Saturday, January 24, 2009

Israel and the Future of "Canada's" Tar Sands

Definitely the largest of all the SagD plants in operation within Alberta, this plant has now officially begun operations involving "Or Crude"-- a process developed and patented within 1948 conquered Palestine ["Israel"] to reduce energy costs in development of the large oil shale deposits within those borders. Israeli government subsidies were turned down for further exploration of this technology a few years
back, and instead Opti's parent company Ormat set up Opti to turn what was experimental production involving this procedure into commercial production of tar sands bitumen with only slight modifications.

The plan goes something simply like this: Steam out the bitumen which takes massive amounts of energy using a waste-burning procedure (Or Crude) that is dubbed "cogeneration" and produces over twice the greenhouse gasses as the equivalent level of production in a plant such as Suncor (already producing three times the GG emissions of "regular sweet crude") and mix that with natural gas.

This development "plan" involves using natural gas as well, but allows for the development to reduce both energy costs from outside the plant as well as financial costs once the Or Crude unit is in operation.

Only last October and November, the Deputy Premier of Alberta and Minister of International and Intergovernmental Relations, Ron Stevens, went (illegally) to the "Capital" of Israel, occupied Jerusalem, to promote further Israeli investments and operations in the tar sands of Alberta.

After the recent assault on Gaza, Israel will likely now take direct, illegal control of a major set of gas fields directly adjacent to the Gazan coastline, providing Israel with needed energy to undertake-- now that Opti has proved that their process can work commercially, and not only in a laboratory manner-- the same type of development of the oil shale deposits that cover some 15% of the land mass of what is commonly known as Israel. The gas fields are currently recognized as legal Palestinian territory.

Israel has already signed free trade agreements with Québec and Canada itself; The "Alberta advantage" is being promoted as the collaboration in both colonialism and massive climate change initiatives continues to advance and become more "efficient".
Nexen, Opti's partner in the Long Lake venture, is a member of the Canadian Boreal Initiative (CBI), a fake environmental organization that operates in "partnership" with various environmental groups that have extremely weak positions on conservation, tie themselves into "back room deals" with industry and also are directly partnered with corporations that are among the worst in environmental destruction, such as Suncor, Tembec and AlPac. Nexen's greenwashing efforts are needed as this plant (along with any such plants developed by their partner's parent company in Occupied Palestine) will be the worst emitter of Greenhouse Gasses.

The Canadian Boreal Initiative itself works with the funding of Ducks Unlimited and is not a legally standing NGO; their core funding comes through DU and originates with the Pew Charitable Trusts-- a massive foundation that is controlled by a majority of their board of directors who are either direct descendants of J Howard Pew or currently sit in control of the oil company, Sunoco. Sunoco has recently announced its plans to partner with Tar sands companies in the development of new
refineries and tar sands bitumen factories. The Pew Charitable Trusts also bankrolls some of the most hawkish, pro Israeli "think tanks" of major influence in the United States, such as the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute-- both major backers of Israel and the war on Iraq, as well as advocates for a joint US-Israeli strike on Iran.

Thus is a part of Israel's role in the tar sands.

Long Lake upgrader begins operation
January 23, 2009

The ore crude unit part of the whole upgrader as joint venture partners OPTI Canada and Nexen marked the grand opening of the Long Lake Project 45 km south of Fort McMurray, AB, on October 23, 2008. It is Canada's fourth major integrated oilsands project and the first to integrate in-situ bitmen recovery with gasification and onsite upgrading.

Oil has started flowing from the Long Lake upgrader, Alberta’s newest oilsands project, Calgary-based Nexen Inc. announced today.

"The production of first synthetic crude oil at Long Lake is a significant milestone and proves that the technology works," said Marvin Romanow, Nexen's president and CEO, in a news release.

The $6.1-billion Long Lake project 40 kilometres south of Fort McMurray uses vast amounts of steam to loosen deep deposits of underground bitumen.

Nexen said production is expected to ramp up over the next 12 to 18 months on the way to a target of 60,000 barrels per day of premium sweet crude. Synthetic gas from the upgrader is being used to generate steam, reducing the need to buy natural gas to power the process.

"I would like to thank the thousands of people - our employees, our partner OPTI Canada Inc., our contractors, suppliers and government agencies - that have all contributed to this remarkable achievement,” Romanow said. “This is a world-class facility that we expect will produce premium synthetic crude at a significant cost advantage for the next 40 years."

Executives with Nexen and Opti said at an official opening ceremony in October that they were slowing plans to begin a second phase of the project for a number of reasons, including the global credit crisis.

© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal

When Gaza and Sports Collide

E of S Nation:

1 - I will have something on Tiger Woods's presence at the Obama inauguration next week,

2 - The below piece is a roundup of much of the sports/politics conflagration in Gaza. I reference the basketball piece that I wrote about two weeks ago, but it covers a great deal more.

In struggle and sports,
Dave Z

Politics on the pitch: When Gaza and Sports Collide

By Dave Zirin

In January 2008, Egyptian soccer star Mohamed Aboutreika followed a goal by raising his shirt to reveal the slogan "Sympathise with Gaza". His actions were meant to put a spotlight onto the economic embargo that Israel had imposed on Palestinians in Gaza after the election of the Hamas government.

Days before the ceasefire halted the carnage in Gaza city this month, history repeated as Sevilla (Spain) striker Fredi Kanoute raised his shirt after scoring a goal to reveal a shirt that said "Palestine" in multiple languages. Kanoute is not an obscure player. In 2007, he was named African player of the year, even though he was born in France (his family is from Mali).

After earning a £3,000 fine for his political gesture, famed Barcelona coach, Jose Guardiola stood up for him, saying: "The fine is absolutely excessive. If they always banned these type of things, then journalists would not be able to write columns. ... Every war is absurd, and too many innocent people have died for us to be fining people for things like this."

Welcome to 2009, when Israel's offensive on Gaza, ceasefire or no, is finding expression in the sports world. It's a development that should give supporters of Israel's actions in Gaza a great deal of pause.

Kanoute's actions come on the heels of an event in Ankara, Turkey when the Israeli basketball team, Bnei Hasharon, had to flee the court from what the Associated Press described as "hundreds of fist-pumping, chanting Turkish fans".

Before the game could begin, angry chants of "Israeli killers!" came down from the crowd, as Palestinian flags appeared in their hands. Then, in a scene that would look familiar to George Bush, off came the shoes, and footwear rained down from the stands (the shoes didn't hit any players).

A melee then began between 1,500 police officers and Turkish fans, as the fans advanced toward the court. Both Hasharon and the Turkish team Turk Telecom were hurried to the locker rooms where they remained for two hours.

Hasharon forfeited the contest. It says something that Israel found reckoning on the basketball court long before any kind of International Criminal Court.

According to sports historians, a sporting event hasn't been actually stopped in such a manner - with fans turning the stands into a site of protest - since 25 July 1981, when South Africa's Springbok rugby team had to cancel a game in New Zealand when fans occupied the field of play to protest apartheid.

Israel has historically been adamant that any comparisons between the Israeli state and South Africa are absolutely false and even antisemitic. Jimmy Carter provoked their outrage of course when he published his book, Palestine: Peace not Apartheid.

But this parallel, when related to sports, should not be taken lightly. One of the most effective tools against apartheid South Africa was the South African Non-Racialised Olympic Committee, which attempted to use sports as a way to highlight and broadcast the inequities of the South African government. Sports can bring a political spotlight and unwanted attention onto a society like few other forces in the international community, galvanising, attention, passion and, as we saw in Turkey, anger.

Israel hasn't helped itself in this regard by making sports a target in the war. On 9 January, the IDF bombed Gaza's Palestine National Stadium. The stadium was also the head of the Palestinian Football Association. The structure was built in 2005 partially with funds from Fifa. The facility will now need to be rebuilt again (in 2006 it was also bombed). It was meant to be a symbol of a Palestinian state, something that united the West Bank and Gaza as an expression of unity. Now it is rubble.

In addition, perhaps fearing a repeat of Ankara, the Israel Football Federation is preventing any club matches from being played in Palestinian towns. As Jimmy Johnson, who works in Jerusalem for the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions told me: "These are not Palestinian clubs from the West Bank, East Jerusalem or Gaza, but for Palestinian citizens of Israel, sometimes called Arab Israelis, who are almost 20% of the population, vote in Israeli elections, etc."

This has gotten little press in the US, but in the soccer-mad Middle East, it is altogether insult on top of injury.

Sports, which we are told repeatedly represent a sacredly apolitical space, a place to flee the headaches of the real world, has now been thrust into the heart of a conflict raw with politics in a way we haven't seen in quite some time. Protests against Israeli actions in Gaza are sure to continue in sporting events outside the US. But the ramifications could very easily be felt inside our borders, as political leaders come to the White House and tell the new administration tales of sports fans gone wild.

[Dave Zirin is the author of the book: A People's History of Sports in the United States. You can receive his column Edge of Sports, every week by going to Contact him at]

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Monbiot Interviews...

Better Way to Make Money

A Better Way to Make Money
by George Monbiot / January 21st, 2009

In Russell Hoban’s novel Riddley Walker, the descendants of nuclear holocaust survivors seek amid the rubble the key to recovering their lost civilization. They end up believing that the answer is to re-invent the atom bomb. I was reminded of this when I read the government’s new plans to save us from the credit crunch. It intends - at gob-smacking public expense — to persuade the banks to start lending again, at levels similar to those of 2007. Isn’t this what caused the problem in the first place? Are insane levels of lending really the solution to a crisis caused by insane levels of lending?

Yes, I know that without money there’s no business, and without business there are no jobs. I also know that most of the money in circulation is issued, through fractional reserve banking, in the form of debt. This means that you can’t solve one problem (a lack of money) without causing another (a mountain of debt). There must be a better way than this.

This isn’t my subject and I am venturing way beyond my pay grade. But I want to introduce you to another way of negotiating a credit crunch, which requires no moral hazard, no hair of the dog and no public spending. I’m relying, in explaining it, on the former currency trader and central banker Bernard Lietaer.

In his book, The Future of Money, Lietaer points out — as the British government did a couple of days ago — that in situations like ours everything grinds to a halt for want of money. But he also explains that there is no reason why this money should take the form of sterling or be issued by the banks. Money consists only of “an agreement within a community to use something as a medium of exchange.” The medium of exchange could be anything, as long as everyone who uses it trusts that everyone else will recognize its value. During the Great Depression, businesses in the United States issued rabbit tails, seashells and wooden discs as currency, as well as all manner of papers and metal tokens. In 1971, Jaime Lerner, the mayor of Curitiba in Brazil, kick-started the economy of the city and solved two major social problems by issuing currency in the form of bus tokens. People earned them by picking and sorting litter: thus cleaning the streets and acquiring the means to commute to work. Schemes like this helped Curitiba become one of the most prosperous cities in Brazil.

But the projects that have proved most effective were those inspired by the German economist Silvio Gessell, who became finance minister in Gustav Landauer’s doomed Bavarian republic. He proposed that communities seeking to rescue themselves from economic collapse should issue their own currency. To discourage people from hoarding it, they should impose a fee (called demurrage), which had the same effect as negative interest. The back of each banknote would contain 12 boxes. For the note to remain valid, the owner had to buy a stamp every month and stick it in one of the boxes. It would be withdrawn from circulation after a year. Money of this kind is called stamp scrip: a privately-issued currency which becomes less valuable the longer you hold onto it.

One of the first places to experiment with this scheme was the small German town of Schwanenkirchen. In 1923, hyperinflation had caused a credit crunch of a different kind. A Dr Hebecker, owner of a coalmine in Schwanenkirchen, told his workers that if they wouldn’t accept the coal-backed stamp scrip he had invented — the Wara — he would have to close the mine. He promised to exchange it, in the first instance, for food. The scheme immediately took off. It saved both the mine and the town. It was soon adopted by 2000 corporations across Germany. But in 1931, under pressure from the central bank, the ministry of finance closed the project down, with catastrophic consequences for the communities that had come to depend on it. Lietaer points out that the only remaining option for the German economy was ruthless centralized economic planning. Would Hitler have come to power if the Wara and similar schemes had been allowed to survive?

The Austrian town of Wörgl also tried out Gessell’s idea, in 1932. Like most communities in Europe at the time, it suffered from mass unemployment and a shortage of money for public works. Instead of spending the town’s meager funds on new works, the mayor put them on deposit as a guarantee for the stamp scrip he issued. By paying workers in the new currency, he paved the streets, restored the water system and built a bridge, new houses and a ski jump. Because they would soon lose their value, Wörgl’s own schillings circulated much faster than the official money, with the result that each unit of currency generated 12 to 14 times more employment. Scores of other towns sought to copy the scheme, at which point — in 1933 — the central bank stamped it out. Wörgl’s workers were thrown out of work again.

Similar projects took off at the same time in dozens of countries. Almost all of them were closed down as the central banks panicked about losing their monopoly over the control of money (just one, Switzerland’s WIR system, still exists). Roosevelt prohibited complementary currencies by executive decree, though they might have offered a faster, cheaper and more effective means of pulling the US out of the Depression than his New Deal.

No one is suggesting that we replace official currencies with local scrip: this is a complementary system, not an alternative. Nor does Lietaer propose this as a solution to all economic ills. But even before you consider how it could be improved through modern information technology, several features of Gessell’s system grab your attention. We need not wait for the government or the central bank to save us: we can set this system up ourselves. It costs taxpayers nothing. It bypasses the greedy banks. It recharges local economies and gives local businesses an advantage over multinationals. It can be tailored to the needs of the community. It does not require — as Eddie George, the former Governor of the Bank of England, insisted - that one part of the country be squeezed so that another can prosper.

Perhaps most importantly, a demurrage system reverses the ecological problem of discount rates. If you have to pay to keep your money, the later you receive your income, the more valuable it will be. So it makes economic sense, under this system, to invest long-term. As resources in the ground are a better store of value than money in the bank, the system encourages their conservation.

I make no claim to expertise. I’m not qualified to identify the flaws in this scheme, nor am I confident that I have made the best case for it. All I ask is that, if you haven’t come across it before, you don’t dismiss it before learning more. As we confront the failure of the government’s first bailout and the astonishing costs of the second, isn’t it time we considered the alternatives?

George Monbiot is the author of the best selling books, The Age of Consent: A Manifesto for a New World Order and Captive State: the Corporate Takeover of Britain; as well as the investigative travel books Poisoned Arrows, Amazon Watershed and No Man’s Land. He writes a weekly column for the Guardian newspaper (UK). Read other articles by George, or visit George's website.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tallying the Total War

Aftermath: Tallying the Total War
by C. L. Cook
Though still in early days following the mayhem, some preliminary numbers are coming down the main media pipe regarding the toll of Israel's 'Operation Cast Lead,' (that Uber carnage recently featured on the world's front pages) campaign prosecuted against the captive denizens of the Gaza Strip.

The dead already exceeds 1300, even as buildings still smolder and few of the thousands of erstwhile apartment buildings and houses now rubble fields strewn throughout Gaza has been fully excavated.

More than five thousand bear physical wounds; more than a hundred thousand are homeless; more than a third of the victims children; and that's just the beginning.

Jonathan Cook reports:

"The military sidestepped the problem by widening its definition of Hamas-affiliated buildings. Or as one senior official explained: “There are many aspects of Hamas, and we are trying to hit the whole spectrum because everything is connected and everything supports terrorism against Israel.”

That included mosques, universities, most government buildings, the courts, 25 schools, 20 ambulances and several hospitals, as well as bridges, roads, 10 electricity generating stations, sewage lines, and 1,500 factories, workshops and shops.

Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah estimate the damage so far at $1.9 billion, pointing out that at least 21,000 residential apartment buildings need repairing or rebuilding, forcing 100,000 Palestinians into refugeedom once again. In addition, 80 per cent of all agricultural infrastructure and crops were destroyed. The PA has described its estimate as “conservative”."

After witnessing the targeting and widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure in the Yugoslavia (FRY), then replayed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and Lebanon, Israel's dismissal of its methodical destruction of Gaza's infrastructure as "collateral" is an insult. An insult almost as humiliating as outgoing Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert's photo op with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. In that moment for the ages, a smiling Olmert reaches across the table to shake Moon's hand, while fixing him with an unblinking stare, and saying the destruction of the U.N. food and medicine warehouse compound with multiple white phosphorus shells just hours before was "an accident."

Inside Gaza yesterday, Donald MacIntyre of The Independent describes a flabbergasted Secretary General, reportedly "outraged" by the destruction of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) compound, saying:

"I have seen only a fraction of the destruction...[t]his is shocking and alarming. These are heartbreaking scenes I have seen and I am deeply grieved by what I have seen today."

MacIntyre says Mr. Ban is demanding an investigation into what he calls Israel's "outrageous" attacks against the UN compound and two UN schools, one of which killing 40 sheltering civilians.

For its part, Israel today (Jan. 21, 2009) said it has lauched an investigation of its own into the army's use of white phosphorus, something they denied doing throughout the three weeks of 'Cast Lead.'

Investigation not withstanding, what will likely not come up in either the United Nations' or Israel's probes is the strategy behind this latest outrage. Jonathan Cook quotes Israel's chief of staff during the destruction of Lebanon in 2006, Dan Halutz as he describes the tactics behind the "Dahiya Doctrine," named for a suburb of Beirut blasted flat then:

"[We will] turn back the clock 20 years."

This turning back of clock hands has been, Cook argues, Israel's tacit plan from the start. Destroy Gaza's infrastructure and economy, setting back any efforts to establish a stable and autonomous "state," (let alone a prosperous one) leaving Hamas to bear the blame for the wretched conditions Israel has created. This madness behind Israel's methods remains unspoken for good reason: Targeting civilians is a war crime. It is, next to waging agressive war, THE war crime of war crimes.

Ben White, writing for the Guardian goes Cook one further, saying Israel purposefully created the "humanitarian crisis." He reminds of Israel's actions in the months preceding the end of the cease fire with facts forgotten in most "mainstream" reportage while the bombs were falling. According to White:
"Israel broke the ceasefire on 4 November, with an attack in the Gaza Strip that killed six Hamas members, and the following day severely tightened its siege of the territory. Imports were reduced to 16 trucks a day, down from 123 daily just the previous month (and 475 in May 2007). Following the unsurprising surge in Palestinian attacks, Israeli officials claimed that an all-out war was unavoidable; without mentioning that an operation had been planned for some months already.

Meanwhile, tales of the brutal, callous, and criminal behaviour on not only Israel's leadership, but its soldiery are too now coming out. Like the case of Khaled Abed Rabbo, related by the aforementioned Donald MacIntyre of The Independent and titled, 'Gaza: 'I watched an Israeli soldier shoot dead my two little girls.'

In that article, Khaled watched his daughters, aged two and seven years old gunned down in cold blood by a lunching tank crewman. Khaled was moving his family out of their Gaza City home as directed by the soldiers when this individual murdered the kids. Khaled's third daughter survived long enough to be taken to a hospital for critical spinal trauma treatment.

That the atrocities mentioned here all occurred during George W. Bush's watch, before the other "day that changed everything," matters little. President Obama will be hearing plenty from his colleagues around the globe concerning the outrage over both Israel's recent crime, and its long-time scofflaw pattern of impunity, being expressed on their respective streets.

Though Obama said next to nothing during the three weeks of 'Operation Cast Lead,' he now has some serious questions to answer about Israel's actions, and those of its number one supporter in arms and alms, the United States of America.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

As the Victims Rot

Robert Fisk: Posturing and laughter as victims rot
Mahmoud Abbas stepped further into humiliation by saying the only option for Arabs isto make peace with Israel
The front page of the Beirut daily As-Safir said it all yesterday. Across the top was a terrible photograph of the bloated body of a Palestinian man newly discovered in the ruins of his home while two male members of his family shrieked and roared their grief. Below, at half the size, was a photograph from Israel of Western leaders joking with Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister. Olmert was roaring with laughter. Silvio Berlusconi, arms on the back of Olmert's shoulders, was also joshing and roaring – with laughter, not grief – and on Olmert's right was Nicolas Sarkozy of France wearing his stupidest of smiles. Only Chancellor Merkel appeared to understand the moral collapse. No smiles from Germany.

Europe laughs while Palestinians mourn their dead. No wonder that in the streets of Beirut, shops were doing a flourishing trade in Palestinian scarves and flags. Even some of Palestine's most serious enemies in Lebanon wore the Palestinian keffiyeh in solidarity with the people of Gaza. Over and over again, Al-Jazeera television strapped headlines on to their news reports of Palestinians carrying the decomposing corpses of their dead: "More than 1,300 dead in Gaza, 400 of them women and children – Israeli dead in the war 13, three of them civilians." That, too, said it all.

All day, the Arabs also had to endure watching their own leaders primping and posing in front of the cameras at the Arab summit in Kuwait, where the kings and presidents who claim to rule them also smiled and shook hands and tried to pretend that they were unified behind a Palestinian people who have been sorely betrayed. Even Mahmoud Abbas was there, the powerless, impotent leader of "Palestine" – where is that precisely, one had to ask? – trying to suck some importance from the coat-tails and robes of his betters.

Slipping and sliding on the corpses of Gaza, these assembled supreme beings should perhaps be pitied. What else could they do? Saudi King Abdullah announced £750,000 to rebuild Gaza; but how many times have the Arabs and the Europeans been throwing money at Gaza only to see it torn to shreds by incoming shell-fire?

It has to be said that the two cowled Hamas gunmen who announced that they had won a "victory" in the ruins of Gaza were only fractionally less hypocritical. Still they had not understood that they were not the Hizbollah of Lebanon. Gaza was no longer Beirut. Now, it seemed, Gaza was Stalingrad. But whose uniforms did Hamas think they were wearing: German or Soviet?

"Israel has to understand," the good king said – as if the Israelis were listening – "that the choice between war and peace will not always stay open and that the Arab initiative (for Arab recognition in return for an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders of Israel) that is on the table today will not stay on the table." He knew that "an eye for an eye ... did not say an eye for the eyes of a whole city". But how many times – how many bodies have to be pulled from the ruins – before the Saudis realise that time has run out?

The Israelis briskly dismissed land for peace in 2002 but yesterday they suddenly showed their interest again. "We continue to be willing to negotiate with all our neighbours on the basis of that initiative," the Israeli government spokesmen said – as if his own country's original rejection had never been thrown at the Arabs.

President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, of course, dismissed the whole initiative in Qatar last week as dead, insisting that Israel be declared a "terrorist entity". But Mahmoud Abbas stepped further into humiliation yesterday by announcing that the "only option" for Arabs was to make peace with Israel. It was Arab "shortcomings" that led to the failure of the 2002 Arab initiative. Not Israel's rejection, mark you. No, it was all the fault of the Arabs. And this from the leader of "Palestine".

No wonder America's man in Egypt – a certain Hosni Mubarak – repeated the tired old slogan that "peace in the Middle East is an imperative that cannot be delayed". And then the Emir of Kuwait invited Bashar and Hosni and King Abdullah of Jordan and the other King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to have lunch together – the menu was not disclosed – to end their feuding.

Al-Jazeera showed the ever-more putrid bodies being tugged from beneath cross-beams and crushed concrete as these mighty potentates debated their little disputes. There was really no adequate comment for this charade.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Philippines Death Squad Mystery

900 people killed in Philippines by 'mysterious death squads'
Peasant leaders, environmental campaigners and student activists in the Philippines are being murdered by mysterious death squads who appear to have close links to the army.

By Thomas Bell, South East Asia Correspondent
Last Updated: 4:50PM GMT 19 Jan 2009

Since President Gloria Arroyo came to power in 2001, campaigners say over 900 people have been extra-judicially executed and 200 more have "disappeared".

A United Nations report in 2007 blamed the army for most of the killings, but no action has been taken and the unexplained murders continue.

One of the most dangerous areas is the Compostela Valley, on the southern island of Mindanao. It is a place of great natural beauty as well as rural poverty which is home to several foreign owned gold mines and a long-standing communist insurgency. In the final few weeks of 2008, five apparently peaceful, law-abiding men were mysteriously shot dead in the area.

The first victim was Danilo Qualbar, a 48-year-old activist for the Left-wing People First party, who was shot on November 6. Human rights researchers said there was no autopsy and no investigation – the police did not even interview the victim's family.

According to Mr Qualbar's widow, a group of soldiers called out "that one" as her husband passed through a military checkpoint a week before his murder.

The next victim was 4 days later when Rolando Antolihao, 39 – a banana plantation worker and People First party member – was shot dead in front of his wife and 2-year-old daughter. There was a small army post 50 metres away but according to reports the soldiers on duty did respond to the shooting.

In the following weeks two more activists were shot.

Finally, two days before Christmas Fernando Sarmiento, a 39-year-old environmentalist who argued that a local gold mine was damaging the interests of local people, was killed by assassins fitting the same description.

Mr Sarmiento's friends said he was arrested by the army in July and accused of being a communist guerrilla.

Witnesses noted that the killers in the Compostela Valley usually arrived on a red Honda motorcycle and used a .45 pistol. At the top of the list of suspects are soldiers from local army camps, but there has been no official investigation into the shootings, or whether the deaths are even in any way connected.

Human rights campaigners claim that the killings are part of an offensive launched by President Arroyo in an attempt to defeat Maoist guerrillas called the New People's Army (NPA) by 2010.

Although they deny the murders, senior army officers claim that legal parties such People First and other activist groups which most of the victims belong to are fronts for the communists.

Instead, the army frequently claims, the deaths are a result of feuds and purges within the communist party.

According to Lt Col Ernesto Torres, an army spokesman the "security forces are convenient scapegoats" for the killings and he claims allegations against the army are made by "groups who want to bring down the government and replace it with their own brand of government".

Yet, according to Alan Davies, director of the Philippine Human Rights Project, "No agency, either international or local, is trying to properly investigate and map these killings to see how they are linked".

One woman who knows the pain this official silence causes is Erlinda Cadapan. Her daughter Sherlyn was a 29-year-old university student campaigning for peasant rights when she was abducted along with a friend by suspected soldiers in 2006.

A witness, who claims he met the two women in army custody, has testified that he saw them raped and tortured by soldiers and that soldiers told him they were later killed.

Mrs Cadapan has written to President Arroyo but received no response.

In September a court ruled that, if they were still alive, the women must be released.

"That makes me really angry because in spite of the ruling no one from the government is willing to help me. They are trying to protect the armed forces," said Mrs Cadapan.

"There is some rumour that my daughter is still alive so we are hoping and praying fro that," she said. "But still they deny everything."

President Arroyo has remained mostly silent on the 900 killings and 200 "disappearances" on her watch, the army denies any role and no-one has ever been prosecuted.




Cliff Cornell will speak about his story of joining then rejecting the US military, and seeking asylum in Canada.

7 pm

Cliff faces deportation on January 22. Cliff has been living and working on Gabriola Island for the last three years and enjoys tremendous support there. He will be speaking in Victoria to encourage everyone to put pressure on the Harper government to respect the wishes of Canadians and Parliament, to allow resisters to stay in Canada.

Also, we will be welcoming new war resister Jeremy Hengst, now living in Victoria, who will tell his story here for the first time.

Join us

Local endorsers of the War Resisters Support Campaign include:
Council of Canadians (Victoria Chapter), Victoria Labour Council, UVic Students Society, Unitarian Committee for Social Responsibility, Victoria-Beacon Hill NDP, International Socialists, UVic Students Against War, UVic Students for a Democratic Society.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Life and Death Within the Rubble

Life and Death Within the Rubble
by C. L. Cook
Just in time for the inaugauration of the Great Hyped Hope, Barack Obama in Washington, D.C. Israel announced it will cease for now its ruthless fire over Gaza. Following three weeks of the most brutal, post-modern warfare witnessed, (despite Israel's best efforts to restrict the recorded proof of its criminality in occupied Palestine) by the world, the international corporate media and state broadcasters in the western democracies are breathing a collective sigh of relief, and trying, in their best approximation of an authoritive voice, to convince their audiences, appalled for the most part at the spectre of Israel's high-tech "war" of collective punishment against the civilian population of Gaza, that there's nothing left to see here.

"Just go about your business folks," they intimate, cutting quickly to the banality of preparations for Tuesday's Obama swearing in ceremonies. Typically, what's left unsaid by these major media actors, like just what is to become of those thousands of Gazans left orphaned, homeless, and/or horribly wounded and disfigured to wander the rubble field that was until recently their towns, cities, and villages speaks volumes.

The final stage of Israel's 'Operation Cast Lead,' that so far has meant the mortal destruction of at least 1400 Palestinians, and the wounding of some 4,000, with the rubble yet to be cleared in search of the doubtless many more crushed and mutilated laying there below, is underway. It is being waged over the airwaves, in the printed press, and between the ears of the denizens of the distant nations that supported Israel's military government before this latest atrocity, and whose political elite continue to support the nation that routinely uses terror and violence as its first and final foreign policy tools when dealing with its neighbours.

Key to this battle is the notion that the cessation of the coordinated killing exercises, conducted until today by Israel, is the end of the story. The truth of course is: The effects of Israel's outright onslaught against the people and infrastructure of captive Gaza will be an acutely felt daily experience of hardship for survivors, one that will last years. Long after the world spotlight on the horrors perpetrated by Israel these last three weeks has moved along, forgetting what must be forgotten, and again getting back to ignoring the decades of constant existential abuse Palestine continually suffers at the hands of criminal Israel, the crippled, homeless, and insane will continue to live amid the wreckage. Trapped in time, these prisoners of the walls and razor wire of Gaza are now captured not only in space, but will be prisoners of time, destined to forever live with the anguish of wounds delivered over these last three weeks.

Moving On

There is great allure for the casual viewers in Canada and America in accepting the story, being able now to turn one's gaze away from the violence shown by the various media during this casting of lead in Gaza. It's a truly ugly scene. It is a picture of terror, death, and ruination ruthlessly composed and methodically executed. It is a crime scene, and because it is a crime scene it must be preserved for a while, seared into the memory of we witnesses to it, lest it be forgot: These crimes must not be allowed to continue. As Lebanon's similar savaging in 2006 is now a distant non-happening within the severely limited corpo/state media discourse, (not to mention the hundreds killed and wounded during that other Israel killing campaign, Operation Summer Rain, waged against Gaza concurrent with southern Lebanon's destruction) Gaza's most recent raping is due too to be shelved somewhere just beyond popular remembrance, its many crimes untried and unlamented.

As Israeli troops and tanks repair to their television sets to watch Obama elevated beyond the wildest dream of all but a few Americans, outgoing prime minister, Ehud Olmert, and the touted incomer PM, Tzipi Livni have warned this ceasefire is not permanent and they could easily return to Gaza, return to the rain of death and destruction, unchastened by world disgust or moral approbrium, free to act against anyone with utter impunity.

The media is allowed in to Gaza now to display to Israel's enemies the price of defiance. Striking notes of compassion for the victims, something absent during the hot phase of this Operation Cast Lead, England's state organ, the British Broadcast Corporation wonder what is to become of the people now? In the background the women can be seen, amongst the broken buildings, Gaza's own 'Truemmerfrauen,' or "rubble women" pick through the bricks, hoping to salvage enough to erect a future for their children; a future at least until the Israeli's return. But perhaps this time, the collective memory will not be so brief, and the world may have finally had a belly-full of Israel and its exceptionally violent impunity.

German "Rubble Women" "Truemmerfrauen"

Right to Exist: What if Hamas Didn't Exist?

What If Hamas Didn't Exist
by Jennifer Loewenstein
January 05, 2009
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Let us get one thing perfectly straight. If the wholesale mutilation and degradation of the Gaza Strip is going to continue; if Israel's will is at one with that of the United States; if the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and all the international legal agencies and organizations spread across the globe are going to continue to sit by like hollow mannequins doing nothing but making repeated "calls" for a "ceasefire" on "both sides"; if the cowardly, obsequious and supine Arab States are going to stand by watching their brethren get slaughtered by the hour while the world's bullying Superpower eyes them threateningly from Washington lest they say something a little to their disliking; then let us at least tell the truth why this hell on earth is taking place.

The state terror unleashed from the skies and on the ground against the Gaza Strip as we speak has nothing to do with Hamas. It has nothing to do with "Terror". It has nothing to do with the long-term "security" of the Jewish State or with Hizbullah or Syria or Iran except insofar as it is aggravating the conditions that have led up to this crisis today. It has nothing to do with some conjured-up "war" - a cynical and overused euphemism that amounts to little more the wholesale enslavement of any nation that dares claim its sovereign rights; that dares assert that its resources are its own; that doesn't want one of the Empire's obscene military bases sitting on its cherished land.

This crisis has nothing to do with freedom, democracy, justice or peace. It is not about Mahmoud Zahhar or Khalid Mash'al or Ismail Haniyeh. It is not about Hassan Nasrallah or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. These are all circumstantial players who have gained a role in the current tempest only now that the situation has been allowed for 61 years to develop into the catastrophe that it is today. The Islamist factor has colored and will continue to color the atmosphere of the crisis; it has enlisted the current leaders and mobilized wide sectors of the world's population. The primary symbols today are Islamic - the mosques, the Qur'an, the references to the Prophet Muhammad and to Jihad. But these symbols could disappear and the impasse would continue.

There was a time when Fatah and the PFLP held the day; when few Palestinians wanted anything to do with Islamist policies and politics. Such politics have nothing to do with primitive rockets being fired over the border, or smuggling tunnels and black-market weapons; just as Arafat's Fatah had little to do with stones and suicide bombings. The associations are coincidental; the creations of a given political environment. They are the result of something entirely different than what the lying politicians and their analysts are telling you. They have become part of the landscape of human events in the modern Middle East today; but incidentals wholly as lethal, or as recalcitrant, deadly, angry or incorrigible could just as soon have been in their places.

Strip away the clichés and the vacuous newspeak blaring out across the servile media and its pathetic corps of voluntary state servants in the Western world and what you will find is the naked desire for hegemony; for power over the weak and dominion over the world's wealth. Worse yet you will find that the selfishness, the hatred and indifference, the racism and bigotry, the egotism and hedonism that we try so hard to cover up with our sophisticated jargon, our refined academic theories and models actually help to guide our basest and ugliest desires. The callousness with which we indulge in them all are endemic to our very culture; thriving here like flies on a corpse.

Strip away the current symbols and language of the victims of our selfish and devastating whims and you will find the simple, impassioned and unaffected cries of the downtrodden; of the 'wretched of the earth' begging you to cease your cold aggression against their children and their homes; their families and their villages; begging you to leave them alone to have their fish and their bread, their oranges, their olives and their thyme; asking you first politely and then with increasing disbelief why you cannot let them live undisturbed on the land of their ancestors; unexploited, free of the fear of expulsion; of ravishment and devastation; free of permits and roadblocks and checkpoints and crossings; of monstrous concrete walls, guard towers, concrete bunkers, and barbed wire; of tanks and prisons and torture and death. Why is life without these policies and instruments of hell impossible?

The answer is because Israel has no intention of allowing a viable, sovereign Palestinian state on its borders. It had no intention of allowing it in 1948 when it grabbed 24 per cent more land than what it was allotted legally, if unfairly, by UN Resolution 181. It had no intention of allowing it throughout the massacres and ploys of the 1950s. It had no intention of allowing two states when it conquered the remaining 22 per cent of historic Palestine in 1967 and reinterpreted UN Security Council Resolution 248 to its own liking despite the overwhelming international consensus stating that Israel would receive full international recognition within secure and recognized borders if it withdrew from the lands it had only recently occupied.

It had no intention of acknowledging Palestinian national rights at the United Nations in 1974, when -alone with the United States-it voted against a two-state solution. It had no intention of allowing a comprehensive peace settlement when Egypt stood ready to deliver but received, and obediently accepted, a separate peace exclusive of the rights of Palestinians and the remaining peoples of the region. It had no intention of working toward a just two-state solution in 1978 or 1982 when it invaded, fire-bombed, blasted and bulldozed Beirut so that it might annex the West Bank without hassle. It had no intention of granting a Palestinian state in 1987 when the first Intifada spread across occupied Palestine, into the Diaspora and the into the spirits of the global dispossessed, or when Israel deliberately aided the newly formed Hamas movement so that it might undermine the strength of the more secular-nationalist factions.

Israel had no intention of granting a Palestinian state at Madrid or at Oslo where the PLO was superseded by the quivering, quisling Palestinian Authority, too many of whose cronies grasped at the wealth and prestige it gave them at the expense of their own kin. As Israel beamed into the world's satellites and microphones its desire for peace and a two-state solution, it more than doubled the number of illegal Jewish settlements on the ground in the West Bank and around East Jerusalem, annexing them as it built and continues to build a superstructure of bypass roads and highways over the remaining, severed cities and villages of earthly Palestine. It has annexed the Jordan valley, the international border of Jordan, expelling any 'locals' inhabiting that land. It speaks with a viper's tongue over the multiple amputee of Palestine whose head shall soon be severed from its body in the name of justice, peace and security.

Through the home demolitions, the assaults on civil society that attempted to cast Palestinian history and culture into a chasm of oblivion; through the unspeakable destruction of the refugee camp sieges and infrastructure bombardments of the second Intifada, through assassinations and summary executions, past the grandiose farce of disengagement and up to the nullification of free, fair and democratic Palestinian elections Israel has made its view known again and again in the strongest possible language, the language of military might, of threats, intimidation, harassment, defamation and degradation.

Israel, with the unconditional and approving support of the United States, has made it dramatically clear to the entire world over and over and over again, repeating in action after action that it will accept no viable Palestinian state next to its borders. What will it take for the rest of us to hear? What will it take to end the criminal silence of the 'international community'? What will it take to see past the lies and indoctrination to what is taking place before us day after day in full view of the eyes of the world? The more horrific the actions on the ground, the more insistent are the words of peace. To listen and watch without hearing or seeing allows the indifference, the ignorance and complicity to continue and deepens with each grave our collective shame.

The destruction of Gaza has nothing to do with Hamas. Israel will accept no authority in the Palestinian territories that it does not ultimately control. Any individual, leader, faction or movement that fails to accede to Israel's demands or that seeks genuine sovereignty and the equality of all nations in the region; any government or popular movement that demands the applicability of international humanitarian law and of the universal declaration of human rights for its own people will be unacceptable for the Jewish State. Those dreaming of one state must be forced to ask themselves what Israel would do to a population of 4 million Palestinians within its borders when it commits on a daily, if not hourly basis, crimes against their collective humanity while they live alongside its borders? What will suddenly make the raison d'etre, the self-proclaimed purpose of Israel's reason for being change if the Palestinian territories are annexed to it outright?

The lifeblood of the Palestinian National Movement flows through the streets of Gaza today. Every drop that falls waters the soil of vengeance, bitterness and hatred not only in Palestine but across the Middle East and much of the world. We do have a choice over whether or not this should continue. Now is the time to make it.

Jennifer Loewenstein is the Associate Director of the Middle East Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She can be reached at

Gaza's 9/11? Not!

Palestine Doesn't Get to Have a 9/11
by Justin Podur December 30, 2008

In September 2001, a group of terrorists from al Qaeda killed several thousand Americans in New York. US friends and enemies alike condemned the attacks and the attackers. Debates that occurred were about how discriminate America should be in seeking revenge and justice. The horrors of 9/11 are invoked whenever questions arise about US occupations of Iraq or Afghanistan. The US is allowed to use the suffering and deaths of its people to justify what it has done.

In November 2008 a group of terrorists attacked several sites in Mumbai and killed almost two hundred civilians. We still don't know very much for certain about who they were or what they were after. Their planning took place in secret. The attackers were all killed or captured. The massacres were dubbed "India's 9/11". India's friends and enemies alike condemned the attacks and the attackers.

Right now, Israel is still attacking sites all over Gaza and has killed more than three hundred civilians (with more deaths to follow). Their planning has been slow, deliberate, and open. The killers are celebrated and encouraged to continue. The countries of the West are falling over themselves to endorse the atrocities as retaliation, with an occasional word of concern that Israel be judicious in its murders.

No one is talking about "Palestine's 9/11". Palestine doesn't get to have a 9/11.

In making these attacks Israel has short-term considerations, including upcoming elections (killing Palestinians provides an electoral advantage) the holiday season (with international observers on vacation) and the US political situation (to commit Obama to facts on the ground created by Israel). But Israel's reasons for this attack spring directly from its long-term purpose, which is basically genocidal. Most of Israel's resources are dedicated to imprisoning, starving, occupying, and murdering, and displacing Palestinians. Most of its diplomacy is dedicated to ensuring that Palestinians have nowhere to go and no basis to have a society, economy, or culture.

Physical destruction is part of this, and ongoing. Israel has long concentrated the Palestinians in Gaza, with 1.5 million people in an area of 360 square kilometres. For years, Israel has prevented food, medicine, and energy from entering, but also paper, ink, books, and other basics. Palestinians in Gaza have to deal with the missiles that are killing them without any help from the outside world and without medical supplies. Gaza is out of medicine. The Israelis have targeted schools, mosques, and hospitals. 5 ambulances and 3 fire brigades are working to service all of Gaza - until the Israelis blow these up too.

Israel is not committing war crimes. There is no war. These are crimes against humanity, against people who it is imprisoning and starving, occurring in full view of the entire world and with its endorsement.

Israel can't besiege the Palestinians alone: it takes the whole world to starve a small country. As a consequence these crimes are not Israel's alone. So long as Western countries are unable to tell the difference between aggression and retaliation, between a war with two equal sides and the destruction of a helpless population, they will be accomplices to the crimes. Israel's agenda is clear to anyone who is paying attention. It will continue until it is stopped, and it cannot be stopped by its victims. So how long will the world keep up the torture?

Justin Podur is an activist with Pueblos en Camino and a Toronto-based writer. Visit his blog at

Palestine and the Politics of Resistance

Beyond Grief and Rage: Palestine and the Politics of Resistance
by Robert Jensen
January 14, 2009

[Note: This essay was adapted from a speech delivered to the “Day of Action for Gaza” gathering in Austin, TX, on January 10, 2009]

We need to analyze and strategize about political realities, but let’s begin with an emotional reality: For the past few weeks the scenes from Gaza have been driving many of us mad.

For all the horrors in the world, there has been something especially brutal and barbaric about Israel’s use of fighter jets and other sophisticated weapons to pound this small strip of land, to target the 1.5 million people crowded there, to destroy a society. Out of that grief flows rage, not just at the sadistic Israeli violence but also at the “we must stand with Israel” declarations coming from Republican and Democratic politicians alike.

The grief is achingly real, and the rage is morally justified. But it’s also true that for anyone who is aware of the suffering of this world, such emotions are part of daily life. To know -- to make the choice to know -- about the extent of injustice and the depth of misery all over the planet is to accept that we will wake every morning to that grief and rage.

Our task today is to think about how to channel the power of those emotions into effective political action. That is no small task after so many years of struggle and so many failures to change our government’s policies.

Let’s start by remembering the other places where that suffering has been so intense: Iraq, Afghanistan, Latin America, southern Africa, southeast Asia. I mention those places in particular because much of the suffering there has been a result, directly or indirectly, of U.S. economic, military, and foreign policy. Those are some of the places that have borne the brunt of the U.S. empire’s violence since the end of World War II. As a U.S. citizen, those are the places to which I have the clearest moral connection; those of us who claim the United States as home must come to terms with that suffering.

“The West” has been involved in empire-building for 500 years, and for the past 60 years the United States has led that imperial project. It is a project soaked in blood. One of the great apologists for the empire, the late political scientist Samuel Huntington, was at least honest in acknowledging that: “The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion (to which few members of other civilizations were converted) but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact; non-Westerners never do.”[1]

Our first task is to refuse to forget, which means recognizing that, in the context of U.S. policy, there is nothing special about Palestine. It is one place where the West and its surrogates have used organized violence to achieve political and economic aims. U.S. support for Israel’s occupation of Palestine has to be seen as part of that imperial project; those of us in the United States who want to defend Palestine have to resist the U.S. empire.

Too often activists in the United States have ignored this. For example, the group “If Americans Knew” has done fine work to distribute information about the occupation, but consider this sentence from its mission statement: “It is our belief that when Americans know the facts on a subject, they will, in the final analysis, act in accordance with morality, justice, and the best interests of their nation, and of the world.”[2]

If only that were true. In fact, many Americans routinely endorse actions in support of the U.S. empire that are immoral and unjust but which they believe are in their best interests, the world be damned. Many others work hard not to know -- a willed ignorance -- in order to avoid having to face difficult issues. To trust in the moral sensibilities of the U.S. public is to ignore history; in the realm of moral vision, Americans are not special.

Let’s recognize that resisting the U.S. empire puts us in conflict not only with the politicians from the major political parties but also with the majority of U.S. citizens. The problem is not simply that many Americans do not know the real history of the Israel/Palestine conflict (though it’s true that they don’t) or that the U.S. corporate news media outlets present a consistently distorted view of the conflict (though it’s true that they do). The problem goes deeper, to the core of this country and to the lies we tell ourselves about ourselves.

So, to work for justice for Palestine is to work against the U.S. empire. And to work against the U.S. empire is to dig in for the long haul. Our task is not to play to Americans’ sense of being special, but to help this country come to realize that if there is to be a decent future for anyone -- indeed, if there is to be a future at all -- the United States has to step back from its position of arrogance and affluence. We must imagine what it would be like to live as one nation in the world, not as an arrogant nation that attempts to dominate the world. We must imagine what a good life would look like if we were to give up our commitment to affluence and work toward a just and sustainable world at the end of the high-energy/high-technology era.

All of that is hard to focus on when Israeli bombs are dropping on Gaza, as the U.S. government continues to provide military, diplomatic, and economic support to Israel. It is difficult to take the long view as the grief of the people of Gaza intensifies by the moment.

But I believe that authentic hope lies in seeing one movement with many fronts. The goals must be justice and sustainability, which are inseparably linked. The struggle goes on in Palestine and Iraq, in Venezuela and Bolivia, in Oakland and Austin. The targets are the empire and economic interests it serves. We have to continue to struggle against the corrosive effects of arrogance and affluence, in others and in ourselves.

We all have limited time and energy for political work, and we direct that energy toward activities that are meaningful to us. One person cannot do everything, but each one of us can work within our political groups and communities to develop the analysis needed to integrate these many campaigns for justice and sustainability, linking our efforts with others’.

With that analysis, there is the possibility of authentic solidarity. And that solidarity is our only way to tame the rage, our only way to live with the grief.

Robert Jensen
is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin, regular contributor to and board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center. His latest book, All My Bones Shake, will be published in 2009 by Soft Skull Press. Jensen is also the author of Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity (South End Press, 2007); The Heart of Whiteness: Race, Racism, and White Privilege (City Lights Books, 2005); Citizens of the Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity (City Lights Books, 2004); and Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Ideas from the Margins to the Mainstream (Peter Lang, 2001).

He can be reached at and his articles can be found online here at and at


[1] Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996), p. 51.

Jean of Haiti: Canada to Solve Haiti's "Problems"

Comment and article from the website of the Canada Haiti Action Network:

Comment, with links, January 15, 2009:
Governor General calls for action; but has she taken the opportunity
to reflect?

Canada's Governor General, the Haitian-born Michaëlle Jean, is currently visiting Haiti(15th-18th January 2009). She calls for Canadian `action' in Haiti-but has she taken the time to reflect on the consequence of past Canadian actions? In her statements on Haiti, Jean has never discussed Canada's role in the 2004 Coup d'Etat, nor its support of the unelected 2004-2006 Latortue regime, accused of severe human right violations (see report from the medical journal The Lancet here). Today, as the RCMP admits its failure to train the Haitian police, and the role of foreign occupation in exacerbating the situation in Haiti becomes better known, the Governor General's call to action will only mean more of the same for Haiti.

News article:

`Now is the time for action,' Jean says of Haiti.
The Canadian Press January 15, 2009 at 6:26 PM EST

PORT-AU-PRINCE — Governor-General Michäelle Jean says the time has passed for cataloguing the litany of problems plaguing her native country and it's now time to try solving them.

Ms. Jean and husband Jean-Daniel Lafond arrived Thursday for a four-day visit to her native Haiti.

The trip comes at the request of Prime Minister Stephen Harper as Haitians struggle in the face of a food crisis exacerbated by hurricanes and tropical storms that have ravaged the country.

Already the poorest country in the Americas, Haiti has been grappling with rising rates of malnutrition and hunger. Its moribund economy shrank by a staggering 15 per cent in 2008.

Ms. Jean is scheduled to visit a hurricane disaster-response site, agriculture programs and a police training centre.

"I believe the time for assessments [of Haiti's problems] has passed," she told reporters at the airport. "Now is the time for action."

Haiti is Canada's biggest development assistance beneficiary in the Americas, and the second largest in the world after Afghanistan.

The Harper government has increased existing Canadian aid commitments to $555-million over five years. The funds are aimed at addressing a vicious circle of overlapping problems.

For example, a lack of electricity has led to the widespread deforestation of a once-lush tropical paradise, as people chop trees for wood to cook meals. With large swaths of the verdant land reduced to desert-like patches, Haiti has suffered soil erosion and mudslides that further complicate efforts to grow food and ward off natural disaster.

Such rampant poverty has also fuelled social unrest and political tensions.

"Numerous assessments have been made," Ms. Jean said. "They have been made for decades. I believe we're well aware of the state of affairs, the realities, the stakes, the challenges. But I think we're all in agreement that it's really time to move toward concrete action, to see how we can consolidate what has already been done, but to push even farther."

She was welcomed at the airport by a brass band and Haitian President René Préval, who thanked Canada for its efforts in his country.

Ms. Jean took several questions from local and Canadian media, but sidestepped a query about the key role she played in Canada's recent political history. When asked about her decision to allow Harper to shut down Parliament in December — a move that likely saved his government — she said it wasn't the time to discuss the matter.

"My priority right now is really to address the Haitian people on behalf of Canada, and to concentrate on the mission here."

Covering Up Israeli War Crimes

U.S. Media Elite Covering Up Israeli War Crimes
by Stephen Lendman
In his January 8 article, ‘Gaza Under Fire,’ John Pilger quotes the Soviet dissident Yevgeny Yevtushenko saying: ‘When the truth is replaced by silence, the silence is a lie.’

[For complete article reference links, please see source here.]

America’s dominant media suppress facts, sacrifice accuracy, and conceal the greater lie that:

– all Israeli aggression is collaboratively planned months in advance with Washington;

– American aid makes it possible - billions of dollars annually, the latest weapons and technology, and Security Council vetoes to assure no anti-Israeli resolutions with teeth are passed;

– six months of preparation preceded Israel’s terror bombings followed by invasion, occupation, and repeated war crimes on the ground;

– Hamas ‘rockets’ were pretext (not cause) to abet Israel’s overall strategy - with initial measures planned years ago and implemented in steps; Gaza 2008 - 09 is the latest with much more to come unless stopped;

– grievous international law violations are being willfully committed;

– innocent men, women and children are slaughtered;

– civilians and legitimate resistance are called ‘terrorists;’

– basic infrastructure unrelated to defense is destroyed - government buildings, police stations, schools, mosques, private dwellings, TV stations, commercial structures, water mains, power facilities, fishing boats, vehicles, ambulances, medical facilities, UN relief ones, and visible civilian targets, even young children coming from and going to school;

– refugee camps, women, doctors and journalists are attacked;

– terror bombing and shelling continues round-the-clock; from 50 to 100 or more sorties a day but fire from naval vessels, tanks, and troops on the ground;

– illegal terror weapons are used;

– as of January 14, around 5500 have been killed or wounded; hundreds still alive are ‘clinically dead,’ according to medical officials; a handful of Israelis have died; small numbers have been injured as well unknown true numbers of military casualties since Israel controls the reporting; Hamas claims over 30;

– Gaza remains under siege; beyond token amounts, no outside aid gets in; electricity, fuel, medical supplies and clean water are nearly exhausted; medical workers can’t reach the wounded; foreign journalists can’t report on the scene; volunteer doctors can’t enter through Rafah; no remnants of normal life exist; Gaza is totally dysfunctional; and

– world leaders, the White House, and both Houses of Congress sanction Israel’s genocide; its ‘final solution’ destruction as a legitimate society; its right to a sovereign state; a government of its choosing; normality for the people; and defense of their rights by a world community that cares - it doesn’t.

Instead, Israel plans to remove a legitimate leadership; eliminate or neutralize the Hamas government; displace Palestinians from their land; confine them to isolated cantons, make them a hellish, ghoulish dystopia, and according to Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni on January 13 to an American Jewish Committee delegation:

‘Israel’s campaign against Hamas (is in the) interest of the ‘moderate’ Palestinian people.’ And, of course, ‘War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength,’ and Israel kills to save lives.

Media reports echo this, suppress truths, and maintain the lie of silence. None show pictures of vast destruction; dismembered bodies; children with lost arms and legs; head wounds so severe they’ll die; blood, bones, and limbs everywhere; entire families wantonly massacred; human desperation and need so great it rivals anything in memory.

No brave reporters condemn these crimes and support the victims. None say Palestinians deserve the same rights as Jews; that laws of war and occupation protect everyone; that illegal acts must cease and perpetrators be punished.

None report the American Jewish Alliance for Justice & Peace (Brit Tzedek v’Shalom) condemning Israel’s attack and demanding that Barack Obama ‘call for an immediate ceasefire (and assure the prompt) delivery of (urgently needed) humanitarian aid to Gaza.’

None cite the rule of law. None report accurately, and on matters of truth, distortion and ’silence’ are their chosen options.

Samples of their work are below - daily in major broadsheets, publications, and on radio and TV. It’s why America is the most ill-informed society anywhere in spite of every opportunity to know vital truths and react. Bread and circus distractions take precedence so wanton killing continues below the radar - and not just in Gaza.

Wall Street Journal Op-Ed Page Pro-Israeli Zealots

They appear daily in editorials and guest op-eds but never as easy reading. A January 5 editorial says ‘Israel can’t afford to lose its second war in two years.’ It echoes poor Israel, surrounded ‘by enemies on all sides (so it) needs to maintain an aura of invincibility if it is to have any chance for peaceful co-existence.’

Task one - ‘eliminat(ing) Hamas rule in Gaza (and) its military threat.’ Then on to ‘the broader Middle East issue….expansion of Iranian influence and terror. Hamas has become part of Tehran’s bid for regional hegemony (like Hezbollah in Lebanon and Sadrist ’special groups’ in Iraq).’

Bush is on board for their elimination. It’s now up to Obama. He must show Israel and Iran ‘that the new president understands the US stake in the success of Israel’s Gaza’ offensive and assure no efforts are made to halt it.

On January 5 hawkish Max Boot was back with an ‘Israel’s Tragic Gaza Dilemma’ op-ed. Again, poor Israel:

‘There is little doubt that Israel is morally justified in its offensive against Hamas. No nation can sit by and allow its territory to be rocketed with impunity.’ As for ‘accusations of (IDF) brutality, (Israel’s) conduct has been exemplary by historical standards. They have shown far less propensity for indiscriminate killing or torture (than other nations) confronting insurgencies. The only comparable example of restraint is the conduct of the US armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The United States, too, earns worldwide opprobrium for alleged brutality rather than approbation for its humanity.’

Millions of dead Iraqis and Afghans might disagree. Thousands of others incarcerated, tortured, and brutalized. Palestinians also after six brutal decades of occupation and repeated war crimes committed with impunity. ‘Restraint (and) humanity’ indeed.

Never mind, Boot voices concern, not over mass slaughter but ‘on how the offensive turns out.’ It’s not likely ‘they will be able to defeat the terrorist organization on their southern border.’ That requires a much greater and prolonged effort. A better choice is to depose the Hamas government and for Israel to administer the Territory itself. If Israel’s troops leave, ‘Hamas will rebuild its infrastructure, forcing Israelis to go back to the future.’

Boot calls it a ‘quagmire,’ but ‘Israel has no choice. It cannot simply pack its bags and go home….Israel is one battle away from destruction….If (it’s) to continue to exist, it will have to continue to wage low-intensity war for a long time to come - definitely years, probably decades, possibly centuries.’ In other words, permanent war instead of the alternative - ‘annihilation.’ Off the table is the obvious solution. Never mind the simplest and most righteous: A just peace, Palestinian self-determination, respect for human rights and the rule of law, and stop attacking them so they’ll have no need to respond in self-defense.

A Bret Stephens January 6 ‘Endgame for Israel’ op-ed says: ‘If Israel is going to achieve a strategic victory in this war, it will have to stand firm against (the) global wave of hypocrisy and cant. (It) will have to practice a more consistent policy of deterrence than it has so far done. One option: For every rocket that falls randomly on Israeli soil, an Israeli missile will hit a carefully selected target in Gaza.’ Stephens calls this ‘proportionality (and) the endgame that Israel needs.’

Not explained is that Hamas responds only in self-defense to Israeli preemptive attacks and killings. No Journal contributors say this or provide fair and accurate commentary.

On January 7, former CIA officer Reuel Gerecht shared op-ed space with Benjamin Netanyahu’s ‘Militant Islam Threatens Us All’ in which he equated Hamas rockets to ‘the same terror goal as Hitler’s blitz.’ The old Hitler analogy again.

Gerecht addressed ‘Iran’s Hamas Strategy’ and accused ‘Tehran (of) aiding Hamas for years with the aim of radicalizing politics across the entire Arab Middle East.’ Hamas gives Iran ‘an important ally. Through Hamas, Tehran can possibly reach the ultimate prize, the Egyptian faithful….With Gaza and Egypt conceivably within Tehran’s grasp, the clerical regime will be patient and try to keep Gaza boiling….In 30 years, they have not seen a better constellation of forces (with Gaza in conflict and the prospect of their being) ‘nuclear-armed….just around the corner.’

That said despite the unanimous conclusion of 16 US intelligence agencies that Iran stopped pursuing a nuclear weapons program in 2003 even though no proof shows it ever had one.

On January 9, military strategist Edward Luttwak’s op-ed headlined: ‘Yes, Israel Can Win in Gaza.’ He downplays Hezbollah’s impressive 2006 performance saying it was ‘thoroughly shocked by the Israeli bombing campaign (in spite of Israel’s) inconclusive ground actions.’

In fact, Lebanon was shocked, not Hezbollah. According to researcher Andrew Exum of Kings College, London: ‘Hezbollah, far from being weakened in the 2006 war or subsequent (Beirut) political battles, is stronger than ever.’

Israel can do to Hamas what it did to Hezbollah, says Luttwak - weaken it with further ground operations ‘that cannot be attacked by the air - typically because they are in the basements of crowded apartment buildings - and by engaging Hamas gunmen in direct combat. Hamas will claim a win no matter what happens, but then so did Hezbollah in 2006….yet (it remains) immobile. If Israel can achieve the same with Hamas in Gaza, it would be a significant victory.’

Luttwak forgets how Hezbollah outfoxed and embarrassed the ‘vaunted’ IDF that hasn’t fought a comparable adversary in 35 years, forgot how, and only outperforms against civilian men, women and children, much like America in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of course, Luttwak wouldn’t get op-ed space if he admitted that.

On January 8, Rabbi Marvin Hier’s Journal op-ed appeared titled: ‘The Jews Face a Double Standard’ and asked - ‘Why doesn’t Israel have the same right to self-defense as other nations?’ Hier may know scripture, but clearly not international law or fundamental morality.

He condemns worldwide protests as ’so full of hatred that they leave me with the terrible feeling that (they’re unrelated to) so-called disproportionality….a great many people….can’t bear the Jewish state having the same rights they so readily grant to other nations….because they don’t believe Israel should exist in the first place.’

Hier cites isolated incidents indicative of world sentiment in his judgment. He ignores growing public opinion before and after his article:

– many hundreds of thousands protesting in cities globally;

– many thousands of outraged Jews as well, including in Israel;

– Haaretz reporting ‘tens of thousands (in) the streets in European capitals;’

– 100,000 in London alone (on January 10), including 20,000 outside the Israeli Embassy;

– at least 30,000 in Paris; 90,000 or more in over 120 other French cities and towns;

– tens of thousands more in Berlin and across Germany;

– Rome as well and across Italy;

– the same in Athens, Oslo, Stockholm, Budapest, Sarajevo, Madrid, Istanbul, Belfast, Edinburgh, Bern, Moscow, and dozens more European cities;

– globally across America, Asia, Latin America, Africa, the Arab street expressing outrage over mass slaughter.

Poor Israel, according to Hier; an ‘insidious bias against the Jewish state’ he claims; a ‘double-standard;’ a humanitarian crisis? ‘There have been hundreds of articles and reports….falsely accusing Israel of blocking humanitarian supplies from reaching beleaguered Palestinians in Gaza.’

Blame Hamas for the conflict - ‘the same terrorist group that brought disaster to the Palestinians in the first place….the real lessons of World War II have yet to be learned.’

This from a man of God getting prominent Journal space for his hateful, disturbing, and grossly inaccurate commentary.

Pro-Israeli Washington Post Columnists

Many appear, these two as regulars. On January 9, Charles Krauthammer contributed an ‘Endgame in Gaza’ op-ed. In August 2006, Steve Benen said this about him in the Washington Monthly:

‘About three years ago, I saw Krauthammer flip out in synagogue on Yom Kippur (the most solemn of Jewish high-holidays). The rabbi offered some timid endorsement of peace (on Israel’s terms) but peace anyway. Krauthammer went nuts. He actually started bellowing at the rabbi from his wheel chair in the aisle. People tried to ’shush’ him. (He) kept howling until the rabbi apologized. The man is as arrogant as he is thuggish. Who screams at the rabbi at services? For advocating peace? Those neocon hawks are such a charming bunch, aren’t they?

Krauthammer contributes weekly to the Washington Post and is syndicated in 200 newspapers. He’s also a Fox News regular where he’s welcome among like-minded friends.

In his latest column, he’s on the warpath against ‘an increasingly wobbly US State Department’ and Ehud Olmert for ‘hinting that (he’s) receptive to a French-Egyptian cease-fire plan….That would be a terrible mistake….It would have the same elements as the phony peace in Lebanon (abjuring the) use of force, a (weak) arms embargo (letting lots of them) flood in, and a cessation of hostilities until the terrorist side is rearmed and ready to initiate the next round of hostilities.’

‘The ‘international community’ (now wants) a replay of (the Lebanon) charade….Weapons will continue to be smuggled. Deeper and more secure fortifications will be built….Mosques, schools and hospitals will again be used for weapons storage and terrorist safe havens. Such a deal would buy Israel maybe a couple of years - with Hamas rockets then killing civilians in Tel Aviv (and maybe hitting) Israel’s nuclear reactor in Dimona.’

‘Which is why the only acceptable outcome (is the total) disintegration of Hamas rule….The fall of Hamas is within reach (as long as) Israel does not cave in to pressure to stop now. (It’s) disintegration….would be a devastating blow to Palestinian rejectionists….to Iran as patron of radical Islamic movements (and Sadrists) in Iraq.’ A Bush State Department ‘premature (ceasefire) imposition….would not just be self-defeating but shameful.’

Why would any rabbi accept this man in his congregation even if he kept quiet and didn’t shout.

Post columnist Richard Cohen is hardly better, and it shows in his January 6 op-ed: ‘A Conflict Hamas Caused….It takes real stupidity to blame it on Israel. As the leaders of Hamas understand, the war in Gaza is about Israel’s incessant fight to be a normal country…so (Jewish) kids can swim in a lake.’

How can they when ‘Hamas has vowed to destroy Israel….Anyone could have seen this war coming. As always, though, it’s a lot harder to see how it ends.’ Cohen hints that destroying Hamas is the way. Some call Cohen liberal because he’s pro-choice and pro-gay. He’s also pro-war and zealously pro-Israel, even though occasionally critical. He has a ’strong emotional attachment’ to the country….’whose survival is not only important for the Jewish people but for the rest of mankind as well.’ So if mass slaughter assures it, so be it.

The New York Times ‘Incursion Into Gaza’ Editorial

On January 5, The Times called Israel’s ‘ground incursion (a gamble) that it can finally silence the Hamas rockets that have terrorized its people for years.’ No mention of:

– unilateral Hamas ceasefires;

– that Israel never observed them;

– that the IDF killed over two dozen Gazans during the one ending November 4;

– that no Israelis were killed or injured during the period;

– that Israel, not Hamas, ended it; and

– that Hamas responds only in self-defense as international law allows.

Instead The Times cites ‘no justification for Hamas’ attacks or its virulent rejectionism.’ Of what? It repeatedly offers peace, is willing to recognize a Jewish state provided Israel reciprocates, stops killing Arabs, and grants Palestinians their own state inside pre-1967 borders - a mere 22% of their original homeland.

The Times also worries that the longer the conflict continues, the more casualties mount, the more likely ‘moderate’ Arab states will become alienated, that ‘more regional instability (will be) fueled, and the harder it will be for Obama to be a peacemaker after January 20.

‘Israel, aided by the United States, Europe and ‘moderate’ Arab states, must try to end this conflict as soon as possible (and) ensur(e) at a minimum that Hamas - a proxy of Iran - is not seen as gaining from the war, that rocket fire is halted permanently, and that the ‘terrorist’ group can no longer restock its arsenal with more deadly weapons’ from across Egypt’s border.

‘There is little chance of restraining Hamas without dealing with its patrons in Syria and Iran….Palestinians (want a) way out of their misery (but) Hamas and its rockets are not the answer.’

As always, The Times‘ distortion and silence speak louder than its comments. Peace? Hamas rockets? Its patrons? Neither Israel or Washington wants peace. Conflict serves their interests. Hamas rockets are for defense, not offense. They’re weak and ineffective compared to Israel’s awesome power. Its weapons are for offense and come from its Washington patron. Peace depends on not using them so Hamas will have no reason to respond. These facts aren’t in The Times’ editorial or other material in its pages.

Nor in columnist Tom Friedman’s commentaries. His January 6 op-ed is titled: ‘The Mideast’s Ground Zero.’ He addresses the ongoing struggle. Who’ll end up the ‘regional superpower - Egypt? Saudi Arabia? Iran? Should there be a Jewish state….and, if so, on what Palestinian terms? And (who’ll) dominate Arab society - Islamists who are intolerant of other faiths and want to choke off modernity or modernists who want to embrace the future, with an Arab-Muslim face?’

Friedman is a neoliberal hawk, a supporter of the Afghan and Iraq wars, zealously pro-Israel, very hardline against Muslims, unsupportive of Palestinian issues, and he earlier called the Second Intifada ‘idiotic, braindead, insane (and) a reckless, pointless, foolish adventure.’

He espouses Camp David mythology - that Ehud Barak made a generous offer but Arafat preferred ‘to play the victim rather than stateman. (He sought to) provoke the Israelis into brutalizing the Palestinians again.’ Friedman to Arafat: ‘Please don’t tell me you can’t control your own people. You’ve sold us that carpet one too many times.’ He accuses Palestinians of ‘adopt(ing) suicide bombing as a strategic choice, not out of desperation.’ These provocations and others ‘triggered (justifiable) Israeli retaliation….’

Friedman’s analysis is one-sided, extremist, and immoral. He distorts facts, makes assertions with no evidence, lets emotion and intellectual dishonesty trump good commentary, and on everything Israel, Jewish interests matter. Arab ones don’t. Now there’s a winning formula for regional peace and stability.

From Jerusalem on January 10, Times columnist Steven Erlanger headlined: ‘A Gaza War Full of Traps and Trickery’ - a one-sided article full of bias and misinformation. With Iranian and Hezbollah help, Erlanger states:

Hamas ‘used the last two years to turn Gaza into a deadly maze of tunnels, booby traps and sophisticated roadside bombs. Weapons are hidden in mosques, schoolyards and civilian houses, and the leadership’s war room is a bunker beneath Gaza’s largest hospital, Israeli intelligence officials say.’

If they said it, Erlanger reports it, and it once got journalist Robert Fisk to say that The New York Times should be renamed ‘US Officials Say,’ Government spokesmen say, unnamed sources say, or in this case ‘Israeli officials say.’

Erlanger: ‘Israeli officials say that they are obeying the rules of war and trying hard not to hurt noncombatants but that Hamas is using civilians as human shields….Israeli press officers call the tactics of Hamas cynical, illegal and inhumane; even Israel’s critics agree that Hamas’ regular use of rockets to fire at civilians in Israel, and its use of civilians as shields in Gaza, are also violations of the rules of war.’

Erlanger cites ‘Israeli military men and analysts’ claiming these tactics ‘come from the Iranian Army’s tactical training and the lesson of the 2006 war between Israel and Iranian-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon.’

Erlanger is in Jerusalem, not Gaza, nor will ‘Israeli officials’ let him go there. His sources are them alone. His point of view is theirs. He ignores conditions in Occupied Gaza and is Israel’s man at The New York Times. His article is ‘full of traps and trickery,’ instead of accurate, unbiased reporting. So is ‘All the News That’s Fit to Print’ that reveals the true record of the ‘Paper of Record.’

The Hawkish Right-Wing Jerusalem Post

On January 9, its editor-in-chief David Horovitz’s article headlined: ‘Time running out for an escalation Israel’s leaders don’t really want.’ Neither Israeli air power or its ground operation has broken Hamas’ will to resist, and that concerns Horovitz. ‘Its main fighting force is largely intact (and) as of (January 8), it was plainly not crying out for a cease-fire, confident that the international diplomatic clock’ is on its side.

‘Israel’s dilemma….is whether or not to proceed to an intensified ground operation - involving thousands (more) troops, penetrating far more deeply into Gaza’s most dense urban areas.’ Doing so would greatly increase casualties on both sides, and there’s ‘every indication that Hamas is braced (and thinking) it can inflict heavy damage on incoming forces, and thus bolster its standing and capacity to impose its terms on any cease-fire arrangements.’

Operation Cast Lead ‘appear(s) in some kind of pause.’ Perhaps on the ground when he wrote this but not now nor in dozens of round-the-clock sorties inflicting wanton slaughter fast approaching 1000 confirmed deaths and well over four times that number of injuries, many serious.

Horovitz: ‘This pause cannot last long. The IDF is most vulnerable when….static. (It must decide) whether it is moving forward or pulling back.’ The key leadership agrees that ‘Hamas is hurt but not beaten….No mechanism is in place to ensure it cannot quickly rearm.’

Hamas remains ‘cocky, (is) playing down its losses, and (is) anything but troubled by the deaths of Palestinians.’ If it ‘remains intransigent (and won’t agree to Israel’s terms), a reluctant political echelon (will order in) many thousands to confront (it) as never before….a full-scale invasion to overthrow Hamas and reoccupy’ Gaza.

As usual, Horovitz, twists facts and invents myths. Hamas worries greatly for its people and continues struggling for them. Why else would it resist a three-year embargo, the arrest of its officials, killing others, a crippling 18 month siege, and three weeks of Israeli savagery to wage guerrilla battles against an overpowering foe.

Israel offers its terms alone - deposing Hamas’ leadership, surrender of its weapons, continuation of Palestine’s colonization, and ending any hope for a just and lasting peace or Palestinian self-determination in a sovereign independent state inside pre-1967 borders. Hamas spent the last 21 years fighting for them. They won’t likely stop now, nor will Palestinians. As a result, continued bloodshed may continue if Israeli extremists prevail.

Horovitz seems unconcerned that most casualties will be civilian men, women and children, or that UN and human rights organizations accuse Israel of willfully targeting them. No concern either that UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, John Holmes, says Gaza’s crisis is ‘worsening day by day,’ refuting Israel’s claim that none exists. The situation is so extreme that he and others no longer can be silent.

Even the Vatican’s Cardinal Renato Martino, head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, compared Gaza to a ‘concentration camp,’ reminiscent of Nazi-era atrocities. That kind of criticism has impact, yet Israel’s mass slaughter continues.

The independent Al Haq human rights organization estimates 80% of Palestinian deaths are civilians, including many women and children. The IDF follows so-called ‘Dahiyah Doctrine’ tactics reflecting official change in Israel’s National Security Concept. It calls for:

‘wield(ing) disproportionate power against every village from which shots are fired on Israel, and cause immense damage and destruction. From our perspective, these are military bases. This is not a suggestion. This is a plan that has already been authorized.’

Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Colonel Gabriel Siboni believes responses should ‘disproportion(ately) strike at the heart of the enemy’s weak spot, in which efforts to hurt (rocket) launch capability are secondary.’

It’s why Israel calls civilian areas ‘legitimate military targets’ in gross violation of international laws. Mosques, medical facilities, private dwellings, fishing boats, and food markets pose no strategic threats. Attacking them is terrorism. Those involved are war criminals. No Dahiyah doctrines change that. Nor do high-level wrongdoing denials. Israel is a serial offender.

For international law expert Francis Boyle, justice awaits an International Criminal Tribunal for Israel (ICTI) as ‘the Only (possible) Deterrent’ to all out war, to put an end to these crimes of war and against humanity, and to let other Israeli leaders and generals know that committing these crimes will be punished. He urges the General Assembly to act before Arab anger erupts into something far greater than conflict in Gaza.

He advocates other needed actions as well:

– ‘immediately move for the de facto suspension of Israel throughout the entirety of the United Nations System, including the General Assembly and all UN subsidiary organs and bodies;’

– carry out all further talks with Israel ‘under principles of public international law (Geneva Convention 1949 and Hague Regulations 1907);’

– ‘abandon the fiction and fraud that the US government is an ‘honest broker;’

– ‘move to have the UN General Assembly impose economic, diplomatic, and travel sanctions upon Israel pursuant to the terms of the (General Assembly) Uniting for Peace Resolution (1950);’ and

– ‘the Provisional Government of the State of Palestine must sue Israel before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague for inflicting acts of genocide against the Palestinian people in violation of the 1948 Genocide Convention.’

Boyle accuses ‘the United States (of) Promot(ing) Israeli Genocide Against the Palestinians. Although the United States is a founding sponsor of, and a contracting party to, both the Nuremberg Charter and the Genocide Convention, as well as the United Nations Charter, these legal facts have never made any difference to (US officials from either party) when it comes to (their) blank-check support for Israel and their joint and severable criminal mistreatment of the Palestinians - truly the wretched of the earth!’

‘The world has not yet heard even one word uttered by the United States and its NATO allies in favor of ‘humanitarian intervention’ against Israel in order to protect the Palestinian people, let alone a ‘responsibility to protect’ (them) from Zionist/Israeli(American) genocide.’

‘Rather than rein in the Israelis, the United States government (and) Congress’ feed its war machine.’ Boyle calls this ‘humanitarian extermination’ through a joint US - Israeli partnership. He expects no policy change under the new Obama administration.

Alternative Voices for Sanity and Peace

On January 8, Jimmy Carter in a Washington Post op-ed headlined: ‘An Unnecessary War.’ A few quotes:

– ‘Hamas wanted a comprehensive cease-fire in both the West Bank and Gaza, and the Israelis refused to discuss anything other than Gaza;’

– ‘We knew that 1.5 million inhabitants of Gaza were being starved….acute malnutrition (is evident) on the same scale as in the poorest nations in southern Sahara, with more than half of all Palestinian families eating only one meal a day’ - and a very inadequate one for proper nutrition;

– ‘The top Hamas leaders in Damascus….agreed to a cease-fire, provided Israel would not attack Gaza and would permit normal humanitarian supplies to be delivered to Palestinian citizens;’ they also agreed ‘to accept any peace agreement….provided….a majority vote of Palestinians’ approved it; yet

– Israel remains unwilling to negotiate with Hamas for peace or on other issues.

Comments like these from a former US president are important despite falling woefully short. The war isn’t ‘unnecessary,’ it’s illegal. Those responsible are war criminals. Justice demands they be punished. Israel should be isolated, embargoed, and boycotted until they are and hostilities and the Gaza siege end. Carter nonetheless deserves praise for going this far and refusing to be silent.

Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy, like his colleague Amira Hass, as well. In his January 9 ‘time of the righteous’ commentary he refers to:

– Israel’s ‘unbridled aggression and brutality,’

– about 100 Palestinians killed for every Israeli;

– is Palestinian blood ‘worth one hundred times less than ours…;’

– ‘all the disasters now occurring in Gaza are manmade - by us;’

– ‘Anyone who preaches for this war and believes in the justness of mass killing….has no right….to speak about morality and humaneness;’

– ‘Anyone who justifies this war also justifies all its crimes. Anyone who sees it as a defensive war must bear the moral responsibility for its consequences. Anyone who now encourages the politicians and the army to continue will also have to bear the mark of cain that will be branded on his forehead after the war. All those who support the war also support the horror.’

Davids Cromwell and Edwards edit the Media Lens UK-based media watch project to provide ‘authoritative criticism of mainstream media bias, censorship’ and much more. Their January 12 alert is titled: ‘An Eye for an Eyelash: The Gaza Massacre - Part I.

They quote Tony Blair making an emotional March 24, 1999 appeal to the House of Commons and British people saying:

‘We must act to save thousands of innocent men, women and children from humanitarian catastrophe.’

He referred to the Balkans ahead of the 78 day 1999 blitzkrieg - what Harold Pinter called ‘another blatant and brutal assertion of US power using NATO as its missile (to cut) children to pieces from 15,000 feet.’

Blair is now the Quartet’s Middle East envoy representing the UN, EU, Russia but mostly America and, of course, Israel. He blames the victims and supports the aggressor unlike his sister-in-law Lauren Booth saying his notion of a ceasefire would condemn Palestinians ‘to a slow agonising death.’

Try finding those comments in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Washington Post, or any other major US newspaper or publication. Try hearing them from guests, pundits or reporters on CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox News, NPR, PBS, or BBC.

Try expecting world leaders (except Hugo Chavez, Ecuador’s Raphael Correa, the Cuban government, and Iran’s President Ahmadinejad) to express these views and much more.

Imagine Israel ending hostilities if they did. It’s defiant with Ehud Olmert saying he won’t bow to ‘outside influence….(Israel) has a right to protect its citizens….(the IDF will) continue to change the security situation in the south (meaning attacks will continue, and no outside body can challenge our) right to defend (our) security.’

A Final Comment

The Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) states:

‘Israeli Occupation Forces have continued to wage the bloodiest and most brutal war against the Gaza Strip since its (1967) occupation, under an international and Arab conspiracy of silence. It cites:

– the deplorable humanitarian conditions; Gaza is totally dysfunctional; its society is in total breakdown;

– continued air raids have created confusion, fear and horror;

– ‘according to (PCHR) investigations, at least 90% of the Palestinians killed….are civilians, many of whom are children; the Mezan Center for Human Rights estimates 85%; UN officials continue to cite 25% to suppress the full horror; its relief agencies say 100% of Gazans need humanitarian aid.

Deaths are now around 1000. Injuries exceed 4500. No resolution is in sight. Laila Al-Haddad reports there’s ‘nowhere to hide from (the) bombing. You don’t know who is alive….who is a target….where to? Where can I go seek refuge to?’

Your house shakes. The windows break. There’s fear everywhere. Children are traumatized. The Saminu clan lost 70 members of their extended family. Professor Said Abdelwahed (in the Strip) emails about a typical Gaza night - ‘bloody;’ air and ground attacks lasting all night to 6:45AM; ‘hellish; I do not believe that there was someone in Gaza who could sleep last night!;’ no casualty reports yet; ’situation is horrible.’

Half the population has no water. On January 11, Gaza’s Water Authority said it’s near totally disabled and no longer can provide any. Israel attacked a major water pipe in central Gaza. Salty water from wells is all that’s available. Raw sewage is running through streets. Officials warn of a ‘massive sewage flood throughout the Strip. One million Gazans have no electricity. Hospitals can’t function. Their supplies are near-exhausted. Hundreds more will die as a result.

A modern-day Holocaust is unfolding. The hypocrisy of ‘Never again’ repeated in full world view. Bil’in, West Bank residents marched in protest, joined by Israeli and international activists. Protesters carried Palestinian and Venezuelan flags. They wore clothes like those given Jews in Nazi concentration camps featuring yellow Stars of David.

Meanwhile, reports from Gaza are of entire neighborhood forced evacuations, but where to go! Schools are bombed, shelters and mosques attacked, everything and everyone in Gaza is a ‘legitimate’ target. Images coming out are horrifying. It’s why the US media suppress them.

In a January 10 Newsweek interview, Tzipi Livni talked tough and called the term ‘ceasefire’ unacceptable because ‘it looks like an agreement between two legitimate sides….this is not a conflict between two states but a fight against terror. We will continue to fight,’ and blame Iran for being behind it all.

On January 8, the Senate (by voice vote) agreed to a non-binding resolution affirming support for Israel’s aggression. On January 9, the House followed suit overwhelmingly in approving a similar non-binding resolution (390 - 5) calling for a Gaza ceasefire - on Israel’s terms.

On January 9, Reuters reported that the Pentagon plans ‘to deliver hundreds of tons of (new) arms (and munitions) to Israel from Greece later this month.’ Indications are that ‘hazardous material’ is involved, including explosive substances and detonators.

Weapons and munitions shipments generally signal future, not ongoing conflicts. This one, and perhaps others, may be for a larger-scale regional war, but it’s too early to conclude it. Yet threats continue to be made against Iran, Syria and Hezbollah so planning for more confrontation is very possible.

On January 13, Haaretz reported:

‘A US military plan to ship munitions from a Greek port to a US stockpile in Israel has been cancelled due to the conflict in the Gaza Strip,’ Pentagon officials said. Take it with a grain of salt, and follow-up comments indicated a delay, not cancellation, and ‘EUCOM (the US European Command) is developing an appropriate course of action to deliver the items to the US stockpile in Israel. (No information will be provided) on timelines or possible routes for obvious reasons of operations security.’

Life in Occupied Gaza. No end of conflict is in sight. Mass slaughter continues unabated. World leaders are silent on halting it. Blame the victims. Back aggression, but people globally say otherwise: In solidarity, we’re all Gazans. We’re all Palestinians.

– Mathaba author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at: