The Collapse of Western Morality

Yes, I know, as many readers will be quick to inform me, the West never had any morality. Nevertheless things have gotten worse.

In hopes that I will be permitted to make a point, permit me to acknowledge that the US dropped nuclear bombs on two Japanese cities, fire-bombed Tokyo, that Great Britain and the US fire-bombed Dresden and a number of other German cities, expending more destructive force, according to some historians, against the civilian German population than against the German armies, that President Grant and his Civil War war criminals, Generals Sherman and Sheridan, committed genocide against the Plains Indians, that the US today enables Israel’s genocidal policies against the Palestinians, policies that one Israeli official has compared to 19th century US genocidal policies against the American Indians, that the US in the new 21st century invaded Iraq and Afghanistan on contrived pretenses, murdering countless numbers of civilians, and that British prime minister Tony Blair lent the British army to his American masters, as did other NATO countries, all of whom find themselves committing war crimes under the Nuremberg standard in lands in which they have no national interests, but for which they receive an American pay check.

I don’t mean these few examples to be exhaustive. I know the list goes on and on. Still, despite the long list of horrors, moral degradation is reaching new lows. The US now routinely tortures prisoners, despite its strict illegality under US and international law, and a recent poll shows that the percentage of Americans who approve of torture is rising. Indeed, it is quite high, though still just below a majority.

And we have what appears to be a new thrill: American soldiers using the cover of war to murder civilians. Recently American troops were arrested for murdering Afghan civilians for fun and collecting trophies such as fingers and skulls.

This revelation came on the heels of Pfc. Bradley Manning’s alleged leak of a US Army video of US soldiers in helicopters and their controllers thousands of miles away having fun with joy sticks murdering members of the press and Afghan civilians. Manning is cursed with a moral conscience that has been discarded by his government and his military, and Manning has been arrested for obeying the law and reporting a war crime to the American people.

US Rep. Mike Rogers, a Republican, of course, from Michigan, who is on the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, has called for Manning’s execution. According to US Rep. Rogers it is an act of treason to report an American war crime.

In other words, to obey the law constitutes “treason to America.”

US Rep. Rogers said that America’s wars are being undermined by “a culture of disclosure” and that this “serious and growing problem” could only be stopped by the execution of Manning.

If Rep. Rogers is representative of Michigan, then Michigan is a state that we don’t need.

The US government, a font of imperial hubris, does not believe that any act it commits, no matter how vile, can possibly be a war crime. One million dead Iraqis, a ruined country, and four million displaced Iraqis are all justified, because the “threatened” US Superpower had to protect itself from nonexistent weapons of mass destruction that the US government knew for a fact were not in Iraq and could not have been a threat to the US if they were in Iraq.

When other countries attempt to enforce the international laws that the Americans established in order to execute Germans defeated in World War II, the US government goes to work and blocks the attempt. A year ago on October 8, the Spanish Senate, obeying its American master, limited Spain’s laws of universal jurisdiction in order to sink a legitimate war crimes case brought against George W. Bush, Barack H. Obama, Tony Blair,and Gordon Brown.

The West includes Israel, and there the horror stories are 60 years long. Moreover, if you mention any of them you are declared to be an anti-semite. I only mention them in order to prove that I am not anti-American, anti-British, and anti-NATO, but am simply against war crimes. It was the distinguished Zionist Jewish Judge, Goldstone, who produced the UN report indicating that Israel committed war crimes when it attacked the civilian population and civilian infrastructure of Gaza. For his efforts, Israel declared the Zionist Goldstone to be “a self-hating Jew,” and the US Congress, on instruction from the Israel Lobby, voted to disregard the Goldstone Report to the UN.

As the Israeli official said, we are only doing to the Palestinians what the Americans did to the American Indians.

The Israeli army uses female soldiers to sit before video screens and to fire by remote control machine guns from towers to murder Palestinians who come to tend their fields within 1500 meters of the inclosed perimeter of Ghetto Gaza. There is no indication that these Israeli women are bothered by gunning down young children and old people who come to tend to their fields.

If the crimes were limited to war and the theft of lands, perhaps we could say it is a case of jingoism sidetracking traditional morality, otherwise still in effect.

Alas, the collapse of morality is too widespread. Some sports teams now have a win-at-all-cost attitude that involves plans to injure the star players of the opposing teams. To avoid all these controversies, let’s go to Formula One racing where 200 mph speeds are routine.

Prior to 1988, 22 years ago, track deaths were due to driver error, car failure, and poorly designed tracks compromised with safety hazards. World Champion Jackie Stewart did much to improve the safety of tracks, both for drivers and spectators. But in 1988 everything changed. Top driver Ayrton Senna nudged another top driver Alain Prost toward a pit wall at 190 mph. According to AutoWeek (August 30, 2010), nothing like this had been seen before. “Officials did not punish Senna’s move that day in Portugal, and so a significant shift in racing began.” What the great racing driver Stirling Moss called “dirty driving” became the norm.

Nigel Roebuck in AutoWeek reports that in 1996 World Champion Damon Hill said that Senna’s win-at-all-cost tactic “was responsible for fundamental change in the ethics of the sport.” Drivers began using “terrorist tactics on the track.” Damon Hill said that “the views that I’d gleaned from being around my dad [twice world champion Graham Hill] and people like him, I soon had to abandon,” because you realized that no penalty was forthcoming against the guy who tried to kill you in order that he could win.

When asked about the ethics of modern Formula One racing, American World Champion Phil Hill said: “Doing that sort of stuff in my day was just unthinkable. For one thing, we believed certain tactics were unacceptable.”

In today’s Western moral climate, driving another talented driver into the wall at 200 mph is just part of winning. Michael Schumacher, born in January 1969, is a seven times World Champion, an unequaled record. On August 1 at the Hungarian Grand Prix, AutoWeek Reports that Schumacher tried to drive his former Ferrari teammate, Rubens Barrichello, into the wall at 200 mph speeds.

Confronted with his attempted act of murder, Schumacher said: “This is Formula One. Everyone knows I don’t give presents.”

Neither does the US government, nor state and local governments, nor the UK government, nor the EU.

The deformation of the police, which many Americans, in their untutored existence as naive believers in “law and order,” still think are “on their side,” has taken on new dimensions with the police militarized to fight “terrorists” and “domestic extremists.”

The police have been off the leash since the civilian police boards were nixed by the conservatives. Kids as young as 6 years old have been handcuffed and carted off to jail for school infractions that may or may not have occurred. So have moms with a car full of children (see, for example, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4AaSLERx0VM ).

Anyone who googles videos of US police gratuitous brutality will call up tens of thousands of examples, and this is after laws that make filming police brutality a felony. A year or two ago such a search would call up hundreds of thousands of videos.

In one of the most recent of the numerous daily acts of gratuitous police abuse of citizens, an 84-year-old man had his neck broken because he objected to a night time towing of his car. The goon cop body-slammed the 84-year old and broke his neck. The Orlando, Florida, police department says that the old man was a “threat” to the well-armed much younger police goon, because the old man clenched his fist.

Americans will be the first people sent straight to Hell while thinking that they are the salt of the earth. The Americans have even devised a title for themselves to rival that of the Israelis’ self-designation as “God’s Chosen People.” The Americans call themselves “the indispensable people.”

Ref: Counterpunch

Paul Craig Roberts was an editor of the Wall Street Journal and an Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.  His latest book, HOW THE ECONOMY WAS LOST, has just been published by CounterPunch/AK Press. He can be reached at: PaulCraigRoberts@yahoo.com

ISRAHELL: (only) Two IDF soldiers charged with using 9-year-old ‘human shield’ in Gaza

The Israel Defense Forces prosecution on Thursday filed an indictment against two combat soldiers suspected of inappropriate conduct during Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip in 2008.

The soldiers, who served as staff sergeants in the Givati Brigade during Operation Cast Lead, allegedly forced a 9-year-old Palestinian boy to open a number of bags they thought might contain explosive materials. The bags turned out to be harmless.

The soldiers, who breached the army’s rule against using civilians as human shields during war, will be tried for violating their authority and for inappropriate conduct. An Israeli military official said the soldiers could face up to three years in jail.

The incident in question occurred in the Tel Al-Hawa neighborhood in south Gaza City in January 2009, toward the end of the war.

The military said it opened the investigation after the incident was brought to its attention by the United Nations, but emphasised it was “completely unrelated” to a report issued by United Nations investigator Richard Goldstone.

Israel has said it opened 36 criminal investigations into complaints of improper conduct by its troops during the fighting with Hamas gunmen, much of which occurred in residential areas.

Last month a senior Israeli field officer in the Gaza war was reprimanded over artillery shelling in a heavily populated area that hit a United Nations compound during the fighting.

IDF court releases soldier convicted of beating Palestinian

In a separate incident earlier Thursday, the military court ordered the release of Adam Malul, an IDF officer convicted in December on charges of aggravated assault and conduct unbecoming an officer after hitting a Palestinian in the West Bank.

In sentencing the officer, 1st Lt. (res.) Adam Malul of the Kfir infantry brigade, the court ruled that he had already served a sufficient punishment after spending 64 days in jail and a further 32 days under house arrest.

The court also rejected a request by the prosecution to demote Malul to the rank of private.

Malul was convicted in of hitting a man while making an arrest in the West Bank village of Kadum in September 2008.

In its December verdict, the court rejected testimony by a former commander of the Kfir infantry brigade, Col. Itai Virob, and a former commander of the Shimshon unit, Lt. Col. Shimon Harush, in which they justified hitting Palestinian detainees under exceptional circumstances.

Malul’s family has said that the trial was a smear campaign against him and accused the court of scape-goating him while acquitting his superiors.

During his trial, Malul testified that he was not ashamed of hitting the Palestinian man, saying, “It was what I had to do”.

However, GOC Central Command Gadi Shamni testified during the military trial that IDF soldiers were not authorized to attack Palestinian civilians during arrest raids, adding that those who cross the army’s “red lines” must be put to trial.

Shamni added that the IDF never authorized the use of such aggression during questioning of detainees.

Ref: Haaretz

ANALYS: The Dubai Hit

THE TWO classic intelligence disasters occurred during World War II. In both, the intelligence agencies either provided their political bosses with faulty assessments, or the leaders ignored their accurate assessments. As far as the results are concerned, both amount to the same.

Comrade Stalin was totally surprised by the German invasion of the Soviet Union, even though the Germans needed months to assemble their huge invasion force. President Roosevelt was totally surprised by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, even though the bulk of the Japanese Navy took part in it. The failures were so fantastic, that spy aficionados had to resort to conspiracy theories to explain them. One such theory says that Stalin deliberately ignored the warnings because he intended to surprise Hitler with an attack of his own. Another theory asserts that Roosevelt practically “invited” the Japanese to attack because he was in need of a pretext to push the US into an unpopular war.

But since then, failures continued to follow each other. All Western spy agencies were totally surprised by the Khomeini revolution in Iran, the results of which are still hitting the headlines today. All of them were totally surprised by the collapse of the Soviet Union, one of the defining events of the 20th century.  They were totally surprised by the fall of the Berlin wall. And all of them provided wrong information about Saddam Hussein’s imaginary nuclear bomb, which served as a pretext for the American invasion of Iraq.

* * *

AH, OUR people say, that’s what’s happening among the Goyim. Not here. Our intelligence community is like no other. The Jewish brain has invented the Mossad, which knows everything and is capable of everything. (Mossad – “institute” – is short for the “Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations”.)

Really? At the outbreak of the 1948 war, all the chiefs of our intelligence community unanimously advised David Ben-Gurion that the armies of the Arab states would not intervene. (Fortunately, Ben-Gurion rejected their assessment.) In May 1967, our entire intelligence community was totally surprised by the concentration of the Egyptian army in Sinai, the step that led to the Six-Day war. (Our intelligence chiefs were convinced that the bulk of the Egyptian army was busy in Yemen, where a civil war was raging.) The Egyptian-Syrian attack on Yom Kippur, 1973, completely surprised our intelligence services, even though heaps of advance warnings were available.

The intelligence agencies were totally surprised by the first intifada, and then again by the second. They were totally surprised by the Khomeini revolution, even though (or because) they were deeply imbedded in the Shah’s regime. They were totally surprised by the Hamas victory in the Palestinian elections.

The list is long and inglorious. But in one field, so they say, our Mossad performs like no other: assassinations. (Sorry, “eliminations”.)

* * *

STEVEN SPIELBERG’S movie “Munich” describes the assassination (“elimination”) of PLO officials after the massacre of the athletes at the Olympic Games. As a masterpiece of kitsch it can be compared only to the movie “Exodus”, based on Leon Uris’ kitschy book.

After the massacre (the main responsibility for which falls on the incompetent and irresponsible Bavarian police), the Mossad, on the orders of Golda Meir, killed seven PLO officials, much to the joy of the revenge-thirsty Israeli public. Almost all the victims were PLO diplomats, the civilian representatives of the organization in European capitals, who had no direct connection with violent operations. Their activities were public, they worked in regular offices and lived with their families in residential buildings. They were static targets – like the ducks in a shooting gallery.

In one of the actions – which resembled the latest affair – a Moroccan waiter was assassinated by mistake in the Norwegian town of Lillehammer. The Mossad mistook him for Ali Hassan Salameh, a senior Fatah officer who served as contact with the CIA. The Mossad agents, including a glamorous blonde (there is always a glamorous blonde) were identified, arrested and sentenced to long prison terms (but released very soon). The real Salameh was “eliminated” later on.

In 1988, five years before the Oslo agreement, Abu Jihad (Khalil al-Wazir), the No. 2 in Fatah, was assassinated in Tunis before the eyes of his wife and children. Had he not been killed, he would probably be serving today as the President of the Palestinian Authority instead of Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas). He would have enjoyed the same kind of standing among his people as did Yasser Arafat – who was, most likely, killed by a poison that leaves no traces.

The fiasco that most resembles the latest action was the Mossad’s attempt on the life of Khalid Mishal, a senior Hamas leader, on orders of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. The Mossad agents ambushed him on a main street of Amman and sprayed a nerve toxin in his ear – that was about to kill him without leaving traces. They were caught on the spot. King Hussein, the Israeli government’s main ally in the Arab world, was livid and delivered a furious ultimatum: either Israel would immediately provide the antidote to the poison and save Mishal’s life, or the Mossad agents would be hanged. Netanyahu, as usual, caved in, Mishal was saved and the Israeli government, as a bonus, released Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the main Hamas leader, from prison. He was “eliminated” by a hellfire missile later on.

* * *

DURING THE last weeks, a deluge of words has been poured on the assassination in Dubai of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, another senior Hamas officer.

Israelis agreed from the first moment that this was a job of the Mossad. What capabilities! What talent! How did they know, long in advance, when the man would go to Dubai, what flight he would take, in what hotel he would stay! What precise planning!

The “military correspondents” and “Arab affairs correspondents” on screen were radiant. Their faces said: oh, oh, oh, if the material were not embargoed…If I could only tell you what I know…I can tell you only that the Mossad has proved again that its long arm can reach anywhere! Live in fear, oh enemies of Israel!

When the problems started to become apparent, and the photos of the assassins appeared on TV all over the world, the enthusiasm cooled, but only slightly. An old and proven Israeli method was brought into play: to take some marginal detail and discuss it passionately, ignoring the main issue. Concentrate on one particular tree and divert attention from the forest.

Really, why did the agents use the names of actual people who live in Israel and have dual nationality? Why, of all possible passports, did they use those of friendly countries? How could they be sure that the owners of these passports would not travel abroad at the critical time?

Moreover, were they not aware that Dubai was full of cameras that record every movement? Did they not foresee that the local police would produce films of the assassination in almost all its details?

But this did not arouse too much excitement in Israel. Everybody understood that the British and the Irish were obliged, pro forma, to protest, but that this was nothing but going through the motions. Behind the scenes, there are intimate connections between the Mossad and the other intelligence agencies. After some weeks, everything will be forgotten. That’s how it worked in Norway after Lillehammer, that’s how it worked in Jordan after the Mishal affair. They will protest, rebuke, and that’s that. So what is the problem?

* * *

THE PROBLEM is that the Mossad in Israel acts like an independent fiefdom that ignores the vital long-term political and strategic interests of Israel, enjoying the automatic backing of an irresponsible prime minister. It is, as the English expression goes, a “loose cannon” – the cannon of a ship of yore which has broken free of its mountings and is rolling around the deck, crushing to death any unfortunate sailor who happens to get in its way.

From the strategic point of view, the Dubai operation causes heavy damage to the government’s policy, which defines Iran’s putative nuclear bomb as an existential threat to Israel. The campaign against Iran helps it to divert the world’s attention from the ongoing occupation and settlement, and induces the US, Europe and other countries to dance to its tune.

Barack Obama is in the process of trying to set up a world-wide coalition for imposing “debilitating sanctions” on Iran. The Israeli government serves him – willingly – as a growling dog. He tells the Iranians: The Israelis are crazy. They may attack you at any moment. I am restraining them with great difficulty. But if you don’t do what I tell you, I shall let go of the leash and may Allah have mercy on your soul!

Dubai, a Gulf country facing Iran, is an important component of this coalition. It is an ally of Israel, much like Egypt and Jordan. And here comes the same Israeli government and embarrasses it, humiliates it, arousing among the Arab masses the suspicion that Dubai is collaborating with the Mossad.

In the past we have embarrassed Norway, then we infuriated Jordan, now we humiliate Dubai. Is that wise?  Ask Meir Dagan, who Netanyahu has just granted an almost unprecedented eighth year in office as chief of the Mossad.

* * *

PERHAPS THE impact of the operation on Israel standing in the world is even more significant.

Once upon a time it was possible to belittle this aspect. Let the Goyim say what they want. But since the Molten Lead operation, Israel has become more conscious of its far-reaching implications. The verdict of Judge Goldstone, the echoes of the antics of Avigdor Lieberman, the growing world-wide campaign for boycotting Israel – all these tend to suggest that Thomas Jefferson was not talking through his hat when he said that no nation can afford to ignore the opinion of mankind.

The Dubai affair is reinforcing the image of Israel as a bully state, a rogue nation that treats world public opinion with contempt, a country that conducts gang warfare, that sends mafia-like death squads abroad, a pariah nation to be avoided by right-minded people.

Was this worthwhile?

REF: Counterpunch

Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He is a contributor to CounterPunch’s book The Politics of Anti-Semitism.

FIGHT ISRAHELL VIDEO: Israeli diplomats ‘hazed’ on campus ( A MUST SEEE!)

The Israelis have a lot of experience dealing with asymmetrical warfare.  But they’re not exactly used to its latest manifestation, which could be coming to a college campus near you.

Committed activists let their frustrations be heard on Monday in two separate lectures delivered by senior Israeli diplomats.

While the videos go viral among students, its watching the tactics used at these events that must be leaving Israel unnerved.

Consider the way in which a mockery was made of Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren, who presented at the University of California at Irvine.

The New York-born former academic had nary a minute to get into his talking points when he himself was taken to school by angry students, at least one of whom shouted “propagating murder is not an expression of free speech!”

The heckling made it impossible for Oren to carry on, and persisted in spite of pleas and threats by audience members and promises of arrest by the rattled college rector.

Most of Oren’s detractors made reference to Israel’s actions during the  2009 Gaza War.

Israel is under heavy strain by UN officials and international rights organizations to be held accountable for crimes of war during the 17-day Israeli assault on Gaza.  Some from academia have defended Israel from the charges, including Harvard’s Alan Dershowitz, who went so far as to attack UN Investigator Richard Goldstone with a provocative Hebrew word that translates as “traitor to the Jewish people”.

Ref: Al Jazeera

Varieties of Compassion: Haiti — Gaza

Akiva Eldar wrote an article entitled “Israel’s compassion in Haiti can’t hide our ugly face in Gaza” (Haaretz, January 18, 2010) in which he explains the contradiction in the public relations campaign conducted by Israel’s rulers in rescuing and treating victims of the earthquake in Haiti and the their utter indifference in relation to the suffering of the people of Gaza whose children, women and elderly die on a daily basis because of the lack of medicine and the destruction of hospitals and because Israeli authorities prevent food and medicine from entering Gaza.

Larry Derfner wrote in Jerusalem Post (20/01/2010) about the aid which Israel’s rulers hasten to send to Haiti now and which they sent to Rwanda years ago – with great efficiency – while many Israelis feel shame over the actions of their government in Gaza.  He wonders about the causes of the discrepancy between Israel’s efficiency in rescue and treatment actions in  disaster areas across the world and its shameful disregard of the disasters caused by successive Israeli governments against Palestinian civilians.

Catherine Philip wrote an analysis (Sunday Times, January 21, 2010) explaining that the Israeli government took advantage of the disaster in Haiti to conduct a public relations campaign to cover up the disgraceful Israeli crimes described in the Goldstone report on the Israeli war on Gaza.  She concludes that the earthquake was a natural disaster, while the collapse of the health system in Gaza and the hunger and destruction in Gaza were imposed by Israel and its allies on Gazan civilians.

The life of  unarmed Palestinian civilians in Gaza and the rest of Palestine has become  public relations material.  The life of Palestinians has no significance for Israel except in as much as it affects its interests and image in the West.  That is why they are preventing reporters, politicians, diplomats and human rights activists from going to Gaza so that they do not expose the disgraceful conditions under the blockade, and in order to be able to promote their lies about their concern for saving human life somewhere in the world.

Helping the victims of disasters has become now an occasion for launching public relations campaigns or achieving hidden political and military objectives.  People still fall victim to earthquakes, disasters, occupation, oppression and terrorism.  They also fall victim to campaigns which use their tragedy to achieve other purposes which have nothing to do with the value, importance, sanctity and dignity of human life.

After the Swedish journalist Donald Bostrom wrote about the Israeli army killing Palestinian youth in order to steal their organs, there were other media reports about Israelis stealing Ukrainian children for the same purpose.  Once again there are documented reports from Haiti that organs are being stolen by Israelis without international justice intervening to put an end to such criminal practices against vulnerable people.

The United States took advantage of the chaos in Haiti to tighten its control over the island.  Thus, we can see that the disaster in Haiti provided an opportunity to other parties to make a move on the public relations level or on the political and military level in order to turn facts on their head and project a glossy image of the causes of human suffering in different parts of the world.

We should also note the lack of Arab initiative, not only in terms of aid and rescue, but also in terms of standing up to the attempts of our enemies to bury the suffering of the Palestinian people and hide it from the eyes of the media and public opinion.  They use the Haiti disaster to cover up their crimes and blunt the impact of the Goldstone report and obstruct the launch of an international campaign in support of the Palestinian people.

The discrepancy in the Israeli official position towards the victims of the disaster in Haiti, on the one hand, and the victims of the blockade on Gaza and the war on Palestine for the past sixty years, on the other, should be highlighted and explained, particularly that Israel hastens to the assistance of any disaster-hit country – from Rwanda to Haiti – to cover up the great disaster which it caused and still causing to  people who used to live safely and peacefully on their land.

The suffering of the people of Haiti is the result of a natural disaster, while the increased suffering of the people of Gaza in its latest phase is a direct consequence of a hateful and racist shelling with phosphoric bombs and the destruction of schools, hospitals and houses.  In the same vein, the suffering of the residents of the Salwan and Jarrah neighborhoods is the result of a racist settler colonialism which sees only Jews in humanity.  It is implemented by Israeli powers which believe in racist supremacy and religious fanaticism.

So far, no language has been able to describe this conflict and convey its nature to the minds and hearts of people all over the world.  Disaster is being used as a commodity in public relations campaigns.  If this is evidence of anything, it is evidence of a declining level of the feeling of responsibility and the distortion which has characterized political processes in recent years.

Hence, the tragedy becomes greater and the suffering longer because of the difficulty of conveying the real picture of what is happening to people all over the world.  Even allowing concerned people to see what is happening becomes subject to bargaining as a result of the meticulous calculations of the political objectives of what is being done.

Thus American officials as well as, the media speak about the duties of the Palestinians and the Israelis towards the peace process, forgetful of the fact that the Palestinians are prisoners of a racist occupation and subject to collective punishment and genocide, while others are involved in propaganda campaigns to prevent the achievement of justice and the realization of the legitimate aspirations of innocent people who simply want to live in freedom and dignity. Next time you hear or read “both sides” or hear an obligation related to “Palestinians and Israelis” by Western officials beware of the deliberate confusion planned between the killer “Israelis” and the victims “Palestinians”.

What each and every one of us can do is to stand for human integrity and dismiss all the propaganda designed and marketed by the enemies of justice and sacred human rights.

REf:Counterpunch

Bouthaina Shaaban is Political and Media Advisor at the Syrian Presidency, and former Minister of Expatriates. She is also a writer and professor at Damascus University since 1985. She has been the spokesperson for Syria and was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. She can be reached through nizar_kabibo@yahoo.com

Haiti aid agencies accused of ‘jostling for position’ (Isarel improving its warcrime brand!)

Lancet editorial accuses NGOs of putting their own interests above those of the quake victims whom they claim to help.

Aid agencies have been accused of “jostling for position” and putting their own interests above those of the victims in the Haiti earthquake.

In a caustic editorial today, the respected medical journal, the Lancet, attacked the way charities and other non-governmental organisations have clamoured for attention in the wake of the disaster.

“NGOs are rightly mobilising, but also jostling for position, each claiming that they are doing the most for earthquake survivors,” it said.

The Lancet did not name any aid agencies, many of which lost staff members in the disaster, but it questioned the way several have claimed to be “spearheading” relief efforts.

“As we only too clearly see, the situation in Haiti is chaotic, devastating, and anything but co-ordinated,” it said.

The editorial argued that the response to the earthquake has highlighted questions about the competitive ethos of large aid agencies. The issue has emerged in past emergencies, including the Asian tsunami in 2004.

“Polluted by the internal power politics and the unsavoury characteristics seen in many big corporations, large aid agencies can be obsessed with raising money through their own appeal efforts. Media coverage as an end in itself is too often an aim of their activities,” it said.

Worse still, it accused aid agencies of acting selfishly to the detriment of those they were supposed to be helping. “It seems increasingly obvious that many aid agencies sometimes act according to their own best interests rather than in the interests of individuals whom they claim to help,” the Lancet said.

It urged aid agencies to do more to collaborate in response to disasters rather than compete for attention.

“Relief efforts in the field are sometimes competitive with little collaboration between agencies, including smaller, grassroots charities that may have better networks in affected counties and so are well-placed to immediately implement emergency relief,” it said.

The editorial said the response to the earthquake should prompt a review of aid agencies and the way they deliver aid.

It said: “Given the ongoing crisis in Haiti, it may seem unpalatable to scrutinise and criticise the motives and activities of humanitarian organisations. But just like any other industry, the aid industry must be examined, not just financially as is current practice, but also in how it operates, from headquarter level to field level.”

Since the disaster some countries and aid agencies have criticised the way the US military has led the relief effort. The Lancet editorial was the most sustained criticism to date of the way the aid agencies themselves have reacted.

It concluded: “Although many aid agencies do important work, humanitarianism is no longer the ethos for many organisations within the aid industry. For the people of Haiti and those living in parallel situations of destruction, humanitarianism remains the most crucial motivation and means for intervention.”

Andrew Hogg, campaigns editor for Christian Aid, rejected the criticism and detailed the collaboration of the charity with other international NGOs and local groups.

“Within hours of being dug from the rubble in Port-au-Prince last week, Christian Aid’s country manager, Prospery Raymond, and programme manager, Abdonnel Dioudou, were liaising with local partner organisations about the provision of relief.”

On the charge that aid agencies have been clamouring for attention at the expense of victims, he said: “A journalist working for Christian Aid who was on leave in New York when the quake struck flew immediately to the Dominican Republic and entered Haiti as quickly as she could. Her presence there has been vital in fielding media inquiries about the situation, leaving our assessment team who also flew in, and staff on the ground, free to concentrate on the job of providing humanitarian relief.”

Hannah Reichardt, who is emergencies adviser at Save the Children, said: “We have a staff of 200 in Haiti, only two are doing media work. Our response to the crisis in Haiti is a humanitarian one, not a media one.”

But she added: “It’s absolutely vital that we put effort into media work, because it’s the thing that drives our fundraising. It might seem tasteless to some, but it’s about giving people the opportunity to donate money to the people of Haiti.”

She also pointed out that the work of the Disasters Emergency Committee, an umbrella group of NGOs which has raised £38m for Haiti in the UK, helps to overcome competition between agencies.

“It brings together all of our collective efforts, and it puts the emergency at the forefront not the individual charities.”

Brendan Gormley, chief executive of the Disasters Emergency Committee, said the claim that aid agencies had lost their humanitarianism ethos was “risible”. The Lancet had failed to “take into account the huge efforts by dedicated staff and volunteers – both Haitians and international experts – who are working tirelessly to bring help to earthquake survivors”.

“Co-ordination is improving but remains difficult following large numbers of deaths in both the UN Haiti operation and the Haitian government.”

A spokeswoman for Médecins Sans Frontières conceded that the Lancet had some “valid points” but in a statement MSF said: “Tragically we lost a number of our national staff in the earthquake. Our three health facilities were damaged. But the fact that we already had 800 national staff and 30 international experts working in Haiti meant we were able to start helping survivors 25 minutes after the earthquake struck.

“MSF has struggled to put Haiti on the international media agenda for 19 years. It is a scandal that it takes a disaster on this scale for the world to wake up to the plight of the thousands of Haitians who have been living in poverty with limited access to healthcare for many years.”

Ref: Haaretz

Beacon of light in Haiti!

The rabbi’s heart goes out to Haiti

One of the puzzles of Jewish life is that you see incredible generosity of spirit to strangers in many situations, per the Talmudic understanding that all men are made in the image of God, then jack-diddly when it comes to Palestinians. Everyone else is part of the human family. Not Palestinians, not Arabs. It is the great problem of Jewish consciousness today. The (moving) letter below is from Haskel Lookstein, a leading Orthodox rabbi (Newsweek called him #2 influential rabbi in the US), to his congregation, Kehilath Jeshurun, on the Upper East Side of NY, urging them to dig deep for Haiti.

Ref: Mondoweiss

Israel’s compassion in Haiti can’t hide our ugly face in Gaza

A few days before Israeli physicians rushed to save the lives of injured Haitians, the authorities at the Erez checkpoint prevented 17 people from passing through in order to get to a Ramallah hospital for urgent corneal transplant surgery. Perhaps they voted for Hamas. At the same time that Israeli psychologists are treating Haiti’s orphans with devotion, Israeli inspectors are making sure no one is attempting to plant a doll, a notebook or a bar of chocolate in a container bringing essential goods into Gaza. So what if the Goldstone Commission demanded that Israel lift the blockade on the Strip and end the collective punishment of its inhabitants? Only those who hate Israel could use frontier justice against the first country to set up a field hospital in Haiti.

Ref: Haaaretz

GAZA ONE YEAR LATER: Who Cares About Gaza?

Gaza?  Where’s that?  Have you heard about it recently?  It doesn’t figure on the list of important matters for consideration by the world’s presidents and prime ministers.  It has vanished from the media.  Most people couldn’t care less about a generation of Palestinians who are subjected to viciously inflicted privation by an imperialist nation that has lost touch with humanity.

Most countries, most human beings, with predictable exceptions, condemned Israel for indulging in frenzied savagery during its blitzkrieg on Gaza last December and January. There is no doubt that many of its actions were criminal. For example, there are well-documented instances of use of white phosphorus artillery shells against civilians. Poison gas, in other words – if a bit more hi-tech than the venomous vapors that exterminated so many millions of innocent Jewish men, women and children in Nazi concentration camps.

But Israel, propped up as a strutting jackbooted puppet on the global stage by the well-muscled fingers of Washington and some other capitals whose endorsement of violence seems boundless, can get away, quite literally, with murder.  Innocent men, women and children can be exterminated by armed forces that have no reason to fear justice or even criticism from the world’s juridical system.

A highly respected international jurist, Mr Richard Goldstone (a South African Jew), produced a report for the UN about Israel’s attempted genocide and Hamas atrocities and was impartial and objective about assessing facts and apportioning responsibility, as would be expected of such a distinguished judge.

His terms of reference were “to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law that might have been committed at any time in the context of the military operations that were conducted in Gaza during the period from 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009, whether before, during or after.”

He investigated thoroughly (although the Israelis refused to cooperate in any way) and reported fairly. His finding was that Palestinian terror groups were culpable of atrocities, as were Israeli armed forces, and for the latter ruling he was promptly attacked by Israel, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist and the Financial Times.

And by President Barack Obama.

The Obama administration pronounced the report to be “flawed,” without giving any indication of what the flaws might be. Mr Goldstone, courteous and balanced as ever – if a trifle taken aback at such a reaction – observed gently that “I have yet to hear from the Obama administration what the flaws in the report that they have identified are . . .  I would be happy to respond to them, if and when I know what they are . . . Of course I’m concerned and would like to engage with the Obama administration, at least informally.”

Fat chance of that happening, unless Mr Obama is prepared to risk the wrath of Israel.

But Mr Obama, like his predecessors, isn’t in favor of anything that is critical of Israel.  He wants a second presidential term, after all, and must not offend the rich and dominant Israel Lobby.  And his country’s legislators, who are equally beholden to that Lobby and have to follow the Tel Aviv line, “overwhelmingly passed a resolution condemning a report by a United Nations fact-finding panel that criticized Israel as part of an assessment of the conflict in Gaza in 2008 between Israel and Hamas.”  They voted against the report by 344 to 36, thereby showing, like the White House, their contempt for impartial analysis, the UN, the eminent Justice Goldstone, international law, and almost everything that remains civilized in this horrible world.  (And you wonder how many of them read the report before voting.)

Hundreds of legislators in the US and Britain have sold their souls to Israel and will support Tel Aviv in any circumstances.

Britain’s governing Labor Party is right behind Israel, and it is recorded that “The Labor Friends of Israel (LFI), ‘a Westminster based lobby group working within the British Labor Party to promote the State of Israel’ fostered close ties with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who joined the society upon his premiership.”

After his catastrophic decade as prime minister, Blair,  a squalid, greedy and unprincipled man, and a proven liar, was appointed “Middle East envoy working on behalf of the US, Russia, the UN and the EU,” as which he achieved precisely nothing.  The selection of Blair as a representative to the Middle East was absurd. Nobody could imagine for an instant that his activities would be regarded as impartial – unlike Mr Goldstone – but this didn’t matter, because he had the seal of Israeli approval.

Just as in the US, Israel knows no political borders in Britain, whose present prime minister, an uninspiring and petulant dullard called Brown, declared that :

“it is one of the great privileges I have to be able to address the Labour Friends of Israel, to be able to thank you for everything that you do to promote the cause of justice . . .  I count myself not only a friend of Israel but someone who wants to support the future of Israel.”

“The cause of justice”?

As Judge Goldstone recorded, Israel “committed actions amounting to war crimes, possibly crimes against humanity” by intentionally killing civilians during its Gaza blitzkrieg.

But Britain’s prime minister imagines that Israel’s slaughter of over 300 children will “promote the cause of justice.”

And the leader of Britain’s Conservative Party was equally toadying in June when he told the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) fundraising dinner at the Dorchester Hotel that he supported Israel unequivocally, “Not simply because of my party’s unstinting support for Israel through the decades, but also because it’s something I feel very deep inside of me.”

What drivel.  This little man, whose name escapes me, has jumped on the Israeli bandwagon because it means money. 80 per cent of Conservative legislators are members of the CFI, and subsidies for political campaigns from Israel-supporting business organizations are discreetly disguised and happily grasped.

There is hardly a word of criticism of Israel by politicians in the US and the UK, and it’s not at all surprising that this is so, because so many of them couldn’t exist without cash from the Israel Lobby, passed on in one way or another. All the lavish expenses-paid holiday trips to the land of “the cause of justice” are simply confirmation that legislators are out to get whatever they can for free.

And Peace Prize-winning Mr Obama, of whom so many of us had high hopes of even-handedness, has a Secretary of State who told the Israel Lobby “It is wonderful being here with all of you among so many friends and I feel like this is a giant family reunion . . . and I feel like I am among family . . .  I have a bedrock commitment to Israel’s security . . .  God bless Israel . . .

With servile, bootlicking friends like these, Israel can continue to defy UN Security Council resolutions, it can build scores of illegal settlements on land stolen from Palestinians, it can condemn the people of Gaza – and especially countless thousands of children – to indefinite and hideous hardship.  The state of Israel exists in a wicked and vicious parallel world, bolstered by smug and sleazy western politicians.

Ten years ago Justice Goldstone declared that “bringing war criminals to justice stems from the lessons of the Holocaust.”

Indeed it does.

But when so many politicians and so much of the media in the US and Britain are intent on supporting Zion and ignoring Israel’s repulsive human rights violations, you wonder if the lessons of the Holocaust are perhaps a bit one-sided. The people of Gaza are suffering from the effects of an illegal and malevolent Israeli blockade.  Its people are enduring horrible privation. The crimes against them go unpunished.

And nobody cares.  For it would be very difficult to admit that war crimes have been committed by people who come to your giant family reunions, promoting “the cause of justice.”

Ref: Counterpunch

Brian Cloughley’s book about the Pakistan army, War, Coups and Terror, is to be published in the US by Skyhorse next month. His website is http://www.beecluff.com.