US trains Gulf air forces for war with Iran

The American air force is working with military leaders from the Gulf to train and prepare Arab air forces for a possible war with Iran, The Sunday Telegraph can reveal.

Neocons seek to justify action against Teheran

Iranian president Ahmadinejad

An air warfare conference in Washington last week was told how American air chiefs have helped to co-ordinate intelligence-sharing with Gulf Arab nations and organise combined exercises designed to make it easier to fight together.

Gen Michael Mosley, the US Air Force chief of staff, used the conference to seek closer links with allies whose support America might need if President George W Bush chooses to bomb Iran.

Pentagon air chiefs have helped set up an air warfare centre in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where Gulf nations are training their fighter pilots and America has big bases. It is modelled on the US Air Force warfare centre at Nellis air force base in Nevada.

Jordan and the UAE have both taken part in combined exercises designed to make sure their air forces can fly, and fight, together and with American jets.

The conference was long-planned to discuss developments in air warfare technology, but the question of possible hostilities involving Iran was discussed.

Bruce Lemkin, the American air force deputy under-secretary for international affairs, said: “We need friends and partners with the capabilities to take care of their own security and stability in their regions and, through the relationship, the inter-operability and the will to join us in coalitions when appropriate…

“On its most basic level, it’s about flying together, operating together and training together so, if we have to, we can fight together.”

While it is unlikely that America’s Gulf allies would join any US air strike against suspected nuclear targets in Iran, their co-operation might be required to allow passage of warplanes though their airspace. American defence officials are also keen that Iran’s Arab neighbours prepare to deal with any Iranian attempt to target them in return.

Lt Gen Prince Faisal bin Al Hussein, who is special assistant to the chief of staff of the Jordanian armed forces, said “concern at Iran’s attempt to establish itself as a regional superpower” had led to greater co-operation, “not just at the inter-service level but also at the political level”.

He said the new air warfare centre had allowed them to “exchange information and exercise together”.

But Air Chief Marshal Sir Glen Torpy, the head of the RAF, voiced the fear of many British officials that America is too devoted to military solutions. He said: “In an environment like this, we always focus on the part that the military can play in solving security and foreign policy problems, but the military will rarely, if ever, be the solution.”

Ref: Telegraph

Shock at SA lion murder acquitt

A South African man convicted of murdering a man whose remains were found in a lion enclosure, has had his life sentence overturned on appeal.
White contractor Mark Scott-Crossley and an employee were alleged to have beaten up black former worker Nelson Chisale and thrown him to lions.

Scott-Crossley was convicted of murder and given a life sentence in 2005.

Now an appeal court in Bloemfontein has overturned the murder verdict and reduced his sentence to five years.

After the ruling, Mr Chisale’s niece, Fetsan Jafta said: “We were trying to cope really. We were getting there. But now they have opened those wounds and it is really painful.”

“I do not know how we are going to cope with this but God will help us. All we can do is pray because really there is no justice in this,” Ms Jafta told the South African media.

The appeal court ruled that the prosecution in the 2005 trial had failed to prove that Mr Chisale was still alive when he was thrown into the lion enclosure.

Consequently it substituted a conviction of being an accessory to murder after the fact, reducing the sentence to five years which means Scott-Crossley will be eligible for release on parole within a few months.

The Star newspaper’s Riana van der Schyff, said “the court decision will send shockwaves through the entire nation”.

Racial tensions

The case has highlighted the racial tensions that still exist in the South African countryside 11 years after apartheid.

Scott-Crossley could be out within months

Mr Chisale was sacked late in 2003. In January 2004, he returned to pick up his belongings at the farm near the Kruger National Park in the north-east of the country.

There he was beaten up by Scott-Crossley and another of his employees, Simon Mathebula – who was jailed for 15 years.

They tied Mr Chisale up and then took him to a nearby lion breeding centre, where they threw him into an enclosure.

The court was unable to establish whether Mr Chisale was already dead when he was thrown into the enclosure, as Scott-Crossley claimed during his defence.

The only remains recovered were a few bones and some shredded clothing.

Ref: BBC

BINGO! American democracy

American democracy

Photos Show Rape of Iraqi Women + US soldiers stories

us rapeus rape 2us rape 3

“Let´s call things by their real name – killers r killers and liers r liers”

U.S.A soldier tells how he Raped A muslim girl in Abu Ghraib

Today, new photographs were sent to La Voz de Aztlan from confidential sources depicting the shocking rapes of two Iraqi women by what are purported to be US Military Intelligence personnel and private US mercenaries in military fatigues. It is now known that hundreds of these photographs had been in circulation among the troops in Iraq. The graphic photos were being swapped between the soldiers like baseball cards.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, one Mexican-American soldier told La Voz de Aztlan, “Maybe the officers didn’t know what was going on, but everybody else did. I have seen literally hundreds of these types of pictures.” Many of the pictures were destroyed last September when the luggage of soldiers was searched as they left Iraq, he said

An investigation, led by Army Major General Antonio M. Taguba, identified two military intelligence officers and two civilian contractors for the Army as key figures in the abuse cases at the Abu Ghraib prison. In an internal report on his findings, Major General Taguba said he suspected that the four were “either directly or indirectly responsible for the abuses at Abu Ghraib and strongly recommended disciplinary action.”

The Taguba report states that “military intelligence interrogators and other U.S. Government Agency interrogators actively requested that Military Police guards set physical and mental conditions for favorable interrogation of witnesses.” The report noted that one civilian interrogator, a contractor from a company called CACI International and attached to the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, “clearly knew his instructions” to the Military Police equated to physical and sexual abuse. It is not known whether these instructions included, or led to, the raping of Iraqi women detainees as well.

Ref: Aztlan

Also read about: US Military Facilities in Iraq

What the Fuck is a Vietnam?’: Touristic Phantasms and the Popcolonization of (the) Vietnam (War)
The Iraq War: Legal or Illegal?
In Haditha Killings, Details Came Slowly

The Rape of Latinas in the US Military

The Rape of Latinas in the US Military

Los Angeles, Alta California – May 10, 2004 – (ACN) Today, I heard and viewed the “goody two-shoes” First Lady on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and almost vomited when I heard her say that the sexual torture of Iraqi POW’s and female detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison was not what the USA stands for. I ask, where did she study US history? I would like to invite her to “obtain some culture” and view the play “Ramona” that has been playing continuously for 81 years in Hemet, Alta California (http://www.ramonabowl.com/home.shtml). The rape of American Indians, Mexicans and African slaves has been an ongoing enterprise by barbaric whites ever since European savages set foot on the Western Hemisphere. Perhaps, the “First Lady” can be excused for her ignorance. White Texians are not known to be particularly “educated” nor “cultured”!

The USA military has pillaged and raped the American Indians and the Mexicans in the southwest in the same way they are now doing to the Iraqis. Even today, naive Latinas who join the US Armed Forces are being brutalized and raped by racist Jews and white military personnel. They are being recruited for the exclusive enjoyment of depraved US Jewish and white military personnel. If they are doing this within the US military ranks, what can Iraqi men and women expect in their own occupied land? The brutalization of people of color by white military armed forces is a historical fact.

Another “dirty secret” of the Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz run Pentagon is the shameful “raping” of women of color in the US military that has reached “epidemic proportions”. There are hundreds of Mexican-American and other enlisted women in the US military whose lives have been totally shattered by a military they thought would never betray them. Their lives are now in total shambles after the Pentagon threw them out and blame them for the brutal rapes that took place while they were in uniform.

There are hundreds of documented rapes of Latinas in the US military and thousands more that were never reported because of fear and shame of the victims. This is also true of the hundreds of rapes of Iraqi women and young girls that took place in Baghdad during the early days of the US occupation. The following five cases are just examples of the hundreds that have occurred during recent years.

The Rape Case of Second Lieutenant Orlinda Marquez

Orlinda Marquez, one of many Mexican-Americans brainwashed by the US educational system, dreamed of being an officer in the military ever since she was a kid in the fifth grade. Ms. Marquez confesses, “I bought a rucksack from an Army surplus store and ran to and from school with that rucksack.” Naive and innocent Orlinda Marquez took an ROTC scholarship and graduated from the Colorado School of Mines in Golden with a degree in engineering and geophysics. She fulfilled her lifetime dream and joined the Army Corps of Engineers in 1987 as a Second Lieutenant.

Second Lieutenant Marquez was brutally raped by a non-commissioned officer while she slept in her barracks and her entire illustrious career and life completely destroyed. She has than self-destructed after a racist US command that has no respect for women of color blamed her for the rape.

The Rape Case of Airwoman Arabella Rivera

Arabella Rivera came from a military family. Her brother was in the Air Force and her father in the US Army. Ms. Rivera , at age 18, joined the Air Force, and was sent to Lowry Air Force Base. Naive and innocent as most Catholic girls, the white military beasts started conspiring against her. Her first orders were to wear short skirts. She had been in photography school at the base for about three months when she was set up for a sexual assault. An officer she trusted forced her to perform oral sex in his car. “I didn’t know what the hell he was doing. He grabbed me and pulled me down. … He wouldn’t let me go. I was choking. I thought I would die,” she recalled.

After that night, her life was in shambles and she began to drink heavily to relieve her shame. A few days later, walking home from the airmen’s club, the same man followed her to a remote part of the base and sodomized her. She said she screamed and cried until he let her go.

The next week, when a master sergeant followed her into a bathroom and began putting his hands up her shirt, she “freaked out,” she said. He stopped, and told her the incident never happened, and that life would be hell if she told anyone. Arabella Rivera was subsequently assaulted numerous times. After one incident she was forced to work with her attacker. Arabella Rivera has had intensive therapy, but had to drop out after an extremely traumatic session.

She never reported the assaults because of the threats and feeling that no one would believe her.

Being a female in the military, she said, meant “you had to fight tooth and nail to compete with the men. So I became one of the boys. Had a foul mouth like the men. Drank like them and became promiscuous. I didn’t know how to be a lady anymore. I didn’t show emotion. I didn’t cry.”

The above behavior may be the same “syndrome” Lynndie England demonstrated and that is depicted in the the Abu Ghraib torture photographs of Iraqi POW’s. Lynndie England reputed to be a lesbian, never-the-less was extremely promiscuous and is now five months pregnant in the brig at Fort Bragg.

Arabella Rivera began therapy, but at first reliving the trauma was too much to take. “I crawled on the floor, cried and cried and said, ‘I can’t do this anymore.’ “I didn’t want to die, but I didn’t want to live.” She ended up in the psychiatric ward of VA Hospital.

The Rape Case of Sailor Yuriria Acuna Pineda

Yuriria Acuna Pineda of the US Navy now lives in Los Angeles . . . homeless. A young Mexican-American woman of very meager economic resources, she has been unable to find help for her mental problems due to the brutal rape inside a bathroom by another sailor by the name of Roger Northern II in June of 2001. The US Navy investigator by the name of Kevin O’Neil concluded that Yariria had “asked for it”!

At a homeless shelter for veterans in Long Beach, Acuna Pineda has applied for benefits for post-traumatic stress syndrome and has begun counseling.

Although she is only 24, she said it’s hard to feel hopeful about her future when she had planned to remain in the Navy. “Everything I learned in there, it’s useless now. I have to start all over. I feel it was all taken from me, what I had worked so hard to get.”

The Rape Case of US Army Medic Susana Armenta

As one of the few women working in an ambulance unit at Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii, 18-year-old Susana Armenta did not question a supervisor when he instructed her to wear only dresses.

She was alone in her barracks early one morning when her supervisor walked in and sexually assaulted her. As he was leaving, Armenta, now 39, recalls his saying, “Thank you. You just made my day.”

She did not report him, she said, for fear she would be demoted or punished.

Two months later, she left the service and eventually joined the Reserves.

In 1991, Armenta was activated for Operation Desert Storm. She was at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs doing laundry when she walked back into her room and suddenly felt a huge shove.

“I remember seeing a face and blond hair. I know the person was very heavy because I was hurting so bad,” she recalled.

She remembers few details of the rape itself, but can recall waking up the next morning feeling numb. “I went to the bathroom and saw the blood and the stickiness and the bruises,” she said. “I took the longest shower of my life, and that was it.”

Weeks later, she realized she had contracted a sexually transmitted disease from the assault, she said, and was treated by a doctor.

After the rape, Armenta returned to work. “I drank wine to keep myself under control. I was so scared I would see him again. One day at work I began crying hysterically. I asked for a chaplain, and the next thing I knew I was admitted to the psychiatric hospital.”

The Rape Case of Airwoman Sofia Rodriguez

Sofia Rodriguez was 25 and had been in the Air Force one year when she became pregnant. She was in the third month of pregnancy at McClellan Air Force Base in California when she was raped. A staff sergeant brutally raped her and she almost lost her baby.

“The next thing I remember … he was raping me,” Rodriguez said. “I couldn’t move. All I could do was cry and think, ‘What’s going to happen to my baby?’ I can remember the tears coming down my face, and he was saying I was crying because I was enjoying it. He had his hand on my throat.”

Rodriguez doesn’t remember how she got away. “I went to my dorm, locked myself in my room, and my whole life changed.” She says , “I blamed myself. I even thought about suicide.”

The trauma from rape, she said, “takes your life if you let it. … I joined the military with my whole heart. You don’t expect to be raped by your own peers or superior.”

The above five case of rape of Latinas in the US Armed Forces are just examples of the hundreds that have occurred in recent years. There are thousands more that never get reported or investigated. These and the known cases of rape in occupied Iraq are not mere isolated cases as the First Lady and her husband George Bush are saying. It is a pattern that has been established ever since the hordes of invaders pillaged Aztlan and are now doing in Islamic countries. This is one primary reason why many in Aztlan do not consider the stupid jock Pat Tillman a hero. He was, for us, just another “white (or Jewish) rapist” responsible for the murder of an unknown number of Afghani children. There are actually “no heros” in the current Zionist instigated war against Islam. Soldiers of Mexican descent in the US military should instead fight for the honor of the Mexican-American women that were raped as described above.

In addition, La Voz de Aztlan is calling for all the elected Congresswomen of Mexican descent to STOP giving our community mere “lip service” and start doing something constructive in making sure, that at least, the US military cease “raping” our enlisted military women. The US military has been accused of raping a 9 year old Iraqi girl in Baghadad, a 12 year old Iraqi girl at the Abu Ghraib prison and of the sodomization of Iraqi boys in addition to adult Iraqi POW’s. What is it going to take for all five of you to speak out vociferously?

Please do not follow the example of Congressowman Loretta Sanchez of Orange County, California who shamelessly partied with the Jewish pornographer Hugh Hefner at the PlayBoy Mansion? PlayGirl Loretta Sanchez has now been instrumental in electing as a congresswoman her “do-nothing sister” Linda Sanchez because apperantly she colluded with certain questionable elements of the Califronia Jewish dominated Democratic Party. We have been witnesses of the Jewish inspired pornographic tactics that Loretta Sanchez utilized during her campaign. Her “flashing of her calzones” during opportune times is worst than what Lynddie England did to the Iraqi POW’s. Our community will not stand for this! Congresswomen Loretta Sanchez, Linda Sanchez, Lucille Royball-Allard, Grace Napolitano and Hilda Solis . . . stop “prostituting” yourselves just to be re-elected. Stand up for moral principals and human justice around the world now or you will be kicked out of office by our community! Stop the rape of Mexican women and other Latinas! Stop the rape and the occupation of Iraq now!

Ref: Aztland

Also read:
LA RAZA: The “grunts” of the U.S. Armed Forces

Photos Show Rape of Iraqi Women by US Occupation Forces

USA rape and sodomization of Iraqis worst than imagined

Rape of Iraqi girls by US mercenaries and soldiers was rampant in Baghdad

War on Words – (Mis)labeling isn’t an exclusively Iranian prerogative

Less than a week after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad left a bemused and scornful audience at Columbia University, Iran’s parliament voted by a margin of 215 to declare the “aggressor U.S. army and the Central Intelligence Agency…terrorists [who] nurture terror.” Their reasoning might seem dubious—apparently based on the U.S.’s decision to drop atomic bombs 60 years ago—but the vote provides a unique opportunity for American introspection.

The Iranian parliament’s resolution uses the word “terrorist” rather liberally and, given conventional definitions, incorrectly. But U.S. lawmakers should think twice about condemning this propagandist political move. The American government, in conducting its “war on terror” is no stranger to semantic sleights of hand, displaying a tendency to label (or mislabel) just as egregiously as the Iranian parliament.

The Iranian action is a clear response to the US Congress’s recent resolution labeling the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRG) a “foreign terrorist organization.” Supposedly, Iran’s longstanding support for terrorist groups like Hezbollah and its current support for Iraqi insurgents justifies the “T” word. But this argument has many problems, including inaccuracy and meaninglessness.

First of all, calling a state instrument, specifically the recognized army of a legitimate state, a terrorist organization akin to Al Qaeda or Hezbollah goes against the conventional understanding of what a terrorist organization is. We might as well say that the entire state of Iran is a terrorist organization. While this might please some interests and provide a symbolic slap in the face to Iran’s government, it would be ignorant. The army, just like the state, may have some components that support other terrorist organizations (such as training Hezbollah), but this does not mean the entire armed forces are terrorists.

So the declaration is meaningless, especially since it is only a non-binding “sense of the Senate” resolution, which cannot officially influence the president’s foreign policy. The move is generally recognized as symbolic posturing designed to aggravate relations. It also reduces the meaning of the word “terrorism” from actions characterized by their deliberate use of civilian death and terror to further a goal, to a nasty word used to describe those we don’t like.

But this is more than just an argument over semantics. Under Executive Order 13224, the U.S. government can disrupt financial assets of any terrorist organization. Conducting such acts against a sovereign state is essentially an act of war. Labeling the IRG in such a way is potentially tantamount to imposing clandestine unilateral sanctions on Iran using a legal loophole.

And this isn’t the first time the U.S. has engaged in linguistic gymnastics. Perhaps the best known case of disingenuous mislabeling in the “war on terror” is the now-famous term “enemy combatant.” This term has existed since at least World War II, used generally to describe non-uniformed enemy personnel such as spies. With the invasion of Afghanistan, the term was broadened to include those who supported Al Qaeda or the Taliban, and it now seems to include potentially any person picked up by the army during operations. Such labeling allows for the skirting of the Third Geneva Convention, which deals with prisoners of war. Even the Supreme Court has not offered a great deal of clarity on this issue, deciding in 2004 that detaining without trial at Guantánamo was legal, and deciding in 2006 that, in fact, special executive tribunals violated the Geneva Convention. The government’s mislabeling amounts to a deliberate attempt to create legal ambiguity and a screen for the army’s actions.

This irresponsible rhetoric has real harms, for individuals and for international relations. It shouldn’t be a surprise when countries the United States calls “evil” respond in kind with similar posturing and ridiculous assertions. While the Iranian government’s logic is seriously flawed, it’s less easy to dismiss if we consider our own government’s inaccurate name-calling. This mutually disingenuous verbal battle only increases enmity and tension between nations. Before criticizing Iran, even if such criticism is deserved and accurate, we should examine our own misappropriation of language.

Ref: The Harward Crimson, by Shai D. Bronshtein

Shai D. Bronshtein ’09, a Crimson editorial editor, is a social studies concentrator in Lowell House.

Israeli Apartheid: Time for the South African Treatment

By now, most Palestinians recognize Israel’s entrenched system of colonialism, racism and denial of basic human rights as a form of apartheid. In fact, Palestinians are far from alone in holding this view of Israel; leading South African intellectuals, politicians and human rights advocates subscribe to the same school of thought. For instance, in an article in the Guardian tellingly entitled “Apartheid in the Holy Land,” Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote:

“I’ve been very deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa. […] Have our Jewish sisters and brothers forgotten their humiliation? Have they forgotten the collective punishment, the home demolitions, in their own history so soon?”[1]
In fact, many Jews have not forgotten. Inside Israel, some Jewish politicians and journalists have made clear analogies between Israel and South Africa. Roman Bronfman, Chair of the Democratic Choice faction in the Yahad party, criticized what he termed “an apartheid regime in the occupied territories,” adding, “The policy of apartheid has also infiltrated sovereign Israel, and discriminates daily against Israeli Arabs and other minorities. The struggle against such a fascist viewpoint is the job of every humanist.”[2]

Esther Levitan, the Jewish grandmother once condemned to indefinite solitary confinement without trial in apartheid South Africa for her activism in the ANC, admitted in an interview with Ha’aretz that she considered Israel appallingly racist, saying: “Israelis have this loathsome hatred of Arabs that makes me sick. […] They will create a worse apartheid here.”[3]

Former Israeli education minister, Shulamit Aloni, recently stated that Israel commits war crimes, “utilizes terror” and is “no different from racist South Africa.” When asked how she viewed Israel’s future, Aloni responded: “I can show you Mussolini’s books about fascism. If you read them you’ll reach the unequivocal conclusion that ministers in the current Israeli government are walking on the same path.”[4]

Brave Jewish South African leaders also made their voices heard against Israeli apartheid when they issued their famous Not in Our Names Declaration of Conscience flatly condemning Israel’s denial of Palestinian rights as the root cause of the conflict. The Declaration, authored by government minister Ronnie Kasrils and legislator Max Ozinsky and signed by hundreds of other leading Jewish South Africans, states, “It becomes difficult, particularly from a South African perspective, not to draw parallels with the oppression experienced by Palestinians under the hand of Israel and the oppression experienced in South Africa under apartheid rule.”[5]

What could have stirred all this moral indignation, one may wonder? The following representative samples of Israeli oppression of the three main parts of the Palestinian people (under occupation, in exile and in Israel) may help answer this question.

Israel’s Occupation

Nothing captures the immense injustice of the occupation as much as Israel’s colonial Wall, built mostly on occupied territory, and condemned as illegal by a historic advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice at the Hague in July 2004. Despite the Wall’s grave repercussions on Palestinian livelihood, environment, and political rights, a near total consensus[6] exists amongst Israeli Jews in its support. The former Israeli environment minister, Yehudit Naot, however, protested a specific aspect of the Wall, saying:

“The separation fence severs the continuity of open areas and is harmful to the landscape, the flora and fauna, the ecological corridors and the drainage of the creeks. The protective system will irreversibly affect the land resource and create enclaves of communities that are cut off from their surroundings.”[7]
Even after irises were moved and passages for small animals were created, the spokesperson for the Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority complained:
“The animals don’t know that there is now a border. They are used to a certain living space, and what we are concerned about is that their genetic diversity will be affected because different population groups will not be able to mate and reproduce. Isolating the populations on two sides of a fence definitely creates a genetic problem.”[8]
While so attuned to the welfare of wild flowers and foxes, Israel treated Palestinian children as dispensable creatures. Professionally-trained sharpshooters fatally targeted them in minor stone-throwing incidences. For example, medical sources[9] and human rights organizations, including Physicians for Human Rights, have documented in the first stage of the current Palestinian intifada a pattern of targeting the eyes and knees of Palestinian children with “clear intention” to harm.[10] Tel Aviv University professor Tanya Reinhart writes, “A common practice [among sharpshooters] is shooting a rubber-coated metal bullet straight in the eye — a little game of well-trained soldiers, which requires maximum precision.”[11]

And when there was no stone-throwing incident to hide behind, Israeli soldiers had to provoke one. The veteran American journalist Chris Hedges exposed[12] how Israeli troops in Gaza had methodically provoked Palestinian children playing in the dunes of southern Gaza in order to shoot them. While the kids were playing football, the voice out of the army Jeeps would bellow,
“Come on, dogs. […] Where are all the dogs of Khan Younis? Come! Come! […] Son of a bitch!” Describing how the plan would then unfold, Hedges writes:
“The boys — most no more than ten or eleven years old — dart in small packs up the sloping dunes to the electric fence that separates the camp from the Jewish settlement. They lob rocks toward two armored jeeps parked on top of the dune and mounted with loudspeakers. […] A percussion grenade explodes. The boys […] scatter, running clumsily across the heavy sand. They descend out of sight behind a sandbank in front of me. There are no sounds of gunfire. The soldiers shoot with silencers. The bullets from the M-16 rifles tumble end over end through the children’s slight bodies. Later, in the hospital, I will see the destruction: the stomachs ripped out, the gaping holes in limbs and torsos.

Yesterday at this spot the Israelis shot eight […]. Children have been shot in other conflicts I have covered […] but I have never before watched soldiers entice children like mice into a trap and murder them for sport.”.
As outrageous as they are, Israeli violations of human rights in the occupied territory are not the only form of oppression practiced against the Palestinians. Two other crucial dimensions of Israeli injustice and breaches of international law are no less important, if arguably less urgent, namely Israel’s denial of Palestinian refugee rights and its system of racial discrimination against its own Arab-Palestinian citizens. Palestinians cannot ignore either form of oppression.

Israel and Palestinian Refugee Rights

Far from admitting its guilt in creating the world’s oldest and largest refugee problem, Israel has constantly evaded any responsibility for the Nakba, the catastrophe of Palestinian dispossession and uprooting around 1948. Most peculiar in the mainstream Israeli discourse about the “birth” of the state is the total denial of any crime. Israelis, with few bright exceptions, regard the Zionists’ ruthless destruction of more than 400 Palestinian villages and their campaign of ethnic cleansing which led to the exile of more than 750 thousand Palestinians as Israel’s “independence.” Even committed Israeli leftists often grieve over the loss of Israel’s “moral superiority” after occupying the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, as if prior to that Israel were a normal, civil and law-abiding state.

But the truth that was literally buried under the rubble was eventually unearthed, thanks in no small part to Israel’s new historians. Today, the refugee problem irrefutably remains the most consequential and morally charged issue in this entire conflict.

Manipulating the Holocaust, Israel has premised its rejection of Palestinian refugee rights on the theory that Jews are unsafe among Gentiles and must therefore live in a state with a dominant Jewish character that is to be sacredly maintained, regardless of international law and irrespective of the human and political rights of the displaced natives of the land on which this state was erected. No other country in the world today claims a similar right to ethno-religious supremacy. When the victims of the “super-victims” are portrayed as relative humans, as possessing inferior comparative worth, such an attitude is largely tolerated.[13]

While denying Palestinian refugees their basic rights, Jews in Israel and the west have scored numerous successes in their campaigns for Holocaust restitution and compensation, which often included the right to return to Germany, Poland and other countries from which Jewish refugees were expelled. But the quintessence of moral inconsistency is betrayed by the World Sephardic Federation’s pressure on Spain to recognize the descendants of the Jews expelled from Andalusia more than five centuries ago as Spanish citizens and to rehabilitate them accordingly.[14]

The fact that refugees form a majority of the Palestinian people coupled with their 57-year old suffering in exile make the recognition of the basic rights of Palestinian refugees, including their right to return to their lands, the litmus test of morality for anyone suggesting a just and enduring solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Moral and legal rights aside, the denial of Palestinian refugee rights guarantees the perpetuation of conflict.[15]

Israel and its own Arab-Palestinian Citizens

Israel might not be unique in racially discriminating[16] against its national minority. But it is certainly unique in its remarkable and sustained success — so far — in getting away with it, projecting a false image of enlightenment and democracy. At the core of Israel’s distinct form of apartheid lies a deep-rooted view of the Palestinian citizens of the state not just as undesirable reminders of the “original sin,”[17] but also as a demographic threat. Racial discrimination against them in every vital aspect of life has always been the norm. In fact, advocating comprehensive and unequivocal equality between Arabs and Jews in Israel has become tantamount to sedition, if not treason. An Israeli High Court justice once stated on record that: “it is necessary to prevent a Jew or Arab who calls for equality of rights for Arabs from sitting in the Knesset or being elected to it.”[18] To this date, significant majorities of Israeli Jews have consistently opposed full equality with the Palestinian citizens of Israel.[19]

Even in cancer research[20], Israeli apartheid is strongly present. In June 2001, the Health Ministry published a map of the geographical distribution of malignant diseases in Israel during the years 1984-1999. The detailed report presents data about such diseases in communities with more than 10,000 residents. The report did not include a single Arab community in Israel, with the exception of Rahat. When asked why, Ministry officials resorted to the ubiquitous excuse of “budgetary problems.” But why is this research particularly important? Well, because in Israel only when a correlation is shown between the presence of polluting sites and the incidence of malignant disease is it possible to prevent installation of new hazards, or demand tighter environmental standards. By intentionally omitting Arab towns in its extensive cancer mapping, the Health Ministry has indirectly given a green light to polluters to relocate to Arab towns. The results of such health apartheid are ominous. In the past three decades the rate of malignant diseases in the Palestinian population in Israel has risen by 97.8 percent among men, and 123 percent among women, as opposed to a rise of 39.8 percent for men and 24.4 percent for women in the Jewish population. A spokesperson for the Center Against Racism commented: “The report has produced two different groups. One, an overprivileged group, whose lives are dear to the state and to the Health Ministry; a second, whose lives are of no importance to the state.”

This discrimination must be seen in the wider context of Israel’s perception of Palestinians. Israeli politicians, intellectuals, academics and mass media outlets often passionately debate how best to fight the country’s demographic “war” with the Palestinians. Racist walls have been erected in several localities inside Israel where Jews and Palestinians live in close proximity. In Lydda, Ramleh and Caesaria barriers of various forms were built to demographically separate the two communities.[21] Echoing a popular view in Israel, a ranking academic, Major General (reserve) Shlomo Gazit from the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, preeches: “Democracy has to be subordinated to demography.”[22]

Many Israelis from across the political spectrum now support various forms of ethnic cleansing of Palestinian citizens of Israel. This once taboo, extreme-right slogan upheld by such fringe figures as Rabbi Meir Kahane has now become part of the acceptable discourse about demography in the Israeli mainstream.[23]

One conscientious Israeli who is revolted by all this language of demographic control is Dr. Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin of Ben-Gurion University, who says: “It’s frightening when Jews talk about demography.”[24]

Ronnie Kasrils and Victoria Brittain addressed this rarely mentioned aspect of Israel’s apartheid in an article in the Guardian, where they wrote:
“The desire for an ethnic-religious majority of Israeli Jews has seeped across from the occupied territories to permeate the Israeli ‘national’ agenda, which increasingly views Palestinian citizens of Israel as a ‘demographic threat’ […]. The Palestinian minority in Israel has for decades been denied basic equality in health, education, housing and land possession, solely because it is not Jewish. The fact that this minority is allowed to vote hardly redresses the rampant injustice in all other basic human rights. They are excluded from the very definition of the ‘Jewish state’, and have virtually no influence on the laws, or political, social and economic policies. Hence their similarity to the black South Africans.”[25]

What’s to be Done, then?

The abject failure of the international community in the last few decades to bring about Israel’s compliance with international law has prompted people of conscience the world over to go beyond mere condemnation of Israeli crimes and human rights violations to explicitly endorse and advocate effective pressures on Israel, as was done with the apartheid regime in South Africa. In an article entitled “Against Israeli Apartheid,” Desmond Tutu states:
“Yesterday’s South African township dwellers can tell you about today’s life in the occupied territories. […] The indignities, dependence and anger are all too familiar. […] Many South Africans are beginning to recognize the parallels to what we went through. […] If apartheid ended, so can the occupation, but the moral force and international pressure will have to be just as determined. The current divestment effort is the first, though certainly not the only, necessary move in that direction.”[26]
This is precisely the conclusion reached by Palestinian civil society. On July 9, marking the first anniversary of the ICJ’s advisory opinion against the Wall, more than 170 Palestinian political parties, trade unions, professional associations and other civil society organizations issued a Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, directed against Israel until it fully complies with international law and universal principles of human rights. The BDS campaign is anchored in Palestinian non-violent resistance to Israeli oppression in all its dimensions. Setting an important precedent, this historic document was signed by representatives of the three constituent sectors of the people of Palestine: refugees, Palestinian citizens of Israel and Palestinians in the occupied territory. It is also the first time such a non-violent form of resistance was widely endorsed by virtually all sectors of Palestinian society. A crucial feature in the Call is its direct appeal to conscientious Israelis to support it.

Support for boycotting Israel was strongest in South Africa. In October 2004, a call for a comprehensive boycott of Israel issued by solidarity groups in South Africa was endorsed by major South African organizations and unions, including the Congress Of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), Landless People’s Movement, South African NGO Coalition, Anti-War Coalition and Physicians for Human Rights.

So what is Palestinian Civil Society calling for exactly?

Based on the above described three-tiered system of Israeli apartheid, the Palestinian BDS Call states:
“We, representatives of Palestinian civil society, call upon international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era. We appeal to you to pressure your respective states to impose embargoes and sanctions against Israel. We also invite conscientious Israelis to support this Call, for the sake of justice and genuine peace.”[27]

The BDS Call is modelled after the earlier Call issued by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) which became the center of focus during the debate leading to and following the AUT’s boycott of selected Israeli universities back in April 2005. That historic decision was overturned in May of the same year. For 34 days, Palestinians everywhere saw some light at the end of the 57-year long tunnel of dark oppression. We realized that Israel could be brought down from the pedestal it is placed on in the west, to borrow Desmond Tutu’s metaphor. For 34 days, we felt that the world was listening, that finally we had a true rupture in the wall of shameful silence and complicity in the international arena. For 34 days, we witnessed a defining moment of transformation in the modus operandi of the solidarity movement from mostly raising awareness and issuing appeals or condemnations, as important as these issues remain, to also applying effective pressure to bring about justice and peace.

There are many arguments against heeding the Palestinian Call. I shall try to summarize the most rational and popular among them, giving counter arguments, the key to which is the principle of moral consistency.

Main Arguments Against BDS

Some distinguished supporters of the Palestinian cause have argued against applying South-Africa style sanctions and boycotts to Israel for various reasons, most significant of which are:

(A) Israel is essentially a democratic country with a vibrant civil society, and therefore it can be convinced to end its oppression without sanctions.

(B) Unlike in South Africa during apartheid, the majority in Israel is opposed to sanctions.

(C) Israeli civil society organizations are largely progressive and at the vanguard of the peace movement, and therefore they must be supported not boycotted.

Counter Arguments

(A) How can an ethno-religious supremacy that is also a colonial power ever qualify as a democracy? NYU professor Tony Judt, for instance, calls Israel a “dysfunctional anachronism,” categorizing it among the “belligerently intolerant, faith-driven ethno states.”[28]

The famous Jewish-American writer, I.F. Stone, summed up the dilemma of Zionism saying: “Israel is creating a kind of moral schizophrenia in world Jewry. In the outside world, the welfare of Jewry depends on the maintenance of secular, non-racial, pluralistic societies. In Israel, Jewry finds itself defending a society in which mixed marriages cannot be legalized, in which non-Jews have a lesser status than Jews, and in which the ideal is racist and exclusivist.”[29]

(B) Of all the anti-boycott arguments, this one reflects either surprising naiveté or deliberate intellectual dishonesty. Are we to judge whether to apply sanctions on a colonial power based on the opinion of the majority in the oppressors’ community? Does the oppressed community count at all?

(C) This is simply a myth propagated and maintained by some Israeli academics and intellectuals who count themselves in the “left.” The vast majority of Israelis serve in the army’s reserve forces, and therefore directly know of or participate in the daily crimes of occupation and colonization. Moreover, with the exception of a tiny yet crucial minority, Israeli civil society is largely opposed to full equality of the Palestinians, is supportive of the state’s oppression or is acquiescently silent about it.

Second Set of Arguments Against BDS

From a slightly different perspective, some observers have argued that boycotting Israel is counterproductive and may lead to:

(1) Losing the ability to influence Israel’s possible path to peace

(2) Radicalizing the Israeli right and pulling the rug from under the feet of the left

(3) Indirectly increasing the suffering of Palestinians who stand to lose financially and may even be subjected to deteriorating conditions of oppression by a wilder, more isolated Israel.

Second Set of Counter Arguments

(1) What influence? Europe hardly has any right now. Even in the U.S., the Israeliziation of US foreign policy, particularly vs. the middle east, has reached new depths, effectively tying the hands of any prospective American pressure aimed at curtailing, not to mention changing, Israel’s oppressive policies.

(2) What left? The Zionist left in Israel easily makes the far-right parties in Europe look as moral as Mother Teresa, especially when it comes to recognizing Palestinian refugees’ rights. On the other hand, the morally consistent, non-Zionist left is a very tiny group, whose members may inadvertently end up losing benefits, privileges and funding as a result of boycott. This should compel us to nuance our boycott tactics to decrease the possibility of that unnecessarily happening. But, we all know, this is not an exact science (if any science is). We must emphasize the positive impact boycott can have on the overall struggle for human rights, equality and real democracy even in Israel.

(3) More suffocation? Even Archbishop Desmond Tutu was horrified by the elaborate, multi-layered siege Israel has set up in the occupied Palestinian territories, calling for South-Africa style sanctions against Israel.

The Holocaust and Anti-Semitism Argument

As the French philosopher Etienne Balibar says, “Israel should not be allowed to instrumentalize the genocide of European Jews to put [itself] above the law of nations.”[30] Beyond that, by turning a blind eye to Israel’s oppression, as the U.S. and most of official Europe often do, the West has in fact perpetuated the misery, the human suffering and the injustice that have ensued since the Holocaust.

As to the anti-Semitism charge, it is patently misplaced and clearly used as a tool of intellectual intimidation. It is hardly worth reiterating that Palestinian calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions do not target Jews or even Israelis qua Jews. They are strictly directed against Israel as a colonial power that violates Palestinian rights and international law. The growing support among progressive European and American Jews for effective pressure on Israel is one counter-argument that is not well publicized.

BDS does not preclude joint Palestinian-Israeli cooperation so long as it recognizes the reality of oppression, accepts the basic need for equality and is directed against injustice. It just sets careful criteria for making such cooperation morally sound and politically effective. It is not enough to call for peace, for this word has become the most abused word in the English dictionary, particularly when two notorious and certified war criminals currently regard themselves as “men of peace.” Peace without justice is equivalent to institutionalizing injustice.

Peace projects which deliberately omit any mention of Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians are nothing more than harmful and corrupt endeavours. Those who imagine they can wish away the conflict by suggesting some forums for rapprochement, détente, or “dialogue” — which they hope can lead to authentic processes of reconciliation and eventually peace — are clinically delusional or dangerously deceptive. Attempting to change the perception of the oppressed rather than help end oppression itself is an indicator of moral blindness and political short-sightedness. Prolonging oppression is not only unethical, it is pragmatically counter-productive as well, as it perpetuates the conflict.

Boycott, divestment and sanctions do not come in one size that fits all. If the basic premise that Israel needs to be pressured in order to comply with international law is accepted, then diverse forms of pressure can be applied in accordance with specific contexts. Without principled and effective support for this minimal, civil, non-violent form of resistance to oppression, or for any comparable form of struggle, international civil society organizations will be abandoning their moral obligation to stand up for right, justice, true peace, equality and a chance to validate the prevalence of universal ethical principles.

Ref: Pacbi.org
Endnotes:

* Independent Palestinian researcher; founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI).

[1] Desmond Tutu, Apartheid in the Holy Land, The Guardian, April 29, 2002.

[2] Roman Bronfman, The Hong Kong of the Middle East, Ha’aretz, May 20, 2005.

[3] Thomas O’Dwyer, Parts and apartheid, Ha’aretz, May 24, 2002.

[4] Roee Nahmias, ‘Israeli terror is worse’, Yedioth Ahronoth, July 29, 2005.

[5] Jon Jeter, South African Jews Polarized Over Israel, Washington Post, December 19, 2001.

[6] Ha’aretz Editorial, A Fence Along the Settlers’ Lines, October 3, 2003.

[7] Mazal Mualem, Old Habitats Die Hard, Ha’aretz June 20, 2003.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Dr. Aghlab Khouri of St. John Eye Hospital in Jerusalem explains in his affidavit to a human rights organization the effect of the impact of a rubber coated metal bullet to the eye: “The cases that I [have] treated during the clashes were cases of direct shots to the eyes with rubber coated metal bullets. This kind of bullet does not have a sharp end but has a piece of metal inside; they hit the eye with great speed, creating an impact that shatters the eye.”

LAW, Israel’s Excessive and Indiscriminate Use of Force: Eye Injuries, November 2, 2000.

[10] Physicians for Human Rights, Evaluation of the Use of Force in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank, November 3, 2000. http://www.phrusa.org/research/forensics/israel/Israel_force_2.html

[11] Tanya Reinhart, Don’t Say You Didn’t Know, Indymedia, November 6, 2000.

[12] Chris Hedges, A Gaza Diary, Harper’s Magazine, October 2001.

[13] For more on this argument, refer to: Omar Barghouti, The Spirit of Auschwitz, Al-Ahram Weekly Online, 2 – 8 May 2002.

[14] DPA, Sephardi Jews Demand Recognition from Spanish Government, Ha’aretz, October 15, 2002.

[15] For more details on this, refer to: Omar Barghouti, On Refugees, Creativity & Ethics, ZNet, September 28, 2002.

[16] According to Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, “Although the Palestinian citizens of the State of Israel represent approximately 20% of its population, this community suffers from institutionalized discrimination that produces severe socio-economic gaps between the Jewish majority and the Arab minority. No significant investments are made to eliminate these gaps. On the contrary, the Arab population continues to suffer from under-budgeting and discrimination in many areas including employment, education, property and planning policies, and health care services.” http://www.phr.org.il/Phr/Pages/PhrArticle_Unit.asp?Cat=37&Pcat=4

[17] Israeli writer Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi says, “Israelis seem to be haunted by […] the curse of the original sin against the native Arabs. How can Israel be discussed without recalling the dispossession and exclusion of non-Jews? This is the most basic fact about Israel, and no understanding of Israeli reality is possible without it. The original sin haunts and torments Israelis: it marks everything and taints everybody. Its memory poisons the blood and marks every moment of existence.’ Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, Original Sins: Reflections on the History of Zionism and Israel (1993); cited in: “The Origin of the Palestine-Israel Conflict,” http://www.cactus48.com

[18] Edward Herman, Israeli Apartheid and Terrorism, Z-Magazine, April 29, 2002.

[19] Ha’aretz, May 22, 2003.

[20] Eli Ashkenazi, Budget for Cancer Mapping doesn’t extend to Arab Sector, Ha’aretz, March 28, 2005.

[21] Lily Galili, Long Division, Ha’aretz, December 19, 2003.

[22] Lily Galili, A Jewish demographic state, Ha’aretz, Monday, July 01, 2002.

[23] Yulie Khromchenco , Poll: 64% of Israeli Jews support encouraging Arabs to leave, Ha’aretz, June 22, 2004.

[24] Galili, 2002.

[25] Ronnie Kasrils and Victoria Brittain, Both Palestinians and Israelis will benefit from a boycott, The Guardian, May 25, 2005.

[26] Desmond Tutu and Ian Urbina, Against Israeli Apartheid, The Nation, July 15, 2002.

[27] Palestinian Civil Society’s Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) can be read in full at: http://www.PACBI.org

[28] Tony Judt, Israel: The Alternative, New York Review of Books, Vol. 50, #16, October 23, 2003. http://www.nybooks.com/articles/16671

[29] I.F. Stone, For a new approach to the Israeli-Arab Conflict, The New York Review of Books, August 3, 1967.

[30] Etienne Balibar, A Complex Urgent Universal Political Cause, Address before the conference of Faculty for Israeli-Palestinian Peace (FFIPP), Université Libre de Bruxelles, July 3rd and 4th