Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned speech to the United States Congress next week has led to much talk of a rift between the Israeli prime minister and the US president, and even between their two countries.
Tuesday, national security adviser Susan E. Rice said the growing partisanship regarding Israel is “destructive of the fabric of the relationship.”
Citing protocol of not meeting foreign leaders too close to an election, President Barack Obama will shun his Israeli counterpart in Washington, and Vice President Joe Biden will stay away from the joint session of Congress when Netanyahu appears.
The dispute has taken on rancorous partisan tones with more than two dozen Democratic lawmakers vowing to boycott the speech. They charge that Netanyahu’s goal is to undermine the president’s diplomacy with Iran, and that Republican House Speaker John Boehner invited the Israeli leader to defy and humiliate the White House.
Yet all those objecting to the speech, whether in the United States, or Netanyahu’s rivals at home, where he faces an election next month, protest that their concern is to guarantee US-Israeli relations on whose strength the very future of Israel is said to hang.
But what all this sound and fury misses is that for the Palestinians, there is no meaningful Obama-Netanyahu rift. Indeed US-Israeli relations have never been stronger, nor more damaging to the prospects for peace and justice and for the very survival of the Palestinian people.
Just look at the recent record. Last December, the Palestinian Authority put forward a tepid resolution in the UN Security Council that did little more than repeat long-standing US policy on the outlines of a two-state solution. Obama’s UN ambassador Samantha Power marshaled all her resources to defeat it.
She claimed that the resolution was “deeply imbalanced” and took “no account of Israel’s legitimate security concerns.”
The next day, after disappointed Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas signed the treaty acceding to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Obama’s State Department declared itself “deeply troubled,” accusing Palestinians of an “escalatory step” that “badly damages the atmosphere with the very people with whom they ultimately need to make peace.”
Power said the Palestinian move “really poses a profound threat to Israel.”
These words are perverse. Israel’s 51-day long attack on Gaza that left more than 2,200 people dead didn’t “damage the atmosphere” as far as the Obama administration was concerned, but any Palestinian effort to use international bodies in pursuit of justice and accountability is tantamount to an act of war.
I challenge Power to go and repeat her words to any of the 100,000 Palestinians in Gaza still living in the damp and freezing rubble of their homes, to the surviving parents of more than 500 children killed in the Israeli attack, or to the thousands who will live with lifelong injuries.
Neither the ambassador nor her president has commented on the findings of Amnesty International, which said that Israel “brazenly flouted the laws of war by carrying out a series of attacks on civilian homes, displaying callous indifference to the carnage caused.”
Few Palestinians will forget that when Israeli fire was raining down on them, the Obama administration authorized the transfer of grenades and mortar rounds to resupply the Israeli army.
Last summer’s war was something even Hamas leaders tried to avoid. After it began, armed Palestinian groups declared that their goal was a ceasefire accompanied by a lifting of the eight-year siege that has devastated Gaza’s economy and isolated its 1.8 million people from the rest of humanity.
Since the war, promises that the siege would be lifted have been broken. Billions pledged in reconstruction aid have failed to materialize. As a result, cash-strapped UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, has suspended repairs on Gaza homes.
Israel’s view tends to be unquestioningly echoed by US officials and media: that Palestinians are at fault for the repeated surges of violence.
Despite this, the US put no pressure on Israel to end the years-long blockade.
As a result, the lesson Palestinians have repeatedly learned is that whether they fight or stay quiet, Israel will be allowed to do as it pleases. It can besiege and slaughter them in Gaza, seize and colonize their land in the West Bank, deprive them of their most fundamental rights, and Obama will have Israel’s back.
Just because Obama, Netanyahu and their partisan followers may be peeved at each other does not change the basic dynamic of full US support for Israel’s occupation of millions of Palestinians, the continuation of which guarantees ongoing suffering with regional repercussions.
Sure enough, despite the supposed rift, the US is proceeding with the sale of more of the most advanced F-35 fighter jets to Israel.
That’s why Palestinians do not see any substantive Obama-Netanyahu rift on life and death matters for them. But there urgently needs to be one.
It is long past time for the American people and their representatives to challenge Israel on its seemingly permanent subjugation of the Palestinians.
This post was first published by The Huffington Post.
[This is not the first effort at bringing imperialist “human rights” law against imperialists and the imperialist machinery, and once again it will fail, undoubtedly. But it does have the educational benefit of highlighting the hypocritical “exemption” which bourgeois law grants the international bourgeoisie as a class. Furthermore, the protest campaign against US imperialist foreign policy, while signed onto by the South African neo-colonial (some say sub-imperialist) Tripartite Alliance ruling class, is more a “faux anti-imperialist” fig leaf and a bid for mass confusion and nationalist credibility, than a genuine call to action. It invokes the popular hatred of imperialism, but only for self-serving “populist” ends. See the announcement of the South “ to Protest USA Foreign Policy” during the visit of President Barak Obama, below. — Frontlines ed.]
“The complaint, dubbed the “Obama Docket” encourages South Africa to take seriously its domestic and international obligations and to act against International War Criminals lest they consider South Africa a safe haven and travel here freely with impunity.
In terms of the ICC Act, diplomatic immunity is not a defence and a Head of State is not immune from prosecution for the aforementioned crimes. The Complaint asks for Obama’s arrest when he enters South Africa or the securing of his attendance at a trial by other lawful means.
In the alternative, the complaint requires South Africa as a State Party to the Rome Statute, to refer the case to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court at the Hague to exercise Jurisdiction in terms of the Rome Statute.
The Obama administration’s Drone programme which has resulted in massive losses of innocent lives in Pakistan, Yemen and Afghanistan. The programme is responsible for extra-judicial killings both innocent civilians as well as US citizens abroad. The drone strike policy has continued unabated with total disregard for territorial sovereignty and this is cited as the primary reason that Obama should be investigated and tried for War Crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
The large number of well documented civilian deaths are said to constitute international crimes and the complaint refers to numerous International Reports which have documented evidence on the USA drone policies. Other crimes cited include extra judicial renditions and torture.” Continue reading
Caribbean nations which ignore the human and civil rights of the citizenry will never be able to access reparations. Visiting Barbados economic historian Hilary Beckles, campus principal of Cave Hill and Pro Vice Chancellor of UWI, made this comment at a public lecture and launch of his book Britain’s Black Debt at Daaga Auditorium, St Augustine Campus, on May 23. Among those present were St Augustine campus principal Prof Clement Sankat, Prof Funso Aiyejina, dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Education, literary icon Earl Lovelace and head of the department of history Dr Heather Cateau.
Beckles dedicated his book to the late eminent historian and T&T’s first prime minister Dr Eric Williams, author of the seminal work Capitalism and Slavery. Beckles said his book should be seen as a sequel to Williams’ work and dedicated it to him. His narrative revolved around a cover photograph of a young queen Elizabeth of England taking a stroll with her cousin, the 7th Earl of Harewood on his sugar plantation (the Belle) in Barbados in 1966. It was bought by the earl’s ancestor in 1780 and there were 232 slaves. Before delving into the post pan-African conversation, Beckles said he had to “purge himself” by writing this book which he deemed to be a case study of the need for reparations for the descendants of enslaved peoples. He felt Britain had a case to answer, which the Caribbean should litigate. Beckles said he believed there would be no social justice until the matter of reparations was addressed. Continue reading
[For the other side of the Israeli/repressive munitions story, which AP will never disclose, see http://israelglobalrepression.wordpress.com/ where you can download the important booklet, “Israel’s Worldwide Role in Repression” in English or Spanish. And for more information on UAV/drone warfare, see http://www.livingunderdrones.org, http://droneswatch.org/, “People & Power – Attack of the Drones: Al Jazeera Documentary” (http://youtu.be/SdQvF5xmKL4), and the recent Frontlines posting (https://revolutionaryfrontlines.wordpress.com/2013/06/04/india-uav-proves-ineffective-in-anti-maoist-operations/). All this runs counter to the official US government story: “The US publicly describes its drone program in terms of its unprecedented ability to ‘distinguish … effectively between an al Qaeda terrorist and innocent civilians,’ and touts its missile-armed drones as capable of conducting strikes with ‘astonishing’ and ‘surgical’ precision.” — Frontlines ed.]
BEN-GURION AIRPORT, Israel – The Associated Press, 7 June 2013
“Israel’s long record of using drones in its region of conflict has turned it into a dominant force in the industry, as the worldwide demand for the morally criticized systems has been soaring”
Drones are seen in a hangar at Israel Aerospace Industries.
Israel has emerged as the world’s leading exporter of the aircraft, putting it in a key position. Global spending on the technology is expected to jump from an estimated $6.6 billion this year to $11.4 billion in 2022, according to the Teal Group. AP photo
In an expansive hangar in central Israel, workers toil on one of the world’s most contentious aircraft, fitting dozens of drones with advanced sensors, cameras and lasers before they are shipped to militaries worldwide to perform highly sensitive tasks.Whereas drones are often criticized elsewhere for being morally and legally objectionable, in Israel they are a source of pride. Israel – a pioneer of drone technology – has emerged as the world’s leading exporter of the aircraft and its accessories, putting it in a strong position as the industry continues to grow.
A report produced by U.S. consulting firm Frost & Sullivan determined earlier this year that Israel is now the largest exporter of unmanned aerial systems, surmounting aerospace giants in the U.S. The report said that from 2005 to 2012, Israel exported some $4.6 billion worth of systems, including aircraft, payloads, operating systems and command and control caravans. U.S. overseas sales for the same time period were between $2 and $3 billion, the report said. Continue reading
In May of 1973, Shakur was in a car that was pulled over by police on the New Jersey highway. A shootout occurred, resulting in the deaths of her companion and fellow activist Zayd Malik Shakur and State Trooper Werner Foerster. Assata Shakur was wounded in the gunfight, having been shot twice. Accounts of what happened that night differ greatly — surviving Trooper James Harper (also wounded) claimed that Zayd Malik Shakur began firing when they asked him to step out of the vehicle whereas Assata Shakur attests that the police fired first, even after she had her hands in the air.
Shakur was convicted of Foerster’s murder and sentenced to a life in prison. In 1979, with the help of allies, she was able to escape from confinement and flee to Cuba where she still lives and calls herself a “20th century escaped slave.” Continue reading
[Old and new imperialist powers have never accepted responsibility for their numerous horrifying crimes against their victims, and for the historical legacies of their enslavement, colonization, and their unending forms of subjugation, dehumanization, ethnic cleansing and genocide. Some, when pressed to some level of admission, have made token amends. But advocates of reparations, world-wide, have kept collective memory, resistance, and demands for historical justice alive, and have fueled new movements with a strong historic sense of their revolutionary mission. Among these are the advocates of British reparations to people in India. — Frontlines ed.]
Apologies and reparations to IndiaThursday, 11 April 2013
Press Release: Colonialism Reparation
Colonialism Reparation calls on the UK to apologize and pay reparations to India for the massacre of Jallianwala Bagh and for the whole period of British colonial rule.
On April 13, 1919, hundreds of Indians were massacred by the British colonial troops under General Reginald Dyer, the “Butcher of Amritsar”. Considering the need to cause terror to prevent any rebellions in Punjab, General Dyer gave orders to shoot on the crowd gathered to attend a rally in Jallianwala Bagh, a narrow square of the city, without firing warning shots and until exhaustion of the ammunition. The troops then withdrew without providing any medical assistance to the wounded.
During the disciplinary proceedings against the general Dyer by the “Disorders Inquiry Committee”, specially constituted by the British Government in India, no measures were taken against him because his actions were tolerated by his superiors even if, as a result of the investigation, the officer was relieved of command on March 23, 1920 and retired on July 17, 1920 retaining the rank of colonel.
On February 20, 2013 the British Prime Minister David Cameron visited the memorial of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, describing it as “a deeply shameful event in British history,” but avoiding to condemn it, to present an official apology and to offer reparations to the relatives of the victims. Furthermore, the visit of the British Prime Minister took place during a trip that had as its main purpose the development of trade relations, including the promotion of the multi-role fighter Eurofighter Typhoon.
On February 21, 2013, the British Prime Minister David Cameron also said that the United Kingdom does not intend to return the Koh-i-Noor diamond, even if India already demanded its return on several occasions.
Colonialism Reparation calls on the UK to apologize and pay reparations to India for the massacre of Jallianwala Bagh and for the whole period of British colonial rule, also returning the cultural property stolen during the colonial period.
Colonialism Reparation is an international movement for the acknowledgement, the reconciliation, the apologies and the reparations of colonialism. It develops nonviolent activities at a personal and institutional level to create awareness of the situation and to make sure that the colonizing nations which have given rise to situations of inhumane injustice and suffering condemn their colonial actions recognizing their behavior as criminal, they reconcile with their past, apologize and finally pay reparations to the colonized countries.
Rights Groups, in Letter to Obama, Question Legality and Secrecy of Drone Killings
By SCOTT SHANE, New York Times, April 12, 2013
In a letter sent to President Obama this week, the nation’s leading human rights organizations questioned the legal basis for targeted killing and called for an end to the secrecy surrounding the use of drones.
The “statement of shared concern” said the administration should “publicly disclose key targeted killing standards and criteria; ensure that U.S. lethal force operations abroad comply with international law; enable meaningful Congressional oversight and judicial review; and ensure effective investigations, tracking and response to civilian harm.”
The nine-page letter, signed by the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, the Open Society Foundations and several other groups, is the most significant critique to date by advocacy groups of what has become the centerpiece of the United States’ counterterrorism efforts.
While not directly calling the strikes illegal under international law, the letter lists what it calls troubling reports of the criteria used by the Central Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command to select targets and assess results. The reported policies raise “serious questions about whether the U.S. is operating in accordance with international law,” the letter says. It is also signed by the Center for Civilians in Conflict and units of the New York University and Columbia Law Schools. Continue reading
[While some of the Nobel Peace Laureates over the years have made genuine and significant contributions to the people’s movements against war, in recent years the awards given to such shameful imperialist masters of warmaking as Barack Obama and the European Union have destroyed the legitimacy and credibility of the Nobel Peace Prize. For all to see, the award has come to be a cynical endorsement of imperial power. Only a bold endorsement of a very selfless and sacrificial activist against war crimes, who has earned the enmity of imperialists everywhere, may restore the respect for the Nobel Peace Prize. We do not believe the Nobel Committee has the capability to make such a historic move. But a growing and passionate number are pressing them to make this move: Award Bradley Manning the Nobel Peace Prize this year. — Frontlines ed.]
By David Swanson
26 March, 2013
Whistleblower Bradley Manning has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize , and he should receive it.
No individual has done more to push back against what Martin Luther King Jr. called “the madness of militarism” than Bradley Manning. The United States is the leading exporter of weapons and itself spends as much preparing for more wars as the rest of the world combined. Manning is the leading actor in opposition to U.S. warmaking, and therefore militarism around the world. What he has done has hurt the cause of violence in a number of other nations as well.
And right now, remaining in prison and facing relentless prosecution by the U.S. government, Manning is in need of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Alfred Nobel’s will left funding for a prize to be awarded to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”
The intent of the prize was to fund this work. As a result of enormous legal expenses, Bradley Manning is in need of that funding, unlike some other peace prize recipients. In addition, his secret trial — with a potential death sentence — could use all the attention that can be shined on it.
The people of the United States and the rest of the world have learned more about the intentions of the U.S. government from Bradley Manning than from anyone else. “Thanks to Manning’s alleged disclosures, we have a sense of what transpired in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have an image of how Washington operates in the world,” author Chase Madar wrote in his book about Manning’s whistleblowing.
“Thanks to those revelations we now know just how our government leaned on the Vatican to quell opposition to the Iraq War. We now know how Washington pressured the German government to block the prosecution of CIA agents who kidnapped an innocent man, Khaled El-Masri, while he was on vacation. We know how our State Department lobbied hard to prevent a minimum wage increase in Haiti, the hemisphere’s poorest nation.”
Manning revealed a secret U.S. war in Yemen, U.S. records of massive civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, video of a U.S. helicopter attack on civilians and their rescuers in Baghdad, and facts about the corruption of numerous governments including those of the United States, Tunisia, and Egypt. In those last two nations Manning’s revelations contributed to nonviolent pro-democracy movements. Continue reading
The Massacre that took place in the city of Falluja in 2004 and how the authorities respond to that.
By Dahr Jamail, TomDispatch.com
26 March, 2013
Back then, everybody was writing about Iraq, but it’s surprising how few Americans, including reporters, paid much attention to the suffering of Iraqis. Today, Iraq is in the news again. The words, the memorials, the retrospectives are pouring out, and again the suffering of Iraqis isn’t what’s on anyone’s mind. This was why I returned to that country before the recent 10th anniversary of the Bush administration’s invasion and why I feel compelled to write a few grim words about Iraqis today.
But let’s start with then. It’s April 8, 2004, to be exact, and I’m inside a makeshift medical center in the heart of Fallujah while that predominantly Sunni city is under siege by American forces. I’m alternating between scribbling brief observations in my notebook and taking photographs of the wounded and dying women and children being brought into the clinic.
A woman suddenly arrives, slapping her chest and face in grief, wailing hysterically as her husband carries in the limp body of their little boy. Blood is trickling down one of his dangling arms. In a few minutes, he’ll be dead. This sort of thing happens again and again.
Over and over, I watch speeding cars hop the curb in front of this dirty clinic with next to no medical resources and screech to a halt. Grief-stricken family members pour out, carrying bloodied relatives — women and children — gunned down by American snipers.
One of them, an 18-year-old girl has been shot through the neck by what her family swears was an American sniper. All she can manage are gurgling noises as doctors work frantically to save her from bleeding to death. Her younger brother, an undersized child of 10 with a gunshot wound in his head, his eyes glazed and staring into space, continually vomits as doctors race to keep him alive. He later dies while being transported to a hospital in Baghdad. Continue reading
I went yesterday to a screening of We Steal Secrets, Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney’s brilliant new documentary about Wikileaks. The movie is beautiful and profound, an incredible story that’s about many things all at once, including the incredible Shakespearean narrative that is the life of Julian Assange, a free-information radical who has become an uncompromising guarder of secrets.
I’ll do a full review in a few months, when We Steal Secrets comes out, but I bring it up now because the whole issue of secrets and how we keep them is increasingly in the news, to the point where I think we’re headed for a major confrontation between the government and the public over the issue, one bigger in scale than even the Wikileaks episode.
We’ve seen the battle lines forming for years now. It’s increasingly clear that governments, major corporations, banks, universities and other such bodies view the defense of their secrets as a desperate matter of institutional survival, so much so that the state has gone to extraordinary lengths to punish and/or threaten to punish anyone who so much as tiptoes across the informational line.
This is true not only in the case of Wikileaks – and especially the real subject of Gibney’s film, Private Bradley Manning, who in an incredible act of institutional vengeance is being charged with aiding the enemy (among other crimes) and could, theoretically, receive a death sentence.
There’s also the horrific case of Aaron Swartz, a genius who helped create the technology behind Reddit at the age of 14, who earlier this year hanged himself after the government threatened him with 35 years in jail for downloading a bunch of academic documents from an MIT server. Then there’s the case of Sergey Aleynikov, the Russian computer programmer who allegedly stole the High-Frequency Trading program belonging to Goldman, Sachs (Aleynikov worked at Goldman), a program which prosecutors in open court admitted could, “in the wrong hands,” be used to “manipulate markets.” Continue reading
A decade after the US attempt to “shock and awe” humanity and usher in its new “American century” more than a million Iraqis are dead, and trillions of dollars have been squandered, while the high ranking architects and enablers of these monstrous crimes are still riding high…
War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity: The story of U.S. Exceptionalism in Iraq
by Ajamu Baraka, in Black Agenda Report
This month marks the tenth anniversary of the U.S. attack on Iraq, one of the most egregious expressions of naked power and imperial ambition since the Second World War. The attack defied both an outraged world opinion — expressed by global mass demonstrations — and the United Nations charter. It also marked a change from the previous veiled decorum of supposed adherence to international law that defined post-war international relations. The Bush administration, armed with the ultimate expression of the arrogance of U.S. exceptionalism – legislation passed by the U.S. Congress – unleashed a murderous assault on the people of Iraq dubbed “Operation Shock and Awe.”
Ten years later, the awesome consequences of that criminal assault are clear. More than a trillion dollars spent, almost five thousand American lives lost, more than 32,000 Americans wounded, estimates of a million dead Iraqis and almost five million displaced, an epidemic of Iraqi birth defects from “depleted” uranium, daily bombings, devastated public services and the dismemberment of the country. Yet, ten years later, no one, not one government official, has been held accountable. The obvious question is: how is it that, in light of one of the most heinous crimes ever committed by a State, there have been no investigations, prosecutions or convictions of the officials responsible for this assault?
The lack of accountability is even more incomprehensible in light of the fact that it is now widely acknowledged that the real reason for the Western invasion of Iraq had little to do with its concern about weapons of mass destruction and everything to do with its desire to steal Iraq’s oil. Continue reading