Archive for the ‘US Intervention’ Category

Progressive Groups Urge Aquino to Scrap Oplan Bantay Laya and Its Operating Principles

July 19, 2010

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

Human rights groups and UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Philip Alston have long established that the former Arroyo government’s counterinsurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya is one of the main reasons for the spike in extrajudicial killings because it did not distinguish between “combatants and non-combatants.” However, President Benigno Aquino III refuses to acknowledge this.

In the past two weeks, five activists have already been killed. Fernando Baldomero, 61, a municipal councilor in Lezo, Aklan and Bayan Muna provincial chairperson, was shot dead in front of his son July 5. Pascual Guevarra, 78, was killed by a lone gunman inside his house in Bgy. San Isidro, Laur, Nueva Ecija. His grandson was also wounded. Three days after, on July 9, public school teachers in Masbate, Mark Francisco, 27 and Edgar Fernandez, 44, were gunned down in separate incidents.

After the elections, the killings never stopped. On May 19, Jim Galez, a member of Bayan Muna in Panabo City in Davao was shot dead. On June 2, union leader Edward Panganiban was killed on his way to work in Sta. Cruz, Laguna. On June 14, Karapatan member Benjamin Bayles was also killed in Himaymalayan City, Negros Occidental. On June 22, human rights lawyer Ernesto Salunat was slain.

Except for the case of Bayles, no perpetrators have been identified and arrested.

Human rights group Karapatan criticized President Benigno S. Aquino III for not issuing a categorical statement to the Armed Forced of the Philippines (AFP) to put a stop to the extrajudicial killings.

Aquino recently said that “this is not a policy of our administration but in general, we can’t say that this is an abuse because of a state policy in the past.”

“President Aquino said we do not have a policy on extrajudicial killings, we do not tolerate that—that’s plain and simple,” Edwin Lacierda, palace spokesperson, also said.

“By accepting that evaluation [by the military and police], Aquino practically sanctioned the killings,” Satur Ocampo, president of Makabayan coalition, said in a press conference Thursday.

“By saying that many of the killings are motivated by personal reasons and not by a state policy of the past, Aquino is effectively turning a blind eye to the gross and systematic human rights abuses started by the Arroyo regime and continuing under his watch. Is Aquino now implying that the killings of hundreds of activists are unrelated and merely coincidental since there was and is no state policy?” Renato Reyes, secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said in a separate statement.

Former Gabriela Women’s Rep. and Makabayan vice president Liza Maza said Aquino, without the benefit of any investigation, has already absolved the military of any culpability to the killings.

Counterinsurgency Policy

“It is unthinkable that Aquino is unaware of the military’s policy on extrajudicial killings of activists. The recent killings bore the DNA of Gen. Jovito Palparan’s shock and terror tactics,” Anakpawis party-list Representative Rafael Mariano said.

Palparan, the favorite general of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, has been branded as “The Butcher” for the trail of blood he left behind in areas where he was assigned. Palparan was vocal in maligning leaders and members of people’s organizations and party list groups as “enemies of the state,” a key feature of Arroyo’s counterinsurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL).

Mariano noted that the areas where the recent killings occurred, Panay, Central Luzon, and Bicol, are among OBL’s priority areas.

“All these, coupled by AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Ricardo David’s renewed three-year deadline to end the insurgency are strong indications that Oplan Bantay Laya is still being implemented,” Mariano said. The OBL has 13 priority areas in seven regions.

According to Karapatan, Arroyo’s OBL has taken the lives of 1,205 unarmed individuals, mostly activists and members of progressive people’s organizations, in its bloody campaign to end the insurgency.

“Oplan Bantay Laya is the worst and most brutal of these campaigns as it specifically targets legal organizations and personages resulting to a staggering body count and brazen impunity in nine years of the Arroyo regime and it is still in place,” Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairperson of the human rights group Karapatan, said.

Ocampo said until Aquino orders a stop to the OBL or the operating principles behind the OBL, the killings would continue. Under the OBL, the state bears no distinction between the armed revolutionary groups and leaders and members of people’s organizations and party list groups. Ocampo noted that Aquino did not issue any categorical statement whether to uphold the OBL or not.

“The way he dismisses the issue,” said the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in a statement sent through email, “Aquino seems not to have read or comprehend the report prepared by Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings Philip Alston, which clearly points to the military as the perpetrator of the killings in accordance with policies of the ruling state and orders from those in authority.”

Alston, who visited the country in February 2007, identified the counterinsurgency program as the culprit behind the killings. Alston said in his initial report dated April 18, 2008:

“One response has been counter-insurgency operations that result in the extrajudicial execution of leftist activists. In some areas, the leaders of leftist organizations are systematically hunted down by interrogating and torturing those who may know their whereabouts, and they are often killed following a campaign of individual vilification designed to instill fear into the community.”

Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casino said Aquino should first acknowledge that there is a state policy. Casino likened Aquino’s statement to the AFP’s theory of personal grudges and so-called “internal purges” within the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

Alston also dismissed the AFP’s theory. “The military is in a state of denial concerning the numerous extrajudicial executions in which its soldiers are implicated. The military’s insistence that the “purge theory” is correct can only be viewed as a cynical attempt to displace responsibility,” he wrote in 2008.

“Now, Aquino himself is also in denial,” said the CPP.
“It is still the same military in denial mode speaking on the current spate of extrajudicial killings going on in the country,” Enriquez said of AFP spokesman Brigadier General Jose Mabanta’s blanket denial of the AFP’s involvement in the recent cases of extrajudicial killings.

Urgent Recommendations

Mariano urged Aquino to implement Alston’s recommendations, including the elimination of extrajudicial executions from counterinsurgency operations. Alston also said: “as commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, the President must take concrete steps to put an end to those aspects of counterinsurgency operations, which have led to the targeting and execution of many individuals working with civil society organizations.”

Makabayan coalition called on Aquino to put a stop to the practice of AFP and PNP of tagging and vilifying legal progressive organizations as communist fronts and state enemies; implement administrative measures and sanctions that will enforce command responsibility and ensure the policy of “no harassment, abduction and killings” of activists; stop political persecution, through the filing of fabricated chargers, against leaders and members of legal progressive parties and organizations and instead focus on prosecuting and arresting masterminds and perpetrators of extrajudicial killings of activists including former Defense secretary Norberto Gonzales and former Major Gen. Jovito Palparan; and, strongly support the passage of proposed laws on command responsibility, enforced disappearances, and Marcos and Arroyo human rights victims compensation bills.

The coalition also said that the Truth Commission should include in its investigation human rights violations committed during the previous administration.

But the CPP noted that Aquino, by absolving the military, “is setting the stage for a coverup of grand proportions”, said the CPP. “The fascist masterminds of these killings, including Gloria Arroyo, her top military and security officials, those now in command, and their US advisers, are being let off the hook.” “Aquino is even now showing how dependent and afraid he is of the military forces under his jurisdiction. He worries that if he would seriously pursue the demand for justice for the victims of gross human rights violations, he will be on a collision course with the AFP. He will thus be incapable of pursuing justice for the more than one thousand victims of extrajudicial killings in the past, and the growing number of victims under his rule,” added the CPP.

In a letter to Aquino dated July 12, Civicus (World Alliance for Citizen Participation), called on Aquino to release the 43 health workers or the Morong 43; to investigate the AFP’s conduct in the arrest, detention, interrogation, and general treatment of the 43 health workers; to end impunity for state authorities who commit human rights violations by bringing those guilty of torture and other abuse to justice according to Philippine and international law, among others.

“CIVICUS urges you to heed the warning signs for a perilous future should the state of Philippines’ human rights continue down its current path,” the group told Aquino. “The Philippine people have demanded an end to the corruption and abuses by electing you as their leader and your promises give hope for a brighter future of human rights protections. CIVICUS encourages you to demonstrate your commitment to rule of law and human rights by bringing justice to victims of human rights violations to their families and showing that the new Philippines is no longer a place for such abuses.”

US Role

“If indeed President Noynoy Aquino says that extrajudicial killing is not a policy of his administration, then he must scrap the OBL and desist from embarking on a counter-insurgency program to supposedly defeat the insurgency, as what his predecessors did, only to end up fueling more fire into the problem they vowed to end. I hope he learns his lessons well and heed our calls for him to disallow the penchant for embarking on counter-insurgency programs that only victimize the poorest sections of the Filipino people who need most the government’s protection and nurturing,” Enriquez said.

Enriquez said it is their bitter experience that once counter-insurgency programs are implemented, violations of human rights occur. “Civilians are the ones who bear the brunt of human rights violations,” she said.

Ocampo said the central issue in the spate of killings is the culture of impunity which started during the Marcos dictatorship and carried over by the succeeding administrations.

Enriquez also noted that the Philippine government’s counterinsurgency programs were directly imposed by the US Government since its aggression in the country in the early 1900’s. “All counterinsurgency programs of all administrations are thus recycled programs meant to silence the people’s resistance to break free from poverty resulting from government policies that benefit not the Filipino people but those of foreign, especially American, interests,” Enriquez said.

Enriquez noted that the OBL is anchored on the ‘war on terror’ by the US Bush government. “Thus, the victims of OBL are now labeled as “terrorists or communist-terrorists” or supposed supporters of such.”

Bayan also assailed the continuing US support for the counter-insurgency policy. “What is even alarming is that the AFP, despite its numerous human rights abuses, continues to receive huge military aid from the US government. This is another reason why the counter-insurgency policy remains unchanged. Not only does it have domestic support, it enjoys support from Washington,” Bayan’s Reyes said.

Recently, the Philippine Army received a $8.9 million grant from the US, under the US Excess Defense Articles Program. The Philippines is one of the biggest recipients of US military aid. (Bulatlat.com)

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Political Cartoon: Mirror Mirror On The Wall (The CIA-PGMA Talks)

July 12, 2009

mirror

Barangay RP Komix (Gloria’s VFA Nightmare)

May 27, 2009

Brgy RP VFA

More Balikatan Woes in Bicol

April 20, 2009

militants declare:
Probe on Balikatan prostitution a whitewash!
The Bikolano Alliance for Nationalism against Balikatan (BAN BALIKATAN) called the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) probe on the Balikatan prostitution issue as nothing but a white wash.

According to Prof. Jocelyn Bisuña, spokesperson of BAN BALIKATAN, “the AFP is just trying to cover up the misdemeanors of the US troops that is why their so-called probe is just a white wash. Besides they will be investigating themselves so they would just exonerate themselves as well, like what they always do,”

“Their alibi stating that it might be other Caucasians visiting the Magayon festival that may be ordering the women does not hold water because as the head of the Tourism Committee of the Province of Albay Councillor Glenda Bongao said many legitimate tourists are complaining that because of the US troops booking all hotels here, they cannot go to the Magayon Festival,” Bisuña said.

“The top hotels here also say that most of their rooms if not all of them are occupied by US troops which number around 400 and considering the fact that at least 2 batches of 8-10 women are brought to these hotels every night tell us that they cater to a lot of Americans troops she said.”

“We have also received reports that residents of Uson, Masbate no longer have water because the US troops and the AFP consume it all. Just as we said the Balikatan will do more harm than good to the region and now we are already experiencing it,” added Bisuña.(Bicol Mail)

AFP Denies NPA-Bicol’s News Advisory

April 20, 2009

Blast NPA for seaborne ambush

CAMP ELIAS ANGELES, PILI, CAMARINES SUR—Army spokesperson Major Christopher Morales of the 9th Infantry Battalion in Bicol blasted Monday the “news advisory” sent through email to media outlets that five Army men were killed by the New People’s Army (NPA) in a daring seaborne ambush, supposedly in “North Coastal” of Lagonoy town on March 27”.

“The story should have already been out in the mainstream media at this moment, if assuming something happened like that,” Morales commented and he went on to say that it is a sweeping propaganda aimed at putting doubt on the capability of the Army. “Where are the bodies? Why didn’t people hear the firefight?” he added.

The emailed “news advisory”, dated on the same date of the seaborne ambush was supposedly sent by an NPA commander with certain name of Baldemoro Archangel, spokesperson of Tomas Pilapil Command of the NPA in Camarines Sur’s third district.

Morales added the NPA is just making a political statement that would put the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the bad light.

He said the military establishment encourages the filing of cases against erring members of the AFP and that they would cooperate with investigating body to probe the imputation against any soldier and officer, including alleged human rights violation.

Raising alarm on five deaths attributed to military operations from February to March, the National Democratic Front (NDF)-Bicol links the incidents of killing to the clearing operation of the AFP in preparation to the RP-US Balikatan Exercises in Bicol planned staged in April.

Ka Greg Bañares, spokesperson of NDF-Bicol, enumerated five civilians killed in the provinces of Camarines Sur, Albay and Catanduanes in the course of military clearing operations involving members of Citizen’s Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu) with a 16-month-old baby the youngest victim.

According to Morales it was the NPA’s bullets that killed the baby. Their investigation team found out that the NPA were holding meeting it Balanac when the Army soldiers arrived. “Our soldiers did not even fire a shot and when the rebels scampered to flee they indiscriminately fired which resulted to civilian casualty,” he added.

Bañares also accused the Army soldiers and Cafgu members together with the mayor of Presentacion, Jaime Deleña, of firing at the hapless fishermen suspected of fishing illegally in San Jose, Camarines Sur that killed Domingo Bardado and seriously wouding William Arroyo.

In this particular incident, Morales said it was Deleña and Task Force Kalikasan who requested assistance from Army. He said the fishermen charged at the apprehending authorities and fired shots which made the Cafgu members retaliate by firing at the fleeing fishermen.(Bicol Mail)

House Resolution 1020 by Bayan Muna, Gabriela and Anakpawis Partylist Reps Re: Balikatan in Bicol

April 17, 2009

Republic of the Philippines

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Quezon City

FOURTEENTH CONGRESS

Second Regular Session

HOUSE RESOLUTION NO. 1020

______________________________________________________________________

INTRODUCED by Reps. SATUR C. OCAMPO and TEODORO A. CASIÑO (Bayan Muna),

LIZA L. MAZA and LUZVIMINDA C. ILAGAN (Gabriela), and RAFAEL V. MARIANO (Anakpawis)

______________________________________________________________________

RESOLUTION
DIRECTING THE COMMITTEES ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND NATIONAL DEFENSE AND SECURITY TO JOINTLY OR SEPARATELY CONDUCT AN INQUIRY, IN AID OF LEGISLATION, ON THE IMPACT OF THE RP-US BALIKATAN JOINT MILITARY EXERCISES TO OUR NATION’S SOVEREIGNTY AND THE SAFETY OF THE PEOPLE IN THE BICOL REGION

WHEREAS, the Bicol region has the distinction of having the last Filipino General to surrender during the Philippine-American war – General Simeon A. Ola – who along with other patriots, fervently defended the region and the whole country against the American colonizers;

WHEREAS, a new type of invasion is happening in Bicol in the form of the RP-US Balikatan (Shoulder-to-Shoulder) exercises that will see thousands of US troops enter four provinces of the region from February 25 to April 30, 2009;

WHEREAS, Balikatan 2009 is to be the 25th annual event of its kind under the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) of 1951 and the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). Both the US and Philippine national governments claim that this event shall comprise “humanitarian missions” in Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon and Masbate;

WHEREAS, the Balikatan exercises and the VFA violate our national sovereignty because they cause the prolonged presence of foreign troops on Philippine soil despite the absence of any basing treaty;

WHEREAS, the VFA, as crafted and implemented, does not specify or limit the number of US troops allowed entry into the Philippines or delineate the areas and activities in the country that the “visiting” troops can have access to for a particular time frame. The VFA allows US troops to enter military camps, civilian facilities and even areas of actual internal armed conflicts such as Sulu and Basilan provinces;

WHEREAS, the VFA does not specify or limit the duration of the stay of the “visiting” US forces. The agreement’s vagueness in this respect allows the continuing, even if rotational, presence of US troops in the Philippines;

WHEREAS, the VFA does not explicitly prohibit activities that violate our Constitution, such as direct combat involvement of US forces. The VFA allows the US to deploy an unlimited number of troops, for an unspecified duration, anywhere in country for a broad range of activities that may not be limited to “joint exercises;”

WHEREAS, since the “visiting” US troops are not required to present visas like other foreign visitors, there is really no way under the VFA for the public to know how long they actually stay, when they will leave and when they would return;

WHEREAS, the presence of US troops, even if on a rotational basis, has become permanent. For example the structures in Camp Navarro in Zamboanga have been ‘permanently occupied’ by US Special Forces, 365 days a year, for almost six years now;

WHEREAS, there are several “exercises” and activities between US and RP armed forces throughout the year, all of which are said to be approved by the Mutual Defense Board. However, there have been many conflicting statements from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and other government officials on whether or not the current batch of US forces (both in civilian clothes and in combat fatigues) in the country are covered by any joint exercise;

WHEREAS, according to Major Ramon Zagala, AFP spokesperson for the annual Balikatan, about 6,000 US troops will join 2,500 Filipino soldiers in “humanitarian missions” and “civic actions” from April 16 to 28 with the main part of the exercises to take place at Filipino military bases north and south of Manila;

WHEREAS, Maj. Zagala also said that the US government would spend at least US$2 million on the exercises and would bring in a number of warships and aircraft, including F-16 fighter planes into the country. He also added that US military medics and engineers would also conduct clinics and build schools and other basic infrastructure in the Bicol region;

WHEREAS, the terms “humanitarian mission” and “civic action” have become the standard response of both the AFP and the US embassy every time US forces get involved in incidents that are not covered by the VFA, such as operating unmanned spy planes, or being part of AFP military convoys that engage in combat missions;

WHEREAS, the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) by US forces in Mindanao and now in Bicol have been reported in media. The Mindanao Examiner reported that a UAV crashed in Jolo, Sulu (February 2006); an unmanned spy plane reportedly crashed in Mount Tumatangis in Jolo (November 2005); and a Predator-type drone crashed in the sea off Zamboanga City (March 2002);

WHEREAS, various media reports have said that “the US military has a fleet of various unmanned spy planes, from palm-size remote-controlled aircraft to bigger and sophisticated high-altitude, long-range, remotely piloted vehicles designed for long-endurance photographic reconnaissance and electronic surveillance missions, and as attack aircrafts;”

WHEREAS, the AFP has defended presence of US spy planes. Maj. Gamal Hayudini, a spokesperson for the AFP Southern Command, told the Zamboanga Journal that “there is nothing to fear about the US drones. It is being used to survey areas where humanitarian activities will be jointly undertaken by US and Philippine troops.” This does not answer who controls the surveillance equipment, grants authority for its use and who are the targets of spying;

WHEREAS, the use of these UAVs are not limited to surveillance activities. They can also be used as lethal offensive weapons, such as the cases of US forces in Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan;

WHEREAS, on January 29, 2009 around 6:30pm, a US UAV drone crashed between the towns of Esperanza and Pio V. Corpuz in Masbate province;

WHEREAS, sometime in January 2009, a US naval officer visited several hospitals in Albay province, asking health care personnel if they had orthopedic facilities. This also shows that US are preparing to do “war games” and possibly participate in direct combat operations with the AFP;

WHEREAS, “humanitarian missions” and “civic actions” are part of the “communications strategy” being employed by the US armed forces to justify their continued presence in the country as stated in the Strategic Communication document of the US Pacific Command (PACOM) Pacific Joint Training Strategy. Such activities are undertaken “to educate elected officials, opinion leaders and the public on the importance of military training; build public trust and support of training activities; portray the cost of readiness and potential impact of not being ready…and highlight the military as good stewards of the environment;”

WHEREAS, humanitarian missions are not the main activities of US Special Forces in previous joint exercises in Central Luzon, Mindanao and Panay. It will not be different in the exercises to be launched in Bicol. They are merely part of a “communications strategy” that is subsumed to strategic US military thrusts. In the US Pacific Command Joint Training Strategy 2007, the umbrella plan for activities such as the Balikatan, it stated that “the overarching goal of the Pacific Joint Training Strategy is to ensure U.S. forces are ready to respond promptly and effectively to any and all contingencies that may confront our nation;”

WHEREAS, it has been ten years since the VFA came into effect. Under this agreement, especially from 2002 to the present, various illegal and criminal activities involving American troops have placed the general safety of the local people into question;

WHEREAS, there is a pressing need to look into the current tack of the AFP interpreting foreign policy and the application of relevant treaties and agreements with regard to the Balikatan exercises;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, AS IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED, that the Committees on Foreign Relations and National Defense and Security, jointly or separately, conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the impact of Balikatan exercises to our nation’s sovereignty and the safety of the people in the Bicol region.

Adopted,

SATUR C. OCAMPO TEODORO A. CASIÑO LIZA L. MAZA

Bayan Muna Party List Bayan Muna Party List Gabriela Womens Party

LUZVIMINDA C. ILAGAN RAFAEL V. MARIANO

Gabriela Womens Party Anakpawis Party List

Anti-Balikatan Poster

April 17, 2009

Kalbaryong balikatan

http://kalbaryongbalikatan.blogspot.com

Editorial Cartoon: Sili Lover

April 16, 2009

spice-lover

Tsk!

NPA leader: Military behind daughter’s slay

March 9, 2009

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 05:55:00 03/09/2009

ka-parago

DAVAO CITY—If the killers of elementary teacher Rebelyn Pitao wanted to shatter her father, Commander Parago of the communist New People’s Army’s Pulang Bagani Command, they apparently failed.

Parago, whose real name is Leoncio Pitao, said the killing of his daughter might have devastated him but did not weaken his cause—the “revolution of the people who have been suffering from the hands of an oppressive government.”

Pitao granted selected journalists an interview in an upland village known to be an NPA stronghold in southern Mindanao on Sunday—three days after the body of his daughter was found in an irrigation ditch in Carmen town, Davao del Norte province.

Wearing a Mao cap and the NPA’s signature black shirt, Parago appeared calm but his eyes were somber. He exchanged jokes with NPA cadres.

The military has consistently denied involvement in Rebelyn’s abduction and killing.

“What they did to my daughter was painful but we must not stop. I am here not only as a father to her but a father to many other poor daughters and sons of the oppressed. Am I devastated? I am not. I am even inspired by her death to be relentless in fighting for the freedom of the poor,” Parago said.

He added: “I will not abandon the people because of this loss. Instead, I will continue the people’s revolution.”

His oldest son, Ryan, also an NPA cadre, said the death of his sister was unacceptable. But like his father, Ryan said, Rebelyn will now become their source of courage and strength to move forward.

“She is now our inspiration to broaden the democratic people’s revolution. My sister will now always be with all of us as we struggle against a bankrupt government,” said Ryan. He joined his father after surviving an attack of suspected government agents three years ago.

Parago said he had expected the military to target his family as government forces continuously failed to capture him. He claimed that the 10th Infantry Division’s military intelligence group was behind the abduction and killing of Rebelyn.

“No one has the intention, motive and track record of the MIG [military intelligence group]. They did this to my brother. They almost got my son. My other daughter, Rio, was tailed by elements of MIG when she was still studying and this continued even when she was already working. It was the 10th ID who said they wanted to get me … now who has the desire to see me weakened or dead?” Parago said.

But he said the NPA would not retaliate and follow the approach of the military. He, however, said that time will come for those who were behind the killing of Rebelyn to pay for their debts.

Rebelyn, 20, was on her way home on board a tricycle from St. Peter’s College in Toril District when she was snatched by armed men. She was forced into a white van and was overheard by the tricycle driver as screaming for help.

Her body bore torture marks and five stab wounds. Rope marks were also found around her neck, which could mean she was strangled.

The medico legal also found injuries in her genitals, believed to have been caused by a hard object.

The militant women’s group Gabriela took the killing as the government’s gift to them on International Women’s Day.

“She becomes the symbol of the entire Filipino women whose equal footing with men has been undermined by the Arroyo regime,” said Gabriela Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan.

“What made it more outrageous was the fact that Rebelyn Pitao has dedicated her life to teaching, a profession that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has taken for granted over the years,” Ilagan said.

“Her only fault was being her father’s daughter,” Ilagan said.

In Manila, Anakpawis party-list Rep. Rafael Mariano in a statement blamed the President, specifically her anti-insurgency program, Oplan Bantay-Laya on the murder of Rebelyn. Jeffrey M. Tupas with reports from Germelina Lacorte, Inquirer Mindanao, and Gil Cabacungan Jr. in Manila

Manila waits for US move on Cpl Smith DFA: Americans not ready to discuss issue

February 14, 2009

By Tarra Quismundo, Kristine L. Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 03:11:00 02/14/2009

Filed Under: Crime and Law and Justice, Subic rape case, Diplomacy

MANILA, Philippines — A Philippine official on Friday said any new negotiations on custody of Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith would have to wait until the Americans were ready to talk, and indicated Manila was powerless to compel Washington to sit down immediately.

“Right now, the department is very serious in coordinating with the US embassy. But they had to approach first their experts to get their legal opinion,” Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Bayani Mangibin said in a phone interview.

Mangibin said: “We don’t have a policy to wait for them … What can we do if they are not ready?”

Earlier, US diplomats made it clear they were firm in their position to keep custody of the American Marine convicted of raping the Filipino woman “Nicole” until the courts had ruled with finality on Smith’s appeal.

Smith has been confined in the US Embassy compound, according to US and Philippine officials, since December 2006 after he was sentenced by a Makati court up to 40 years in jail for raping Nicole during a one-night encounter at Subic Bay Freeport. He has elevated his case to the Court of Appeals.

A new furor erupted over the custody issue after the Supreme Court last week ruled that the US-Philippine executive agreement that allowed the embassy to keep Smith ran counter to the two countries’ Visiting Forces Agreement. The court ordered the DFA to immediately negotiate with the US the transfer of Smith to a Philippine-controlled facility.

Main concern

Mangibin said the DFA had started the “process of coordination” with the embassy on the issue of custody, based on the Supreme Court ruling. He said the DFA was also consulting the Departments of Justice and Interior and Local Government, and the Solicitor General.

“Our main concern is to look for appropriate arrangements for Daniel Smith,” he said.

The embassy has said it is studying the court decision and referred it to government legal experts in Washington.

Mangibin said formal negotiations could begin after the embassy had received the legal opinion from Washington and that in the meantime, Smith would stay at the embassy compound.

3 scenarios

Interior Undersecretary Marius Corpus said yesterday that after his last check on Smith on Feb. 5—or several days before the high court’s ruling came out—he met with an embassy political officer and discussed three possibilities in anticipation of a court decision.

In that meeting, Corpus saw the embassy’s steadfast position to continue holding on to Smith until the appeals process had been completed. After his December 2006 conviction, Smith was briefly held at a Makati jail before the embassy took custody of him—in the middle of the night—based on the controversial executive agreement.

“We talked about the possible consequences of the Supreme Court decision,” Corpus said. The discussion was not prompted by any advance information on the court’s eventual ruling, Corpus said when asked if there was any leak.

“One, that the Supreme Court would declare the VFA unconstitutional. Two, I said it’s highly probable that the court would affirm the VFA’s constitutionality, including the agreement [to hold Smith at the embassy], and that it would order some provisions of the VFA revised,” Corpus said by phone.

“Third, that everything will be upheld, both the VFA and the transfer (of Smith to the embassy).”

Lobby for Smith

Corpus said when the issue of custodial arrangement was brought up, the US side said: “We’ve already agreed on that. We’d like to continue what was agreed upon.”

Corpus said he heard that a congressman from Smith’s home state of Missouri was “lobbying in the State Department for it to take care of Smith.”

“That’s the reason why they defend Smith so much,” Corpus said, adding however that he had no categorical information about the supposed lobby.

Also discussed at the meeting was Smith’s condition while in detention, particularly his having gained a lot of weight, according to Corpus, who said he had been visiting Smith almost monthly.

“They (the embassy officials) said, ‘We should give him work, with your permission,’ so that he will not deteriorate physically,” Corpus said.

Corpus said he agreed, noting that similar activities were allowed local prisoners. He said he just asked that any chores given to Smith should not compromise the terms of his confinement.

‘He is bored’

“You can see the emotional stress in him,” Corpus said. “Every time I talk to him, I can see that he is emotionally suffering. He is very bored. The condition is even better in detention facilities outside, where [detainees] have some company.”

Corpus assured the Nicole camp that Smith remained inside the embassy compound, contrary to claims by some of the rape victim’s supporters that he had been spirited out of the embassy.

“Even if I visit him every day, they will not believe me,” Corpus said.

Send him to Munti

Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo has joined growing calls for Smith’s immediate transfer to a local prison.

“We demand that the Philippine government immediately effect the transfer of Smith to the New Bilibid Prison,” Ocampo said in a press statement. “We cannot understand why a clear-cut exercise of sovereignty, in this case custody over a convicted foreign felon, should be subject to negotiations.”

Ocampo added: “What the Philippine government should do is simply impose its own laws over a foreigner who violated those laws. It should not negotiate but order the US Embassy to turn over Smith to the proper local authority.”

Indefinite delay

The leftist lawmaker said the high court’s order for the DFA to arrange a detention place acceptable to Washington was just a ruse to “indefinitely delay” Smith’s transfer. With a report from Gil C. Cabacungan Jr.

Supreme Court orders US Marine into local custody

February 11, 2009

MANILA — (Updated 5:23 p.m.) The Philippine Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered a US Marine convicted of rape to be moved from the American Embassy into Philippine custody, reopening an emotional case that has become a rallying point for anti-American protests.

The court ruled that a deal allowing Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith to stay at the embassy while appealing his 40-year jail term was contrary to the Visiting Forces Agreement, which governs the conduct of U.S. forces in the country.

The justices instructed Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo to negotiate Smith’s transfer to an appropriate detention facility.

Pending such an agreement, Smith can remain at the embassy, the court said.

It also directed the Court of Appeals to quickly resolve Smith’s appeal.

The US Embassy issued a statement saying it would consult with legal experts in Washington.

The rape case has stirred emotions in the former US colony and became a rallying point for activists demanding an end to US military counterterrorism exercises.

Smith, 23, from St. Louis, Missouri, was detained and put on trial in 2006 after a woman accused him of rape. After sentencing, he was transferred from a local jail to US custody while his case was on appeal.

When a Filipino judge initially ordered that Smith be detained in a suburban Manila jail, the US government temporarily suspended joint, large-scale military exercises in protest. Washingon agreed to proceed with the annual Balikatan war exercises with the Philippines only after Smith had been transferred to the embassy.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo backed the US position and said Smith’s embassy detention was necessary to avoid complications in relations with its key ally.

A provision in the 1998 Visiting Forces Agreement states that any accused US service member shall remain in American custody until all judicial proceedings are exhausted.

But there are differing interpretations of when that is. The Filipino woman’s lawyer, Evalyn Ursua, and the left-wing alliance Bayan claim Smith should be serving his sentence in a Philippine jail, regardless of his appeal.

Smith’s lawyer, Jose Justiniano, said he explained the implications of the decision to his client. He said Smith has no choice but to comply. (AP)(Sunstar)

Ninotchka Rosca: Gazing On Gaza

February 3, 2009

The pale moon ruled over my last three nights in Hawaii, laying a magical veneer over an already perfect landscape. As I watched it from the 25th floor lanai (balcony), I wondered if it was refusing to shine over Gaza, so as not to witness a continuing inhumanity of human beings upon human beings.

Years ago, I used to wonder how Israel could do what it was doing to the Palestinians, or even to ally itself with the apartheid government of White South Africa – but since then, I’ve seen the abused take on the persona of the abuser – prisoners doing the guards’ work, women maligning other women – all to align themselves with brute authority. Underlying the repetitive cycle of violence is survival at all costs – and Israel has bluntly used and overused this to justify the most extreme measures taken against a people whose land and patrimony it expropriated in successive acts of violence.

The siege of Gaza underscores the senselessness of what has gone on with the Palestinians: the assault began for no reason, continues with no clear far-reaching objective and ends without any goal reached. Population control, perhaps?

For the last 50 years, Israel has gotten away with this by stoking the guilt feelings of the West by elevating victimhood as the hallmark of its history. The Germans, if for nothing else, owe the Palestinians a great debt of gratitude for having taken their place as villains in Israel’s self-image as victim and for enduring collective punishment for a Holocaust they did not commit.

Deeper still, behind all these surface relationships, lies the Bush administration’s determination to leave as much of a mess as possible for the new political leadership. Make no mistake about it: this was Bush’s last war. Israel would not have embarked on this silly adventure without a go-signal from the US government. It was a last flip of the finger to the people of the US – to the millions who marched against the invasion of Iraq and those who now march against the siege of Gaza.

There are those who leave an office or a residence neat and clean, ready for the next occupant; there are those who improve on what they find and leave behind potential for even greater achievement; and there are those who make sure that they’ve thoroughly messed up the terrain so that it would be impossible to accomplish, much less change, anything. Legacies are determined not simply by accomplishment but what doors have been opened, what new pathways have been created, what possibilities have been made clear… Bush’s legacy is a complicated political terrain that leaves his successor very little maneuverability.

The old leadership refuses to let go while the new hasn’t crystallized a vision for how it will govern. And we are all held hostage at this between the intake of breath and its release.

Does the moon also shine over Gaza?(PinoyPressBlog)

BAN Balikatan (Bicolano Alliance for Nationalism Against Balikatan) protests the RP-US military exercies in the Bicol provinces

January 29, 2009

BAN Balikatan (Bicolano Alliance for Nationalism Against Balikatan)

protests the RP-US military exercies in the Bicol provinces

Bonus Tracks: Bushrack

January 22, 2009

Mass Mobilizations Against Balikatan All Over Bicol Today
01/22/2009 by banbalikatan

In Albay, 5,000 people expressed their resounding opposition of the conduct of Balikatan 2009 in Bicol and thundered the streets to shout: STOP BALIKATAN! They also told the US Troops to stay out of Albay Province.

In Sorsogon, 7,000 people stormed into the streets shouting NO TO BALIKATAN and encouraging more Sorsoganon folks to speak out against Balikatan and defend our sovereignty.
Sorsoganons by the thousands rally against Balikatan

In Masbate, 8,000 people congested the narrow streets in order to indicate their strong opposition of Balikatan 2009 and no to indignity, intervention, human rights violations, US terrorism and poverty.

In Camarines Sur, 2,000 people flooded the streets shouting out protests and pouring out their indignation of foreign intervention and violations to the Constitution.

In Camarines Norte, a substantial number of people also participated in an Outdoor Activity to protest against Balikatan.

All over Bicol today, January 22, 2009, more than 22,000 Bicolano nationalists headed by BAN Balikatan expressed their opposition to US Intervention and terrorism. Bicolanos showed that they will never rest until the US troops have totally been driven out of our country, VFA/MLSA have totally been scrapped, genuine peace has been achieved and our country has undergone significant and lasting political and economic change.

—————————————————————–

01/20/2009 by banbalikatan
News Release
January 20, 2009
References: Tessa Lopez, public information officer, BAYAN-Bikol
John Concepcion, spokesperson, KARAPATAN-Bikol

Bicol militants challenge new US President Obama to Stop Balikatan!
Sets massive rally against Balikatan on Jan. 22

Leaders of people’s organizations comprising the umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Bikol (BAYAN-Bikol) gathered in Legazpi City today to issue a challenge to US President-elect Barack Obama on the day of his inaguration to put a stop to the Balikatan exercises in the country, as well as to rescind the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

According to Tessa Lopez, public information officer of BAYAN-Bikol; “As the new president of the sole superpower in the world, we hope that Obama will make a clear foreign policy shift contrary to the war-mongering Bush regime.. In this light, our challenge to him is to stop the Balikatan exercises in the Philippines before it cause more damage to the lives of Filipinos,”

“To show the urgency and seriousness of our call we will lead a massive rally against the Balikatan this coming January 22. All provinces of the region will mobilize on this day and we expect at least 20,000 people to participate. This is a clear manifestation of the Bicolano people’s opposition against the exercises,” added Lopez.

Meanwhile John Concepcion, spokesperson of KARAPATAN-Bikol said, “If the Balikatan is not stopped we fear that the number of human rights violations will spike in the region. This is aside from the fact that the US troops are trampling on our country’s sovereignty and they are also endangering the lives of Bicolanos with their war games,”

“So we are enjoining more Oragons to come and participate in the rally so that early on we can register our opposition to the Balikatan and the VFA. Like Gen. Simeon Ola we must continuously oppose the presence of US troops in our country,” ended Concepcion. # # #

Kabataang Pinoy (Filipino Youth) of Bicol Speaks Out Against Balikatan

01/21/2009 by banbalikatan

Kabataang Pinoy-Bikol Statement:
Reference: Journey Alfonso, Spokesperson
ANG KABATAANG PINOY-BIKOL AY KONTRA SA BALIKATAN

Kaming mga Kabataang Bikolano ng KABATAANG PINOY ay maigting na tumututol sa pagpasok ng Balikatan exercises sa Kabikulan. Walang ibang hatid ang pagdating ng tropang militar ng Kano kundi ang pamamaslang, paninira at pangwawasak ng kabuhayan at mismong buhay nating mga Bikolano.

Hindi makakatulong sa pag asenso ng ating rehiyon at bansa ang tropang militar ng Kano. Bagkus, lalo lang iigting ang kaguluhan. Kung talagang “Humanitarian Mission” lamang ang kanilang sadya, bakit hindi ang Red Cross na lamang ang maglunsad nito? Pinalalabas lamang nila na Humanitarian Mission ang pakay upang malinlang ang mga tao at malaya nilang magawa ang tunay na anti-mamamayang misyon sa ating rehiyon.

Siguradong lalaganap na naman ang paglabag sa mga Karapatang Pantao sa ating bansa. Hindi pa ba sapat ang sakripisyo’t kahihiyan na dinanas ni Nicole at kanyang pamilya sa kamay ni Smith at iba pang kasamahang sundalong Kano? Napatunayan nga ng hukuman na nagkasala ang Amerikanong sundalong ito at nahatulan ng habambuhay na pagkabilanggo,ngunit ngayon ay pinalaya at nakabalik na sa sariling bayan.

Ang kaso ni Nicole na isang kabataang Pilipina ay pagpapatunay sa pagpoprotekta ng tropang Kano ng Balikatan. Hindi makatarungan ang batas. Ang nangyari kay Nicole ay maaring maulit kung hahayaan na lamang natin ang paglulunsad ng Balikatan Exercises dito sa Bikol.

Tutulan natin ang Balikatan, para sa katahimikan ng Bikol. Tutulan natin ang Balikatan at siguarduhing hindi na lumala pa ang talamak na prostitusyon, droga, sex scandals, pang aabuso, at mismong pagyurak sa Karapatang Pantao nating mga Bikolano. Tutulan natin ang Balikatan upang hindi na mas lumala pa ang pagdanak ng dugo ng maraming sibilyan. Huwag nating hayaang makapasok ang Tropang Kano sa ating Rehiyon na maaring magpakalat ng mga sakit tulad ng AIDS, Syphilis, atbpang klase ng sexually transmitted diseases o STD.

Hindi ang Balikatan Exercises ang sagot sa kahirapan, at hindi ito ang solusyon sa kagutuman. Huwag tayong magbulag-bulagan, alamin natin ang magiging epekto nito sa ating bayan. Huwag basta paniwalaan ang kasinungalingang sinasabi ng gobyerno, na makakatulong ito, at ito ay para rin sa ating kapakanan, dahil alam naman nating pansariling interes lamang ang iniisip ng may mga katungkulan sa gobyerno at hindi ang kapakanan nating mga mamamayang sibilyan.
Huwag hayaang dalhin sa Bicol ang gerang nangyayari na sa Mindanao,
Maigting nating isigaw: NO TO BALIKATAN!!!

Presss Conference in Legazpi City, Jan 20, 2009

PAHAYAG SA MIDYA
Enero 20, 2009
Reference: JOEL ASCUTIA, Regional President – PISTON Deputy Secretary General (09153199469 / 4834624)

RP-US BALIKATAN Exercise, Instrumento para sa Higit na Proteksyon sa Industriya ng Langis at sa Interes ng Estados Unidos!
BALIKATAN Exercise TUTULAN AT LABANAN!

Tinututulan ng CONDOR-PISTON-BICOL ang pagsasagawa ng ika 25 RP-US BALIKATAN Exercise sa Bikol. Ito ay tahasang paglabag sa soberanya, integridad at mga probinsyon sa Saligang Batas ng bansa.

Ito ay pagyurak sa kalayaan ng bansa at direktang panghihimasok sa internal na mga usaping dapat ay responsalidad ng ating gubyerno. Ang pagpasok ng mga sundalong Amerikano ay magdudulot ng mas malalalim na suliraning sosyal dahil sa pagdisrespeto sa ating kultura, tradisyon, relihiyon at kababaihan.

Ang RP-US BALIKATAN Exercise ay ang magkasanib na ehersisyo militar ng mga sundalong Amerikano at sundalong Pilipino. Sa bahagi ng mga sundalong Pilipino, layunin nitong mapamilyarisa at matuto sa mga makabagong teknika sa pakikidigma partikular sa paggamit ng mga sopistikadong kagamitan at sandatang pandigma.

Sa kabilang banda, matuto naman ang mga sundalong Amerikano sa mga bagong operasyong pangkombat sa mga kagubatan ng bansa.

Kung kaya’t hindi kami naniniwala sa sinasabi ng mga tagapagsalita ng BALIKATAN na “purong humanitarian mission” ang pakay nito, ito ay isa lamang na panlilinlang at panloloko sa mamamayan para maisagawa ang mas madilim na pakay nitong maglunsad ng mga operasyong militar laban sa mga mamamayang tumututol sa paghahari ng Estados sa buong mundo at sa rehimeng Arroyo bilang pinakamasugid na tagasunod nito sa bansa.

Sa pangunguna ng sektor ng tranportasyon at CONDOR-PISTON sa Bikol, naitambol natin sa bansa at sa buong daigdig ang ating malakas na panawagang buwagin ang pandaigdigang kartel sa industriya ng langis. Isa sa pangunahing pinagkukunan ng limpak limpak na kita ng Estados Unidos ang pagmamay-ari sa mga dambuhalang kumpanya ng langis gaya ng PETRON at CALTEX na siya ring nagdodomina sa bansa.

Sa bisa ng OIL DEREGULATION Law, nais ng US na manatili ang kanyang kontrol sa negosyong ito at tahasan nitong gagamitin ang kanyang pwersang militar para nyutralisahin at supilin ang higit pang lumalakas na paglaban ng sektor kasama ang buong mamamayang Bikolano at Pilipino.

Naninindigan din kami na hindi kailangang magsagawa muna ng BALIKATAN Exercise kung seryoso ang gobyernong Arroyo na tugunan ang problema ng mamamayan Bikolano sa kagutuman, kalusugan, eskwelahan at iba pa.

Hindi rin kailangan ang mga sundalong Amerikano para magpatupad nito dahil mayroon tayong mga ahensya at organisasyong sibiko na may ma kakayahan at karanasan sa pagpapatupad ng mga proyektong ito.

Huwag tayong pumayag na insultuhin at bastusin ang ating kalayaan at kasarinlan ng NUMERO UNONG TERORISTA sa daigdig na Estados Unidos. Magkaisa tayong tutulan at labanan ang BALIKATAN Exercise sa Bicol at saanmang lugar sa Pilipinas.
Buwagin ang Pandaigdigang Kartel sa Langis!
Wakasan ang Imperyalitang Pandarambong sa Bansa at sa Daigdig!

Drive Out US Troops and Balikatan! – Tindog Atenista
01/22/2009 by banbalikatan

Statement
Tindog Atenista
Reference: Gerard Edgar O. Surtida, Spokesperson
STOP BALIKATAN 2009! NO MORE TO FOREIGN INTERVENTION!

Tindog Atenista, an alliance of individuals and organizations in Ateneo de Naga University, condemns the implementation of the Balikatan 2009 and its suspicious objectives through “humanitarian missions”.

The news has erupted and was confirmed by the released statements from the advance party movements of the RP-US Balikatan that since October last year, they have ensured that several areas in the Bicol region will be the primary locations for the implementation of the 25th Balikatan Exercies 2009.

The Chairman of the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement Commission Edilberto Adan, other high-ranking officials, and the military spokesperson of the Solcom, 9th ID and 901st 1B also confirmed that there are 3-4 possible provinces in Bicol Region that will be affected.

JUNK THE MDT and VFA! The implementation of the Balikatan Exercises throughout the country came forth from the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) of 1951, which states that the Republic of the Philippines has entered into a “mutual understanding and agreement” with the United States of America in terms of military activities.

This continues to reflect the characteristics of the country being a dependent, neo-colonial outpost of the United States of America. Such characteristics were observed in US’s wars of aggression against Korea and Vietnam. From the MDT, Visiting Forces Agreement came to be. This This lengthened the direct and indirect interference and stay of US in Philippine soil, making the country open for foreign military activities.

Provisions in the VFA sets that US military forces need not to be inspected in entering and leaving the country, making us more prone to illegal activities such as illegal drugs, smuggled goods, exploitation of natural resources, nuclear weapons, etc. only US military forces are given the authority to check and inspect their own cargo and transport vehicle as stipulated in the provision.

Furthermore, a provision of tax exemption is given to these foreign elements, which is a big disadvantage to our economy’s part. Both MDT and VFA aimed to have a more developed and improved military tactics and technology but for more than 50 years of foreign intervention, no development was seen and our AFP still remains backward.

This is a grave offense against our sovereignty and a severe threat to our national security.

WE WANT GENUINE SOVEREIGNTY AND INTEGRITY! Balikatan 2009 with the objective of giving humanitarian actions to the Bikolanos is a farce. It is a farce that was proven in the past Balikatan exercises. Its unwanted effects were further supported by the 17 congressmen of Mindanao for its suspension.

What the people need is not more foreign activities and intervention happening in our country but a change and progress in economy, politics, and culture. What the people need is change and progress that is not tainted by the filth coming from foreign influences.

What we need is a government that is efficient and sufficient by itself and free from overseas interference. Provisions of MDT and VFA directly contradict our right to sovereignty and integrity. Such provisions disrespects and puts into utter disregard our laws of the land.

It is a big conspiracy of lies and deceptions Balikatan will bring more human rights violations as seen in the “Nicole Case”, more environmental degradation, more exploitation of our natural and human resources, and more chaos within the region. This is unacceptable.

WE NEED WHAT IS NECESSARY! The very fact that this is a humanitarian mission is also as true as the thought that Balikatan 2009 is a free helping hand. The Philippines being the host country for this program will the source of finance for this activity. What we need right now is not the “helping hands” of foreign elements.

Needless to say, we do not need them at all in these times of crisis and hardships. We need proper and fair subsidies in education, agriculture, development and improvement of facilities and services, and health.

We do not need hypocrites to walk among the oppressed and suppressed. We do not need more funding for the military activities for this will not save us from our churning stomachs and burnt down lungs.

What we need is change and progression without this aliens interfering in everything that we do. Drive them out now!

We therefore call upon the youth sector and the other sectors of Bicol region to stand up and drive out the Balikatan 2009.

Also, we call upon the people and other public officials to junk the MDT and VFA for it is the basis why such foreign intervention continues to exist in our country.

YOUTH STOP BALIKATAN!
DEFEND OUR SOVEREIGNTY & INTEGRITY!
DRIVE THEM OUT NOW!

News Release
January 17, 2009
Reference: Prof. Jocelyn Bisuna, spokesperson, BAN BALIKATAN

More sectors speaking out against Balikatan exercises!
Sorsogon alliance vs Balikatan launched

More and more sectors are now voicing out their opposition against the planned Balikatan exercises in the Bicol region. Now, a Sorsogon-wide group named Sorsoganon United Movement Against Balikatan at Para sa Kapayapaan or SUMABA KA (SPEAK OUT) is launched to demand a stop to the exercises.

According to Jocelyn Bisuna, spokesperson of the region-wide alliance BAN BALIKATAN, “Aside from people’s organizations and human rights advocates, Sen. Francis Escudero and the Catholic Church in Legazpi have already taken their position. Sen. Escudero pointed out the ‘hidden agenda’ that may be behind the Balikatan exercises and expressed fear that it may be used to interfere with Philippine affairs.

“Meanwhile Bishop Lucilo Quiambao voiced out his view that the Balikatan will just be a bane to Bicolanos because civilians will be the ones caught in the crossfire when US troops are engaged in armed encounters. The bishop also said that prostitution would increase with the presence of US troops and the morality of our youth will be endangered,” said Bisuna.


“It is good that more and more people and organizations are now coming out and standing up against Balikatan 09. It is even better now that an alliance like SUMABA KA has been formed to carry out the campaign against this new type of invasion,” added the patriotic teacher.

“We hope that other formations like these will be formed at the soonest time possible in other Bicol provinces so that we can show the US troops that we do not want them here and we have not forgotten our history,” ended Bisuna.

The convenors of SUMABA KA are the following Fr. Rene Mabute, Sorsogon State College(SSC) President Dr. Antonio Fuentes, Pastor Lemuel Igdanes (UCCP), Atty.Joven Laura, Mr. Lito Bonifacio, Mrs. Elisea Bonifacio (Baptist), Mrs. Jenny Decano, SSC Student Council President Jayboy Evano, Joey Goiz, Red Lasay, Noel Gepulle (KADAMAY), Enrique Ermino (LFS), Mark Rosas (KARATULA), Eduardo Ferreras (PORTA), Reynaldo Hababag (BAYAN), Jing Francisco, Teodoro Escanilla (KARAPATAN), Constantino Jerus (KMP) and Lisa Dugan (UMASA SORSOGON BAY) . # # #

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

American Soldiers in Sorsogon

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

Bonus Track

GUARDIAN.CO.UK


President orders air strikes on villages in tribal area

* Ewen MacAskill in Washington
* The Guardian, Saturday 24 January 2009

Barack Obama gave the go-ahead for his first military action yesterday, missile strikes against suspected militants in Pakistan which killed at least 18 people.

Four days after assuming the presidency, he was consulted by US commanders before they launched the two attacks. Although Obama has abandoned many of the “war on terror” policies of George Bush while he was president, he is not retreating from the hunt for Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaida leaders.

The US believes they are hiding in the tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan, and made 30 strikes last year in which more than 200 people were killed. In the election, Obama hinted at increased operations in Pakistan, saying he thought Bush had made a mistake in switching to Iraq before completing the job against al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The US marine corp commander said yesterday that his 22,000 troops should be redeployed from Iraq to Afghanistan. Gen James Conway said “the time is right” to leave Iraq now the war had become largely nation-building rather than the pitched fighting in which the corps excelled; he wanted the marines in Afghanistan, especially in the south where insurgents, and the Taliban and al-Qaida, benefit from both a nearby safe haven in Pakistan and a booming trade in narcotics.

Obama has warned that he is prepared to bomb inside Pakistan if he gets relevant intelligence about the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden. He had also said he would act against militants along the border if the Pakistan government failed to.

The US missiles were fired by unmanned Predator drones, which hang in the sky gathering intelligence through surveillance and, when commanded and directed by remote control, to launch attacks.

The strikes will help Obama portray himself as a leader who, though ready to shift the balance of American power towards diplomacy, is not afraid of military action.

The first attack yesterday was on the village of Zharki, in Waziristan; three missiles destroyed two houses and killed 10 people. One villager told Reuters of phonethat of nine bodies pulled from the rubble of one house, six were its owner and his relatives; Reuters added that intelligence officials said some foreign militants were also killed. A second attack hours later also in Warizistan killed eight people.

The Pakistan government publicly expressed hope that the arrival of Obama would see a halt to such strikes, which stir up hostility from Pakistanis towards the government; in private, the government may be more relaxed about such attacks.

There is a lot of nervousness in the new administration about the fragility of Pakistan, particularly as it has nuclear weapons, but it also sees Afghanistan and Pakistan as being linked. In the face of a Taliban resurgence, there is despair in Washington over the leadership of the Afghan leader, Hamid Karzai, and there will not be much disappointment if he is replaced in elections later this year.

But Washington insists on seeing as one of its biggest problems the ability of the Taliban and al-Qaida to maintain havens in Pakistan. Obama on Thursday announced he was making veteran diplomat Richard Holbrooke a special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan. The secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, spoke by phone to the Pakistan president, Asif Ali Zardari.

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

http://www.arkibongbayan.org/breakingnews/banbalikatan.jpg

BAN Balikatan or Bicolano Alliance for Nationalism Against Balikatan is an alliance of nationalist and patriotic Bicolanos against the 2009 RP-US Balikatan Exercises – the 25th Joint RP-US War Exercises, to be conducted in the provinces of Region V Bicol, Philippines.

BAN Balikatan believes that the main purpose for conducting joint military exercises by the AFP and US Military in Bicol this 2009 is to intensify the US intervention in our country.This activity is a flagrant violation of our country’s sovereignty and integrity based from the related provisions in the Constitution.

Contact BAN Balikatan at banbalikatan.media@gmail.com

Visit website at:

http://banbalikatan.wordpress.com/

Editorial Cartoon: Israel is US Sales Agent

January 28, 2009

us-armament-salesman

A very hardworking one

US troops seen in Bicol for war games

January 25, 2009

By Delfin Mallari Jr. Southern Luzon Bureau

LUCENA CITY — American military personnel have been inspecting various sites in the Bicol region for the joint US-RP military exercises in April, fisherfolk here said over the weekend.

The Lakas ng Mangingisda ng Bicol (Lambat-Bicol, Forces of the Bicol Fishermen) expressed fear of being displaced from their traditional fishing grounds as a result of the security preparations for the Balikatan (Shoulder to Shoulder) exercises.

Quoting an initial report by the Lambat-Bicol, Fernando Hicap, chairman of the nationwide fishers’ alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya, National Forces of the Fishers Movement of the Philippines), said several unidentified US military personnel were seen inspecting spme coastal villages in Masbate City and towns of Mobo, Uson, and Cataingan in Masbate province.

Hicap said Lambat-Bicol also noted the early presence of US troops in Oas, Albay, particularly in the farming villages of San Pascual, San Miguel, and Talisay, where the Army’s 5th engineering battalion has been based.

The Pamalakaya leader also said that based on the report of Lambat-Bicol, a number of US troops were spotted in Irosin, Sorsogon. Aside from Albay, Sorsogon, and Masbate, Hicap claimed that the “Balikatan” would also cover Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur.

The Balikatan is part of the mutual defense treaty between the Philippines and the United States. Its primary objective is to improve the “interoperability” of the two countries’ armed forces for defense.

Citing military intelligence information, Hicap said US war ships would avail of the interconnecting bodies of water in the Bicol region namely the Ragay Gulf, Albay Gulf, and Sorsogon Bay that join the provinces of Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Albay, Sorsogon, and Masbate for the loading and unloading of US troops and personnel.

Hicap said the fishermen in Bicol have been bracing for a fishing ban by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in areas to be covered by the annual war games.

“We saw it coming. There’s no recourse for us but to face and fight this anti-fisherfolk Balikatan exercises in the sea, in the parliament of the streets and in the court of public opinion,” Hicap said in a statement sent to Philippine Daily Inquirer, parent company of INQUIRER.net.

The fishers group claimed that over a 100,000 fishermen would lose their livelihood to the “crazy and shameful military stint.”

“We will not allow this puppet government to sacrifice our rights and livelihood to please their Washington-based military puppeteer,” said the Pamalakaya leader.

Reports said some 400 American doctors, engineers and nurses, belonging predominantly to the military, would join the month-long exercise to provide humanitarian aid to depressed areas in Albay, Sorsogon and Masbate.

According to the Philippine military, the three provinces are considered hotbeds of the communist insurgency in the Bicol region.

Military officials in the region have assured war games critics that the aims of the exercises were “peace and development” in the form of medical missions and engineering works.

Wary of the joint US-RP war games, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has ordered its armed wing, the New People’s Army, to attack Filipino and American military forces that would participate in the military exercises.

Hicap said the RP-US Balikatan exercises were not only meant to gain future access to rebel-controlled territories but would also involve intelligence and military operations against militant groups in Bicol, which the AFP and the US State Department have labeled as “communist front organizations.”

Group opposes RP-US war games in Bicol

January 22, 2009

By Ephraim Aguilar, Roy Gersalia
Southern Luzon Bureau
First Posted 00:06:00 01/22/2009

Filed Under: Regional authorities

LEGAZPI CITY – The many unsolved cases of sexual abuse of Filipino women by US servicemen should be reason enough to call off planned joint military exercises between Philippine and US forces in Bicol, according to a militant women’s party.

Jenelyn Nagrampa, secretary general of Bikolana Gabriela, said her group filed 97 cases of rape and sexual assault against American soldiers in the former US bases in Clark and Subic.

She said 15 of the victims in these cases were children.

Many of the cases were filed prior to the closure of the US bases.

Nagrampa said when the US military bases were still operating, more than 3,000 cases of abuse of women and children were filed by various sectors and individuals against US servicemen in Clark from 1980 to 1988.

“Sadly, justice was not served to any of the victims. None of the cases has been resolved. Others have not even been reported,” she said.

“The public should be reminded that there was more than just one Nicole,” she added.

Nicole was the victim in the much-publicized Subic rape case in 2005, wherein US Marine Daniel Smith was convicted while three others were acquitted.

The Subic rape case is considered a landmark case, being the first conviction among over 3,000 cases filed against US servicemen in the Philippines.

She said Gabriela would push for a resolution in the House of Representatives urging the government to ban US troops from coming to Bicol.

The annual joint military exercises, which Philippine Army officials said would be composed of humanitarian projects, will be staged in three Bicol provinces – Albay, Masbate and Sorsogon – in April.

She said if Balikatan pushed through in Bicol, it was likely to increase the number of cases of women abuse, prostitution and spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

Earlier, Bishop Lucilo Quiambao of the Diocese of Legazpi expressed opposition to the coming of US troops in Bicol.

Nagrampa said aside from the resolution to be filed in the House, Gabriela will also launch an awareness campaign among women in areas covered by the Balikatan.

Tessa Lopez, spokesperson of Bayan-Bikol (Bagong Alyansang Makabayan), said a massive rally was set on Jan. 22 and expected to coincide with the reported arrival of US Ambassador Kristy Kenney in Bicol.

A Sorsogon-wide group calling itself “Sorsoganon United Movement Against Balikatan at Para sa Kapayapaan” or “Sumaba ka” (Speak out) was launched over the weekend to seek a stop to the planned Balikatan exercises in the Bicol region.

Israeli Occupation of Palestine

January 21, 2009

Israel’s incursions into Palestine and its attacks against the Palestinian people did not begin with the founding of Hamas in 1987, during the first intifada (uprising), or its victory over Fatah during the January 2006 elections. Sadly, what is seemingly lost in news reports is the root of the Israel-Palestinian conflict: the struggle for land and self-determination of the Palestinian people.

BY BENJIE OLIVEROS
ANAYSIS
Bulatlat

The Israeli army has already killed almost 800 Palestinians, including 220 children, and has wounded around 3,1000 since it began bombarding the Gaza strip on December 27 and moving into Palestinian territory January 3. It occupied the Gaza strip purportedly to protect southern Israel from Hamas’ rocket attacks. On January 9, UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Navi Pillay called for an investigation of possible war crimes in Gaza and Israel, saying that “harm to civilians in Israel by Hamas rockets is unacceptable” and that Israel must follow international humanitarian law regardless of Hamas’ actions.

Statements from Israel and even the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights make it appear that Israel is merely retaliating against Hamas’ rocket attacks. However, Israel’s incursions into Palestine and its attacks against the Palestinian people did not begin with the founding of Hamas in 1987, during the first intifada (uprising), or its victory over Fatah during the January 2006 elections. Sadly, what is seemingly lost in news reports is the root of the Israel-Palestinian conflict: the struggle for land and self-determination of the Palestinian people.

The struggle of the Palestinian people for self-determination began after World War I, when it became clear to the Palestinians that the British had deceived them. During World War 1, the British, through its High Commissioner for Egypt Henry McMahon, convinced Husayn ibn ‘Ali, the patriarch of the Hashemite family and Ottoman governor of Mecca and Medina to revolt against the Ottoman Empire, which was aligning with Germany. The British promised that if the Arabs aligned with it in the war, it would support the establishment of an independent Arab state under Hashemite rule in the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire, including Palestine.

At the same time, British Foreign Minister Lord Arthur Balfour issued a declaration in 1917 declaring Britain’s support for the establishment of a “ Jewish national home in Palestine”, which was being pushed for by the Zionist movement since its founding in Europe in 1897 by Theodor Herzl. Britain also entered into an agreement with France to divide control over the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire.

After the war, the British took control over areas, which now comprise Israel, the West Bank, Gaza strip, and Jordan, and France annexed Syria, and from it carved a separate state of Lebanon. The British also allowed the purchase of large tracts of land from absentee Arab landowners by the Jewish National Fund and the steady stream of Jewish immigration from Europe. When Arabs were evicted from lands purchased by the Jews, clashes erupted between Arabs and Jews from 1920-21. Clashes erupted anew between Muslims and Jews over the Wailing Wall from 1928-29.

The dramatic increase in European Jewish immigration in 1933 was the last straw. The Arabs revolted from 1936-39. The revolt was crushed by Britain with the help of Zionist militias and the complicity of neighboring Arab countries.

On March 22, 1946, the British relinquished its mandate over Jordan after securing their military bases and installations there. On April, it authorized the entry of 100,000 Jews into Palestine.

At the end of 1946, there were 1.3 million Arabs and 608,000 Jews in Palestine, with the latter owning 20 percent of the arable land. This was already a dramatic increase in the Jewish population in Palestine considering that during the late 19th century, Palestine, with a total land area of 10,000 sq m, used to be inhabited by 403,795 Muslims, 43,659 Christians, and only 15,011 Jews.

On Nov. 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly voted to partition Palestine into two states: one Jewish and the other Arab. The Jews were given 56 percent of the territory while 43 percent was allocated for the Arabs. Fighting between Jews and Arabs erupted within days of the announcement of the partition plan. On May 15, 1948, the British evacuated Palestine and the Zionists proclaimed the state of Israel.

Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Iraq declared war on Israel shortly thereafter. Israel’s armed forces unleashed a brutal was causing the displacement of 700,000 Palestinian refugees. The war ended with an armistice agreement whereby Israel encompassed over 77 percent of the territory. Jordan occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank; Egypt took control of the Gaza strip. The Palestinian Arab state was never established.

Tensions between Israel and the Arab states did not abate, but with every eruption of the conflict, Israel – which was being aided militarily by the US – was able to expand its territory. After another war in 1967, Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan, the Gaza strip and Sinai peninsula from Egypt and the Golan Heights from Syria.

Israel established a military administration in the Gaza strip and West Bank. Since 1967, over 300,000 Palestinians have been imprisoned without trial; over half a million have been tried by Israel’s military courts; and torture of Palestinian prisoners was a common practice. At the same time, Israel built hundreds of settlements in the occupied territories.

Palestinian resistance

The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was organized in 1964. The largest group is the Al Fatah. Other members included the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Palestine People’s Party. It established its base in Jordan before moving to Lebanon then Tunisia. In 1985, Israel bombed the PLO headquarters in Tunisia.

In December 1987, the first intifada erupted and lasted until 1991. It was a mass uprising that included demonstrations, general strikes, boycott of Israeli products and refusal to pay taxes. The intifada was brutally crushed by the Israel army, killing 1,000 Palestinians, including 200 below the age of 16.

While the intifada was led by the four PLO parties active in the occupied territories, it gave birth to Islamist groups such as Hamas. Earlier, Israel encouraged the development of Islamist groups to divide the Palestinians. When it appeared that these groups pose a greater threat to it than the PLO, Israel began talks with the latter.

On September 28, 1995 an interim agreement was signed between the Israel government and Palestine. It provided for the withdrawal of Israel from the Gaza strip and Jericho, as well as parts of the West Bank during a period of five years, and for the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA) with “self-governing powers”. Yasser Arafat, head of Al Fatah, was elected president of the PA in 1996.

However, the talks were protracted. After painful negotiations, which extended till the turn of the century, the Palestinian Authority was able to fain direct or partial control of 40 percent of the West Bank and 65 percent of the Gaza strip.

All through the period of negotiations, Israel expanded its settlements and built bypass roads within the occupied territories. Thus, even as the PA gained some measure of control over certain areas of the West Bank and Gaza strip, they were surrounded by Jewish settlements with entry and exit to these areas being controlled by the Israel army.

On September 28, 2000 Ariel Sharon visited the Muslim holy shrine, Haram al-Sharif in the company of 1,000 guards, thereby provoking a second intifada. When the militant wing of Al Fatah fired on Israeli soldiers, Israel attacked PA installations with helicopter gunships, tanks and artillery fire, and missiles. It also bombarded civilian neighborhoods in the West Bank and Gaza strip.

In June 2002, Israel began construction of the West Bank barrier, which was 700-km long and five meters high. Palestinian land was confiscated to build the wall. Worse, Palestinian farmers and traders were cut off from their farms and water sources.

On September 20, 2002 Israel besieged Arafat’s headquarters in Ram Allah and confined him there for over two years up to his death in November 2004. Israel also embarked on a policy of extrajudicial assassinations and imprisonment of Palestinian leaders. One of the more prominent Palestinian leaders who was imprisoned and sentenced to five life terms is Marwan Barghouti of the Al Fatah.

On February 26, 2003, Israel made a series of re-incursions that led to the re-occupation of parts of the Gaza strip and the West Bank.

In April 2003, Mahmud Abbas was elected as Palestinian Prime Minister. On June 4, 2003 Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Abbas met at Aqaba, Jordan to discuss the implementation of the “road map formula for peace”, which was backed by the US, Russia, the European Union, and the UN.

However, nothing came out of the negotiations. Abbas was politically humiliated.

On January 25, 2006, Palestinians voted in parliamentary elections and Hamas won 74 out of the 132 parliamentary seats. Fatah won 45 seats, and 13 seats went to other minor parties. Since then, Israel vowed to “liquidate Hamas rule in Gaza”.

Thus, the December 2007 Israeli offensive was more than a retaliation. It is part of Israel’s genocidal acts against the Palestinian people, much like what the British settlers did to the native American Indians. (Bulatlat.com)

When in Doubt, Bomb Afghanistan

January 20, 2009

America’s Other Glorious War

The Pentagon pushes hard for a large increase in troops for Afghanistan. Barack Obama has been calling for the same since well before the November election. Why? What is there about this backward, reactionary, woman-hating, failed state that warrants hundreds of deaths of American and NATO soldiers? That justifies tens of thousands of Afghan deaths since the first US bombing attacks in October 2001?

BY WILLIAM BLUM
Counterpunch
INTERNATIONAL
Posted by Bulatlat

The Pentagon pushes hard for a large increase in troops for Afghanistan. Barack Obama has been calling for the same since well before the November election. Listen to the drumbeats telling us that the security of the United States and the Free World necessitates increased action in this place called Afghanistan. As urgent as Iraq 2003, it is. Why? What is there about this backward, reactionary, woman-hating, failed state that warrants hundreds of deaths of American and NATO soldiers? That justifies tens of thousands of Afghan deaths since the first US bombing attacks in October 2001?

In early December, reports the Washington Post, “standing at Kandahar Air Field in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said the United States is making a ’sustained commitment’ to that country, one that will last ’some protracted period of time’.” The story goes on to discuss $300 million in construction projects at this one base to house additional American forces, erecting guard stations and towers and perimeter fencing around the barracks area, putting in vehicle inspection areas, administration offices, cold-storage warehouse, a new power plant, electrical and water distribution systems, communications lines, housing for 1,500 personnel who sustain the systems, maintenance shops, warehouses … America’s wealth bleeds out endlessly.

Back in April Maj. Gen. David Rodriguez, commander of the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, when asked how long it would take to create “lasting stability” in Afghanistan, replied: “In some
way, shape or form … I think it’s a generation.”

“Stability”, it should be noted, is a code word used regularly by the United States since at least the 1950s to mean that the regime in power is willing and able to behave the way Washington would like it to behave. It is remarkable, and scary, to read the US military writing about how it goes around the world bringing “stability” to (often ungrateful) people. This past October the Army published a manual called “Stability Operations”. It discusses numerous American interventions all over the world since the 1890s, one example after another of bringing “stability” to benighted peoples. One can picture the young American service members reading it, or having it fed to them in lectures, full of pride to be a member of such an altruistic fighting force.

For those members of the US military in Afghanistan the most enlightening lesson they could receive is that their government’s plans for that land of sadness have little or nothing to do with the welfare of the Afghan people. In the late 1970s through much of the 1980s, the country had a government that was relatively progressive, with full rights for women; even a Pentagon report of the time testified to the actuality of women’s rights in the country. And what happened to that government? The United States was instrumental in overthrowing it. It was replaced by the Taliban.

Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, US oil companies have been vying with Russia, Iran and other energy interests for the massive, untapped oil and natural gas reserves in the former Soviet republics of Central Asia. The building and protection of oil and gas pipelines in Afghanistan, to continue farther to Pakistan, India, and elsewhere, has been a key objective of US policy since before the 2001 American invasion and occupation of the country, although the subsequent turmoil there has presented serious obstacles to such plans. A planned Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline has strong support from Washington because, amongst other reasons, the US is eager to block a competing pipeline that would bring gas to Pakistan and India from Iran. But security for such projects remains daunting, and that’s where the US and NATO forces come in to play.

In the late 1990s, the American oil company, Unocal, met with Taliban officials in Texas to discuss the pipelines.[6] Zalmay Khalilzad, later chosen to be the US ambassador to Afghanistan, worked for Unocal[7]; Hamid Karzai, later chosen by Washington to be the Afghan president, also reportedly worked for Unocal, although the company denies this. Unocal’s talks with the Taliban, conducted with the full knowledge of the Clinton administration, and undeterred by the extreme repression of Taliban society, continued as late as 2000 or 2001.

As for NATO, it has no reason to be fighting in Afghanistan. Indeed, NATO has no legitimate reason for existence at all. Their biggest fear is that “failure” in Afghanistan would make this thought more present in the world’s mind. If NATO hadn’t begun to intervene outside of Europe it would have highlighted its uselessness and lack of mission. “Out of area or out of business” it was said.

In June, the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives published a report saying Taliban and insurgent activity against the US-NATO presence in Kandahar province puts the feasibility of the pipeline project in doubt. The report says southern regions in Afghanistan, including Kandahar, would have to be cleared of insurgent activity and land mines in two years to meet construction and investment schedules.

“Nobody is going to start putting pipe in the ground unless they are satisfied that there is some reasonable insurance that the workers for the pipeline are going to be safe,” said Howard Brown, the Canadian representative for the Asian Development Bank, the major funding agency for the pipeline.
If Americans were asked what they think their country is doing in Afghanistan, their answers would likely be one variation or another of “fighting terrorism”, with some kind of connection to 9-11. But what does that mean? Of the tens of thousands of Afghans killed by American/NATO bombs over the course of seven years, how many can it be said had any kind of linkage to any kind of anti-American terrorist act, other than in Afghanistan itself during this period? Not one, as far as we know. The so-called “terrorist training camps” in Afghanistan were set up largely by the Taliban to provide fighters for their civil conflict with the Northern Alliance (minimally less religious fanatics and misogynists than the Taliban, but represented in the present Afghan government).

As everyone knows, none of the alleged 9-11 hijackers was an Afghan; 15 of the 19 were from Saudi Arabia; and most of the planning for the attacks appears to have been carried out in Germany and the United States. So, of course, bomb Afghanistan. And keep bombing Afghanistan. And bomb Pakistan. Especially wedding parties (at least six so far).

William Blum is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, Rogue State: a guide to the World’s Only Super Power. andhttp://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1887128727/counterpunchmaga.(Bulatlat)

Editorial Cartoon: (Bush-Israel’s Agenda) Sabotage Obama

January 19, 2009

sabotaeour

Photos: Students stage protest at US embassy, hit US role in Gaza bombing and invasion

January 18, 2009

Students stage protest at US embassy,

hit US role in Gaza bombing and invasion

Manila

Video: US Congress votes to back Israel

January 11, 2009

Students hit US role in Gaza bombings; hold protest at US embassy in Manila

January 11, 2009

The League of Filipino Students (LFS) today led a protest action in
front of the US embassy in Manila calling for a stop to the “genocide
and occupation” being conducted by Israeli troops in Gaza. The
students also condemned the US for backing Israel, saying the US is
the financier and operator of the killings.

“The US-Israel child-killing, mass murder tag team in the Middle East
must be stopped. The on-going conflict in Gaza shows how merciless and
brutal the US war machine is, despite its pretensions of being
democratic and humanitarian. Israel and US must be punished as war
criminals,” says Vencer Crisostomo, LFS National Chairperson.

The US provides a large sum for Israel military funding, of up to
almost $4 billion annually.

Crisostomo said that the killing and occupation has also to do with
oil and natural resources, in which the US has big stakes.

“In part, this war is about a right-wing Zionist ideology, but also,
this is about economic interests, particularly oil and natural gas, in
the Middle East. There is natural gas in Gaza, and an oil pipeline
planned to pass through the strip. This is, like Iraq and Afghanistan,
also blood for oil,” said Crisostomo. (Reference:
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=11680)

Crisostomo said that they will launch an anti-war campaign in schools,
taking part in the international efforts to stop the conflict and end
the occupation.

“We are in solidarity with the protests around the globe against the
war. The students, youth and peoples of the world must unite in
stopping this monstrosity,” says Crisostomo.

Since the Israeli offensive began on December 27, at least 854 people
have been killed, including 270 children, 93 women, and 12 paramedics.

www.lfs.ph

MEDIA STATEMENT
14 January 2009
Reference: Emmi de Jesus, Secretary General, 371-2302 / 0917-221203

WOMEN UNITE AGAINST ISRAELI ATTACK
ON PALESTINIAN PEOPLE

The women of GABRIELA National Alliance of Women stand in unity with the international community in condemning the Israeli invasion of the Gaza strip.

The vision of hundreds of wounded and lifeless Palestinian children
strewn in Gaza is beyond heartbreaking. In each and every woman, the
death, destruction and overall human suffering in Gaza should stir
rage against the governments of Israeli and the United States. From
generation to generation, the Israeli government repeatedly attacks
with impunity the Palestinian people and the United States government
inspires and supports such inhuman acts of massive proportions.

The current aggression of Israeli troops in Gaza has resulted, so far,
in the death of 910 Palestinians, 292 were children and 75 were women
and the wounding of more than 4,000 others.

This unspeakable violence against the Palestinian people is not unlike
the attacks waged against peoples in the name of political and
economic control over sovereign nations. Wars of aggression, within
which the culture of violence is intricately webbed, victimize women
and children most. In the recent past it has happened in Afghanistan
and in Iraq and in Mindanao in the Philippines. Displacement,
dislocation, hunger, rape and other forms of sexual violence are
suffered most by women and children.

Filipino women must stand together with all freedom-loving people of
the world in protesting this recent violation on the lives and
sovereignty of the Palestinian people and demand for the immediate
pull out of Israeli troops in Gaza and put and end to the death,
destruction and overall human suffering Palestine.

(Photos Courtesy of ANAKBAYAN and news agencies)

Arkibong Bayan

RP-US Balikatan kicks off in April

January 18, 2009

LEGAZPI CITY – Some 400 American soldiers are coming to the province of Albay, Sorsogon and Masbate to join the RP-US Balikatan exercise slated during the whole month of April 2009.

Col. Ariel Bernardo, Philippine Army 901st Infantry Brigade commander, said the 2009 Balikatan would be purely a humanitarian mission involving medical service and infrastructure development.

Bernardo said Balikatan planning and survey team composed of US Navy and AFP personnel are currently in town to finalize activities to be undertaken during the month long RP-US joint military exercises that will be held in the provinces of Albay, Sorsogon, and the island province of Masbate.

The survey team have specifically pinpointed Ligao City and six other towns in the third district of Albay, the towns of Juban and Irosin in Sorsogon, and Uson and Mobo towns in Masbate as sites of the exercises.

The areas have been considered by military intelligence groups as critical spots where operations by the communist New People”s Army (NPA) “are active.”

Bernardo explained “the Balikatan exercise is a very important undertaking because it is a pro-poor and pro-people project that will surely be welcomed by the beneficiaries in waging a war for peace and development.”

He pointed out that the 15th Balikatan exercise will be absolutely humanitarian and infrastructure-based operation, minus the so-called war games.

The exercise is an annual bi-lateral military exercise between the AFP and the US under the RP-US Mutual Defense Treaty between the two countries.

US Navy Captain Kelly Schmader commander of the Civilian Military Operations (CMO) said his contingent will involve more than 400 Navy personnel composed of engineers, doctors and medical staff.

He said the uniqueness of this exercise is that it endeavors to help communities in Bicol that where hard hit by disaster in 2006 where thousands of lives where lost and more than 30,000 families displaced due to the two super typhoons that struck the region.

He added that the joint military exercise would focus on rendering medical, dental, veterinary and other assistance to poor families in selected areas. It will also include the repair and building of schools, water systems and farm to market roads.

Schmader said the US government has earmarked some $450,000 for this activity.

He added that the joint military contingents would maximize the use of local resources including labor and materials to spur local economic activities in the area.

A day after the press conference, leftist leaders like Greg Bañares, spokesman of the National Democratic Front (NDF) in Bicol, and John Concepcion of Karapatan-Bicol issued statements assailing the Balikatan exercise as a ploy to promote American interest in Bicol.

The so-called militant groups are planning to stage a big rally on January 22 in Legazpi City to protest the forthcoming Balikatan exercises scheduled in Bicol.(BicolMail)

Editorial Cartoon: (Palestine Murders) Israel’s Way

January 17, 2009

israels-way

Goliath’s way.

Photos: Anakbayan and ILPS lead Free Palestine rally in San Francisco

January 17, 2009

Anakbayan and ILPS lead Free Palestine rally

in San Francisco

January 10, 2009

(Photos Courtesy of Anakbayan-East Bay)

Arkibong Bayan

Photos: Week 2: Filipinos in NYC March for a Free Palestine; Condemn Corporate Media’s Distortion of Gaza Situation

January 16, 2009

Week 2: Filipinos in NYC March for a Free Palestine;
Condemn Corporate Media’s Distortion of Gaza Situation

New York City

January 11, 2000

News Release
January 11, 2009
Reference: Christina Hilo, Northeast Coordinator, BAYAN USA, email: ny@bayanusa.org

Week 2: Filipinos in NYC March for a Free Palestine;
Condemn Corporate Media’s Distortion of Gaza Situation

New York– For the second weekend in a row, Filipinos from New York City and neighboring Jersey City, under the alliance of BAYAN USA, marched with thousands of pro-Palestinian activists from Times Square to the New York offices of CNN and Time Warner to protest the continuing Israeli military invasion of the city of Gaza. BAYAN USA members organizations Anakbayan New York/New Jersey, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE), and NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), comprised a strong and indignant Filipino contingent amidst a sea of Arab and non-Arab supporters for the Palestinian people of Gaza and the cause of the Palestinian people to end the Zionist occupation of their homeland.

News reports from various media outlets tally the Palestinian casualties to more than 800 dead and 3000 wounded in Gaza City, but pro-Palestinian protesters remain critical that facts reported in mainstream news are heavily distorted, and Palestinian victims, including women and children, are possibly under-counted. Pro-Palestinian activists marched from Times Square to the offices of media giants CNN and Time Warner near Central Park to denounce strong pro-Israel bias in mainstream news coverage of the Gaza situation.

“Today, we are all Palestinians!,” shouted 20-year old Anakbayan member Yves Nibungco for BAYAN USA from the rally main stage, met with thunderous applause. “We condemn the corporate media for their distortion of the facts in Gaza and puppetry to US interests. They continue to demonize the victims and praise the murderers….. We know the violence in Gaza is not escalating because of Hamas, the violence in Gaza is escalating because of Zionism!” Nibungco stated.

According to most news reports, Hamas’ so-called “terrorist activities” are projected as the main cause of the conflict, while Israel’s invasion is justified as a matter of self-defense. But BAYAN USA and the other protesters in New York, see the conflict within the historical context of the ongoing Palestinian resistance to the violent 60+ year old Zionist occupation of their ancestral lands assisted by financial support from the US government.

As the largest recipient of US economic aid in the world, Israel enjoys a pork barrel of $15 million a day, or an annual average of $6 billion, from US tax dollars. Nibungco further stated that the US government’s large financial investment in Israel ensures US government control over the vast deposits of oil and natural gas in the region.

Last week in Washington DC, both houses of US Congress unanimously passed resolutions in full support of Israel’s continued military offensive of Gaza. As stated in Senate Resolution 10 (S.R. 10), US lawmakers united under the framework that Israel has every right to exercise “non-restraint from targeting civilians.”

“Filipinos are concerned about Gaza and the liberation of Palestine because there are similarities in Philippine history and current affairs,” stated BAYAN USA Secretary-General Berna Ellorin. “US tax dollars fund and enable the Israeli military offensive in Gaza and violent occupation Palestinian soil, just as US tax dollars fund and enable the Philippine military to commit gross human rights violations against the Filipino people at an alarming rate.”

As a former direct colony of the US, the Philippines suffered a bloody colonization from the US military that led to the massacre of millions of Filipinos at a time when the US government was a fledgling superpower at the turn of the 20th century. Today, more subtle forms of US economic and political plunder still lord over Philippine national affairs, including a push from Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for dangerous provisions to the 1987 Philippine Constitution that would allow 100% foreign ownership of the country’s vast natural resources, including oil, gold, and natural gas. Opposition to Arroyo’s Charter Change, or Cha-Cha, is another campaign of BAYAN USA.

While none from the BAYAN USA contingent was arrested, police officers brutalized protesters and arrested at least 10 from the march and rally. BAYAN USA, an overseas chapter of BAYAN Philippines and member of the International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS), marched closely with allies from Nodutdol, a progressive Korean community organization based in Queens.

For more information on BAYAN USA, visit http://www.bayanusa.org, or email info@bayanusa.org. ###

(Photos Courtesy of BAYAN-USA)

Arkibong Bayan

Photos: Images of Gaza massacre and destruction – Part 2

January 16, 2009

Images of Gaza massacre and destruction – Part 2

January 10, 2009

Gaza’s day of carnage – 40 dead as Israelis bomb two UN schools
• Bloodiest attack of campaign so far
• Obama breaks silence on conflict


Israel’s assault on Gaza has exacted the bloodiest toll of civilian lives yet, when the bombing of UN schools being used as refugee centres and of housing killed more than 50 people, including an entire family of seven young children.

The UN protested at a “complete absence of accountability” for the escalating number of civilian deaths in Gaza, saying “the rule of the gun” had taken over.
Doctors in Gaza said more than 40 people died, including children, in what appears to be the biggest single loss of life of the campaign when Israeli bombs hit al-Fakhora school, in Jabaliya refugee camp, while it was packed with hundreds of people who had fled the fighting.

Most of those killed were in the school playground and in the street, and the dead and injured lay in pools of blood. Pictures on Palestinian TV showed walls heavily marked by shrapnel and bloodstains, and shoes and shredded clothes scattered on the ground. Windows were blown out.

Hours before, three young men who were cousins died when the Israelis bombed Asma elementary school in Gaza City. They were among 400 people who had sought shelter there after fleeing their homes in Beit Lahiya, in northern Gaza.
Abed Sultan, 20, a student, and his cousins, Rawhi and Hussein Sultan, labourers aged 22, died. Abed Sultan’s father, Samir, said the bodies were so mangled that he could not tell his son from the cousins. “We came to the school when the Israelis warned us to leave,” he said. “We hoped it would be safe. We were 20 in one room. We had no electricity, no blankets, no food.

“Suddenly we heard a bomb that shook the school. Windows smashed. Children started to scream. A relative came and told me one of my sons was killed. I found my son’s body with his two cousins. They were cut into pieces by the shell.”

The UN was particularly incensed over targeting of the schools, because Israeli forces knew they were packed with families as they had ordered them to get out of their homes with leaflet drops and loudspeakers. It said it had identified the schools as refugee centres to the Israeli military and provided GPS coordinates.

Israel accused Hamas of using civilians as cover, and said the Islamist group could stop the assault on Gaza by ending its rocket attacks on Israel.

The Palestinian authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, last night delivered an impassioned plea to the UN security council to act immediately to stop the Israeli operation, which he described as a “catastrophe” for his people. Israel has agreed a “humanitarian corridor” to allow Palestinians to get essential goods.

The rising casualty toll, more than 640 Palestinians killed since the assault began 12 days ago, gave fresh impetus to diplomatic efforts. The White House offered its first hint of concern at Israel’s actions by calling on it to avoid civilian deaths. The president-elect, Barack Obama, broke his silence by saying he was “deeply concerned” about civilian casualties on both sides. He said he would have “plenty to say” about the crisis after his swearing in.

Gordon Brown said the Middle East was facing its “darkest moment yet” but hoped a ceasefire could be arranged soon.

Explaining its attack on al-Fahora school, the Israeli military claimed that a mortar was fired from the playground, and it responded with a single shell whichkilled known Hamas fighters; the resulting explosion was compounded because Hamas “booby-trapped the school”. Two Hamas militants were among the dead, both part of a rocket-launching cell.

The head of the UN Palestinian refugee agency, John Ging, said three shells landed at the perimeter of the school. “It was entirely inevitable if artillery shells landed in that area there would be a high number of casualties,” he said.

He said UN staff vetted those Palestinians who sought shelter at the school. “So far we’ve not had violations by militants of our facilities,” he said, though responding to questions he accepted there had been clashes between Hamas and the Israeli army in the area.

Earlier in the day, Ging visited Gaza’s hospital and was shocked at the scale of civilian casualties. “What you have in this hospital is the consequences of political failure and the complete absence of any accountability for actions that are being taken. It’s the rule of the gun now, and it has to stop,” he said.

At least 12 of one family, seven children aged from one to 12, three women and two men, were killed in an air strike on their house in Gaza City. Nine others were believed trapped.

Israel continues to insist most of those killed by its forces are Hamas and Islamic Jihad fighters – although its assertion it is going to extraordinary lengths to target only “terrorists” has been undermined by a tank firing on a building used by Israeli troops, killing four of them, on Monday.

Another soldier was killed yesterday as Israeli forces continued their push into Gaza City. Tanks and troops also moved on the southern town of Khan Yunis.

The invasion has yet to achieve what Israel says is its goal of stopping rocket attacks. Hamas fired more than 30 into Israel yesterday, one to within 20 miles of Tel Aviv at Gadera, wounding a baby.

The de facto Hamas prime minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, issued a statement from hiding, saying that the Gazans would defeat Israel. “[Israel] has failed to force the population to surrender,” he said.

From:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/07/gaza-israel-obama

UN: Gaza faces ‘alarming’ humanitarian situation
01/01/2009 | 07:20 AM

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UNITED NATIONS — Gaza’s 1.5 million residents are facing an “alarming” humanitarian situation under constant Israeli bombardment, with the main power plant shut down, overcrowded hospitals struggling to cope and very limited food supplies, UN officials said Wednesday.

UN humanitarian chief John Holmes said the power plant shut down Tuesday because Israel has blocked fuel delivery through the main pipeline since Dec. 26. This has forced hospitals to use generators, which have limited fuel supplies, and left many of the 650,000 people in central and northern Gaza with power cuts of 16 hours a day or more, he said.

“On the humanitarian side,” Holmes said, “the situation remains alarming.”

“Hospitals are obviously still struggling very much to cope with the number of casualties. We have continued to get some medical supplies in and to help them cope, but this remains difficult and fragile,” he told reporters at UN headquarters.

Karen Abu Zayd, commissioner of the UN Relief and Works Agency which helps Palestinian refugees, told reporters by video link from Gaza that the agency, known as UNRWA, has not distributed any food for two weeks because of the shortage of supplies and the Israeli bombardment.

“I think that means that 20,000 people a day have been without food that they expect — and probably is the bulk of what they get. … It’s not just the flour, but it’s the protein source, either lentils or tinned meat and the sugar and milk powder and oil,” she said.

“So people are doing pretty badly. Everyone we know is sharing whatever they have, not just with their families but with their neighbors,” Abu Zayd said. “People are not eating what they used to. That’s simply what’s happening.”

“We haven’t seen widespread hunger. We do see for the very first time — I’ve been here for eight years— … people going through the rubbish dumps looking for things, people begging which is quite a new phenomenon as well,” she said.

Holmes said the Kerem Shalom crossing from Israel continues to be open, with 55 trucks of food and medical supplies and five ambulances getting into Gaza on Tuesday, and about 60 trucks on Wednesday. That compares to 125 truckloads a day in October 2008 and 475 truckloads a day in May 2007, just before Hamas took control of Gaza, he said.

Some medical supplies, ambulances and generators also got into Gaza from Egypt through the Rafah border crossing, he said.

A spokesman for President George W. Bush, Gordon Johndroe, told reporters in Texas that American officials are seeing “a good flow” of medical and food supplies into Gaza.

Abu Zayd stressed, however, that UNRWA needs 100 trucks of flour a day to meet the needs of refugees. But she said Israel has closed down the Karni crossing, the main gateway for cargo into Gaza where it is normally delivered, for security reasons.

She said UNRWA was told by the Israeli humanitarian coordinator that all other crossings aren’t open because “there is intelligence about serious preparations for security operations.”

“We wonder if it’s serious enough to really keep things completely closed and to keep people on their edge of subsistence,” she said.

Holmes said “the major needs, apart from medical supplies, remain … grain and wheat flour and fuel — also cash would be very helpful to enable people to buy supplies.”

He said the Israelis have been “cooperative in principle about these supplies but we need to see more results.”

UNRWA launched an emergency appeal on Tuesday for US$34 million for food, medical supplies and other goods, he said, and “there are good indications that the donors will respond generously.”

On the infrastructure side, Holmes said damage has been limited so far, but two major wells have been hit along with schools and some UN facilities. Five mosques identified with Hamas were also hit by Israeli bombs, Abu Zayd said.

Both Holmes and Abu Zayd said the bombing has taken a psychological toll.

Abu Zayd said UN staff members “try to tell their children that the bombing is a wedding and somebody’s celebrating.”

“The children, of course, know that there’s something wrong because they’re not going to school,” she said. “They were supposed to take their exams this week.”

“Everyone is just traumatized by what’s happening each day, and also their worries about the future, because they don’t know what’s going to happen next… they’re just expecting the worst,” Abu Zayd said.- AP

From:

http://www.gmanews.tv/story/142027/UN-Gaza-faces-alarming-humanitarian-situation

**Stills from the Youtube video at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fgeqrs5ePLU

Arkibong Bayan

Kawagib Moro human rights group leads protest against Israeli aggression in Gaza

January 15, 2009

Kawagib Moro human rights group

leads protest against Israeli aggression in Gaza

Cotabato City

January 9, 2009

Press Release
January 09, 2009

Cotabato City- The KAWAGIB MORO HUMAN RIGHTS joins the international community in condemning the atrocious military aggression of Israel in Gaza and urges world leaders to support measure to protect and advance the basic rights of the Palestinian people.

The humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip calls for an immediate and comprehensive intervention. The entire Gaza populations are being punished for the actions of a few militants. Israel ’s military incursion has targeted Hamas but a vast majority of the victims are innocent civilians. The deadly air strikes were aimed at civilian areas. At least one aerial assault hit a U.N. school.

Israel ’s sustained and escalating military assault in Gaza has already claimed the lives of close to 700 Palestinians – about a third of whom are women and children – and injured thousands of others.

Despite mounting international pressure, Israel , with the backing of the United States (U.S.), has kept on with its military operation, which is nothing but a large-scale massacre of innocent civilians. The U.S.’ used of its veto power to oppose a draft ceasefire resolution by the United Nations (U.N.) Security Council is a clear manifestation of its support to Israel’s aggression.

We are very dismayed by the apparent impunity with which Israel with its complicit state, the U.S. , persist in their systematic oppression of the Palestinian people. Israel , with the backing of the U.S. , has been committing immense crimes against humanity despite strong condemnation of international watchdogs.

The Bangsamoro people are, to some extent, beset with similar aggression and feel for the Palestinians in their quest for the right to self-determination. The Philippine government has consistently suppressed the rights and aspirations of the Bangsamoro people and brazenly violated international humanitarian law with its all-out war policy. It has been quick to resort to military option to contain peace and security issues and puts little consideration to the number of civilian lives lost and affected in its military campaigns.

We condemn in the strongest terms Israel ’s military aggression in Gaza ; its shameless and flagrant defiance of international humanitarian law and its arrogant and appalling disregard of the unified call of the international community.

We deplore U.S. support in the armed aggression and its imperial pursuits in the Philippines and in the rest of the world.

We support the adoption of concrete measure to end the aggression and the sufferings of the Palestinian people and call an end to Israel ’s military and humanitarian siege of Gaza .

FOR REFERENCE: BAI ALI INDAYLA

(064)421-5680. Contact # 0921.906.4699

Liga ng Kabataang Moro calls for a global boycott and sanctions campaign against Israel Zionism.

Following the current massive military attack in Gaza Strip, the Liga ng Kabataang Moro (LKM) released a statement condemning the latest overkill launched yet again by the Israeli government against the Palestinian people.

The LKM joins several other progressive Moro organizations gathered today to protest the US-backed Israeli War Crimes.

“Today’s action is part of Mindanao-wide Day of Action to show solidarity with the Palestinian people in Gaza and to demand an immediate end to the murderous attacks carried out by the Israeli military that once again on the brink of a full-scale war,” said Yousri Usop, Chairmanperson of LKM, Notre Dame University Chapter. This escalation, he fears, can only lead to another round of bloodletting and destruction.

The group holds the Israeli government and its primary ally, the United States, responsible for the said condemnable act.

This latest phase in the long-running tragedy in the Middle East began in December 27, 2008 when Israel bombarded Gaza leading to the death of 683 innocent women, children and the elderly and more than 3,085 injured since Israel began its offensive 13 days ago. Palestinian fighters captured an Israeli soldier in exchange of some of the 10,000 Palestinian detainees held by Israel. Under international law, the soldier is a legitimate target in a legitimate resistance operation by an occupied people.

Yousri said “all hell then broke loose as Israel began an all-out military assault on Gaza.” The protesting Moro youth organization claims that it is clearly another manifestation of overkill.

It bombarded civilian infrastructure, including bridges and power stations, leaving over a million civilians without water supply and hundreds of sick people in hospitals without access to medication. Over 683 individuals have been killed and thousands have become refugees.

The grossly disproportionate use of force and the collective punishment imposed on the Palestinian people are flagrant violations of international law.

LKM related the Israeli attack to the present war in Mindanao Usop said, “This is what the US-puppet Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is doing in its present war in Mindanao against our Muslim compatriots.”

“More than 600,000 people have lost their homes and more than 200 have died since August 2008 when the full-scale war broke out. Many of the victims are women and children.”

The protest calls for a Stop to the US-Backed GMA Regime’s War in Mindanao and against the people of Gaza!”

The current condition of the refugees is not getting any better, they claimed, because for the past 18 months there is little or no medicine to treat the wounded, electricity, food or clean water for much of the population.

“We demand that Israel should immediately end its military offensive on Gaza, free all Palestinian detainees from Israeli jails, and end the occupation of Palestine and people’s right to sovereignty and self determination be respected,” the Moro youth group demanded.

“We also demand that the Philippine government recalls its ambassador from Israel and begin the process of severing all diplomatic ties with that state until it complies and take a stand in favor of international law and justice, summon the Israeli ambassador to protest, and expressly condemn Israel for its actions. In solidarity with the Palestinian and Israeli people opposed to war, we call for a global boycott and sanctions campaign against Israel.”

“In solidarity with the Palestinians and Israeli people opposed to war, we call for a global boycott and sanctions campaign against Israel.”

Reference: Yousri Usop-LKM,Chairperson, Notre Dame University-Chapter, Contact Number-09058016752

Press Statement
January 9, 2009

Liga ng Kabataang Moro calls for a global boycott and sanctions campaign against Israel Zionism.

We Liga ng Kabataang Moro joins with other progressive Moro organizations gathered today to protest the US-backed Israeli War Crimes. Today’s action is part of Mindanao-wide Day of Action to show solidarity with the Palestinian people in Gaza and to demand an immediate end to the murderous attacks carried out by the Israeli military that once again on the brink of a full-scale war. This escalation can only lead to another round of bloodletting and destruction.

We Liga ng Kabataang Moro, lay the responsibility behind this tragedy squarely on the Israeli state, its primary ally the United States, and all those who actively support or tacitly tolerate its actions.

This latest phase in the long-running tragedy in the Middle East began in December 27, 2008 when Israel bombarded Gaza leading to the death of 683 innocent women, children and the elderly and more than 3,085 injured since Israel began its offensive 13 days ago. Palestinian fighters then captured an Israeli soldier, demanding the release of some of the 10,000 Palestinian detainees held by Israel. Under international law, the soldier is a legitimate target in a legitimate resistance operation by an occupied people.

All hell then broke loose as Israel began an all-out military assault on Gaza. It bombarded civilian infrastructure, including bridges and power stations, leaving over a million civilians without water and hundreds of sick people in hospitals without access to medication. The grossly disproportionate use of force and the collective punishment imposed on the Palestinian people are flagrant violations of international law.

It was evidently in response to the atrocities being carried out by Israel on the people of Gaza. Over 683 been killed and thousands have become refugees. Again, Israel’s actions are brazen violations of international law. Not only do they constitute disproportionate violence but ¬ with Israel itself provoking the actions it claims to be defending itself from they are also totally unjustified.

This is what the US-puppet Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is doing in its present war in Mindanao against our Muslim compatriots. More than 600,000 people have lost their homes and more than 200 have died since August 2008 when the full-scale war broke out. Many of the victims are women and children.

Because an injury to one is an injury to all, as we say “Stop the US-Backed GMA Regime’s War in Mindanao!”, we say loudly “Stop the War against the people of Gaza!”

Because of the US-backed Israeli blockade and strangulation of the people of Gaza for the past 18 months there is little or no medicine to treat the wounded, electricity, food or clean water for much of the population. This massive international war crime perpetrated by the Israeli government and military must be stopped.

At the root of the continuing tragedy in the Middle East is the continuing occupation of Palestine by Israel. That Israel is able to continue this occupation and that it is able to bomb and kill indiscriminately without restraint points to the incapacity of the international community, including the United Nations and the world’s governments, to uphold peace and justice.

It is this unwillingness to act that will ensure that more blood and tears will flow from this escalating war. We demand that Israel should immediately end its military offensive on Gaza, free all Palestinian detainees from Israeli jails, and end the occupation of Palestine and people’s right to sovereignty and self determination be respected.

We demand that the Philippine government recalls its ambassador from Israel and begin the process of severing all diplomatic ties with that state until it complies and take a stand in favor of international law and justice, summon the Israeli ambassador to protest, and expressly condemn Israel for its actions. In solidarity with the Palestinian and Israeli people opposed to war, we call for a global boycott and sanctions campaign against Israel.

In solidarity with the Palestinians and Israeli people opposed to war, we call for a global boycott and sanctions campaign against Israel.

LONG LIVE INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY!

LONG LIVE THE PEOPLE OF PALESTINE!
FROM THE RIVER TO THE SEA, PALESTINE WILL BE FREE!

Reference: Yousri Usop-LKM,Chairperson, Notre Dame University-Chapter, Contact Number-09058016752

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Israel’s Occupation of Palestine
www.bulatlat.com


Israel’s incursions into Palestine and its attacks against the Palestinian people did not begin with the founding of Hamas in 1987, during the first intifada (uprising), or its victory over Fatah during the January 2006 elections. Sadly, what is seemingly lost in news reports is the root of the Israel-Palestinian conflict: the struggle for land and self-determination of the Palestinian people.

BY BENJIE OLIVEROS
ANAYSIS
Bulatlat

The Israeli army has already killed almost 800 Palestinians, including 220 children, and has wounded around 3,1000 since it began bombarding the Gaza strip on December 27 and moving into Palestinian territory January 3. It occupied the Gaza strip purportedly to protect southern Israel from Hamas’ rocket attacks. On January 9, UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Navi Pillay called for an investigation of possible war crimes in Gaza and Israel , saying that “harm to civilians in Israel by Hamas rockets is unacceptable” and that Israel must follow international humanitarian law regardless of Hamas’ actions.

Statements from Israel and even the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights make it appear that Israel is merely retaliating against Hamas’ rocket attacks. However, Israel ’s incursions into Palestine and its attacks against the Palestinian people did not begin with the founding of Hamas in 1987, during the first intifada (uprising), or its victory over Fatah during the January 2006 elections. Sadly, what is seemingly lost in news reports is the root of the Israel-Palestinian conflict: the struggle for land and self-determination of the Palestinian people.

The struggle of the Palestinian people for self-determination began after World War I, when it became clear to the Palestinians that the British had deceived them. During World War 1, the British, through its High Commissioner for Egypt Henry McMahon, convinced Husayn ibn ‘Ali, the patriarch of the Hashemite family and Ottoman governor of Mecca and Medina to revolt against the Ottoman Empire, which was aligning with Germany. The British promised that if the Arabs aligned with it in the war, it would support the establishment of an independent Arab state under Hashemite rule in the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire, including Palestine .

At the same time, British Foreign Minister Lord Arthur Balfour issued a declaration in 1917 declaring Britain’s support for the establishment of a “ Jewish national home in Palestine”, which was being pushed for by the Zionist movement since its founding in Europe in 1897 by Theodor Herzl. Britain also entered into an agreement with France to divide control over the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire .

After the war, the British took control over areas, which now comprise Israel , the West Bank, Gaza strip, and Jordan , and France annexed Syria , and from it carved a separate state of Lebanon . The British also allowed the purchase of large tracts of land from absentee Arab landowners by the Jewish National Fund and the steady stream of Jewish immigration from Europe . When Arabs were evicted from lands purchased by the Jews, clashes erupted between Arabs and Jews from 1920-21. Clashes erupted anew between Muslims and Jews over the Wailing Wall from 1928-29.

The dramatic increase in European Jewish immigration in 1933 was the last straw. The Arabs revolted from 1936-39. The revolt was crushed by Britain with the help of Zionist militias and the complicity of neighboring Arab countries.

On March 22, 1946, the British relinquished its mandate over Jordan after securing their military bases and installations there. On April, it authorized the entry of 100,000 Jews into Palestine .

At the end of 1946, there were 1.3 million Arabs and 608,000 Jews in Palestine , with the latter owning 20 percent of the arable land. This was already a dramatic increase in the Jewish population in Palestine considering that during the late 19th century, Palestine , with a total land area of 10,000 sq m, used to be inhabited by 403,795 Muslims, 43,659 Christians, and only 15,011 Jews.

On Nov. 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly voted to partition Palestine into two states: one Jewish and the other Arab. The Jews were given 56 percent of the territory while 43 percent was allocated for the Arabs. Fighting between Jews and Arabs erupted within days of the announcement of the partition plan. On May 15, 1948, the British evacuated Palestine and the Zionists proclaimed the state of Israel .

Egypt, Syria , Jordan and Iraq declared war on Israel shortly thereafter. Israel ’s armed forces unleashed a brutal was causing the displacement of 700,000 Palestinian refugees. The war ended with an armistice agreement whereby Israel encompassed over 77 percent of the territory. Jordan occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank; Egypt took control of the Gaza strip. The Palestinian Arab state was never established.►

Tensions between Israel and the Arab states did not abate, but with every eruption of the conflict, Israel – which was being aided militarily by the US – was able to expand its territory. After another war in 1967, Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan , the Gaza strip and Sinai peninsula from Egypt and the Golan Heights from Syria .

Israel established a military administration in the Gaza strip and West Bank . Since 1967, over 300,000 Palestinians have been imprisoned without trial; over half a million have been tried by Israel ’s military courts; and torture of Palestinian prisoners was a common practice. At the same time, Israel built hundreds of settlements in the occupied territories.

Palestinian resistance

The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was organized in 1964. The largest group is the Al Fatah. Other members included the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Palestine People’s Party. It established its base in Jordan before moving to Lebanon then Tunisia . In 1985, Israel bombed the PLO headquarters in Tunisia .

In December 1987, the first intifada erupted and lasted until 1991. It was a mass uprising that included demonstrations, general strikes, boycott of Israeli products and refusal to pay taxes. The intifada was brutally crushed by the Israel army, killing 1,000 Palestinians, including 200 below the age of 16.

While the intifada was led by the four PLO parties active in the occupied territories, it gave birth to Islamist groups such as Hamas. Earlier, Israel encouraged the development of Islamist groups to divide the Palestinians. When it appeared that these groups pose a greater threat to it than the PLO, Israel began talks with the latter.

On September 28, 1995 an interim agreement was signed between the Israel government and Palestine . It provided for the withdrawal of Israel from the Gaza strip and Jericho , as well as parts of the West Bank during a period of five years, and for the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA) with “self-governing powers”. Yasser Arafat, head of Al Fatah, was elected president of the PA in 1996.

However, the talks were protracted. After painful negotiations, which extended till the turn of the century, the Palestinian Authority was able to fain direct or partial control of 40 percent of the West Bank and 65 percent of the Gaza strip.


All through the period of negotiations, Israel expanded its settlements and built bypass roads within the occupied territories. Thus, even as the PA gained some measure of control over certain areas of the West Bank and Gaza strip, they were surrounded by Jewish settlements with entry and exit to these areas being controlled by the Israel army.

On September 28, 2000 Ariel Sharon visited the Muslim holy shrine, Haram al-Sharif in the company of 1,000 guards, thereby provoking a second intifada. When the militant wing of Al Fatah fired on Israeli soldiers, Israel attacked PA installations with helicopter gunships, tanks and artillery fire, and missiles. It also bombarded civilian neighborhoods in the West Bank and Gaza strip.

In June 2002, Israel began construction of the West Bank barrier, which was 700-km long and five meters high. Palestinian land was confiscated to build the wall. Worse, Palestinian farmers and traders were cut off from their farms and water sources.

On September 20, 2002 Israel besieged Arafat’s headquarters in Ram Allah and confined him there for over two years up to his death in November 2004. Israel also embarked on a policy of extrajudicial assassinations and imprisonment of Palestinian leaders. One of the more prominent Palestinian leaders who was imprisoned and sentenced to five life terms is Marwan Barghouti of the Al Fatah.

On February 26, 2003, Israel made a series of re-incursions that led to the re-occupation of parts of the Gaza strip and the West Bank .

In April 2003, Mahmud Abbas was elected as Palestinian Prime Minister. On June 4, 2003 Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Abbas met at Aqaba, Jordan to discuss the implementation of the “road map formula for peace”, which was backed by the US, Russia, the European Union, and the UN.

However, nothing came out of the negotiations. Abbas was politically humiliated.

On January 25, 2006, Palestinians voted in parliamentary elections and Hamas won 74 out of the 132 parliamentary seats. Fatah won 45 seats, and 13 seats went to other minor parties. Since then, Israel vowed to “liquidate Hamas rule in Gaza ”.

Thus, the December 2007 Israeli offensive was more than a retaliation. It is part of Israel ’s genocidal acts against the Palestinian people, much like what the British settlers did to the native American Indians. (Bulatlat.com)

(Photos Courtesy of Kawagib Moro Human Rights)

Arkibong Bayan

Photos: Hongkong multisectoral organizations condemn Israeli invasion of Gaza

January 15, 2009

Hongkong multisectoral organizations

condemn Israeli invasion of Gaza

January 8 2009

No More Bloodshed in Gaza! Stop the Invasion!
Hong Kong People Condemn Israeli Aggression, Vow More Protests
Solidarity broadened and strengthened for Palestine today.

Several organizations and individuals all over Hong Kong gathered in a picket protest today, January 8, at the Israeli Consulate General to condemn the ongoing and intensifying attacks by the Israeli Zionist government on the people of Gaza.

Led by the Asia Pacific Students and Youth Association (ASA, formerly known as the Asian Students Association), the picket gathered around 70 people from various local and regional platforms, with many of them joining the march to the U.S. Consulate.

The organizations who joined included the following: Justice and Peace Commission of Hong Kong Catholic Diocese, HK Confederation of Trade Unions, Hong Kong Federation of Students, League of Social Democrats, Refugee Action Centre, Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants, Mission For Migrant Workers (HK) Society, Bethune House Migrant Women’s Refuge, United Filipinos in Hong Kong, Asian Migrants Coordinating Body, Association of Indonesian Migrant Workers in Hong Kong (ATKI-HK), Pakistani Islamic Welfare Union,

The Incorporated Trustees of The Islamic Community Fund of Hong Kong, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Hong Kong (BAYAN-HK), Asian Centre for the Progress of Peoples, International League of Peoples’ Struggle Hong Kong, Filipino Migrant Workers Union, Association for the Advancement of Feminism, Asian Human Rights Commission, Asian Monitor Resource Centre, April 5th Movement, World Student Christian Federation Asia Pacific, and Helpers for Islam.

Other known personalities present were Legislator Leung Kwok Hung (aka Long Hair), Dr. Rose Wu (former director of the HK Christian Institute), Father Franco Mella PIME, and Mufti Muhammad Arshad (Chief Imam Hong Kong).

Note-worthy are the many individuals, many of whom were students, who joined the action after learning about the invitation through SMS and Facebook.

At the Admiralty Centre

A strong sense of solidarity spirit engulfed the whole ground floor of the Admiralty Centre, the building where Israeli Consulate is situated.

Speeches were given as slogans like “No More Deaths! No More Bombings!” and “Stop the Aggression! Israel Out of Palestine Now!” were chanted right after every speech.

During the start of the program, a small delegation made up of Rey Asis (secretariat member of the ASA), Imam Arshad, Baseer Navid of AHRC, Long Hair and a representative from PIWU were planning to give the position paper signed by various groups and individuals to the Israeli Consulate.

However, they were stopped several times by the building security and finally refused entry to the lift going to the Israeli Consulate’s office. This created uproar and indignation both from the delegation and the people gathered outside the building.

Truly, such action from the Admiralty Centre security was shameful.

Marching to the US Consulate

After the program in Admiralty, the protesters marched to the US Consulate to continue the demonstration.

There, the protesters were not remiss in denouncing the US government’s continuous political and military support to the Israeli Zionist government’s invasion of Gaza and Palestine.

A moment of silence was observed towards the end of the program to remember the many women, children and innocent civilians who died from the Israeli assaults.

Solidarity was again expressed as the groups committed to follow up on the developments and take necessary actions. A solidarity network for Palestine is already in the offing.

Truly, today’s action proved that solidarity embraced all races, religions, ages and colors. It was a very meaningful and inspiring event.

Reference:
Rey Perez Asis
Secretariat Member, Asia Pacific Students and Youth Association
Contact number: (852) 9588 9491
Email: reyasis@gmail.com

HongKong Legislator Leong Kwok Hung

Immam Muhammad Arshad of AHRC

Rey Asis of ASA

Elizabeth Tang of HKCTU

xHong Kong’s Expression of Solidarity with the People of Gaza Strip
STOP THE ATTACKS!
RESIST THE ONSLAUGHT OF ISRAELI ZIONISM!

What Israel is doing is not democracy. It is genocide. It is terrorism.

This we say as we condemn in the strongest possible terms the Israeli Zionist government for intensifying its military onslaught on the Gaza Strip.

It continues to hurl bombs through aerial attacks, fire artillery shelling through naval vessels as its tanks and troops invading Palestinian territory have been strifing at civilians, homes and even medical personnel.

It has the arrogance to admit and exhibit its military prowess at the expense of the Palestinian civilians as homes, hospitals and universities, mosques and prayer halls have been targeted and obliterated.

It has not shown any compunction in blockading medical, food and other forms of humanitarian aid from getting into the borders. It kills civilians and even targets those who are helping the wounded and attending to the distressed. Is this what the Israeli government calls defending itself as they collectively punish the people of Gaza?

By using military force disproportionately, placing civilians in harm’s way by deliberately aiming bombs at their homes or hospitals they have sought refuge in, by hindering humanitarian access, the Israeli Zionist government has not only violated international conventions but committed the foulest crimes against humanity.

No remorse, no logic, no shame

It is of no remorse, of no logic, of no shame as they vehemently deny the reality of devastation in Gaza and ignore the international outcry for an immediate ceasefire.

On the part of U.S. government, it has shed off any illusion of pretense and objectivity as it condones and virtually champions the Israel’s expression of “defending itself from the attacks of Hamas.”

As outgoing president George W. Bush rashly demands the Hamas to stop “its military offense”, the U.S. government continually implores its standing relations with Israel before making any categorical position on the current Middle East crisis.

What uncouth positioning of a government with diplomatic relationships taking more precedence over the protection of lives and rights of the civilian populace!

We will not forget

We will not forget how the people of Gaza have suffered from the brutal rule of the Israeli Zionist government from the period of the latter’s occupation of Gaza (1967-1994) to the present. The independence of the Palestinian people in 1994 is almost nothing when their land, air and sea bases remain under the control of the Israelis.

In recent years, we have seen how the Israeli Zionist government has attacked Gaza and continued to advance and occupy small land portions of the Palestinian territory, as what they did this November 2008.

The people of Gaza and of Palestine have been defending themselves from Israeli invasion for the longest time. Hamas, a legitimate government elected by the people of Gaza and recognized by the U.N. and various governments, only responds to defend Gaza’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Expression of defiance, of solidarity

We welcome the strong position that United Nation General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto has taken against the Israel attacks. We welcome and embrace greatly the strong positions and solidarity actions that many people all over the world have taken against the Israel attacks.

We exert strong pressure on the various governments in the Middle East to provide space for their people to express freely their position on the issue and allow them to extend support to the people of Gaza. We denounce those governments who cheer on the Israeli government for the latter’s wanton display of brute military violence.

We likewise call for the provision of full access to all journalists to the region.

We call for more expression of this solidarity as we not only hold protest actions but gather material and medical support for the people of Gaza. In the midst of the global financial crisis, the Palestinian people, especially in the Gaza Strip, have experienced hardship, poverty and denial at the most extreme sense AND today, they need our help more than ever.

All of us undersigned express our strongest solidarity with the people of Gaza and the whole of Palestine as we call for the immediate and complete halt to these attacks as well as the withdrawal of all Israeli military personnel from the Palestinian territory.

We are one with them and the people of the Middle East as well as the international community in resisting these attacks of the US-backed Israeli Zionist government.

Signed:
Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants
Asia Pacific Students and Youth Association (ASA, formerly Asian Students Association)
Asian Centre for the Progress of Peoples
Association for the Advancement of Feminism
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Hong Kong (BAYAN HK)
Baseer Navid
Civil Human Rights Front
Hong Kong Christian Institute
Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions
International League of Peoples’ Struggle Hong Kong
League of Social Democrats
Leung Kwok Hung, HK Legislator
Pakistani Islamic Welfare Union
United Filipinos in Hong Kong
World Student Christian Federation-Asia Pacific
Wu Lo-sai, Rose

Reference: Rey Asis of Asia Pacific Students and Youth Association (9588 9491)

Photos: UP Community: Justice for Palestine! Lighting candles to protest the Israeli bombing and invasion of Gaza

January 15, 2009

UP Community: Justice for Palestine!

Lighting candles to protest the Israeli bombing and invasion of Gaza

UP Diliman Campus

January 8, 2009

Faculty, students and employees of UP light candles to protest the US-backed Israeli  War of Agrression on Gaza. Shown above, L-R: Dr. Noli Reyes, UP Student Regent Shahana Abdulwahid, UP Faculty Regent Prof. Judy Taguiwalo,  Prof. Epifanio San Juan of the US-based Cultural Studies Group, and Prof. Harry Roque of the UP College of Law.

UP Faculty Regent Prof. Judy Taguiwalo

UP Student Regent Shahana Abdulwahid

Streetwise By Carol Pagaduan-Araullo

War of Terror in Gaza

Remember Sabra and Shatilla?

These were the two Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon where an estimated 1,700 to 3,500 civilian residents — men, women and children — were massacred in 1982 by pro-Israel Lebanese phalangist militia units with the protective shield and go-ahead of Israeli Defense Forces. IDF commander Gen Ariel Sharon was found “indirectly responsible” for the massacres and was forced to resign. But he eventually went on to be Israel Prime Minister after several years.

This long record of impunity for the Israeli government in barefaced aggression and military overkill, perpetrating gross human rights violations, war crimes and even genocide must be seen in the context of unshakeable US backing – military, economic, political and diplomatic.

With the acquiescence of the other big powers, this unstinting and continuing US support explains in large part the destructiveness, brutality and callousness exhibited by the IDF in the recent attacks on Gaza. Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Mahathir said that no matter how clever or powerful Israel was it would not be able to carry out the offensive without the US acting as a “big brother” providing the money and the weaponry for Israel’s renewed war of aggression.

Thus, the US is “much more guilty than even the Israelis” for the civilian carnage and the ratcheting up of the Israel-Palestine conflict in the Middle East. Israel remains the single biggest recipient of US aid getting a hefty US $3 billion annually.

A country of approximately 6 million people, it is currently receiving more US aid than all of Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean taking out Egypt and Colombia. It has a nuclear arsenal that would be the envy of any of the countries named by US President Bush as constituting an “axis of evil”.

Despite international outcry against mounting civilian casualties and the massive humanitarian crisis the Israeli assault has given rise to, the US government is unrelenting in its support. The US sabotaged a draft UN resolution that called for a ceasefire, addressing the humanitarian crisis, as well as the resumption of peace talks. It rejected calls for Israel to lift its blockade of Gaza and attacked the proposed resolution for not condemning Hamas’ firing rockets into Southern Israel as “terrorist” acts.

In fact, it was Israel that had made a months-old truce untenable by keeping Gaza under siege. Since Hamas won a majority in the Palestinian Legislative Council in January 2006, Israel, Washington and the West have withheld recognition and all outside aid; an economic embargo and sanctions were imposed; and the legitimate government subjected to vilification and political isolation.

The Israeli government claims that Hamas initiated the hostilities by raining rockets on Israeli villages are belied by reports that IDF forces had earlier intruded into Palestinian territory purportedly to close off tunnels allegedly used by Hamas to smuggle arms and had killed six Hamas officers in the process.

Since the six-month ceasefire ended, Israeli troops have crossed the border several times, while Hamas resumed shelling nearby Israeli towns. US President Bush immediately justified Israel’s attack by demonizing the Hamas regime as a “terrorist group supported by Iran and Syria.”

US Secretary of State Rice strongly rejected outright any ceasefire that didn’t meet Israel’s conditions. President-elect Barack Obama, heretofore silent on the raging global issue, finally expressed “deep concern” for the loss of civilian life after Israeli tank shells killed at least 40 Palestinians at a UN school where civilians had taken shelter on the third day of the invasion.

The Israel-Palestine conflict is certainly not about Israel and Palestine alone. It is about oil. It is about who controls the Middle East. And it is about the US drive for world domination currently in the guise of a US-instigated “global war on terror”.

Mainstream media have always portrayed and explained the conflict in terms of the Palestinians’ struggle to return to their homeland, on one hand, and the Israeli state’s right to exist on the other. But in fact, from the very start, world powers have manipulated and even instigated the conflict according to their interests and designs, the ordinary Palestinians and Israelis be damned.

To begin with, the British government played a central role in arranging for the migration of tens of thousands of Jews to Palestine and in violently displacing the Palestinians from their lands.

Then, the US engineered the lopsided 1948 UN resolution to partition Palestine into a Jewish state and a Palestinian state. The Palestinians rejected the resolution, rightfully protesting that they were not consulted, and the partition favored the Jews heavily. The resulting armed conflict ended in the Palestinians’ defeat, mass expulsion from Palestine and their seeking refuge in neighboring Arab states.

To this date, their just struggle to return to their homeland continues. With the intensification of the Cold War after the Korean War and the rise in Arab nationalism and unity in the late 50s, the Middle East became a flashpoint with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in focus. The so-called Arab-Israel wars, ostensibly over the Palestinian issue, were in fact proxy wars by the world superpowers for control of the Middle East, with Israel serving as the US’ surrogate force against the Soviet-backed Arab states.

Since then, and especially with the emergence of the US as sole superpower, Israel has grown into a bully whose arrogance, brutality and ruthlessness is matched only by its mentor and backer, the US.

The International League for People’s Struggle in a statement condemning the invasion and the escalating massacre of the Palestinian people said, “The US has used Israel as the bridgehead of US imperialist hegemony in the Middle East and as the platform for threatening and blackmailing countries in the region, making them military and political clients and controlling the oil resources.”

One does not have to be partisan for Hamas or against the Israeli government to acknowledge the truth articulated by UN President Miguel d’Escoto Brockman on the day of the Gaza airstrikes, “The behavior by Israel in bombarding Gaza is simply the commission of wanton aggression by a very powerful state against a territory that it illegally occupies.”#

Dr. Roland Tolentino, Chair of CONTEND-UP

Prof. Harry Roque of UP College of Law

Prof. Danilo Arao of Department of Mass Communication

Prof. Epifanio San Juan, Dircetor of US-based Cultural Studies Group

UP studnets decried the destruction of school facilities in Gaza and the slaughter of children and the Israeli blockade of humanitarian and coming from all parts of the world

Dr

Dr. Epifanio San Juan, left, and Dr. Fidel Nemenzo, with Dr. Delia Aguilar

Photo by Prof. Sarah Raymundo

Tani Basman, President of the UP Muslim Students Association

January 9, 2009

Press Statement

Liga ng Kabataang Moro calls for a global boycott and sanctions campaign against Israel Zionism

Following the current massive military attack in Gaza Strip, the Liga ng Kabataang Moro (LKM) released a statement condemning the latest overkill launched yet again by the Israeli government against the Palestinian people.

The LKM joins several other progressive Moro organizations gathered today to protest the US-backed Israeli War Crimes.

“Today’s action is part of Mindanao-wide Day of Action to show solidarity with the Palestinian people in Gaza and to demand an immediate end to the murderous attacks carried out by the Israeli military that once again on the brink of a full-scale war,” said Yousri Usop, Chairman of LKM, Notre Dame University Chapter.

This escalation, he fears, can only lead to another round of bloodletting and destruction.

The group holds the Israeli government and its primary ally, the United States, responsible for the said condemnable act.

This latest phase in the long-running tragedy in the Middle East began in December 27, 2008 when Israel bombarded Gaza leading to the death of 683 innocent women, children and the elderly and more than 3,085 injured since Israel began its offensive 13 days ago.

Palestinian fighters captured an Israeli soldier in exchange of some of the 10,000 Palestinian detainees held by Israel. Under international law, the soldier is a legitimate target in a legitimate resistance operation by an occupied people. Yousri said “all hell then broke loose as Israel began an all-out military assault on Gaza.”

The protesting Moro youth organization claims that it is clearly another manifestation of overkill. It bombarded civilian infrastructure, including bridges and power stations, leaving over a million civilians without water supply and hundreds of sick people in hospitals without access to medication.

Over 683 individuals have been killed and thousands have become refugees. The grossly disproportionate use of force and the collective punishment imposed on the Palestinian people are flagrant violations of international law.

LKM related the Israeli attack to the present war in Mindanao Usop said, “This is what the US-puppet Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is doing in its present war in Mindanao against our Muslim compatriots.”

“More than 600,000 people have lost their homes and more than 200 have died since August 2008 when the full-scale war broke out. Many of the victims are women and children.”

The protest calls for a Stop to the US-Backed GMA Regime’s War in Mindanao and against the people of Gaza!” The current condition of the refugees is not getting any better, they claimed, because for the past 18 months there is little or no medicine to treat the wounded, electricity, food or clean water for much of the population.

“We demand that Israel should immediately end its military offensive on Gaza, free all Palestinian detainees from Israeli jails, and end the occupation of Palestine and people’s right to sovereignty and self determination be respected,” the Moro youth group demanded.

“We also demand that the Philippine government recalls its ambassador from Israel and begin the process of severing all diplomatic ties with that state until it complies and take a stand in favor of international law and justice, summon the Israeli ambassador to protest, and expressly condemn Israel for its actions. In solidarity with the Palestinian and Israeli people opposed to war, we call for a global boycott and sanctions campaign against Israel.”

“In solidarity with the Palestinians and Israeli people opposed to war, we call for a global boycott and sanctions campaign against Israel.

Reference: Marbawi Edza -LKM,Spokesperson,

Cotabato City State Polytechnic College-Chapter

09264010386

Photo by Prof. Sarah Raymundo

Photo by Prof. Sarah Raymundo

Photo by Prof. Sarah Raymundo

(Photos Courtesy of Prof. Sarah Raymundo)

Arkibong Bayan

Images of Gaza massacre and destruction – Part 1

January 14, 2009

Images of Gaza massacre and destruction – Part 1

From:

The other side of the story

http://palestinian.ning.com/forum/topics/the-other-side-of-the-story


Photos: BAYAN – USA in Los Angeles joins protest against the US-backed Israeli massacre of Palestinians in Gaza

January 14, 2009

BAYAN – USA in Los Angeles joins protest

against the US-backed Israeli massacre of Palestinians in Gaza

IIn front of Israeli Consulate, Los Angeles, CA, USA

January 2 , 2009

Los Angeles, CA – January 2, 2008 – BAYAN-USA, a member of the International Migrants Alliance, stands in solidarity with the people of Palestine.

Gaza is not alone! Solidarity in Greece

On Saturday 3 January a massive and combative demonstration took place in the center of Athens and marched towards the Zionist embassy. Thousands of people responded to the call of the Palestinian Community, of the Greek Social Forum and of the Left organizations (with the exception of the “Communist Party of Greece” – KKE). With slogans against the Zionist murderers and their accomplices, the USA, the EU and the so-called “international community”, and throwing stones, the people resisted for long time the attacks of the Police Special Forces. The Police attacked with chemicals in an attempt to prevent the demonstrators from reaching the embassy.

The spirit of the demonstration, one of the biggest of the last years, was characterized by outrage for the Zionist crimes, anger for the pro-US, pro-Israel stand of the Greek government, and by resolute spirit of solidarity. The main slogans scanded also by the block of the Communist Organization of Greece were:

“Bush-Olmert murderers! Victory to the Intifada! Freedom for Palestine!”
“The people does not want them here – Throw the Zionist embassy out of Greece”
“Solidarity is the peoples’ weapon – War against the imperialist war”
“Zionist pigs murderers: Gaza is not alone”
“Bush and Olmert kill, Karamanlis and Papandreou applaude”
“USA and EU, accomplices in the crime”
“No justice, No peace – Solidarity with Palestine”
“The real terrorists are in the embassies of USA and Israel”

Similar demonstrations took place also in Thessaloniki and other Greek cities. Today Sunday 4 January in the afternoon a new demonstration is called by the Palestinian Community, the Greek Social Forum, the Coalition of Radical Left (SYRIZA), etc. Unfortunately, and despite the plea of the Palestinian Community to organize one common demonstration, the KKE refused and will organize its own separate “peaceful march” 1 hour earlier… The same happened in Thessaloniki.

The Communist Organization of Greece calls upon the Youth and the People of Greece to get into the streets, to take part in the mobilizations organized by the Palestinian Community and the Left, and to express their outrage for the Zionist criminal aggression and for the shameful complicity of the Greek government.

All out to the streets!
Throw out of Greece the embassy of the Zionist murderers!
Unconditional support to the Palestinian Resistance!

*****
Communist Organization of Greece / Kommounistiki Organosi Elladas (KOE)
International Relations Department

Email: laokratia@yahoo.com * aristera@tellas.com
Web: http://www.koel.gr * In English: international.koel.gr

Post address: Newspaper “Left!” * Isaia Salonon 6 * 11475 Athens, Greece
Phone: +30 210 6441745 * Fax: +30 210 6430024
*****

UN chief demands Gaza ceasefire

Ban Ki-Moon: ‘Civilians in Gaza are being subjected to massive trauma’

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for an immediate end to fighting in the Gaza Strip during a meeting of the UN Security Council in New York.

The US and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas have backed a French-Egyptian ceasefire proposal.

Israel says it has agreed to set up a humanitarian corridor to allow aid into the Gaza Strip.

On the ground in Gaza, explosions were heard through the night. Israel says it carried out more than 30 air strikes.

Mr Ban criticised both Israel for its bombardment of Gaza and Hamas for firing rockets into Israel and urged Security Council members in New York to act “swiftly and decisively to put this crisis to an end”.

Map


“We need urgently to achieve Palestinian unity and the reunification of Gaza with the West Bank within the framework of the legitimate Palestinian Authority,” he added.

More than 600 Palestinians are now believed to have been killed since Israel began its offensive 11 days ago. Palestinian health ministry officials say at least 195 children are among those killed.

An Israeli attack on Tuesday on a school building, which Israel says was sheltering militants, left at least 30 people dead and 55 injured, UN officials say.

Israel, which has vowed to reduce rocket attacks from Gaza on its territory, has lost seven soldiers on the ground. Four people within Israel have been killed by rockets.

In another development, Venezuela ordered the expulsion of Israel’s ambassador in protest at the Gaza offensive and its “flagrant violations of international law”.

Support for truce

The ceasefire plan proposed jointly by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and French President Nicolas Sarkozy would bring together all the main parties and take all measures to end the conflict in Gaza.

The plan envisages the resumption of the delivery of aid to Gaza and talks with Israel on border security, a key issue for Israel as it says Hamas smuggles its rockets into Gaza via the Egyptian border.

Welcoming the proposal, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called for a “ceasefire that can endure and that can bring real security”.

The contours of a possible diplomatic agreement are in place, the BBC’s Laura Trevelyan reports from the UN.

GAZA CRISIS BACKGROUND

Smoke rises over Gaza (06/01/2009)


However, if Israel continues to control the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza and can choose to stop it at any time this seems unlikely to command the support of Hamas, she notes.

Thus frenetic diplomacy in New York and in the Middle East is likely to continue.

Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gabriela Shalev, did not say whether Israel would accept the proposal but said it would take it “very, very seriously”.

Israel has proposed suspending attacks in specified parts of Gaza to allow people to stock up on essential goods.

The military will open up “areas for limited periods of time, during which the population will be able to receive the aid”, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said.

Andrew Whitley of the UN relief agency told the BBC that any relief in the conditions of the people of Gaza could only be a good thing:

“People have been weakened by 18 months of blockade and siege. They’ve been getting very little food, electricity or heat for a long time, and so they are in a very weakened condition.”

School carnage

UN officials have said that the al-Fakhura school in the Jabaliya refugee camp was being used as a refuge for hundreds of people when it was hit by Israeli shell-fire.

The BBC’s Rushdi Abu Alouf reports from a UN school inside a Gaza refugee camp

The Israeli military said its soldiers had come under mortar fire from Hamas militants inside the school. A spokesman for Hamas denied there had been any hostile fire coming from the school.

In all, at least 70 Palestinians and five Israeli soldiers were killed on Tuesday.

Israel says its offensive is stopping militants firing rockets but at least five hit southern Israel on Tuesday, injuring a baby.

Casualty claims in Gaza cannot be independently verified. Israel is refusing to let international journalists into Gaza, despite a supreme court ruling to allow a limited number of reporters to enter the territory.

(Photos Courtesy of Bayan-USA)

Arkibong Bayan

Photos: Protest rally at the Israeli Embassy in Makati City condemns the massacre of Palestinian people

January 14, 2009

Protest rally at the Israeli Embassy in Makati City

condemns the massacre of Palestinian people

January 6, 2009

Bayan Chair and ILPS Officer Dr. Carol P. Araullo

Moro Representative

OFFICE OF THE CHAIRPERSON

ILPSheader

Press Statement

4 January 2009

ILPS CONDEMNS ISRAELI GROUND INVASION OF GAZA

AND THE ESCALATING MASSACRE OF PALESTINIAN PEOPLE

By Prof. Jose Maria Sison

Chairperson, International Coordinating Committees

International League of Peoples’ Struggle

Since December 27, 2008, the US-supported Zionist Israel has carried out a war of aggression against the Palestinian people in Gaza. It has launched air strikes by F-16 jet planes and Apache helicopters and artillery shelling by naval vessels in order to massacre hundreds and injure thousands of Palestinians in Gaza and destroy their homes, mosques, schools, public buildings, oil depots, power plants, water facilities  and other infrastructure.

The massacre of the Palestinian people and the destruction of their public and private properties are being rapidly escalated with the ground invasion of Gaza by thousands of Israeli troops and tanks since evening yesterday.  The aggressors have interdicted food and medicine supplies. They have destroyed all the sources of fuel and power and have thus disabled vehicles and the hospitals.  They have killed Palestinian medical personnel and have prevented ambulances from reaching the victims of aerial bombardments, shelling by naval artillery and strafing by ground forces.

The US imperialists are hellbent on letting the Zionists wreak death and destruction on the Palestinian people without limit and with complete impunity.  They have publicly incited the Zionists to escalate their aggression and have blocked every effort in the UN Security Council to pass a ceasefire resolution and to stop the carnage.  Together with the Zionists in Israel, they want nothing less than the complete surrender and subjugation of the Palestinian people in Gaza and in the whole of Palestine.

US imperialism is being consistent and true to its evil nature. It has supplied Israel with all the military, political and economic resources to wage aggression repeatedly against the Palestinian people since 1948, occupy Palestine and drive away millions of Palestinians from their homeland.  The US has used Israel as the bridgehead of US imperialist hegemony in the Middle East and as the platform for threatening and blackmailing countries in the region, making them military and political clients and controlling the oil resources.

We, the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, reiterate in the strongest terms our condemnation of the US-supported war of aggression against the Palestinian people in Gaza and once more declare our solidarity with and support for the entire Palestinian people in their resistance against Zionist Israel and its US imperialist master.

In this regard, we also criticize and condemn those governments in the Middle East that collaborate with the US in supporting Israel directly and indirectly, delivering the oil resources of the region to the US oil giants and suppressing the resistance of the Palestinian, Arab and other peoples in the Middle East. It is a shame that the overwhelming number of Arab people are prevented by their governments from extending the most effective support to the Palestinian people.

We, the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, stand in solidarity with the Palestinian, Arab and other peoples of the world in the struggle against US imperialism and Israeli Zionism.  Once more we call on all member-organizations and allies of the ILPS to initiate as well as join protest mass actions and other activities that express and gather militant support for the resistance of the Palestinian and Arab peoples against US imperialism and Israeli Zionism. ###

Press Statement
December 29, 2008

ILPS CONDEMNS ISRAELI ATTACKS
ON THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE IN GAZA

By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairperson, International Coordinating Committee
International League of Peoples’ Struggle

The International League of Peoples’ Struggle condemns the murderous and cowardly air strikes and artillery fire unleashed by Israel on the Palestinian people in Gaza. These have already resulted in the indiscriminate killing of more than 300 people and the wounding of more than a thousand people and the destruction of office and apartment buildings, mosques, school buildings, and infrastructure. The attacks are still being escalated and the Israeli military forces have been ordered to mobilize for a fullscale invasion and reoccupation of Gaza.

The ILPS likewise condemns the US in the strongest terms for justifying and encouraging the Zionist acts of terrorism and for blaming the Palestinian people for the barbaric crimes committed by Israel against them. US imperialism has long propped up Zionist Israel, supplied to it the most powerful weapons and enabled it to commit acts of aggression, occupy Palestine for so many decades and deprive the Palestinian people of their homeland and squeeze them in a small piece of land like Gaza, which is now walled in on all sides.

It is utter mendacity and hypocrisy worthy of war criminals and mega-terrorists for both the US and Israel to put the blame on Palestine and the Palestinian people for the ongoing large-scale crimes of aggression and oppression committed by Israel against them and for the impending Israeli invasion and reoccupation of Gaza. The current call of Israel for all-out war reminds us all of the Israeli aggression against Lebanon in recent times and how far Israel can go in committing crimes against humanity with complete impunity with the encouragement and support of the US imperialists and the acquiescence of the other imperialist powers.

The ILPS stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle for national salvation and independence and for the defense of all their human and democratic rights against the onslaughts of the US-backed Israeli aggressors. We join the Palestinian and Arab people and the entire humankind in condemning the US-supported crimes of aggression of Israel and in demanding that Israel stop its scheme of all-out war of aggression.

The International League of Peoples’ Struggle therefore calls on all its member-organizations and all its allies throughout the world to carry out mass campaigns to condemn the US-Israeli collusion in the war of aggression against Palestine and the Palestinian people, to demand the end of such horrible war and to discourage and prevent Israel from using its military might to slaughter the Palestinian people. ###

Press Statement
January 6, 2009

BAYAN Statement for the Protest Action Condemning Israel’s Siege of Gaza

The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan joins the people of the world in condemning the brutal armed aggression of Israel against the Palestinian people in the Gaza. The 8-day airstrikes followed by the ground invasion of Gaza is the latest in the long list of atrocities committed by Israel against the Palestinians under the Occupation.

Israel justifies its armed aggression by saying it is a response to the rocket attacks of Hamas on Israel. This view is also supported by Israel’s # 1 ally, the United States. What Israel refuses to acknowledge is the broader context wherein this violence is happening. The actions of Hamas should be seen in the context of the brutal, more than half-century occupation of Palestinian territory by Israel. In the case of Gaza, while Israel has pulled out its troops and settlements over the past three years, Israel has effectively set up an economic blockade that systematically and collectively punishes, starves and kills the Palestinian people.

The residents of Gaza have been denied any meaningful economic activity as a result of the blockade. For months now, Israel has prevented food, medicine, and fuel from reaching Gazans. Even during the time of the airstrikes, Israel has prevented humanitarian aid from reaching Gaza as it has prevented Gazans from seeking refuge and hospital treatment outside.

It is the brutal occupation which has pushed the Palestinian people to armed resistance. It is the occupation that is the main stumbling block to a meaningful peace. It is Israel’s refusal to recognize the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and the establishment of a Palestinian State which is the root cause of violence in that region.

In light of the historical circumstances of Israeli occupation, the current offensive against the Palestinian people can never be justified.

We condemn in the strongest terms the US government for its political and military support for Israel. For decades now, US government has encouraged and supported Israel’s occupation of Palestine and its armed aggression against the Palestinian people. The US government not only provides billions of dollars of military aid to Israel, it also uses its veto power in the United Nations to support the cause of Israel. Recently, the US government rejected a UN Security Council ceasefire resolution, a clear indication that the US supports the attacks on Gaza.

We call for an end to the siege of Gaza and for immediate relief for the Palestinian people ravaged by the Israeli armed offensives. We call for an end to the inhumane blockade imposed by Israel on Gaza and for allowing much-needed aid to be brought to Gazans.

We call for an end to the Israeli occupation as the only long-term and viable path to peace. We stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their fight of genuine self-determination and freedom from oppression.

STOP THE SIEGE! STOP US-ISRAELI AGGRESSION AND TERRORISM!
END THE OCCUPATION! FREE PALESTINE!

5 JANUARY 2009
PRESS RELEASE
Reference: Garry Martinez, Chairperson
Mobile: 0921-7229740

MIGRANTE condemns Israel’s attack on Gaza

As Israeli forces rolled their tanks inside Palestinian territories in the Gaza strip after more than a week of continuous aerial bombardment that left hundreds of innocent civilians killed, an alliance of overseas Filipino workers’ (OFW) groups denounced the attacks as “barbaric” and called for the immediate end to Israel’s bloody campaign against the Palestinian people.

“Migrante International joins peace loving peoples throughout the world in condemning US-Israel’s ongoing military assault on Gaza. At the same time, we join the Palestinian people in demanding justice for those killed, hurt and displaced in the attacks. The attacks are undoubtedly fuelled by US imperialism’s intent to lord over the entire Middle East and corner its abundant oil resources,” says Garry Martinez, Chairperson of Migrante International. “We fear that this attack is merely a prelude to more acts of military aggression as the US seeks to recover from the worst financial crisis it has ever faced.”

The group asserted that the US’ role in the ongoing military aggression couldn’t be overly emphasized. They said since the end of World War II, Israel has been the largest recipient of US’ direct military aid. This vicious attack, they said, is proof that the US considers Israel as its jumping board to assert its hegemony over the Middle East.

As of this writing, over 500 Palestinians have been killed and almost 3,000 have been critically wounded inside the 25 mile Gaza strip. The Israeli Defense Force has also mobilized more than 10,000 of its armed reservists to carry out Israel’s biggest military campaign since the 2006 Lebanon war.

Migrante also slammed the Philippine government “for turning a blind eye to the US-Israeli led massacre of the Palestinian people,” and challenged the Arroyo regime to make a categorical stand in denouncing the attacks.

“We have 120 Filipinos inside strife-torn Gaza and more than 30,000 inside Israel. We believe these are enough reasons for this regime to join the chorus of nations in denouncing US-Israel’s attack on Gaza. This is the best contingency plan that the Arroyo regime can undertake if only to ensure the lives of our kababayans who will surely be caught in the crossfire,” says Martinez, whose wife is currently an OFW in Israel. ###

06 January 2009
His Excellency Zvi AVINER-VAPNI, AEP
Ambassador
Israel Embassy
23rd Floor, Trafalgar Plaza 105 H.V. dela Costa Street,
Salcedo Village, Makati City

Dear Ambassador VAPNI,

Shalom! The SALINLAHI Alliance for Children’s Concerns, a nationwide alliance of children’s organizations and child rights-based institutions here in the Philippines, strongly condemns and protests the aerial attacks of Israeli army to Gaza’s civilian populated areas that started last December 27, 2008. It is sad to see hundreds of civilians, mostly children, killed with Israeli aerial bombing strikes while thousands more were injured.

The subsequent ground operations conducted by your government’s troops last January 3 which continues to date showed the true objectives of your government’s intention in Palestine occupied territories, which is to annihilate the Palestinian people, and illegally deny them of their homeland.

We are witness to the long struggle of Palestinian people against Zionism, racism and human rights violations committed by Israel’s army with the support of the United States. Worst, the current Israeli’s invasion of Gaza deprives hundreds if not thousands of children their right to life, protection and development.

The recent occupation of Israel’s forces in Gaza, is a violation of existing international laws. The wanton destruction of civilian property, killing and maiming of children and minors further aggravates the violation of Israel to the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child wherein Israel is a signatory. It is clearly stated in UNCRC that every child should be protected at all times most especially during war. The fact that airstrikes by the Israeli army and the subsequent ground assaults which victimized children, including very young children, makes your government liable of genocide and infanticide.

We appeal to you to immediately call for a stop to the attacks against the Palestinian people in Gaza, and give the Palestinian people especially the children, their dignity to live peacefully as one country… Palestine.

Stop killing Palestinian children!

Stop US-Israel Aggression against Palestine!
Stop Israeli Attacks on Gaza! Stop the siege of Gaza!
Israeli Troops Out of Gaza Now!
End the Occupation! FREE Palestine!

(sgd)
Mr. Alphonse Rivera
Officer in charge

Bayan Muna condemns the US-backed Israeli invasion of Gaza; calls for an end to the war against the Palestinian people

Bayan Muna strongly condemns the US-backed Israel war of aggression and calls for an immediate pullout of its troops in Gaza. We support all international diplomatic efforts to put a stop to the war that can slaughter more of the 1.5 million Palestinian people, including women, children and elderly. The Palestinian people must be given justice. Their right to exist and to remain in their homeland must be respected.

Since December 27, 2008 Israeli government air bombardment, artillery shelling and the ongoing ground invasion have massacred hundreds and injured thousands of Palestinian civilians in Gaza. Homes, places of worship, hospitals, schools, government offices, oil depots, fishing ports, power plants, water facilities and other infrastructure are systematically being destroyed. Food, medicine, and medical personnel are being blocked by Israeli troops.

We likewise denounce the US government’s full support to the Israeli Zionist aggression versus the Palestinian people. It has stymied every effort in the United Nations Security Council to pass an urgent ceasefire resolution to stop the carnage. It continues to supply Israel with military

and economic aid to starve, subjugate, and evict the Palestinian people from their homeland since 1948. The US has also used Israel as an effective springboard for controlling oil resources in the Middle East, with most governments in the region rendered servile to US hegemonic interests.

We also decry the Macapagal-Arroyo government for its deafening silence when a growing number of the world’s peoples and leaders are calling for a stop to the carnage in Gaza. We urge the Philippine government to condemn the Israeli invasion of the battered Palestinian enclave that has also put in grave danger the lives and livelihood of Filipino expatriates working in Gaza. The Philippine government should support mounting calls for the pullout of Israeli forces in the Gaza strip.

The international community of nations and peoples must work for an immediate ceasefire so urgent humanitarian concerns can be addressed. We join all governments, parliamentarians, peoples’ organizations and agencies that have criticized, protested and condemned the US-backed Israeli war against Palestine and call for an immediate end of hostilities in the Gaza Strip to stop the loss of life and property there. #

News Release
06 January 2008

ANAKPAWIS ASKS PHIL. GOVERNMENT TO DENOUNCE US-BACKED ISRAELI INVASION IN GAZA

THE MILITANT Anakpawis party-list condemned the escalating Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip and asked the Philippine government to denounce the US-backed attack.

“The military offensive has already killed more than 500 Palestines including civilians since the air attacks started last December 27 and escalated into the current ground assault. We ask the Philippine government to denounce the invasion and call for an immediate truce to stop the slaughter. The Hamas rocket attacks are but pinpricks on Israel compared to the sledgehammer pounding of Israel on the 1.4-million Palestines in the Gaza Strip,” Anakpawis secretarty-general Cherry Clemente said.

Anakpawis is set to file a House Resolution on the issue but the 14th Congress is still in recess and has yet to resume session till January 19. It has however joined other militant activists in a protest action today at the Israeli embassy in Makati.

“We likewise denounce the inaction of the US at the UN Security Council on the Arab proposals for an immediate truce. There is outright support of the Bush government for the Israeli military attack. Blaming the duly-elected Hamas government in Gaza solely for the turmoil in the region is grossly unjust. The US-backed war will only worsen the local situation and is sure to aggravate the global crisis that the US war on terror has created,” Clemente said.

“The Philippine government shouldn’t reduce the issue on the mere evacuation of Filipino overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and expatriates. Just as the Israeli attack on Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006 endangared Filipino lives, the on-going attack on Hamas in the Gaza Strip, while involving lesser number of Filipinos, once again exposed our compatriots to the horrors of an unjust war. The Philippine government should do all it can in the diplomatic community to stop this atrocity and not confine itself to self-seving interests for OFW remittance senders,” Clemente added.

“Failure by the Manila government to denounce the Israeli attack would only show the utter puppetry of Macapagal-Arroyo to the US and her fascist support for the US-led war on terror and Zionist expansion,” Clemente said.

###

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Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracy

Itigil ang mga atake sa Gaza! Itigil ang agresyon at terorismo ng US-Israel!
Enero 6, 2009

Kami, sa Congress of Teachers and Educators for Nationalism and Democracy (CONTEND) ay mariing kumukundena sa walang habas na pagpaslang, pambobomba at pagyurak sa karapatang pantao ng sambayanang Palestino sa kamay ng imperyalismong Estados Unidos at ng mga papet na mga pamahalaan katulad ng Israel.

Batayang karapatang pantao na kinikilala ng United Nations ang karapatan ng mga bayang itakda ang kanilang pagsasarili. Sa mahabang kasaysayan ng pakikibaka ng mga bayan para sa pambansang kalayaan, parati nang sumasagabal dito ang mga reaksyonaryong pwersa ng imperyalismo at mga lokal na pamahalaang papet na kakuntsaba nito. Pilit na sinusupil ng mga ito ang karapatan ng mga tao sa pagsasarili sa kadahilanang mawawalan sila ng kontrol hindi lamang sa mga estratehikong likas yaman kundi pati na rin sa mga geo-estratehikal na posisyon ng pagpapalawak pangmilitar.

Muli na namang pinatunayan ito sa kasalukuyang nagaganap na pagpapatindi ngkarahasan laban sa mga mamamayang Palestino. Nagbunga ang walang patid na pambobomba at pag-atake sa mga pamayanan sa daan-daang bilang ng mga nasawi,libo- libong nasugatan, at mahahalagang pasilidad pambayan na nasalanta. Lalo pang pinatindi ang pagdurusa ng mga mamamayan sa pagtanggi ng agresibong pamahalaang Israel na makapasok ang mga lehitimong tulong panghumanitarian para maampat ang pagdurusa ng sambayanang sinasakop.

Sa kaso ng Palestina, nagkukubli ang Israel sa lambong ng kunwang pakikibaka nito laban sa terorismo upang siya mismong maglunsad ng teroristang pag-atake sa mga pamayanang Palestino.Pinalala pa ito ng matagalang blockade na pumigil sa pagpasok kahit ng mga batayang pangangailangan gaya ng suplay ng gamot, pagkain,inumin, at gamit sa ospital at kabahayan na inilunsad ng Israel ilang buwan na ang nakakaraan. Ang pagpayag at pagdepensa ng Estados Unidos bilang amo ng Israel sa nagaganap na karahasan ng kanyang kliyenteng estado, at ang patuloy napagsuporta nito sa mga teroristang pag-atake ng Israel sa mga karatig-bayan ang patunay ng sabwatang nagaganap at ang pag-uugat ng suliranin sa pusod ng imperyalistang bayan. Higit na nakababahala, binabaog ng Estados Unidos at Israel ang maraming resolusyon ng United Nations na kumikilala sa karapatan ng mga Palestinong magsarili at pumupula sa agresyong isinasakatuparan ng magkakuntsabang Estados Unidos-Israel.

Hindi mapipigilang maiugnay ito sa nagaganap na isa pang sentro ng tunggalian sa Middle East. Sa kalagayan ng Iraq, ang di matapos-tapos na karahasan laban sa mga pamayanan ng Iraqi matapos ang ilang taon ng pananakop ng Estados Unidos ang siyang nagdudulot ng lubusang paghihirap sa mga pamayanang Iraqi. Muli, sa lambong ng pagtugis sa terorismo, patuloy ang pag-atake sa mga sibilyan at mga pamayanan na sa bandang huli ay siyang magtitiyak sa geo-estratehikal naposisyon ng Estados Unidos sa pagkontrol sa likas-yaman ng Middle East.

Sa gitna na pandaigdigang krisis ng kapitalismo na sila rin ang may Kagagawan,isinasaka tuparan ng mga imperyalistang bayan ang pagpapatindi ng pakikidigma upang maisalba ang kanilang naghihingalong interes militar at industriyal. Isinasakatuparan ito kahit na magdulot ng pananakop at pagsasamantala sa mga inaaping bayan.

Sa diwa ng pandaigdigang kapatiran at pakikiisa ng mga inaaping sambayanan,naglalaa ng tinig ang CONTEND sa pandaigdigang pagkundena sa terorismong inilulunsad ng Israel at Estados Unidos laban sa mga mamamayang Palestino.

Itigil ang mga atake sa Gaza! Itigil ang agresyon at terorismo ng US-Israel!
Katarungan para sa mga biktimang Palestino ng mga atake ng US-Israel!
Igiit ang kasarinlan ng bayang Palestine!
Mabuhay ang pandaigdigang anti-imperyalistang prente!

From the blog of Prof. Sarah Raymundo, CONTEND’s Secretary General and ACT National Treasurer

Gaza Gazing
January 3, 2009

The spilling of Palestinian blood in Gaza Strip as Israeli bombardment continues (now on its 8th day) demonstrates that this is a one-sided war.

Of course, George Bush blames it on the “terrorist organization” Hamas because, as everybody knows, he is a big fat stupid fly. Meanhwile, Obama’s excuse for his silence is the “fact” that he is not yet president. As though one needs the highest position on earth to take a stand against human slaughter. President Gloria Arroyo must have heard of this yet another barbaric attack on human rights and is by now probably guessing how to milk big bucks from what she probably imagines as one of 2009’s opening salvo.

The historian Khaled Hroub claims that the Hamas is hardly an organization that has a “strong hold” on Gaza Strip. Rather, it is a deeply rooted ideology among the Palestinians in and of the Gaza Strip. But what we can know for sure is this: That at stake in this attack on Gaza is Israel’s interest of turning every space into a West Bank territory where household demolitions have become a normalized feature of everyday life. And the only reason why people from the West Bank have not for the past years been the subjects of Israeli air strikes is because they are “well behaved.” No screwy Hamas to complain nor to challenge Israeli occupation.

So far, we have heard three things from the Israeli Government: 1) that it demands permanent peace in Gaza; 2)that it did not start the fire; 3)that no significant invasion is under way.

But the ferocity of the strikes, the death toll (423 in the past 8 days and 10 more in the past hour), that thick cloud of white smoke that has drenched the northern part of Gaza made apparent yet hyperreal by television, the absolute terror of the Palestinians who barely survive as we speak should all lead us to the conclusion that Israel is not merely exercising its “right to defend itself.”

In one of his more forceful essays (Adrift in Similarity*), Edward Said speaks of an article that “was intended to supply Americans with an original thesis about the “new phase” in world politics after the end of the cold war…(119:2004).” Samuel Huntington (and may he rest in peace despite himself) was banking on a very slick notion of “civilization identity and the interactions among seven or eight [sic] major civilizations, of which the conflict between two of them, Islam and the West, gets the lion’s share of his attention” (Said, 2004:119). After an extended discussion that projects civilization and identity in the most static and essentialist way possible, Huntington argues that the “challenge for Western-policy makers…is to make sure that the West gets stronger and fends off all others, Islam in particular (2004:120).”

The U.S-backed Israeli war on Palestine is none other but the politics of the so-called post-political era of global capitalism. This era is by no means post-political. It is writ with the most hostile of conflicts that are pushed to their extremes by war investors such as Bush and his ilk, and their wager for a thriving military industrial complex through military keynesianism. This context belies the slogan “war solves nothing” because it does save the imperialist economy from total breakdown by creating a particular enemy-terrorist groups-and by subsequently vowing to annihilate them in an atrocious parade of war artillery. Indeed, not only the terrible fraud that was Oslo and Arafat are to be lambasted during these times of stressful spectatorship.

Contrary to its claim as a war against terror,– one that targets particular terrorist groups–this imperialist-led killing is patently racist and colonial. The sustained shelling in Gaza Strip even shows that it cannot target its true enemy, “the terrorists.” There is nothing surgical about the strikes that have affected the non-Jewish general population, 80% of whom are by now incapable of defending themselves; 250,000 of whom are left in the dark on account of busted electrical connection; and 500 people have just turned into refugees who mourn the death of their loved ones as they confront the terror of their own survival.

Tonight as I blog away, food shortage is all over Gaza Strip. And as I respectfully urge all of you to join the indignation protest on Tuesday at the Embassy of Israel in the district of acceptable greed called Makati, the Palestinians of the Strip have nowhere to go since Gaza has been sealed off on all three sides by the Israeli army. It’s a state of war for the people of Gaza. Yet, it is not a war between two equal armies. This leaves us with no reason not to fight on their side.

*in From Oslo to Iraq And the Road Map (2004). New York: Pantheon Books.

The Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracy or CONTEND is a progressive organization of academics based in the University of the Philippines-Diliman.

www.freeweb.com/upcontend/

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KMU slams imperialist instigation of Gaza war
Submitted by KMU on Tue, 2009-01-06 11:25. :: English News

Kilusang Mayo Uno joins the international community today in strongly denouncing the latest war of aggression brutally unleashed by the US-Zionist Israeli regime in Gaza.

“Fireworks from tanks, F16s, Apache helicopters and the latest weaponry tainted Gaza’s new year. Imperialist aggression has again demonstrated how it can ruthlessly destroy lives, properties and livelihoods just to preserve itself in power,” said KMU Chairperson Elmer Labog.

Labog claimed that the real culprit can never be clearer, as the US supplies more than US$3 billion of aid, war artillery and vehicles to Israel every year.

“The US resorts to its terrorist-tagging schemes to pin down Palestinians and blame them for starting the chaos. But the Palestinians’ fight for their right to life, liberty, and sovereignty – honed by thousands of years of struggle – are valid and just. They are victims of imperialist interests, just like the rest of the oppressed peoples of the world.”

“The US has all the motives to back Israel, as the renewed attacks can pave the way for their greater control of the Middle East’s natural resources and territory – its precious oil reserves most especially.

“Amid the financial crisis, the US is now more than ever struggling to get hold of the world’s wealth. Wars of aggression such as this serve to suppress the imperialist’s convulsions from the crisis.

“This is no different from the US’ backing up of the war against the MILF and the Moro people in our homeland. In the guise of anti-terrorism, they are threatening to wipe out the strong resistance of the Moro people and use Mindanao in acquiring economic and political hegemony in Asia.

“We warn Gloria Arroyo, one of Uncle Sam’s most favorite puppets, not to deliver support again to this latest war of aggression,” Labog added.

“We are all victims of one war criminal, so we are all called on to partake in this struggle for the liberty and vindication of all. We call on all peace loving people of the world to strongly condemn the US-Zionist Israel war of aggression against the Palestinian people, to call for the immediate end to the Israeli raids and ground assaults in the Gaza strip, and to demand the immediate withdrawal of the Israeli military forces in Palestine.” Labog ended. ###

As of Friday morning, more than 360,000 petitions have been sent!
Please add your voice to the thousands who are demanding: Stop the massacre in Gaza!

Please help get the word out – pass this message along, post it on local bulleting boards & Indymedia,

Sign the Petition Online Now – http://www.iacenter .org/gazapetitio n

Join the ONLINE PETITION initiated by Ramsey Clark – sign on and send the message to President Bush, President-Elect Obama, VP Cheney, VP-Elect Biden, Secretary of State Rice, Secretary of State designate Clinton, Congressional leaders, the U.N. Secretary General, Security Council, the Israeli President, Prime Minister and cabinet, and members of the world media appealing for Israel to Immediately Cease Its Murderous Bombing, Siege and Threatened Invasion of Palestinian Gaza



Urgent Appeal for Israel to Immediately Cease Its Murderous Bombing, Siege and Threatened Invasion of Palestinian Gaza!

To: President George W. Bush, President-Elect Barack Obama, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, Secretary of State Designate Hillary Clinton, Vice President Richard Cheney, Vice President-elect Joe Biden, Congressional leaders, U.N. Secretary General Ban, U.N. General Assembly President d’Escoto-Brockmann, members of the U.N. Security Council, U.N. member states, the President, Prime Minister, Cabinet and Opposition leader of Israel, and Major media representatives:

For 60 years, Israel has persecuted the Palestinian people with impunity in defiance of United Nations General Assembly and United Nations Security Council Resolutions, orders of the International Court of Justice, International Law and fundamental human rights.

Throughout the years, Israel has proclaimed itself the victim as it grew richer, more powerful and more violent, while

URGENT!

The International Action Center is mobilizing for demonstrations across the U.S. to stop the attack on Gaza, and we are networking with activists across the globe who are taking to the streets against U.S./Israeli war crimes. To view a roundup of the growing number of international actions, see: http://www.iacenter .org/palestine/ gazademos123108.

Please consider making an emergency donation at http://www.iacenter .org/donate
to help with the costs of organizing and mobilizing.

NYC: Gaza Massacre: Emergency Demonstration – Sat. Jan. 3, 1 pm, Times Square

Emergency Demo in Boston, Sat, Jan 3: Stop the US/Israeli Attack on Gaza!

LA event Friday at 4:30 pm at the Israeli Consulate at 6380 Wilshire Blvd in Los Angeles

Solidarity with heroic Gaza: Statement from the International Action Center – Dec. 27, 2008 / also en Español

Video: Support for Gaza!
http://www.youtube. com/watch? v=E4hejAqOUMY&feature=channel_ page

Palestinians were abused, impoverished, divided and demeaned.

A consistent tactic of Israel through all the years has been to divide Palestinians against their most effective organizations. Through most of the recent years Israel has attacked Fatah. Now it is Hamas that Israel attacks. But there is only one Palestinian people and there can be only one Palestinian State. This has been the guiding principle of the PLO. Israel’s policy has always been to destroy the possibility of a Palestinian State. Its criminal assault on Hamas is in truth Israel’s continuing assault on the possibility of a Palestinian State: divide and conquer.

Now in the waning days of the disastrous Bush Administration, the government of Israel with its Prime Minister under criminal indictment, is testing whether world opinion will permit it to escalate its isolation and impoverishment of Palestine and selective and systematic assassination of Palestinian leadership in Gaza to a genocidal, indiscriminate assault and invasion of Palestinian Gaza, knowing full well its acts will inflame passions throughout the Middle East and Arab and Muslim worlds risking conflict of disastrous magnitude in Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, even between India and Pakistan.

Beyond crushing Gaza’s capacity to resist and imposing its final solution on Palestinians, Israel is seeking confrontation that will lead to war with the U.S., the European Union, and NATO fighting for Israel against Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Pakistan and Afghanistan to impair their ability to prevent expansion of Israel’s domination of the region while the “only one President at a time” the U.S. has, George W. Bush, will support Israel, finding all fault with Gaza.

In these dangerous and difficult days and hours the undersigned call upon the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, NATO members, and European countries independently, the governments of Asia, foremost China, India, Indonesia and Pakistan, the nations of Africa, and the Americas to demand an immediate ceasefire throughout Israel and Palestine and the assurance of peace. All borders to Gaza, Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea, must be opened for humanitarian relief and a complete arms and trade embargo on Israel until it fully complies with all the requirements of permanent peace.

We call upon all the people, the ultimate power in every nation when organized and energized, to take to the streets where they live and demand that their governments do all in their power to cause Israel to stop its war of aggression against Palestine and for all parties to pursue peace and for Israel, the U.S. and other nations who have provided material support for Israel’s aggression to be held accountable for the deaths, injuries and damage Israel has inflicted.

We call upon governments and humanitarian agencies to provide all needed emergency relief to Palestine – medical care, food, humanitarian supplies, shelter; and on all the media that truly seeks peace, justice and respect for the equal dignity of every child, woman and man on earth to headline the demand that Israel stop its aggression immediately. All parties must engage in continuous negotiation with all Palestinians until a one state solution is agreed or the state of Palestine as mandated not later than October 1948 in UN General Assembly Resolution 181 (1947) is created, fully implemented, and Palestine thrives.

Sincerely,

Initiated and signed by
Ramsey Clark, winner, 2008 U.N.Human Rights Award and Founder, International Action Center

Add your signature to this letter now – go to http://www.iacenter .org/gazapetitio n

Photos: BAYAN-Canada in Toronto Denounces Israel’s Bombing of Gaza

January 13, 2009

BAYAN-Canada in Toronto
Denounces Israel’s Bombing of Gaza

Toronto, Canada

Janaury 3, 2009

More than 380 people were indiscriminately killed by cowardly air strikes and artillery fire unleashed by Israel on the Palestinian people in Gaza. Many of the victims are children, women and elderly. The targets have included hospitals, mosques, the Islamic university and other social institutions of the Palestinian people. People in Toronto respond to the international condemnation of this act by the state of Israel to the Palestinian people.

BAYAN-Canada in Toronto
Denounces Israel’s Bombing of Gaza

BAYAN-Toronto, the Toronto section of BAYAN-Philippines, the legal alliance of progressive Filipino organizations, condemns the state of Israel for its bombing and shelling of the Palestinian people in Gaza. As of this writing, 380 people have been killed, including many women and children, over 1000 injured and numerous properties destroyed. This outrage was preceded by many months of siege by Israel to deprive the Palestinian people of necessities like food and medicines in order to try to overthrow the legitimately elected government of Palestine. Its background has been almost 60 years of outrage by Israel against the Palestinian people: ethnic cleansing through wholesale terrorism, illegitimate seizure of Palestinian farms, homes and other properties, daily humiliations, state sponsored torture, collective punishment, racism and systemic discrimination against Arabs and other people of colour, and the turning of what little is left of the Palestinian homeland into a giant prison camp divided into apartheid style reserves or bantustans.

This horror has only been possible because the state of Israel has received yearly, without fail, billions of dollars of economic and military aid from the United States, and unfailing political support from the same and its co-imperialist allies. To its great shame, Canada has not been lacking in its support of Israel’s horrors against the Palestinian people. Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon has put the blame for the Israeli aggressions against the Palestinian people on the victims themselves. Shame!

Let us be crystal clear on the character of Israel. Israel is a settler colonial state imposed by European Zionists against the native people of Palestine through deprivation of Palestinian freedom, rights, property, peace, justice, institutions, safely and lives. Israel is a racist state that treats its Arab minority as second class and even mistreats coloured Jews. Israel is a theocracy that discriminates against people on the basis of religion. Israel is a fascist state that engages in systemic torture and collective punishment. This is a society that regularly contemplates in its mass media the utter liquidation of the Palestinian nation as a nation and its effacement from its homeland.

Those who call, therefore, for Israel’s right to self-defence are defending ethnic cleansing, state sponsored terrorism, collective punishment, state use of torture, harassment and humiliation, bulldozing of homes and people, the shooting of women and children, the destruction of infrastructure and all institutions required by the Palestinian people to exist. Shame on Cannon! Shame on Harper and the Conservatives! Shame on the Canadian government! Shame on the Canadian state!

We, Filipinos, are in profound solidarity with the Palestinian people. Though Palestine and the Philippines are on opposite sides of Asia, we have many things in common. Like the Palestinian people, millions of Filipinos are regularly deprived of decent wages, basic rights, and a humane livelihood: collective punishment, torture, imprisonment, exile from our homes, destruction of our economy, destruction of our culture, ethnic cleansing, etc. Some more in Palestine, others more in the Philippines! Though different in specifics, we are both oppressed nations under the boot of US imperialism, and its allies like Canadian imperialism. Whereas the US acts through a proxy settler state against the Palestinian people, its acts through a neocolonial state against the Filipino people. That is all. Now, our Filipino migrant workers in the West Bank too experience daily the racism of their Israeli bosses and other Israelis, on the one hand, and the friendship of Palestinians among whom Filipino migrant workers live, on the other hand.

STOP THE ATTACKS ON GAZA!
JUSTICE FOR THE PALESTINIAN VICTIMS OF THE US-ISRAELI ATTACKS!
WITHDRAW US ECONOMIC, POLITICAL AND MILITARY AID TO ISRAEL AND THE PHILIPPINES!
LONG LIVE INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY!

3 January 2009

(Photo Courtesy: Al Calara and Jonathan Canchela)

Arkibong Bayan

The war isn’t over, but Israel has lost

January 13, 2009

Written by Tony Karon
Friday, 09 January 2009
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I. The Last Waltz?
Repeating behaviors that have produced catastrophic failures and expecting a different result is insane; and when a person’s psychotic behavior puts himself and those around him in immediate physical danger, the responsibility of those who claim to be his friends is to restrain him. But even as Waltz With Bashir shows in multiplexes across the world as a grim reminder of the precedent for Israel’s brutal march of folly in Gaza, the US (and the editors of the New York Times and Washington Post) insist that there is a sanity and rationality to sending one of the world’s most powerful armies into a giant refugee camp to rend the flesh and crush the bones of those who stand in its way — whether in defiance or by being unlucky enough to have been born of the wrong tribe and be huddling in the wrong place. By fighting its way to their citadel, they would have us believe, Israel can destroy Hamas and usher in a golden age of peace. Or, to borrow from the casual callousness of Condi Rice during the last such display of futile brutality, we are witnessing, again, the “birth pangs of a new Middle East.” Israel failed in 2006, just as in 2002 and 1982. This time, they tell us, will be different.

And then the horror unfolds, as it always does — the hundreds of civilians accidentally massacred as they cowered in what they were told were places of safety, mocking Israel’s torrent of self congratulation over its restraint and its brilliant intelligence — and the hopelessly out-gunned enemy manages to survive, as he does every time. And by surviving, grows stronger politically. No matter how many are killed, the leaders targeted by Israel’s military are endlessly regenerated in the fertile soil of grievance and resentment born of the circumstances Israel has created. Circumstances it has created, but which it, and its most fervent backers refuse to acknowledge, much less redress.

Arafat is dead and gone. So are Sheikh Yassin, and Rantissi. And Abbas al-Musawi, and Imad Mughniyeh. Israel’s ruthless efficiency at killing the leaders of Palestinian and Lebanese resistance groups is second to none, and yet, no matter who it kills, there are always thousands more, ready to declare, “I am Spartacus”. That’s because those who step up to lead these organizations are acting not out of personal ambition — leadership in Hamas is a death sentence. The endless stream of Palestinians willing to sacrifice themselves in the role, then, is a symptom of the condition of their people. And Israel’s leaders know this. Asked when running for Prime Minister a decade ago what he’d have done if he’d been born Palestinian, Ehud Barak — the man directing the current operation in Gaza — answered bluntly, “I’d have joined a terror organization.”

By the logic of his own instinct on the campaign trail in 1999, Ehud Barak should know that Operation Cast Lead in Gaza cannot succeed, except, perhaps, in reviving his own political prospects. No matter how many leaders, militants and ordinary civilians Israel kills in Gaza, Hamas — or something like it — will survive.

Waltz With Bashir — a movie that had to be made in Israel, I venture, because questioning Israeli militarism would have been deemed “anti-Semitic” in Hollywood — reminds us that, in 1982, Ariel Sharon led an invasion of Lebanon supposedly aimed at stopping attacks on northern Israel, advancing all the way to Beirut in order to crush the PLO. Sure, the PLO was driven out of Beirut and exiled to Tunisia, but the Israelis were forced within six years to begin negotiating with it because of the uprising of the youth of the West Bank and Gaza. Lebanon in 1982 was a brutal and ultimately futile campaign that delivered only the brutal images of the massacres at Sabra and Shatila around which the movie centers.

Since 1982, of course, Israel has laid siege to and bombed nearly every major Palestinian city, killing and imprisoning thousands of Palestinians, blundering into Lebanon again in 2006 and killing another thousand Lebanese, repeatedly bombed Gaza and choked off its economy for much of the past three years, and yet, nothing has changed: They have killed some 700 in Gaza now, and still the rockets come; regardless of the state of its structures, Hamas is politically stronger on the Palestinian street, while those Palestinian leaders who have cooperated with Israel and the US are weaker and more discredited than ever. The Israelis — and their backers in the American political establishment — appear incapable of grasping that which is empirically obvious: Hamas and its ilk grow stronger every time Israel seeks to eliminate them by force.

II. Dangerous Illusions and a War of Choice

“But what choice did Israel have?” say those in its amen corner in the US. “No normal society would tolerate rocket fire on its territory. Hamas left it no option.”

Well, actually, as Jimmy Carter explains from first-hand experience, Israel had plenty of alternatives and chose to ignore them, because it remains locked into the failed US-backed policy of trying to overturn the democratic verdict of the 2006 Palestinian election that made Hamas the ruling party of the Palestinian Authority. The primary Israeli-US-European strategy here (tacitly backed by Arab autocrats from Mubarak to Mahmoud Abbas) has been to apply increasingly strict economic sanctions, in the hope that choking off the chances of a decent life for the 1.5 million people of Gaza would somehow force them to reverse their political choice. Collective punishment, in other words. So, even when Hamas observed a cease-fire between June and November, Israel refused to open the border crossings. When the exchange of fire began again on November 5 when Israel raided what it said was a Hamas tunnel, Hamas escalated its rocket fire but made clear that it would restore and extend the cease-fire if Israel agreed to open the border crossings. Israel’s answer, Carter explains, was if Hamas ceased firing, Israel would allow 15% of the normal traffic of goods into Gaza. And it’s any surprise that Hamas was not prepared to settle for just a 15% loosening of the economic stranglehold?

Hamas appeared to believe that creating a crisis would force Israel to agree to new terms. Whether this was a mistaken belief or not actually remains to be seen: If the truce that ends Israel’s Operation Cast Lead leaves Hamas intact and includes the lifting of the siege, it will claim vindication. Even now, Israeli leaders continue to insist, idiotically, that Hamas cannot be allowed to achieve any diplomatic gains as a result of any truce that must, of necessity, require its diplomatic cooperation. Just as in 2006, the Israelis have achieved the exact opposite political result to what they intended: They have made it abundantly obvious, even to the incoming US administration, that the policy of trying to isolate Hamas is spectacularly dysfunctional, and will have to be abandoned as a matter of urgency.

Even as the realization begins to dawn that their adversary, once again, will emerge politically stronger from a military pummeling, the Israelis contemplate one last bloody foray into the heart of Gaza City, hoping that military action can weaken Hamas and force it to surrender to Israel’s terms. Some American policymakers even cling to the fantasy that they can reimpose the regime of the pliant Mahmoud Abbas on Gaza — a pathetic fantasy, to be sure, because close observers of Palestinian politics know that the only thing keeping Abbas in charge of the West Bank, right now, is the presence of the Israeli Defense Force, and it’s willingness to lock up his opponents. Conveniently, for example, Abbas doesn’t have to deal with his own legislature, which is dominated by Hamas, because Israel has locked up most of the legislators. Mahmoud Abbas has allowed himself to be turned into a Palestinian Petain, and even much of the rank and file of his own Fatah party has turned against him. Not even the Israelis believe he could control Gaza without them, and they are not inclined to stay.

If Hamas is not allowed to govern in Gaza, chances are that nobody will govern in Gaza. It will look more like Mogadishu than like the West Bank — a chaotic cauldron run by rival warlords, with Hamas — no longer responsible for governance — the most powerful political-military presence (although al-Qaeda will fancy its chances of setting up shop if the Hamas government is overthrown — Hamas is the greatest bulwark against Bin Laden’s crowd gaining a foothold in Gaza).

III. Palestinian Sovereignty

The other trope being desperately worked by Israel’s cheering section is the idea that this is simply another episode of a regional conflict between Israel and its mortal foe, Iran. Hamas, we are told, by many media outlets that ought to know better, is a “proxy of Iran”. This is simply not the case, and sober regional analysts know it: Hamas is certainly dependent on Iranian cash in Gaza, although those Western and Israeli strategic geniuses who deprived it of all other sources of funding ought not be surprised that Hamas turned for funds to those who would offer them. No doubt it will take whatever military assistance it was offered, too. But Hamas shares neither ideology nor the kind of political relationship with Iran that Hizballah does, in Lebanon. Hamas was the creation of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, originally, and its political decision making is entirely independent of Iran. Syria is more politically influential over Hamas, of course, and Syria is hardly a proxy of Iran despite their alliance — if it was, why would the US be working so hard on a diplomatic strategy to break that alliance? Moreover, the idea of Iran on some sort of path of confrontation with Israel is something of a phantom. Sure, Ahmadinejad loves to warn that Israel will disappear, but he, and his superior, have long made clear that Iran has no intention of attacking Israel. And you’d think that those who insist that Iran’s mullahs exist in order to destroy Israel, even at the cost of their own survival (you know, the argument that the iranians are so ideologically committed to Israel’s destruction that normal deterrence policies won’t restrain them) might want to answer this question: Why has Hizballah refrained from firing its massive arsenal of rockets at Israel as it butchers Palestinians in Gaza? Israel tells us they have the means, and there’s no doubt they have the implacable rage. Could the answer be that this Iranian proxy is being restrained by the pragmatic concern for its own survival and progress in Lebanon? And if so, what does this tell us about Iran? Then again, Iran is not especially relevant to the conflict in Gaza.

Nor was the crisis there created by the militancy of Hamas; instead, it’s the final bloody chapter in the failed Bush Administration-Israeli strategy to overthrow Hamas. The alternative to war, ignored by Israel but patently obvious, is simple: It will have to negotiate with Hamas. (And spare me the “but Hamas doesn’t recognize Israel’s right to exist” argument: No Palestinian leader would, if offered the chance to reverse history, allow Israel to have come into existence, for the simple reason that Israel’s emergence was the Palestinian Nakbah, the catastrophe that dispossessed them and made them refugees. Israel started talking to the PLO long before its charter was revised to allow for recognizing Israel; its leaders realized that Israel could not be militarily defeated. Many in Hamas have come to the same conclusion; Efraim Halevy, the former head of Mossad, argues that Hamas is moving towards acceptance of a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders. The Americans are simply going to have to let go of the idea that they’re going to negotiate with a Palestinian leadership that answers to them, as Mahmoud Abbas does, rather than one that answers to the Palestinian public.)

As Oxford-based Israeli historian Avi Shlaim writes:

Israel likes to portray itself as an island of democracy in a sea of authoritarianism. Yet Israel has never in its entire history done anything to promote democracy on the Arab side and has done a great deal to undermine it. Israel has a long history of secret collaboration with reactionary Arab regimes to suppress Palestinian nationalism. Despite all the handicaps, the Palestinian people succeeded in building the only genuine democracy in the Arab world with the possible exception of Lebanon. In January 2006, free and fair elections for the Legislative Council of the Palestinian Authority brought to power a Hamas-led government. Israel, however, refused to recognise the democratically elected government, claiming that Hamas is purely and simply a terrorist organisation.

America and the EU shamelessly joined Israel in ostracising and demonising the Hamas government and in trying to bring it down by withholding tax revenues and foreign aid. A surreal situation thus developed with a significant part of the international community imposing economic sanctions not against the occupier but against the occupied, not against the oppressor but against the oppressed.

As so often in the tragic history of Palestine, the victims were blamed for their own misfortunes. Israel’s propaganda machine persistently purveyed the notion that the Palestinians are terrorists, that they reject coexistence with the Jewish state, that their nationalism is little more than antisemitism, that Hamas is just a bunch of religious fanatics and that Islam is incompatible with democracy. But the simple truth is that the Palestinian people are a normal people with normal aspirations. They are no better but they are no worse than any other national group. What they aspire to, above all, is a piece of land to call their own on which to live in freedom and dignity.

Like other radical movements, Hamas began to moderate its political programme following its rise to power. From the ideological rejectionism of its charter, it began to move towards pragmatic accommodation of a two-state solution. In March 2007, Hamas and Fatah formed a national unity government that was ready to negotiate a long-term ceasefire with Israel. Israel, however, refused to negotiate with a government that included Hamas.

It continued to play the old game of divide and rule between rival Palestinian factions. In the late 1980s, Israel had supported the nascent Hamas in order to weaken Fatah, the secular nationalist movement led by Yasser Arafat. Now Israel began to encourage the corrupt and pliant Fatah leaders to overthrow their religious political rivals and recapture power. Aggressive American neoconservatives participated in the sinister plot to instigate a Palestinian civil war. Their meddling was a major factor in the collapse of the national unity government and in driving Hamas to seize power in Gaza in June 2007 to pre-empt a Fatah coup.

The war unleashed by Israel on Gaza on 27 December was the culmination of a series of clashes and confrontations with the Hamas government. In a broader sense, however, it is a war between Israel and the Palestinian people, because the people had elected the party to power. The declared aim of the war is to weaken Hamas and to intensify the pressure until its leaders agree to a new ceasefire on Israel’s terms. The undeclared aim is to ensure that the Palestinians in Gaza are seen by the world simply as a humanitarian problem and thus to derail their struggle for independence and statehood.

Shlaim introduces us to the deeper flaw in the “no normal society would tolerate rocket fire” reasoning: Israel, quite simply, is not a normal society. It is a country without fixed legal borders, and the disputes over where those borders should be drawn — the basic conflict not over religion or ideology, but over land and power — is at the very epicenter of the current clash in Gaza, and of Israel’s never-ending series of wars with those around it.

One can only hope, with great fervor, that Barak Obama has heeded the wisdom of his foreign policy tutor Brent Scowcroft, whose observations about the folly of the Bush Administration backing Israel’s 2006 campaign against Hizballah apply as much to today’s offensive in Gaza: “Hezbollah is not the source of the problem,” Scowcroft wrote in the Washington Post. “It is a derivative of the cause, which is the tragic conflict over Palestine that began in 1948. The eastern shore of the Mediterranean is in turmoil from end to end, a repetition of continuing conflicts in one part or another since the abortive attempts of the United Nations to create separate Israeli and Palestinian states in 1948.”

If that were true in Lebanon, it’s even more so in Gaza. To understand everything from why Hamas refuses to recognize the State of Israel; why it fights by means both fair and terribly foul; and why it won Gaza by a landslide in the 2006 election; a good starting point is the demographic composition of the strip — 80% of today’s Gazans are refugee families, who were driven out of homes and off land they owned inside what is now Israel in 1948, and forbidden by one of the founding laws of the State of Israel from ever returning. Is it any surprise then that the basic default position of Palestinian politics has always been to refrain from “recognizing” Israel in the sense of simply abandoning their own claims to homes and land stolen from them by Israel’s very creation. Sure, Israel can say it won the war of 1948, and to the victor the spoils. But what would Ehud Barak do if it had been his father or grandfather who’d been forced off a farm in Ashkelon and now found himself in the hellhole of Gaza? You already know his answer.

And that answer will remain the same (even if Barak would never dream of admitting it any longer) as long as justice and dignity is denied to the community that gave rise to Hamas.

What Operation Cast Lead has revealed in stark and brutal terms, is that Israel’s leadership is incapable of transcending the dysfunctional patterns that lock it into a morbid cycle that precludes Middle East stability. Israel is moving steadily to the right politically — even when the center-left was in power and negotiating with the Palestinians, settlements on occupied land expanded at a steady clip; no Israeli government for the foreseeable future is going to withdraw from the West Bank to the Green Line. So, if the madness is to be stopped, Israel and the Palestinians will have to be told where their borders are, as part of an internationally enforced, fair settlement that gives the parties no choice, and provides the Turkish troops to enforce it. But hey, I’m not holding my breath.

[Source: Rootless Cosmopolitan.]

In Montreal Canada: Candlelight vigil in solidarity with the people of Gaza

January 13, 2009

In Montreal Canada:

Candlelight vigil in solidarity with the people of Gaza

January 1, 2009

Participants in the candlelight vigit reiterated a call put out by over 170 Palestinian organizations calling for a comprehemsive campaign of boycott, sanctions and divestment in Israel.

The action was organized by the Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) and Tadamon! Montréal and supported by many groups including the International League of Peoples’ Struggle – Canada (ILPS – Canada)

New Year’s Eve candlelight vigil in solidarity with Gaza held in Montreal, Canada

Montreal, Canada 31-12-08 — Demonstrators braved freezing cold weather here on on New Year’s Eve to commemorate the Palestinian victims of the Israeli massacre in Gaza.

As 2009 began, “Solidarity with Gaza” demanded an immediate end to the Israeli assault and addressed the Canadian government’s total support to Israel which incudes increased biliateral military, political and economic ties and a refusal to denounce this further Israeli aggression.

Gaza is now on the verge of a humanitarian crisis triggered by severely reduced access to energy, food and medicines since it is essentially the world’s largest open air prison.

Participants reiterated a call put out by over 170 Palestinian organizations calling for a comprehemsive campaign of boycot, canctions and divestment in Israel. Twenty years ago such a campaign put pressure on another apartheid regime, South Africa, and led to its eventual demise.

The action was organized by the Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) http://www.sphr.org and Tadamon! Montréal http://www.tadamon.ca and supported by many groups including the International League of Peoples’ Struggle – Canada (ILPS – Canada) http://ilps-canada.typepad.com/.

Malcolm Guy

+++++

CAP-CPC demands an end to the Israeli massacre in Gaza
Montréal, Québec (1-1-09) — The Centre d’appui aux Philippines / Center for Philippine Concerns (CAP-CPC) condemns in no uncertain terms the Israeli regime for its barbaric act of massacre against the people in the Gaza. The CAP-CPC joins millions in demanding an immediate end to this crime against humanity.

The massacre in the last few days has resulted in three people killed and 14 wounded each hour. And there is no plan to stop the killing but instead the Israeli military forces armed with US weapons are being amassed along the walled borders ready for the signal to go into the Gaza for re-occupation and carnage. This is totally unacceptable. The United States has encouraged the Israeli regime to continue its aggression and President elect Barrack Obama has maintained a deafening silence. The Canadian government has tacitly approved of this action by its refusal to condemn the Israeli aggression. Once again the war on terror is being used in order to perpetrate genocide on people who have been cornered and walled in for the last three generations.

The CAP-CPC sends this message to all peace-loving Israelis: STOP your Zionist regime from committing continued acts of outright murder against the people in the Gaza. Let not your hands and the generations to come be soiled with the blood of old people, men, women, youth, children and infants because of the Israeli government.

It is utter hypocrisy for both the US and Israel to put the blame on Palestine and the Palestinian people for the ongoing large-scale crimes of aggression and oppression committed by Israel against them and for the impending Israeli invasion. This is not a war against Hamas, the elected government in Gaza, but a well-coordinated war of annihilation against the Palestinian people. There can only be peace if there is justice in Palestine.

The current call of Israel for all-out war reminds us all of the Israeli aggression against Lebanon in recent times and how far Israel can go in committing crimes against humanity with complete impunity with the encouragement and support of the US imperialists and the acquiescence of the other imperialist powers like Canada.

The CAP-CPC stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle for national salvation and independence and for the defence of all their human and democratic rights against the onslaughts of the US-backed Israeli aggressors. We join the Palestinian and Arab people and the entire humankind in condemning the US-supported crimes of aggression of Israel and in demanding that the Israeli regime stop its all-out war of aggression.

There can only be peace in Palestine if it is accompanied by justice and an end to 60 years of occupation and exploitation. The CAP-CPC supports the call for a comprehensive campaign of boycott, sanctions and divestment against Israel. Such a campaign eventually helped bring down a similar apartheid regime in South Africa.

The Centre d’appui aux Philippines / Center for Philippine Concerns is an organization of Filipinos and non-Filipinos in Montreal, Canada. It advocates for the promotion of and respect for human rights in the Philippines and around the globe and supports the people’s struggles for fundamental social, political and economic rights.

— HR Desk of the Centre d’appui aux Philippines / Centre for Philippine Concerns (CAP-CPC Montréal)
see http://cap-cpc.blogspot.com/

Press Statement
December 29, 2008

ILPS CONDEMNS ISRAELI ATTACKS
ON THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE IN GAZA
By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairperson, International Coordinating Committee
International League of Peoples’ Struggle

The International League of Peoples’ Struggle condemns the murderous and cowardly air strikes and artillery fire unleashed by Israel on the Palestinian people in Gaza. These have already resulted in the indiscriminate killing of more than 300 people and the wounding of more than a thousand people and the destruction of office and apartment buildings, mosques, school buildings, and infrastructure. The attacks are still being escalated and the Israeli military forces have been ordered to mobilize for a fullscale invasion and reoccupation of Gaza.

The ILPS likewise condemns the US in the strongest terms for justifying and encouraging the Zionist acts of terrorism and for blaming the Palestinian people for the barbaric crimes committed by Israel against them. US imperialism has long propped up Zionist Israel, supplied to it the most powerful weapons and enabled it to commit acts of aggression, occupy Palestine for so many decades and deprive the Palestinian people of their homeland and squeeze them in a small piece of land like Gaza, which is now walled in on all sides.

It is utter mendacity and hypocrisy worthy of war criminals and mega-terrorists for both the US and Israel to put the blame on Palestine and the Palestinian people for the ongoing large-scale crimes of aggression and oppression committed by Israel against them and for the impending Israeli invasion and reoccupation of Gaza. The current call of Israel for all-out war reminds us all of the Israeli aggression against Lebanon in recent times and how far Israel can go in committing crimes against humanity with complete impunity with the encouragement and support of the US imperialists and the acquiescence of the other imperialist powers.

The ILPS stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle for national salvation and independence and for the defense of all their human and democratic rights against the onslaughts of the US-backed Israeli aggressors. We join the Palestinian and Arab people and the entire humankind in condemning the US-supported crimes of aggression of Israel and in demanding that Israel stop its scheme of all-out war of aggression.

The International League of Peoples’ Struggle therefore calls on all its member-organizations and all its allies throughout the world to carry out mass campaigns to condemn the US-Israeli collusion in the war of aggression against Palestine and the Palestinian people, to demand the end of such horrible war and to discourage and prevent Israel from using its military might to slaughter the Palestinian people. ###

Photos: Filipinos in Amsterdam join demo vs. Israeli attacks on Gaza

January 13, 2009

Filipinos in Amsterdam join demo vs. Israeli attacks on Gaza

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Janaury 3, 2009

Filipinos in Amsterdam join demo vs. Israeli attacks on Gaza

Several representatives of Filipino organizations based in the Netherlands joined the big demonstration in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, last Jan. 3, 2009, to condemn the latest Israeli attack on Gaza.

They joined some 5,000 mostly Palestinians, and peoples from the Middle East together with leaders of Dutch support groups for Palestine. They denounced the latest Israeli attacks and invasion of Gaza that has already cost the lives of hundreds of Palestinians, mostly civilians, women and children.

The Filipino activists distributed statements of the ILPS and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) condemning the Israeli attacks.

The protesters, who came from all walks of life and included some prominent Dutch politicians, marched along the city center of Amsterdam.

The Filipino activists carried two big murals that depicted the persevering struggle of the Palestinian people for a free homeland.

The demonstration in Amsterdam was a reply to a worldwide call to express support for the people of Palestine. Other big demonstrations were held in France, the UK, Belgium, Germany, and Italy. #

Press Statement
4 January 2009

ILPS CONDEMNS ISRAELI GROUND INVASION OF GAZA
AND THE ESCALATING MASSACRE OF PALESTINIAN PEOPLE

By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairperson, International Coordinating Committees
International League of Peoples’ Struggle

Since December 27, 2008, the US-supported Zionist Israel has carried out a war of aggression against the Palestinian people in Gaza. It has launched air strikes by F-16 jet planes and Apache helicopters and artillery shelling by naval vessels in order to massacre hundreds and injure thousands of Palestinians in Gaza and destroy their homes, mosques, schools, public buildings, oil depots, power plants, water facilities and other infrastructure.

The massacre of the Palestinian people and the destruction of their public and private properties are being rapidly escalated with the ground invasion of Gaza by thousands of Israeli troops and tanks since evening yesterday. The aggressors have interdicted food and medicine supplies. They have destroyed all the sources of fuel and power and have thus disabled vehicles and the hospitals. They have killed Palestinian medical personnel and have prevented ambulances from reaching the victims of aerial bombardments, shelling by naval artillery and strafing by ground forces.

The US imperialists are hellbent on letting the Zionists wreak death and destruction on the Palestinian people without limit and with complete impunity. They have publicly incited the Zionists to escalate their aggression and have blocked every effort in the UN Security Council to pass a ceasefire resolution and to stop the carnage. Together with the Zionists in Israel, they want nothing less than the complete surrender and subjugation of the Palestinian people in Gaza and in the whole of Palestine.

US imperialism is being consistent and true to its evil nature. It has supplied Israel with all the military, political and economic resources to wage aggression repeatedly against the Palestinian people since 1948, occupy Palestine and drive away millions of Palestinians from their homeland. The US has used Israel as the bridgehead of US imperialist hegemony in the Middle East and as the platform for threatening and blackmailing countries in the region, making them military and political clients and controlling the oil resources.

We, the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, reiterate in the strongest terms our condemnation of the US-supported war of aggression against the Palestinian people in Gaza and once more declare our solidarity with and support for the entire Palestinian people in their resistance against Zionist Israel and its US imperialist master.

In this regard, we also criticize and condemn those governments in the Middle East that collaborate with the US in supporting Israel directly and indirectly, delivering the oil resources of the region to the US oil giants and suppressing the resistance of the Palestinian, Arab and other peoples in the Middle East. It is a shame that the overwhelming number of Arab people are prevented by their governments from extending the most effective support to the Palestinian people.

We, the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, stand in solidarity with the Palestinian, Arab and other peoples of the world in the struggle against US imperialism and Israeli Zionism. Once more we call on all member-organizations and allies of the ILPS to initiate as well as join protest mass actions and other activities that express and gather militant support for the resistance of the Palestinian and Arab peoples against US imperialism and Israeli Zionism. ###

Blaming the victims: The dominant media vilify Hamas

January 13, 2009

Written by Stephen Lendman
Saturday, 03 January 2009
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The blame game – no one plays it better than the dominant media, and they’re at it again over Gaza. Expect no comments below in their spaces, yet honest journalism would headline them.

After Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Franklin Roosevelt addressed Congress – with an appropriating updating for Gaza:

Dec. 27 “will live in infamy.” The people of Gaza were “suddenly and deliberately attacked by….air forces of the” State of Israel. The “attack was deliberately planned many (months) ago. During the intervening time (Israel) deliberately sought to deceive (Palestinians) by false statements and expressions of hope for” the peace process.

“The (weekend and continued) attack(s) caused severe damage to” property throughout Gaza. In addition, “many (Palestinian) lives have been lost. The facts (on the ground) speak for themselves… this “unprovoked and dastardly attack” must not go unanswered.

Note the contrast. Japan in the 1940s sought accord, not conflict. Not America. FDR goaded them to attack through numerous harassments and provocations – selling arms to Tokyo’s enemies, denying Japan strategic resources and port access, as well as imposing a damaging embargo.

For its part, Hamas has been conciliatory and sought peace. It’s willing to recognize Israel in return for a sovereign Palestinian state inside pre-1967 borders – just 22 percent of it original homeland. In 2008 and earlier, it agreed to unilateral ceasefires in spite of repeated Israeli violations and Gaza in duress under siege. It responds only in self-defense when attacked as international law allows, yet Washington, Israel, and the West call it “terrorism.”

The dominant media also in their customary role – guarding the powerful and suppressing uncomfortable truths in lieu of full and accurate reporting. They’re in high gear over Gaza. They vilify Hamas, stay silent about Gazan suffering, are mute on the crippling blockade, its devastating human toll, and practically champion Israel’s call for “all-out war” and the slaughter of defenseless men, women, children and infants.

“The more damage to Hamas, the better the chances for peace” says the Wall Street Journal in a lead Dec. 28 editorial headlined “Israel’s Gaza Defense.” The Journal rewrites history this way:

“The chronology of this latest violence is important to understand. Israel withdrew both its soldiers and all of its settlers from Gaza in August 2005. Hamas won its internal power struggle with Mr. Abbas’ Fatah organization to control Gaza in 2006. Since 2005 Hamas has fired some 6300 rockets at Israeli civilians from Gaza, killing 10 and wounding 780.”

“Hamas did agree to a six-month ceasefire earlier this year, during which the rocket attacks declined in number but never stopped. But Hamas refused to extend the truce past Dec. 19, and the group has since resumed attacks…” Israelis in the south “live under constant threat, often in bomb shelters, and the economy has suffered. Yet the world’s media (only pays) attention when Israel responds to that Hamas barrage.”

The Journal’s op-ed page standard fare twists facts into a fabric of misinformation and agitprop, and when vilifying Hamas it’s vicious. A few corrections:

  • Israel never disengaged from Gaza;
  • it relocated its settlers to seized West Bank land to strengthen its hold on the Territory;
  • it redeployed to new positions; re-enters Gaza at will; controls its airspace and coastline; movement within and between Gaza and the West Bank; virtually all other aspects of Palestinians’ lives; and since Hamas’ January 2006 electoral victory, falsely called it a terrorist organization; cut off all outside aid; imposed a crippling economic embargo; imprisoned 1.5 million Gazans in isolation; inflicted devastating human suffering; and stepped up oppression in an all too familiar pattern: repeated incursions, killings, targeted assassinations, mass arrests, incarcerations, torture, and all the rest;
  • then, after mid-June 2007, collaboratively and at the behest of Washington and Israel, president Mahmoud Abbas declared a “state of emergency” (when there was none); he dismissed Hamas’ prime minister; appointed an “emergency” cabinet; split Palestinian authority between Gaza and the West Bank; incited internal conflict to divide and conquer; and acceded to Israel blockading Gaza – closing all border crossings; cutting off most essential to life supplies; creating critical shortages of everything; devastating local production and agriculture; sending poverty and unemployment soaring; and grievously harming the health and welfare of the population;
  • no Journal op-eds condemn this; they call Israel the region’s “only democracy” and a model for others to emulate;
  • no op-eds mention thousands of Palestinians killed, many more wounded, even greater numbers imprisoned, many uncharged, torture as official policy, and no chance for redress in Israeli courts;
  • none mention previous Hamas unilateral ceasefires, one lasting 18 months despite repeated Israeli violations and continued other failures to observe international law;
  • none explain that rocket fire from Gaza during Hamas’ ceasefire came from other elements in the Territory, not its own members;
  • none say that Hamas uses crude, homemade rockets and light arms against the world’s fourth most powerful military, a nuclear power, with the latest home-produced and US supplied technology and weapons;
  • nothing gets reported about over 60 years of Israeli state terror; the unimaginable harm it’s done; the continued theft of Palestinian lands; the destruction of their homes, crops and other property; the ethnic cleansing of its people; and Israel’s slow-motion genocide against a population too isolated and weak to contest it;
  • no op-eds about one-sided media reporting; suppressing uncomfortable truths; defending the indefensible; ignoring Israeli crimes; vilifying Hamas without cause; Palestinians for being Arabs; and Arab Israeli citizens because they’re not Jews;
  • no mention that the ratio of Arabs to Jews killed and harmed is disproportionately one-sided; or
  • that Palestinians have endured a brutal, illegal 41-year occupation in violation of international law; Journal editors find those facts uncomfortable, unimportant so they ignore them.

Instead the Journal supports the Gaza siege, and says “If Hamas wants its people to have freer movement, it can stop sponsoring terror killings.” Even Arab leaders were “urged to demand that Hamas maintain the truce… so we could have avoided what happened.”

In the aftermath, Journal editors hold Hamas responsible as does Washington. Arab leaders “understand that (Hamas’ leaders), like Hezbollah, (are) increasingly allied with Iran and its goals for fomenting regional instability.”

In fact, despite pro-forma criticism and anger on Arab streets, leaders in the region’s capitals offered little support for Gazans for fear of antagonizing Washington and their powerful Israeli neighbor.

The Arab League won’t discuss a common response until a Jan. 2 Doha summit, and when it does expect little more than from the UN. As for Arab foreign ministers, they postponed an “emergency” meeting until Dec. 31, so the killing continues while they attend to more pressing business.

Journal editors have a message for Obama. He’s “about to discover that the terrorists of the Middle East (won’t) change their radical ambitions merely because America has a new president.” For their part, Palestinians will learn that the new one is no friendlier than the incumbent and may turn out even worse. White House occupants, key congressional members, and the entire Senate pledge unswerving support for Israel. At the same time, blaming their victims (and ours) is one of Washington’s favorite spectator sports.

On Dec. 28, the Journal gave two noted Israeli flacks prominent space – Michael Oren of Jerusalem’s Shalem Center and Yossi Klein Halevi of the Shalem Center’s Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies for their op-ed headlined: “Palestinians Need Israel to Win.”

They claim that while Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni “implore(d) Egyptian leaders (on Dec. 19) to urge restraint on Hamas… prime minister Ehud Olmert told viewers of Al-Arabiyah Television that Israel had no interest in a military confrontation” at the very time it was long-planned and about to be unleashed.

“If Israel was guilty of acting disproportionately, it was in its willingness to seek any means, even at the risk of its citizens’ lives, to resolve the (brewing) crisis diplomatically.” The writers blame the UN for not condemning Hamas and for “growing media criticism of Israel.”

Israeli security comes first, and “Gaza is the test case. Much more is at stake than merely the military outcome.” It’s about Israel’s “deterrence power and uphold(ing) the principle that its citizens cannot be targeted with impunity.” They’re not unless Palestinians are attacked first and even then have little to fear beyond their government’s own rhetoric.

Syria is an issue as well… “triggering the Gaza conflict only deepens Israeli mistrust. The Damascus office of Hamas, which operates under the aegis of the regime of Bashar al Assad, vetoed the efforts of Hamas leaders to extend the ceasefire and insisted on escalated rocket attacks.”

The Gaza conflict may “intensify with a possible incursion of Israeli ground forces. Israel must be allowed to conclude this operation with a decisive victory over Hamas…. This is an opportunity to redress Israel’s failure to humble Hezbollah (in 2006), and to deal a substantial setback to another jihadist proxy of Iran… without Hamas’ defeat, there can be no serious progress toward a treaty that both satisfies Palestinian aspirations and allays Israel’s fears. At stake in Gaza is nothing less than the future of the peace process.”

Their rhetoric defies comment. It’s breathtaking, mirror opposite of the truth, and credible only to the truest of true believers of the most dubious analysis the two writers lay out.

New York Times press handout-style journalism

The Times‘ 1997 proxy statement calls itself “an independent newspaper, entirely fearless, free of ulterior influence and unselfishly devoted to the public welfare” in reporting “all the news fit to print.” No media source anywhere has more clout. None more effectively influences world opinion, and none show more one-sided support for Israel, disdain for Palestinian rights, and justifying the unjustifiable when they’re so grievously harmed.

It’s Dec. 29 Ethan Bronner/Taghreed El-Khodary “No Early End Seen to ‘All-Out-War on Hamas in Gaza” article is typical. It highlights Israel’s aim “to cripple Hamas’ ability to fire rockets into Israel,” never mentioning they’re for legitimate self-defense and never preemptively fired. It calls Hamas a “terrorist organization” when, in fact, it’s Palestine’s legitimate government. It respects the rule of law, and it fearlessly defends the rights of its people. It reports nothing about its democratic election, its seeking peace and rapprochement, its unilateral ceasefires, its support by the great majority of Gazans, and the efforts it makes for them in spite of overwhelming challenges under siege.

Instead it states that “Hamas killed four Israelis on (Dec. 28) after firing more than 70 rockets, including a long-range one into the booming city of Ashdod some 18 miles from Gaza, where it hit a bus stop, killing a woman and injuring two other people. Earlier a rocket hit nearby Ashkelon, killing an Israeli-Arab construction worker and wounding three others. The other dead Israelis… were a civilian in the Negev desert and a soldier.”

“Thousands of Israelis huddled in shelters as the long-range rockets hit streets or open areas in… the most serious display of Hamas’ arsenal since the Israeli assault began.” It referred to “Hamas gunmen,” reported that “Israel would widen and deepen the attack if necessary… until Hamas no longer had the ability to fire rockets into Israel.” It said that Israel has “nothing against the citizens of Gaza and that it had more than once offered its hand in peace to the Palestinian nation.”

“Israel sent in some 40 trucks of humanitarian relief, including blood from Jordan and medicine. Egypt opened its border with Gaza to some similar aid and to allow some of the wounded through.” No mention of the Gaza siege, the devastating pre-conflict humanitarian crisis, or that Egypt’s president Hosni Mubarak initially ordered his soldiers to shoot Gazans breaching border barriers, then only reluctantly allowed in some of the seriously wounded for medical treatment.

“Meanwhile in Israel, sirens wailed over mostly empty streets in the seaside city of Ashkelon. Storefronts were battered shut. Families clustered inside the city’s stretches of towering white apartment blocks and single-family houses. Weary of venturing too far outside, they scurried into protected rooms when sirens sounded, listening for the sound of another rocket crashing somewhere in their city. ‘It’s frightening, but what can we do?’ asked a high school senior.”

Plenty the Times won’t report. Ask your government to stop attacking Gazans so they won’t respond in self-defense. Demand that Palestinian rights be respected, the illegal siege ended, the IDF aggression stopped, and the occupation of the West Bank. Insist Israeli laws apply equally to Arab citizens, that Palestinians no longer will be persecuted, that peace will take precedence of war, that Israel will engage its neighbors, not attack them, and that real democracy will replace the sham kind now practiced.

Make it impossible for the (outrageous Dec. 29) New York Times‘ “War Over Gaza” editorial to be written. It begins:

Israel must defend itself. And Hamas must bear responsibility for ending a six-month cease-fire this month with a barrage of rocket attacks into Israeli territory. Still we fear that Israel’s response… is unlikely to weaken the militant Palestinian group substantially or move things any closer to what all Israelis and Palestinians need: a durable peace agreement and a two-state solution.

Hamas’ leaders, especially those safely ensconced in Damascus, are unconcerned about their people’s suffering – and (are) masters at capitalizing on it.” The writer urges other Arab leaders “to cajole or more likely threaten Hamas (or its patrons in Syria and Iran) to accept a new cease-fire (read “surrender”).

The editorial claims most casualties were “Hamas security forces” when, in fact, the great majority are civilian men, women and children, including police with no military connection. It stresses Ehud Barak’s promised “war to the bitter end.”

It says there’s “no justification for Hamas’ attacks or its virulent rejectionism,” but turns a blind eye to Israel’s culpability. It refers to the failure of the never was and never will be “peace process” but won’t report that Washington and Tel Aviv won’t tolerate one. That they choose dominance over peace, violence over reconciliation, and conquest above the rule of law.

It claims Condoleezza Rice sought Middle East peace, and it’s up to Barack Obama to accomplish it himself – when, in fact, Democrats and Republicans one-sidedly support Israel, seek dominance over Middle East states, want a subservient Hamas like Fatah, back the Gaza conflict to weaken its effective rule, and are for the illegal occupation of Palestine to continue.

Times‘ articles reveal more about what they don’t report than what they do. They:

  • leave Israeli brutality unexplained; its vicious 41 year occupation;
  • let Gaza images inciting world outrage go unpublished;
  • suppress Israel’s continued waging of the bloodiest, most unjustifiable war on Palestine since 1967;
  • won’t report how its current air strikes hit civilian targets (including residential neighborhoods, homes, workshops, medical warehouses, a sewage lagoon, a plastics factory, a TV broadcasting center, universities and mosques) while claiming only military ones are attacked;
  • don’t explain the terror on ordinary Gazans; the traumatizing effects on children and how psychologically damaged they are;
  • the night phone calls Israeli intelligence personnel make to families, ordering them out of homes to be bombed;
  • Gaza’s humanitarian crisis compounded by Israel’s “war to the bitter end;”
  • the immensity of Israel’s crimes of war and against humanity; its mockery of the rule of law; its worse than apartheid South African practices according to observers who know.
  • the near-silence and inaction of the international community; the compliance of regional Arab states;
  • the Palestinians’ total isolation; Gaza’s tighter than ever siege; the media mostly barred from entering and when allowed are few in number, carefully screened, and greatly circumscribed; reports are from Gazans on the ground; they include much higher death and injury totals; hundreds still alive but clinically dead and will perish; surgeries performed without anesthesia because little to none is available; and the impossibility of proper medical care because of Israel’s imposed blockade.

The Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) reports that “its field workers have faced extreme difficulties in documenting crimes due to the dangers of getting close to” bombed areas and the chaos throughout the Territory as war rages round the clock. Yet they do what they can throughout Gaza and in horrific pictures they take and publish – images suppressed in America.

It urgently asked the UN Human Rights Council to act under its (”Uniting for Peace”) UN Resolution 377 authority. It permits the General Assembly to address peace and security matters when the Security Council doesn’t do it. General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto said: “the time has come to take firm action if the UN does not want to be rightly accused of complicity by omission.”

As of New Year’s day, Ma’an News reported 428 known killed (other reports are higher) and over 2000 injured, many too seriously to survive.

On Dec. 28, the US vetoed a Security Council draft resolution to end Israel’s “disproportionate use of force” on Gazans. The vote was 11 ayes, three abstentions (Britain, Germany and Bulgaria), and one nay – America. John Negroponte did the dishonor following a long-standing practice of blocking any UN condemnation of Israel, regardless of how justified.

The Security Council held an emergency meeting on New Year’s eve at which Negroponte again rejected a legally binding resolution condemning Israel and demanding its attacks stop. At the same time, Israel rejected pressures for a 48-hour ceasefire to allow in humanitarian aid. According to the New York Times, “The government said it would push ahead with its air, sea, and ultimately ground operation, which one senior military official described as ‘making Hamas lose their will or lose their weapons.’ ”

Earlier on Dec. 30 at 5:00AM, Israeli gunboats (without warning) attacked the humanitarian boat Dignity (in international waters 90 miles from Gaza) bringing three tons of medical supplies. It was rammed three times, heavily damaged, and took on water. Israelis also threatened to shoot its occupants and fired machine guns overhead and around it attempting to head it off. It managed to get to the Lebanese port of Tyre in the afternoon. Luckily no one was injured. The Free Gaza Movement founder, Paul Laurdee, said 11 Israeli vessels surrounded Dignity, ordered it to stop, but it refused.

The New York Times was silent on the incident. However, on Dec. 29, it gave pro-genocide historian Benny Morris space for his “Why Israel Feels Threatened” op-ed – a disturbing justification of Israel’s attacks and warning of much more to come. This by an advocate of attacking Iran with nuclear weapons and a believer in ethnic cleansing who once described Palestinians as “wild animal(s who have) to be locked up in one way or another…. When the choice is between destroying or being destroyed, it’s better to destroy.”

He paints a totally disingenuous picture of isolated Israel surrounded by hostile neighbors and losing support from the West. “To the east, Iran… to the north, the Lebanese fundamentalist Hezbollah… to the south… the Islamist Hamas movement (controlling) the Gaza Strip.”

These “dire threats” make Israel “feel that the walls – and history – are closing in on their 60-year-old state.”

Israel threatened? Syria, Lebanon and Iran should worry based on past and current provocations. No country attacked Israel since the 1973 Yom Kippur war, and none today would dare – given its military strength, nuclear arsenal, and close ties to America and the West.

Morris cites another threat – demography. The 1.3 million Israeli Arabs “offer the recipe (for the) dissolution of the Jewish state.” They’ve become “radicalized, embrac(e) Palestinian national aims,” Jews see them as a “potential fifth column,” and, with their higher birthrate, will outnumber Israeli Jews by 2040. Within five years, Arabs may become the majority in pre-1948 Palestine.

According to Morris, Israel is endangered because of its commitment to “Western democratic and liberal norms.” Violence in Gaza resulted, and “it would not be surprising if more powerful explosions were to follow” – a clear assessment that slaughter is OK in the name of “self-defense” and an indication that the Times agrees.

The Los Angeles Times‘ Misinformation “primer on Gaza, Israel, and some key factors behind the current violence.”

On Dec. 30, Michael Muskal wrote it asking:

– “Why is Israel attacking Hamas? To curb rocket attacks he maintains, when, in fact, neutralizing the government is the real aim, destroying its ability to rule effectively, weakening its support on the ground, and, in the end, co-opt it like Fatah and the PLO under Arafat; rocket attacks are just pretext.

– “What is Hamas?” An Islamist group founded to destroy Israel and refuses to accept its right to exist, he claims. In fact, after its establishment during the First Intifada (in 1987), Israel supported it against the PLO (as it now backs Fatah against Hamas). Ever since, it’s been an effective resistance movement. Its goal – ending Israel’s illegal occupation through negotiation and international consensus, not terrorism, war, or denying Israel’s right to exist. However, its charter states that it wants peace, equity and justice for all Palestinians; supports the weak; defends the oppressed; and will fight for its rights if Israel won’t grant them peacefully. Hamas is clear on its willingness to recognize Israel in return for a Palestinian state inside pre-1967 borders – a nonstarter for Israel.

– “Does Hamas speak for all Palestinians? No. Hamas gunmen took full control of Gaza in the summer of 2007. The West would prefer to deal with (Fatah’s) Abbas, who has shown a willingness to negotiate with Israel, and it tried to topple Hamas with economic and political sanctions.” No is right as well as the West going along with Washington and Israel trying to topple Hamas, but unmentioned is the crippling siege. Hamas is a legitimate political group with a military wing for defense, not offense. They’re not “gunmen” or militants. Abbas’ subservience endears him to America and Tel Aviv. Hamas is independent. It champions Palestinians’ rights, and therein lies the conflict.

– “If Hamas is so opposed to Israel, why did it agree to a truce? Hamas had hoped to end the blockade, but the cease-fire collapsed in November and expired Dec. 19. Abbas blamed Hamas for prompting the Israeli attack by refusing to extend the cease-fire.” True on the first point. False or misleading on the rest. Hamas declared a ceasefire unilaterally. Israel never respected it and killed over two dozen Gazans while it was in force. Abbas blamed the victims and absolved the aggressor in deference to Tel Aviv and Washington – in betrayal of his people for his own political aims.

– “What has been the response to the Israeli attacks in the Arab world?” Saying that anti-Israeli demonstrations have been held in several countries greatly understates how many, their size and where. They’re large and growing and are being held across America, throughout the Middle East, and in many other countries worldwide.

“What about Egypt? (It) opposes Islamic radical groups, including its own Muslim Brotherhood, which helped give birth to Hamas. Egypt has a difficult relationship because they share a border (and) clashes have been reported between Palestinians and Egyptian security forces at border crossings?” Half truths and misleading. Egypt is allied to Washington and Israel. It opposes the Muslim Brotherhood and all independent opposition to president Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship. Egyptian forces initiated border clashes by firing on Gazans trying to escape the violence.

– “What about the US?” A “power vacuum” suggests Muskal until Obama takes office. Unexplained is a continuity of policy that unswervingly supports Israel, its right to wage aggressive war, violate international law, slaughter Gazan civilians, maintain its illegal occupation, and deny Palestinians their right to self-determination.

– “What has the Bush administration done?” Saying it blamed Hamas and asked Israel publicly to avoid civilian casualties is right but misleading. For eight years, George Bush disdained Palestinian rights, supplies Israel with billions of dollars in aid, the latest weapons and technology, and full support for its occupation, oppression and aggressive wars.

– “What about the Obama administration?” Repeating his saying the US has only one president at a time is right. So is affirming his strong support for Israel. Unmentioned is his indifference to Palestinian issues and that chances for regional peace will be no greater than under George Bush so expect little hopeful change.

– “How do Israeli politics figure in the equation? Muskal is right in relating the current conflict to Israel’s February 10 elections. A new prime minister and Knesset will be chosen and polls show a large majority of Israelis back its government’s attacks. Acting tough could prove a winning strategy even at the expense of human lives and less security than without conflict.

Misinformation like the above is de rigueur throughout the dominant media, especially when it comes to Israel. Tel Aviv can do no wrong even when it inflicts vast amounts of destruction, massacres hundreds of civilians, and injures tens of hundreds more, defenseless against its onslaught.

Profiting from human Ssaughter

On Dec. 27, the London Guardian reported that the “Israeli far right gains ground as Gaza rockets fuel tension.” Jerusalem-based Toni O’Loughlin wrote that pre-conflict polls showed “the Israeli public calling for harsher military strikes in Gaza.” It’s been a boon for former Likud member Avigdor Lieberman’s extremist Yisrael Beiteinu. It advocates ethnic cleansing by revoking Israeli Arabs’ citizenship and transferring Palestinian towns in Israel to PA control.

Likud leader, Binyamin Netanyahu also stands to gain because he states: “In the long run, we have no choice but to topple Hamas rule… we have to go from passive response to active assault.” That got Kadima’s foreign minister Tzipi Livni saying: “Israel must topple the Hamas rule in Gaza and a government under my command will do just that.” Campaigning is in high gear for the upcoming February elections with all sides vying to look toughest.

War rages as a result, and according to Alternative Information Center in Jerusalem founder Michael Warschawski: “all Israeli leaders are competing over who is the toughest and who is ready to kill more.” Mass slaughter makes good campaign politics, and whoever looks the meanest may become Israel’s next prime minister. Follow the body count for clues. Watch TV clips of Tzipi Livni disheveled with no makeup to show machismo, and as Tariq Ali puts it: “dead Palestinians are little more than election fodder” and may help Kadima retain power.

Justifying the unjustifiable

On Dec. 28, O’Loughlin in the Guardian headlined: “Israel mounts PR campaign to blame Hamas for Gaza destruction” as Kadima put positive spin on mass murder and destruction.

Israeli media suggested the following preceded the attack:

  • six months of intelligence-gathering to pinpoint bases, weapons silos, supplies, training camps, senior officials’ homes, and other strategic targets, including civilian ones; the attack also began exactly at 11:30AM Saturday when children just finished morning classes, were in the streets, and others were en route to school;
  • disinformation and deception were used to keep the media and public uninformed and off guard;
  • Hamas was lulled momentarily into a false sense of security to give the initial onslaught maximum tactical effectiveness;
  • on Dec. 26, food, fuel and other humanitarian supplies were let into Gaza as part of the deception; and
  • when the assault came, officials justified it saying “patience ran out” to hide their real motives.

Ahead of the attack, Britain, the EU, Egypt and Saudi Arabia were briefed, and Israel coordinated everything with Washington the way it’s always done at least since the 1967 war. According to the Jerusalem Post, the Bush administration also supplied the Israeli Air Force with “a new bunker-buster missile” called GBU-39 – a small-diameter bomb for low-cost, high-precision, minimal collateral damage strikes.

Congress authorized 1000 of them in September, and defense officials said the first shipment arrived in early Dec. for use in penetrating underground Gaza Kassam launcher sites and bombing Egyptian border tunnels in Rafah through which emergency supplies were funneled.

Israel’s PR spin began before the assault. According to the Guardian, “the foreign ministry honed its message and amassed its staff… Israeli diplomats were recalled from holidays and ordered back to work, and in” Sderot, a multilingual media center was opened to brief foreign journalists.

Everything was orchestrated. At the right moment, Tzipi Livni called foreign ministers in Washington, London, Russia, China, France and Germany as well as EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. She also briefed around 80 international representatives and dignitaries in the Sderot media center. World leaders spread her message, blamed Hamas for “breaking” the ceasefire, and claimed Israel had to respond.

Israeli envoys around the world did the same, and Livni vowed to end Hamas rule if elected. She told Kadima party members and the media that “The State of Israel, and a government under me, will make it a strategic objective to topple the Hamas regime. The means… should be military, economic and diplomatic.”

As war rages, Israel is in full spin mode. According to Haaretz, even Fatah loyalists say Gaza is “Allah’s revenge” – referring to the 2007 clashes that secured Gaza for Hamas and left Fatah, under Abbas, in control of the West Bank. For his part, prime minister Ehud Olmert said the bombardment is “the first of several stages approved by the security cabinet” – a clear signal of more to follow and Israel’s intent to destroy Hamas’ effectiveness and render it as weak as possible.

Livni also released a document to the Israeli and world press spreading deceit, disinformation, exaggeration, and agitprop. Examples included:

  • “Israeli citizens have been under the threat of daily attack from Gaza for years;
  • Only this week hundreds of missiles and mortar shells were fired at Israeli civilian communities;
  • Until now we have shown restraint; but today there is no other option than a military operation;
  • We need to protect our citizens from attack through a military response against the terror infrastructure in Gaza;
  • Israel left Gaza in order to create an opportunity for peace;
  • In return, the Hamas terror organization took control of Gaza and is using its citizens as cover while it deliberately targets Israeli communities and denies any chance for peace;
  • We have tried everything to reach calm without using force; we agreed to a truce through Egypt that was violated by Hamas, which continued to target Israel, hold Gilat Shalit, and build up its arms;
  • Israel continues to act to prevent a humanitarian crisis and to minimize harm to Palestinian civilians.”

These and other statements blame Hamas for the violence; accuse it of being a terrorist organization backed by Iran; has a radical Islamic agenda; is the enemy of all Palestinians seeking peace; is criminal under international law, and seeks Israel’s destruction.

These comments are from Israel’s foreign minister and a leading candidate for prime minister; someone representing a state founded on terrorism by massacring and ethnically cleansing Palestinians from their land; that disdains international law; illegally occupies Palestine; collectively punishes its people; denies them self-determination; their right of return; seizes their land; demolishes their homes; imprisons and tortures their people, impoverishes them; denies them free movement, essential services, employment and enough food and clean water; destroys their crops and factories; and grants them no judicial redress because they’re Arabs in a Jewish state or under occupation.

On Dec. 31, Livni was in Paris meeting with president Nicolas Sarkozy, foreign minister Bernard Kouchner and other officials. In response to a French two-day truce proposal, she rejected the idea saying: “there is no humanitarian crisis in the Strip, and therefore there is no need for a humanitarian truce.”

Protests worldwide over Gaza

Carnage and destruction trump spin, and it shows worldwide on city streets – across the Arab world, in America, the EU, London, and even parts of Asia, Latin America and Africa.

The New York Times reported that “After four days of Israeli airstrikes on Gaza, an outpouring of popular anger is putting pressure on American allies in the Arab world and appears to be worsening divisions in the region.” Egypt has been especially pressured because it’s a close US and Israeli ally. But “demonstrations continued… from North Africa to Yemen.”

Al Jazeera reports that protests spread across the Middle East, and in the West Bank Israeli troops opened fire, killed one Palestinian, and critically injured two others. One was declared brain damaged from a bullet to his head. In Yemen, “tens of thousands of people gathered in and around a stadium in the capital, Sanaa, chanting anti-Israeli slogans and criticizing Arab leaders for failing to act.”

It’s been much the same in Cairo, Beirut, Baghdad, and dozens of other world capitals. In Tehran, students broke into the British Embassy’s residential compound, vandalized buildings, and replaced the British flag with a Palestinian one.

Al Jazeera added that several members of Jordan’s parliament burned the Israeli flag in protest and called for the expulsion of Kadima’s ambassador. In Lebanon, hundreds of Lebanese and Palestinian refugees staged a sit-in near the Beirut UN office. Hezbollah condemned the attacks as a “war crime and a genocide that requires immediate action from the international community and its institutions.”

Its statement called on Arab countries to “take a firm stand and exert its utmost efforts against the Israeli barbarism – which is (endorsed) by the US – and the international community (must) stop this ongoing massacre.”

In Damascus, thousands were in Yusif al-Azmeh square shouting slogans and displaying flags of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Hezbollah, Syria, Iraq and Palestine. From loudspeakers, calls were for “jihad” against Israel and for continuing the “struggle in the name of God.”

Protests across Iraq took place – in Baghdad with messages supporting Gaza, anti-Israeli slogans, and the Palestinian ambassador, Dalil al-Qasoos, saying: “Gaza will remain steadfast in the face of Americans and Zionists whatever the plots and conspiracies hatched by tyrants and arrogant enemies.”

Across Britain as well in Belfast and London where hundreds demonstrated in front of the Israeli embassy and outside the BBC.

In Washington, 5000 gathered at the State Department and marched to the White House. In San Francisco, over 10,000 protested in front of the Israeli consulate. In Los Angeles, around 5000 did the same, and in New York thousands more were at the Israeli consulate waving Palestinian flags and chanting “Free Palestine.” Similar demonstrations were held in dozens more US cities, including Chicago, Boston, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Portland, Houston, Dallas, Seattle and in Hawaii in front of Obama’s vacation compound where he remains indifferent.

On Jan. 2, the ANSWER Coalition, Muslim American Society Freedom, and National Council of Arab Americans plan a major protest at the Israeli embassy in Washington and at the Egyptian embassy as well.

Expressions of world outrage

On Dec. 29, a National Lawyer’s Guild (NLG) press release condemned the Israeli massacre, called for a ceasefire and urged participation in New York protests. NLG president and Thomas Jefferson School of Law professor Marjorie Cohn stated:

“The Human Rights and Security Assistance Act mandates that the United States cease all military aid to Israel, which has engaged in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.” America, like Israel, disdains international law and has supplied Tel Aviv governments with tens of billions of aid, weapons and technology for decades, and as explained above, with special bunker-buster bombs to attack Gaza. It also partners in Israeli aggression, assists all aspects of it, and provides cover through vocal support and UN resolution vetoes for it to continue.

On Dec. 29, the Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA) condemned Israel’s Gaza attack, its slaughter of civilians and “violation of all international laws and treaties,” and its crippling siege as “another crime and collective punishment against (over 1.5 million Gazans) living in an atmosphere of continued terror and intimidation.”

HRA also denounced world leaders for failing to speak out or act and thus effectively give “a green light for Israel to escalate its siege, topped with the barbaric bombardment” of Gaza and its people. “The Security Council’s non-binding statement (calling for “an immediate halt to all violence” and for both sides “to stop immediately all military activities”) is evidence of (the UN’s) incompetence (and impotence) in implementing its primary duty in maintaining world peace and security.”

In his “Dachau to Gaza” article, law professor, international law expert, and former PLO legal advisor Francis Boyle compared Washington and Israel’s aims to Hitler’s Munich Pact for Germany to occupy and annex the Sudetenland. Today it’s to seize Palestinians’ land and deny them “self-determination and a real independent state of their own.” As a result, he fears a “high probability that history will repeat itself” in more conflict.

In 1986, he visited the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, complained about “criminal Israeli occupation practices,” its violations of international law, and that America “has an absolute obligation to use its enormous political, military and economic leverage over Israel to terminate (these) practices immediately.”

Yet since Israel’s establishment in 1948 and its post-1967 occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, Washington has one-sidedly supported Israel and denied Palestinians their “freedom, justice, dignity, respect and independence.” One day, America must end this policy and “order Israel out of Palestine.” Until then, no Middle East peace is possible and the possibility of greater conflict exists.

Like others wanting war crimes to be punished, Boyle also advocates “An International Criminal Tribunal for Israel (ICTI) as “the Only (possible) Deterrent to a Global War.” He urges the General Assembly to establish one as a “subsidiary organ” under Article 22 of the UN Charter. It would be similar to those for Yugoslavia (ICTY) and Rwanda (ICTR) to:

“investigate and prosecute Israeli war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide against the People of Lebanon and Palestine.” It would “provide some small degree of justice to the victims” of decades of Israeli crimes, thus far committed with impunity. “It would also have a deterrent effect” on current Israeli leaders and generals and force future ones to obey international laws or face similar prosecution.

Without legal restraints, Boyle, like others, fears possible new Middle East conflict that could “degenerate into World War III,” not by intent but by accident, much like WW I developed. He urges General Assembly action to prevent it at a time attacks on Gaza persist, the Arab street is enraged, and the longer fighting continues, the greater the risk of something far greater.

Israel is a serial aggressor. Its lawlessness can no longer be tolerated. Mass outrage and world pressure must build for a global campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions until its human rights abuses stop, its war crimes are punished, its occupation and colonization end, Palestinian refugees have the right to return, and the people of Gaza and the West Bank achieve their long-denied self-determination rights in an internationally recognized sovereign state, free from Israeli oppression. For people of conscience, that’s Resolution One for the new year.

[Source: Dissident Voice. Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago.

This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
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. Also visit his blog site and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Mondays from 11AM-1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests. All programs are archived for easy listening. Read other articles by Stephen.]

Photos: Filipinos in NYC March for a Free Palestine New York City Janaury 4, 2009

January 13, 2009

Filipinos in NYC March for a Free Palestine

New York City

Janaury 4, 2009

News Release
January 4, 2009
Reference: Christina Hilo, BAYAN USA Northeast Coordinator, email: ny@bayanusa.org

Filipinos in NYC March for a Free Palestine

Filipinos in New York City yesterday joined thousands in a long march from Times Square to the Israeli Consulate on Second Avenue in opposition to the continuing military offensives of the Israeli government on the city of Gaza, already claiming over 400 lives and wounding thousands more Palestinians, including women and children. Under the banner of the Filipino-American alliance known as BAYAN USA, members from Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE), Anakbayan New York/New Jersey, and the New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP) expressed solidarity for the Palestinian people’s 6-decade long struggle against the Zionist occupation of their ancestral land, otherwise known as the state of “Israel”.

“The Filipino people are in complete and unconditional solidarity with the Palestinian people’s struggle for national liberation,” stated BAYAN USA Secretary-General Berna Ellorin from the rally stage in Times Square, in front of four packed city blocks of protesters, many of whom were Palestinian immigrants, who cheered in response. “In Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, the Israeli embassy is already the site of massive protests of Filipinos against the US-Israeli attacks on Gaza.”

Ellorin also expressed the alliance’s respect for the Palestinian people’s right to choose any form of struggle to defeat their oppressors, including armed struggle. “The massacre of the Palestinian people by the US-Israeli pact is historical and systemic. The Palestinian people not only have every right to defend themselves, but to assert their claim over their occupied homeland,” she also exclaimed from the loud speakers.

During the rally and march to the Israeli Consulate, BAYAN USA members painted “Free Palestine!” on their faces and learned pro-Palestinian chants in Arabic from Palestinian youth. They also drew connections between the Palestinian people’s struggle and the Filipino people’s continuing struggle for genuine nationalism and democracy in the Philippines, free from US government intervention in economic and political affairs through US-puppet Philippine governments such as that of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Protesters also sharply criticized US President-Elect Barack Obama’s silence and inaction on the Gaza attacks. Meanwhile, Israel remains the largest annual recipient of US economic aid in the world, billions of which are used to supply the weaponry, ammunition, and technological capabilities being employed in the Israeli military offensive on the Palestinians. US foreign aid is funneled from US tax dollars.

January 3rd marked a national day of protest across the United States against the continuing US-Israeli attacks in Gaza that began as air strikes and have now evolved into ground attacks.

BAYAN USA is an overseas chapter of BAYAN Philippines. For more information on BAYAN USA, contact info@bayanusa.org or visit http://www.bayanusa.org. To view pictures from BAYAN USA’s participation in the rally in New York City, visit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/33986988@N07/sets/72157612153269952/ . ###

Statement of the President of the 63rd Session

of the United Nations General Assembly


On Gaza airstrikes

UN Headquarters , New York, 27 December 2008

The behavior by Israel in bombarding Gaza is simply the commission of wanton aggression by a very powerful state against a territory that it illegally occupies.

Time has come to take firm action if the United Nations does not want to be rightly accused of complicity by omission.

The Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip represent severe and massive violations of international humanitarian law as defined in the Geneva Conventions, both in regard to the obligations of an Occupying Power and in the requirements of the laws of war.

Those violations include:

Collective punishment – the entire 1.5 million people who live in the crowded Gaza Strip are being punished for the actions of a few militants.

Targeting civilians – the airstrikes were aimed at civilian areas in one of the most crowded stretches of land in the world, certainly the most densely populated area of the Middle East.

Disproportionate military response – the airstrikes have not only destroyed every police and security office of Gaza’s elected government, but have killed and injured hundreds of civilians; at least one strike reportedly hit groups of students attempting to find transportation home from the university.

I remind all member states of the United Nations that the UN continues to be bound to an independent obligation to protect any civilian population facing massive violations of international humanitarian law – regardless of what country may be responsible for those violations. I call on all Member States, as well as officials and every relevant organ of the United Nations system, to move expeditiously not only to condemn Israel’s serious violations, but to develop new approaches to providing real protection for the Palestinian people.

http://www.un.org/ga/president/63/statements/ongaza271208.shtml

The Israeli military is doing the US government’s dirty work! Stop the ongoing massacres in Gaza now! (Updated)
December 29th, 2008

Contact: Berna Ellorin
Secretary-General, BAYAN USA
secgen@bayanusa.org

The US Chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, or BAYAN USA, an alliance of 12 Filipino organizations in the US, vehemently condemns the US government-sponsored bloodshed that is currently ongoing in the city of Gaza, in the Palestinian territories. As of the writing of this statement, the Israeli military air strikes in Gaza have killed over 300 Palestinians, and nearly 1000 more are critically wounded, including women and children. The death toll from the last 72 hours alone in Gaza marks the highest in the decades-long so-called “Israeli-Palestinian conflict”. Israeli state officials claim the siege on Gaza is a response to the Hamas government’s continued “violent retaliation” in the form of rocket barrages.

To understand the so-called “Israeli-Palestinian conflict” more comprehensively, one must see it in the context of US imperialism’s role in dividing and plundering the Middle East to serve its economic and political interests. The state of “Israel” still serves as a strategic access point for US-imperialism to plunder the entire region’s most profitable resources– black gold and oil.The state of “Israel” is a US surrogate state that has long been funded by Washington DC to do its dirty work and uphold its interests in the region. This includes the ethnic cleansing of millions of Palestinian families who were violently forced to flee from their ancestral lands beginning in 1948 with the forceful and violent Zionist occupation of Palestine and the establishment of the state of “Israel”. The establishment of Israel and its systemic massacre and displacement of the Palestinian people is one of the greatest offensives of the US government in the Middle East, that duly serves the interests of US imperialism to control the region.

Israel-US government relations remain tight and intimate in this campaign. Israel is the largest recipient of direct economic and military aid from the US government since World War II. This means the Israeli military’s continuing offensives on Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are made possible with generous funding from the US government. The hard-earned tax dollars of the people of the US are fueling these continuing attacks of the US surrogate government of Israel against the Palestinian people. At the same time, the global economic crisis is hitting the people of the US hard with massive job lay-offs, foreclosures, evictions, and budget cuts to health care and education.

In light of their historical oppression, the oppressed Palestinian people have every right to resist and determine their form of resistance in the interest of their national liberation. It is understandable that this heroic resistance includes armed struggle. The Palestinian people have suffered the most horrific crimes of war and massacre from US imperialism at the hands of the Israeli government.

In the same light, the Filipino people are suffering from attacks from the same enemy. If the state of “Israel” is considered US-imperialism’s front door to the rest of the Middle East and Asia, then the Philippines would be the back door. For almost 110 years, the US has forcefully imposed its control over the Philippines, directly and indirectly, for the sake of maintaining this strategic geo-political and economic post in the Asia Pacific region. One of the first colonies of US-imperialism at the turn of the 20th century, the Filipino people suffered great losses. More than one-sixth of the Filipino people were massacred with the first few years of US occupation.

Like the US surrogate government in Israel, the US surrogate government of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is also performing the same dirty work in the Philippines to advance US imperialism’s control over the country. While Israel is the largest annual recipient of US economic and military aid in the world, the Philippines is the largest recipient in Asia. But US economic aid to the Philippine government is not used for economic development of a very poor nation. Instead the Arroyo administration directs US economic aid towards beefing up the Philippine military, which has been responsible for the gravest human rights crisis in the country since the period of the US-backed Marcos dictatorship, and deepening corruption by buying the loyalty of corrupt Philippine politicians. The Philippine military is also responsible for the massive displacement of millions of Filipinos from their lands, especially the Muslim and indigenous communities.

Here in the United States, oppressed and working people have the responsibility to cripple the state terrorist machinaries of the Israeli and Philippine governments by demanding the withdrawal of US direct economic and military aid to both countries. As the global economic crisis continues to awaken the people in the US to the rotten character of US imperialism, we must strengthen our solidarity ties to national liberation struggles abroad, including Palestine and the Philippines. By intensifying our struggles and resistance against US imperialism in all parts of the globe, we can weaken our common enemy.

Furthermore, President-Elect Barack Obama’s swift appointment of Rahm Emanuel as his Chief-of-Staff foreshadows continued Zionist oppression of the Palestinian people. His father, Benjamin Emanuel, is an ardent Zionist militant who has been infamously quoted as bragging that his son will ensure the incoming Obama administration’s pro-Israel agenda, and offensively remarked that Arabs in the White House are usually relegated to cleaning floors. We must therefore remain vigilant and maintain no illusion that the incoming US presidential administration can effectively or even has the intention to restore peace in the region.

In condemning the attacks on Gaza, we demand justice for the Palestinian people. This means we demand the US-Israeli occupation of the Palestinian people’s ancestral land end, and that the right of the Palestinian people to return to their homeland be globally respected and recognized. Without justice, neither peace nor democracy can be realized or practiced in the Middle East or the Philippines.

STOP THE ATTACKS ON GAZA!
JUSTICE FOR THE PALESTINIAN VICTIMS OF THE US-ISRAELI ATTACKS!
FREE PALESTINE!
WITHDRAW US ECONOMIC AID TO ISRAEL!
WITHDRAW US ECONOMIC AID TO THE PHILIPPINES!
LONG LIVE INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY!

Photos: HK people express solidarity for the people of Palestine, condemn Gaza attacks

January 13, 2009

HK people express solidarity for the people of Palestine,

condemn Gaza attacks

Hongkong

December 30, 2008

Two events happened on December 30: one was a picket protest at the Israeli Consulate led by HK Legislator Leung Kwok Hung, and the other was the candle-light vigil at Chater Garden led by the Asia Pacific Students and Youth Association (ASA).

HK People Expressed Solidarity for the People of Palestine, Condemned Gaza Attacks

Solidarity shone brightest in Hong Kong this December 30.

With the continuous attacks that the Israeli government is launching against the people of Palestine in the Gaza Strip, international outrage poured and the Hong Kong people joined in this condemnation.

Two events happened today: one was a picket protest at the Israeli Consulate led by HK Legislator Leung Kwok Hung, and the other was the candle-light vigil at Chater Garden led by the Asia Pacific Students and Youth Association (ASA).

Picket at Admiralty

The ASA joined Leung Kwok Hung, also known as Long Hair, in the condemnation picket the latter held at the Israeli Consulate this afternoon.

The building security, however, was quick to stop us. But the stopping turned out for the good.

The picket was staged at the ground floor of the building where many fast food chains and shops were located. The whole duration of the program then drew crowds and onlookers, with a few even taking photos and even stopping by to listen.

Around 15 people were in the rally, including Eman Villanueva of the United Filipinos in Hong Kong (a Filipino migrant organization in Hong Kong) and Jackie Hung of the Justice and Peace Commission of the HK Catholic Diocese.

Long Hair condemned the Israeli government for intensifying its attacks on Gaza with the aim of taking over the strip of Palestinian land. He likewise condemned the US government for condoning this action while urging the Chinese government to take a stand.

The program was concluded with the burning of the Israeli flag and a face of outgoing US president George W. Bush.

Candle-Light Vigil at Chater Garden

The holiday rush did not stop people from all sectors and groups to join in the candle-light vigil tonight.

More than 30 people from various local and regional organizations in Hong Kong gathered at the Chater Garden to express their solidarity with the Palestinian people against the Israeli government’s brutal attacks.

Among those present were Elizabeth Tang of the HK Confederation of Trade Unions, Rose Wu formerly with the HK Christian Institute, Sunita Suna of the World Student Christian Federation Asia Pacific and Long Hair. Other groups present were the Asian Centre for Progress of Peoples, Migrante International, Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants and Mission For Migrant Workers (HK) Society, International League of Peoples’ Struggle Hong Kong (ILPS-HK), UNIFIL-HK, Filipino Migrant Workers Union and several Filipino migrant organizations, HKJP and HK Catholic Students Union as well as the activist group 8th Floor .

Several speakers expressed their indignation, one of whom was Chuiyung, a HK journalist who went to Gaza a few years ago. She explained that the bombings made by Israel were nothing new. She expressed her anger over the inhuman way Israel is treating the Palestinians and its ultimate plan to occupy the Gaza Strip.

Other speakers included Elizabeth Tang, Linda Noche of the ACPP, Long Hair and Eman Villanueva.

Elizabeth Tang expressed the HK people’s continued solidarity with the Palestinian people and their outrage at the renewed attacks by Israel. Eman Villanueva likened the Gaza situation to that of Philippines that have struggled against many colonizers and countries who aimed to control the said country.

Long Hair once again condemned the bombings and said that this is an issue of occupation that the US-backed Israeli Zionists have been doing for the longest time. Jun Tellez of Migrante International read the ILPS statement on the said issue.

There was a vow among the many individuals and groups present in both programs to mount more actions and bring more people to express their solidarity with the Palestinian people as well as the intensification of the campaign against the atrocious attacks and planned invasion by Israel over Gaza.

Truly, solidarity brought people together. And Palestinian people will never be alone in their fight.

Download statement of  the Asian Students Association

A moment of silence was observed for all those who have been killed, injured and left devastated by the Israeli government’s attacks. The song “We Shall Overcome” was sung to close the program.

(Photo Courtesy: Asian Students Association)

Arkibong Bayan

RP-US WAR GAMES CPP urges attacks on Balikatan in Bicol

January 12, 2009

By Delfin Mallari Jr.
Southern Luzon Bureau
First Posted 08:29:00 01/12/2009

Filed Under: Guerrilla activities, Military

MANILA, Philippines—The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has ordered its armed wing, the New People’s Army, to attack Filipino and American military forces that will be conducting joint military exercises in three Bicol provinces—Albay, Masbate and Sorsogon—in April.

“NPA units in Bicol are specifically instructed to launch as many tactical offensives as they can in many areas of the region in mockery of the Balikatan exercises and to prevent the US military from strengthening its foothold in the region,” the CPP said in a statement sent to the Philippine Daily Inquirer Sunday.

The CPP instructed all communist guerrilla units across the country as well to continue to stage tactical offensives against state security forces.

The current NPA strength has been pegged at 5,239 armed men by the military.

40th anniversary

The CPP celebrated its 40th year on Dec. 26 with the unveiling of a five-year plan to step up the insurgency and move closer to its goal of toppling the government to establish a Maoist state.

The communists have been conducting guerrilla warfare the past four decades against the government.

The rebel group urged the Filipino people to expose and protest the deployment of US troops to more areas of the country, including the Bicol region, by using the Balikatan joint exercises as a pretext.

The CPP said the plan to conduct the annual Balikatan joint military exercise not only in Bicol but in other parts of the country signaled heightened US military intervention in the local civil war.

“In doing so, the US seeks to pave the way for the future regular access of troops to guerrilla fronts in the Bicol region where the NPA operates,” the CPP said.

US spy planes

The CPP claimed that in the past three years, there have been several sightings of US spy planes in the vicinity of NPA guerrilla fronts in Central Luzon, southern Tagalog, Bicol, northeastern and southern Mindanao.

“Recently, US troops have become increasingly active and visible in the AFP’s (Armed Forces of the Philippines) combat operations against the NPA in Mindanao,” the CPP said.

Last week, Capt. Kelly Schmader, commander of the 30th Naval Construction Regiment, visited the Bicol region to see to the final stages of surveying and planning for the scheduled Balikatan (meaning shoulder to shoulder), which is now on its 14th year in the country.

Last year’s Balikatan was held in Mindanao.

The Balikatan is part of the mutual defense treaty between the Philippines and the United States. Its primary objective is to improve the “interoperability” of the two countries’ armed forces for mutual defense.

According to Schmader, some 400 American doctors, engineers and nurses, belonging predominantly to the military, will join the month-long exercise to provide humanitarian aid to depressed areas in the three Bicol provinces.

A military report deemed these provinces as hotbeds of the communist insurgency in the Bicol region.

Military officials in the region have assured the public that the aims of the exercises were “peace and development” and there would be no war games with US forces, only humanitarian projects in the form of medical missions and engineering works.

But the CPP dismissed the “no military exercise and only humanitarian works” as “pure hogwash.”

Specific objectives

“The US military does not carry out any operation or mission by any name without specific military objectives. Joint military exercises and humanitarian missions only serve as cover for US troops to gain access to the guerrilla fronts to carry out physical and social terrain mapping, conduct surveillance, recruit local agents and influence the local governments and social infrastructure,” the CPP said.

According to the CPP, retired Gen. Edilberto Adan, head of the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement Commission, had already admitted that in conducting the forthcoming Balikatan exercises in the Bicol region, the US military has a specific objective of familiarizing its forces with guerrilla conditions and learning jungle combat operations in the area.

Israeli troops invade Gaza

January 5, 2009

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Smoke caused by explosions rises over Gaza City yesterday. AP

GAZA CITY – Israeli ground troops and tanks cut swaths through the Gaza Strip early yesterday, bisecting the coastal territory and surrounding its biggest city as the new phase of a devastating offensive against Hamas gained momentum.

At least 23 Palestinians were killed in the new fighting as trucks and cars packed with families fled Gaza City and other towns ahead of the biggest Israeli military operation since its 2006 war with Lebanon.

Thousands of soldiers in three brigade-size formations pushed into Gaza after nightfall Saturday, beginning a long-awaited ground offensive after a week of intense aerial bombardment.

Black smoke billowed over Gaza City at first light and bursts of machine-gun fire rang out.

Witnesses said that Israeli infantry units and tanks had taken control of the Salaheddine Road, the main highway along the length of the enclave, dividing Gaza.

TV footage showed Israeli troops with night-vision goggles and camouflage face paint marching in single file. Artillery barrages preceded their advance, and they moved through fields and orchards following bomb-sniffing dogs ensuring their routes had not been booby-trapped.

The military said troops killed or wounded dozens of militant fighters.

Palestinian medics and doctors said 23 Palestinians have been killed – three Hamas fighters and the rest civilians. Many of the casualties were in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya, the scene of some of the heaviest fighting.

A Palestinian child was killed and 11 other children were wounded in the strike, when a tank shell hit a house in eastern Gaza City, Gaza medics said.

Israel launched the nighttime offensive on Saturday after eight days of air strikes in which at least 485 Palestinians died and more than 2,400 were wounded, Gaza medics said.

More than 80 children are among the dead.

Explosions and shooting could be heard in many areas as troops backed by Apache helicopters forged into the territory, they said.

Militants fired mortars and detonated roadside bombs. The heaviest fighting was reported in and around Jabaliya.

Army ambulances were seen bringing Israeli wounded to a hospital in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba. The military reported 30 Israeli troops were wounded, two seriously, in the opening hours of the offensive.

But an army spokeswoman said 28 Israeli soldiers have been wounded, two of them seriously, in the ground invasion.

Hamas said nine soldiers had been killed in the operation. The army refused to comment on the claim.

According to the spokeswoman, “28 soldiers have been wounded, with two of them — an officer and a soldier — seriously wounded.”

A statement from Hamas’s armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, said that in monitoring Israeli military radio traffic, it learned that five soldiers had been killed.

In his first public comments since the ground operation was launched, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said yesterday that the invasion was unavoidable and that his government exhausted all other options before approving the operation.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak predicted a long and difficult campaign in Gaza, a densely populated territory of 1.4 million where militants operate and easily hide among the crowded urban landscape.

Hamas threatened to turn Gaza into a “graveyard” for Israeli forces.

“You entered like rats,” Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan told Israeli soldiers in a statement on Hamas’ Al Aqsa television. “Gaza will be a graveyard for you, God willing.”

The ground operation is the second phase in an offensive that began as a weeklong aerial onslaught aimed at halting Hamas rocket fire that has reached deeper and deeper into Israel, threatening major cities and one-eighth of Israel’s population. Palestinian officials say dozens of civilians were killed in the air offensive.

Rocket fire has persisted, however, and several rockets fell in Israel on Sunday morning, causing no casualties. In much of southern Israel school has been canceled and life has been largely paralyzed.

While the air offensive presented little risk for Israel’s army, sending in ground troops is a much more dangerous proposition.

Hamas is believed to have some 20,000 gunmen intimately familiar with the dense urban landscape. For months, Israeli leaders had resisted a ground invasion, fearing heavy casualties.

No choice but war

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he decided that the government had no more choice.

“I want to be able to go to the Israeli public and all the mothers and say, ‘We did everything in a responsible manner,’” Olmert said in a statement released by his office.

“In the end, we reached the moment where I had to decide to send out soldiers.”

Olmert stressed the campaign’s objective is to restore quiet to Israel’s south, not to topple Hamas or reoccupy Gaza.

Israel considers Hamas, which has controlled Gaza since June 2007 and is sworn to Israel’s destruction, a terrorist group.

Israel has launched at least two other large ground offensives in Gaza since withdrawing its troops from the area in 2005. But the size of this latest operation dwarfs those, with at least three times the firepower.

Israel also has called up tens of thousands of reserve soldiers, which defense officials said could enable a far broader ground offensive as the operation’s third phase.

The troops could also be used in the event Palestinian militants in the West Bank or Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon decide to launch attacks. Hezbollah opened a war against Israel in 2006 when it was in the midst of a large operation in Gaza.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the military’s preparations are classified.

Cutting through

An armored force south of Gaza City penetrated as deep as the abandoned settlement of Netzarim, which Israel left along with other Israeli communities when it pulled out of Gaza in 2005, both military officials and Palestinian witnesses said.

Israeli tanks and troops had pushed into two areas of northern Gaza, one near the Erez crossing and another east of the town of Jabaliya, near an Islamic cemetery.

That move effectively cut off Gaza City, the territory’s largest population center with about 400,000 people, from the rest of Gaza to the south.

The offensive focused on northern Gaza, where most of the rockets are fired into Israel, but at least one incursion was reported in the southern part of the strip. Hamas uses smuggling tunnels along the southern border with Egypt to bring in weapons.

Warplanes struck about four dozen targets overnight, including tunnels, weapons storage facilities, areas used to launch mortars and squads of Hamas fighters, the military said.

Israeli tanks opened fire on Hamas positions after entering the impoverished territory and Hamas forces replied with mortar fire, witnesses said.

They said there were explosions and tank fire just north of Jabaliya, where Palestinian militants were responding with rocket fire.

Gunboats backed up the ground forces, attacking Hamas intelligence headquarters in Gaza City, rocket-launching areas and positions of Hamas marine forces.

Hamas has been responding with mortar shells and rocket-propelled grenades. Field commanders communicated over walkie talkie, updating gunmen on the location of Israeli forces. Commanders told gunmen in the streets not to gather in big groups and not to use cell phones. Hamas’ TV and radio stations, broadcasting from secret locations after their offices were destroyed, remained on the air, broadcasting live coverage.

Ground forces had not entered major Gaza towns and cities by early yesterday morning, instead fighting in rural communities and open areas militants often use to launch rockets and mortar rounds. Militants also fire from heavily populated neighborhoods.

Residents of the small northern Gaza community of al-Attatra said soldiers moved from house to house by blowing holes through walls. Most of the houses were unoccupied, their residents already having fled.

Israel launched the air campaign against Gaza on Dec. 27. Gaza health officials say more than 480 Palestinians were killed in the first eight days of the operation.

The breakdown of combatants and civilians remains unclear, but the UN says at least 100 civilians were killed in the initial, aerial phase of the war.

Hundreds of rockets have hit Israel so far, and four Israelis have been killed.

The decision to send ground troops into Gaza was taken after Hamas kept up its rocket fire despite the aerial assault, government officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because discussions leading up to wartime decisions are confidential.

Outrage

The ballooning death toll in Gaza — along with concerns of a looming humanitarian crisis — has aroused mounting world outrage, as evidenced by protests that drew tens of thousands of demonstrators in European capitals on Saturday.

“There is a humanitarian crisis. It’s impossible to say how many innocent women, innocent children and innocent babies are being caught up in this conflict, who are being maimed and killed,” said Chris Gunness, a UN spokesman. “This offensive must stop.”

The offensive has sparked spiraling anger in the Muslim world and protests across the globe.

Denunciations also came from the French government, which unsuccessfully proposed a two-day truce earlier this week, and from Egypt, which brokered the six-month truce whose breakdown preceded the Israeli offensive.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum said “what is happening in the UN Security Council is a farce that shows the level that America and Zionist occupier dominates its decisions.”

But the US has put the blame squarely on Hamas. White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said US officials have been in regular contact with the Israelis as well as officials from countries in the region and Europe.

“We continue to make clear to them our concerns for civilians, as well as the humanitarian situation,” he said.

At an emergency consultation of the UN Security Council on Saturday night, the US blocked approval of a statement demanded by Arab countries that would have called for an immediate ceasefire. US deputy ambassador Alejandro Wolff said the US believed that such a statement “would not be adhered to and would have no underpinning for success, (and) would not do credit to the council.”

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is due on Israel today for talks on a ceasefire with Olmert in Jerusalem.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Koucher called the ground invasion a “dangerous military escalation” that would undermine attempts to broker a truce.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown spoke with Olmert, “pressing hard for an immediate ceasefire.”

Hamas began to emerge as Gaza’s main power broker when it won Palestinian parliamentary elections three years ago. It has ruled the impoverished territory since seizing control from forces loyal to moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in June 2007. –AP(PhilStar)

Israel continues pounding Gaza on Day 7 of blitz

January 3, 2009

By SAKHER ABU EL OUN

GAZA CITY (AFP) — Israel continued to bomb Gaza early on Friday after killing a top Hamas commander in the biggest blow yet to the Islamist’s leadership, as the death toll in the seven-day blitz reached at least 420.

With tanks and troops massed for a threatened ground offensive and no ceasefire in sight, the army was allowing foreigners living in Gaza to leave on Friday.

Israeli planes and naval guns staged more than 50 attacks on Thursday and Hamas sent more rockets deep into Israel.

An army spokeswoman said bombing overnight was aimed at 15 targets, including rocket launchers and weapons storage facilities.

Witnesses in Gaza told AFP several people had been wounded, but no deaths were reported.

On Thursday, Israeli jets fired missiles on the home of Nizar Rayan in the Jabaliya refugee camp, killing him, his four wives, 10 of his children and two neighbors, witnesses and medical sources said.

Considered to be among the most hawkish of Hamas leaders, Rayan was the most senior figure to be killed by Israel since Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi in 2004.

Hamas leader Ismail Radwan said Israel would regret its attacks.

While they ‘’are intended to break our will, they won’t,’’ he said on television. ‘’This cowardly enemy must realize that he will regret these crimes against our people.’’

In addition to the 420 dead, ‘’Operation Cast Lead’’ has also left 2,180 people wounded, according to Palestinian emergency services.

Rocket fire from Gaza has killed four people and wounded dozens in Israel.

Thursday’s Israeli strikes also hit the parliament and justice ministry, rocket launching sites, tunnels for smuggling weapons or supplies into the territory and weapons storage facilities, a military spokeswoman said.

And the army said it bombed the mosque in Jabaliya where Rayan was a preacher, calling it a ‘’terror-hub’’ and a storage site for rockets and other weapons.

Hundreds of houses have been destroyed and the United Nations says about 25 percent of the dead are civilians. Food, fuel and medical supplies are all running short, aid agencies say.

Israel began the offensive on Saturday in response to rocket fire by Hamas and its allies but has failed to halt those attacks, none of which caused any casualties on Thursday.

One projectile slammed into an apartment block in Ashdod more than 30 kilometers from Gaza, the army said.

And two rockets hit near the desert city of Beersheva, 40 kilometers from the border — the deepest yet they have reached into Israel.

Speaking in Beersheva, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Israel is ‘’not interested in conducting a long war’’ but insisted ‘’we will deal with Hamas and terror with an iron fist.’’

Hamas has fired more than 360 rockets since Saturday, Israel says.

On the diplomatic front, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni held talks in Paris on Thursday with President Nicolas Sarkozy and other French leaders.

The previous day, Israel had rejected a French proposal for a 48-hour ceasefire to help humanitarian efforts. Livni repeated that rejection, saying Israel would decide in due course when to halt its offensive.

‘’The question of whether it’s enough or not will be the result of our assessment on a daily basis,’’ she said.

Peace moves were also stalled at the UN Security Council even though UN Secretary General Ban Kimoon said the conflict had become ‘’a dramatic crisis.’’

The civilian population in Gaza and stability throughout the Middle East ‘’are trapped between the irresponsibility displayed in the indiscriminate rocket attacks by Hamas militants and the disproportionality of the continuing Israeli military operation,’’ Ban said.

Libya presented the Security Council with a draft resolution drawn up by the Arab League calling for an immediate ceasefire, but the United States and Britain said it appeared biased because it did not mention the Hamas attacks.

Meanwhile, an Israeli defense ministry spokeswoman said ‘’about 400 people, dual nationals’’ living in Gaza would be leaving on Friday after their countries asked that they be allowed to do so.

The largest number were from Russia, with others coming from the United States, Norway, Turkey, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus, Peter Lerner said, adding that they would leave through the Erez crossing.

Meanwhile, Israeli police were on alert in east Jerusalem. Hamas called for a ‘’day of wrath’’ on Friday there and in the West Bank, with ‘’massive marches’’ after weekly Muslim prayers, starting off from the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem and from ‘’all the mosques in the West Bank.’’

The army also locked down the West Bank from midnight (2200 GMT Thursday) for 48 hours, with movement in and out of the territory prohibited except for emergencies and special cases.

RP Muslims call for peace, accuse Israel of genocide

By EDD K. USMAN

As the Israeli onlaught in Gaza continued to slaughter Palestinians, Muslims and Christians in the Philippines yesterday accused the Israeli government of genocide and said the world must come to its senses to stop the conflict.

Leaders of the Assalam Bangsamoro People’s Association (ABPA), the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) and the Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) said Israel is committing genocide against a defenseless Palestinian people as the United States, the United Nations and the West just look on.

The three organizations spearheaded a protest rally in front of the Blue Mosque in Maharlika Village, Taguig City just after yesterday’s Juma’ah (Friday) congregational prayers.

Children held pictures of slain Palestinianns and placards that read: “Zionist Israel: How many Palestinian women and children are you going to kill today?” “Israel Butcher of Children,” and “Israel Terrorist,” among others.

ABPA’s Jolly Lais quoted the UN as saying that many of the casualties of the Israeli bombing were children while Rei Melencio of the PLM said Israel’s “final solution” of genocide against the Palestinian people must stop.

BMP Secretary General Teody Navea on the other hand urged support for Gaza inhabitants as he denounced the killing of innocent Palestinian men, women and children.

Lais also noted that last February, Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai vowed to inflict a “bigger Palestinian holocaust” if the rocket attacks against southern Israel do not stop.

In another development, Peace Process Undersecretary Nabil Tan called for a truce and dialogue in Palestine and sought UN intervention as the number of Palestinians killed by the Israeli military has reached more than 400, including more than 60 women and children.

Tan, ABPA national president Datu Pendatun Disimban, former House deputy speaker Gerry Salapuddin, and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) spokesman Eid Kabalu issued separate statements through text messages slamming the ongoing Israeli military campaign in Gaza.

“The attack against innocent civilians can never serve the ends of justice. The killings should stop, and peaceful dialogue should begin. The UN should intervene,” said Tan, of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).

Before Vilnai’s statement, Israel has reserved the term holocaust to Jews whom Adolf Hitler’s Nazis exterminated by the millions during World War II.

Disimban and Kabalu, aware of Vilnai’s holocaust threat, said “Allah forbid the extermination of the Palestinians”, while Kabalu expressed the MILF’s oneness with the Palestinians.

“We express our solidarity with the oppressed Palestinian people with prayer for them to overcome this slaughter, confident that in the end they will be victorious, insha Allah,” said the MILF’s chief of civil-military affairs.

Disimban said ABPA “strongly condemns the Israeli barbaric attacks on Gaza that killed at least 370 Palestinians. We also urge the Muslim world, particularly the Arab world to unite and punish the Israeli government.”

ABPA called on the UN to sanction Israel for not obeying its appeal for ceasefire and for killing innocent civilians.

“Israel is the real terrorist, killing innocent civilians, children, and women. The best solution to the problem in Palestine is to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands,” said Disimban, in reference to the Israeli ambassador to the Philippines’ appeal for support for Israel and calling Hamas terrorists.

Salapuddin noted what he describes as Israel’s “disproportionate use of strong and excessive force against the Palestinian people, causing several hundred dead and close to 2,000 wounded, many of whom were children and women.”

The former Basilan congressman said beside being wrong, “this can be considered a crime against humanity, a genocide. That is not to mention the illegal occupation of Palestinian lands by the Israelis and the unfettered building of Jewish settlements to settle non-Arab Jews from Europe on Palestinian lands.”

Salapuddin said Israel’s blockade of the entry of food, medicines, fuel and other basic needs of the Palestinians is not only cruel and heartless, but an undeserved act of a supposed civilized state claiming to hail from prophets and messengers of God.

“I think it will court more anger and rage against Israel in the Muslim world, generally. It can also become a rallying cause for al-Qaeda against Israel and the U.S.,” said Salapuddin.”

On the other hand, the policy of hatred of the Hamas leadership against Israel tends to undermine the leadership of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to negotiate for a comprehensive peace settlement with Israel. More than any time, the unity of all the Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Fatah behind President Abbas, who is recognized in the Muslim world and the West, is much needed,” he said.

Obama Should Worry About Iraqi Shoes, Too

December 28, 2008

When Iraq’s violence escalates, President Obama better not be caught on his heels when he’s blamed for losing Bush’s “win.”

By Ben Lando
AlterNet
INTERNATIONAL
Posted by Bulalat

After four hours stuck in Baghdad traffic, I was close enough to get out of the car and walk to my hotel. I’m sure it was raw sewage I stepped in, but I didn’t ask; ignorance is bliss, I figured, or every time I take my shoes off I’ll think of what’s on the bottom.

The drive from an interview in Monsour district back to my hotel just outside the Green Zone should have taken 45 minutes, tops.

But it coincided exactly with President Bush’s farewell invasion of Baghdad, and the send-off by 29-year-old Baghdadiyah TV journalist Muntathar al-Zaidi.

“This is a goodbye kiss, you dog,” al-Zaidi yelled and tossed his shoes at Bush, McClatchy Newspapers reports. “Killer of Iraqis, killer of children.”

As soon as my drivers and I were routed from the main highway to side streets by U.S. troops, we knew something was up. Traffic was intense every direction we took; the boys selling candy car-to-car must have made out well.

Frustration grew as the sun went down. Every route was blocked by U.S. troops. Bush made an unnecessary visit to Baghdad and put an American’s life in danger, I thought, and Baghdadis’ lives are frozen until he leaves the country for good.

Iraqis, getting impatient, start each day dressing one shoe at a time. A draft report from the U.S. Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, leaked to the New York Times and ProPublica this week, ahead of its January scheduled release, pans nearly the entirety of U.S. reconstruction efforts here.

Stuart Bowen, the IG, recounts his first tour of the Coalition Provisional Authority: “What I saw was troubling: large amounts of cash moving quickly out the door. Later that same day, walking the halls of the palace, I overheard someone say: ‘We can’t do that anymore. There is a new inspector general here.’ These red flags were the first signs that the oversight mission the Congress had assigned my office would be extraordinarily challenging.”

SIGIR’s responsibility was to watchdog nearly $50 billion in U.S. taxpayer dollars dedicated here by Congress.

“Over the past five years, this sea of taxpayer dollars flowed to a wide spectrum of initiatives, ranging from training Iraq’s army and police to building big electrical, oil and water projects; from supporting democracy-building efforts like elections to strengthening provincial councils’ budget execution; and from funding rule-of-law reforms to ensuring that Iraq sustains what the U.S. program provided,” the SIGIR report said.

“Some of the initiatives succeeded, but, as this report explains, many did not. … beyond the security issue stands another compelling and unavoidable answer: the U.S government was not adequately prepared to carry out the reconstruction mission it took on in mid-2003.”

So, parallel to, or because of, the continued insecurity, there is a lack of services such as electricity, clean water and fuel — not to mention a deficit of human-rights protection for women and minorities, according to a new U.N. report on human rights in Iraq — it’s not difficult to understand why a journalist threw shoes at the face of this situation.

Some here debated whether he’d be better off using his power as a journalist to explain why Bush is “a dog” — likely, since he has not been released from custody following a painful arrest. Others said it was plain inappropriate to embarrass the prime minister and disrespect a guest in a way so offensive in Arab culture, let alone committing a crime of assault; a rally in the Baghdad neighborhood Sadr City the day after called for the immediate release of al-Zaidi, an overnight hero of the Iraqi street and the Arab world.

No one I’ve spoken to, or overheard, has criticized the motivation of the reporter, who was shell-shocked covering the bombing of Sadr City this year (and was kidnapped last year).

“Ninety percent of Iraqis supported the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, greeted American troops as liberators with flowers and candy,” said a local journalist, whose office I was sharing while I was reporting this week. “Now, 90 percent feel the same way as al-Zaidi.”

“Thanks to you, the Iraq we’re standing in today is dramatically freer, dramatically safer and dramatically better than the Iraq we found eight years ago,” the Los Angeles Times quoted Bush during his visit.

But besting Saddam Hussein shouldn’t have been this hard.

“The work hasn’t been easy, but it’s been necessary,” Bush said after meeting Iraq’s Presidency Council. He called the buildup of U.S. troops in 2007 “one of the greatest successes in the history of the United States military” and the Status of Forces Agreement, which he and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki symbolically signed, “a reminder of our friendship and as a way forward to help the Iraqi people realize the blessings of a free society.”

If this were the case, if there was hope on the streets and feasible plans for the future, Iraqis wouldn’t throw shoes at the president of the United States.

But Bush, in his final month in office, is painting Iraq as a success, progress after tough times, nearing victory after tough battles. The reality is: it’s not. Iraq does not yet wear American-made designer shoes; it wears a pair of thin, worn and hole-pocked hand-me-down shoes after years of going barefoot. Violence is down, but only low compared to the days in 2006 and 2007, when bodies were found daily. The demographic map of Baghdad now is evidence of ethnic cleansing, Shiite and Sunni, if they’ve returned to the country, relegated to “their neighborhoods.” This after Saddam Hussein’s time — unquestionably brutal and genocidal in his own right — of intermarrying and protection from religious fundamentalism.

There are neighborhoods unsafe for an Iraqi to go through, let alone an American. A suicide bombing outside a Baghdad checkpoint Monday killed three people, according to McClatchy’s daily roundup of violence, which is seldom blank. Four days earlier, a restaurant in the northern city of Kirkuk exploded, killing 55 and wounding more than 100.

The Overseas Security Advisory Council, a federal advisory committee coordinating security intelligence between the U.S. government and American business overseas, said in the first week of December, al-Qaida in Iraq “demonstrated its continued capability to launch deadly attacks, perpetrating a series of successful attacks against both Iraqi security forces and Iraqi government targets.” At least 54 Iraqis died and hundreds were injured in attacks throughout the country as AQI “demonstrated its ability to adapt to Iraq’s changing security situations.”

Political disputes over provincial and national elections, a referendum on disputed territories and creating an autonomous region in oil-rich Basra province will be rough going for average Iraqis, fodder for militias and armed political groups, most of who were not run off in “The Surge,” but took a break.
And if President-elect Barak Obama doesn’t dispel this myth of Bush winning Iraq, let alone allow his Iraq policy advisers to believe it, he’s in for a swift kick when the Sunni insurgents-turned-security face-off against the Shiite government, when Kurdish-Arab disputes continue to stall government operations, and when Iraqis en masse throw shoes in frustration of the outstanding need to basic services that human rights demand, after six years of losing loved ones.

Much blame can be laid on the Iraqi government: many have played politics while the citizens want. But the political infrastructure and the power struggles in Parliament are a creation of the U.S. experiment in Iraq. And when Congress asks why the United States should spend more money on reconstruction, a look at the SIGIR report unveils the cynicism of the question: the U.S. government wasted, not spent, most of the money the taxpayers sent here.

The Democratic Party on a national level — most recent election withstanding — has woken up each day, tied its shoelaces together and wondered why it tripped in getting its message out. Dems either approved or didn’t articulate the strategic faults of the Bush operation in Iraq, and the result is Iraqis and the world will suffer as consequence. Its electoral losses at the start of the Bush presidency and slight gains since are more a result of voter reaction to the Bush policies than acceptance of Democratic promise.

When Iraq’s violence escalates, President Obama better not be caught on his heels when he’s blamed for losing Bush’s win here. Neither he nor the Democratic Party will be able to duck their opponents’ flying shoes as easily as Bush. AlterNet/Posted byBulatlat.com

The Shoe Heard Round the World

December 28, 2008

As with any event that pushes history forward, when you click the play button over and over to watch Muntanzer al-Zaidi mumble something in Arabic that we now know meant “This is a farewell kiss from the Iraqi people, you dog!,” the question inevitably arises – Why hasn’t this happened before?

BY AARON LAKE SMITH
Truthout/Perspective
INTERNATIONAL
Posted by Bulatlat

As with any event that pushes history forward, when you click the play button over and over to watch Muntanzer al-Zaidi mumble something in Arabic that we now know meant “This is a farewell kiss from the Iraqi people, you dog!,” the question inevitably arises – Why hasn’t this happened before? Watch al-Zaidi rise from the back of the room. See the glimmer of recognition in Bush’s eyes and the animal instinct take over as he avoids the shoes coming at his head. The incident is like a deep whiff of smelling salts, causing the degradations of the past five years to flood back. Remember when the antiwar movement puttered to a halt after Bush declared Mission accomplished? How easily we were fooled into complacency.

It is at this juncture where our antihero appears. Bush had opened the press conference by saying, “The American people have sacrificed a great deal to reach this moment. The battle in Iraq has required a great amount of time and resources” to a crowd of Arab journalists – is it any wonder that shoes were thrown? There is only so much unreality people will put up with before frustration bubbles to the surface, breaking through the veneer of civility. Watching the footage over and over again, the video quenches some thirst I didn’t know I had. There is a spectacular power in al-Zaidi’s visceral response: the spectacular bleary front-page photos of the smooshed face of the president. Bush’s deft and effortless dodge out of the way, like a character in “The Matrix.” Who isn’t haunted by that bemused smile plastered on his face as al-Zaidi is dragged out of the room and beaten? When the front row of reporters apologize, Bush shrugs it off, seeming put off by their servility: “So what if a guy threw a shoe … it doesn’t bother me. And if you want some – if you want the facts, it’s a size 10 shoe that he threw … Do not worry about it.”

But rather than move on and pretend it never happened, amazingly, Bush returns to the shoe throwing. He turns it into a parable, crams it into his deluded concept of democracy, “That’s what happens in free societies, where people try to draw attention to themselves. And so I guess he was affected, because he caused you to say something about it.”

But while Bush lauds civil dissent with one hand, he crushes it with the other. In an opinion piece by the editorial board, The New York Times said: “Mr. Zaidi had been severely beaten by security officers on Sunday after being tackled at the press conference and dragged out. While he has not been formally charged, Iraqi officials said he faced up to seven years in prison if convicted of committing an act of aggression against a visiting head of state. No doubt he must face the charges – and punished if found guilty.”

“No doubt he must face the charges – and punished if found guilty.” Shame on The Times’ editors for giving such a de rigueur shrug for centrism instead of taking a stand. Al-Zaidi is looking at seven years in an Iraqi oubliette in the face. When will The Times have the courage to make the same call for Bush? True democracy requires us to be active participants. The lesson that can be gleaned from al-Zaidi’s rage is that the jelly-like stasis of the present can always be shattered; with a single act, all avenues of possibility widen. Outside of the week’s news stream talking points, many things are still possible. But al-Zaidi is not, as he has been lauded, a “folk hero.”

He’s just a guy who threw his shoes. It could have been any of us. And like all rebels who walk away from the cotillion of civility, he will be rewarded and punished by history. The biggest barrier to democracy is the fear of social transgression, the idea that democracy can be passively observed. We must be constant, active participants in our fates, rather than waiting for others that we can cheer on from the sidelines, to act on our behalf. Truthout/Posted byBulatlat.com

The US War on Terror*

December 28, 2008

“Fascism will never come to America as fascism. It will come as 100 percent Americanism.” Huey Long

“When fascism come to America, it will be wrapped in the flag, carrying a cross” Sinclair Lewis

BY DR. HALUK GERGER
INTERNATIONAL
Posted by Bulatlat

After the Second World War, the US imperialism had premeditated two immediate objectives in its drive to global hegemony. One was to defeat socialism and destroy the Soviet Union together with the regimes allied to it. The second aim was to subvert and subdue the national-democratic revolutions in the colonies and semi-colonies. The anticommunist crusade of the Cold War was the culmination of this plan.

In the preparatory phase of this aggression, the US leaders realized that this kind of total belligerence required tools to manipulate the public opinion for domestic control.

One tool to utilize was fear. As the influential Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Arthur Vandenberg had advised President Truman, ruling classes first needed to “scare the hell out of the American people.”

Secondly, the government moved to curtail the democratic process at the home front and began to repress opposition. McCarthyism was the culmination of this sinister process during which democratic institutions were corrupted and due process of law crudely violated. State and corporate terror was unleashed against dissent. Public opinion was unabashedly manipulated.

Thirdly, it was deemed necessary to demonize and criminalize the targeted regimes, political leaders and movements. As a result, it was hoped, public opinion support would be secured for the legitimization of destructive methods like sabotage, torture, assassination, mass murder, coup d’etats, military dictatorships, brushfire wars, pacification programs, and the like. The aim, in short, was manufacturing pretexts, consent, and justification for imperialist terror.

Militarization of both international relations and the domestic environment followed this conspiracy against democracy and peace. The ideological machinations took the human mind, social sensitivities, and public opinion captive.

In 1941, Henry Luce, in his call for the “American Century,” said that, after the World War II, victorious USA should exercise her right “to exert upon the world the full impact of our influence, for such purposes as we see fit and by such means as we see fit.” And in 1955, as if directly addressing Luce’s ominous call, the US Air Force General (and later Shell Oil Director) James Doolittle, commissioned to lead a Panel of Consultents to undertake a study of CIA covert operations, wrote the following to President Eisenhower:

“It is now clear that we are facing an implacable enemy whose avowed objective is world domination by whatever means and at whatever cost. There are no rules in such a game. Hitherto acceptable norms of human conduct do not apply. If the United States is to survive, long-standing American concepts of “fair play” must be reconsidered. We must develop effective espionage and counterespionage services and must learn to subvert, sabotage and destroy our enemies by more clever, more sophisticated and more effective methods than those weed against us. It may become necessary that the American people be made acquainted with, understand and support this fundamentally repugnant philosophy…”

Finally, we must underline the fact that the imperialist aggression at the time pointed to a profound crisis of the system. It stemmed from a structural crisis, resulted in an humanistic crisis on the part of the aggressor who denied opponents’ humanism. In the end, the world strayed into the “New Order” of imperialist barbarism—leading up to the utter bankruptcy of imperialism itself.

More than half a century after Luce’s pronunciation, the US has embarked upon yet another imperialist onslaught, this time to reap the fruits of its Cold War victory and to impose a new “American Century.”

The Middle East was chosen as the launching pad in this offensive for global hegemony. In the year 2000, The Project for the New American Century, an influential think-tank, released a report called “Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century.” Among its authors were Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Francis Fukuyama, and W. Bush’s brother Jeb Bush. A critical paragraph in the Report said:

“In the Persian Gulf region, the presence of American forces, along with British and French units, has become a semi permanent fact of life. Though the immediate mission of those forces is to enforce the no-fly zones over northern and southern Iraq, they represent the long-term commitment of the United States and its major allies to a region of vital importance. Indeed, the United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.”

The report also called for a wholesale militarist reorganization in the United States to add momentum to the global hegemony push they sought, comparable with what the notorious NSC-68 demanded in 1948 for the Cold War drive. The authors were yearning for a congenial domestic atmosphere:

“…the process of [such a militaristic] transformation…is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event- like a new Pearl Harbor.”

As if God-sent, the pretext for “justification” descended on New York and Washington DC on September 11, 2001. The new much-needed elusive enemy was christened “terrorism.” It would become the blanket term to denigrate all resistance to imperialism and even any opposition whenever the powers that be may wish so.

Again, similar to the precursory Cold War schemes, a new “ruthless” and “dehumanized” enemy had to be invented to paralyze the world with fright and to vindicate imperialist terror. Now, the “baby-eating Chinese communists” gave way to the “blood-thirsty Arab-Moslem terrorists.” Once again, to justify imperialist aggression devoid of moral or legal restraints, and to delude the people to “support this fundamentally repugnant philosophy” of treachery, “a new kind of war” had to be contrived. A new militarism was needed through which Capital could indulge itself in global plunder…

In 2002, in his cover letter of the notorious Presidential Report “The National Security Strategy of the United States of America” President George W. Bush declared a “war of uncertain duration” against the new enemy.

According to the highest authority of the land, the United States faced an enemy and a kind of war that made all previous conduct obsolete, and even dangerous. Reminiscent of Doolittle’s report and the rhetoric of the Cold War, the new strategy text claimed:

“We are menaced less by fleets and armies than by catastrophic technologies in the hands of the embittered few…The struggle against global terrorism is different from any other war in our history. It will be fought on many fronts against a particularly elusive enemy over an extended period of time…But it is not only this battlefield on which we will engage terrorists…The United States of America is fighting a war against terrorists of global reach. The enemy is not a single political regime or person or religion or ideology. The enemy is terrorism…

The regimes of the new enemy states:

* brutalize their own people and squander their national resources for the personal gain of the rulers;
• display no regard for international law, threaten their neighbors, and callously violate international treaties to which they are party;
• are determined to acquire weapons of mass destruction, along with other advanced military technology, to be used as threats or offensively to achieve the aggressive designs of these regimes;
• sponsor terrorism around the globe; and
• reject basic human values and hate the United States and everything for which it stands…

It has taken almost a decade for us to comprehend the true nature of this new threat. Given the goals of rogue states and terrorists, the United States can no longer solely rely on a reactive posture as we have in the past. The inability to deter a potential attacker, the immediacy of today’s threats, and the magnitude of potential harm that could be caused by our adversaries’ choice of weapons, do not permit that option…The major institutions of American national security were designed in a different era to meet different requirements. All of them must be transformed…”

To justify their agenda of war, invasion, subjugation, and pillage, imperialist spokesmen persisted with instilling fear in the hearts and minds of the people. They began to portray a dehumanized enemy, and started a campaign of demonizing all potential opposition and resistance to domination.

On November 12, 2002, at the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Operations Center, George W. Bush declared that,

“It’s a new charge. It’s a new charge because we learned on that fateful day that America is now a battlefield. It used to be that oceans would protect us…But we learned a tough lesson, that the old ways are gone, that the enemy can strike us here at home,… On September the 11th, 2001, our nation was confronted by a new kind of war…This is a war….And it’s a different kind of war than we’re used to. I explained part of the difference is the fact that the battlefield is now here at home. It’s also a war where the enemy doesn’t show up with airplanes that they own, or tanks or ships. These are suiciders. These are cold-blooded killers. That’s all they are…There should be no doubt in anybody’s mind the nature of the enemy…We’re adjusting to the new world we’re in…As a matter of fact, there hadn’t a morning that hadn’t gone by that I haven’t saw — seen or read threats…It’s the new reality…”

At a press conference in the White House on December 19, 2002, Bush said, “this new threat required us to think and act differently…right after September the 11th, I knew we were fighting a different kind of war.”

He lectured the students and faculty of the National Defense University on the same theme on October 23, 2007:

“Today, you’re training the next generation of leaders to prevail in the great ideological struggle of our time — the global war on terror. We’re at war with a brutal enemy. We’re at war with cold-blooded killers who despise freedom, reject tolerance, and kill the innocent in pursuit of their political vision. Many of you have met this enemy on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq…This new kind of threat has required a new kind of war — and we’re prosecuting that war on many fronts…in order to defeat the ideology of darkness, the ideology of the terrorists…In this new war, the enemy seeks to infiltrate operatives into our country and attack us from within. They can’t beat our armies; they can’t defeat our military. And so they try to sneak folks in our country to kill the innocent, to achieve their objectives. And that’s one of the reasons we passed the Patriot Act…In this new war, the enemy conspires in secret– and often the only source of information on what the terrorists are planning is the terrorists themselves…In this new war, the enemy seeks weapons of mass destruction that would allow them to kill our people on an unprecedented scale…Today, our adversaries have changed. We no longer worry about a massive Soviet first strike. We worry about terrorist states and terrorist networks that might not be deterred by our nuclear forces. To deal with such adversaries we need a new approach to deterrence…”

And Bush said at the start of his annual meeting with the governors at the White House on Feb 25, 2008, “This is a different kind of struggle than we’ve ever faced before. It’s essential that we understand the mentality of these killers…”

So in the end individuals, organizations, nations as well as states have been declared enemy…The whole world became the battlefield…The rules of war and norms of time-honored civilized behavior became obsolete…As time ceased to be a measurement or criterion in the “war against terror,” war has become eternal…Moral traditions of war declared defunct…The “new enemy” did not even deserve the Cold War’s debased criteria of humane treatment…An evil colossus of the fusion of internal and external enemy was constructed that permitted external aggression and internal repression as one indivisible whole in this “new kind of war…” Habitual imperialist viciousness was now called “unprecedented response to new threats…”

When the useful Soviet actuality ceased to exist, the United States needed another all-encompassing enemy. In order to justify a state of perpetual war in pursuit of “full-spectrum dominance,” she substituted the faceless enemy dubbed “terrorism” for the previous one, namely, “godless communism.”

The sinister ploy to dominate the world and subjugate the people all over the globe into permanent servitude was put into practice with the so-called “war on terror.” It officially commenced with the ferocious bombing of Afghanistan and continued with the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. The immediate result was horrendous suffering for millions, mass killings, wanton destruction, systematic torture, and carnage.

Abominable as they were, Afghan and Iraqi predicament proved to be only a prelude to the systematic onslaught and repression that followed.

Capital’s lust for profit and plunder coupled with the constructed self-righteous nationalist extremism cloaked in and propagated with a so-called divine mission, conditioned the US behavior. She began to act as an international outlaw. From Guantanamo to Bingram, Abu Ghraib and Camp Copper, from secret CIA planes to renditions, the whole world witnessed appalling war crimes. Legal terms have been degenerated into an Orwellian language and as Mary Robinson said, in the lexicon of the “war on terror,” “coercive interrogation” replaced torture and kidnapping became “extraordinary rendition.” Private contractors mandated to kill at will were hired on the pretext of fighting terrorism. As Rahul Mahajam observed,

“Defense Secretary Donald said, ‘we’ll have to deal with the networks. One of the ways to do that is to drain the swamp they live in, and that means dealing not only with the terrorists, but those who harbor terrorists.’ The phrase ‘drain the swamp’ has roots in Mao’s description of a guerrilla army as a fish swimming in the sea of the people. U.S. Counterinsurgency experts after World War II took up the phrase in the concept of ‘draining the sea’ to counter guerrilla warfare-a strategy carried out in South Vietnam by massive bombing, forced evacuation (the strategic hamlet program), deforestation (11 million gallons of Agent Orange was dropped in Vietnam), and large-scale torture and political repression (the Phoenix program). No sooner was the phrase uttered than it was on everyone’s lips, from government officials to newspaper editorials around the world. The logic of extermination…of assuming all who didn’t support the extermination were themselves guilty was all in place. How it played out in practice would depend on how much force was sufficient, not on any consideration of principle.”

General Doolittle theorized about “an implacable enemy” against whom, he claimed, “[h]itherto acceptable norms of human conduct do not apply.” President Bush, fifty years later, spoke of “evil forces” who forced upon the US “a new kind of war and a new approach to deterrence” rendering “old ways” defunct.

The fact of the matter is that the “old ways” go back to the days when the Continent was colonized. When the US monopoly capitalism ventured into its first imperialistic forays, the “old ways” were revived. Max Boot’s narrative of the “old ways” from those old days sound disturbingly familiar:

“Already the army had displayed considerable cruelty in fIghting the Filipinos. Even during the initial campaigm of 1899, there were credible reports of solders shooting prisoners ‘while trying to escape,’ burning towns, and torturing suspects to elicit information. One interrogation techniqe, passed down from the Spaniards, was called the ‘water cure’: the victim would be held down, his mouth propped open, and water forced down his throat until his guts felt close to bursting, then a soldier would push on his stomach to clear out the water. American soldiers became more hard-hearted the longer the guerrilla war dragged on… [Marine Captain known as Tiger of Seibo] personally tortured one prisoner by cutting him with a knife, pouring salt and orange juice on his wounds, and then cutting off his ears…The tiny general [General Jacob Smith] told [Major Littleton Waller],’I want no prisoners. I wish you to kill and burn, the more you kill and the more you burn the better you will please me… I want all persons killed who are capable of bearing arms.’
Waller: ‘I would like to know the limit of age.’
Smith: ‘Ten years…’ ”

The fourth president of the United States, James Madison, had once remarked that “no nation can preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.” One main victim of the “war on terror” has been the US society itself.

Immediately after the September 11 attacks, scores of people were rounded up. They were held in special detention centers without charge and bail. They were brutalized. Most of those apprehended were Arabs and Muslims. Political prisoners were placed under an emergency arrangement and kept in solitary confinement for weeks. Aliens were deported on meager grounds based on obscure clauses in long-forgotten old laws.

At the advent of the Cold War, The National Security Act, the foundation of the CIA with an addendum to this Act, the creation of the Defense Department, the “loyalty investigations,” the Smith and McCarran Acts were landmarks of impending aggression.

A similar pattern can be discerned after September 11, 2001. Only a few weeks after the attacks, Bush signed the Patriot Act into law. As Bush later explained in his address at the National Defense University in October 2007,

“in this new war, the enemy seeks to infiltrate operatives into our country and attack us from within. They can’t beat our armies; they can’t defeat our military. And so they try to sneak folks in our country to kill the innocent, to achieve their objectives. And that’s one of the reasons we passed the Patriot Act.”

Three weeks after the signing of the Patriot Act, Bush authorized military tribunals to try anyone suspected of terrorism with the explicit aim of speedy execution and imprisonment of defendants without bothering themselves with the intricacies of the due process. In 2002, the then White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales advised the president that, “as you have said the war against terrorism is a new kind of war. The nature of the new war places a high premium on other factors, such as the ability to quickly obtain information from captured terrorists and their sponsors in order to avoid further atrocities against American citizens.” Gonzales concluded: “In my judgment, this new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva’s strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions.” He also argued that by dropping the Geneva Convention, the president would “preserve his flexibility” in the war on terror. This meant that Geneva Convention rules of treating prisoners of war were not applicable any more and that the US did not bound herself with humanitarian rules of war. Also, the advise indicated that torturing suspected persons has become an urgent necessity “in the new kind of war .”

In November 2002, the Homeland Security Act followed. While the Congress was in session discussing the bill, president Bush spoke:

“It’s a different kind of war than we’re used to. I explained part of the difference is the fact that the battlefield is now here at home…The new kind of war has now placed our police and firefighters and rescue workers on the front lines. You’re already on the front lines. Now you got another line. There’s another front to do our duty to the American people…The enemy moves quickly and America must move quickly. We cannot have bureaucratic rules preventing this President and future Presidents from meeting the needs of the American people. To meet the threats to our country, a President must have the authority, as every President since John F. Kennedy has had, to waive certain rights for national security purposes.”

Then followed the internal intelligence gathering as explained by Bush, speaking at the FBI Academy in Virginia on July 11 2005:

“To defend our homeland, we need the best possible intelligence. We face a new kind of enemy. This enemy hides in caves and plots in shadows, and then emerges to strike and kill in cold blood in our cities and communities. Staying a step ahead of this enemy and disrupting their plans is an unprecedented challenge for our intelligence community. We’re reforming our intelligence agencies to meet the new threats. We’ve established a new National Counterterrorism Center where we are bringing together all the available intelligence on terrorist threats. We’re sharing intelligence across all levels of government — the federal level, the state level, and the local level.”

The Patriot Act was the initiator of a chain reaction of repressive dynamic that beset American society and turned the American people into a victim of the “war on terror.” At this point perhaps it is more appropriate to let the Americans speak out themselves.

Even the partial list presented by Matthew Rothschild to the Americans is horrific indeed:

“The government is monitoring your phone calls and can read your e-mails and open your snail mail.

The government can access records of your large financial transactions, such as buying a house.

Law enforcement officers can bust into your home when you’re not there, riffle through your belongings, plant a recording device on your computer, and leave without notifying you for at least thirty days—and may be a lot more.

You no longer have the right to protest where the president or vice president can see you, or at major public events when they aren’t even present.

Law enforcement officers can now monitor you in public if you are merely exercising your political rights.

They can infiltrate your political organizations.

And they can keep track of you at your place of Worship.

The government can find out from bookstores and libraries the material you’ve been reading, and the bookstore owner and the librarian can’t talk about it, except to their lawyers, for a whole year—or more.

The government can hold you in preventive detention for months on end as a “material witness.”

If you are not a citizen the government can depart you on a technicality or for mere political association.

If you are not a citizen the government can label you an “enemy combatant” and send you to secret prisons around the world, where you may never see the light again—much less a lawyer or a judge.

And even if you are a citizen, the government can label you an enemy combatant and hold you in solitary confinement here in the United States.”

And here are glimpses from his compilation of ordinary citizens’ lives: Marc Schultz was reading an article at the coffee shop, called “Weapons of Mass Destruction: Fox News Hits a New Lowest Common Denominator” while another customer peeking behind called the FBI on him. A few days later two agents visited him in his work place. In West Virginia, Renee Jensen put up a dozen protest signs in her yard like: “Mr. Bush: You’re Fired.” She was interrogated by the Secret Service. Glen Hiller interjected a few times when Bush was speaking at a High School Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. The next day her boss fired her on charge of “unacceptable actions.” In Alabama, Lynne Gobbell put a Kerry bumper sticker on her car. She too was fired from her job. In Vermont, High School teacher Tom Treece assigned his students to write (pro or con) essays and prepare posters on the Iraq War. After midnight, the police entered the classroom and took photos of the students’ works. English teacher at the Forsyth Technical Community College in Winston-Salem, in one her classes criticized the war in Iraq. A few days later, she received a disciplinary letter from her supervisor, and after some time of administrative proceedings, her contract was not renewed. Stephen Kobasa teaching English at Kolbe Cathedral High School in Bridgeport, Connecticut, refused to have an American flag in his classroom. He lost his job in 2005. Near Albany, New York, Stephen Downs and his son Roger bought T-shirts in a mall. Downs put his shirt on, and was arrested. The T-shirt’s messages read: “Peace on Earth.”

Joe Conason, rightly expresses his alarm over the fate of fundamental rights and freedoms in the United States in a state of “continual warfare” conducted with ferocious immorality, vicious bellicosity, and with blithe disregard for the rules of war, absolute contempt for due process of law, and deliberate indifference towards the constitution of the land:

“In American history, authoritarian excess has often accompanied war (or the fear of war), from the Alien and Sedition Acts passed by Madison’s political opponents to Abraham Lincoln’s Civil War suspension of habeas corpus; from the Red Scare of World War I to the internment of Japanese in World War II; from Joseph McCarthy’s depredations at the beginning of the Cold war to Richard Nixon’s abuses during the war in Vietnam. Those wartime encroachments eventually receded, owing to the end of hostilities or the vitality of democratic resistance. But what would happen in a nation beset by continual warfare?”

And this is Peter Phillips’ diagnosis of the state of the Union:

“[T]he Bush administration is paltering to the American public with exaggerated misconceptions of worldwide terrorism to frighten us into supporting a global police state, and the US corporate media serves as the handmaid of this deception. With seven hundred military bases and a budget bigger than that of the rest of the world combined, the US military and its corporate media partners have become the new supreme-power force, repressing “terrorism” with full-spectrum dominance and cognitive ideological control…”

The damning joint indictment of Elliot D. Cohen and Bruce W. Fraser in the light of the systematic conduct in the years following the unleashing of the “war on terror” is irrefutable indeed:

“The Nazi government also operated in secrecy…defending its abuses of power in the name of national security…The systematic violations of law and civil liberties in America—the operations of secret prison camps; the president’s claimed right to torture prisoners of war…; the warrantless eavesdropping on phone conversations and e-mail messages; the assumed power of the president to declare martial law and turn America into a police state; the claim that the entire nation is a ‘battlefield in the war on terror’ so that ordinary legal protections don’t apply; the president’s use of signing statements to nullify legislative constraints on executive power; the threat to prosecute journalists for treason if they reported information that endangers ‘national security’ (as determined exclusively by the president and company); the canceling of habeas corpus; the labeling as ‘unlawful enemy combatants’ anyone the president deems ‘hostile’ to the interests of the United States; the suspension of legal protection for whistleblowers who expose government corruption; the attempt to control judicial outcomes (from firing federal prosecutors and intimidating state and federal judges to stocking the Supreme Court with right-wing conservatives)—these and many other antidemocratic, authoritarian activities make the analogy with Nazi Germany not only fitting but compelling…[T]he quest for money and power has created a dangerous, unholy alliance between big business and government, crushing the American dream, snuffing out civil liberties, and leaving us stranded in a media sea of propaganda and lies…[T]he American people…have been shocked and awed into submitting to a megalomaniac government that has made the war on terror a pretext for keeping us all on a short leash…”

Irrespective of their critical public utterences and misgivings on what they call “excesses” of US policies, the member governments of the European Union have been quick to recognize the “common interests,” and seized the opportunity in the “war on terror.” They enthusiastically joined the global crusade and shared the internal repression that went with it. Imperialist belligerence was fused with internal repression. Scores of governments joined hand with the US ruling elite to curtail political dissent and oppress opponents through anti-terror laws. All over the world the “war on terror” was thus turned into a concerted offensive of the ruling classes allied to US imperialism.

The US and its allies, through sovereignty-denial, promoted open-doors imperialism and created new outlets for speculative finance capital to turn the world into a gambling casino. They concocted a bogus legal base and intrigued provocations to intervene wherever capitalist plunder was hindered and imperialist hegemony challenged. To coerce nations into submission they horrendously punished the disobedient. The domestic fronts were pacified through anti-terror lagislation, police-state practices. Curtailment of dissent, violations of basic rights as free speech and association became the common practice. The “war on terror” has become the main tool and excuse in the implementation of the grand design of imperial dominance.

The New World Order created a common interest binding the ruling classes all over the world. The constituent elements of the system were brought together around an ideological common denominator to build up a conspiratiorial network of opression. To check social discontent and resistance in order to create a congenial atmosphere for local and global capitalist accumulation, repression has become one of the main functions of the neoliberal state system. The “war on terror” has become the euphemism of neoliberal onslaught. So the imperialist powers and their lackeys elsewhere began to cooperate in the “war on terror.” An integral part of this colaboration was the corruption of respective legal systems and structured violations of human rights. A new global McCarthyism engulfed the whole world. The right to resist invasion, and organized opposition of the oppressed to exploitation, inequality, hunger, mass unemployement, and political repression have been equated with “terrorism.” This ideological terror has become as destructive as the physical desolation caused by imperialist aggression.

In many parts of the world, notably including “democracies” such as the EU member states, Canada, and Australia, “terrorist lists” were prepared of organizations and political cadres. It was made a criminal offense to have positive relations with those listed. The domestic legislative part the “war on terror” comprised widespread suppression of those who exercised the inalienable right to resist subjugation. With its own lists, the UN supplemented and internationalized such domestic enactments. The “war on terror” has become the “Rambo’s sword” stabbed at human rights and fundamental freedoms. In the course of the “war on terror”, the professed “democracy-building” proved to be “exportation of draconian anti-terror laws.”

Globalization caused severe social-economic dislocations everywhere and together with wars, famine, and epidemics greatly expanded the exodus of people across international borders. Criminalization of immigrants and migrants has attained new heights after the American response to the September 11 attacks. The anti-terror hysteria and “terror laws” have created a new witch-hunt. Minorities and immigrant communities became one of the main victims of this development. The “war on terror” has created a new impetus for racism, and the “anti-terror laws” provided the legal base for persecution of the vulnerable communities. The fueled fear of the “other” was used to tyrannize through anti-terror legislation vocal movements for the rights of minorities.

The criminalization of immigrants have taken grotesque forms as this report from a British paper attests:

“Immigration officers are questioning Tube travelers because they sound ‘foreign’, the Evening Standard has learned. Thousands of passengers are being stopped in a secret operation using tactics the police are specifically forbidden from deploying.

Immigration officers are stopping anyone they consider to look or sound foreign and asking them to produce their papers to prove their right to British residence. Their aim is uncover illegal immigrants and failed asylum seekers. The existence of the spot-check operation has been kept secret by the Home Office but an Evening Standard investigation discovered that teams of immigration officers have been carrying out the procedures since May 2003. It is part of a wider program in which 1,000 suspected illegal immigrants have been detained.

During one operation witnessed by the Evening Standard, a series of people getting off Tube trains were stopped by immigration officers dressed in body armour and carrying handcuffs. The officer in charge said people were picked out for questioning if they sounded foreign. One immigration officer said: ‘If you hear someone speaking a language that’s not European we approach them and ask ‘do you mind if I ask you what nationality you are?’ ‘If they get upset or start acting suspiciously we ask the police to assist and demand identification…”

All these horrendous consequences of the “war on terror,” all suffering, blood and tear, nevertheless, should not conceal the profound crisis of imperialism. All those years of imperialist aggression have shown the absolute futility to subjugate the peoples of the world into servile slaves of Capital. The unrelenting heroic resistances together with deadly contradictions inherent in capitalism have brought about the current severe economic, social, political, strategic, and moral crises of the system. From the US where for more than forty million people securing food is a daily concern to the “wretched of the earth” in Asia, South America, and Africa, the prevalent “food crisis, this profound “humanitarian catastrophe,” is witness to the abyss capitalism has dragged the world into.

It is now time to deliver from this crisis of capitalism and imperialism a democratic-revolutionary front of all the oppressed peoples for national and social emancipation.

*This paper was delivered by the author during the Third International Assembly of the League of Peoples’ Struggle held from June 18-20, 2008 in Hong Kong.

As usual, the NYT ignores Iraqi opinion; anecdotes trump polls on withdrawal

December 22, 2008

Written by Dahr Jamail
Monday, 15 December 2008
var sburl2047 = window.location.href; var sbtitle2047 = document.title;var sbtitle2047=encodeURIComponent(“As usual, the NYT ignores Iraqi opinion; anecdotes trump polls on withdrawal”); var sburl2047=decodeURI(“http://zumel.com/index.php?option=com_content&amp;task=view&amp;id=559&#8221;); sburl2047=sburl2047.replace(/amp;/g, “”);sburl2047=encodeURIComponent(sburl2047);The New York Times failed spectacularly in its coverage of Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction, helping lead the country into war and only much later (5/26/04) publishing a half-hearted mea culpa. As the near-apology acknowledged, the paper’s failure resulted in large part from its lack of skepticism regarding its sources, most notably exiled Iraqi politician Ahmed Chalabi.

Despite the mea culpa, though, the Times continues to mislead on Iraq, particularly on the issue of whether or not Iraqis want the US military to exit their country. Once again, that journalistic failure seems to be rooted in the same fundamental problem of overconfidence in the paper’s sources and ignoring the obvious contradictory evidence.

An article by Times reporter Stephen Farrell headlined, “Should US Forces Withdraw From Iraq? The Iraqis Have a Few Opinions” (9/9/08) serves as a recent example. The piece, which also kicked off a special series on “the debate among ordinary Iraqis over the presence of American troops” that ran in the Times’ online blog section, purported to bring readers insight into Iraqi opinion on withdrawal. “As Iraqi and American diplomats negotiate a deal for American troops to stay in Iraq, or not, Iraqis are also debating the issue,” Farrell wrote — as though there is a great deal of debate among Iraqis about whether they prefer that their country continue to be occupied.

The Times reporter split Iraqis into “three categories” of opinion, with only one actually supporting the withdrawal of occupation forces. Besides a group that “simply [wants] the Americans to leave, period,” Farrell described one pro-occupation group of Iraqis that “worries that the brief period of improving security which Iraq has witnessed this year will be vulnerable if the Americans abruptly withdrew.” Those in this group, according to Farrell, “say the United States has a moral obligation to remain, and that continued presence of the occupiers is preferable to a return to rule by gangs and militias.”

Farrell described the other pro-occupation group as sharing “a common worry, that without a referee, Iraq’s dominant powers — Kurds in the far north and Shias in the center and south — will brutally dominate other groups.”

Farrell gave no indication of the relative sizes of each group, but the Iraqi quotes featured below the piece seemed to suggest that the pro-withdrawal group was quite small: Only two of the ten people who expressed a personal opinion about the troops spoke in favor of immediate withdrawal.

Survey says

Notably, Farrell opted not to include polling data in his article. Perhaps that’s because had he done so, it would have undermined the thesis of his piece.

A poll from March 2008 conducted by Opinion Research Business (ORB) for the British Channel 4 (2/24–3/5/08) found 70 percent of Iraqis wanting occupation forces to leave. Within this group, 65 percent wanted them to leave “immediately or as soon as possible” — meaning fully 46 percent of Iraqis would fall under Farrell’s “leave immediately” group. Another 19 percent wanted them out within a year or less, while 12 percent wanted to wait until “whenever the security situation allows it.” (Interestingly, in Baghdad—where Times journalists are based—the number of those who wanted troops out immediately was only 42 percent, while 20 percent wanted to wait until the security situation improves; still, a majority wanted troops out within a year.)

Another March 2008 poll conducted by D3/KA for ABC News and other media outlets (2/12–20/08) similarly found that 73 percent of Iraqis either “somewhat” or “strongly” opposed the ongoing foreign troop presence in their country, with 38 percent in favor of immediate withdrawal. Only 7 percent of Iraqis — primarily Kurds — “strongly” supported the presence of occupation forces.

The D3/KA survey, which did not offer a timetable for withdrawal as a choice, found 35 percent of Iraqis wanting troops to stay until security is restored and another 24 percent wanting them to stay until the government is either “stronger” or can “operate independently.” But with respect to the “improving security” that Farrell pointed to as a reason many Iraqis want troops to stay — a result, according to media conventional wisdom, of the successful troop “surge” (Extra!, 9–10/08) — 61 percent of Iraqis said the US troop presence was making security worse, compared to only 27 percent who said better. The same survey found that 70 percent of Iraqis believe the US and other “coalition” forces had done “quite a bad job” or “a very bad job” in carrying out their responsibilities in Iraq.

To illustrate the US’s “dilemma,” Farrell made references to two previous occupations of Iraq: the failed British occupation during the 1920s and the Empire of the Caliphate under the Ummayad provincial governor al-Hajjaj in 694 AD. The examples presented Iraqis as irrepressibly “fractious” and “troublesome” going back to ancient times; as Farrell concluded loftily, “Names and governments change, but there is nothing new under the Mesopotamian sun.”

According to such logic, chaos, violence and majority Iraqi opposition to the occupation would seem to have less to do with the occupation itself — which has left an estimated one million dead and nearly 5 million displaced (9/18/07; UNHCR, 8/08) — and more to do with an inherent incapacity to accept the “civilization” or “democracy” that a brutal occupation brings.

Unchanging trends

Bylines and dates change, but there is nothing new under the Manhattan sun. A look back at New York Times coverage of Iraqi opinion over the years shows a long trend of ignoring polling data despite their ready availability and their remarkable consistency.

A Gallup poll from April 2004 (USA Today, 4/28/04) revealed that “a solid majority [of Iraqis] support an immediate military pullout.” Fifty-seven percent said the coalition should “leave immediately.” The same poll found that 75 percent of the residents of Baghdad favored an immediate withdrawal. At the same time, a poll from the Iraq Center for Research and Strategic Studies (4/28/04), which was partly funded by the State Department and had coordinated its work with the Coalition Provisional Authority, found that more than half of all Iraqis wanted an immediate withdrawal of all US forces, an increase of 17 percent over the previous October.

In writing about Iraqi opinion, though, the Times’ Ian Fisher (5/23/04) ignored this data, asserting, “There are still far more people . . . who are skeptical of, and maybe even hate, the Americans but see them as the only way to save themselves.” As evidence, Fisher cited not scientific surveys—as those would have contradicted his claim — but rather a tally conducted by Sadim Samir, a 23-year-old political science student at the University of Baghdad, who “canvassed five neighborhoods” of Baghdad for a “class paper.”

Two years later, Times journalist Michael Gordon, who co-wrote some of the Times’ most misleading WMD reports with Judith Miller and still periodically files stories from Iraq, criticized Democrats calling for a withdrawal from Iraq because, Gordon argued (CNN, 11/15/06),

there are a significant number of players in Baghdad today who don’t mind if the Americans withdraw. These are the militia leaders. They would be happy if the United States withdrew, because, then, they can go and carry out their ethnic cleansing campaign against the Sunnis.

But a poll by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (9/1–3/06) found that then, as today, 7 in 10 Iraqis favored troop withdrawal within a year — not just a small band of “militia leaders” bent on ethnic cleansing.

More recently, 18 Iraqis were interviewed for the Times article “In Iraq, Mixed Feelings About Obama and His Troop Proposal,” by Sabrina Tavernise and Richard Oppel (7/17/08). Again, the Times preferred to rely on the opinions of less than two dozen Iraqis rather than refer to available polling data that would have undercut the theme of the story: that Iraqis faced “a deep internal quandary” about Obama’s support for withdrawal.

The first Iraqi quoted was a general who, when asked about Barack Obama’s plans to draw down troops in Iraq, shook his head and said: “Very difficult. . . . Any army would love to work without any help, but let me be honest: For now, we don’t have that ability.” When the piece mentioned one Iraqi who favored immediate withdrawal, his quote (“I want them [US soldiers] to go to hell”) was framed in rhetoric couching the situation as “complex.” The piece concluded by quoting an Iraqi government official who, having traveled to Germany and seen the US bases there, said: “I have no problem to have a camp here. . . . I find it in Germany and that’s a strong country. Why not in Iraq?”

Writing history by anecdote

One of the New York Times’ chief perpetrators of skewing Iraqi opinion is John Burns. The paper sent Burns to Baghdad during the lead-up to the invasion of 2003, and he served as bureau chief there until the summer of 2007; his perspective on the occupation no doubt heavily influenced the Times’ reporting from Iraq.

Burns, the son of a NATO general, has publicly voiced his remarkably uncritical view of US foreign policy, telling Rolling Stone magazine (7/04):

The United States has been overwhelmingly a force of good in the world. This is very unfashionable talk, but I think this ought to be remembered here. I grew up in a world where the survival of democracy depended on the military and economic power of the United States. If that power became less credible here, I think the world would be a lot less safe. The stakes are extraordinarily high. I think this is a tipping point in the fate of the American empire.

Many journalists with the Times used to regularly report from the streets of Iraq in the early days of the war, before the security deteriorated to the point where most decided against venturing out; Burns, however, was not generally one of them. Those of us reporting from Iraq rarely saw Burns, the winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, leave the heavily guarded New York Times compound unless he was going on an embed or taking an armored convoy over to the Green Zone to report on the military press conferences that we referred to as the “five o’clock follies.”

When journalists report this way in Baghdad, they put themselves in a position of total reliance upon the Iraqis they hire to send out into the streets with questions; they then have to sift through the answers those Iraqi reporters bring back to find anecdotes to fit their stories. In this way, history is written by anecdote, and this is exactly what the Times does by quoting individual Iraqis or referring to “Iraqi opinion” without citing available polls.

Despite his limited perspective on Iraqi opinion, Burns has repeatedly presented that perspective to the public without caveats, both in the Times and in other outlets — most frequently the Charlie Rose show on PBS — and it’s a perspective that runs counter to the survey data.

“In my experience, the great majority of Iraqis are . . . very loathe to see those American troops leave now,” Burns told Rose on June 14, 2006, shortly before the State Department’s own polls showed nearly half of Iraqis wanting immediate withdrawal and seven in ten wanting troops out within a year (Washington Post, 9/27/06). Burns told Rose a year later (PBS, 7/17/07):

I think, quite simply that the United States armed forces here — and I find this to be very widely agreed amongst Iraqis that I know, of all ethnic and sectarian backgrounds — the United States armed forces are a very important inhibitor against violence. I know it’s argued by some people that they provoke the violence. I simply don’t believe that to be in the main true.

Meanwhile, Iraqis were telling pollsters the opposite: 69 percent believed US troop presence was making the security situation worse (D3, 2/25–3/5/07), and they believed security would get better rather than worse in the immediate weeks following a coalition troop withdrawal by two to one (ORB, 2/10–22/07).

As Baghdad bureau chief, Burns’ influence reached beyond Times reporting. When the National Journal (12/9/05), for example, wanted to give readers the “assessment” of the Iraqi people, they cited Burns: “I think you would get overwhelming assent from Iraqis that should American troops be precipitously withdrawn from the war, civil war and escalation of the sectarian conflict already under way would become virtually inevitable.”

Mismeasures and misjudgments

Burns’ piece on the fifth anniversary of the war (3/16/08) gave some insight into the paper’s attitude toward both polls and the situation in Iraq. The lead photo of the piece showed US bombs exploding over Baghdad during the initial invasion, with the title “The Air Show.” The caption read: “The war began with a mesmerizing display of American might. But the United States made a basic misjudgment about the Iraqis’ readiness to share power.”

Burns downplayed the number of Iraqi civilians killed by the war — “tens of thousands” — in another instance of the Times’ refusal to accept surveys when they have to do with Iraq. Burns’ number, the number preferred by the Times, comes from Iraq Body Count, which only counts violent civilian deaths actually recorded in cross-checked media outlets, and supplemented when possible by morgue, hospital, NGO and government data. Estimates based on scientific polling methods, which are widely accepted by the Times and other outlets when reporting on, say, Darfur, placed Iraqi deaths due to violence at over 600,000 in 2006 (Lancet, 10/11/06) and at over a million by mid-2007 (ORB, 9/07). Those numbers do not distinguish between civilians and combatants, but even if one only counted women, children and the elderly as “civilians,” more than 100,000 had died violently in Iraq as of two years before Burns’ article was written (Lancet, 10/11/06).

Burns also blamed journalists for failing “to uncover other facets of Iraq’s culture and history that would have a determining impact on the American project to build a Western-style democracy, or at least the basics of a civil society” — facets such as “how deep was the poison of fear and distrust” and the “harsh reality that Iraqis . . . had little zest for democracy.” Again, Burns chose to fault “traumatized Iraqis” for the chaos and bloodshed in Iraq, rather than the illegal, brutal invasion and occupation of their country.

And despite his moment of self-critique, Burns continued to do precisely what he faulted journalists for doing in the past — failing to uncover Iraqis’ perspectives. He laid out very explicitly his view of polls:

Opinion polls, including those commissioned by the American command, have long suggested that a majority of Iraqis would like American troops withdrawn, but another lesson to be drawn from Saddam Hussein’s years is that any attempt to measure opinion in Iraq is fatally skewed by intimidation. More often than not, people tell pollsters and reporters what they think is safe, not necessarily what they believe. My own experience, invariably, was that Iraqis I met who felt secure enough to speak with candor had an overwhelming desire to see American troops remain long enough to restore stability.

In other words, because they don’t reflect his “own experience,” Burns simply dismissed the validity of all polls (and most reporting!) on Iraqi opinion, and declared his own conversations with a minuscule slice of the Iraqi public a more reliable measure of the opinions of the entire country.

A problematic practice

“It’s a tradition for journalists to see themselves as the researcher to go out and get the story, so that’s their default position,” said Dr. Steven Kull, director of World Public Opinion (WPO), when asked why he thought some media outlets tend to ignore polling data.

Some journalists are not well-trained to interpret polls, so they might be uncomfortable with them. And they might see them as a source of competition to the traditional approach of interviewing people and getting their anecdotes. But a few anecdotes here and there don’t really give you the picture.

Kull also directs the Program on International Policy Attitudes that plays a central role in the BBC World Service poll of global opinion and the polls of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs; he gives briefings on world opinion on various issues to Congress, the State Department, NATO, the United Nations and the European Commission.

“The problem is that when these [anecdotes] are at odds with polling data, these are incorrect stories,” Kull added. “The universe of people who may be willing to talk to a reporter may not be indicative of the attitudes of the general population.”

Certainly the Iraqis John Burns “know[s] best” are not representative of the population as a whole; those Iraqis, he told Charlie Rose in 2006 (PBS, 10/20/06), were “almost all on their way to the passport office” to get out of the country — an option he acknowledged was “only available to the middle class, primarily to those who are being paid in dollars.”

Kull explained that when reporters interview some Sunnis in Baghdad who express fears of a US withdrawal,

then a reporter can reason, ‘They are a minority, and the Shia are ascendant, and this makes sense that the Sunni feel as they do.’ But the polling data suggest the Sunnis are eager for a US withdrawal. I think it’s problematic when there is an anecdote reported and there is polling data available to the contrary.

Kull admits that polling in places like Iraq has its challenges, and is imperfect, but hastened to add that when it comes to capturing overall national opinion on topics, there is no substitute for scientific polling: “It is far superior than the method of a reporter going out on the street and talking to people. There’s no question.”

[Source: dahrjamailiraq.com.]

Iraqi journo ‘shoes’ Bush away

December 16, 2008

BAGHDAD—It gives fresh meaning to the phrase shooed away.

United States President George W. Bush ducked a pair of shoes hurled at his head, one shoe after the other, in the middle of a news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Both shoes narrowly missed their target and thumped loudly against the wall behind the leaders.

“Don’t worry about it,” the president said as the room erupted into chaos.

Iraqi reporters started shouting what Bush later explained were apologies for the incident.

“So what if the guy threw a shoe at me?” Bush said, comparing the action to political protests in the United States. “If you want the facts, it was a size 10,” he joked.

The shoe attack came as Bush and al-Maliki were about to shake hands. The assailant, later identified as television correspondent Muntadar al-Zeidi, leapt from his chair and hurled his footwear at the president, who was about 20 feet away.

“This is a farewell kiss, you dog,” he yelled in Arabic. “This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq.”

The crowd descended on al-Zeidi, who works for Al-Baghdadia television, an Iraqi-owned station based in Cairo, Egypt. He was wrestled to the ground by security officials and then hauled away, moaning as they departed the room. Later, a trail of fresh blood could be seen on the carpet, although the source was not known.

In Iraqi culture, throwing shoes at someone is a sign of contempt. When US Marines toppled Saddam Hussein’s statue on Firdos Square in 2003, the assembled crowd whacked it with their shoes.

When Bush met with reporters later aboard Air Force One, he had a joke prepared: “I didn’t know what the guy said but I saw his ‘sole.’” Later, he said: “I’m going to be thinking of shoe jokes for a long time. I haven’t heard any good ones yet.”

Al-Baghdadia’s Baghdad manager told the AP he had no idea what prompted his reporter to go on the attack.

“I have been trying to reach Muntadar since the incident, but in vain,” said Fityan Mohammed. “His phone is switched off.”

The station issued a statement on the air Sunday night asking the Iraqi government to release al-Zeidi “to spare his life.”

“The station calls on journalists all over the world to express their solidarity for the release of al-Zeidi,” it said. (AP)(SunStar)

(PDI Editorial) Secret raids

November 13, 2008

THAT A SECRET memo authorizing special US military operations in foreign countries was leaked to the media this week comes as no surprise; we can expect more sources inside the Bush administration to unburden themselves of more secrets as the administration’s awful term ends. That the United States conducts secret military interventions isn’t much of a surprise either; enterprise journalism has reported on such military strikes before, and civil society organizations have sounded the alarm many times.

But the existence of a 2004 memo, signed by Donald Rumsfeld, then the US secretary of defense, with the approval of President George W. Bush, offers concrete proof, if more proof was needed, of the reckless unilateralism that marks, and explains the failure of, the US war on terror.

A cloud of illegitimacy hung over the US invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq from the very start. It did not have the sanction of the United Nations or, indeed, of the Bush White House’s preferred international alliance, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. (In stark contrast, Nato was a major partner in the prosecution of the Afghanistan war.) Despite all the White House bluster, Bush recognized the legitimacy issue, which is why the US took great pains to cobble together a so-called coalition of the willing. But despite the active participation of British and Australian troops, the war launched against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was very much an American undertaking. Legitimacy, in other words, could not be finessed.

We all know what happened since: no weapons of mass destruction were found, and the al-Qaida terror network, once non-existent in Iraq, flourished instead. The neighboring state of Iran gained geopolitical strength, while American neglect of the Afghan war gave the Taliban new life (and complicated US relations with Pakistan).

In 2004, sensing the continuing strength of the al-Qaida network, Rumsfeld executed a new order simplifying the US government’s process for approving military excursions into areas not officially declared as war zones. “The secret order gave the military new authority to attack the Qaida terrorist network anywhere in the world, and a more sweeping mandate to conduct operations in countries not at war with the United States,” The New York Times reported.

The memo may or may not give rise to war crimes charges in the US, but there is no question it violates the sovereignty of target countries, including that of close US ally Pakistan. Even if we set aside the issue of the US military acting outside the jurisdiction granted by Congress (in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars), there is still the issue of the illegitimacy of US action. Illegitimacy feeds Islamic militancy.

Again, the difference between Bush’s Iraq war and the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, or between the Iraq war and the first Gulf War in 1991 (masterfully engineered by Bush’s father), is instructive. The true lesson of 1991 and 2001 was that multi-lateral military action works. Unfortunately, the cowboys in the White House did not have the patience or the discipline to heed it.

It is only fair to consider the incoming US administration’s position on the issue. During the presidential debates, Barack Obama clearly stated that he would authorize US military strikes against terrorist targets even inside friendly countries. This does not seem too dissimilar from the current administration’s preemptive policy. Obama did lay down a consequential condition for launching such a strike—that the friendly government was either unable or unwilling to take action itself. But there is no question that he would determine which action to take according to the American national interest, not to some international consensus.

One difference does seem forthcoming: The Bush doctrine is essentially based, not on preemptive action, but on preventive war. Under such a doctrine, it is easy to see why a memo like Rumsfeld’s can come into being. As far as we can tell, Obama does not subscribe to the preventive war mindset. We will see if memos like the secret one of 2004 will have a place in his policy.

Body of Lies

November 12, 2008

By Carlos H. Conde

Ever since the United States sent its troops to the Philippines in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks, the Filipino people have been fed the line that the Americans are here either to help the people of Mindanao through humanitarian projects or to help train the Philippine military combat terrorism. The US troops have stayed in the country for so long now that not only have we lost count of exactly how many of them have remained – for all practical purposes, the Americans have set up camps in Mindanao. We know so little else about what they do here except some morsels of information contained in the occasional press release from the US embassy about medical missions and such.

Meanwhile, Filipino officials, particularly those belonging to the political opposition, have either lost interest in knowing exactly what the Americans are up to down south or they, too, had bought the line that all those undetermined number of troops, all those millions of dollars spent since 2002, are so the people of Basilan and Sulu can enjoy potable water or have their cleft lip fixed.

There had been assertions, of course, that there’s more to the presence of the US troops in Mindanao than meets the eye. Focus on the Global South, an international NGO, maintained, for instance, that the Americans have been engaged in an “offensive war” in Mindanao. Leftist groups, naturally, have been calling for the US troops’ pullout, particularly after the Americans suddenly sprouted everywhere — from Basilan, they moved to Sulu then to the Lanao provinces and God knows where else. And the usual line was, of course, they were on humanitarian or medical missions.

Perhaps the first real glimpse of the true nature of the US military’s presence in the south was the mission in 2002 that led to the rescue of Gracia Burnham, the American missionary, who, together with her husband Martin and several others, was kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf in 2001. The group has been linked to al Qaeda.

And today, The New York Times reported that the US military has used, since 2004, a “broad, secret authority to carry out nearly a dozen previously undisclosed attacks against Al Qaeda and other militants in Syria, Pakistan and elsewhere.”

“These military raids typically carried out by Special Operations forces, were authorized by a classified order that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld signed in the spring of 2004 with the approval of President Bush, the officials said. The secret order gave the military new authority to attack the Qaeda terrorist network anywhere in the world, and a more sweeping mandate to conduct operations in countries not at war with the United States.”

The paper also reported about operations that reminded me of Body of Lies, the movie starring Russell Crowe and Leonardo diCaprio that was shown here recently. “In 2006, for example, a Navy Seal team raided a suspected militants’ compound in the Bajaur region of Pakistan, according to a former top official of the Central Intelligence Agency. Officials watched the entire mission — captured by the video camera of a remotely piloted Predator aircraft — in real time in the C.I.A.’s Counterterrorist Center at the agency’s headquarters in Virginia 7,000 miles away.”

The New York Times report tells us not to believe whatever the US and the Philippine governments have been telling us since this “war on terror” began. Although the Philippines was not mentioned in the report, it is not difficult to imagine that we are one of the “other countries” where the US had launched these secret attacks.

If anything, this should give politicians a reason to ascertain exactly what the US is doing in Mindanao. As this report indicates, a strong argument can be made that this American presence may have violated Philippine laws.

If the US military can have its way in countries that are less friendly to Washington – Pakistan, for instance – how much more in the Philippines where Americans are given far greater access, whose people bestow on them a tremendous amount of trust that they probably will not find elsewhere?

Carlos H. Conde is a journalist based in Manila.

Why Soldiers Rape: Culture of Misogyny, Illegal Occupation Fuel Sexual Violence in Military

November 1, 2008

The view of women as sexual prey has always been present in military culture. Indeed, civilian women have been seen as sexual booty for conquering soldiers since the beginning of human history. So, it should come as no surprise that the sexual persecution of female soldiers has been going on in the armed forces for decades.

BY HELEN BENEDICT
In These Times http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/3848/
INTERNATIONAL
Posted by Bulatlat

An alarming number of women soldiers are being sexually abused by their comrades-in-arms, both at war and at home. This fact has received a fair amount of attention lately from researchers and the press – and deservedly so.

But the attention always focuses on the women: where they were when assaulted, their relations with the assailant, the effects on their mental health and careers, whether they are being adequately helped, and so on. That discussion, as valuable as it is, misses a fundamental point. To understand military sexual assault, let alone know how to stop it, we must focus on the perpetrators. We need to ask: Why do soldiers rape?

Rape in civilian life is already unacceptably common. One in six women is raped or sexually assaulted in her lifetime, according to the National Institute of Justice, a number so high it should be considered an epidemic.

In the military, however, the situation is even worse. Rape is almost twice as frequent as it is among civilians, especially in wartime. Soldiers are taught to regard one another as family, so military rape resembles incest. And most of the soldiers who rape are older and of higher rank than their victims, so are taking advantage of their authority to attack the very people they are supposed to protect.

Department of Defense reports show that nearly 90 percent of rape victims in the Army are junior-ranking women, whose average age is 21, while most of the assailants are non-commissioned officers or junior men, whose average age is 28.

This sexual violence persists in spite of strict laws against rape in the military and a concerted Pentagon effort in 2005 to reform procedures for reporting the crime. Unfortunately, neither the press nor the many teams of psychologists and sociologists who study veterans ever seem to ask why.

The answer appears to lie in a confluence of military culture, the psychology of the assailants and the nature of war.

Two seminal studies have examined military culture and its attitudes toward women: one by Duke University Law Professor Madeline Morris in 1996, which was presented in the paper ‘By Force of Arms: Rape, War, and Military Culture’ and published in Duke Law Journal; and the other by University of California professor and folklorist Carol Burke in 2004 and explained in her book, Camp All-American, Hanoi Jane and the High-And- Tight: Gender, Folklore and Changing Military Culture (Beacon Press). Both authors found that military culture is more misogynistic than even many critics of the military would suspect. Sometimes this misogyny stems from competition and sometimes from resentment, but it lies at the root of why soldiers rape.

One recent Iraq War veteran reflected this misogyny when he described his Marine Corp training for a collection of soldiers’ works called Warrior Writers, published by Iraq Veterans Against the War in 2008:

The [Drill Instructor’s] nightly homiletic speeches, full of an unabashed hatred of women, were part of the second phase of boot camp: the process of rebuilding recruits into Marines.

Morris and Burke both show that military language reveals this ‘unabashed hatred of women’ all the time. Even with a force that is now 14 percent female, and with rules that prohibit drill instructors from using racial epithets and curses, those same instructors still routinely denigrate recruits by calling them ‘pussy,’ ‘girl,’ ‘bitch,’ ‘lady’ and ‘dyke.’ The everyday speech of soldiers is still riddled with sexist insults.

Soldiers still openly peruse pornography that humiliates women. (Pornography is officially banned in the military, but is easily available to soldiers through the mail and from civilian sources, and there is a significant correlation between pornography circulation and rape rates, according to Duke’s Morris.) And military men still sing the misogynist rhymes that have been around for decades. For example, Burke’s book cites this Naval Academy chant:

Who can take a chainsaw
Cut the bitch in two
Fuck the bottom half
And give the upper half to you?

The message in all these insults is that women have no business trying to be soldiers. In 2007, Sgt. Sarah Scully of the Army’s 8th Military Police Brigade wrote to me in an e-mail from Kuwait, where she was serving:

‘In the Army, any sign that you are a woman means you are automatically ridiculed and treated as inferior.’

Army Spc. Mickiela Montoya, who was in Iraq for 11 months from 2005-2006, put it another way:

‘There are only three things the guys let you be if you’re a girl in the military: a bitch, a hoor a dyke. One guy told me he thinks the military sends women over to give the guys eye candy to keep them sane. He told me in Vietnam they had prostitutes, but they don’t have those in
Iraq, so they have women soldiers instead.’

The view of women as sexual prey has always been present in military culture. Indeed, civilian women have been seen as sexual booty for conquering soldiers since the beginning of human history. So, it should come as no surprise that the sexual persecution of female soldiers has been going on in the armed forces for decades.

* A 2004 study of veterans from Vietnam and all wars since, conducted by psychotherapist Maureen Murdoch and published in the journal Military Medicine, found that 71 percent of the women said they were sexually assaulted or raped while serving.

* In 2003, a survey of female veterans from Vietnam through the first Gulf War by psychologist Anne Sadler and her colleagues, published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, found that 30 percent said they were raped in the military.

* And a 1995 study of female veterans of the Gulf and earlier wars, also conducted by Murdoch and published in Archives of Family Medicine, reported that 90 percent had been sexually harassed, which means anything from being pressured for sex to being relentlessly teased and stared at.

* A 2007 survey by the Department of Veterans Affairs found that homelessness among female veterans is rapidly increasing as women soldiers come back from Iraq and Afghanistan. Forty percent of these homeless female veterans say they were sexually abused while in the service.

Defense Department numbers are much lower. In Fiscal Year 2007, the Pentagon reported 2,085 sexual assaults among military women, which given that there are about 200,000 active-duty women in the armed forces, is a mere fraction of what the veterans studies indicate.

The discrepancy can be explained by the fact that the Pentagon counts only those rapes that soldiers have officially reported.

Having the courage to report a rape is hard enough for civilians, where unsympathetic police, victim-blaming myths, and the fear of reprisal prevent some 60 percent of rapes from being brought to light, according to a 2005 Department of Justice study.

But within the military, reporting is much riskier. Platoons are enclosed, hierarchical societies, riddled with gossip, so any woman who reports a sexual assault has little chance of remaining anonymous. She will probably have to face her assailant day after day and put up with resentment and blame from other soldiers who see her as a snitch. She risks being persecuted by her assailant if he is her superior, and punished by commanders who consider her a troublemaker. And because military culture demands that all soldiers keep their pain and distress to themselves, reporting an assault will make her look weak and cowardly.

For all these reasons, some 80 percent of military rapes are never reported, as the Pentagon itself acknowledges.

This widespread misogyny in the military actively encourages a rape culture. It sends the message to men that, no matter how they feel about women, they won’t fit in as soldiers unless they prove themselves a ‘brother’ by demeaning and persecuting women at every opportunity. So even though most soldiers are not rapists, and most men do not hate women, in the military even the nicest guys succumb to the pressure to act as if they do.

Of the 40 or so female veterans I have interviewed over the past two years, all but two said they were constantly sexually harassed by their comrades while they were serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, and many told me that the men were worse in groups than they were individually.

Air Force Sgt. Marti Ribeiro, for example, told me that she was relentlessly harassed for all eight years of her service, both in training and during her deployments in 2003 and 2006.

I ended up waging my own war against an enemy dressed in the same uniform as mine. I had a senior non- commissioned officer harass me on a regular basis. He would constantly quiz me about my sex life, show up at the barracks at odd hours of the night and ask personal questions that no supervisor has a right to ask. I had a colonel sexually harass me in ways I’m too embarrassed to explain. Once my sergeant sat with me at lunch in the chow hall, and he said, ‘I feel like I’m in a fish bowl, the way all the men’s eyes are boring into your back.’ I told him, ‘That’s what my life is like.’

Misogyny has always been at the root of sexual violence in the military, but two other factors contribute to it, as well: the type of man who chooses to enter the all-volunteer force and the nature of the Iraq War.

The economic reasons behind enlistment are well understood. The military is the primary path out of poverty and dead-end jobs for many of the poor in America. What is less discussed is that many soldiers enlist as teenagers to escape troubled or violent homes.

Two studies of Army and Marine recruits, one conducted in 1996 by psychologists L.N. Rosen and L. Martin, and the other in 2005 by Jessica Wolfe and her colleagues of the Boston Veterans Affairs Health Center, both of which were published in the journal Military Medicine, found that half the male enlistees had been physically abused in childhood, one-sixth had been sexually abused, and 11 percent had experienced both. This is significant because, as psychologists have long known, childhood abuse often turns men into abusers.

In the ’70s, when the women’s movement brought general awareness of rape to a peak, three men – criminologist Menachim Amir and psychologists Nicholas Groth and Gene Abel – conducted separate but groundbreaking studies of imprisoned rapists. They found that rapists are not motivated by out-of-control lust, as is widely thought, but by a mix of anger, sexual sadism and the need to dominate – urges that are usually formed in childhood. Therefore, the best way to understand a rapist is to think of him as a torturer who uses sex as a weapon to degrade and destroy his victims. This is just as true of a soldier rapist as it is of a civilian who rapes.

Nobody has yet proven that abusive men like this seek out the military – attracted by its violent culture – but several scholars suspect that this is so, including the aforementioned Morris and Rutgers University law professor Elizabeth L. Hillman, author of a forthcoming
paper on sexual violence in the military. Hillman writes, ‘There is the possibility that the
demographics of the all-volunteer force draw more rape- prone men into uniform as compared to civil society.’

Worse, according to the Defense Department’s own reports, the military has been exacerbating the problem by granting an increasing number of ‘moral waivers’ to its recruits since 9/11, which means enlisting men with records of domestic and sexual violence.

Furthermore, the military has an abysmal record when it comes to catching, prosecuting and punishing its rapists. The Pentagon’s 2007 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military found that 47 percent of the reported sexual assaults in 2007 were dismissed as unworthy of investigation, and only about eight percent of the cases went to court-martial, reflecting the difficulty female soldiers have in making themselves heard or believed when they report sexual assault within the military. The majority of assailants were given what the Pentagon calls ‘nonjudicial punishments, administrative actions and discharges.’ By contrast, in civilian life, 40 percent of those accused of sex crimes are prosecuted.

Which brings us to the question: Do the reasons soldiers rape have anything to do with the nature of the wars we are waging today, particularly in Iraq?

Robert Jay Lifton, a professor of psychiatry who studies war crimes, theorizes that soldiers are particularly prone to commit atrocities in a war of brutal occupation, where the enemy is civilian resistance, the command sanctions torture, and the war is justified by distorted reasoning and obvious lies.

Thus, many American troops in Iraq have deliberately shot children, raped civilian women and teenagers, tortured prisoners of war, and abused their own comrades because they see no moral justification for the war, and are reduced to nothing but self-loathing, anger, fear and hatred.

Although these explanations for why soldiers rape are dispiriting, they do at least suggest that the military could institute the following reforms:

* Promote and honor more women soldiers. The more respect women are shown by the command, the less abuse they will get from their comrades.

* Teach officers and enlistees that rape is torture and a war crime.

* Expel men from the military who attack their female comrades.

* Ban the consumption of pornography.

* Prohibit the use of sexist language by drill instructors.

* Educate officers to insist that women be treated with respect.

* Train military counselors to help male and female soldiers not only with war trauma, but also with childhood abuse and sexual assault.

* Cease admitting soldiers with backgrounds of domestic or sexual violence.

And last – but far from least – end the war in Iraq.

[Editor’s note: This article is adapted from The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq, to be published by Beacon Press in April 2009.]

Helen Benedict, a professor of journalism at Columbia University, is author of several books concerning social justice and women. Her writings on women soldiers won the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism in 2008.

Seven Years in Afghanistan: From “War on Terror” to “War of Terror”

October 12, 2008

What began as a “War on Terror” with waves of bombing attacks on Kandahar and Kabul October 7, 2001 has long since become a War of Terror, inflicted on the peoples of Southwest Asia, generating and strengthening resistance movements (“insurgencies”), enraging local allies and even alienating regimes of Washington’s own creation. The Canadians and Europeans have long since tired of it. So have the American people, despite the failure of the corporate media to expose the Big Lies that Cheney and Bush continue to promote in order to justify their Terror War.

BY GARY LEUPP
Counterpunch INTERNATIONAL
Posted by Bulatlat

Seven years ago today the U.S. began the assault on Afghanistan that toppled the Taliban regime and produced the present mess. Abetted by U.S. bombing and commando operations, the Northern Alliance took Kabul on November 13, 2001. This was the initial U.S. response to 9-11, an assault on the U.S. by Saudi Islamist fanatics based in Afghanistan. The al-Qaeda attacks killed 3000 people. By March 2002 the U.S. bombing had produced that many Afghan civilian fatalities. This was just the beginning.

The invasion produced little change in the daily life of the average Afghan. Fanatical Sunni leaders who’d had a genuine social base and had been able to control 95 per cent of the country with minimal outside help were driven back to their villages. They were replaced by other fanatical Sunni leaders—those who had toppled the “leftist” government in 1993, then been overthrown themselves by the Taliban in 1996. These Northern Alliance forces had been nurtured in the duration by India, Russia and Iran as their idea of the better bet among competing Islamist fundamentalists.

But in the seven years since, this collection of tribal-based warlords has been unable to stabilize Afghanistan—even though they’re propped up by tens of thousands of foreign troops who’re told that they’re there to fight terrorism and help create “democracy.” Indeed, its hold on power becomes more tenuous every year, while a resurgent Taliban with no foreign government’s support exacts an ever heavier price from the foreigners and their local allies.

According to the United Nations, 1,445 civilians were killed in the war from January through August this year—a rise of 39 per cent over 2007. At least 577 of these deaths were due to the actions of pro-government forces. Deaths from air strikes have tripled since 2006. “Mistakes by the US and Nato have dramatically decreased public support for the Afghan government and the presence of international forces providing security to Afghans,” declares Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. Francesc Vendrell, a Spanish diplomat with eight years’ experience in Afghanistan, recently noted that civilian deaths at the hands of foreign forces have created “a great deal of antipathy” and the situation in the country is the worst it’s been since 2001. Members of the Afghan Parliament have staged a one-day walkout to protest the civilian casualties.

Puppet president Hamid Karzai has also protested the strikes and their “collateral damage” in the last two years in fairly strong language. But hand-picked for his post by U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in the Loya Jirga of June 2002, he is commonly known as the mere “mayor of Kabul.” Why should the U.S. pay any attention to his protests? His authority hardly extends beyond the city limits, and even Kabul has become insecure. Elsewhere warlords hold sway in virtually independent ethnic baronies, issuing their own laws and printing their own currency, filling their coffers with the proceeds of opium and human trafficking—activities the Taliban had effectively banned.

Opium poppy production had been effectively wiped out by 2001. Today Afghanistan supplies about 90 per cent of the world’s illegal opium. And then there are the sad continuities. The burqa, vilified before the attack as the symbol of Taliban misogyny, remains the normative female costume and leading political figures insist upon its use. Women are still imprisoned for refusing arranged marriages. The Supreme Court upholds death sentences for Christian converts. The Taliban stoned women to death for adultery and blasted away the buddhas of Bamiyan. It was undeniably awful. But it’s not at all clear that the current regime has made life better for most Afghans.

72 per cent (58 per cent of males, 87 per cent of females) were illiterate in 2000 and it’s doubtful the number has risen greatly as a result of the Taliban’s ouster. A 2005 report stated 50 per cent of males and 82 per cent of females remained illiterate, and the figures are higher in the rural areas. 80 per cent of the population are impoverished farmers, growing in order of importance opium, wheat, fruits and nuts and grazing sheep. According to the online CIA Factbook: “Despite the progress of the past few years, Afghanistan is extremely poor, landlocked, and highly dependent on foreign aid, agriculture, and trade with neighboring countries. Much of the population continues to suffer from shortages of housing, clean water, electricity, medical care, and jobs. Criminality, insecurity, and the Afghan Government’s inability to extend rule of law to all parts of the country pose challenges to future economic growth. It will probably take the remainder of the decade and continuing donor aid and attention to significantly raise Afghanistan’s living standards from its current level, among the lowest in the world.” This does not sound like a liberated country.

The entire political class in the U.S., with Democratic candidate Obama in the vanguard, , unites in proclaiming the war in Afghanistan as the “good” war, the reasonable and appropriate response to 9-11. It’s seen as the foil to the “strategic error” of Iraq. But how, at this point, is it connected to 9-11? The Taliban didn’t attack the United States. They sent envoys to talk to former State Department official, then UNOCAL executive Khalilzad about oil pipeline construction in the late 1990s. (Afghan-American neocon Khalilzad had actually editorialized in the Washington Post in favor of the Taliban!) While not recognized by the U.S. government, it received U.S. funds from Colin Powell’s State Department in 2001 to eradicate opium poppy production. The U.S. drove the Taliban from power to affirm the principle that it would not distinguish between terrorists and the regimes that harbor them. Maybe that sounded good at the time, macho and simple, but that mentality and policy has produced an expanding disaster.

The Taliban is Not the Same Thing as al-Qaeda

To review some history: the Taliban did not create al-Qaeda or invite it into Afghanistan. The U.S.-led effort to drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan in the 1980s boosted young Osama bin Laden into prominence, as an anticommunist CIA ally. The U.S. establishment of bases in Saudi Arabia in 1990 turned him against the U.S. and Saudi regime, and ultimately resulted in his return to Afghanistan before the Taliban even took power. The Taliban allowed his presence, and the operation of his training camps, although it apparently sought to restrain his activities after 1998. It’s not at all clear that Mullah Omar and other Taliban leaders were in on al-Qaeda’s 9-11 plans. (Wasn’t their principal international backer, aside from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia? And haven’t Riyadh and al-Qaeda been mortal enemies since 1990?) But they paid the price for not capitulating to Washington’s demand immediately after 9-11 that they turn over bin Laden to U.S. authorities. That would have meant turning their backs on the Pashtunwali honor code (requiring hospitality and protection of guests), the same honor code operative in North and South Waziristan (in Pakistan) which the U.S. administration either does not understand or provocatively exploits to create pretexts for widening war.

So in late 2001 the U.S. and allies overthrew the Taliban, a secondary goal, while botching the primary goal which was to annihilate al-Qaeda. The multinational, primarily Arab al-Qaeda forces were bombed and driven over the border into Pakistan. No one seems to have any idea about how many al-Qaeda members were in Afghanistan in late 2001. Bush administration references to “tens of thousands” have been questioned by intelligence specialists. We may be talking, in fact, about hundreds, some of whom, including bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, clearly got away and continue to lead a very flexible and loosely structured movement of militants inspired by, but only tenuously connected to, bin Laden’s isolated circle. That movement has bourgeoned globally as a result of U.S. actions that seem virtually calculated to incite Muslim outrage.

The War Spreads to Pakistan

Nowhere is this the case more than in Pakistan. The flight of al-Qaeda and Taliban members into Pakistan, and Washington’s blithe expectation that Pakistan could or would force the local people to fight them and cooperate in their suppression, has produced the predictable blowback. There is now a substantial Pakistani chapter of the Taliban, while those in Pakistan most disposed to cooperate with Washington meet with the contempt of their own people who see the U.S. as a vicious anti-Muslim bully.

Pakistanis have long perceived the U.S. as Israel’s enabler, as the backer of dictators in power in Muslim countries, as the heartless force behind the decade of sanctions on Iraq. But now they see the U.S. as an aggressor on their own soil. Because it is! According to the New York Times, the CIA “has for several years fired missiles at militants inside Pakistan from remotely piloted Predator aircraft.” There were three such strikes in 2007, over a dozen so far this year. One in June killed 12 Pakistani soldiers. Recent orders from President Bush now also allow the military’s Special Operations forces to conduct “raids on the soil of an important ally without its permission.” So in addition to drone attacks the Pakistani border faces commando raids supported by gunships. Highlights of last month’s provocations of Pakistan:

Sept. 3: 40 U.S. Special Operations Forces including Navy SEALs swoop down on the village of Musa Nika in Angoor Ada in South Waziristan, killing 15-20. First known ground assault of U.S. troops in Pakistan.??Sept. 8: U.S. drones attack a madrassa in North Waziristan, killing at least 23. (The next day George W. Bush announces that Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan are “all theatres in the same overall struggle.”)

Sept. 12: U.S. drone strikes a home and a former government school near North Waziristan town of Miramshah, killing at least 14 and injuring 12. (Waziristan tribal leaders meet the next day and declare if attacks continue “we will prepare an army to attack U.S. forces in Afghanistan” in cooperation with Afghan tribal leaders. Ahsan Iqbal, a leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-N party, declares, “If [this] continues, then Pakistan can consider pulling out completely from this war on terror.”)

Sept. 15: U.S. helicopters land near village in Angoor Ada, returned toward Afghanistan after troops or tribesmen fired warning shots.

Sept.17: U.S. drone attack kills 7, injures 3 in South Waziristan. This occurs just hours after Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visits Pakistan to assure military leaders the U.S. would respect Pakistan’s sovereignty.

Sept. 21: Pakistani troops and tribesmen open fire on two U.S. helicopters flying into Pakistani airspace from Pakistan, forced them to retreat.

Sept. 24: Wreckage of U.S. spy drone found in South Waziristan; anonymous Pakistani military officials say it was shot down by tribesmen.

Sept. 25: Pakistani forces fire on U.S. helicopters along Afghan-Pakistan border; U.S./NATO claims choppers were within Afghan airspace.

Sept. 27: Two U.S. jetfighters enter airspace over Angoor Adda, Baghar and Momin Tangi area of South Waziristan for about 25 minutes.

Sept. 30: Tribesmen fire on four drones over North Waziristan; missile fired from drone strikes house, killing four and wounding nine.

Add to these the Oct. 1 U.S. drone attacks house in North Waziristan, killing at least 6. And the Oct 4 drone missile attack on a house in Mohammad Khel, North Waziristan, killing 20, reputedly including “Arab militants,” women and children.

Pakistani civilian and military authorities have repeatedly expressed their indignation over these violations of Pakistan’s sovereignty. On Sept. 20, in his first speech to Parliament since becoming president, Asif Ali Zardari warned, “We will not tolerate the violation of our sovereignty and territorial integrity by any power in the name of combating terrorism.” Earlier, Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had declared the attacks would not be tolerated, and soon after the commando raid of Sept. 3 Islamabad cut supply lines to NATO troops in Afghanistan. Defense Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar explained, “we have stopped the supply of oil and this will tell how serious we are.” Although the suspension was temporary, it indicates a mounting sense of impatience.

“Reckless actions,” observed Kayani, “only help the militants and further fuel the militancy in the area.” Rand Corporation analysts are saying the same thing: the counter-insurgency efforts are in fact stoking the insurgencies. U.S. officials claim the attacks are all part of a legitimate “War on Terror.” But former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif no doubt speaks for most Pakistanis in averring that “it is unacceptable that while [supposedly] giving peace to the world we make our own country into a killing field.”

“The sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country,” says Kayani, “will be defended at all cost and no external force is allowed to conduct operations inside Pakistan.” National Security Advisor Mahmud Ali Durrani said on Sept. 21, “The bottom line is that the message is loud and clear and the Americans know it.” On October 2 Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani went so far as to declare, “These [drone] attacks are a form of terrorism.”

Yet “senior U.S. officials” have told the New York Times that (unnamed) Pakistani officials have approved ground raids. Is this not the arrogance of the rapist who insists he had his victim’s permission

On the other hand, one unnamed government official quoted by National Public Radio isn’t bothering to suggest the U.S. has permission. “Definitely, the gloves have come off,” he declared, “This [Sept. 3 attack] was only Phase 1 of three phases.” While Mullen assures Pakistan the U.S. respects Pakistan’s sovereignty, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates tells BBC the U.S. will take whatever action necessary to “protect our troops” and a Senate panel hearing Sept. 29 that international laws allow the U.S. to take unilateral actions inside Pakistan. What are the Pakistani people to make of these mixed signals?

Army spokesmen General Athar Abbas told the Associated Press Sept. 16 that field commanders have been ordered to fire on any forces crossing the border with Afghanistan. That plainly includes U.S. forces. A council of 3000 tribesman in South Waziristan enraged by the recent attacks then vowed to join the Pakistan Army to “take up arms against the US.” “We will take the war to Afghanistan to confront the Americans,” they vowed.

Meanwhile some forces angered at the U.S. aggression targeted the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, possibly because CIA agents and Marines were known to stay there. The blast on Sept. 20 produced the highest death toll (at least 54 including two U.S. military personnel) of a terrorist attack in Pakistan since 2001. Some analysts attribute it to al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban, although a hitherto unknown organization, Fedayeen Islam, claimed responsibility.

“We’re Not Going to Win This War”

In Afghanistan, on the other hand, al-Qaeda is largely defeated. Syed Saleem Shahzad, writing in the Asia Times, estimates there were only about 75 Arab fighters in Afghanistan as of April (many more Uzbek jihadis, however), and recent U.S. intelligence reports allude to al-Qaeda in Afghanistan only in passing. They depict Iraq as the most active al-Qaeda theater, and even there, the so-called “al-Qaeda in Iraq” is a homegrown copy-cat operation likely lacking operational ties to any international headquarters. It is a creation of the U.S. invasion, and in any case, on the decline for months.??The Taliban has regained control of much of the Pashtun south, and gets ever more sophisticated in its guerrilla tactics against the U.S. and NATO forces. ISAF and U.S. deaths have risen from 130 in 2005 to 191 in 2006 to 232 last year. This year’s toll, already at 236, sets a new record. (More U.S. troops—134—have died than in any prior year in Afghanistan.)

This year Taliban fighters bombed Kabul’s only five-star hotel, killing six; opened fire on an Independence Day observance in Kandahar, killing three; attacked a prison in Kandahar, freeing 400 inmates; unsuccessfully attacked Camp Salerno, one of the largest U.S. bases in Afghanistan; and killed or wounded 31 French special forces near Kabul. According to RAND analyst Seth Jones, “It is generally accepted now across all [U.S.] government agencies that the situation in Afghanistan has significantly worsened and has become quite dire.” Joint Chief of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen told Congress recently, “I’m not convinced we’re winning it in Afghanistan.” That’s despite an increase in U.S. troop strength from 21,000 in 2006 to 31,000 today.

In a recent New York Times interview, newly appointed CENTCOM commander Gen. David H. Petraeus stated, “Obviously the trends in Afghanistan have been in the wrong direction, and I think everyone is rightly concerned about them…Certainly in Afghanistan, wresting control of certain areas from the Taliban will be very difficult… In both [Afghanistan and Pakistan], in certain areas, the going may be tougher before it gets easier.”

British officials present an even bleaker picture. Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, British ambassador to Afghanistan, reportedly told the deputy French ambassador to Kabul François Fitou last month, “The foreign forces are ensuring the survival of a regime which would collapse without them . . . They are slowing down and complicating an eventual exit from the crisis, which will probably be dramatic… In the short term we should dissuade the American presidential candidates from getting more bogged down in Afghanistan . . . The American strategy is doomed to fail.” These are observations by a top diplomat of the nation most deeply invested alongside the U.S. in the Afghan War. He proposes replacing Karzai with “an acceptable dictator.” The top British military commander in Afghanistan agrees; Brig. Mark Carleton-Smith stated last week, “We’re not going to win this war.”

A recently completed National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Afghanistan is apparently so grim its contents won’t be made public.??Hard to believe that on May 1, 2003 Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld confidently declared that “major combat activity” had ended in Afghanistan. Mission accomplished, the Bush administration frenziedly prepared to invade and occupy Iraq.

“The People Support the Taliban”

The dirty little secret suppressed by the mainstream press is that the Taliban, like it or not, has considerable popular support. Afghan senator Abdul Wali Ahmadzai, who was captured and held by the Taliban for two months, now says, “The important point is that the people support the Taliban. This is the main problem: now the people do not like the government and they support the Taliban.” Support for Karzai has plummeted due to corruption (including accusations credited by the State Department that Karzai’s brother is involved in heroin smuggling) and his association with the foreigners who continue to bomb the country. Aware of resurgent Taliban support, Karzai has urged Mullah Omar to return to the country (from his presumed sojourn in Pakistan); invited the Taliban to join the government; and sought the aid of the Saudis, the Talibs’ former ally, aid in arranging negotiations. ??Meanwhile public opinion in the nations contributing to the occupation of Afghanistan is now overwhelmingly against continued deployment. Majorities or pluralities in the U.K., Canada, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Australia, Poland, and Spain all want out. Maybe they don’t see fighting Afghan resistance fighters as a “war on terror” but something more prosaic and depressing: an un-winnable counterinsurgency effort like the Algerian or Vietnam wars. Washington’s reported bid to take over sole command of the Afghan war, cutting NATO out of the command structure, will likely fuel European and Canadian opposition.

This war in Afghanistan’s not about avenging the 9-11 attacks or preventing new ones. It’s about killing local fighters, who fight not to create some “Emirate” from Indonesia to Spain or establish a base of operations against America as George W. Bush (shamelessly fear-mongering and exploiting Islamophobia) would have you believe. They fight to rid Afghanistan of unwelcome foreigners from Christian-majority countries that always seem to be attacking faithful Muslims for no good reason. Countries where, they’re told by their mullahs, cartoonists mock the Prophet and the Holy Qur’an. They fight to avenge the civilian victims—the wedding party celebrants, the madrassa students—of bombing attacks. In August a U.S. air strike in Herat killed 90, mostly women and children.??The guerrillas’ numbers seem to grow even as the U.S. and NATO announce more and more impressive Taliban casualty figures. They are not all veterans of the Mujahadeen struggle against the pro-Soviet regime of the 1980s. Some are too young to recall it; the median age in Afghanistan is 18. The new Taliban is largely the creation of 2001 invasion and the bombing campaign ever since. But President Bush sees them as terrorists enraged by the blessings of occupation, such as improved health care, education and transportation (the same things the Soviets said they were bringing in the 1980s). “Killers,” Bush declares, “can’t stand this progress.”

Today as this war enters its seventh year, there are 53,000 foreign troops including 30,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, backing up what is supposed to be a democratically-elected regime and training its military forces. The Afghan National Army is 76,000-strong and well-equipped with billions of dollars’ worth of M-16s, Humvees, jeeps and mortars. It has NATO behind it. Why can it not defeat a guerrilla army dependent on the drug trade and international black market in weapons? Why are there plans to vastly expand the Army in the next few years? Why must U.S. officials predict a presence of the “International Security Assistance Force” (ISAF) until at least 2014?

Maybe the effort’s not succeeding because the foreign forces do not understand the first thing about the society they’ve invaded, including the natural inclination of the people to want them out of their country. Maybe it’s not succeeding because the Taliban, however unpopular their religious fanaticism, in key areas commands greater respect from the masses than those who’ve signed on to the U.S. payroll. Maybe it’s not succeeding because in Afghanistan (like Iraq) scared soldier-kids shoot up civilians in a country they see as enemy, alien territory, inhabited by people whose languages and culture they don’t understand. A people whose lives don’t seem as precious as western ones, in a country the foreign soldiers don’t want to and shouldn’t be. Maybe it’s not succeeding because the Afghan Army it’s trying to create consists of people with conflicting loyalties who meet with the contempt of family and friends because they work with the invaders.

What began as a “War on Terror” with waves of bombing attacks on Kandahar and Kabul October 7, 2001 has long since become a War of Terror, inflicted on the peoples of Southwest Asia, generating and strengthening resistance movements (“insurgencies”), enraging local allies and even alienating regimes of Washington’s own creation. The Canadians and Europeans have long since tired of it. So have the American people, despite the failure of the corporate media to expose the Big Lies that Cheney and Bush continue to promote in order to justify their Terror War.

Despite the popular war-weariness, both presidential candidates while praising the surge in Iraq unquestionably support the expanding war in Afghanistan. The attack on Afghanistan, used by the neocons as the bridge to an occupied Iraq, has committed the entire political class to an impossible project. Barack Obama talks tough about strikes in Pakistan to shore up the Afghan effort. Once the hope of a wing of the anti-war movement, the senator from Illinois has shown himself as much a spokesman for imperialism as McCain or any other mainstream politician. Seven years down the road, there’s no end in sight. No hope except for the “fool’s hope” that public opinion in the imperialist countries, plus the inevitable resistance of the Afghans to foreign control, plus the military judgment that the war is not winnable will bring this “good war” to an end. (Counterpunch/posted by Bulatlat)

Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and Adjunct Professor of Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa Japan; Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is also a contributor to CounterPunch’s merciless chronicle of the wars on Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, Imperial Crusades.?He can be reached at: gleupp@granite.tufts.edu