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Atlantic Free Press OP/ED

Fri

03

Jun

2011

God Bless America. And its Bombs.
Friday, 03 June 2011 05:32
by William Blum

When they bombed Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, El Salvador and Nicaragua I said nothing because I wasn't a communist.

When they bombed China, Guatemala, Indonesia, Cuba, and the Congo I said nothing because I didn't know about it.

When they bombed Lebanon and Grenada I said nothing because I didn't understand it.

When they bombed Panama I said nothing because I wasn't a drug dealer.

When they bombed Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen I said nothing because I wasn't a terrorist.

When they bombed Yugoslavia and Libya for "humanitarian" reasons I said nothing because it sounded so honorable.

Then they bombed my house and there was no one left to speak out for me. But it didn't really matter. I was dead. 1

The Targets

It's become a commonplace to accuse the United States of choosing as its bombing targets only people of color, those of the Third World, or Muslims. But it must be remembered that one of the most sustained and ferocious American bombing campaigns of modern times — 78 consecutive days — was carried out against the people of the former Yugoslavia: white, European, Christians. The United States is an equal-opportunity bomber. The only qualifications for a country to become a target are: (A) It poses an obstacle — could be anything — to the desires of the American Empire; (B) It is virtually defenseless against aerial attack.

The survivors

"We never see the smoke and the fire, we never smell the blood, we never see the terror in the eyes of the children, whose nightmares will now feature screaming missiles from unseen terrorists, known only as Americans." 2

NASA has announced an audacious new mission, launching a spaceship that will travel for four years to land on an asteroid, where it will collect dust from the surface and deliver the precious cargo to Earth, where scientists will then examine the material for clues to how life began. Truly the stuff of science fiction. However, I personally would regard it as a much greater accomplishment of humankind if we could put an end to America's bombings and all its wars, and teach some humility to The Holy Triumvirate — The United States, the European Union and NATO — who recognizes no higher power and believe they literally can do whatever they want in the world, to whomever they want, for as long as they want, and call it whatever they want, like "humanitarian."

The fall of the American Empire would offer a new beginning for the long-suffering American people and the long-suffering world.
 

Sun

17

Apr

2011

Interstates And States of Grief
Sunday, 17 April 2011 06:47
by Phil Rockstroh

I’m in Atlanta, Georgia, at present, among the scent of pine trees and the reek of southern denial. The moribund economy has thwarted the city’s manic drive to silence its resentful ghosts by means of constant motion … Below the lilting southern accents here, one detects rage … Not simply the ubiquitous hate-speak on right-wing talk radio. But an animus bred by truth-deferred … that southern pride is a lie of the mind — a blown banner … foisted skyward to distract the minds of my fellow southerners from the ground level truths of a system rigged to enrich the privileged few and keep the many working for their benefit. (How do you think they filled the ranks of the Confederate Army to kill and die for the rights of rich men to own slaves.)

I arrived in Georgia by route of the US interstate system.

Traveling US interstate highways one suffers a confluence of so much contemporary madness and tragedy extant in the land … so much suppressed fear and aggression. Yet, through it all, the heart still yearns to see what lies over the next horizon.
Although, lamentably, what is revealed, all to often, proves to be as sterile, inhospitable, ugly, and inhuman as what was beheld at the last.

"Who has twisted us around like this, so that no matter what we do, we are in the posture of someone going away?"
- Rainer Maria Rilke

Any situation, as is the case with interstate highway travel, in which to momentarily stop or even to slow down, one risks death should be regarded as an affront (if not anathema) to common sense and the longings of the heart. When the landscape we pass through has been reduced to a meaningless blur, our lives grow indistinct as well


The apologists of the present system tell us ad nauseam, and have convinced most, that a similar disastrous fate will befall the nation if the engines of global capitalism were to slow down even a bit. Interstate travel is emblematic of the manner a system based on ceaseless production and manic consumption degrades the senses and inflicts a dehumanizing assault upon the psyche.

When stopped at an anonymous interstate service island or some off-the-exit-ramp retail strip — those inhospitable nether regions evincing a paradoxical mix of sterility and toxicity — the permeating odor of exhaust fumes and processed food makes us woozy. These places, only distinct for their ugliness, reek of how soul-numbing and joyless travel has become . . . now a task nearly devoid of any sense of the mystery, the option of exploration, or the possibility of serendipity travel once offered.

Travel has been reduced to a tedious ordeal, whereby our inchoate longings to escape the quotidian prison of our economically circumscribed existence are mangled and suppressed, only to rise as the hollow appetite of reflexive consumerism and the ineffable sense of unease, so evident in the troubled American psyche.

Enclosed in our vehicles, we hurdle from one sterile, impersonal location to the next sterile, impersonal location, and then on to the next. As forbiddingly huge trucks, loaded with the cargo of extinction, bear down on us, we grip the steering wheel -- we know to stop is to risk death therefore we continue onward, believing we must drive and consume and drive and consume in order to survive. Yet the knowledge nettles, just below the surface of our harried minds, that to continue down this road will, in turn, cause the world to die.

Even the landscape itself of the US is stretched to the breaking point: Cluttered upon it are gigantic islands of garish light that torment the night …scouring away the stars. As, all the while, SUVs and oversized pickup trucks -- the overgrown clown cars of the demented circus of decaying empire trundle past -- the extravagant size of the vehicles vainly compensating for how diminished and powerless those within feel in relationship to the course of their fates.
 

Sun

17

Apr

2011

Naseer Aruri Ph.D.: No politician with an "anti-Zionist mindset" could ever dream of living in the White House
Sunday, 17 April 2011 06:39

by Kourosh Ziabari in Iran

Naseer Aruri is Chancellor Professor (emeritus) of Political Science, University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. He is president of Trans-Arab Research Institute in Boston. Prof. Aruri is the a contributor to the book "Iraq Under Siege: The Deadly Impact of Sanctions and War" by the South End Press and the author of the book "Palestinian Refugees: The Right of Return" published by the University of British Columbia Press in 2001. Prof. Aruri is on the Advisory Board of the Council for Palestinian Restitution and Repatriation.

Aruri has also written the book "The Obstruction of Peace: The U.S., Israel and the Palestinians." Amazon.com has described this book "a Palestinian perspective on the peace process in his Middle Eastern region which provides a different view for the reasons behind Palestinian-Israeli impasses."

According to Wikipedia, Aruri contributed to the foundation of the Arab Organization for Human Rights (AOHR) in 1983. From 1984-1990, Aruri was elected to three consecutive terms on the Board of Directors of Amnesty International, USA, and served on the Board of Directors of Human Rights Watch/Middle East from 1990 to 1992.

What follows is the complete text of my exclusive interview with Prof. Naseer Aruri in which we discussed a variety of topics including the prospect of Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the role of the United States in the solving the crisis in Palestine and the performance of PLO as the defacto representative of the Palestinian nation in the international level.

Kourosh Ziabari: Dear Prof. Aruri; there are various interpretations regarding the truth behind the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Both sides of the conflict cite claims over the land which is known as the Land of Israel. So, from an impartial and objective point of view, which side is the righteous? Which of them tells the truth?

Naseer Aruri: This is not a conflict between two equal claims. The Palestinian population is the indigenous party living on the land since the days of the Cananites. Their presence as the dominant party was interrupted by the Crusades but it was restored by the Islamic conquest of the 7th century A.D. When the Zionists received the Balfour Declaration from Britain in 1917 the Jewish population constituted less than 7% of the population. It was an unauthorized promise made by an imperial power to a colonial settler movement at the expense of the Majority (the indigenous Palestinians). By World War II the Jewish population had increased to one-third mainly as a result of colonial settlement. This minority was in possession of less than 6% of the land. Today it controls all of historic Palestine through the force of arms, an illegal phenomenon under international law.

KZ: You're said to be an outspoken critic of the Oslo Accords and described it a cover for territorial conquest. Would you please explain for us the reasons you oppose Oslo Peace Process? Given that the Declaration called for the withdrawal of Israel Defense Forces from parts of Gaza Strip and West Bank and facilitated the creation of a Palestinian National Authority, what are your reasons for contesting the Oslo Accords?

NA: The Oslo Accords constituted an act of surrender by Yaser Arafat, whose movement was facing economic, diplomatic and leadership crises, and having recognized Israel in 1988, it took the easy way out by concluding an unauthorized deal with Israel in 1993 in which Israel did not cede any bit of sovereignty whatsoever not only in historic Palestine but even in the West Bank, which constitutes 22% of historic Palestine. The phrase "external security" was the corner stone of the document and it served as a euphemism for sovereignty, which remained in the hands of Israel. Oslo has also negated the culture of the Intifada, which was based on voluntary maxims and associational values In brief, Oslo created a facade of equality when Israel was an occupant within the meaning of International law, while the Palestinians were occupied rather than co-equal. Under such a cover, Israel was given license to expand its territorial conquest even farther and this added territory was acquired under presumed "peaceful conditions." Colonial settlements in the occupied territories have more than doubled since 1993 and they continue to constitute the single most intractable obstacle to a diplomatic settlement until this day. Technically, Oslo was an agreement to reach agreement, but better yet, an agreement to obfuscate an equal settlement and an honorable and principled compromise.

KZ: Although the Palestine Liberation Organization has recognized Israel's right to exist, accepted UNSC resolutions 242 and 338 and made several concessions during its interactions with the State of Israel, the United States still considers it a terrorist organization. What's your viewpoint regarding the performance of PLO? Has it succeeded in representing the Palestinian people and defending their demands? Recently leaked documents show that the PLO under Mahmoud Abbas had agreed to Israel's sovereignty over nearly all Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem. What's your take on that?

NA: I think that the answer to your question is embedded in the question itself. Moreover, the PLO should have never accepted the stipulation that it is a terrorist organization which must "renounce" and not "denounce" as Arafat had attempted unsuccessfully and reminded about the crucial difference between the two concepts. The assumption that the US was a judge and jury while at the same time a chief armed supplier, bank roller, and diplomatic backer was unfortunately accepted by the PLO leadership since the 1980s  and should not have been a surprise when the so-called Palestine papers were released and leaked out quite recently. Under both Arafat and Abbas, the PLO concessions were bottomless and these concessions had only encouraged Israel to throw more obstacles to peace and to encourage Washington to act as a "Dishonest Broker."
 

Sun

17

Apr

2011

‘Matter of Policy’: Gaza War and Goldstone’s Moral Collapse
Sunday, 17 April 2011 06:26
by Ramzy Baroud

Shocking is not a sufficient term to describe Justice Richard Goldstone’s decision to recant parts of the 2009 report on alleged war crimes in Gaza.

The document, known as the Goldstone Report, was compiled after a thorough investigation led by the South African judge and three other well-regarded investigators. They documented 36 incidents that occurred during the Israeli Operation Cast Lead, an unprecedentedly violent attack against small, impoverished and besieged Gaza. It resulted in the death of over 1,400 Palestinians, and the wounding of over 5,500.

Goldstone is both Jewish and Zionist. His love for Israel has been widely and affectionately conveyed. In this particular case, he seemed completely torn between his ideological and tribal position and his commitment to justice and truth, as enshrined in the mandate of the UN Human Rights Council.

After 18 months of what seemed a wholly personal introspection, accompanied by an endless campaign of pressure and intimidation by Zionist and pro-Israel Jewish groups from all over the world, the man finally surrendered.

 “If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document,” he wrote in the Washington Post on April 1. But what did Goldstone learn anew since he issued his 575-page report in September 2009?

The supposed basis of Goldstone’s rethink is a follow-up report issued by a UN committee chaired by retired New York Judge Mary McGowan Davis. Her report was not a reinvestigation of Israel’s —  and Hamas’ — alleged war crimes in Gaza, but a follow up on the Goldstone Commission’s findings, which urged the referral of the matter to the International Criminal Court. McGowan Davis made this distinction clear in a recent interview with the Israeli Jerusalem Post. According to the post, she said, “Our work was completely separate from (Goldstone’s) work.” She further stated, “Our mandate was to take his report as given and start from there.”

So how did a probe that used Goldstone’s findings as a starting point go on to inspire such a major refutation from one of the authors of the original report?

McGowan Davis’ report merely acknowledged that Israel has carried out an investigation into a possible “operational misconduct” in what is largely known outside Israel as the Gaza massacre. The UN follow-up report recognized the alleged 400 investigations, but didn’t bear out their validity. These secret inquiries actually led to little in terms of disciplinary action.

More, the UN team of experts claimed there was “no indication that Israel has opened investigations into the actions of those who designed, planned, ordered and oversaw Operation Cast Lead.”
 

Sun

17

Apr

2011

Now Israel Is Free to Declare Its Innocence before the International Court of Justice
Sunday, 17 April 2011 06:19
by William A. Cook Ph.D.

Thank God Judge Goldstone recanted his judgment on Israel and its IDF forces in the slaughter inflicted on Gaza during its Christmas invasion in 2008-2009; both are now innocent of wrongful intent to kill Palestinian civilians since the Israeli military courts investigated Goldstone’s allegations and determined he was wrong. Now the good Judge has found, with the military court, that the Israeli government, that refused to cooperate with the United Nations investigation, did not intentionally send its forces to kill and destroy but only to kill and destroy Gaza; that the civilians were killed is simply a sad consequence of war. How astute, how learned, how compassionate; how absurd, how facetious, how despicable.
 
 

Yet, good may come of this decision. Now Israel is free to declare its innocence before the International Court of Justice since it is Israel’s investigation that can be presented as its case, with the good Judge as co-defendant. After all, isn’t this exactly what the Israeli government has wanted from the start, a way to demonstrate to the world that its Army is the most moral on the planet, its government the most democratic, acting only to defend its people, its weaponry the most sophisticated state of the art precision ordinance available, and its actions always proportionate to the crimes it seeks to address? Knowing now what they did not know before Judge Goldstone recanted his report, the government of Israel has nothing to fear from the ICJ but the justice it so rightfully deserves. Certainly it makes no sense for Israel or the UN to do nothing now that the report has been brought into question. The world has castigated Israel because of the report, now it’s Israel’s turn to seek revenge and put before the world how righteous and how legal its actions have been. How fortunate this turn of events.

And how opportune a moment since our United States Congress has once again jumped to the fore as defender of the beleaguered state of Israel by writing a letter to the UNHRC that it should expunge the report from history since it is biased against the Jewish state and this would help make amends. (“Congressional initiatives targeting Goldstone report” April 11, 2011 JTA)But why expunge it? Israel, after all, knows it did no wrong; it has done its own investigation and declared its innocence. What an opportunity to show the world that it has been maligned, that it has obeyed all international laws relative to individual rights, that as an occupying force under Geneva Conventions and the Charter of the UN it has observed all requisite responsibilities toward the people of Gaza, and finally that it had rights to invade that the international community must recognize since it was only defending itself.

Let us present this case as objectively as we can by using the words in the Israeli Gaza Operation Investigations: the means used to investigate, the difficulties that impeded the investigation, their presentation of the investigation concerning white phosphorus, and the conclusions drawn by the Military Advocate General, oh, and the convictions leveled on those found guilty. We’ll follow that presentation with some eye witness accounts of the Gaza operation, the affect of white phosphorus and its legality, and the impact of DIME explosives on humans and the environment. A few photos of Israeli use of white phosphorus will accompany this article if possible.  

Consider the facts as articulated by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs as it labeled Cast Lead as Hamas war against Israel[My apologies; I’m interjecting a subjective comment on Israel’s calling Operation Cast Lead “Hamas’ war against Israel.” In the 8 years preceding Cast Lead, Hamas or other resistance groups in Gaza, fired 6000 home made rockets at Israel, roughly 750 a year, or 62.5 per month or 2 per day. Twenty three people were killed. In that same period Israel killed more than 1000 Palestinian children and in Cast Lead killed an additional 352. A total of 1084 Israelis were killed between 2000 and 2008, but 6430 Palestinians were killed. Yet it was Hamas’ war against Israel. One final observation: Israel’s launch of one of its American supplied missiles that cost $300,000, a fraction of the 8.2 million per day we supply to Israel’s military, a precision state of the art weapon that hit a home where the IDF ordered people to go, in less than one minute killed 21 members of the Samouni family, nine of them children.] (figures from ifamericansknew.org and see this author’s article “Consider the Realities of Gaza,” Counterpunch, Jan. 5, 2009). Back to our sources and let the reader be judge.
 
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