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Obama’s top Iran official resigns

Press TV – August 1, 2010

Head of the US State Department’s Iran desk, John Limbert, has resigned from his post due to disillusionment with the Obama administration’s “outreach” to Tehran.

US President Barack Obama assigned the retired diplomat, who was one of the 52 Americans held captive in Tehran following the 1979 Revolution, to the Iran desk nine months ago.

“The Obama administration has been in office now for over a year and a half and I think everyone thought we would be in a better place with Iran,” Limbert told NPR on Saturday — one day after stepping down.

He added that few current US officials understand the Iranian culture and speak the language, describing three decades of hostility as “ghosts” impeding diplomatic dialogue.

Obama named Philo L. Dibble as Limbert’s successor. Analysts have viewed the change as a shift in Washington’s Iran policy.

The resignation comes amid a standoff over Iran’s nuclear program over accusations that Tehran is pursuing a military nuclear program.

Iran rejects the allegation, arguing that as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty it has the right to peaceful nuclear technology.

In line with measures adopted by the US, the European Union, Canada and Australia on Monday imposed unilateral sanctions against Iran’s energy industry.

The new sanctions come one month after the UN Security Council approved a US-drafted sanctions resolution targeting the country’s financial and military sectors.

Recent reports, however, suggest the US and Israel are preparing for an attack on the Islamic Republic.

The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen told NBC on Sunday that the US military is prepared to attack Iran and stop it from building “weapons.” Mullen, however, expressed concern about the possible repercussions of such a strike.

On Friday, a Jerusalem-based open intelligence source website reported that Israel is currently simulating attacks on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The military drills dubbed “Blue Sky 2010,” are underway in Romania.

August 1, 2010 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Wars for Israel | 1 Comment

Cameron and the ‘Road to the Hague’ Policy

By Rizwan Ghani | Pakistan Observer* | August 1, 2010

In his anti-Pakistan offensive from Delhi, David Cameron has publicly endorsed UK (and US’) anti-Pakistan foreign policy. He said that we (UK and US) cannot tolerate Pakistan ‘looking both ways’ and being able to promote and export terror whether to India, Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world.

Cameron said Pakistan could no longer look both ways by tolerating terrorism ‘while demanding respect as democracy’ (Cameron remarks, The Guardian July 28). On the Today program, Cameron said that he chooses his words carefully and thereby rejected Downing Street’s statement that the PM was not accusing Pakistan of sponsoring terrorism. He also ignored Pakistan’s foreign office rebuttal.

Reportedly, ministers accompanying Cameron to India were briefed to not mention Kashmir (Kashmir subcontinents internal matter, The Guardian July 28). During Cameron’s visit to India, both countries will sign a deal, which will allow export of civil nuclear energy and expertise to India. The reports in the Pakistani press about America praising Pakistan’s positive anti-terror role is nothing but use of good cop bad cop policy by the west.

Cameron has chosen Delhi to take on Pakistan. Instead of demanding apologies or clarifications, Islamabad should scrap President Zardari’s upcoming visit to UK. Hopefully, Zardari would not want to meet a British PM harboring such disdain for Pakistan. Next, Islamabad must support British Muslims that are demanding the holding of a public inquiry into the 7/7 London Drama to drop a curtain on terrorism on the world stage. It is opined that the London Drama was an inside job to help lend credence to America’s so-called war against terrorism (SWAT). Furthermore, Pakistan should take a stand for the rights of Northern Ireland and [against] the abuse of minorities in UK.

Reportedly, Brown has refused to hold a public inquiry of the London drama. The Ripple Effect, a British documentary, raises serious questions about the UK’s claims that it was an act of terrorism. Bush also refused to order a public inquiry of 9/11. In case Cameron refuses to order a public inquiry of 7/7, Islamabad should raise the issue in the UN to protect the democratic rights of minorities within UK and to bring an end to the nexus of false accusations against Pakistan. Karzai’s statement that the West has the capability to take targets within Pakistan is a case in point…

PM Gillani has admitted that NATO is losing the Afghan war. Washington is using Cameron to scapegoat Pakistan to sell the US Afghan defeat to the American public and avert impending defeat of the Democrats in the upcoming Congress, Senate and Governor Elections. Islamabad should not be surprised to see a weakened Obama authorize a military operation against Pakistan to save his presidency.

The West is using SWAT as an excuse to justify blocking the one and a half trillion-dollar Pak-China trade route via CARS. Delhi is supporting the UK and US to win its share in the regional markets. In exchange, Delhi is opening its 1.2 billion-consumer market to the west. The direct foreign investment of $6 bn in Chennai by the the foreign automobile industry including American is a case in point.

Islamabad should therefore stand up to protect its national interests. Islamabad can avoid any military misadventures against Pakistan by securing its borders with the help of different steps including the use of obstacles, ditches, fences and walls, electronic surveillance, mines, the deployment of paramilitary forces, police, enforcing international travel agreements on both side of Pak-Afghan borders, the judiciary and help of its allies and the international media. Similarly, tell the US forces operating in Pakistan to leave (US lawmakers reject motion for pulling US troops out of Pakistan, Local press, July 29).

As part of a ‘Road to Hague’ policy, Islamabad should bring the International Criminal Court (ICC) option on the table. Based on the Chilcot Inquiry and Nick Clegg’s statement that the Iraq war was illegal, Islamabad should approach international platforms to bring Bush, Blair, Brown, Musharraf and their teams to the ICC. A strong stand to demand arrest warrants of American, British, Iraqi, Afghan leaders for their involvement in crimes against humanity will help bring an early end to cacophony of ‘do more on SWAT’ drama.

It is opined that there is a pattern in anti-state dramas including 9/11, 7/7, Mumbai, and Cheonan (sunken South Korean military ship). To expose the Mumbai drama to the world, as an observer member state of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Islamabad should demand an independent inquiry into Cheonan to expose the alleged international conspiracy aiming to isolate Beijing in regard to the Korean Peninsula. The timing of the incident just before the 2nd Sino-US Strategic Dialogue has been questioned by the Chinese media. It is opined that the Cheonan was used to influence Beijing to revalue its currency. The US-South Korean naval exercises in China’s backyard are a ploy to justify the permanent presence of US forces in South Korea (China Daily, June 1), and scuttle the Sunshine Agreement between the Koreas. The Agreement would have allowed reunification of the Koreas on the lines of Germany. Arguably, the Cheonan sinking is one more excuse to continue the US presence in the region, just like Manila and Tokyo. Similarly, Delhi is using the Mumbai drama to keep its control on Kashmir, and in exchange, it is bringing Myanmar and Washington closer despite the poor human right record of its infamous ruling elite. Thus, Islamabad should not be apologetic on the Mumbai drama. Instead, it should stand up for Kashmir as its integral part on the line of the One-China policy.

The West has been blaming Beijing for its human rights record. Islamabad should demand the SCO freeze its trade relations with the UK, USA and other NATO allies for human rights violations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kashmir and Palestine by the occupying forces. According to international law, every nation has the right to defend itself against occupation forces. The SCO and international human rights platforms should demand accountability for gross violations of human rights and international conventions in occupied countries. Next, call for arrest warrants of leaders involved in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kashmir and Palestine, on the lines of the Darfur genocide warrants, for millions of deaths and gross violations of human rights and international conventions. Beijing must exert its moral and diplomatic influence to help end crimes against humanity, illegal wars, and the abuse of state machinery by states to quell legitimate resistance for upholding UN Resolutions.

Beijing refused to host Robert Gates following the US-Taiwan arms deal to protect its One-China policy. The respect of Pakistan’s sovereignty, nuclear status, resolution of Kashmir as per UN Resolutions and right to protect its economic interests and independent foreign policy should form the basis of its relations with rest of the world including the US and UK. The provision of nuclear technology, military equipment and sale of trainer aircraft to India are unacceptable to Pakistan. These pacts undermine Pakistan’s security, geo-strategic and geo-economic interests. They also undermine the balance of power in the region and are part of propping up India against China. Islamabad needs to review its pro-UK, US and non-NATO ally policy.

Finally, Pakistan has to review its foreign policy, as non-NATO ally its support for America’s SWAT to protect its economic, trade and security interests in the region. Cameron’s use of ‘we’, signing of nuclear and military deals with India and refusal to raise the Kashmir issue are cause for genuine concern for Pakistan. Pakistan should push for bringing to book the perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity and gross violations of international laws and conventions. London will try to spin its way out of Cameron’s anti-Pakistan remarks, but without [spin] who would believe the UK while the Indo-UK nuclear and military deals are intact and there is no progress on holding a public inquiry of the 7/7 drama. Similarly, Beijing should play its role to help hold an independent investigation of the Cheonan sinking so that the world also sees the truth of the Mumbai drama.

* With additional editing by Aletho News for Western English readers.

August 1, 2010 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, War Crimes | 3 Comments

The Real Reasons Why the US and India Demonize Pakistan’s ISI

By Shahid R. Siddiqi | Axis of Logic | July 31, 2010

Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence agency, or ISI as it is popularly known, is seen as their nemesis by those who have tried to undermine the security interests of the country one way or the other. It is no wonder then that in past few years the Americans unleashed a strong ISI-bashing campaign, with India following suit.

The Americans made no bones about their dislike for this agency, blaming it for working against their interests in Afghanistan. The Indians also see an ISI agent behind every rock in Kashmir and in Afghanistan where they are trying to dig their heels. They do not hesitate to pin on ISI the blame for the freedom struggle in Kashmir or for acts of terrorism by Indian extremists. Until recently the Karzai government dominated by the anti-Pakistan Northern Alliance also remained hostile to ISI.

Not too long ago, under intense American pressure the weak Zardari government made an unsuccessful attempt at neutralizing and subduing this agency in disregarding the existing sensitive regional security environment, by moving it out of the army’s control and placing it under the controversial and embattled Zardari loyalist interior minister – Rehman Malik. This did not succeed for a simple reason. The role of the ISI as the eyes and ears of the Pakistan’s military – the bedrock of country’s security, is critical particularly at a time when the country faces multiple threats to its security.

Washington’s darling in the Afghan-Soviet war

Ironically, this is the same ISI that was Washington’s darling during the 1980s when it was the master minding the jihad against invading Soviet forces in Afghanistan. The role that the ISI then played was congruent with American interests. The defeat of the Soviet Union would have meant realization of an American dream – avenging the humiliation of Vietnam. They held the ISI in high esteem for its competence and professionalism and gladly funneled arms and funds to the Afghan mujahedeen through it. The ISI strategized the resistance and organized and trained the mujahedeen fighters, working in close collaboration with the CIA and the mujahedeen leaders, forcing the Soviets to retreat.

But as soon as the Americans had negotiated a quid pro quo – Russian withdrawal from South America in exchange for safe Soviet exit from Afghanistan, they disappeared in the middle of the night leaving Afghanistan in a quandary. The political turmoil that followed created chaos and instability owing to the failure of mujahedeen leadership, presenting as a result a security nightmare for Pakistan.

Taliban-US-Pakistan relations and the Indian Threat

In this chaos a group of young Afghan religious students, many of them former fighters from the resistance, calling themselves Taliban (in Pushto language Taliban means students), swept through the country with popular support to establish their rule. Interested in keeping their presence alive, the Americans maintained contacts and supported them, ignoring their orthodox beliefs, their harsh rule and even the presence of Al Qaeda in their midst. This continued until it was time for the Americans to overthrow their government in order to serve the changing American interests.

While the Taliban government was in control, Pakistan too maintained friendly relations with them in the interest of keeping its western border secure, extending whatever support it could. The ISI played a role through the contacts it had developed during war against the Soviets.

In the wake of 9/11 things began to change. Having invaded Afghanistan in the name of war on terror, branding Taliban as brutes and their resistance as terrorism, the Americans wanted the Pakistani army and the ISI to join the war.

This posed a serious security concern for Pakistan. It could destabilize the Pak-Afghan border and strain relations with the Pashtun tribes on both sides of the Durand Line, the British drawn boundary that cut through the Pashtun region to divide British India and Afghanistan and which Pakistan had inherited. The fact that Pakistan’s border region, called Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) is autonomous where the writ of the Pakistan Government does not prevail made matters more complex.

Pakistan’s military doctrine is based primarily on meeting the main threat from India on its eastern border while maintaining a peaceful border with Afghanistan in the west. A direct conflict with the Taliban would have forced Pakistan to divert its military assets from the eastern to the western front, thus thinning out its defenses against India. This was the last thing Pakistan wanted to do because of its unfavorable ratio of 1:4 against India in terms of conventional forces. Understandably, President Musharraf was unwilling to do America’s bidding.

U.S. projection of its military failures onto Pakistan

There always is a problem with powers that begin to act in imperialistic fashion. Their vision of the world becomes colored. They tend to believe that pursuit of their imperialist designs takes precedence over the national interests of those who cannot stand up to them, even if that means compromising their own national and security interests. America had also been behaving as one such imperial power and treated its smaller allies more like colonies. President Musharraf was threatened that in case of noncompliance with America’s wishes, “Pakistan would be bombed into the stone-age”. Musharraf was coerced into conceding to American demands.

Despite the state-of-the-art surveillance equipment and military hardware, the US and NATO forces failed to stop the Taliban fighters from moving back and forth into the unmarked Pak-Afghan border that passes through a treacherous mountainous region to regroup and strike on the invading foreign troops. The American commanders reacted by demanding that the Pakistan army engage these fighters and seal the border. Those with even the slightest knowledge of the area would know that the Americans were asking for the moon. This was physically impossible.

The Pakistan army’s operations failed. In the process it earned a severe backlash from the local tribes who resented army’s action against their kinsmen from across the border who sought refuge in their area, as it violated the old tribal custom of providing sanctuary to any one who asked for it, even if it was an enemy. The Pakistan army paid a heavy price. More soldiers died in this action than the combined number of casualties that the US and NATO troops have suffered in Afghanistan so far.

President Musharraf under advice of his army commanders and the intelligence community called off the action and resorted to persuasion instead. Through jirgas (assembly of tribal elders) an effort was made for the tribesmen to voluntarily stop the influx of Taliban fighters. It didn’t succeed either. This was not to the liking of the American commanders. They blamed the ISI for working against their interests.

Washington accuses the ISI of complicity with insurgents

Washington and the American media have frequently alleged that elements within ISI were maintaining contacts with the Taliban and attributed the failure of American troops in combating the Taliban to these contacts. Such allegations were also found to be part of the raw, unverified and even fabricated field reports ‘leaked’ in Afghanistan recently and splashed in the western media. The Americans have in the past also described the ISI to be out of control and demanded that the Pakistan government purge the agency of Taliban sympathizers.

This is ridiculous.

First, the ISI is a military organization operating under strict organizational control and discipline where officers are rotated in the normal course. It functions according to a defined mandate, unlike armed forces in some other countries and unlike the CIA which is known to be an invisible government on its own. Above all, Pakistan and its military are committed to weeding out religious extremism as a matter of state policy.

Second, if the American troops are so incapable of overcoming a rag tag army of Taliban and if the complicity of the ISI with the Taliban can be instrumental in changing the course of the American war, then it is a sad day for America as a super power and the strength of NATO forces becomes questionable.

Third, in the world of intelligence, contacts are kept even with the enemy and at all times. CIA keeps contacts within Russia and other hostile countries. Israel, the great American ‘ally’, spies on America itself. It is common for all intelligence agencies to do this in the security interests of their countries. Why then should America expect an exception to be made in case of ISI? Why should contacts that the ISI developed with the mujahedeen and the Taliban earlier, and which if it does still maintain, become a source of such great concern for the American administration?

Demanding that the ISI subordinate Pakistan security to U.S. interests.

It is strange that America expects the ISI to serve the American agenda instead of Pakistan’s interests first. One cannot forget that the Americans have a long history of abandonment of friends and allies and when they repeat this in Afghanistan citing their own national interest, despite their promises to the contrary, why should Pakistan be expected to be caught with pants down? Why should Pakistan’s military and intelligence agency be expected to abdicate their duty and not do what is necessary to ensure Pakistan’s security in the long term?

It has often been argued that America expects Pakistan to be actively engaged in the Afghan war in return for the military assistance it provides. The answer is quite simple. The American establishment is doing all that needs to be done in support of its own war and not for the love of Pakistan. The war is theirs, not Pakistan’s. Pakistan should do and is doing what is necessary and feasible, without jeopardizing its own security.

As for the assistance, the bulk of the $10 billion that America gave in the past and was branded as “aid” was in fact the reimbursement of expenses that Pakistan had already incurred in supporting the war effort. The rest was to meet Pakistan’s needs for operations in the border areas and for fighting terrorism that arose out of the war. The Americans still owe $35 billion to reimburse the losses Pakistan has incurred due to this war. As for the F16s that Pakistan is getting from the US, it pays for them, despite strict restrictions over their usage.

The Indian-Israeli attempt to destabilize Pakistan

While Americans had their issues with ISI, the Indians and Israelis began having their own. The agency exposed the growing Indian and Israeli confluence in Afghanistan to destabilize Pakistan. This happened right under the nose of the Americans and obviously not without their knowledge and consent. India having deployed its troops in the name of infra-structure development in league with Karzai government and with American funding and having established seven consulates along the sparsely populated Pak-Afghan border was engaged in heavily bribing the influential but ignorant and susceptible tribal leaders to spread disaffection among the local tribesmen against Pakistan.

Evidence was also unearthed by the ISI about how the Indians bought the loyalties of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a grouping of Pakistani tribesmen from FATA and Uzbek fighters from previous wars who settled in the region. The TTP were influenced by the same orthodox religious beliefs as the Taliban in Afghanistan and were active in propagating them in their own areas. They were recruited to launch terror activities in the urban centers of Pakistan, including the capital Islamabad, and were funded, trained and equipped in Afghanistan jointly by the Indian, Israeli and Afghan intelligence agencies. A group from amongst them managed to gain control of Swat area adjoining FATA through coercion of the local population, which was later cleared by the Pakistan army after a major surgical intervention.

The ISI also laid bare strong physical evidence of Indian involvement in supporting insurgency in Balochistan by way of funding, training and equipping misguided and disgruntled Baloch elements grouped under various names including the Balochistan Liberation Army that was led by the fugitive grandson of the notable Bugti tribal chief – Akbar Bugti. His comings and goings in the Indian consulate at Kandahar and the Indian intelligence HQ in Delhi were photographed and his communications intercepted. Numerous training camps in the wilderness of Balochistan were detected where Indian trainers imparted training in guerilla warfare and the use of sophisticated weapons, which otherwise could not be available to the Baloch tribesmen. The flow of massive funds from Afghan border areas to the insurgents was detected that was traced back to the Indian consulates.

Summary and conclusion

The objective of the TTP, and behind the scenes that of the Indians and the Israelis, was to make the world believe that Pakistan was under threat of capitulating to terrorist and insurgent elements who were about to take control of Pakistan’s nuclear assets. Their goal: to denuclearize Pakistan through foreign intervention.

These efforts have not succeeded. Undoubtedly, the army and the ISI played a crucial role in foiling the plots of subversion in Balochistan and the Pashtun region and exposing the foreign hands involved, including those of CIA, RAW, Mossad, RAMA and MI6. Terrorism may not yet be eliminated but Pakistan faces no existential threat.

It should be no surprise to the Americans, Indians and the Israelis they find in ISI an adversary to reckon with. It is also not surprising that the ISI is in their perception, a rogue organization, for it has stood between them and Pakistan’s national security interests. Their frustration and ire, therefore, is understandable.

August 1, 2010 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | Comments Off on The Real Reasons Why the US and India Demonize Pakistan’s ISI

The ADL Spying Case Is Over, But The Struggle Continues

By Jeffrey Blankfort, Anne Poirier and Steve Zeltzer – Plaintiffs in the of ADL Spying Case – February 25, 2002

In 1993, the District of Attorney of San Francisco released 700 pages of documents implicating the Anti-Defamation League, an organization that claims to be a defender of civil rights, in a vast spying operation directed against American citizens who were opposed to Israel’s policies in the Occupied West Bank and Gaza and to the apartheid policies of the government of South Africa and passing on information to both governments.

Under great political pressure, Smith later dropped the charges. One wonders what would have happened had an Arab-American or Muslim organization been caught spying with the names of 10,000 people and 600 organizations in their files.

Not only were critics of Israel under ADL’s surveillance, including thousands of Arab-Americans, but labor organizations such as the San Francisco Labor Council, ILWU Local 10, and the Oakland Educational Association, and civil rights groups such as the NAACP, Irish Northern Aid, International Indian Treaty Council and the Asian Law Caucus were also found in the “pinko” files of ADL’s undercover operative, Roy Bullock.

Moreover, Bullock, who had worked, off the books, for the ADL for more than 25 years, admitted that he had been reporting on the activities of black South African exiles and American anti- apartheid activists for South African intelligence.

Bullock, pretending to be sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, came to the founding meeting of the Labor Committee of the Middle in 1987 at the home of plaintiff Steve Zeltzer, having met Zeltzer at meetings of the Free Moses Mayekiso Defense

Committee, a South African labor solidarity committee in which he also infiltrated under false pretenses.

Having been responsible for exposing Bullock as an ADL agent to the media, we joined together with other Bay Area activists in filing a suit against the ADL for violation of our privacy rights as provided in California law.

Almost a decade later the suit has been settled with a significant cash payment by the ADL and, we wish to emphasize, without our signing any agreement for confidentiality which the ADL had previously demanded. Our efforts to expose the organization’s work in defending the policies of the Israeli government and stifling its opponents will continue, using new information gained in the pursuance of the suit.

The ADL spent millions of dollars preventing this case from coming to trial through costly appeals and exploiting the judicial process but, at the end, it had to give up..

During the course of the suit we learned that:

Bullock, the ADL’s top “fact finder” had sold confidential information to a South African intelligence agent in San Francisco for $15,000.

Ten days before he was assassinated in South Africa, Chris Hani, the man who would have succeeded Nelson Mandela as the country’s president, was trailed by Bullock on a trip through California who reported on it to the South African government.

ADL agent Roy Bullock was discovered to have a floor plan of murdered Los Angeles Arab American leader Alex Odeh and a key to his office.

The ADL supplied confidential information to foreign governments that it obtained from police and federal agencies in the US,

Having infiltrated the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the ADL’s “fact finder” performed a COINTEL-type operation at the convention of the Holocaust-denying Journal of Historical Review when he put ADC’s literature on convention tables as a way of smearing the committee for “working with anti- Semites.”

The ADL has organized to silence and eliminate all critical voices of Israel from academia and the media and has targeted professors , particularly those who are African American, and who are critical of Israel.

That at least 51% of the activities of its San Francisco office were devoted to defending Israel.

The ADL provided secret files to police agencies when these police agencies were prevented by law from collecting the files themselves,

Many questions must still be answered about the activities of the ADL and it’s non-profit status as an “education organization”. The settlement offered by the ADL is recognition on its part that it could not afford to go to a trial in front of a jury and face the likelihood that more of its dirty secrets would be revealed.

We call on all people to make sure that these practices on the part of the ADL are not allowed to continue and that the double standard that presently dominates this country on issues dealing with Israel be eliminated.

Finally, we wish to thank our attorney, former congressman Pete McCloskey, himself a victim of the ADL and the Israel Lobby, for his years of work on our behalf and his steadfast commitment to the pursuit of justice.

August 1, 2010 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Timeless or most popular | 2 Comments

The “Summer Camp Of Destruction:” Israeli High Schoolers Assist The Razing Of A Bedouin Town

By Max Blumenthal on 07.31.10

AL-ARAKIB, ISRAEL — On July 26, Israeli police demolished 45 buildings in the unrecognized Bedouin village of al-Arakib, razing the entire village to the ground to make way for a Jewish National Fund forest. The destruction was part of a larger project to force the Bedouin community of the Negev away from their ancestral lands and into seven Indian reservation-style communities the Israeli government has constructed for them. The land will then be open for Jewish settlers, including young couples in the army and those who may someday be evacuated from the West Bank after a peace treaty is signed. For now, the Israeli government intends to uproot as many villages as possible and erase them from the map by establishing “facts on the ground” in the form of JNF forests. (See video of of al-Arakib’s demolition here).

Israeli high school age police volunteers lounge on furniture taken from an al-Arakib family's home. All photos by Ata Abu Madyam of Arab Negev News.

Moments before the destruction of the Bedouin village of al-Arakib, Israeli high school age police volunteers lounge on furniture taken from a family’s home. [The following photos are by Ata Abu Madyam of Arab Negev News.]

One of the most troubling aspects of the destruction of al-Arakib was a report by CNN that the hundreds of Israeli riot police who stormed the village were accompanied by “busloads of cheering civilians.” Who were these civilians and why didn’t CNN or any outlet investigate further?

I traveled to al-Arakib yesterday with a delegation from Ta’ayush, an Israeli group that promotes a joint Arab-Jewish struggle against the occupation. The activists spent the day preparing games and activities for the village’s traumatized children, helping the villagers replace their uprooted olive groves, and assisting in the reconstruction of their demolished homes. In a massive makeshift tent where many of al-Arakib’s residents now sleep, I interviewed village leaders about the identity of the cheering civilians. Each one confirmed the presence of the civilians, describing how they celebrated the demolitions. As I compiled details, the story grew increasingly horrific. After interviewing more than a half dozen elders of the village, I was able to finally identify the civilians in question. What I discovered was more disturbing than I had imagined.

Israeli police volunteers go through the belongings an al-Arakib family

Israeli police youth volunteers pick through the belongings an al-Arakib family

Arab Negev News publisher Ata Abu Madyam supplied me with a series of photos he took of the civilians in action. They depicted Israeli high school students who appeared to have volunteered as members of the Israeli police civilian guard (I am working on identifying some participants by name). Prior to the demolitions, the student volunteers were sent into the villagers’ homes to extract their furniture and belongings. A number of villagers including Madyam told me the volunteers smashed windows and mirrors in their homes and defaced family photographs with crude drawings. Then they lounged around on the furniture of al-Arakib residents in plain site of the owners. Finally, according to Matyam, the volunteers celebrated while bulldozers destroyed the homes.

“What we learned from the summer camp of destruction,” Madyam remarked, “is that Israeli youth are not being educated on democracy, they are being raised on racism.” (The cover of the latest issue of Madyam’s Arab Negev News features a photo of Palestinians being expelled to Jordan in 1948 juxtaposed with a photo of a family fleeing al-Arakib last week. The headline reads, “Nakba 2010.”)

The Israeli civilian guard, which incorporates 70,000 citizens including youth as young as 15 (about 15% of Israeli police volunteers are teenagers), is one of many programs designed to incorporate Israeli children into the state’s military apparatus. It is not hard to imagine what lessons the high school students who participated in the leveling of al-Arakib took from their experience, nor is it especially difficult to predict what sort of citizens they will become once they reach adulthood. Not only are they being indoctrinated to swear blind allegiance to the military, they are learning to treat the Arab outclass as less than human. The volunteers’ behavior toward Bedouins, who are citizens of Israel and serve loyally in Israeli army combat units despite widespread racism, was strikingly reminiscent of the behavior of settler youth in Hebron who pelt Palestinian shopkeepers in the old city with eggs, rocks and human waste. If there is a distinction between the two cases, it is that the Hebron settlers act as vigilantes while the teenagers of Israeli civilian guard vandalize Arab property as agents of the state.

The spectacle of Israeli youth helping destroy al-Arakib helps explain why 56% of Jewish Israeli high school students do not believe Arabs should be allowed to serve in the Knesset – why the next generation wants apartheid. Indeed, the widespread indoctrination of Israeli youth by the military apparatus is a central factor in Israel’s authoritarian trend. It would be difficult for any adolescent boy to escape from an experience like al-Arakib, where adults in heroic warrior garb encourage him to participate in and gloat over acts of massive destruction, with even a trace of democratic values.

As for the present condition of Israeli democracy, it is essential to consider the way in which the state pits its own citizens against one another, enlisting the Jewish majority as conquerers while targeting the Arab others as, in the words of Zionist founding father Chaim Weizmann, “obstacles that had to be cleared on a difficult path.” Historically, only failing states have encouraged such corrosive dynamics to take hold. That is why the scenes from al-Arakib, from the demolished homes to the uprooted gardens to the grinning teens who joined the mayhem, can be viewed as much more than the destruction of a village. They are snapshots of the phenomenon that is laying Israeli society as a whole to waste.

More photos

August 1, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | 2 Comments