Jun 032013
 

Global Research
Cem Ertür

  • Turkey’s False-flag Operation against Syria Backfires: The Reyhanli bombing attacks in a larger contex
The Syria-Iran-Turkey Triangle: A New War Scenario in the Middle East

“Syria is worrying that it will be attacked by Turkey from above and by Israel from below. It is worrying that it will be squeezed between us like a sandwich.”   [Israeli President Ezer Weizman (1993-2000), interview with Guneri Civaoglu,Caesarea, Israel, 11 June 1996]  [1]

“Although Turkey has never taken part in a war alongside us, it is a positive factor for Israel that Syria has an enemy on its northern frontiers. Syria will never attack Turkey, but it cannot exclude the reverse.”  [Former Israeli Defence Minister Uri Or (1995-1996), interview with Alain Gresh, Tel Aviv, October 1997]  [2]

INTRODUCTION

When the U.S. and its allies launched the covert war on Syria in 2011, they were expecting that either Syria’s political establishment would collapse within a short duration or they would find a way to ignite an open war. As Syria’s leaders and people proved to be exceptionally resilient, increasingly more brutal means have been deployed to tear the country apart. Being at the forefront of this covert war in every respect, Turkey has been thoroughly complicit in monumental war crimes committed against the neighbouring people of Syria.

Turkey’s phony peace with its neighbours Syria (since December 2004) and Iran (since November 2008) came to an abrupt end in May 2011, when its central role in NATO’s covert war against Syria became evident. [3] 

As for Turkey’s phony conflict with Israel, which began with the May 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla massacre, has also been fully exposed when Turkey overtly supported Israel’s blatant acts of military aggression against Syria in 2013. The repercussions of the May 2013 Reyhanli false-flag bombing attacks near Turkey’s border with Syria is the latest evidence of a deep crisis of legitimacy for the United States, Britain, Israel and Turkey; the four countries whose alliance has been dominating the political scene in the Middle East and beyond since 1990.

ISRAELI AIR ATTACKS ON DAMASCUS

As NATO’s international mercenary forces from 29 different countries started suffering heavy defeats against the Syrian Army, Israeli Air Forces came to their rescue by launching two separate air strikes in Syria, both of which were blatant acts of war.  [4]  [5]

After the first Israeli air attack on Damascus on January 30th, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu made the following remarks  [6]:

“Why did the Syrian Army, which has been launching attacks on its own innocent civilian population for the past 22 months with jets from the air and with tanks and artillery fire from the ground, not retaliate against this Israeli operation?  Why doesAssadnoteven throw a pebble whenthe Israeli jets fly over his palace and violate the dignity of his country? Why is Assad, who gives an order to fire Scud [missiles] at Aleppo, not doing anything against Israel? Is there a secret pact between Assad and Israel? […]  The Assad administration knows only to abuse. Why doesn’t he use against Israel, [a country] which they have regarded as an enemy since its foundation, the same force that he uses against defenceless women ? ”  [7]

On May 5th, UN human rights investigator Carla del Ponte announced the findings of the United Nations independent commission of inquiry on Syria:

“According to the testimonies we have gathered, the rebels have used chemical weapons [in Syria], making use of sarin gas.”  [8]

The same day, Israel launched another air attack on Damascus. [9]  In response to this second act of war by Israel against Syria, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, lashed out at Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad for war crimes that were actually perpetrated by NATO’s international mercenary forces in Syria  [10] :

“The scenes in [the Syrian town of] Baniyas are as tragic as those in Karbala [in AD 680]  and the murderers are at least as despicable as Yazid […] [who killed] our beloved Prophet’s beautiful grandchildren Hassan and Hussein […]

Those organisations which are lending support to the illegal regime of Syria, those countries which are backing the illegal regime of Syria, the United Nations and the [U.N.] Security Council in particular, will not be able to exonerate themselves of this sin. Those who ignore this massacre, this inhumane scene in the name of sectarian solidarity, in the name of [political] conjuncture or in the name of international [political] interests will not be able to exonerate themselves of this major sin. […]

I need to point this out as well: Israel’s air attack on Damascus is certainly not acceptable either. No reason, no excuse can justify this operation. Such attacks serve as trump cards, golden opportunities offered to the Syrian regime. In fact, by using Israel’s attack as an excuse, Assad engages in an effort to cover up the genocide in Baniyas. [However] , even this Israeli operation will not be able to save Assad who does not shed a drop of sweat, let alone a drop of blood for the Golan [Heights] .”  [11]

Four days after the second Israeli air attack on Damascus and United Nations’ statement on the mercenaries’ use of chemical weapons in Syria, Mr Erdogan gave an interview to the U.S. television channel NBC, where he said that if the U.S. were to launch a ground military invasion of Syria, then Turkey would support it. [12]  However, as this statement amounted to a de facto declaration of war on Syria, it has been instantly censored by the NBC and the Prime Minister’s office issued a press release which denied it. [13]  Here are excerpts from the edited version of this interview:

“ERDOGAN:  It is clear that the regime has used chemical weapons and missiles. They used about 200 missiles, according to our intelligence. There are different sizes missiles. And then there are deaths caused by these missiles. And there are burns, you know, serious burns and chemical reactions. And there are patients who are brought to our hospitals who were wounded by these chemical weapons. You can see who is affected by chemical missiles by their burns.  [14]

NBC:  So has President Assad crossed President Obama’s red line?

ERDOGAN:  A long time ago. My question is, the United Nations, U.N. Security Council, are you doing what you are supposed to do? Why do you exist in the first place? What is your job? I mean, is there a deadline, like they are not going to move until 1 million people are killed?

NBC:  Will you encourage President Obama to get involved directly in the situation in Syria?

ERDOGAN:  We want the United States to assume more responsibilities and take further steps.

NBC:  What is the just punishment for Mr. Assad, in your view? What is your message to him today, at this moment in history?

ERDOGAN:  Well, I am saying that he should leave Syria immediately. Sooner or later, the opposition are going to get him. And I hope that his end does not be like Qadhafi’s.”  [15]

During the interview, Mr Erdogan also said that he plans to share the evidence of chemical weapons use in Syria with the U.S. President Barack Obama. [16]  However, no evidence at all was presented by either Mr Erdogan or Mr Obama after their meeting in the following week on May 16th.  [17]

The same day, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Davutoglu reiterated the last Anglo-American propaganda argument before the launch of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, by making a reference to the Iraqi Army’s mass murder of Iraqi Kurds in Halabja in 1988  [18] :

“From now on, we will be carrying out these tests [for chemical weapon wounds] on every injured person coming [from Syria] so that no one could dare to commit a crime against humanity, like the one in Halabja, by using [chemical weapons] in Syria.” [19]

The same day, the Associated Press reported the ongoing preparations at Turkey’s border with Syria:

 “Turkey had stationed a team of eight experts to screen injured Syrians at the frontier. They were manning a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense vehicle deployed at the main Cilvegozu border gate with Syria.”  [20]

Again on the same day, a news report entitled “Forensic medicine establishment proves that al-Assad has used chemical weapons” was published by Turkish newspaper Star:

“It has been definitely determined that [Syrian President Bashar] Al-Asad has used chemical weapons against his own people. The Public Health Institute and the Ankara Forensic Medicine Establishment have found the substance “Ricin”, which in the world is found only in Iran, China, and Russia, in 13 wounded individuals coming from Syria. […]  It is stated that Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan will place the dossier before [US President Barack] Obama on his US visit [on May 16] .The affair emerged when 13 wounded Syrian oppositionists were brought on 29 April from Syria to the Reyhanli State Hospital. ”  [21]

All this evokes the war propaganda back in February 1998, when the Bill Clinton administration made an unsuccessful attempt to instigate a war with Iraq. According to an AFP report;

“Turkish authorities have sent 60,000 gas masks to its southeast regions bordering Iraq to protect civilians from possible chemical and biological attacks by Iraqi forces, [Turkish] dailies Sabah and Yeni Yuzyil said Friday. The masks, sent by civil defence chiefs, are destined for civil servants working in the region bordering Iraq […] . Southeast Turkey borders Iraq and the region is thought to be in a potentially dangerous position in case Iraq decides to use the chemical and biological weapons it is suspected of having.”  [22]

It is worth also mentioning two allegations made against Turkish Armed Forces’ use of chemical weapons in the past:

In August 2011, five members of parliament from Germany’s Die Linke party held a press conference to condemn the appointment of the current head of Turkish Armed Forces Necdet Ozel:

  “When [Necdet] Ozel was the General Commander of the Gendarmerie, he was not only responsible for the death, torture and violence in the Kurdish region [of Turkey] . In 1999, he ordered the use of chemical weapons against Kurdish guerrillas [near the Ballikaya Village in Silopi] .”  [23]

In October 2011, two months after Necdet Ozel’s appointment, 37 Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) guerrillas were killed in the Kazan Valley of the Hakkari province during an operation by the Turkish Armed Forces. The following month, a European delegation visited the Kazan Valley to investigate the allegations of chemical weapons use during this operation.  [24]

As the earlier quote from Turkish newspaper Star shows, the Reyhanli State Hospital near Turkey’s border with Syria was at the forefront of the chemical weapons propaganda over the April 29 incident. Two days after this press report, the same hospital was inundated with the victims of a far more devastating false-flag operation.

OFFICIAL REACTIONS TO THE REYHANLI BOMBING ATTACKS

On May 11, international media agencies reported that twin car bombs have killed at least 43 people and injured at least 100 in the Turkish town of Reyhanli, near the Syrian border. [25]  Shortly after the bombing attacks, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc pointed the finger at Syria:

“Our thoughts are that their Mukhabarat [Syria’s intelligence agency] and armed organisations are the usual suspects in planning and the carrying out of such devilish plans.”  [25]

Hours after the Reyhanli bombing attacks, the head of global military alliance NATO Anders Fogh Rasmussen issued a press release:

“I express full solidarity with the people and the authorities of our Ally Turkey.”  [26]

The following day, Turkey’s Interior Minister Muammer Guler held a press conference:

“For the time being there is no evidence suggesting that al-Qaida was involved.”  [27]

This is a rather interesting comment considering that until 2012, when al-Qaeda’s role in NATO’s covert war on Syria became fully exposed, Turkey’s political authorities were quite at ease in holding Al Qaeda responsible for any atrocity committed in Turkey or abroad. [E]  That same day, Prime Minister Erdogan also accused Syria:

“These attacks betray the intention of a country on fire which is trying to drag Turkey into the same fire. These attacks, to put it bluntly, are the bloody Baath regime’s attempt to provide an opportunity to its collaborators. […] These attacks aim to provoke those who live together in peace, in serenity, in fraternity, particularly in Hatay. Most importantly, these attacks target Turkey which has resolved its terror issue, reinforced fraternity, put an end to mothers’ tears. […]

Even if Turkey were to remain silent, stand idly by in the face of the tragedy in Syria, these traps would still have been set up, Turkey would still have been targeted. Those who criticise Turkey’s policy on Syria in the wake of these attacks with utter brazenness, a sheer lack of common sense and pure opportunism exhibit ignorance and an absence of policy. These attacks do not target our policy on Syria, they target our fraternity, our stability, our growth.”  [28]

The next day, Mr Erdogan spoke even more categorically:

“This incident is definitely connected to the [Syrian] regime. The [Syrian] regime is behind this incident. That is evident.”  [29]

Syria’s Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi responded to Mr Erdogan’s accusations in full force:

“The real terrorist is the government of Turkey under the leadership of Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It opened Turkey’s border with Syria to the terrorists. [Turkey] became a hub of international jihadi terrorism. It unleashed these terrorists on Turkish people’s houses and fields. It hosted terrorists coming from all over the world. Without any consideration, it provided them with all types of arms, bombs and explosive devices so that they could massacre people of Syria. Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his interior and foreign ministers bear a political and moral responsibility towards all the people of the world in general and the people of Syria and their own people in particular. […]

The sole responsibility for the bombing attacks in Reyhanli lies with Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. These [attacks] couldn’t have been perpetrated by Syria. Despite all the things they did to the people and army of Syria for such a long time, neither our decency, nor our ethics, nor our policy would allow us to do something like this. […]

No one has got the right to accuse others. Shortly after [the attacks] , Turkey’s Interior Minister [Muammer Guler] has said that they suspect that [the attacks] were connected to Syria. To put it plainly, the reason why he came up with such quick accusations without any evidence at hand, is to fabricate the evidence they had in mind. These [attacks] were directly perpetrated by Erdogan and the AKP. They are the ones who, through their intelligence and security forces, supplied Al Qaida with chemical and got them to penetrate all the way to Aleppo. They are the ones who transported terrorists, arms and deaths through their planes. Erdogan himself and his party want to destroy Syria. What occurred in Reyhanli was the ambition of destroying Syria itself. Whoever wants death and massacre is the one who carried out this massacre in Turkey.

When bombs explode in Turkey, we know why these bombs have been made to explode. The whole world knows why the bombs are exploding in Syria. But why in Turkey and why now? And why particularly before Erdogan’s meeting with Obama? Erdogan wants to get the United States into action. And then he will say ‘I am a member of NATO, Syria is attacking me’. In fact, in his latest statement, he said ‘we are capable of making war with Syria’. […]  Turkey’s Foreign Minister [Davutoglu] said yesterday that Turkey is strong enough to defend itself. Against whom is it going to defend itself ? Who actually poses a threat to Turkey ? ”  [30]

Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah’s statement was equally straightforward:

“These terrorist bombings came as part of a series of similar crimes that affect innocent people in several Arab and Islamic countries, which can only be made [by] criminal hands. It also bore the hallmarks of international intelligence agencies, aimed at destabilizing and creating discord and unrest in these countries.”  [31]

Two weeks later, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag targeted Hezbollah for its political and military support to Syria  [32] :

“ [Hezbollah] says that it stands by Assad. […]  From where does it draw its strength?  Having sided with those who unleash death upon their fellow Muslim brothers […] , [Hezbollah] has no right to draw strength from Islam and the Quran. The source of their strength would actually be the Satan who wants to pit Muslims against each other, who wants to have them slaughter each other. […]  Hezbollah should change its name to ‘Hezbol-satan’ [i.e. Party of Satan] . ”  [33]

DESTROYING THE EVIDENCE

On the day of the incident, which was a Saturday, the Government managed to get the local court of Reyhanli to issue a blanket censorship ban regarding the broadcasting of news about the bombing attacks in Reyhanli. According to this ban, only statements made by senior authorities and police reports would be allowed to be reported on the media and the internet:

 “Within the framework of the investigation concerning the blasts in Reyhanli district on 11.05.2013 […] , broadcasting and displaying information concerning the site of the incident, concerning the dead and injured casualties of the incident and concerning the content of the incident on all types of audio-visual, written and visual media and the internet is banned according to Article 153 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.”  [34]

Actually, this blanket ban was mainly targeting the information flow through the Internet considering that Turkey’s mainstream media have been fully complicit in the Government’s constant war propaganda against Syria from April 2011. Nevertheless, the ban on the Internet proved to be somewhat ineffective in the face of an overwhelming sense of indignation towards to Government across the country.

Medical staff in the Hatay province, where Reyhanli is located, was ordered to “limit the death toll to 50”. Local authorities said they ‘were instructed not to give any statement to the press’. [35]  Journalist Ferdi Ozmen revealed the actual figure by posting the number of deaths in seven local hospitals with a total of 177. He has been arrested for defying the blanket ban.  [36]

Republican People’s Party (CHP) member of parliament Mevlut Dudu explains how the evidence was instantly destroyed after the incident:

“The police officers refused us entry to the site of the attacks on the grounds that they are collecting evidence. Nevertheless, we did [manage] to enter and saw that no evidence was being collected. Quite on the contrary, they were destroying the evidence using heavy construction equipment.”  [37]

It transpired that none of the 73 closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in the town recorded the bombing attacks. Due to a “system error”, they had been out of order four days before the incident. Most of these 73 CCTV cameras were directly viewing the points where the bombing attacks occurred.  [38]

CHP member of parliament Aytug Atici revealed that electricity was cut off just five minutes before the bombing attacks. [39]  In fact, according to activist Hamide Yigit, cutting off the electricity was a strategy used by Turkey’s authorities in smuggling international mercenaries into Syria:

“Electricity is cut off along the [Harbiye-Yayladagi] itinerary; everywhere, including streets and roads, becomes totally dark. Meanwhile, vehicles carrying military ammunition and armed groups to the border pass by. Once their passage is over, the electricity resumes. The local residents, who are prevented from witnessing this transport, are feeling deeply restless about it.”  [40]

On the day of the bombing attacks, the militants who wanted to cross from Syria into Turkey were guided towards the Cilvegozu border gate instead of their habitual point of entry in Reyhanli.  [41]

A currently censored video which was posted on Youtube shortly after the bombing attacks was recorded from an angle which oversaw the site of the attacks. Arabic speaking “Free Syrian Army” militants are seen to be recording the blasts in jubilation, shouting “Allah-u Akbar” (God is great) and mentioning the location of the blasts and the date.  [42]

Only two days before the bombing attacks in Reyhanli, ABC reported “a secret visit” by the former U.S. Ambassador to Syria (January-October 2011) Robert Ford, who is the mastermind of NATO’s covert war on Syria  [43] :

“A U.S. official confirmed [Robert] Ford’s secret visit, which occurred along the Turkey-Syria border. He briefly crossed into Syria to meet with opposition leaders before returning to Turkey.”  [44]

In fact, there is a long history of false-flag incidents occurring in Turkey ahead of almost every top level meeting between Turkey’s politicians and their U.S. or Israeli counterparts.

Of all the false-flag operations in Turkey, by far the most devastating was the bombing attacks on 15th and 20th November 2003, which targeted two synagogues, HSBC bank headquarters and the British Embassy in Istanbul, killing 57 people and wounding another 700. The attacks coincided with U.S. President George Bush’s meting with the British Prime Minister Tony Blair in London.  [45]

Baki Yigit was on of the five people who were sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment in 2007 for their roles in these attacks. He was released from prison in 2010 and died in 2012 whilst fighting in Aleppo among the ranks of the Free Syrian Army.  [46]

Furthermore, foreign intelligence agencies CIA (U.S.), Mossad (Israel), MI6 (Britain) and BND (Germany) have a very prominent presence across Turkey’s border region with Syria. Located some 100 km from Turkey’s border with Syria, NATO’s Incirlik Airbase is being used as the command centre for the covert war on Syria.  [47]

PROTESTS AGAINST THE ERDOGAN GOVERNMENT

Immediately after the bombing attacks, spontaneous protests broke out in Reyhanli and in various parts of the Hatay province. Incensed protesters were chanting “Erdogan resign” Turkey’s military deployed a huge number of air and ground military reinforcements to Hatay and Reyhanli in order to prevent spontaneous protests in Reyhanli and other parts of the Hatay province turning into a full-scale uprising.  [48]  [49]

Even the Reyhanli State Hospital was under siege, where riot police, plain-clothes police officers and an armoured police vehicle were deployed.  [50]

Nine months before the bombing attacks in Reyhanli, activist Hamide Yigit describes the state of mind of the people in the Hatay province where Reyhanli is located:

“The mendacity of the media in ‘marketing’ war to the people is seen more clearly from Hatay. From the very first day the incidents started in Syria, they have been aware and observe that the media is reporting lies. The people of Hatay have relatives in every city in Syria, they speak its language [i.e. Arabic] , watch its broadcasts, read its press, and even if none of that is the case, can inform themselves about any incident at the convenience of a phone call, they are furious towards the media for its distortion of the facts to such an extent. […]

For the past seventeenth months, the people [of Hatay] have been living in fear of [the possibility that] a war, for which they can find no reason, might explode on their doorstep. Hatay’s economy is stagnating, its revenues have stopped, its bread has shrunk. Hatay has enjoyed harmonious fraternity among its diverse population up until the present day. However, [the Government] is trying to disrupt this by pitting groups against each other, by emphasising differences of identity [Turkish, Arabic, Kurdish, etc.] , sectarian differences [Sunni, Alevi, etc.] . The people of Hatay are constantly hearing news of deaths and injuries from relatives [in Syria] and live in constant fear of hearing such news.

The worst of this is that Hatay is being used as the command centre for attacks launched on their brotherly, blood-related people of Syria and hosting those who are firing bullets at them… With the anger and sorrow this, what is being spoken on every street and household [in Hatay] is the following: ‘We refuse to endure this disgrace any longer. We don’t want to keep waiting for this catastrophe which is advancing rapidly and looms closer every day. The refugee camps should be immediately removed from Hatay and re-arranged in a way to prioritise a humanitarian function. The flow of weapons and ‘terrorists’ across the border [with Syria] must stop! ” [40]

In 2013, tensions between the local population of the Hatay province and the international mercenary forces have reached a peak. Numerous riots broke out between the Syrian refugees and Turkey’s security forces in the refugee camps in Hatay and other southern provinces of Turkey. [51]  [52]  According to the Government’s own figures, a total of 114,000 Syrian refugees in Turkey have returned to Syria.  [53]

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Feb 172013
 

Al Arabiya News

The photograph shows a group of men bearing the bodies of two-year-old Suhaib Hijazi and her brother Muhammad, 3, as they were taken to the mosque for a burial ceremony. (Reuters)

The photograph shows a group of men bearing the bodies of two-year-old Suhaib Hijazi and her brother
Muhammad, 3, as they were taken to the mosque for a burial ceremony. (Reuters)

By Reuters
Amsterdam

A photograph of two dead children, who were killed in an Israeli missile strike on Gaza City, won the top World Press Photo prize on Friday for Swedish photographer Paul Hansen of newspaper Dagens Nyheter.

The photograph shows a group of men bearing the bodies of two-year-old Suhaib Hijazi and her brother Muhammad, 3, as they were taken to the mosque for a burial ceremony.

“The strength of the picture lies in the way it contrasts the anger and sorrow of the adults with the innocence of the children,” Mayu Mohanna, a member of the jury, said of the photograph which was named World Press Photo of the Year 2012.

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Dec 032012
 

WideShut

 
Britain and other allies are considering recalling diplomats from Tel Aviv, after Israel announced defiant plans to build 3,000 new settler homes on occupied Palestinian land. Like a spoiled child, mad-man Netanyahu made the decision in retaliation for Palestine being granted a measly non-member status at the UN last week.

Daniel Taub, Israel’s ambassador to Britain, was “formally summoned” to the Foreign Office this morning to discuss the best way to proceed with Alistair Burt, the minister for the Middle East. If Britain’s envoy is pulled out of Israel it will be an unprecedented step, and a sign that even Zionist supporters are starting to think Netanyahu’s regime is going too far.

Mr Burt said a decision about whether Matthew Gould, the British ambassador to Israel would be withdrawn, can only be made following a round of talks: “Any decision about any other measures the UK might take will depend on the outcome of our discussions with the Israeli government and with international partners including the US and European Union.”[1]

A Foreign Office spokesman confirmed that Britain considers Israel’s decision to further breach international law deplorable. The move is being considered an act of defiance, especially after Britain sided with Israel over the recent escalation in Gaza.
Even the US are having second thoughts about supporting Israel’s crimes. White House spokesman Tommy Vietor spoke of America’s “opposition to the settlements and East Jerusalem construction and announcements.”[2]

Netanyahu plans to erect 3,000 new Jewish homes in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, a flagrant breach of the Geneva Convention and international laws recognised by the UN, European Union and Arab League. If the building goes ahead it will effectively isolate East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank and divide northern and southern halves of the region. Strategically this will segment the Palestinian people, further extinguishing any hope they have for an autonomous state.

Furthermore Israel announced on Sunday that it would withhold £75 million in tax revenues from the Palestinian Authority, for no other reason than because they can. The Israeli finance minister, Yuval Steinitz, told Israel Radio: “I do not intend this month to transfer the funds to the Palestinians. In the coming period I intend to use the money to deduct debts the PA owes to the Israel Electric Corporation and other bodies.”[3]

Despite the public show of opposition, whether Israel will actually face repercussions is unlikely. The international community acknowledge that Israel are legally in the wrong for many of their actions, but the UN have never implemented measures to expel Jewish settlers nor prevent further encroachment of Palestinian land. Unlike peace-keeping missions and humanitarian interventions that support the expansion of the Anglo-American empire, “liberating” the Palestinians is not considered beneficial. So while Palestine is technically considered the victim, nobody actually bothers to do anything about it.

This hypocrisy has never been more apparent than with the voting of Palestine’s non-member status itself. The illustrious position grants Palestine the right to sit and watch what happens in the UN but not to actually take part, while Israel and it’s sister America bully the rest of the world.

In other words the international body that agrees Israel is breaking the law and Palestine are a victim, recognize the criminal as a member but not the victim. And the criminal leader Netanyahu has vowed to further break the law because the victim has been granted to the right to sit and watch from the sidelines.

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said Palestine came to the UN “because it believes in peace and because its people, as proven in past days, are in desperate need of it.”[4]

Unless the UN act on their condemnation of Israel, the Palestinians will not get that peace.

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Nov 282012
 
Interview with Gregory Harms

Global Research
Kourosh Ziabari

israelAmerican journalist and scholar Gregory Harms believes that the recent 8-day Israeli war on the Gaza Strip might have been waged to distract public attention from the internal socioeconomic crises and problems the Israeli regime faces, especially ahead of the January 2013 legislative elections. He believes that launching airstrikes on Gaza may serve to give Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud party a secure vote in the upcoming elections.

“[P]ushing the Gaza button focuses Israelis on matters of security. The population in Israel is highly manipulated and taught to be fearful… Israel’s isolation is bad for the country and its people; it cultivates a very unhealthy national psychology. As a result – and quite similar to Americans – the public is easily turned around. When things are too calm, the people begin focusing on domestic issues and the economy. This has been a serious issue in Israel, with massive protesting occurring over housing costs and income disparity. Israel’s economy is better than most, but there are serious grievances, and when the Arab Spring took hold of North Africa and the Arab Middle East, its effects were felt in Jerusalem, Haifa, and Tel Aviv,” he said in a recent interview with me after the announcement of ceasefire between Hamas and Israel on November 21.

Gregory Harms is an independent scholar specializing in U.S. foreign policy and the Middle East. He lectures, keeps a blog on Facebook, and publishes articles on CounterPunch, Truthout, and Mondoweiss. Harms has traveled throughout Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, and has been interviewed on BBC Radio.

His first book “The Palestine-Israel Conflict: A Basic Introduction,” 3rd ed. (Pluto Press, 2012) is brief and general summary of the history of Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the establishment of the Israeli regime in 1948.

I conducted an interview with Gregory Harms a few days after the conclusion of the Operation Pillar of Defense which claimed the lives of at least 170 Palestinians and caused serious damages to the infrastructure and civilian buildings in the besieged Gaza Strip. Following is the text of the interview.

Kourosh Ziabari: Ceasefire has now been declared between Hamas and Israel, but through the eight-day attacks and air-strikes of Israel against the Gaza Strip, some 180 Palestinians, many of whom innocent civilians, have been killed. Why do you think Israel renewed its assaults on Gaza?

Gregory Harms: The question of why is a matter of speculation; but we can make some reasonable guesses. It’s hard to imagine that the upcoming January elections in Israel are not a factor. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is likely looking to focus the country on security issues as well as consolidate Likud’s coalition in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. He and Likud are the expected victors, but the elections are too near for this not to be a consideration.

Another possible factor is Hamas’s increased regional prestige. Because of the new leadership in Cairo under President Mohamed Morsi, the strong presence of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egyptian politics, and Hamas’s severing of ties with its former sponsor in Damascus, relations between Hamas and Cairo have progressed. Hamas’s growing ties with Qatar and Turkey also signal the Islamist organization’s increased status. Israel’s strategic take on this is difficult to discern, but if this development did factor in the recent violence, it is Tel Aviv acting on its longstanding impulse of using the military first. One possible benefit, from Israel’s perspective, is that now that Morsi and company have played a key role in achieving a truce, Gaza has been pushed closer to Egypt. For Tel Aviv, the best-case scenario is that Gaza becomes Cairo’s problem altogether, as it was before 1967.

Iran could very well be a possible motive. If Tel Aviv plans on attacking Tehran’s nuclear facilities anytime soon, it will want Hamas’s weapon supplies diminished. If this is indeed a rationale, it raises the question of Hizballah’s caches and preparedness in Lebanon. Whether Iran is a factor is difficult to say. The Obama White House has to-date shown no interest in direct armed intervention in Iran, which in turn makes a unilateral Israeli operation an unpopular notion among the majority of Israelis. Furthermore, Iran is a very large country that can fight back, automatically making it a less likely candidate for US-Israeli action.

There is also the fast-approaching bid on the part of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to seek nonmember observer-state status for Palestine at the United Nations. By roughing up Gaza, there might be a hope of getting the Palestinian Authority to shift course. Israel’s foreign ministry has already talked of removing Abbas from power in the event the PA makes headway at the UN General Assembly – which is almost guaranteed. As stated in a foreign ministry paper, quoted in the Guardian (Nov. 14),

“A reality in which the United Nations recognizes a Palestinian state according to a unilateral process will destroy all Israeli deterrence and completely harm its credibility … [T]he only other option in this case would be the toppling of Abbas’s government …The other option, of containment or a softer response, would be seen as raising a white flag.”

This is extraordinary language for a UN member state to use against another entity. Imagine for a minute this kind of rhetoric being used by Moscow or Beijing about the Israeli prime minister. You won’t need a full minute for that thought experiment.

Israel’s calculations are difficult, if not impossible, to determine. One could analyze and guess the issue to death. And at the practical level, it doesn’t matter that much. It’s not crucial that we know why Israel assassinated Hamas military commander Ahmed al-Jabari and initiated Operation Pillar of Defense. Even if we had direct access to Netanyahu’s mind, where would that put us? Israel would still be a regional belligerent functioning as an extension of US power. And Gaza – and the Palestinians in general – would still be at the receiving end of Washington’s policy of preventing democracy and keeping Israel militant. Instead, the focus should be Gaza’s situation as an occupied territory, and that Israel, along with maintaining its occupation of the territory’s exterior, subjects the people there to devastating armed violence. Popular pressure can do something about that. Americans and Europeans can have an effect. They cannot have an effect on what lurks in the minds of people like Netanyahu, Ehud Barak, and the architects involved in these operations.

Kourosh Ziabari: It was reported that during its onslaught on the Gaza Strip, Israel bombarded many civilian facilities such as hospitals, mosques, schools, refugee camps and even the Gaza city’s sport stadium. What is the objective of the Israeli regime? Why does it attack Gaza Strip’s infrastructures every time it starts to pound the coastal region?

Gregory Harms: This policy doesn’t just apply to Gaza. I was in Ramallah in 2002 shortly after Operation Defensive Shield. This was in the early post-9/11 period, of course, and after some suicide bombings, the IDF reentered the West Bank areas from which it had withdrawn after the Oslo Accords. There was one demolished government building after another. I and some others were given a tour of the broadcasting headquarters there, and though the building was still standing, it was one burned out, strewn room after another, with enormous holes blasted through the walls. Much equipment was destroyed and furniture looked like a tornado blew through the building. So what happened in 2008-09 during Operation Cast Lead, and now during Pillar of Defense, is not a recent development.

This policy of Israel every once in a while destroying (or re-destroying) Palestine’s infrastructure indicates Tel Aviv’s desire for the Palestinian territories to be feeble and dependent. The settlements and land expropriation in the West Bank are a part of this. The economic isolation and blockade of Gaza – which Israel has privately referred to as “economic warfare” – is part of this. The maximal Zionist project is to have a minimal Palestine; ideally, no Palestine. But they are going to have to suffice with a minimal one. And given the martial mindset in Tel Aviv, the solution is simple: let the IDF handle it. It doesn’t cost anything. The United States provides material and diplomatic support, and Western Europe is on board. There’s always talk of Israel becoming isolated in the region and within the international community – which is indeed bad for Israel – but this does not intimidate Tel Aviv’s top-level planners. This is similar to the editorializing commonly found in the American press that Washington, because of its aggressive policies in the Middle East and its relationship with Israel, is jeopardizing US “credibility in the Arab world.” This is not a concern in Washington at the executive level. The only credibility desired at the executive level is the kind established by intimidation.

Kourosh Ziabari: Somewhere in your recent article, you argued that the Operation Pillar of Defense might have been launched with a short-term objective of giving Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party a secure vote in the upcoming elections. In what ways could a hard-hitting attack on the Gaza Strip and crushing of Hamas have contributed to the success of Netanyahu in the January 2013 legislative elections?

Gregory Harms: As I mentioned, pushing the “Gaza” button focuses Israelis on matters of security. The population in Israel is highly manipulated and taught to be fearful. And like I said above, Israel’s isolation is bad for the country and its people; it cultivates a very unhealthy national psychology. As a result – and quite similar to Americans – the public is easily turned around. When things are too calm, the people begin focusing on domestic issues and the economy. This has been a serious issue in Israel, with massive protesting occurring over housing costs and income disparity. Israel’s economy is better than most, but there are serious grievances, and when the Arab Spring took hold of North Africa and the Arab Middle East, its effects were felt in Jerusalem, Haifa, and Tel Aviv.

That said, the recent violence with Gaza found broad public support among Israelis. A ground invasion would be a different story. If the ceasefire doesn’t hold and the IDF enters Gaza, it won’t be as well received. And if there are significant IDF casualties in such an event, it will be even worse for Netanyahu’s approval rating. Nevertheless, Netanyahu faces little opposition in January, just boosted his numbers with Pillar of Defense, and because of recent White House support for Israel’s operations, the prime minister can now claim his relationship with President Obama is on solid ground and that all’s well, which is very important to Israelis. Incidentally, this also significantly increases Obama’s leverage over Netanyahu.

Food for thought.
Continue reading »

Nov 262012
 

Global Research
Stephen Lendman

mahmoud-abbas-benjamin-netanyahu

 Previous articles explained Abbas’ longtime collaboration with Israel. He sold out long ago for whatever benefits he derives.

He’s Israel’s enforcer. He ill serves and insults Palestinians. His presidency is illegitimate. Israel rigged his 2005 election. In January 2009, his term expired.

He’s still in office. At least for now, Washington and Israel want him there. He’s more stooge than statesman. He’s a duplicitous puppet.

He replicates fascist Quisling Norway, Vichy France, and other Nazi-controlled collaborationist regimes. Instead of serving his people, he betrayed them.

He subverts Palestine’s liberating struggle. Collaborating with the enemy is treason. Abbas and likeminded Fatah officials are guilty on multiple counts.

What did he know and when about Pillar of Cloud?

He knew about Cast Lead in advance. On November 30, 2010, Reuters headlined “Israel says Abbas, Egypt warned on Gaza war – leaks,” saying:

Ahead of Cast Lead, Israel “conferred with the Western-backed Palestinian leadership and with Egypt….”

Leaked US diplomatic cables quoted a senior Israeli official confirming it. Haaretz reported the same thing. Mubarak and Abbas were briefed in advance.

Haaretz said “Israel tried to coordinate the Gaza war with the Palestinian authority.” WikiLeaks released US diplomatic cables confirming it.

In June 2009, months before Cast Lead, Israeli Defense Minister Barak met with US congressional members.

He also “consulted with Egypt and Fatah prior to Operation Cast Lead, asking if they were willing to assume control of Gaza once Israel defeated Hamas.”

He “received negative answers from both.” Previous leaked information reported the same thing. WikiLeaks provided “the first documented proof.”

Abbas denied getting advance word. He lied. Mubarak said nothing either way.
Reuters said Abbas “urged Israel to crush Hamas during the war.”

Avigdor Lieberman held ministerial positions under Sharon and Ehud Olmert. In April 2009, he became Netanyahu’s Foreign Minister.

He explained Abbas’ involvement, saying:

“Over the past year, I witnessed (Abbas) at his best. In Operation Cast Lead, (he) called us personally, applied pressure, and demanded that we topple Hamas and remove it from power.”

Though out of government during Cast Lead, a senior Olmert official called his comments “essentially accurate.”

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said this information “reaffirms the fact that Mahmoud Abbas is no longer fit to represent our people, who conspired against his people during a war.”

Abbas was never fit to serve. That’s why Israel and Washington chose him.

WikiLeaks also disclosed that Hamas spokesman Salah Al-Bardaweel said:

“We have not ruled out that Fatah and the Palestinian Authority could have contributed in one way or another in the war against Gaza for political reasons such as bringing down the Hamas movement and regaining control.”

More from WikiLeaks suggested it. Washington’s Tel Aviv embassy said Fatah officials asked Israel to attack Hamas.

According to a June 2007 dispatch, Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin said “demoralized” Fatah officials wanted help to destroy Hamas.

“They are approaching a zero-sum situation,” said Diskin, “and yet they ask us to attack Hamas. They are desperate. This is a new development. We have never seen this before.”

He added that “Fatah is in a very bad shape in Gaza. We have received requests to train their forces in Egypt and Yemen. We would like them to get the training they need, and to be more powerful, but they do not have anyone to lead them.”

He also praised Shin Bet’s “very good working relationship” with Abbas at the time. His internal security service collaborates with Israel. He understands that “Israel’s security is central to (his) survival in the struggle with Hamas….”

At the time, Fatah collaborated with Washington to oust Hamas. An abortive coup failed. More information surfaced.

WikiLeaks published a June 12, 2007 cable. It said Israeli military intelligence head Amos Yadlin told US embassy officials that Hamas retaining power in Gaza was advantageous.
“Although not necessarily representing a GOI (government of Israel) consensus view,” said Yadlin, “Israel would be ‘happy’ if Hamas took over Gaza because the IDF could then deal with Hamas as a hostile state.”

Israel’s imperial agenda needs manufactured enemies. Having them facilitates violence and instability. They also help justify small and larger-scale wars.

Like Pillar of Cloud, Cast Lead was planned months in advance. Its aim was to advance Israel’s imperium.

It involves controlling all valued parts of Judea and Samaria, depopulating much of Palestine, and confining remaining population elements to canonized worthless scrubland.

Both conflicts are more about weakening Hamas than destroying it. They also involve waging war on civilian men, women, children, infants and the elderly.

Doing so is official Israeli policy in all conflicts. Israel considers all Palestinians combatants or potential future ones.

Perhaps Abbas and other Fatah officials knew about Pillar of Cloud in advance. Maybe they approved or urged it.

During eight terror bombing days, Abbas’ comments were delayed, weak, meaningless and insulting.

He did nothing to help beleaguered Gazans. Nor during Cast Lead. Both times he went along with Israeli slaughter and mass destruction.

Issam Younis serves as Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights general director. On November 20, Maan News published his “Letter to Abbas: Visit us in Gaza.” In part it said:

“This is a historic moment, that must be taken up. We’ve waited for you in Gaza for six days. We’re still waiting; your people who are being attacked and slaughtered in Gaza.”

“It is not acceptable anymore – no matter what those surrounding you make it look like to you – that you do not come. I do not invite you to show solidarity with Gaza, but to be in Gaza and with Gaza.”

“The advocates of divide can stay back in Ramallah. This scandalous schism must end now and here; the schism that made your people bleed.”

“We are waiting to know that you have ordered PLO diplomats in Geneva, New York, Vienna, and Paris, and in all UN offices, to immediately act to convene the UN General Assembly, Human Rights Council, UNESCO and others to condemn the crimes perpetrated against our people in Gaza, and do all they can to secure that these crimes be investigated and punished.”

“It is regrettable we have not so far seen any meaningful diplomatic effort that matches the size of blood and suffering in Gaza.”

“We are waiting for the orders to our veteran diplomats to be set on fire and approach the European Union and other powers to mobilize the much-needed pressure on the occupying state.”

On November 4, Younis also challenged Hamas. Maan Newspublished his open letter, saying:

He remains “an advocate of the right of Hamas to govern, and I absolutely reject the double standards employed by the international community towards the movement.”

“The financial and political sanctions on Gaza are simply unjust and scandalous. Hamas won a free and fair election in 2006. The world was well aware that Hamas would win in the elections.”

“At the same time, he challenged Hamas to act more like a government than a ‘movement.’ ”

“The issue here is not about calling into question the intentions or desires of the people in power. It is more about the actual process of governance in such a unique situation like Gaza.”

“What is needed is for the government to interact openly with society, with all of its social and political structures. Society also has a duty to reciprocate and to be open to interacting with the government.”

On November 23, Haaretz contributor Amira Hass headlined “War highlights Abbas’ mutual alienation with Gaza.”

She discussed both Younis letters. Abbas was abroad when Israeli terror bombing began. He returned. He had to. Yet he waited two days before speaking publicly.

His comments were weak, unacceptable and duplicitous. He showed which side he’s on.
He also convened Palestinian PLO leaders. “(H)e didn’t even invite the Hamas representative in the West Bank.” He failed to show solidarity with Gaza.

“It is not clear whether the Hamas government would (let him come) as part of an overall conciliation agreement” or for any purpose.

During Cast Lead, his security forces prevented Palestinian protests. This time he didn’t “dare (stop) people from marching toward Israeli Defense Forces checkpoints in the West Bank (to) demonstrate against the attacks on Gaza.”

Doing so fell far short of what’s needed. Palestinians need leaders serving them, not Israel. Abbas is a collaborative traitor. He’s also a pathetic spent force.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net

His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”

http://www.claritypress.com/Lendman.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

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Nov 252012
 
Global Research
Prof. James F. Tracy

news1The week-long Israeli onslaught against largely defenseless Palestinians in Gaza that began on November 14 provides a basis for assessing how Western corporate media whitewash the war crimes of America’s foremost ally in the Middle East. There are three often intertwined techniques consciously applied to such news coverage—historical context, sourcing, and objectification of the enemy to be targeted. Such practices can readily transform journalism into propaganda that acts to abet such crimes while at the same time allowing journalistic institutions to still claim the mantle of “objectivity.”

Such methods are on full display in the reportage of Israel’s most recent operation in Gaza. The use of such propaganda fits within a broader campaign of media disinformation that subdues potential outrage—particularly in the US—over Israel’s overwhelming use of force against an oppressed and vulnerable people, most of whom are civilians.

Meaningful historical context for understanding Israel’s aggression is almost entirely absent from most Western news coverage of the event. If present, such context would illuminate Israeli government officials’ true motivations for a military venture that involved 750 airstrikes in four days alone. “’Operation Pillar of Defense,’” Nile Bowie observes,

launched just months away from Israel’s elections, is a calculated component of the Netanyahu government’s strategy to topple Hamas and continue absorbing Palestinian territory. Decades of occupation and apartheid have shaped the current scenario; Israel has dehumanized an entire people by seizing their land and forcing them into prison-like ghettoes. Adherents to political Zionism have shown contempt for a genuine political solution to the Palestinian conflict, and the Netanyahu administration is poised to crush all opposition to the Jewish state.[1]

Major Western media focused instead on the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) November 14 assassination of Hamas leader and Palestinian hero Ahmed al-Jabari, while blatantly omitting the fact that he was also a major figure in negotiations for a long-term truce between Hamas and Israel freshly brokered by Egypt. Hours before Hamas strongman Ahmed Jabari was assassinated,” Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported the day following the assassination, “he received the draft of a permanent truce agreement with Israel, which included mechanisms for maintaining the cease-fire in the case of a flare-up between Israel and the factions in the Gaza Strip.”[2]

Apart from Western alternative media such critical details were quickly dispatched to the memory hole. Major news outlets almost systematically relied on Israeli government, military, and intelligence sources to shape its coverage, where Jabari was reviled as “the commander of the military wing of Hamas.” Reuters, for example, proceeded to source an IDF spokeswoman who proceeded to lay out the dominant frame for the coverage. “This is an operation against terror targets of different organizations in Gaza,” she declared. “Jaabari [sic] had ‘a lot of blood on his hands.’ Other militant groups including Islamic Jihad were on the target list.”[3]

A similar report in the UK Telegraph taking the tack of Israeli official pronouncements beings with the lead, “Ahmed Jabari probably didn’t event hear the missile that killed him, launched from a drone in the skies over Gaza City as he drove an ordinary saloon car through a quiet residential street.”[4] Emphasis on Jabari’s military status and alleged criminal and terrorist activities invariably legitimates Israel’s flagrant barbarism. Further, by holding Jabari up as a dangerous renegade supposedly representative of the Palestinian people the stage is set for attacks on civilians that are much more readily rationalized in the public mind.

Honest contextualization of the crisis leading readerships to greater understanding would involve consulting and publicizing both Israeli and Palestinian perspectives—an undertaking Western journalists are now adept at through their routine discussions with Syrian “activists” reporting on the alleged atrocities committed by the Syrian Army against Syrian citizens and the gallant Free Syrian Army “rebels” in that close by theatre.

In the case of Gaza, however, such media are apparently unable to locate well-heeled Palestinian “human rights activists” exiled in London who receive routine reports from like-minded “activists” on the ground in Gaza. If such activists are functioning their reports are not seeing the light of day.

Press coverage further underlines what clearly does not exist in Gaza: a parity of deadly force between the IDF and Palestinians and, moreover, Israel’s victimization at the hands of militant Palestinians. Terms such as “clash,” “conflict,” and “violence” misleadingly suggest exactly these conditions and anticipate permissible actions in a field of battle provided for under the Geneva Conventions. Such terms contrast greatly with aerial attacks using state-of-the-art weaponry on unarmed women and children.

Nevertheless, CBS News presented a timeline of events in Gaza that fit well alongside Israel’s public relations maneuvers seeking to downplay the IDF’s overt aggression. “Israel launches Operation Pillar of Defense in response to days of rocket fire outside of Hamas-ruled Gaza. The offensive, which included 20 airstrikes, resulted in the assassination of Ahmed Jabari, the military commander of Hamas.”[5]

Another failure to provide adequate context and sourcing involves Israel’s relentless drive to build more settlements on Palestinian lands under Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak while firmly refusing Palestinians a right of return. This is one of the most essential and yet misunderstood pieces of the puzzle for understanding Israeli-Palestinian relations. Yet such important historical factors are largely devoid from the prevailing Western media frame through which the Gaza tragedy is viewed.

A LexisNexis Academic search in newspaper and magazine articles and broadcast transcripts for November 13 to November 21 using the terms “Israel,” “Gaza,” and “Hamas” yields 2,203 citations. Of these, less than ten percent (205) mention “settlements,” while barely two percent reference “human rights.”

Given the relevant history and facts most observers would conclude that at the end of the day the leading concepts—land rights, human dignity, justice and respect—must be understood and reconciled before there can be peace in Palestine. The fact that much of the American public especially is misinformed or unaware of the profuse atrocities and injustices committed with its tax dollars and tacitly in its name attests to the continued centrality of propaganda, made all the more effective in its thoroughgoing attempt to masquerade as news.

Notes
1. Nile Bowie, “Gaza and the Politics of ‘Greater Israel,’” Global Research, November 17, 2012 http://www.globalresearch.ca/gaza-the-politics-of-greater-israel/5312107

2. Nir Hasson, “Israeli Peace Activist: Hamas Leader Jabari Killed Amid Talks on Long Term Truce,” Haaretz, November 15, 2012 http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/israeli-peace-activist-hamas-leader-jabari-killed-amid-talks-on-long-term-truce.premium-1.478085

3. Ibrahim Barzak/Reuters, “Ahmed Jabari Dead: Hamas Militant Chief Killed in Israeli Airstrike,” Huffington Post, November 15, 2012 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/14/ahmed-jabari-dead-hamas-militant-chief-israel-airstrike_n_2129308.html

4. Nick Meo, “How Israel Killed Ahmed Jabari, Its Toughest Enemy in Gaza,” Telegraph, November 17, 2012 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/israel/9685598/How-Israel-killed-Ahmed-Jabari-its-toughest-enemy-in-Gaza.html

5. CBS/Associated Press, “Timeline of Recent Israel-Gaza Violence,” CBSNews.com, November 20, 2012 http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57552203/timeline-of-recent-israel-gaza-violence/

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Nov 212012
 

Global Research
Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

The United States government and its subject peoples think of the US as “the world’s only superpower.” But how is a country a superpower when its entire government and a majority of the subjects, especially those members of evangelical churches, grovel at the feet of the Israeli Prime Minister? How is a country a superpower when it lacks the power to determine its own foreign policy in the Middle East? Such a country is not a superpower. It is a puppet state.

In the past few days we have witnessed, yet again, the “American superpower” groveling at Netanyahu’s feet. When Netanyahu decided to again murder the Palestinian women and children of Gaza, to further destroy what remains of the social infrastructure of the Gaza Ghetto, and to declare Israeli war crimes and Israeli crimes against humanity to be merely the exercise of “self-defense,” the US Senate, the US House of Representatives, the White House, and the US media all promptly declared their support for Netanyahu’s crimes.

On November 16 the Congress of the “superpower,” both House and Senate, passed overwhelmingly the resolutions written for them by AIPAC, the Israel Lobby known as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the only foreign agent that is not required to register as a foreign agent. The Global News Service of the Jewish People reported their power over Washington with pride. http://current.com/19su0kc Both Democrats and Republicans shared the dishonor of serving Israel and evil instead of America and justice for the Palestinians.

The White House quickly obeyed the summons from the Israel Lobby. President Obama announced that he is “fully supportive” of Israel’s assault on Gaza. Ben Rhodes, White House deputy national security adviser, told the media on November 17 that the White House “wants the same thing as the Israelis want.” This is an overstatement as many Israelis oppose the crimes of the Israeli government, which is not the government of Israel but the government of the “settlers,” that is, the crazed land-hungry immigrants who are illegally, with Netanyahu’s support, stealing the lands of the Palestinians.

Netanyahu’s Israel is the equivalent of the Lincoln Republicans 150 years ago. Then there was no international law to protect Southern states, who left the voluntary union, a right under the Constitution, in order to avoid being exploited by Northern business interests. Subsequently, the Union army, after devastating the South, turned on the American Indians, and there was no international law to protect American Indians from being murdered and dispossessed by Washington’s armies.

Washington claimed that its invasion forces were threatened by the Indian’s bows and arrows. Today there is international law to protect the Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza. However, every time that the world tries to hold the Israeli government accountable for its crimes, Israel’s Washington puppet vetoes the UN decision.

The notion that Israel is threatened by Palestinians is as absurd as the notion that the US is threatened by Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Pakistan, and Iran. No government of any of these countries has ever made a threatening statement against the US. Even had such a statement been made, it would be meaningless. If a Superpower can be threatened by such impotent and distant counties, then it is not a superpower.

Demonizing a victim is a way of hiding state crimes. The American print and TV media is useless as a check on state crimes. The only crimes reported by the media are assigned to “terrorists,” that is, those who resist US hegemony, and to Americans, such as Bradley Manning and Sibel Edmonds, who liberate truth from official secrecy. Julian Assange of WikiLeaks remains in danger despite the asylum granted to him by the President of Ecuador, as Washington has little regard for international law.

In the US the exercise of the First Amendment is coming to be regarded as a crime against the state. The purpose of the media is no longer to find the truth, but to protect official lies. Speaking the truth has essentially disappeared as it is too costly to journalist who dare to do so. To keep one’s job, one serves Washington and the private interest groups that Washington serves.

In his November 19 defense of Israel’s latest war crimes, President Obama said: “no country on earth would tolerate missiles raining down from outside its borders.” But, of course, numerous countries do tolerate missiles raining down from the US. The war criminal Obama is raining down missiles in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen, and has rained missiles on Libya, Somalia, Iraq and Syria as well. Iran might be next.

The German assault on the Warsaw Ghetto is one of the horror stories of Jewish history. Such an event is happening again, only this time Jews are perpetrators instead of victims. No hand has been raised to stay Israel from the goal of the operation declared by Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai to be “to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages.” http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/israel-pounds-gaza-from-air-as-troops-assemble-8326924.html

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Nov 182012
 

Global Research
Nile Bowie

“The Bible finds no worse image than this of the man from the desert. And why? Because he has no respect for any law. Because in the desert he can do as he pleases. The tendency towards conflict is in the essence of the Arab. He is an enemy by essence. His personality won’t allow him any compromise or agreement. It doesn’t matter what kind of resistance he will meet, what price he will pay. His existence is one of perpetual war. Israel’s must be the same. The two states solution doesn’t exist; there are no two people here. There is a Jewish people and an Arab population… there is no Palestinian people, so you don’t create a state for an imaginary nation… they only call themselves a people in order to fight the Jews.” [1]- Benjamin Netanyahu

The Israeli bombardment of Gaza being perpetuated under ‘Operation Pillar of Defense’ comes at an interesting time. Under the leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, the expansion of illegal Jewish settlements into Palestinian lands has increased at unprecedented rates. Netanyahu’s administration has approved the construction of 850 settler homes in the occupied West Bank in June 2012, even after the Israeli parliament rejected a bill to retroactively legalize some of the existing homes in the area. [2] The number of Jewish settlers in the West Bank has almost doubled in the past 12 years, with more than 350,000 residing illegally under international law. [3] While Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman asserts Tel Aviv’s unwillingness to permit Palestinians any right to return to their lands, emphasizing, “not even one refugee,” apartheid enforced on ethnic and religious lines has become a ratified part of Israeli government policy. [4] Far-right political discourse that was once considered extremism is now the status quo in Israel.

While Netanyahu publically announced support for a Palestinian state on the West Bank, his government has threaten to end the Oslo Accords if the United Nations General Assembly granted Palestine with non-member observer state status. [5] A panel of Israeli jurists assembled by Netanyahu’s government to determine the legal status of the West Bank concluded that there is “no occupation” of Palestinian lands and that the continued construction of settlement outposts are entirely legal under Israeli law, despite critical international opinion. Netanyahu’s far right-conservative Likud party was established on the philosophy of Ze’ev Jabotinksy, who called for the establishment of a ‘Greater Israel,’ a concept embraced by Israeli historian Benzion Netanyahu, the father of today’s Prime Minister. Under his fathers influence, Benjamin Netanyahu was indoctrinated in the ideological foundations of Revisionist Zionism, which promote Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria (Palestine) and the full biblical land of Israel by contemporary Jews, an oil rich landmass extending from the banks of the Nile River in Egypt to the shores of the Euphrates.

As rocket fire hits Tel Aviv for the first time since the Gulf War, the ongoing siege of Gaza must be seen as what it is – a premeditated component of Israeli expansionism. Netanyahu was a zealous supporter of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s 2008-2009 sieges on Gaza known as ‘Operation Cast Lead,’ which killed over 1,400 Palestinians, while Israel suffered only 13 causalities. [6] On November 14, 2012, Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) launched an offensive into the Hamas-controlled Gaza strip and began announcing their progress through an official Twitter account. IDF forces assassinated a prominent Hamas military commander, Ahmed Jabari, who was allegedly in possession of a draft copy of a permanent truce agreement with Israel. [7] The agreement included mechanisms for maintaining the cease-fire in the case of future military exchanges between Israel and the Hamas-led political factions of the Gaza Strip. Militants from the armed wing of Hamas in Gaza retaliated by firing rockets into Israeli territory, a large percentage of which were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system.

Benjamin Netanyahu used this retaliation to claim the moral high ground by warning that he will take “whatever action is necessary” to stop further rocket fire from Gaza into Israel. [8] IDF officials have called on 30,000 reservists to prepare for a possible extended ground incursion into Gaza, as IDF forces indiscriminately kill civilians attempting to strike Palestinian aerial and naval targets. [9] The Obama administration has condemned Hamas for perpetuating violence, while Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood government led by Mohamed Morsi recalled Egypt’s ambassador from Tel Aviv. Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Kandil arrived in Gaza after the second day of Israeli attacks in a show of support for Palestine. Through ‘Operation Pillar of Defense,’ Israel is targeting the military foundations of Hamas, while attempting to portray itself as a victim in the international media. IDF forces dropped thousands of Orwellian leaflets over Gaza, urging citizens to take responsibility for their own safety, due to Hamas “once again dragging the region to violence and bloodshed.” [10]

Despite Israel targeting the elected Hamas government of Gaza, an article in the Wall Street Journal titled, “How Israel Helped to Spawn Hamas,” cites a former Israeli official who claims that Israel encouraged the formation of Islamist groups to counterbalance secular nationalists affiliated with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The Israeli government even officially recognized a precursor to Hamas called Mujama Al-Islamiya as a charity group, allowing it to build mosques and an Islamic university. [11] Israel cooperated with the influential Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who was opposed to secular Palestinian activists, as he spearheaded the Sunni Islamist movement that became Hamas. In late October 2012, Gaza’s Hamas government received Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the Emir of Qatar, for an official visit. As part of an aid development package, Al-Thani granted Hamas $400 million, at least $150 million of which will go towards a housing project in southern Gaza – it would be reasonable to assume that large portions of that aid would be invested in defense. [12]

The support given to Hamas by Qatar must be understood through the context of its engagement in Syria. The New York Times articled titled, “Rebel Arms Flow Is Said to Benefit Jihadists in Syria,” states that the arms being shipped to Syria by Saudi Arabia and Qatar are being used to bolster jihadists and al-Qaeda affiliated groups attempting to topple the government of Bashar al-Assad. [13] Qatar has held numerous meetings of US-backed Syrian opposition leaders and hosts a critical American military air base at Al-Udeid, west of the capital, Doha. Qatar has also allowed the establishment of a Brooking Institute center on its territory. Brookings’ Saban Center for Middle East Policy published “Saving Syria: Assessing Options for Regime Change” in March 2012, and the directives described in the report have ostensibly become the policy of allied Western and Gulf countries aiming to topple the Syrian government. The Saban Center that published the report was established in 2002 when Israeli-American mogul Haim Saban pledged nearly $13 million to the Brookings Institution in an attempt to influence pro-Israeli policy. [14]

Despite paying lip service to the Palestinian cause, Qatar is supporting policy engineered to give Israel a pretext to consolidate its power. Both Qatar and Saudi Arabia have cooperated with the United States and Israel by exporting the Salafist ideology that is so prominent among radical rebel fighters in Hamas and the Free Syrian Army, and using their enormous oil wealth to fund and arm these movements. An unapologetic Op-Ed written by Israeli columnist Guy Bechor titled, “Dangers of a Palestinian state,” bemoans the possibility of an independent Palestine, in fear of the nation becoming a hub for extremist violence:

“A sovereign Palestinian state will immediately absorb 700,000 Palestinians who are living in terrible conditions in Syria, another 750,000 Palestinians who currently live in Lebanon and hundreds of thousands of others who will flock to the new state from all over, because to them the West Bank and Israel are America – just ask the African infiltrators. Due to the ‘Arab Spring,’ Syria and Lebanon would gladly kick the Palestinians out, and the Palestinian state would welcome them with open arms in order to change the demographic reality on the ground. Qatar and Saudi Arabia would fund the entire exodus.

Thus, the Palestinian state would become one of the most densely populated areas in the world and pose a direct security and demographic threat to Israel. In other words, in the near future we may see hundreds of thousands of Palestinians settling in the West Bank. Some of them are among the most dangerous people in the Middle East: Salafis, members of armed Syrian and Lebanese militias, as well as members of various jihadi groups. They will settle in places that overlook Haifa, Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion Airport and Jerusalem. The demographic balance in this region will be changed forever. Our lives will become a Syrian-style nightmare.” [15]

In 1952, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan spoke ardently of Tel Aviv’s ultimate goal, the creation of ‘an Israeli empire’ – today, Netanyahu has led his administration with megalomaniacal hubris, and has emphasized a messianic-catastrophic worldview where Israel is “the eternal nation.” [16] Indeed, a Salafist-dominated Palestine would cause troubles for Israel, and it provides a much-needed pretext for Israel to militarily engage with Palestine groups, with the eventual goal of recapturing their land for Jewish settlement. ‘Operation Pillar of Defense,’ launched just months away from Israel’s elections, is a calculated component of the Netanyahu government’s strategy to topple Hamas and continue absorbing Palestinian territory. Decades of occupation and apartheid have shaped the current scenario; Israel has dehumanized an entire people by seizing their land and forcing them into prison-like ghettoes. Adherents to political Zionism have shown contempt for a genuine political solution to the Palestinian conflict, and the Netanyahu administration is poised to crush all opposition to the Jewish state.

Amid reports of rocket fire striking Jerusalem, it is clear that the Israeli response will be swift and unforgiving. While the historic plight of the Palestinian people cannot be ignored, the conduct of Hamas is counter-productive and radical, despite the Israeli firepower being exponentially more destructive. The siege on Gaza is an impetus to consider Henry Kissinger’s prediction, “In 10 years, there will be no more Israel.” Sixteen US intelligence agencies that collectively issued an 82-page analysis titled, “Preparing for a Post-Israel Middle East,” concluded that Netanyahu’s Likud coalition has enthusiastically condoned and supported illegal settlements, while enforcing an apartheid-style infrastructure upon Palestinians. [17] Israel, the only nuclear-armed country in the Middle East, has all the attributes of an international pariah state and its current path is unmaintainable. If Israel devastates Gaza, the backlash would create momentum that threatens the very existence of the Jewish state. Under Bibi’s watch, Israel will either continue to enforce the ideological tenants of political Zionism on its neighbors, or die trying.

Notes [1] Received Wisdom? How the Ideology of Netanyahu’s Late Father Influenced the Son, TIME, May 02, 2012

[2] Israel to build more West Bank homes, Al-Jazeera, June 07, 2012

[3] Population of Jewish settlements in West Bank up 15,000 in a year, The Guardian, July 26, 2012

[4] Lieberman: Netanyahu’s stance on 1967 borders reflects viewpoint of most Israelis, Haaretz, May 23, 2011

[5] Israel: We will annul Oslo Accords if Palestinians seek upgraded UN status, Haaretz, November 14, 2012

[6] Israel to take ‘whatever action necessary’ to stop Gaza rocket fire, The Telegraph, November 12, 2012

[7] Israeli peace activist: Hamas leader Jabari killed amid talks on long-term truce, Haaretz, November 15, 2012

[8] Israel to take ‘whatever action necessary’ to stop Gaza rocket fire, The Telegraph, November 12, 2012

[9] IDF calling up 30,000 reserves ahead of possible Gaza ground operation, The Times of Israel

[10] Operation Pillar of Defense: IDF Disperses Leaflets Above Gaza Strip, IDF Blog, November 15, 2012

[11] How Israel Helped to Spawn Hamas, The Wall Street Journal, January 24, 2009

[12] Qatari ruler uses historic Gaza visit to call on Palestinian factions to unite, The Times of Israel, October 23, 2012

[13] Rebel Arms Flow Is Said to Benefit Jihadists in Syria, The New York Times, October 14, 2012

[14] Humanitarian Buffer Zones in Syria: How Misinformation Obscures the Israel Lobby’s Influence on U.S. Foreign Policy, Dissident Voice, October 16, 2012

[15] Dangers of a Palestinian state, YNet, November 13, 2012

[16] As Netanyahu pushes Israel closer to war with Iran, Israelis cannot… Haaretz, August 03, 2012

[17] Kissinger, US intelligence community endorse “World Without Israel,” PressTV, September 30, 2012

Nile Bowie is a Kuala Lumpur-based American writer and photographer for the Centre for Research on Globalization in Montreal, Canada. He explores issues of terrorism, economics and geopolitics.

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Nov 162012
 

Russia Today

A Palestinian youth walks amid destruction following an Israeli air strike on a residential neighbourhood in Gaza City in the early hours of November 15, 2012. (AFP Photo / Mahmud Hams)
A Palestinian youth walks amid destruction following an Israeli air strike
on a residential neighbourhood in Gaza City in the
early hours of November 15, 2012.

Israel is bombarding Gaza for a second day, with 13 Palestinians killed, including four children, and over 100 injured. The attack’s timing is under question with a looming Israeli election, as is the precision of airstrikes which kill civilians.

­Israel’s military operation started on Wednesday with a strike killing Hamas military leader Ahmed Jabari. Since then, reports say, the IDF has struck around 200 targets in Gaza. Furthermore, Israel is threatening to go as far as initiating a ground operation, sparking fears of a repetition of the Cast Lead scenario.

The Israeli Defense Force (IDF), which has engaged in a Twitter showdown since the very beginning of the strikes, said it targets only “terror sites”. However, this has been questioned by witnesses on social media who point out that only four people of the 13 so far killed by Israeli airstrikes were Hamas militants, while the rest were civilians, including women and children. 

Civilian casualties included the baby of BBC Arabic journalist Jihad Masharawi, who lost his 11-month-old son, along with his sister-in-law. He also has a brother wounded by a strike.

A Palestinian boy pushes his bycicle through the rubble in an area targeted by an Israeli air strike in Gaza City in the early hours of November 15, 2012. (AFP Photo / Mahmud Hams)
A Palestinian boy pushes his bycicle through the rubble in an area
targeted by an Israeli air strike in Gaza City in the early hours of November 15, 2012. 

­Israeli strikes have led to a spiraling escalation of conflict, with Hamas already saying it is now in a state of “open war” with Israel and threatening to send in suicide bombers.
The IDF stated that more than 130 rockets were fired from Gaza at locations in Israel during the last 24 hours. Three people have been killed on the Israeli side.

The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, has announced it is launching “Operation Shale Stones” in response to Israel’s “Pillar of Defense”.

These kinds of statements call into question how long the conflict is actually going to last and spark fears of even further escalation which would draw more civilian casualties.

Palestinians check their damaged house after Israeli air strikes in Gaza City November 15, 2012. (AFP Photo / Suhaib Salem)
Palestinians check their damaged house after Israeli air strikes in
Gaza City November 15, 2012. (AFP Photo / Suhaib Salem)

­

‘Timing of attack no coincidence’

Meanwhile, experts are starting to question the timing of the Israeli attack on Gaza which is not viewed as accidental. Israel will hold a general election on January 22 and conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged to retaliate harshly against Hamas.

Eric Draitser, a geopolitical analyst for Stop Imperialism sees the attack as fitting in with the pre-election campaign to influence Israel’s general election.

“The timing of the attack is not a coincidence. Even though Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seen as the only option, he was also pushing hard for Romney to win,” Draitser told RT. “And now this attack could be one of the ways Netanyahu is trying to exercise his own power in the country, showing that Israel is not weak and that the administration will push forward with this imperialistic agenda no matter who won the US election.”

Palestinians watch the funeral of Hisham Ghalban in the southern Gaza Strip, on November 15, 2012. (AFP Photo / Said Khatib)
Palestinians watch the funeral of Hisham Ghalban in the southern Gaza Strip,
on November 15, 2012. (AFP Photo / Said Khatib)

­Freelance journalist Lior Sternfeld has drawn a direct parallel between the pre-election November 2012 attack on Gaza and the 2008-2009 pre-election attack.

Even though Netanyahu does not face much opposition, “he knows that the way to ensure his victory in the upcoming elections will be by diverting the public discourse from demands of social justice to existential threats imposed on Israel by the bogeyman – Hamas,” Sternfeld argues in his column for Informed Comment.

He also believes that Hamas’ retaliatory response was predictable and even more so, encouraged.

“With the 2013 elections just months away, Israel decided to break a ceasefire and assassinate the Hamas senior military persona, Ahmed Jabari,” Sternfeld writes. “And as expected Hamas responded with firing rockets on Israel’s southern regions and a full-scale war is being evolved.”

Palestinians inspect a destroyed building in an area targeted by an Israeli air strike in Gaza City in the early hours of November 15, 2012. (AFP Photo / Mahmud Hams)
Palestinians inspect a destroyed building in an area targeted by an Israeli air
strike in Gaza City in the early hours of November 15, 2012. (AFP Photo / Mahmud Hams)

­

War rhetoric, civilian casualties, anti-war protests

Israel’s National Security Minister Avi Dichter stated that “we have no intention to end this round of fighting and suffer more hits in the next.”

But Israeli civilians are already suffering. Three people were killed by a rocket strike from Gaza on Thursday, and there are dozens of injured including three children.
There have also been reports of Israeli residents experiencing panic attacks from Hamas rockets that were sent back in retaliation.

All schools within a 40km range of Gaza have been closed. People living within a 7km range of the Gaza border are not allowed to leave their homes and gatherings of over 100 people in one place are prohibited, Yeshiva World News reports.

About 100 people protested outside Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s apartment in Tel Aviv Wednesday night following the start of the offensive on Gaza. The activists were shouting “Money for welfare, not war,” thus indicating that they see the operation as an attempt to distract people’s attention from Israel’s own internal problems.

A Palestinian man sits amid the rubble in his bombed house following an Israeli air strike on Gaza City on November 15, 2012. (AFP Photo / Mahmud Hams)
A Palestinian man sits amid the rubble in his bombed house
following an Israeli air strike on Gaza City on November 15, 2012. (AFP Photo / Mahmud Hams)

­Palestinian protesters also marched in the West Bank city of Ramallah in support of the people of the Gaza Strip and against Israeli airstrikes.

“It is killing children and women; it is injuring scores of people. The way it tries to assassinate military targets is illegal because it is using indiscriminate and reckless amounts of force,” documentary maker and activist Harry Fear, who is currently in the region, told RT.

“Tomorrow Israel expects to launch the ground incursion of the Gaza Strip, including central parts of Gaza City. International reporters and activists on the ground believe this is the beginning of another full-scale war similar to the one in 2008-2009,” he added.

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