A “Democracy” Attacks Democracy – Back To The Ol’ Media Blackout!

Originally posted at https://www.facebook.com/FilterThis on November 19, 2012

 

The Usual Israeli Propaganda:

“The Israeli military said the strikes targeted Hamas communications equipment on the buildings’ rooftops and accused the group of using journalists as ‘human shields’.” (CBS News)

 

Back Here, in the Land Called Reality…

“Around 15 reporters and photographers wearing vests with the word ‘TV Press’ were on the building’s roof at the time, covering the Israeli air strikes.” (Reporters Without Borders)

 

List of international news organizations reporting either wounded journalists and/or destroyed offices:

– Press TV (Iran)

– RT News (Russia)

– Al Aqsa TV (Palestine)

– SAFA TV (Palestine)

– Ma’an (Israel, Palestine)

– Al Quds TV (Lebanon)

– ARD (Germany)

– Sky News Arabia (UAE)

– Al Arabiya (Saudi Arabia)

– Reuters (US) (whoops!)

 

ON TOP OF THE USUAL Israeli laundry list of illegal acts, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, such as (but not limited to): the routine targeting and killing of civilians, constant, mass-kidnapping, political assassinations, the settlements and their ultra-violent residents, restriction of movement, restriction on goods, restriction of life-sustaining commodities – such as water, the use of chemical weapons – again, against civilians…

They’re back to targeting – intentionally – the international media.

The targeting and attacking of not only civilians – old people, women, and children – is heinous enough. Not that it’s any worse, but the targeting of the international press is a sordid, blasphemous, and hypocritical affair of its own. Both are war crimes, in gross violation of the Geneva Accord and other mandates of international law. Yet, the irony, i certainly hope, is not lost on you…

For the most powerful nation in the world – as well as the most powerful proxy in the Near East – to call themselves “democracies” is a most callous, offensive, and warped joke, to be sure.

But to add insult to injury and to go ’round the world speaking so loftily of this so-called “democracy”, to make such “democratic” demands of a free press upon other nations wishing to join the international markets and security organizations, and to chide nations such as China and Russia for their own lack of free speech – is a preposterous, farcical, and cynical notion. “Do as we say – but not as we do.” Or, as Noam likes to say:

“Democracy’s fine for us – just not for you.”

Honestly, what do you think US and Israeli leaders are thinking? That by attacking the international news outlets and their journalists that their war crimes will forever go unnoticed?

Then again – judging by most Americans’ handle on international news – this media blackout may, in truth, simply be unnecessary.

Most of you will believe whatever the fuck they tell you, anyway.

 

 

11/18/12: Reporters Without Borders Condemns Air Strikes On News Media In Gaza City:

http://en.rsf.org/palestinian-terr-rwb-condemns-air-strikes-on-news-18-11-2012,43690.html

 

11/18/12: Russian TV office destroyed in Israeli attack on Gaza. Press TV:

http://www.presstv.com/detail/2012/11/18/273063/russian-tv-office-hit-in-gaza-attack/

 

4/9/03: US bombs Al-Jazeera center in Baghdad. World Socialist Web Site:

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2003/apr2003/jaz-a09.shtml

 

11/13/01: Al-Jazeera Kabul offices hit in US raid. BBC:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/1653887.stm

Desperate Times, Indeed

Palestine diplomats receive a standing ovation upon their UNESCO induction. The result – Israeli withholding of internationally-mandated aid, suspension of millions of dollars in US funds to UNESCO, and frantically-paced settlement building. Incidentally, Israel itself was kicked out of UNESCO in 1974 for its razing of the Temple Mount – but was reinstated when the US threatened to withhold funding.  Photo: Thibault Camus, AP

 

Originally posted at https://www.facebook.com/FilterThis on November 16, 2012

 

From the New York Times, 11/14:

 

“Israel also says it fears that the Palestinians will use their enhanced status to try to gain entry to the International Criminal Court, where it could seek to prosecute Israel for its actions in those territories, like the building of Jewish settlements.”

 

i’ve written much about the war crimes and crimes against humanity on behalf of Israel, regarding Palestine. i believe some of you saw the recent slideshows. Those images are not rare; the internet is littered with them. Not that CNN, Fox 5, or Huff Post is at liberty to put them on display. i’m not going to visually twist that knife anymore, but i believe i have made that point loud and clear.

Regardless, i’m sure some of you still don’t quite get it. After all, when all you see in the obfuscating, cocksucking Big Media reports about Israeli-Palestinian affairs is how those terroristic, mongrel Arabs apparently  “started it”, it’s hard to blame you. This is the logical outcome of a wildly subverted press – in the so-called “democracies” of Israel and the United States.

Israel is not  a democracy, much like the corporate-fascist police state, the United States is not a democracy in any true sense – except that, to boot, they’re also a theocracy, with ultra-conservative, hate-preaching, rabid rabbis dictating policy to Netanyahu and his ultra-conservative Likud Party. Their government is beholden to a small, elite group of fundamentalist rabbis – much in the way the Iranian government is, to a degree, beholden to a small, privileged group of fundamentalist clerics.

Regarding the quoted material – trust me when i tell you, there exists a nearly infinite laundry list of other war crimes and crimes against humanity aside from the issue of the settlements.

 

The illegal settlements – and ultra-violent settlers – are merely the tip of the iceberg. If any rational, intelligent, honest, and informed person stops and thinks about it – the settlers in Israel are no different than the settlers of old in North America. No different whatsoever. They are racist, hateful, and violent. They steal the land and they have no compunction about it at all. When push comes to shove – which of course, only takes form of a handful of rock-throwing youth who are rightfully angry about these hideous crimes, they will kill – all in the name of the land they’ve  stolen. For further perspective, chew on this notion –

Even the United States has at the least, acknowledged their sordid and dark history regarding Native America, and have even shelled out billions of dollars in compensation. For such a hegemonic, despotic, and similarly criminal power, this says a lot. Israel can’t even take even the very first step of acknowledging their missteps, that the settlements are a gross violation of international law, or admit to the glaring discrepancy of “democracy” regarding their own Arab-Israeli citizens  who live among them within their own, illegal borders.

At most, Americans hear little peeps here and there about this “problem with the settlements”. They don’t hear about how every settler owns an automatic rifle, how every settlement has terror groups that disturbingly resemble the Ku Klux Klan of America’s own past, how these terrorist groups make no bones about the fact that they enjoy using the evicted Israeli-Arab citizens  as target practice, or exactly just how much land has been stolen from them, strong-arm style, with no remorse, no compensation, even the most meager compensation at that, and with no warning.

Regarding the upcoming bid, mull over this pathetic blip in the news – the one time – the one and only time that Israel even so much as contemplated halting the settlements came quite recently – they offered to halt construction if only the Palestinians would “come back to the (corrupt and loaded) bargaining table” – as opposed to continuing their push in the UN. Talk about a last-ditch effort of cowardly groveling:

“Oh, please, oh please, don’t go to the UN! We’ll talk! We can be sensible – now that our arm is being twisted! Come back! C’mon! Hey, look, we’ll even stop building more settlements if you just come back! Please? Hello? Hey, where’d you go?”

“COME BAAAACK!”

Just pathetic.

 

Palestinians aren’t happy with Israelis, but they don’t harbor quite the same hatred that Israelis hold for them. To be sure – many Palestinians are unhappy – yet, who could blame them, when every time a new peace offer is put on the table by the rest of the international community, every time that they actually hold a democratic election, every time that they try and advance their international standing and relations, every time that they simply refuse the underhanded and loaded “negotiations” on behalf of Israel and the US – they are attacked and invaded? If you look back upon the last decade and all of the other invasions of Palestine – 2000 – 2006 – 2009 – this is exactly what happened. Think back to the recent election that voted Hamas in power. This was simply not allowed – even though Hamas had, to the astonishment of many, vastly moderated their stance – even to the point that they officially stated that, if the will of the Palestinians was a two-state solution, they would accept it and support it. Palestine isn’t asking for every inch of land that they’ve lost over the years, they just want Gaza and the West Bank back. Over the past decade, the corner suicide bomber in the Tel Aviv marketplace has become a thing of the past. And again – the only few grad rocket attacks have only come upon the aforementioned reasons – in retaliation for brutal measures, kidnappings, and other criminal activity on behalf of the IDF. Strings of years have gone by with no rocket attacks – and this is verifiable even via the criminal UN itself, for they keep very detailed records – again, unlike Western media.

All you ever hear about on such matters from the obfuscating and dishonest Western media concern the (retaliatory) grad rocket attacks from Gaza. You never read the reports of overflight sonic booms, assassinations, choking of funds, denial of basic services, blockage of aid (not just with regard to flotillas), restriction of movement, massive kidnapping (and child abuse), indefinite detention, brutal oppression, and everyday humiliation – all carried out by the IDF, the Mossad, the Shin Bet, and the state of Israel.

The violence only flares up when Palestine seeks what is righteous; it only rears its ugly head when they seek peace and democracy – and are denied it; it only rocks the region when Palestine rightfully rejects hollow promises and loaded negotiations; it does not escalate upon the 10th IDF kidnapping, it escalates upon the 1,000th. Rocket attacks are hardly ever with impunity, bordering on “never”. They are (not to condone violence) the last resort, they are retaliatory, they are the final solution – when all efforts of peace have failed and when all attempts at rational discussion and genuine negotiation have met a likewise fate. Even more recently and to reinforce the point – do you remember when the attacks (on Gaza) really began to pick up? i’ll remind you: when the Emir of Qatar came and paid a visit. This was a huge diplomatic acknowledgement of legitimacy – something which is, again, completely unacceptable to Israel.

This is exactly the case today, same as it’s ever been. Palestine is seeking justice and Israel says “no”. Palestine is asking for a return to the pre-1967 borders – a request that the majority of the international community has deemed reasonable – and Israel says “no”. Palestine is asking for an end to the brutality and crimes against humanity – and Israel says “no”. Palestine is receiving more and more international recognition – and Israel says, “hell, no!”

What is not  at stake is Israel’s livelihood, despite the tired and stale objections of Netanyahu. This is what he and Barak, and Lieberman (Avigdor) are always crying about – much in the tradition of the American Congressman’s “waving of the bloody shirt”. Holocaust this, Holocaust that…all the while, and with the sickest and most perverted sense of irony that is humanly possible, Israel is perpetrating crimes against humanity much in the manner (yet obviously not in scale) that their own oppressors did over seventy years ago in the fairly distant past. The principals of Nuremburg are now null and void – especially to Israel. Why?

Fear. Plain and simple. Israel is more fearful than ever – yet not of “extinction”, annihilation, or destruction.

They are afraid of the very self-destruction  that their government is teetering on. As noted before, the “come back to Israel” advertisements seen on any Israeli online daily are farcical, pathetic, and in vein.

“Oh sure, let’s move to Israel so we can live under a tyranny worse than that of George W. Bush! Let’s move back so that we can live in the renewed fear of cross-border violence brought about by the illegal settlements! Let’s move back so that we can be lumped together with the oppression that the rest of the world has been slowly waking up to! Let’s move from our relatively  democratic Diaspora communities into a fundamentalist theocracy! Sure, let’s move from places where there is actually hope for a better tomorrow, no matter how dim – as opposed to a place where it is only guaranteed to get worse with each passing day! Ooh, yes, let’s move back to Israel so that we can run the risk of being engulfed in a regional war that our backwards, rigidly ideological, fundamentalist, and racist leader has flat-out insisted upon! Sounds great!”

 

The state of Israel is, again, as noted elsewhere, in decline, and as opposed to luring the Diaspora back, it has instead witnessed a minor exodus, for the aforementioned reasons. The dim hope for a real democracy has been extinguished. The educated class of technocrats are leaving – and taking their capital with them. Netanyahu is squarely to blame. The promise of a regional war involving nearly every single neighbor grows more promising with each passing hour. The international community is fed up with their brutal oppression of Gaza, and Diaspora Jews are no longer fooled by tired speeches about the Holocaust, false claims of terrorism, and silly diagrams of Super Mario-type bombs. Much like the United States’ bogus war on terror and their complicity in September Morning, Israelis are waking up. The world is waking up. The whole thing stinks, and everyone but Netanyahu, Barak, and Lieberman knows it.

More than likely, even if (most likely, when) Palestine is formally granted observer status in the UN, Israel will not be faced with terribly punitive measures. Well, not by the UN or the US, anyways. Yet –

What they will  face is a terrible and costly loss of credibility in the eyes of the world, certain deteriorating diplomatic relations with other nations, likely dwindling trade agreements, all as a result of this embarrassment. For even as the United States was roundly and flatly condemned by the World Court for its actions in Nicaragua (among others), Israel is not the United States. Even $3 billion of (military) aid from the US is not enough to save it, at least diplomatically. Even if (again, more likely, when) Netanyahu gives the green light to strike Iran – and a terrible regional war ensues – if the fiasco doesn’t end in mushroom clouds, instead of being dominant and on the offensive, Israel will be on the defensive again, in a very precarious state. And then  they’ll really have something to worry about, then they will  have good reason to be paranoid. Again, this runs parallel to the situation with Iran – it’s not that they’ll be in jeopardy of “being wiped off the map” (a gross mistranslation, topic for another Note), but they will have lost utter and complete hegemony, be it military – or political.

And that’s  what they really don’t want to let go of – complete and utter hegemony.

Just know that, at the end of the day, it didn’t have to be this way. If it weren’t for a heightened sense of paranoia, racism, and illegal, twisted, and hegemonic policies, this could have had a different ending. The leaders of Israel, nearly from the beginning (at least since the 1947-1948 “War For Independence”, which was really not  the conception of the state), have blundered every opportunity to prove to their neighbors that they meant nothing but goodwill, that they simply wanted to have a refuge of their own in the post-Nazi era, to be left alone, and to leave others alone in turn.

The great experiment has failed.

 

On a more personal note, the very few of you (if any) who actually listen to Israeli sources  on Israel (now there’s  a novel idea) will know that, as alluded to, cracks in the formerly bulletproof image of Israel and its image of innocently defending itself have appeared. To be more accurate – the cracks were yesterday. Today is fault lines. It’s one thing when it’s an intellectual (Noam Chomsky, Tony Judt, Richard Falk, et al, – all of whom, incidentally, are Jewish) who is relatively obscure in the public’s mind, is going against the grain and speaking out on Israeli atrocities. It’s another matzo ball altogether when this kind of talk is beginning to creep into mainstream journalism, showing up in, of all publications, even the New York Times.

The backlash of the international Diaspora has been noted by conservative Israeli leaders and Zionists in the Diaspora. Again, this is the kind of thing that truly keeps the Haredi rabbis and Likud politicians awake at night. For, as any seasoned observer of war and politics well knows, politics are merely war by less violent means, and all violent wars are political. When public support – much less, international support – is lost, there is a gross erosion of power. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Sadly, these “desperate times”, again, are completely self-inflicted. It didn’t have to be this way. Yet, this is the history, the walls are closing in, and Bibi, Ehud, and Avigdor all know it. They’re suffocating. They’re getting desperate, indeed.

One last point about the recent aggression and escalation: once again, to reiterate – all roads to Tehran lead through Damascus (check), Beirut (check), and Gaza (check).

Richard Falk on International Law and Israel’s Illegal Occupation and Settlements

 

It recently dawned on me that when discussing the illegality of Israel’s 45-year-long military occupation of Palestine, some of you probably have no clue as to which binding resolutions are being referring to, or even that there are any legally binding resolutions on the books at all. Perhaps some of you thought that like-minded analysts of the matzvah are simply making it up.

This neverending, brutal, military occupation of apartheid is illegal as hell. Just the same as are the political assassinations, withholding of international aid, targeting of civilians and journalists, use of chemical weaponry, undeclared nuclear weapons of mass destruction, routine kidnapping, torture, and indefinite detention…all illegal. The very few Hamas or Hezbollah “terrorist” attacks, in comparison – or more accurately, in contrast – don’t hold a candle – neither in scope nor duration – to these heinous crimes which are standard operating procedure of the Israeli government. The last time i checked, occasionally striking back at a bully in retaliation, so long as it is not disproportionate to the crime, is not  illegal under international laws of war or occupation. As for the real  “terrorists”, we can always look to our own definition of the word (United States Code, ch. 18, sec. 2331):

 

(1) the term “international terrorism” means activities that—

(A) involve violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State, or that would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or of any State;

(B) appear to be intended—

(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;

(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or

(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping

 

Two of the most well-known and flagrantly ignored articles that Israel is in flat and outright violation of – Geneva Convention Article 53, and UN Security Council Resolution 242. Commenting on Israel’s multiple policies of human rights infringement, former UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinian Human Rights and Princeton University’s Alfred G. Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law and Practice, Richard Falk:

 

Jean Allain: Considering the plight of the Palestinians under Israeli occupation, you stated that Israel’s legal arguments fall short of “satisfying the test of persuasiveness” and that Israeli settlements are “flagrant violations” of applicable law. Could you maybe work through first of all what are the fundamental precepts of humanitarian law that would hold in Palestine?

Richard Falk: Essentially, the conditions governing belligerent occupation, for one thing, would require that Israel accept the Geneva Convention’s framework. One of the cardinal provisions in that framework, Article 53, does not allow for population transfers, and that’s very fundamental to the nature of a legitimate argument. Also, the underlying problem of the occupation is that it was carried out in defiance of UN Security Council Resolution 242, which calls for withdrawal. The persistence and the refusal to heed those resolutions created an underlying condition of illegality to the occupation.

But the establishment of the settlements and armed settlements in an occupied territory, combined with the imposition of collective punishment of the Palestinian inhabitants, demolition of houses, prolonged detention, and torture under conditions of detention, almost acknowledgement of torture as a practice for eliciting information, creates a long litany of flagrant violations, both of international humanitarian and human rights law, based on the fundamental protection of human rights.

 

From an introduction:

“Aware of the type of criticism that would be leveled against those who examined Israeli acts from the perspective of those that they affect, and not from the statist model, Falk has embarked upon a number of studies related to Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In a 1988 symposium on Palestinian refugees, Falk pointed to the fact that Palestinians suffer a number of calamities, “most basic of all, of the hostile and brutally sustained occupation of their own homeland.” Falk considers in detail the extent of the violations in the occupied territories and concludes: “Israel is predominantly and flagrantly in violation of the most fundamental humanitarian standards of international law,” and that Israel’s legal arguments fall short of “satisfying tests of persuasiveness.” He argues that the number and prolonged nature of such violations goes beyond incurring the responsibility of the state for illegal acts and suggests “the appropriateness of supplementing the language of illegality with the language of criminality.” In this manner, he notes that those responsible for such policies in Gaza and the West Bank should be held criminally liable for their actions.

In a panel discussion held the same year, Falk turned his attention to Israeli settlements on the West Bank and concludes that they represent “a massive, continuing violation of the laws of war.” Falk considers briefly attempts by certain international lawyers to challenge the “overwhelming consensus of experts and governments” who support the view that the settlements “flagrantly” violate applicable international law. As he notes, such arguments “are so strained and artificial in character as to hardly be worth detailed refutation.” He then goes on to consider attempts by Israel to establish facts on the ground, disregarding the rights of the local inhabitants, and thus reinforcing “the impression of the impotence of international law.” Falk then considers the manner in which international law can play a role in the peace process. He notes that law may clarify the content of a “reasonable and fair solution” based on the right of the civilian population to “retain the social integrity of their territory once occupation is ended.” Further, he adds that international law requires the removal of the settlements, and thus “embodies an indispensable substantive precondition of an acceptable peace process.” He argues that while full compensation to the settlement activities may be used as a “bargaining chip” during negotiations, it should not stand in the way of the “most vital claim”: the end of the Israeli occupation.

Falk’s expertise on the occupied territories was recognized by the United Nations in 2000 when he was asked by the Commission on Human Rights to participate in an inquiry examining the violation of human rights law in the occupied territories as a result of the Al Asqa Intifada. In a section entitled “Clarifying the Context: Illusion and Reality,” the Commission pointed out that the “commitment to objectivity does not imply a posture of ‘neutrality’ with respect to addressing the merits of the controversies concerning alleged violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. Judgments can and must be made.” As such, the Commission, headed by John Dugard and comprising Falk and Kamal Hossain, concluded in March 2001 that it was “incontestable that the Israeli Security Forces (the Israeli Defense Forces and the Israeli Police Force) have used excessive and disproportionate force from the outset of the second intifada, whether their conduct is measured by: the standards of international humanitarian applicable to armed conflict, the codes of conduct applicable to policing in situations no amounting to armed conflict, or, by the open-fire regulations binding upon members of the Israeli Security Forces.” The report of the Commission highlights the Israeli policy of targeting specific individuals for political assassinations, the Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, and the deprivation of economic and social rights as a result of collective punishments.

When speaking in a personal capacity about the findings of the Commission, Falk said that “you only need to have a 20 percent open mind in order to reach these conclusions that are critical of Israel on the main issues of international law and human rights.” Falk notes that the frustration of the Palestinian people derives from two sources: the first is the oppression at the hands of the Israelis that permeates the totality of everyday life. The second is a response to a leadership that is perceived as having, for all intents and purposes, abandoned the Palestinian cause. While Israelis saw the 2000 Camp David Agreement as a major concession, the Palestinians, as Falk points out, saw it as “a bad bargain.” It failed in fundamental respects to deal with the creation of a viable sovereign Palestine, failed to deal with the refugee issue, failed to share rights to Jerusalem on an equal basis, failed to address the threat or irritant of persistent settlements.” At its most basic level, the first intifada appears to have been a manifestation of the popular will to fight oppression as well as a demand from its leadership that the struggle bear fruit.”

 

Richard Falk is the Albert G. Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law and Practice at Princeton University. He is also a New York-raised (assimilationist) Jew.

 

Allain, J (ed.) (2003). Unlocking the Middle East: the writings of Richard Falk. New York; Olive Branch Press