. There are myriad differences, of course, but the broad outline is basically the same: a people denigrated as primitive and inferior are being stripped of their land, driven into poverty and desperation, and killed in large numbers by another people who believe that their "manifest destiny" and moral superiority justify violent conquest and repression. Any violent resistance to the conquest is treated as barbaric terrorism -- and another justification for yet more repression, for even harsher tactics to grind down the conquered, secure "the frontier" and make it safe for "settlers" and the "civilization" they bring.
- Chris Floyd: The End of Hypocrisy: Crime's Gleeful Abandon in GazaBut now the masks are falling away -- or rather, they are being flung aside with gleeful abandon. America's top officials -- including the president and vice president -- openly admit to ordering torture...and they are praised for it, even held up as shining examples for future leaders to follow. Vast swathes of the corporate media labor mightily to justify the ancient evil of the water torture, and other "high-end interrogation techniques," to use the diabolical terminology of CIA Director Michael Hayden. The escalation of the on-going American war crime in Iraq -- the so-called "surge" -- is lauded as a "success beyond our wildest dreams" by the new, "progressive" manager of the empire, Barack Obama. (Imagine calling an action that allowed a known serial killer to extend his spree for years into the future a wild, dreamy "success.") Citizens of the "liberal democracy" in Israel -- the "light unto the nations" -- gather in safety and comfort on open hillsides to watch, cheering, as bombs fall on the trapped and helpless civilians penned in the Gaza ghetto. These macabre celebrations are echoed across America, where bitter partisan foes put aside their differences to come together in their unstinting, uncritical support of child murder across the sea.
- Glenn Greenwald: Tom Friedman offers a perfect definition of "terrorism"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.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:
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?”
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."
- Via Glenn Greenwald:
- Conyers Explains Why He Didn't Push ImpeachmentI recall suggesting that Conyers might have "sold-out", after which most of his staff refused to speak to me. I'm sure someone did call him a traitor, and I can't imagine what's worse than that. Perhaps someone said that he was complicit in the death of 1.3 million Iraqis. That's pretty bad. But that charge would not be baseless. We had a situation in which a majority of Americans wanted impeachment, a majority of Conyers' constituents (including his wife) wanted impeachment, 100 cities passed resolutions demanding impeachment, impeachment resolutions were introduced and referred to the House Judiciary Committee, the chairman of that committee believed the offenses were "among the most impeachable in our nation's history," the charges included the launching of the war on Iraq, and the chairman refused to act. It's possible that his actions would have failed in the House or the Senate. It's possible that his actions, whether failing or succeeding, would have had some other negative consequence. But the fact was that he refused to try, and as many of us read the Constitution that was a failure of duty.
- Chris Floyd: Head Cases: History's Clear Answer to the Torture DebateWhen the question of what to do about the torturers was put to Barack Obama on TV this week -- after it was voted the single most important question that viewers wanted the president-elect to answer -- he responded with his usual mealy-mouthed blather about a preference for "moving on" and "looking to the future not the past," etc., etc., while throwing in a couple of non-commital pieties about the rule of law and so on. He even refused to say whether he would direct his attorney general to make a specific inquiry into allegations of torture -- by anyone in government, much less top officials. Again, it seems clear that if it is at all possible, Obama will bury the issue several fathoms deep -- just as Bill Clinton thwarted and killed off several investigations into high crimes by the first George Bush and his crew.
In any case, the "debate" on this question in the rarefied climes of Establishment goes on, even as the principals -- George W. Bush and Dick Cheney -- openly confess their crimes in a series of self-justifying "interviews" with pathetic, bootlicking toadies; i.e., the nation's "media elite." Yet on the same day that Obama was waffling about "moving forward" from that little spot of bother about interrogations, Bush was also on national television, openly confessing to at least one clear-cut, indisputable war crime -- again, a capital crime under U.S. law: the torture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged "mastermind" of the 9/11 attacks. Bush said he authorized the use of a "list of tools" for interrogating KSM -- tools which included waterboarding, as Dick Cheney confirmed in yet another television confession.
Perhaps the strangest thing about the torture "debate" is that there is any debate at all over "what to do" about those who ordered the crimes to be committed. Scott Horton at Harper's explains what hundreds of years of Anglo-American jurisprudence clearly says about heads of state who order and countenance torture: they should be tried, and if convicted, executed. In fact, the verdict passed on the last head of state in this legal tradition who was found guilty of torture was that "he be taken to a place of execution, where his head was to be severed from his body by an axe."