Are All Americans Guilty? – Whatever Happened to Western Morality?

On the last day of the old year in CounterPunch, two Israelis, Jeff Halper who heads the Israeli peace movement ICAHD and Neve Gordon who is chairman of the department of politics and government at Ben-Gurion University, asked, “Where’s the Academic Outrage Over the Bombing of a University in Gaza?”

“Not one of the nearly 450 presidents of American colleges and universities who prominently denounced an effort by British academics to boycott Israeli universities in September 2007 have raised their voice in opposition to Israel’s bombardment of the Islamic University of Gaza earlier this week,” report Halper and Gordon. They note that Columbia University president Lee C. Bollinger, who has in the past ignorantly insulted Islamic representatives, “has been silent.”

It is the goyim moralists who are silent, not the Jews. It is the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, not the goyim media, that provides reports of Israel’s abuse of Palestinians. Gideon Levy’s “The Neighborhood Bully Strikes Again” was published in Haaretz (29 December), not in the goyim press. Levy’s words–“Once again, Israel’s violent responses, even if there is justification for them, exceed all proportion and cross every red line of humaneness, morality, international law and wisdom”–are not words that can appear in American print or TV media. Such words, printed in Israeli newspapers, never reach the goyim.

The extent of Americans’ ignorance is breathtaking. Israel has the Palestinians jammed into tightly controlled ghettos known as Gaza and the West Bank. With Egypt’s help, Israel controls the inflows of food, medicines, water, and energy into Gaza. Palestinians in Gaza are not permitted to enter Israel or Egypt. Last week a humanitarian ship bringing food and medicine was rammed by Israeli gunboats and turned away.

In the West Bank Palestinians are walled off from their fields, jobs, medical care, education, water, and from one another by endless checkpoints, roads for “Jews only,” walls, barbed wire, and machine gun towers. Palestinians are being evicted from their towns house by house, block by block.

Israel’s slow theft of Palestine is illegal under international law but protected by US “diplomacy.”

The Palestinians are no more of a threat to Israel than Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto were a threat to the Nazi state.
Yet, everywhere in America–Congress, the executive branch, the print and TV media, the universities, evangelical Christian institutions–there is the belief that Israel is on the verge of annihilation by Palestinian terrorists. This ignorance, so carefully cultivated by the Israel Lobby, turns genocidal aggression into self-defense.

It fools Americans, but it doesn’t fool Israelis. The Israelis have always known that “self-defense” is a cloak for a Zionist policy of territorial expansion. The policy is controversial within Israel. Many Israelis object, just as many Americans object to President Bush’s illegal wars and violations of US civil liberties. Many Israelis give voice to their moral conscience, but they are overwhelmed by vested interests.

Karl Marx declared morality to be merely a mask for vested interests. The writings of Marx and Engels are scornful of good will and moral ideals as effective forces in history. The Israeli state epitomizes Marx’s doctrine that power alone is the effective force.

Many American conservatives share the Israeli state’s belief in the efficacy of power. Conservatives who turned against Bush’s wars did so because the US was not brutal enough. They turned away from Bush’s long inconclusive wars in the way that fans desert a losing team.

Americans used to say that “the pen is mightier than the sword,” but this hasn’t been the case for US and Israeli aggression. The success the two regimes have had in instilling fear into their populations is part of the explanation for the impotence of morality. Another part of the explanation is that vested interests are a powerful constraint on morality.

Consider the case of Lee Bollinger. Columbia University is dependent on Jewish money, faculty and students. If Bollinger were to take a stand against Israel’s mistreatment of the Palestinians, he would be denounced as an anti-semite. Presidents of competitor universities would not come to his defense. They would pile on in hopes of recruiting Columbia’s top faculty and students and redirecting the flow of financial resources from Columbia to themselves.

An American newspaper or TV network that took a stand against Israel’s abuse of Palestinians would be confronted with an advertising boycott organized by AIPAC. American politicians who criticize Israel go down to defeat by Israel Lobby money.

Hegel gave too much emphasis to ideas, Marx too much to material interests. Both forces operate in the world. There are times in history when revolutionary ideas shatter material interests. Other times the two coexist in a balance of power. In other times material interests prevail over morality.

We are living in the latter time. Financial interests, the military-security complex, and the Israel Lobby are the powers that rule America. They are buttressed by neoconservatives and Christian Zionists and by the patriotic hubris that America is the main force for good operating in the world. The evils America commits are dismissed as necessary to the service of good. The destruction of Iraq, for example, is justified as “bringing freedom and democracy to the Iraqi people.”

A number of commentators, including myself, predict a decline in America’s economic power. As this occurs, Israel will have to abandon its policy of violence. With the accumulated hatred that its policies have fomented, Israel will be vulnerable.

The world will need to remember that although Israel is a Jewish state, it is a state whose policies many Jews find objectionable, just as a majority of American Jews oppose President Bush’s wars of aggression in the Middle East and his unconstitutional policies at home. We must not confuse Israel’s Zionist government with world Jewry, just as we must not confuse the American people with the war criminals in the Bush Regime.

Consider, who do you trust with your civil liberties, the US Department of Justice or the ACLU’s phalanx of Jewish attorneys?

We must avoid the mistake that was made by blaming the German people for Hitler. It was the aristocratic German military that tried to remove Hitler. In contrast, Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi blocked the attempt to impeach George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Pelosi is a discredit to California, but shall we blame all of America for Pelosi’s defense of war criminals? How can we do so when US Rep. Dennis Kucinich courageously read out the articles of impeachment on the House floor?

Are all Americans guilty because Kucinich did not prevail?

Ref: counterpunch
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at: PaulCraigRoberts@yahoo.com

No such thing as United Nations (we need a new world order and UN that does not shame us all!)

I NEVER imagined I would one day agree with that bizarre neoconservative warmonger John Bolton, who was briefly the US ambassador to the United Nations. In 1994, Bolton was quoted as saying “There’s no such thing as the United Nations. If the UN secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference“. I differ from Bolton only on one point. The entire expensive and useless organization founded in 1945 to prevent wars and pursue human rights should be demolished because it has failed to live up to its charter over and over again.

On Saturday night, the UN Security Council met in a closed-door emergency session so as to agree a resolution on Gaza, where more than 520 Palestinians have been murdered and over 3,000 wounded. But due to American pro-Israel bias, hypocrisy and double standards its members couldn’t even come up with a joint statement calling for an immediate cease-fire.

For once, Britain broke with its joined-at-the-hip US ally and demanded an end to the aggression whereas only last week it, too, had blocked UN calls for a cease-fire. It seems that Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown has decided he is no longer willing to provide Washington with moral cover but unfortunately this is too little, too late.

Saturday’s stalemate is a repeat of attempts in the summer of 2006 to end Israel’s war on Gaza that robbed the lives of 1,200 civilians. Then, the US and Britain, both veto-holders, stood together against the rest of the world and allowed the carnage to go on until it looked like Israel was receiving an unexpected bloody nose.

The council’s current inaction was too much for the president of the UN General Assembly Miguel d’Escoto Brockman, who termed it “a monstrosity”. “Once again, the world is watching in dismay the dysfunction of the Security Council,” he said, while blaming certain countries for playing politics.

Article 1 of the UN Charter headed “Purposes of the United Nations” calls for the body “to maintain international peace and security, and to that end: To take collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace; and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes…”

Article 73 states members of the UN which have responsibilities for the administration of territories whose people have not attained a full measure of self-government must recognize the principle that the interests of the inhabitants of these territories are paramount and must ensure, with due respect for the culture of the peoples concerned, their political, economic, social and educational advancement, their just treatment and their protection against abuses”.

The UN has failed on all the above points and more. It does not maintain international peace and security. It does not suppress acts of aggression or settle international disputes and it does not censure Israel’s willful failure to hold the interests of the occupied Palestinians paramount and protect them against abuses.

The charter is further based on the sovereign equality of all its members. This fine sentiment has turned out to be a huge joke. There is no equality amongst members and there cannot be as long as the five permanent members of the Security Council have veto power – a power, by the way that cannot be withdrawn unless the five veto-holders agree.

In reality, the 192 member states are under the boot of the five veto-holders. This situation makes a mockery of the term United Nations. There are the five bosses and then there are the others.

To be precise, there are six bosses, one unofficial. Israel and the US are practically one when it comes to foreign policy and, thus, Israel receives carte blanche to produce undeclared nuclear weapons, carry out a policy of extrajudicial assassinations as well as bomb and invade neighboring countries at will. The US vetoes most resolutions critical of Israel and blocks all resolutions binding under Chapter 7.

No wonder Israel feels free to publicly confront the veracity of UN representatives who say there is a severe humanitarian crisis in Gaza and expel those it doesn’t like such as UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk, who says he was treated like some sort of security threat locked in “a tiny room that smelled of urine and filth”. Falk received such appealing treatment all because he had spoken out against Israel’s violations of international humanitarian law.

A fair and just world formed by the true will of all the international community requires a nonelitist body where all nations are empowered with a vote that counts. Moreover, such an organization should not be headquartered in the US where delegates are vulnerable to being browbeaten, threatened, bribed and monitored as occurred in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Instead, a neutral home such as Switzerland or even Dubai should be considered.

In the meantime, Israel continues its bloodletting in Gaza unimpeded while the United Nations will continue to be nothing more than an empty debating society, to borrow an expression from George W. Bush. It needs either a shake-up or a demolition squad. As it stands it shames us all.

Ref: Arabnews

GAZA UPDATE: tuesday onslaughter, statistics and positions

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VIDEO: Al Jazeera debate: Is diplomacy fuelling Israel’s war on Gaza?

Perspective; Israeli massacre of Marwaheen (Sat, 15 Jul 2006)

It will be called the massacre of Marwaheen. All the civilians killed by the Israelis had been ordered to abandon their homes in the border village by the Israelis themselves a few hours earlier. Leave, they were told by loudspeaker; and leave they did, 20 of them in a convoy of civilian cars. That’s when the Israeli jets arrived to bomb them, killing 20 Lebanese, at least nine of them children. The local fire brigade could not put out the fires as they all burned alive in the inferno. Another “terrorist” target had been eliminated.

Ref: Ie

Marwaheen Massacre Today: re-run of Mansoureh & Qana Massacres of 1996

The number of dead in this new massacre today in Marwaheen is 23 dead 9 of them children. Their vehicles were on the road. Going away from their village. Seeking refuge in another city after the UN refused to shelter them.
It is Qana and Mansoureh of 1996 all over again. Massacres by IOF (Israel Offensive Forces). In Mansoureh parents sent their children in ambulances thinking that the “moral” IOF will not target them. Well they were wrong. In Qana, well we all know what happened. Don’t we?

REf: Urshalim

Robert Fisk: Why do they hate the West so much, we will ask

So once again, Israel has opened the gates of hell to the Palestinians. Forty civilian refugees dead in a United Nations school, three more in another. Not bad for a night’s work in Gaza by the army that believes in “purity of arms”. But why should we be surprised?

Have we forgotten the 17,500 dead – almost all civilians, most of them children and women – in Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon; the 1,700 Palestinian civilian dead in the Sabra-Chatila massacre; the 1996 Qana massacre of 106 Lebanese civilian refugees, more than half of them children, at a UN base; the massacre of the Marwahin refugees who were ordered from their homes by the Israelis in 2006 then slaughtered by an Israeli helicopter crew; the 1,000 dead of that same 2006 bombardment and Lebanese invasion, almost all of them civilians?

What is amazing is that so many Western leaders, so many presidents and prime ministers and, I fear, so many editors and journalists, bought the old lie; that Israelis take such great care to avoid civilian casualties. “Israel makes every possible effort to avoid civilian casualties,” yet another Israeli ambassador said only hours before the Gaza massacre. And every president and prime minister who repeated this mendacity as an excuse to avoid a ceasefire has the blood of last night’s butchery on their hands. Had George Bush had the courage to demand an immediate ceasefire 48 hours earlier, those 40 civilians, the old and the women and children, would be alive.

What happened was not just shameful. It was a disgrace. Would war crime be too strong a description? For that is what we would call this atrocity if it had been committed by Hamas. So a war crime, I’m afraid, it was. After covering so many mass murders by the armies of the Middle East – by Syrian troops, by Iraqi troops, by Iranian troops, by Israeli troops – I suppose cynicism should be my reaction. But Israel claims it is fighting our war against “international terror”. The Israelis claim they are fighting in Gaza for us, for our Western ideals, for our security, for our safety, by our standards. And so we are also complicit in the savagery now being visited upon Gaza.

I’ve reported the excuses the Israeli army has served up in the past for these outrages. Since they may well be reheated in the coming hours, here are some of them: that the Palestinians killed their own refugees, that the Palestinians dug up bodies from cemeteries and planted them in the ruins, that ultimately the Palestinians are to blame because they supported an armed faction, or because armed Palestinians deliberately used the innocent refugees as cover.

The Sabra and Chatila massacre was committed by Israel’s right-wing Lebanese Phalangist allies while Israeli troops, as Israel’s own commission of inquiry revealed, watched for 48 hours and did nothing. When Israel was blamed, Menachem Begin’s government accused the world of a blood libel. After Israeli artillery had fired shells into the UN base at Qana in 1996, the Israelis claimed that Hizbollah gunmen were also sheltering in the base. It was a lie. The more than 1,000 dead of 2006 – a war started when Hizbollah captured two Israeli soldiers on the border – were simply dismissed as the responsibility of the Hizbollah. Israel claimed the bodies of children killed in a second Qana massacre may have been taken from a graveyard. It was another lie. The Marwahin massacre was never excused. The people of the village were ordered to flee, obeyed Israeli orders and were then attacked by an Israeli gunship. The refugees took their children and stood them around the truck in which they were travelling so that Israeli pilots would see they were innocents. Then the Israeli helicopter mowed them down at close range. Only two survived, by playing dead. Israel didn’t even apologise.

Twelve years earlier, another Israeli helicopter attacked an ambulance carrying civilians from a neighbouring village – again after they were ordered to leave by Israel – and killed three children and two women. The Israelis claimed that a Hizbollah fighter was in the ambulance. It was untrue. I covered all these atrocities, I investigated them all, talked to the survivors. So did a number of my colleagues. Our fate, of course, was that most slanderous of libels: we were accused of being anti-Semitic.

And I write the following without the slightest doubt: we’ll hear all these scandalous fabrications again. We’ll have the Hamas-to-blame lie – heaven knows, there is enough to blame them for without adding this crime – and we may well have the bodies-from-the-cemetery lie and we’ll almost certainly have the Hamas-was-in-the-UN-school lie and we will very definitely have the anti-Semitism lie. And our leaders will huff and puff and remind the world that Hamas originally broke the ceasefire. It didn’t. Israel broke it, first on 4 November when its bombardment killed six Palestinians in Gaza and again on 17 November when another bombardment killed four more Palestinians.

Yes, Israelis deserve security. Twenty Israelis dead in 10 years around Gaza is a grim figure indeed. But 600 Palestinians dead in just over a week, thousands over the years since 1948 – when the Israeli massacre at Deir Yassin helped to kick-start the flight of Palestinians from that part of Palestine that was to become Israel – is on a quite different scale. This recalls not a normal Middle East bloodletting but an atrocity on the level of the Balkan wars of the 1990s. And of course, when an Arab bestirs himself with unrestrained fury and takes out his incendiary, blind anger on the West, we will say it has nothing to do with us. Why do they hate us, we will ask? But let us not say we do not know the answer.

Ref: Independent

Robert Fisk: Why bombing Ashkelon is the most tragic irony (That is why Gaza exists)

How easy it is to snap off the history of the Palestinians, to delete the narrative of their tragedy, to avoid a grotesque irony about Gaza which – in any other conflict – journalists would be writing about in their first reports: that the original, legal owners of the Israeli land on which Hamas rockets are detonating live in Gaza.

That is why Gaza exists: because the Palestinians who lived in Ashkelon and the fields around it – Askalaan in Arabic – were dispossessed from their lands in 1948 when Israel was created and ended up on the beaches of Gaza. They – or their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren – are among the one and a half million Palestinian refugees crammed into the cesspool of Gaza, 80 per cent of whose families once lived in what is now Israel. This, historically, is the real story: most of the people of Gaza don’t come from Gaza.

But watching the news shows, you’d think that history began yesterday, that a bunch of bearded anti-Semitic Islamist lunatics suddenly popped up in the slums of Gaza – a rubbish dump of destitute people of no origin – and began firing missiles into peace-loving, democratic Israel, only to meet with the righteous vengeance of the Israeli air force. The fact that the five sisters killed in Jabalya camp had grandparents who came from the very land whose more recent owners have now bombed them to death simply does not appear in the story.

Both Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres said back in the 1990s that they wished Gaza would just go away, drop into the sea, and you can see why. The existence of Gaza is a permanent reminder of those hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who lost their homes to Israel, who fled or were driven out through fear or Israeli ethnic cleansing 60 years ago, when tidal waves of refugees had washed over Europe in the aftermath of the Second World War and when a bunch of Arabs kicked out of their property didn’t worry the world.

Well, the world should worry now. Crammed into the most overpopulated few square miles in the whole world are a dispossessed people who have been living in refuse and sewage and, for the past six months, in hunger and darkness, and who have been sanctioned by us, the West. Gaza was always an insurrectionary place. It took two years for Ariel Sharon’s bloody “pacification”, starting in 1971, to be completed, and Gaza is not going to be tamed now.

Alas for the Palestinians, their most powerful political voice – I’m talking about the late Edward Said, not the corrupt Yassir Arafat (and how the Israelis must miss him now) – is silent and their predicament largely unexplained by their deplorable, foolish spokesmen. “It’s the most terrifying place I’ve ever been in,” Said once said of Gaza. “It’s a horrifyingly sad place because of the desperation and misery of the way people live. I was unprepared for camps that are much worse than anything I saw in South Africa.”

Of course, it was left to Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to admit that “sometimes also civilians pay the price,” an argument she would not make, of course, if the fatality statistics were reversed. Indeed, it was instructive yesterday to hear a member of the American Enterprise Institute – faithfully parroting Israel’s arguments – defending the outrageous Palestinian death toll by saying that it was “pointless to play the numbers game”. Yet if more than 300 Israelis had been killed – against two dead Palestinians – be sure that the “numbers game” and the disproportionate violence would be all too relevant. The simple fact is that Palestinian deaths matter far less than Israeli deaths. True, we know that 180 of the dead were Hamas members. But what of the rest? If the UN’s conservative figure of 57 civilian fatalities is correct, the death toll is still a disgrace.

To find both the US and Britain failing to condemn the Israeli onslaught while blaming Hamas is not surprising. US Middle East policy and Israeli policy are now indistinguishable and Gordon Brown is following the same dog-like devotion to the Bush administration as his predecessor.

As usual, the Arab satraps – largely paid and armed by the West – are silent, preposterously calling for an Arab summit on the crisis which will (if it even takes place), appoint an “action committee” to draw up a report which will never be written. For that is the way with the Arab world and its corrupt rulers. As for Hamas, they will, of course, enjoy the discomfiture of the Arab potentates while cynically waiting for Israel to talk to them. Which they will. Indeed, within a few months, we’ll be hearing that Israel and Hamas have been having “secret talks” – just as we once did about Israel and the even more corrupt PLO. But by then, the dead will be long buried and we will be facing the next crisis since the last crisis.

Ref: the Independent