VIDEO: A People’s History of American Empire by Howard Zinn

Epitaph to George Bush

United States: goodbye Bush, hello Obama

The failure of George Bush’s foreign policy was clear from the start. Meanwhile, his repeated failures in economic policy led to the economic recession in which his presidency ended
by Ibrahim Warde

When George W Bush entered the White House, the least that could be expected from his presidency was sound and effective management: he was, after all, the first American president to hold a Masters degree in business administration (MBA) and from the prestigious Harvard Business School. Twenty years after the Thatcher and Reagan revolutions, the election of a president-CEO looked like another nail in the coffin of the welfare state, and a return to an era when the business community was all-powerful – an era when presidents such as William McKinley (1897-1901) could declare that “there must be less government in business and more business in government”, and Calvin Coolidge (1923-9) that “the business of America is business”.

Other quotes have since gained currency, among them Ronald Reagan’s “the government is not the solution, it is the problem”; and its corollary, that the “magic of the marketplace” would resolve all economic and social problems. Or Margaret Thatcher’s “there is no such thing as society”, which brought the logic of Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” to politics. There is also Milton Friedman’s line: “what is called compassion is when politicians spend our money” (1).

Paradoxically, it was a Democrat, Bill Clinton (1993-2001), who proved most successful at downsizing the state. One of his major initiatives was to “re-engineer government” by introducing the methods of the private sector. On his watch, major strides were made in the financial deregulation process (2). His strategy of “triangulation”, which consisted in positioning himself halfway between Republican hardliners (who had triumphed in the 1994 mid-term elections) and traditional Democrats, resulted in conservative policies (on matters such as family values, police, prisons) accompanied by fiscal discipline. At the end of his presidency, the elimination of the entire national debt was within sight.

At the time of the 2000 election, the “end of history” ideology was well entrenched. The conventional wisdom on the virtues of globalisation and the “new economy” suggested that, in the absence of foreign threats, the principal quality for the leader of the sole remaining superpower should be the ability to manage prosperity. And the MBA became the emblematic degree of that era. Business schools proliferated all over the world; many graduate schools (in particular in the public policy field) endeavoured to resemble them. (3)With finance driving the economy, countless engineers chose business schools where “financial engineering” was the most prized specialisation. The “best and the brightest” flocked to Wall Street and to a handful of “innovating” companies.

Becoming a war president

Enron, the energy giant that succeeded in extending the frontiers of the virtual economy, was one of them. It had also invested heavily in the political career of Bush, who, as president, surrounded himself with some of its alumni, such as Thomas White, the new Army Secretary, who promised to “apply the methods of the private sector to the public sector”.

Less than a year later, Enron collapsed, and filed for bankruptcy in December 2001, but in the post-9/11 era, the scandal was soon forgotten. Bush, who had promised a “humble foreign policy”, had an epiphany: he would be a war president. This aspect of the presidency overshadowed the dramatic increase of executive power as well as the radicalisation of his economic policy. The new imperial ambitions also justified taking leave of the “reality principle”. As a senior adviser to the president (suspected to be Karl Rove) told journalist Ron Suskind: “That’s not the way the world really works anymore. We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality” (4).

Bush, who liked to remind people that he was “the decider”, kept the beliefs and style of a CEO president. Tax cuts were a panacea, and consumption was to be the sole economic engine of growth. After launching the “war on terror”, he didn’t ask for sacrifice; he wanted people to go shopping (5). And in the summer of 2002, when the time came for a propaganda campaign to convince the American public of the need to attack Iraq, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card explained why such a campaign had to start in September: “From a marketing standpoint, you don’t introduce a new product in August.” Cabinet meetings resembled board meetings where decisions made beforehand were endorsed. Unlike Clinton, Bush was very strict when it came to dress code and punctuality, but he seemed befuddled whenever questions of substance came up. Paul O’Neill, his first Treasury Secretary, said that at such times the president looked like 
“a blind man in a roomful of deaf people” (6).

Countless government officials were chosen solely on the basis of ideological compatibility. Their statements may have been disconnected from reality, but they had some coherence; politically-driven “talking points” were endlessly – and authoritatively – repeated. Following the lightning military offensive of US troops in Iraq, Paul Bremer, another alumnus of Harvard Business School, was appointed proconsul in charge of a gigantic enterprise of pacification, reconstruction and democratisation in Iraq, although he had never set foot in the country. Two weeks of intensive briefings in Washington brought him up to speed. Like a business school student who is supposed to pontificate with great authority after reading a 20-page case study, he flew to Iraq with just enough knowledge to inflict great damage. He charged ahead, gutting existing institutions and dismantling the Iraqi army (part of his policy of de-Baathification) to create a perfect democracy and a capitalist paradise (7).
The failures of Bush’s policies

Although the failure of the Bush administration’s foreign policy was largely predictable, the repeated failures in matters of economic policy, and even simple logistics, came as a surprise. And American public opinion only started doubting Bush’s leadership after Hurricane Katrina in September 2005. The complete failure of the relief effort was truly shocking, but that didn’t stop the president extending his warm congratulations in front of the TV cameras to Michael Brown, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the man who oversaw the debacle (“heckuva job, Brownie!”).

The crowning achievements came in the last year of Bush’s second term of office when economic recession and financial meltdown requiring a massive government bailout revealed the bankruptcy of the administration’s policies. Still, following the election of Barack Obama, Bush appointees spent their final days in a frenzied effort to impose “midnight regulations” in areas such as the environment and labour laws, to ensure that the Bush ideology would survive well into the next administration (8).

Two recent books help explain all these dysfunctions. Economist James Galbraith chronicles the rise of the “predator state” (9) as a successor to what his father, John Kenneth Galbraith, had called the “new industrial state”. Where a powerful business community once had to contend with counter-powers, such as unions or a relatively autonomous state, the weakening of those counter-powers has given a reinvigorated business community free rein.

As a result, the traditional discourse of the Republican Party on matters such as fiscal discipline, the free market and the downsizing of the state lost substance (10). Even before the massive bailout of the financial system, the Bush administration had presided over one of the greatest expansions of federal spending in history, much to the benefit of politically connected corporations. Indeed, with the steady decline in the number of civil servants, many key state functions were outsourced, especially in homeland security and national defence, to firms such as Blackwater, which have enjoyed spectacular growth (11). Bush himself, son of a president and grandson of a senator, hailed from a family where politics and business were intermingled (12) and owed all his successes – his admission to prestigious universities, his enrichment despite a less-than-distinguished business career and his entire political career – to these connections (13).

The other book, The Wrecking Crew by historian Thomas Frank, describes how a small band of radical conservatives engaged in a systematic dismantling of the liberal state that had grown out of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society (14). The book focuses on a few of those anti-government “revolutionaries” who came to Washington in the 1980s to help dismantle the government, and two decades later were busy milking what was left of it.

One of them is Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform (and a Harvard MBA), who wanted a government so small that he could “drown it in a bathtub.” Following the gutting of the civil service and purges of liberal civil servants, a new generation of bureaucrats have appeared who regard business, as opposed to the public, as the government’s “customer”. In a system of “misgovernment for profit”, their calculation is often that, following a stint in government, they will be hired by one of the firms they used to regulate. Indeed, if there is no such thing as the public interest, why work for the government if not to benefit 
from it?

One of The Wrecking Crew’s other central characters is Jack Abramoff, once the head of the Young Republicans (a movement lavishly financed by the business community), who later sought enrichment in Washington before finding himself at the centre of the largest corruption scandal of the last few years. He is now serving time in prison.

Frank exhumes quotes from an era when the business community spoke bluntly of the virtues of mediocrity in politics. He cites, for example, Homer Ferguson, a former president of the US Chamber of Commerce, who said in 1928: “The best public servant is the worst one. A thoroughly first-rate man in public service is corrosive. He eats holes in our liberties. The better he is and the longer he stays the greater the danger” (page 129). Based on this criterion, Bush was truly an exceptional president.

Ref: Le Monde

Ibrahim Warde is adjunct professor at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University (Medford, Massachusetts).

(1) Richard Farnetti and Ibrahim Warde, Le modèle anglo-saxon en question, Economica, Paris, 1997.

(2) Notable legislations include the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Financial Modernisation Act in 1999 and the Commodity Futures Modernisation Act in 2000.

(3) “Irresistible business schools”, Le Monde diplomatique, English edition, May 2000.

(4) Ron Suskind, “Without a Doubt”, New York Times Magazine, 17 October 2004.

(5) Frank Pellegrini, “The Bush Speech: How to Rally a Nation”, Time, 21 September 2001.

(6) Ron Suskind, The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill, Simon and Schuster, New York, 2004.

(7) “Iraq: a licence to loot the land”, Le Monde diplomatique, English edition, May 2004.

(8) Rosa Brooks, “Bush’s land mines for Obama: Last-
minute rules and regulations by the Bush administration 
could take years to undo”, Los Angeles Times, 20 November 2008.

(9) James K Galbraith, The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too, 
Free Press, New York, 2008.

(10) President Bush leaves to his successor a deficit approaching $1 trillion for 2008-09 and a national debt exceeding $10 trillion.

(11) Jeremy Scahill, Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Army, Nation Books, New York, 2007.

(12) Kevin Phillips, American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush, Penguin, 
New York, 2004.

(13) Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose, Shrub: The Short but Happy Political Life of George W Bush, Random House, New York, 2000.

(14) Thomas Frank, The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule, Metropolitan Books, New York, 2008.

The strange tale of Iran and Israel

The early Zionists never believed they would be accepted in the Arab world and pinned their hopes on the non-Arab periphery instead, particularly Iran. Israel reversed that policy by opening talks with a weakened Arafat in the early 1990s. But peace with the Palestinians did not happen and the ‘radicals’ grew more radical
by Alastair Crooke

“We had very deep relations with Iran, cutting deep into the fabric of the two peoples,” said a high-ranking official at the Israeli foreign ministry just after the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Israeli (and US) officials then saw it as madness to view Iran as anything other than a natural interlocutor. Thirty years later, western policy-makers, and particularly Israelis, see Iran as a growing threat. Could this fear be based on a misreading of Iran’s revolution?

David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, did not see Israel as part of the Middle East, but as part of Europe. From 1952, Ben-Gurion repeated that although Israelis were sitting in the Middle East, this was a geographical accident, for they were a European people. “We have no connection with the Arabs,” he said. “Our regime, our culture, our relations, is not the fruit of this region. There is no political affinity between us, or international solidarity” (1).

Ben-Gurion called for a concerted effort to persuade the United States that Israel could be a strategic asset in the Middle East. But President Dwight Eisenhower (1953-61) repeatedly declined Israel’s entreaties, believing that the US was better placed to manage US interests independently of Israeli assistance.

As a result of these rebuffs, Ben-Gurion evolved the concept of the “alliance of the periphery” which aimed to balance the vicinity of hostile Arab states by forming alliances with Iran, Turkey and Ethiopia. It was an attempt to strengthen Israeli deterrence, reduce Israel’s isolation and add to its appeal as an “asset” to the US.

In parallel, Ben-Gurion developed another idea: the “alliance of the minorities”. He argued that the majority of the inhabitants of the Middle East were not Arab, referring not only to the Persians and the Turks, but also to religious minorities such as the Jews, Kurds, Druze and (Christian) Maronites of Lebanon. The aim was to foster nationalist aspirations among minorities in order to create islands of allies in the ocean of Arab nationalism.

Iran emerged against this background in the late 1950s as a “natural ally” of Israel. In Treacherous Alliance (2) Trita Parsi has traced the cooperation with the Shah, such as the joint training and arming of Kurdish insurgents between 1970 and 1975 that was intended to weaken Iraq. Parsi also notes the empathy between Israel and Iran on account of the cultural superiority felt by the two peoples towards the Arabs – even though the supposed affinity had its limits. Israelis were puzzled and irked at the Shah’s insistence on keeping the relationship quiet; Israel wanted it publicly acknowledged.

The sense of close affinity persisted beyond the Iranian Revolution, and prompted even hard-headed Israeli politicians of the right – including prime minister Menachem Begin – to reach out to the new Iranian leadership. Ayatollah Khomeini’s pragmatism in foreign policy was read by Israelis as evidence that the revolution had been an aberration. Iran, surrounded by Arab hostility, understood only too well its need for Israeli friendship – and the technological advantages it could bestow on its friends. Yossi Alpher, a former Mossad official, noted that the periphery doctrine was so “thoroughly ingrained” in the Israeli mindset that it had become “instinctive” (3). It was out of this conviction that Israel inveigled the US to sell weapons to Iran in the mid-1980s, a prelude to the Iran-Contra scandal (4).

Begin’s electoral victory in 1977 entrenched a more radical vision than that of the Labour Party, that of the Revisionist Zionist leader, Vladimir Jabotinsky. The latter had argued in his seminal “Iron Wall” article in 1923 that there could never be agreement with the Arabs. Begin shared Jabotinsky’s view that “only when there is no longer any hope of getting rid of us… will they drop their extremist leaders,” and moderates would emerge who would “agree to mutual concessions” and could then benefit from the Zionist “five hundred year cultural advance” on them.
Relations with the periphery declined

The right tried to put the strategy of the “alliance of the minorities” into practice. In 1982, Ariel Sharon invaded Lebanon with the aim of ousting the Palestine Liberation Organisation and establishing a friendly Christian Maronite hegemony in Beirut – so inflicting a devastating defeat on Syria, a major pillar of Arabism. It proved a miscalculation, for it precipitated the decline of the Maronites and encouraged Shia mobilisation in the south and in the Bekaa valley, from which a formidable new enemy, Hizbullah, emerged.

At the same time as this failure in Lebanon, Israel’s relations with the periphery declined – at least with Iran (which made a strategic alliance with Syria, a key Arab enemy). This was because of a misperception by Israel, shared by the US: the Iranian Revolution was seen in the West as no more than a discontinuity in the western narrative of a historical progression from backwardness to western-style secular modernity. It was an aberration, a reaction against modernity that would be corrected over time. The ideological basis to the revolution was seen as “hollow”; “pragmatists” would soon pull it back on to the path of western material progress, the only course that made sense in the western optic. This is why both Israel and the US have been so preoccupied by signs of pragmatism and an obsessive hunt for “moderates”. And whenever Iran’s revolutionary leadership has shown any signs of pragmatism in its foreign policy, it reinforced the US and Israeli view that this would lead eventually to an alliance 
with Israel.

In reality, it was the West’s materialist “modernity”, on which Israel’s doctrine was justified, which repelled Iranian leaders the most. But though they were at odds with the US and Israel over their vision of society and their efforts to spread a culture of secular, materialist and free-market society across the region (which many Iranians saw in turn as archaic, and even colonialist), they did not want to defeat Israel militarily. The revolution was not conceived with an aggressive regional ambition; it did not threaten Israel or the US in conventional military terms.

In 1988, after a messy, debilitating war lasting eight years, Iran reached a ceasefire with Iraq. But the years 1990-2 saw two events that changed the outlook for the whole region: the Soviet Union imploded and Saddam Hussein was defeated in the first Gulf war (1990-1). These events removed both the Russian threat to Iran and Iraq’s threat to Israel. It left Iran and Israel as unchallenged rivals for leadership and pre-eminence in the region, and it saw the US emerge as a unipolar, unchecked power.

Israel’s main fear was to be seen as a liability by the US during the Gulf war, rather than a friend. At the same time the prospect of Iran emerging as a pre-eminent regional power threatened Israel’s hegemony by opening the possibility of a US-Iranian rapprochement that risked eclipsing Israel’s relationship with the US. More seriously, Israel risked its military deterrence: its survival depended on its military supremacy, which a resurgent Iran might remove.

When the Labour government under Yitzhak Rabin, elected in 1992, decided to drop the strategy of wooing the periphery and instead opted to make peace with the Arabs, this was a radical reverse of strategy. This shift placed Israel and Iran on opposite sides in the new equation, and the change was as intense as it was unexpected: “Iran has to be identified as Enemy No 1,” Yossi Alpher, at the time an adviser to Rabin, told the New York Times four days after Bill Clinton’s election victory. And Shimon Peres, the other most senior Labour figure, warned the international community in an interview in 1993 that Iran would be armed with a nuclear bomb by 1999 (5).
Exaggerated nuclear threat?

But many inside the Clinton administration felt the Iranian threat was exaggerated, as did many within the Israeli establishment. Shlomo Brom, a senior member of the Israeli intelligence apparatus, told Parsi mockingly: “Remember, the Iranians are always five to seven years from the bomb. Time passes, but they are always five to seven years from the bomb.” In 2009, the Iranians are, according to US intelligence estimates, still “five to seven years away from the bomb” (6).

Israel, therefore, began to cut a deal with Yasser Arafat, greatly weakened by the Gulf war. Rabin and Peres then used the demonisation of Iran as a lever with which to divert the US Jewish Lobby: the Lobby could focus on the existential threat from Iran rather than turn their anger on Israel’s leaders for betraying Jabotinsky by supping with the enemy – Arafat and the Arabs.

The US was devising a parallel strategy too: a realignment of pro-western Arab states against enemies lying beyond the periphery – barbarians bearing down on the values, institutions and liberties of western civilisation, led by Iran. US power had become the instrument that would “spell the death knell for the Iranian revolution” as William Kristol, a leading US conservative, wrote in May 2003. The defeat of Iran had become the means to deliver a double blow to the Arab and Muslim psyche as well as to the Islamist resistance. The Arabs would become docile, and the Middle East would succumb, like so many dominoes.

Not surprisingly, despite Iran’s cooperation with Washington during the war in Afghanistan (2002) and Iraq (2003), its attempts to reach a so-called “grand bargain” with the US were all rebuffed or undercut by senior members of the Bush administration. The 2003 proposal to open talks with the US that appeared to acknowledge US security concerns – including the demand for an end to Iran’s support for Hizbullah and Hamas and to its nuclear programme, and recognition of Israel – has become a part of legend. But to assume that pressure caused Iran to offer to sever its links to the resistance and come to terms with Israel is to misread Iran’s intent. Iran’s offer was a nuanced reformulation of an earlier proposal for partnership and a discussion of all issues in contention. To interpret the 2003 episode as a signal that “pressure works”, and that more pressure on Iran will yield these and further concessions, may lead to a catastrophic error of policy.

The US swing towards a Manichaean vision of pro-western moderation versus Islamist extremism has taken regional polarisation well beyond Ben-Gurion’s more modest objective of creating a balance of forces and deterrence. In their aim to break the resistance throughout the Muslim world to a secular, liberal vision for the future, the US and its European allies have instead provoked mass mobilisation against their own project, as well as radicalisation and hostility to the West.

Ref: Le Monde

Alastair Crooke is a consultant; he was special adviser to Javier Solana (1999-2003) and a member of the Mitchell Commission set up by President Clinton to report on the causes for the second intifada (2000-1)

(1) Cited by Avi Shlaim in “Israel, the Great Powers and the Middle East Crisis of 1958”, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, London, May 1999.

(2) Trita Parsi, Treacherous Alliance: The secret dealings of Israel, Iran, and the US, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2007.

(3) Trita Parsi, op cit, page 91.

(4) This scandal shook the Reagan administration in the mid-1980s, bringing to light the illegal sale of American arms to Iran and the financing of the Nicaraguan Contras. The scandal became a profound embarrassment, however, when it emerged that US officials had illegally siphoned off the profits from these Iranian sales in order to buy arms for the ‘Contra’ guerrillas.

(5) Shimon Peres, interview on France 3, October 1992.

(6) Trita Parsi, op cit, page 167.

How kind – The long march of folly that began in 1967 (poem)

how kind

has changed


in the name
of peace

a little food

and call
it mercy

so kind

by Amin Kassam

American Radical : The Trials of Norman Finkelstein”

American Radical is the probing, definitive documentary about American academic Norman Finkelstein. A devoted son of holocaust survivors, ardent critic of Israel and US Mid-East policy, and author of five notable books including, “The Holocaust Industry”, Finkelstein has been steadfast at the center of many controversies, including his recent denial of tenure at DePaul University. Called a lunatic and disgusting self-hating Jew by some, and an inspirational revolutionary figure by others, Finkelstein is a deeply polarizing figure whose struggles arise from core questions about identity, individual freedom, nationhood, academic freedom and justice all at once.

Bailing out the bailout (U.S. is going down while the “shameful” still get richer)

The Obama administration has opened a new chapter in its programme to support the US banking and financial industry, stepping up the injection of government cash with a total package that could ultimately top $1trn.

The move follows an increasingly controversial $700bn assistance plan approved last October under the previous administration of George Bush.

The new three-part programme, unveiled on Tuesday, is aimed at jump-starting the faltering credit market that has helped plunge the world’s largest economy into its biggest recession in 70 years.

Wall Street traders have come under
increasing scrutiny [EPA]
The Federal Reserve, the US central bank, will take part in backing new credit that, in turn, will target loans and other credit assistance for consumers, homeowners, small businesses and commercial real estate projects, said Timothy Geithner, Obama’s treasury secretary, as he announced the new plan.

Geithner also laid out the ground work for the establishing a fund of $500bn to remove bad mortgage loans held by the country’s banks and in financial markets.

But so far, government spending to repair widespread credit problems in the nation’s banking industry has met mixed reactions.

The Bush administration’s policy of shielding banks from public disclosure and how the money was being spent spurred widespread public scepticism and critics now complain that that the original $700bn program may have been misused and ineffective.

Adding to public concerns was the speed with which the US congress approved such huge spending on a package equal to the size of the national economies of the Netherlands or Turkey.

“After a week of debating, they put this thing out, it was 400-pages long and there was no transparency,” David Williams of Citizens against Government Waste told Al Jazeera.

“No accountability, nothing was attached to this bill to make sure the tax payer could see where this money was being spent.”

Lawrence Mitchell, a law professor and author of The Speculation Economy, says the entire process was ill-conceived because the present economic troubles were years in the making as Washington pressed for more and more deregulation of its banking sectors.

“Figuring out legislation is complex figuring out where the holes are,” Mitchell told Al Jazeera.

“You can’t draft legislation that quickly. Just as you had panic in the financial markets, you had panic bailouts in the governmental arena.”

Read more here...

The Sderot kids & the Gaza kids (victims and soon products of 60 years of colonialism)

Therapy program with animals helps Sderot kids cope with Qassams

Nine-year-old Michal, a fourth-grader at the Gil Rabin school in Sderot, uses Lego and rods to build a bomb shelter for tiny mice. This is part of a treatment program called “Rooms of Tranquillity,” which includes pets. “Look, it’s made layer on layer so the little mice will be really well-protected,” says Michal, as she adds to the construction. “The mice aren’t calm,” she says with concern.

A typical child of Sderot, Michal grew up with Qassam rockets falling on the town. Her childhood was painted Color Red, the code name for the alarm warning of incoming rockets.

“We don’t have a safe room in our house, and there’s no bomb shelter in our building,” she says. “When my parents weren’t at home, and there was a rocket alarm, it was very scary, so me and my brothers hid behind the sofa and covered our ears with our hands.”

Like other children in Sderot, Michal is still seeking protection and so she builds a bomb shelter and a safe room for the mice. The Rooms of Tranquillity program went into effect four years ago in schools in Afula to help children there cope with the reality of suicide bombers, but the model was soon copied for children in the south of the country.

“We understood that the children in the south did not have physical protection, and this kind of activity can offer them psychological protection, a kind of shelter for their souls,” says Beth Reiss, the psychologist who runs the program. It has been introduced in two Ashkelon schools as well as 11 schools and 16 kindergartens in Sderot, and it covers 1,500 pupils.

All the children in Sderot suffer from anxiety but we have professional staff who locate children suffering from special problems, and they go to the meetings in the Rooms of Tranquillity,” Reiss says. “At first we thought we would deal with immediate reactions to the trauma,” she says with a smile, “but as time went on, the treatment became treatment for prolonged reaction to trauma, and now that the fighting has stopped, it has already become post-traumatic treatment.” She adds: “After the war, the children actually went back to school with the feeling that the entire nation supported them and understood their distress, and that they were not alone as in the past. At the same time, however, all the therapists reported that the children are in a state of uncertainty. They don’t believe it has ended. Right now we are seeing them falling apart psychologically after a prolonged period of survival in a routine of ongoing Qassam attacks. Now expressions of anger, violence and aggression are coming to the fore. The war shook up the family unit, and the pressure, the upsetting of routine and the chaos have left the children in a situation of restlessness, tenseness, acting-out and lack of concentration with problems of being attentive and functioning.”

Noa Dotan, who specializes in using animals therapeutically, says that with the animals children give expression to their feelings and vent their fears more easily, and that it is possible to learn about their psychological world from how they play with the pets. Dotan helps children in sixth grade to get close to animals who are kept in cages ( mice, hamsters, and parrots) while her dog Ruti moves among them. The 45-minute session begins with a chat from which it becomes clear that the children are not really convinced that the war is over.

“I don’t believe that the war is really over,” says Anat, and the other children nod their heads in agreement. “I don’t really go out of the house yet. When the alarms went off, we would stand in the hallway in our house, because we don’t have a shelter. I’m nervous all the time except for the day when I come here to play with the animals and to pet them. It’s relaxing. That’s the only day I don’t fight with my mom at home.”

Ref: Haaretz

And at the same time in the fenced Gaza…


UNRWA: Long term trauma for Gaza’s kids

UNRWA’s spokesman in Gaza has said that it will take the children of Gaza many years to be relieved from the psychological war of Israel.

In an exclusive interview with Press TV, Adnan Abu-Hasna said that the psychological effects of war are far more dangerous than its physical effects.

John Ging, the director of operations for UNWRA in Gaza, said Thursday that Israel’s blockade was creating growing misery there by choking off basic humanitarian supplies like food, medicine, clothes and blankets as well as school supplies.

Ordinary Gazans are particularly frustrated, he said, because they have seen news reports about generous donations from around the world stuck just outside the enclave.

“It is premature to talk about Gaza’s reconstruction until the issue of access for basic humanitarian supplies is fixed,” Mr. Ging said.

Israel has maintained a strict blockade of Gaza since Hamas took power there in a brief civil war with its rival, Fatah, in June 2007.

A top UN official in Gaza says that the children in Gaza remain in “a precarious state of insecurity following the Israeli onslaught on Gaza Strip.

Despite the Gaza ceasefires, children continue to suffer and remain in a precarious state of insecurity“, Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, said after a four-day visit to the Palestinian territories and Israel.

“In Gaza, where 56 percent of the population is below 18 years old, grave violations against children were committed such as killing and maiming, and denial of humanitarian access.

“During the recent hostilities, there were no safe spaces for children and the crossings out of Gaza were, and remain, virtually sealed,” she said in a statement.

More than 1,300 Palestinians were killed and another 5,000 plus were wounded in the 22-day offensive that ended on January 18.

In both Gaza and southern Israel, children expressed anger and despair as a manifestation of their desire for accountability. It is imperative that independent and impartial investigations are conducted and justice is done,” she said.

Ref. PressTV

Video about the Gazan kids situation BEFOR the slaughter