Archive for December, 2008

The myths of Israeli victimhood

From Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative.

1. Israelis have claimed to have ended the occupation of the Gaza Strip in 2005.

While Israel has indeed removed the settlements from the tiny coastal Strip, they have in no way ended the occupation. They remained in control of the borders, the airspace and the waterways of Gaza, and have carried out frequent raids and targeted assassinations since the disengagement.

Furthermore, since 2006 Israel has imposed a comprehensive siege on the Strip. For over two years, Gazans have lived on the edge of starvation and without the most basic necessities of human life, such as cooking or heating oil and basic medications. This siege has already caused a humanitarian catastrophe which has only been exacerbated by the dramatic increase in Israeli military aggression.

2. Israel claims that Hamas violated the cease-fire and pulled out of it unilaterally.

Hamas indeed respected their side of the ceasefire, except on those occasions early on when Israel carried out major offensives in the West Bank. In the last two months, the ceasefire broke down with Israelis killing several Palestinians and resulting in the response of Hamas. In other words, Hamas has not carried out an unprovoked attack throughout the period of the cease-fire.

Israel, however, did not live up to any of its obligations of ending the siege and allowing vital humanitarian aid to resume in Gaza. Rather than the average of 450 trucks per day being allowed across the border, on the best days, only eighty have been allowed in – with the border remaining hermetically sealed 70% of the time. Throughout the supposed ‘cease-fire’ Gazans have been forced to live like animals, with a total of 262 dying due to the inaccessibility of proper medical care.

Now after hundreds dead and counting, it is Israel who refuses to re-enter talks over a cease-fire. They are not intent on securing peace as they claim; it is more and more clear that they are seeking regime change – whatever the cost.

3. Israel claims to be pursuing peace with ‘peaceful Palestinians’.

Before the on-going massacre in the Gaza Strip, and throughout the entirety of the Annapolis Peace Process, Israel has continued and even intensified its occupation of the West Bank. In 2008, settlement expansion increased by a factor of 38, a further 4,950 Palestinians were arrested – mostly from the West Bank, and checkpoints rose from 521 to 699.

Furthermore, since the onset of the peace talks, Israel has killed 546 Palestinians, among them 76 children. These gruesome statistics are set to rise dramatically now, but previous Israeli transgressions should not be forgotten amidst this most recent horror.

Only this morning, Israel shot and killed a young peaceful protester in the West Bank village of Nihlin, and has injured dozens more over the last few hours. It is certain that they will continue to employ deadly force at non-violent demonstrations and we expect a sizable body count in the West Bank as a result. If Israel is in fact pursuing peace with ‘good Palestinians’, who are they talking about?

4. Israel is acting in self-defense.

It is difficult to claim self defense in a confrontation which they themselves have sparked, but they are doing it anyway. Self-defense is reactionary, while the actions of Israel over the last two days have been clearly premeditated. Not only did the Israeli press widely report the ongoing public relations campaign being undertaken by Israel to prepare Israeli and international public opinion for the attack, but Israel has also reportedly tried to convince the Palestinians that an attack was not coming by briefly opening crossings and reporting future meetings on the topic. They did so to insure that casualties would be maximized and that the citizens of Gaza would be unprepared for their impending slaughter.

It is also misleading to claim self-defense in a conflict with such an overwhelming asymmetry of power. Israel is the largest military force in the region, and the fifth largest in the world. Furthermore, they are the fourth largest exporter of arms and have a military industrial complex rivaling that of the United States. In other words, Israel has always had a comprehensive monopoly over the use of force, and much like its super power ally, Israel uses war as an advertising showcase of its many instruments of death.

5. Israel claims to have struck military targets only.

Even while image after image of dead and mutilated women and children flash across our televisions, Israel brazenly claims that their munitions expertly struck only military installations. We know this to be false as many other civilian sites have been hit by airstrikes including a hospital and mosque.

In the most densely populated area on the planet, tons upon tons of explosives have been dropped. The first estimates of injured are in the thousands. Israel will claim that these are merely ‘collateral damage’ or accidental deaths. The sheer ridiculousness and inhumanity of such a claim should sicken the world community.

6. Israel claims that it is attacking Hamas and not the Palestinian people.

First and foremost, missiles do not differentiate people by their political affiliation; they simply kill everyone in their path. Israel knows this, and so do Palestinians. What Israel also knows, but is not saying public ally, is how much their recent actions will actually strengthen Hamas – whose message of resistance and revenge is being echoed by the angry and grieving.

The targets of the strike, police and not Hamas militants, give us some clue as to Israel’s mistaken intention. They are hoping to create anarchy in the Strip by removing the pillar of law and order.

7. Israel claims that Palestinians are the source of violence.

Let us be clear and unequivocal. The occupation of Palestine since the War of 1967 has been and remains the root of violence between Israelis and Palestinians. Violence can be ended with the occupation and the granting of Palestine’s national and human rights. Hamas does not control the West Bank and yet we remain occupied, our rights violated and our children killed.

With these myths understood, let us ponder the real reasons behind these airstrikes; what we find may be even more disgusting than the act itself.

The leaders Israel are holding press conferences, dressed in black, with sleeves rolled up.

‘It’s time to fight’, they say, ‘but it won’t be easy.’

To prove just how hard it is, Livni, Olmert and Barak did not even wear make-up to the press conference, and Barak has ended his presidential campaign to focus on the Gaza campaign. What heroes…what leaders…

We all know the truth: the suspension of the electioneering is exactly that – electioneering.

Like John McCain’s suspension of his presidential campaign to return to Washington to ‘deal with’ the financial crisis, this act is little more than a publicity stunt.

The candidates have to appear ‘tough enough to lead’, and there is seemingly no better way of doing that than bathing in Palestinian blood.


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(More here.)

That is, butchering Palestinians with American weapons, while our newly elected leader, that moral titan, Barack Obama, keeps his mouth clamped shut.  When he’s not blaming the victim, of course.

Fucking fraud.

Funny, I remember the result of this type of foreign policy the last time around.


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Thought I was clever.  From the Centennial Citizen News.

If the Centennial City Council meeting of Dec. 15 can be considered any indication, organizations ranging from the American Indian Movement to Recreate ’68, the group that led protests at the Democratic National Convention, have taken up the cause of the Centennial coyote.

One week after the council heard expert advice from wildlife officials on how to deal with what some say is a growing problem of aggression from urban coyotes, Glenn Spagnuolo, a Recreate ‘68 co-founder, weighed-in pointedly during the council’s Dec. 15 meeting.

“If you decide to go in the direction of using lethal methods, we will be contacting attorneys to file injunctions against the city,” he said. “And if necessary, we’re willing to engage in direct action by removing your traps and putting ourselves between the traps and the coyotes.”

Shannon Francis, a member of the leadership council of the American Indian Movement, also urged the council to avoid using lethal means to control the coyote population.

“These are sacred animals,” she said. “We consider them our brothers and sisters of this world. … We use them in our ceremonies. We honor them. …When I hear action like this is going to be taken, you’re disturbing the balance of the eco-system.”

Yeah, I’m arbitrary, but I don’t give a shit.  I like coyotes.  I like ’em better than every Centennial yuppie and shiteating lapdog in the state of Colorado.

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Turns out when they’re not terrorizing the upscale residents of Centennial, Colorado — and who the hell can blame ’em for that — they’re doing other good work (thanks, C).

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Marines are gonna be used in California at DUI checkpoints.  Why would that be a problem?  From the outstanding DUI Blog.

I’ve posted in the past about the increasing federalization of drunk driving laws and law enforcement procedures.  See Here Come the Feds and The Future of DUI.  But even I wasn’t ready for the latest development…

The U.S. Marines have landed…and are apparently manning “sobriety checkpoints” in San Bernardino County in California.  Yes, Marines.  Yes, civilian DUI roadblocks. 

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A very good write-up of Carol Chomsky from the Boston Globe.

Brilliant and accomplished, Carol Chomsky taught for many years at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education and wrote oft-cited articles about how young children learn to read. And yet, she possessed talents that didn’t easily fit on a curriculum vitae.

“She was a pretty remarkable person,” said Judith Chomsky of Philadelphia, who is married to the younger brother of Dr. Chomsky’s husband, Noam. “She was very athletic, and, until she was ill, she was fishing and water skiing and doing things people wouldn’t normally associate with her. She played the accordion. She could fix a car. She was mechanical. I mean, she was the one who fixed everything at the house.”

Through her work in language development and psycholinguistics, Dr. Chomsky also helped young children learn the mechanics of reading, and by doing so gain greater social acceptance in their classrooms. Dr. Chomsky died of cancer yesterday at her Lexington home. She was 78.

“She was a very upbeat, happy kind of a person,” said Sylvia Schatz of Burlington, who is Dr. Chomsky’s sister-in-law. “She was also a very giving person, of herself and of her thoughts, of her ideas, of her suggestions. And she was very generous, both in material things and with her support and help in many ways.”

Among Dr. Chomsky’s duties was, at times, acting as a de facto gatekeeper for those seeking access to her husband, a linguistics professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology whose writings and political activism made him famous in ways neither of them could have imagined when they married in 1949.

Take two years ago, when Hugo Ch??vez, president of Venezuela, held up one of Noam Chomsky’s books during a fierce speech at the United Nations, turning it into an overnight bestseller. Dr. Chomsky fielded phone calls at their house and kept reporters at bay.

“Everyone wants to know what his reaction is,” she told the Globe in September 2006. “And that’s on the level of gossip and of no consequence at all.

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Carol Chomsky

Carol Chomsky, the noted linguist, professor, activist, and wife of one of my personal heroes, Noam Chomsky, has died.  As most of you know, I’m not much on well-wishing, but even I’ll do some of it this evening.

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