White House Protest Corps


Gaza Flotilla: If Chavez had been the killer instead of Netanyahu

http://alainet.org/active/38803 by Roberto Montoya

translated by arrest-bush@usa.net

If Chavez had been the killer instead of Netanyahu

What you’ d expect to see from the mainstream media

The USA Fourth Fleet, with its aircraft carrier and three nuclear submarines, its two dozen cruisers and fourteen patrol torpedo boats, its 120 F22 and F117 fighters, six Apache AH-64 helicopters, sixty tanks and 20,000 marines, backed by B2 bombers and AWACS planes, is being deployed toward the Venezuelan coast to enforce a total blockade of Venezuelan ports.

“The Pentagon has established a ‘no-fly zone’ over Venezuela and installed Patriot anti-ballistic missiles in Columbia and Honduras. The goal is to prevent the dictator Chavez from using his nuclear arsenal against the USA or its neighbors. The Pentagon has mobilized reinforcements for its seven permanent bases in Columbia on the Venezuelan border”, The American secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, and the secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, at a press conference pointed out. “We have no intention to comply with the tepid response from the UN Security Council against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.”

“The elite forces of the National Bolivarian Armada from the Agustín Armario Naval Base, made up of several GC-21 coastal patrol boats, a few PC-33 corvettes, and some PC-24 patrol craft ATTACKED IN INTERNATIONL WATERS of the Caribbean Sea a FREEDOM FLOTILLA of six boats carrying 750 peaceful anti-Chavez activists and NGO members from several countries. The comandos boarded the ship and opened fire on the passengers, leaving between nine and nineteen dead and dozens injured” reported Gates.

“The Venezuelan dictator”, added Hillary Clinton, “in his usual acts of distraction and propaganda, has accused the murdered civilians of carrying arms on board the ship and of being connected to the CIA, Mossad, and Columbian Intelligence Services.”

President Obama, flanked by his Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, said that American intelligence has long known that Chávez wanted to provoke an international diplomatic crisis disguised as legitimate self-defense. “The dictator was planning to invade Columbia with the help of the FARC. He would then proceed to overthrow one by one the governments of Latin America that did not bend to the will of ALBA and the Latin American Axis of Evil. Chávez’s twisted dream is to build a Great Bolivarian Nation, which in reality would be nothing but a huge regional dictatorship.” Blair remarked.

After a moment of silence, Obama’s face grew very serious. He then made a revelation that astonished all present. “We have decided to invade Venezuela and extradite Chávez to Guantánamo where he will be judged by a military tribunal. We have conclusive evidence that the dictator has been sheltering Osama bin Laden in the jungle south of the Orinoco River. Furthermore, we have intelligence that Chávez has smuggled enriched uranium from Ahmedinijad and installed missiles targeting America.”

“And if this were not enough to justify our Crusade, it is my responsibility to inform the world of a vital discovery, a discovery which dispels one of the great mysteries of our time. Our intelligence services have located the weapons of mass destruction for which my indefatigable predecessor scoured Iraqi territory in vain. Now we have absolute proof that the weapons of mass destruction were smuggled into Venezuela by Saddam Hussein himself before he was apprehended. They now under the direct command of the Chávez family.”

No sooner had the press conference wrapped up when the White House telephones started ringing off the hook. The leaders of the European Union, of the United Nations, of Israel, and of many other nations were climbing all over one another to assure the president of their support and to jump aboard his worthy Crusade.

At the insistence of European leaders and prestigious ‘think tanks’, President Obama called for an international summit to study the inclusion of Cuba in The Great Crusade, dubbed Latin American Free Operation. The Castro brothers would be captured and detained at Guantánamo. Business leaders, led by Gerardo Díaz Ferrán of Spain, suggested the time was ripe to complete the democratic makeover of Latin American by the overthrow of totalitarian regimes. The continent would be freed of coke fiends Evo Morales and Rafael Correa, of guerrilla leaders Daniel Ortega and Pepe Múgica, of the pinko priest Fernando Lugo, of the rabble-rowser Cristina Kirchner. The continent would be freed of everyone and anyone who dares challenge the interests of the multinationals, the multinationals that have only the best interests of The People in mind.

Thus did Díaz Ferrán retrace the steps of German president Horst Köhler, who in May was forced to resign. Köhler had declared that the valiant mission of Germany in Afghanistan was the following: “We know that for a country of our size, its economy dependent on international commerce, military intervention is necessary to defend our interests. Trade routes must be kept open and regions must be kept stable and safe, because otherwise our commercial interests would be negatively impacted.”

Obama, his European Allies, the UN, the IMF, the International Development Bank, the World Bank, the most important multinationals and lobbies, have reached a consensus. It can be assumed that resources freed by Latin American Free Operation will solve the the global financial crisis in the short or medium term.

http://alainet.org/active/38803 by Roberto Montoya

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NOW AVAILABLE: Full 60-minute footage smuggled from Mavi Marmara

NOW AVAILABLE: Full 60-minute footage smuggled from Mavi Marmara

June 11, 2010

MEDIA ALERT:

JUST RELEASED: ONE HOUR OF FOOTAGE FROM MAVI MARMARA
Footage taken aboard largest ship in Gaza Freedom Flotilla in hour before and during raid by Israeli military

New York, NY—

A full hour of raw footage taken aboard the Mavi Marmara in the hour leading up to and during the Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla has just been made available to view at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwsMJmvS0AY

The footage is also available for download at: http://tinyurl.com/flotilla-footage/

Despite the Israeli government’s efforts to confiscate all of the footage taken during the attack, CULTURES OF RESISTANCE filmmaker Iara Lee was able to smuggle one hour of footage back to the United States and is releasing it raw to the public today.

Yesterday at the United Nations, Ms. Lee presented the footage for the first time to the international press corps after the following statement:

“I want first to thank the United Nations Correspondents Association for organizing this event on such short notice.

“My name is Iara Lee. I am a dual U.S.-Brazilian citizen of Korean descent. I am a filmmaker and a human rights activist.

“I decided to join the Freedom Flotilla after going to Gaza a few months ago and seeing first hand the devastation there. After hearing the pleas of the people living in Gaza to have the blockade lifted, I felt I must do something.

“The Gaza Freedom Flotilla was on a humanitarian mission.  We expected to be deterred from delivering our aid to Gazans, but we did not expect to be attacked.

“We started filming from the moment we boarded the Mavi Marmara right through the Israeli assault on the ship. Although all of our equipment was confiscated, we managed to smuggle this footage out.

“Mine is high-definition footage of the Flotilla attack and also the only sustained footage of the ship and its passengers preceding the deadly Israeli commando raid. Watching this raw, unedited footage, you will get a sense of the mood on the ship and of the passengers on it.

“Undoubtedly, many of you will be scrutinizing it for clues to resolve the mysteries that still surround what happened that fateful night.

“During this past week the Israeli government has repeatedly alleged that these passengers — or some of them — laid a trap for Israel, duped the Israeli military, and plotted a lynching. Israel has repeatedly alleged that we were anti-Semitic Muslim fanatics connected to terrorist organizations.

“In fact, the passengers on our mission came from many countries and religious and ethnic backgrounds.  Our one common denominator was that we wanted to end the humanitarian crisis in Gaza by highlighting the injustice of Israel’s blockade.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “This wasn’t the ‘love boat,’ this was a flotilla of terror supporters.” Our footage will help you decide whether we were a love boat or a hate boat. You will see secular and devout passengers. You will see people at prayer and people working at their laptops.

“Was this a lynch-mob moved by hatred of Israelis or was it a cross-section of humanity moved by the plight of Gaza? Did we lay a trap for the Israeli commandos or did they unnecessarily attack us? Did we take them by surprise or did they take us by surprise?

“Do you see a premeditated ambush, or do you see some passengers using items at hand to protect themselves from an unprovoked assault by heavily armed commandos?

“You decide.”

CONTACT:

Iara Lee: iaralee@culturesofresistance.org

please cc: assistant@gg3.com for prompt reply

www.culturesofresistance.org

http://www.facebook.com/ profile.php?id=100000928581236

Posted at http://gazaflotilla.delegitimize.com/statements/activist-statements/full-60-minute-footage-smuggled-from-mavi-marmara/

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Israel’s Lifting of Gaza Blockade Means Junk Food, But No Cement to Rebuild Damaged Buildings

Salem-News.com http://salem-news.com/articles/june092010/blockade-reality.php

The marginal easement is a step in the right direction, but a very small one.

Raffah Crossing at Gaza
File image of Raffah Crossing at Gaza during a previous effort, Viva Palestina. Courtesy: Wikipedia

(JERUSALEM) – Some food items that had been banned under Israel’s and Egypt’s blockade of the Gaza Strip, are now finding their way into this battered, walled and tortured land.

The Gaza Freedom Flotilla set out with a goal of breaking the several years old siege that has brought this population to piteous depths of poverty, the likes of which even this place had been able to avoid.

Reporters with the Times of India spoke to officials Wednesday, who agree that it is a small step toward easing its three-year-old blockade of the territory, after worldwide criticism of last week’s deadly raid on a Gaza-bound international flotilla.

The decision only narrowly expands the list of goods that can enter Gaza — and most of the newly permitted items are already being smuggled into the area from neighboring Egypt.

The move also does not include the most-sought items in Gaza, such as cement, steel and other materials needed to rebuild the war-devastated strip. But it is the first tangible step by Israel to temper the uproar caused by the raid, which left nine pro-Palestinian activists dead after a clash with Israeli naval commandos on one of the flotilla’s ships.

Palestinian liaison official Raed Fattouh, who coordinates the flow of goods into Gaza with Israel, said that soda, juice, jam, spices, shaving cream, potato chips, cookies and candy were now permitted. He said some products have already entered Gaza, and others would cross in the coming days.

The naval raid drew attention to the blockade, imposed by Israel and Egypt after Hamas militants seized power in Gaza in 2007.

The closure has devastated Gaza’s already battered economy, erased tens of thousands of jobs and prevented the area from repairing damage after a fierce Israeli military offensive in Gaza early last year.

Wednesday’s gesture was unlikely to blunt the global criticism, since it doesn’t lift the ban on materials needed to rebuild Gaza.

=======================================================

Special thanks to the Times of India



Israel ‘committing slow drip genocide’
June 4, 2010, 2:42 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,
Palestinian woman holds photo of Rachel Corrie

Palestinian woman holds photo of Rachel Corrie

A Palestinian holds a poster of Rachel Corrie an American peace activist. Corrie, 23, of Washington DC, was crushed to death on March 16 by an Israeli army bulldozer in Rafah as she tried to prevent the destruction of Palestinian homes.

The Co-founder of the Free Gaza Movement Greta Berlin says that Israel is committing slow drip genocide, ‘drip by drip, Palestinian by Palestinian, child by child’.

Berlin says the Gaza Strip siege has ‘totally impoverished’ the territory and that Israel is committing slow motion genocide.

She said in an interview with Press TV on Thursday that if governments do not “stand up” and do the “right thing” to prevent Israel’s “slow motion genocide”, the people need to “take initiative.”

The Freedom Flotilla, carrying humanitarian aid to the “impoverished territory” was attacked by Israeli commandos in international waters early Monday morning taking at least 20 lives.

Rachel Corrie, another Gaza-bound aid ship carrying medical supplies, construction material, educational material, and toys is scheduled to reach Israeli coast early Saturday morning, despite Israel insisting it will not be allowed to dock, the Guardian reported.

Now, Rachel Corrie is on its way to the beleaguered territory even more determined to “carry on with this mission,” despite the risk of a repeat of the recent “attack”, Bernama reported.

http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=129025&sectionid=351020202



Irish Activists .vs. USA War Profiteers: Raytheon 14 go on trial

Raytheon 14 go on trial

http://socialistworker.org/2010/05/27/raytheon-14-go-on-trial

Sandy Boyer co-host of Radio Free Eireann on WBAI in New York City and a veteran organizer for Irish political prisoners, reports on the start of a trial of antiwar protesters in Northern Ireland who targeted the weapons firm Raytheon.

May 27, 2010

Members of the Raytheon 14 (Indymedia Ireland)Members of the Raytheon 14 (Indymedia Ireland)

NINE WOMEN and five men are on trial in Northern Ireland after they attempted to disarm the mainframe computer at the Raytheon plant in Derry. They could face up to several years in prison.

Raytheon is a leading U.S. arms manufacturer. It produces Tomahawk cruise missiles, Sidewinder missiles, Hellfire missiles, the “bunker buster” bombs, the delivery systems for cluster bombs, white phosphate and Napalm. The Derry plant manufactured guidance systems for Israeli missiles that have been used to kill and maim Palestinian and Lebanese people.

The protest began on January 12 in response to the Israeli bombing of Gaza. The nine women entered the building that housed the Raytheon plant and chained themselves to each other and to the internal doors leading to Raytheon’s part of the building

Goretti Horgan, one of the protestors, says, “Our intention was to bring down the mainframe. We knew that when the Derry mainframe went down, all of Raytheon’s UK plants were knocked out. In other words, it was a really effective way of stopping the war machine.”

When they couldn’t reach the computer mainframe, the women barricaded themselves in the building. They refused to leave until the police agreed to investigate Raytheon’s complicity in Israel’s war crimes in Gaza–an agreement they never kept.

The women are charged with burglary, criminal damage and assault. Five men who tried to support the women while they were barricaded in the building are also on trial. They are all charged with obstructing police, one is being charged with criminal damage, and one with impersonating a police officer. Two of the men are also being charged with assaulting a police officer after the police beat a pregnant woman.

The Raytheon 14 action was too much for Raytheon–they finally left Derry this February.

The women’s occupation was the culmination of a 10-year campaign to drive Raytheon out of Derry. In 2006, nine men invaded the Raytheon plant and damaged the mainframe computer. A Belfast jury acquitted them of criminal damage because it found that their action was intended to prevent the Israelis from killing more people in Lebanon.

As the trial was preparing to resume, Goretti Horgan said, “We are on trial not as the accused but the accusers. We are confident that a jury of ordinary people will find that it is not we who are guilty but it is Raytheon that is guilty of complicity in Israeli war crimes.”



Chomsky: For Obama to Suggest He Cares About Human Rights in Gaza Is a Joke in Bad Taste
April 27, 2010, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

Chomsky: For Obama to Suggest He Cares About Human Rights in Gaza Is a Joke in Bad Taste

friends till the end

friends till the end

By Noam Chomsky, Tomdispatch.com
Posted on April 27, 2010, Printed on April 27, 2010
http://www.alternet.org/story/146641/

[To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com here.]

The fact that the Israel-Palestine conflict grinds on without resolution might appear to be rather strange.  For many of the world’s conflicts, it is difficult even to conjure up a feasible settlement.  In this case, it is not only possible, but there is near universal agreement on its basic contours: a two-state settlement along the internationally recognized (pre-June 1967) borders — with “minor and mutual modifications,” to adopt official U.S. terminology before Washington departed from the international community in the mid-1970s.

The basic principles have been accepted by virtually the entire world, including the Arab states (who go on to call for full normalization of relations), the Organization of Islamic States (including Iran), and relevant non-state actors (including Hamas).  A settlement along these lines was first proposed at the U.N. Security Council in January 1976 by the major Arab states.  Israel refused to attend the session.  The U.S. vetoed the resolution, and did so again in 1980.  The record at the General Assembly since is similar.

There was one important and revealing break in U.S.-Israeli rejectionism.  After the failed Camp David agreements in 2000, President Clinton recognized that the terms he and Israel had proposed were unacceptable to any Palestinians.  That December, he proposed his “parameters”: imprecise, but more forthcoming.  He then stated that both sides had accepted the parameters, while expressing reservations.

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met in Taba, Egypt, in January 2001 to resolve the differences and were making considerable progress.  In their final press conference, they reported that, with a little more time, they could probably have reached full agreement.  Israel called off the negotiations prematurely, however, and official progress then terminated, though informal discussions at a high level continued leading to the Geneva Accord, rejected by Israel and ignored by the U.S.

A good deal has happened since, but a settlement along those lines is still not out of reach — if, of course, Washington is once again willing to accept it.  Unfortunately, there is little sign of that.

Substantial mythology has been created about the entire record, but the basic facts are clear enough and quite well documented.

The U.S. and Israel have been acting in tandem to extend and deepen the occupation.  In 2005, recognizing that it was pointless to subsidize a few thousand Israeli settlers in Gaza, who were appropriating substantial resources and protected by a large part of the Israeli army, the government of Ariel Sharon decided to move them to the much more valuable West Bank and Golan Heights.

Instead of carrying out the operation straightforwardly, as would have been easy enough, the government decided to stage a “national trauma,” which virtually duplicated the farce accompanying the withdrawal from the Sinai desert after the Camp David agreements of 1978-79.  In each case, the withdrawal permitted the cry of “Never Again,” which meant in practice: we cannot abandon an inch of the Palestinian territories that we want to take in violation of international law.  This farce played very well in the West, though it was ridiculed by more astute Israeli commentators, among them that country’s prominent sociologist the late Baruch Kimmerling.

After its formal withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, Israel never actually relinquished its total control over the territory, often described realistically as “the world’s largest prison.”  In January 2006, a few months after the withdrawal, Palestine had an election that was recognized as free and fair by international observers.  Palestinians, however, voted “the wrong way,” electing Hamas.  Instantly, the U.S. and Israel intensified their assault against Gazans as punishment for this misdeed.  The facts and the reasoning were not concealed; rather, they were openly published alongside reverential commentary on Washington’s sincere dedication to democracy.  The U.S.-backed Israeli assault against the Gazans has only been intensified since, thanks to violence and economic strangulation, increasingly savage.

Meanwhile in the West Bank, always with firm U.S. backing, Israel has been carrying forward longstanding programs to take the valuable land and resources of the Palestinians and leave them in unviable cantons, mostly out of sight.  Israeli commentators frankly refer to these goals as “neocolonial.” Ariel Sharon, the main architect of the settlement programs, called these cantons “Bantustans,” though the term is misleading: South Africa needed the majority black work force, while Israel would be happy if the Palestinians disappeared, and its policies are directed to that end.

Blockading Gaza by Land and Sea

One step towards cantonization and the undermining of hopes for Palestinian national survival is the separation of Gaza from the West Bank.  These hopes have been almost entirely consigned to oblivion, an atrocity to which we should not contribute by tacit consent. Israeli journalist Amira Hass, one of the leading specialists on Gaza, writes that

“the restrictions on Palestinian movement that Israel introduced in January 1991 reversed a process that had been initiated in June 1967. Back then, and for the first time since 1948, a large portion of the Palestinian people again lived in the open territory of a single country — to be sure, one that was occupied, but was nevertheless whole.… The total separation of the Gaza Strip from the West Bank is one of the greatest achievements of Israeli politics, whose overarching objective is to prevent a solution based on international decisions and understandings and instead dictate an arrangement based on Israel’s military superiority.…

“Since January 1991, Israel has bureaucratically and logistically merely perfected the split and the separation: not only between Palestinians in the occupied territories and their brothers in Israel, but also between the Palestinian residents of Jerusalem and those in the rest of the territories and between Gazans and West Bankers/Jerusalemites. Jews live in this same piece of land within a superior and separate system of privileges, laws, services, physical infrastructure and freedom of movement.”

The leading academic specialist on Gaza, Harvard scholar Sara Roy, adds:

“Gaza is an example of a society that has been deliberately reduced to a state of abject destitution, its once productive population transformed into one of aid-dependent paupers.… Gaza’s subjection began long before Israel’s recent war against it [December 2008]. The Israeli occupation — now largely forgotten or denied by the international community — has devastated Gaza’s economy and people, especially since 2006…. After Israel’s December [2008] assault, Gaza’s already compromised conditions have become virtually unlivable. Livelihoods, homes, and public infrastructure have been damaged or destroyed on a scale that even the Israel Defense Forces admitted was indefensible.

“In Gaza today, there is no private sector to speak of and no industry. 80 percent of Gaza’s agricultural crops were destroyed and Israel continues to snipe at farmers attempting to plant and tend fields near the well-fenced and patrolled border. Most productive activity has been extinguished.… Today, 96 percent of Gaza’s population of 1.4 million is dependent on humanitarian aid for basic needs. According to the World Food Programme, the Gaza Strip requires a minimum of 400 trucks of food every day just to meet the basic nutritional needs of the population. Yet, despite a March [22, 2009] decision by the Israeli cabinet to lift all restrictions on foodstuffs entering Gaza, only 653 trucks of food and other supplies were allowed entry during the week of May 10, at best meeting 23 percent of required need. Israel now allows only 30 to 40 commercial items to enter Gaza compared to 4,000 approved products prior to June 2006.”

It cannot be too often stressed that Israel had no credible pretext for its 2008–9 attack on Gaza, with full U.S. support and illegally using U.S. weapons. Near-universal opinion asserts the contrary, claiming that Israel was acting in self-defense. That is utterly unsustainable, in light of Israel’s flat rejection of peaceful means that were readily available, as Israel and its U.S. partner in crime knew very well. That aside, Israel’s siege of Gaza is itself an act of war, as Israel of all countries certainly recognizes, having repeatedly justified launching major wars on grounds of partial restrictions on its access to the outside world, though nothing remotely like what it has long imposed on Gaza.

One crucial element of Israel’s criminal siege, little reported, is the naval blockade. Peter Beaumont reports from Gaza that, “on its coastal littoral, Gaza’s limitations are marked by a different fence where the bars are Israeli gunboats with their huge wakes, scurrying beyond the Palestinian fishing boats and preventing them from going outside a zone imposed by the warships.” According to reports from the scene, the naval siege has been tightened steadily since 2000. Fishing boats have been driven steadily out of Gaza’s territorial waters and toward the shore by Israeli gunboats, often violently without warning and with many casualties. As a result of these naval actions, Gaza’s fishing industry has virtually collapsed; fishing is impossible near shore because of the contamination caused by Israel’s regular attacks, including the destruction of power plants and sewage facilities.

These Israeli naval attacks began shortly after the discovery by the BG (British Gas) Group of what appear to be quite sizeable natural gas fields in Gaza’s territorial waters. Industry journals report that Israel is already appropriating these Gazan resources for its own use, part of its commitment to shift its economy to natural gas. The standard industry source reports:

“Israel’s finance ministry has given the Israel Electric Corp. (IEC) approval to purchase larger quantities of natural gas from BG than originally agreed upon, according to Israeli government sources [which] said the state-owned utility would be able to negotiate for as much as 1.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas from the Marine field located off the Mediterranean coast of the Palestinian controlled Gaza Strip.

“Last year the Israeli government approved the purchase of 800 million cubic meters of gas from the field by the IEC…. Recently the Israeli government changed its policy and decided the state-owned utility could buy the entire quantity of gas from the Gaza Marine field. Previously the government had said the IEC could buy half the total amount and the remainder would be bought by private power producers.”

The pillage of what could become a major source of income for Gaza is surely known to U.S. authorities. It is only reasonable to suppose that the intention to appropriate these limited resources, either by Israel alone or together with the collaborationist Palestinian Authority, is the motive for preventing Gazan fishing boats from entering Gaza’s territorial waters.

There are some instructive precedents. In 1989, Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans signed a treaty with his Indonesian counterpart Ali Alatas granting Australia rights to the substantial oil reserves in “the Indonesian Province of East Timor.” The Indonesia-Australia Timor Gap Treaty, which offered not a crumb to the people whose oil was being stolen, “is the only legal agreement anywhere in the world that effectively recognises Indonesia’s right to rule East Timor,” the Australian press reported.

Asked about his willingness to recognize the Indonesian conquest and to rob the sole resource of the conquered territory, which had been subjected to near-genocidal slaughter by the Indonesian invader with the strong support of Australia (along with the U.S., the U.K., and some others), Evans explained that “there is no binding legal obligation not to recognise the acquisition of territory that was acquired by force,” adding that “the world is a pretty unfair place, littered with examples of acquisition by force.”

It should, then, be unproblematic for Israel to follow suit in Gaza.

A few years later, Evans became the leading figure in the campaign to introduce the concept “responsibility to protect” — known as R2P — into international law. R2P is intended to establish an international obligation to protect populations from grave crimes. Evans is the author of a major book on the subject and was co-chair of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, which issued what is considered the basic document on R2P.

In an article devoted to this “idealistic effort to establish a new humanitarian principle,” the London Economist featured Evans and his “bold but passionate claim on behalf of a three-word expression which (in quite large part thanks to his efforts) now belongs to the language of diplomacy: the ‘responsibility to protect.’” The article is accompanied by a picture of Evans with the caption “Evans: a lifelong passion to protect.” His hand is pressed to his forehead in despair over the difficulties faced by his idealistic effort. The journal chose not to run a different photo that circulates in Australia, depicting Evans and Alatas exuberantly clasping their hands together as they toast the Timor Gap Treaty that they had just signed.

Though a “protected population” under international law, Gazans do not fall under the jurisdiction of the “responsibility to protect,” joining other unfortunates, in accord with the maxim of Thucydides — that the strong do as they wish, and the weak suffer as they must — which holds with its customary precision.

Obama and the Settlements

The kinds of restrictions on movement used to destroy Gaza have long been in force in the West Bank as well, less cruelly but with grim effects on life and the economy. The World Bank reports that Israel has established “a complex closure regime that restricts Palestinian access to large areas of the West Bank… The Palestinian economy has remained stagnant, largely because of the sharp downturn in Gaza and Israel’s continued restrictions on Palestinian trade and movement in the West Bank.”

The World Bank “cited Israeli roadblocks and checkpoints hindering trade and travel, as well as restrictions on Palestinian building in the West Bank, where the Western-backed government of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas holds sway.” Israel does permit — indeed encourage — a privileged existence for elites in Ramallah and sometimes elsewhere, largely relying on European funding, a traditional feature of colonial and neocolonial practice.

All of this constitutes what Israeli activist Jeff Halper calls a “matrix of control” to subdue the colonized population. These systematic programs over more than 40 years aim to establish Defense Minister Moshe Dayan’s recommendation to his colleagues shortly after Israel’s 1967 conquests that we must tell the Palestinians in the territories: “We have no solution, you shall continue to live like dogs, and whoever wishes may leave, and we will see where this process leads.”

Turning to the second bone of contention, settlements, there is indeed a confrontation, but it is rather less dramatic than portrayed. Washington’s position was presented most strongly in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s much-quoted statement rejecting “natural growth exceptions” to the policy opposing new settlements. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, along with President Shimon Peres and, in fact, virtually the whole Israeli political spectrum, insists on permitting “natural growth” within the areas that Israel intends to annex, complaining that the United States is backing down on George W. Bush’s authorization of such expansion within his “vision” of a Palestinian state.

Senior Netanyahu cabinet members have gone further. Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz announced that “the current Israeli government will not accept in any way the freezing of legal settlement activity in Judea and Samaria.” The term “legal” in U.S.-Israeli parlance means “illegal, but authorized by the government of Israel with a wink from Washington.” In this usage, unauthorized outposts are termed “illegal,” though apart from the dictates of the powerful, they are no more illegal than the settlements granted to Israel under Bush’s “vision” and Obama’s scrupulous omission.

The Obama-Clinton “hardball” formulation is not new. It repeats the wording of the Bush administration draft of the 2003 Road Map, which stipulates that in Phase I, “Israel freezes all settlement activity (including natural growth of settlements).” All sides formally accept the Road Map (modified to drop the phrase “natural growth”) — consistently overlooking the fact that Israel, with U.S. support, at once added 14 “reservations” that render it inoperable.

If Obama were at all serious about opposing settlement expansion, he could easily proceed with concrete measures by, for example, reducing U.S. aid by the amount devoted to this purpose. That would hardly be a radical or courageous move. The Bush I administration did so (reducing loan guarantees), but after the Oslo accord in 1993, President Clinton left calculations to the government of Israel. Unsurprisingly, there was “no change in the expenditures flowing to the settlements,” the Israeli press reported. “[Prime Minister] Rabin will continue not to dry out the settlements,” the report concludes. “And the Americans? They will understand.”

Obama administration officials informed the press that the Bush I measures are “not under discussion,” and that pressures will be “largely symbolic.” In short, Obama understands, just as Clinton and Bush II did.

American Visionaries

At best, settlement expansion is a side issue, rather like the issue of “illegal outposts” — namely those that the government of Israel has not authorized. Concentration on these issues diverts attention from the fact that there are no “legal outposts” and that it is the existing settlements that are the primary problem to be faced.

The U.S. press reports that “a partial freeze has been in place for several years, but settlers have found ways around the strictures… [C]onstruction in the settlements has slowed but never stopped, continuing at an annual rate of about 1,500 to 2,000 units over the past three years. If building continues at the 2008 rate, the 46,500 units already approved will be completed in about 20 years.… If Israel built all the housing units already approved in the nation’s overall master plan for settlements, it would almost double the number of settler homes in the West Bank.” Peace Now, which monitors settlement activities, estimates further that the two largest settlements would double in size: Ariel and Ma’aleh Adumim, built mainly during the Oslo years in the salients that subdivide the West Bank into cantons.

“Natural population growth” is largely a myth, Israel’s leading diplomatic correspondent, Akiva Eldar, points out, citing demographic studies by Colonel (res.) Shaul Arieli, deputy military secretary to former prime minister and incumbent defense minister Ehud Barak. Settlement growth consists largely of Israeli immigrants in violation of the Geneva Conventions, assisted with generous subsidies. Much of it is in direct violation of formal government decisions, but carried out with the authorization of the government, specifically Barak, considered a dove in the Israeli spectrum.

Correspondent Jackson Diehl derides the “long-dormant Palestinian fantasy,” revived by President Abbas, “that the United States will simply force Israel to make critical concessions, whether or not its democratic government agrees.” He does not explain why refusal to participate in Israel’s illegal expansion — which, if serious, would “force Israel to make critical concessions” — would be improper interference in Israel’s democracy.

Returning to reality, all of these discussions about settlement expansion evade the most crucial issue about settlements: what the United States and Israel have already established in the West Bank. The evasion tacitly concedes that the illegal settlement programs already in place are somehow acceptable (putting aside the Golan Heights, annexed in violation of Security Council orders) — though the Bush “vision,” apparently accepted by Obama, moves from tacit to explicit support for these violations of law. What is in place already suffices to ensure that there can be no viable Palestinian self-determination. Hence, there is every indication that even on the unlikely assumption that “natural growth” will be ended, U.S.-Israeli rejectionism will persist, blocking the international consensus as before.

Subsequently, Prime Minister Netanyahu declared a 10-month suspension of new construction, with many exemptions, and entirely excluding Greater Jerusalem, where expropriation in Arab areas and construction for Jewish settlers continues at a rapid pace. Hillary Clinton praised these “unprecedented” concessions on (illegal) construction, eliciting anger and ridicule in much of the world.

It might be different if a legitimate “land swap” were under consideration, a solution approached at Taba and spelled out more fully in the Geneva Accord reached in informal high-level Israel-Palestine negotiations. The accord was presented in Geneva in October 2003, welcomed by much of the world, rejected by Israel, and ignored by the United States.

Washington’s “Evenhandedness”

Barack Obama’s June 4, 2009, Cairo address to the Muslim world kept pretty much to his well-honed “blank slate” style — with little of substance, but presented in a personable manner that allows listeners to write on the slate what they want to hear. CNN captured its spirit in headlining a report “Obama Looks to Reach the Soul of the Muslim World.” Obama had announced the goals of his address in an interview with New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. “‘We have a joke around the White House,’ the president said. ‘We’re just going to keep on telling the truth until it stops working and nowhere is truth-telling more important than the Middle East.’” The White House commitment is most welcome, but it is useful to see how it translates into practice.

Obama admonished his audience that it is easy to “point fingers… but if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth: the only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security.”

Turning from Obama-Friedman Truth to truth, there is a third side, with a decisive role throughout: the United States. But that participant in the conflict Obama omitted. The omission is understood to be normal and appropriate, hence unmentioned: Friedman’s column is headlined “Obama Speech Aimed at Both Arabs and Israelis.” The front-page Wall Street Journal report on Obama’s speech appears under the heading “Obama Chides Israel, Arabs in His Overture to Muslims.” Other reports are the same.

The convention is understandable on the doctrinal principle that though the U.S. government sometimes makes mistakes, its intentions are by definition benign, even noble. In the world of attractive imagery, Washington has always sought desperately to be an honest broker, yearning to advance peace and justice. The doctrine trumps truth, of which there is little hint in the speech or the mainstream coverage of it.

Obama once again echoed Bush’s “vision” of two states, without saying what he meant by the phrase “Palestinian state.” His intentions were clarified not only by the crucial omissions already discussed, but also by his one explicit criticism of Israel: “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.” That is, Israel should live up to Phase I of the 2003 Road Map, rejected at once by Israel with tacit U.S. support, as noted — though the truth is that Obama has ruled out even steps of the Bush I variety to withdraw from participation in these crimes.

The operative words are “legitimacy” and “continued.” By omission, Obama indicates that he accepts Bush’s vision: the vast existing settlement and infrastructure projects are “legitimate,” thus ensuring that the phrase “Palestinian state” means “fried chicken.”

Always even-handed, Obama also had an admonition for the Arab states: they “must recognize that the Arab Peace Initiative was an important beginning, but not the end of their responsibilities.” Plainly, however, it cannot be a meaningful “beginning” if Obama continues to reject its core principles: implementation of the international consensus. To do so, however, is evidently not Washington’s “responsibility” in Obama’s vision; no explanation given, no notice taken.

On democracy, Obama said that “we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election” — as in January 2006, when Washington picked the outcome with a vengeance, turning at once to severe punishment of the Palestinians because it did not like the outcome of a peaceful election, all with Obama’s apparent approval judging by his words before, and actions since, taking office.

Obama politely refrained from comment about his host, President Mubarak, one of the most brutal dictators in the region, though he has had some illuminating words about him. As he was about to board a plane to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the two “moderate” Arab states, “Mr. Obama signaled that while he would mention American concerns about human rights in Egypt, he would not challenge Mr. Mubarak too sharply, because he is a ‘force for stability and good’ in the Middle East… Mr. Obama said he did not regard Mr. Mubarak as an authoritarian leader. ‘No, I tend not to use labels for folks,’ Mr. Obama said. The president noted that there had been criticism ‘of the manner in which politics operates in Egypt,’ but he also said that Mr. Mubarak had been ‘a stalwart ally, in many respects, to the United States.’”

When a politician uses the word “folks,” we should brace ourselves for the deceit, or worse, that is coming. Outside of this context, there are “people,” or often “villains,” and using labels for them is highly meritorious. Obama is right, however, not to have used the word “authoritarian,” which is far too mild a label for his friend.

Just as in the past, support for democracy, and for human rights as well, keeps to the pattern that scholarship has repeatedly discovered, correlating closely with strategic and economic objectives. There should be little difficulty in understanding why those whose eyes are not closed tight shut by rigid doctrine dismiss Obama’s yearning for human rights and democracy as a joke in bad taste.

Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor emeritus in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the author of numerous books, including the New York Times bestsellers Hegemony or Survival and Failed States. His newest book, Hopes and Prospects, is out this week from Haymarket Books.


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