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New Gaza factory, jobs destroyed in Israeli attack

Rami Almeghari, The Electronic Intifada, 10 February 2011
What remains of a plastics factory after it was bombed by Israel earlier this week. (Rami Almeghari)

“I still cannot believe my eyes as I see the machines of our new factory, scattered to all corners,” said Rabah al-Hatto as he surveyed the rubble of his recently-established plastic water tank factory in northeast Gaza, which was bombed by Israeli warplanes early yesterday. “What have I and the twenty workers here done to find ourselves jobless?” al-Hatto told The Electronic Intifada.

The factory was due to start distributing its products in the local market in two weeks. “I am completely shocked,” the trim-bearded al-Hatto said. “I never imagined that the factory in which I and my partners invested all our money and energy, would become rubble.” As he spoke, al-Hatto was surrounded by workers, friends, reporters and a field worker from a human rights group.

“Yesterday [Tuesday] afternoon, we left the factory to go home. Just before 1am on Wednesday morning I heard Israeli warplanes bombing the area, but I did not imagine it was the factory. Later in the morning, I came to work to find our machines and the ceiling torn apart,” Bashar al-Wehaidi, a technician in the factory, told The Electronic Intifada. “Everything in this 1,200 square meter building was hit.”

Israeli air strikes early Wednesday hit a number of sites in northern Gaza, injuring eight persons, according to medical sources. Three men, three women and two children were hit by debris and shrapnel that struck area homes. The Israeli attacks also destroyed a medical storage building and damaged a school.

Near to where owner Rabah al-Hatto was seated on a chair at his factory site, there was a large truck badly damaged by the Israeli bombing and a heap of aluminum and iron bars on the ground.

“Please look! Please look! A modern truck has been struck before it even traveled the streets of Gaza to distribute our products. Why?” al-Hatto asked. Commenting on Israeli claims that the attack was in retaliation for several rockets fired from Gaza at Israel, al-Hatto said, “Oh my God! What kind of a response is this!”

Now in his early forties, al-Hatto told The Electronic Intifada the story behind his factory. “A year ago, my brother, other partners and I decided to build this factory,” he said. “I used to work as a steelworker, but with the lack of steel due to the Israeli blockade, I decided to invest all my savings in manufacturing plastic water tanks.”

Al-Hatto estimates the losses to him and his partners from the Israeli attack to be $300,000, as well as the incomes for the twenty now jobless workers and their families.

Bashar al-Wehaidi, the now unemployed technician, said that the attack was a complete injustice by Israel. “We have been working tirelessly over the past year in order for this important facility to see the light. May God compensate us such a great loss,” he said.

In the vicinity of the factory, which is located in the al-Qerem neighborhood in the northeast of the Gaza Strip, there are a number of other facilities hit in the Israeli attack. Among them are a large medical storage building, a primary school for 600 students, as well private homes. The school’s ceiling and windows were damaged, forcing the administration to suspend classes until further notice.

According to the Gaza-based health ministry, the al-Qerem medical storage facility was hit by a missile fired from an F-16 fighter jet, causing enormous damage.

“The attack on this store constitutes a flagrant Israeli occupation violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention for the protection of civilian persons in time of war, as well as other relevant world health conventions,” Dr. Munir al-Bursh, chief of Gaza’s medical stores with the Gaza health ministry, told The Electronic Intifada at his office in Gaza City on Wednesday.

The bombed facility is one of nine storage sites run by the Gaza health ministry according to al-Bursh, who estimates the losses from the Israeli attack at $400,000.

“This is a great loss, in light of the four-year-long Israeli blockade,” Dr. al-Bursh said. “Recently we have listed 183 drugs that our stores are lacking as Israel continues to delay deliveries through the crossings into Gaza.”

Israeli army sources said on Wednesday that their latest air strikes on Gaza were in response to five homemade rockets that landed in southern Israel causing no injuries and minor property damage.

Rami Almeghari is a journalist and university lecturer based in the Gaza Strip.

February 10, 2011 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | Comments Off on New Gaza factory, jobs destroyed in Israeli attack

The Myth of the Good War: America in World War II

Why Dresden was Destroyed

By Jacques R. Pauwels | Global Research | February 9, 2010

In the night of February 13-14, 1945, the ancient and beautiful capital of Saxony, Dresden, was attacked three times, twice by the RAF and once by the USAAF, the United States Army Air Force, in an operation involving well over 1,000 bombers. The consequences were catastrophic, as the historic city centre was incinerated and between 25,000 and 40,000 people lost their lives.[1] Dresden was not an important industrial or military centre and therefore not a target worthy of the considerable and unusual common American and British effort involved in the raid. The city was not attacked as retribution for earlier German bombing raids on cities such as Rotterdam and Coventry, either. In revenge for the destruction of these cities, bombed ruthlessly by the Luftwaffe in 1940, Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne and countless other German towns big and small had already paid dearly in 1942, 1943, and 1944. Furthermore, by the beginning of 1945, the Allied commanders knew perfectly well that even the most ferocious bombing raid would not succeed in “terrorizing [the Germans] into submission,”[2] so that it is not realistic to ascribe this motive to the planners of the operation. The bombing of Dresden, then, seems to have been a senseless slaughter, and looms as an even more terrible undertaking than the atomic obliteration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which is at least supposed to have led to the capitulation of Japan.

In recent times, however, the bombing of countries and of cities has almost become an everyday occurrence, rationalized not only by our political leaders but also presented by our media as an effective military undertaking and as a perfectly legitimate means to achieve supposedly worthwhile objectives. In this context, even the terrible attack on Dresden has recently been rehabilitated by a British historian, Frederick Taylor, who argues that the huge destruction wreaked on the Saxon city was not intended by the planners of the attack, but was the unexpected result of a combination of unfortunate circumstances, including perfect weather conditions and hopelessly inadequate German air defenses.[3] However, Taylor’s claim is contradicted by a fact that he himself refers to in his book, namely, that approximately 40 American “heavies” strayed from the flight path and ended up dropping their bombs on Prague instead of Dresden.[4] If everything had gone according to plan, the destruction in Dresden would surely have been even bigger than it already was. It is thus obvious that an unusually high degree of destruction had been intended. More serious is Taylor’s insistence that Dresden did constitute a legitimate target, since it was not only an important military centre but also a first-rate turntable for rail traffic as well as a major industrial city, where countless factories and workshops produced all sorts of militarily important equipment. A string of facts, however, indicate that these “legitimate” targets hardly played a role in the calculations of the planners of the raid. First, the only truly significant military installation, the Luftwaffe airfield a few kilometres to the north of the city, was not attacked. Second, the presumably crucially important railway station was not marked as a target by the British “Pathfinder” planes that guided the bombers. Instead, the crews were instructed to drop their bombs on the inner city, situated to the north of the railway station.[5] Consequently, even though the Americans did bomb the station and countless people perished in it, the facility suffered relatively little structural damage, so little, in fact, that it was again able to handle trains transporting troops within days of the operation.[6] Third, the great majority of Dresden’s militarily important industries were not located downtown but in the suburbs, where no bombs were dropped, at least not deliberately.[7]

It cannot be denied that Dresden, like any other major German city, contained militarily important industrial installations, and that at least some of these installations were located in the inner city and were therefore wiped out in the raid, but this does not logically lead to the conclusion that the attack was planned for this purpose. Hospitals and churches were also destroyed, and numerous Allied POWs who happened to be in the city were killed, but nobody argues that the raid was organized to bring that about. Similarly, a number of Jews and members of Germany’s anti-Nazi resistance, awaiting deportation and/or execution, were able to escape from prison during the chaos caused by the bombing,[8] but no one claims that this was the objective of the raid. There is no logical reason, then, to conclude that the destruction of an unknown number of industrial installations of greater or lesser military importance was the raison d’être of the raid. The destruction of Dresden’s industry – like the liberation of a handful of Jews – was nothing more than an unplanned “by-product” of the operation.

It is frequently suggested, also by Taylor, that the bombing of the Saxon capital was intended to facilitate the advance of the Red Army. The Soviets themselves allegedly asked their western partners during the Yalta Conference of February 4 to 11, 1945, to weaken the German resistance on the eastern front by means of air raids. However, there is no evidence whatsoever that confirms such allegations. The possibility of Anglo-American air raids on targets in eastern Germany was indeed discussed at Yalta, but during these talks the Soviets expressed the concern that their own lines might be hit by the bombers, so they requested that the RAF and USAAF would not operate too far to the east.[9] (The Soviets’ fear of being hit by what is now called “friendly fire” was not unwarranted, as was demonstrated during the raid on Dresden itself, when a considerable number of planes mistakenly bombed Prague, situated about as far from Dresden as the Red Army lines were.) It was in this context that a Soviet general by the name of Antonov expressed a general interest in “air attacks that would impede enemy movements,” but this can hardly be interpreted as a request to mete out to the Saxon capital – which, incidentally, he did not mention at all – or to any other German city the kind of treatment that Dresden received on February 13-14. Neither at Yalta, nor at any other occasion, did the Soviets ask their Western Allies for the kind of air support that presumably materialized in the form of the obliteration of Dresden. Moreover, they never gave their approval to the plan to bomb Dresden, as is also often claimed.[10] In any case, even if the Soviets would have asked for such assistance from the air, it is extremely unlikely that their allies would have responded by immediately unleashing the mighty fleet of bombers that did in fact attack Dresden.

In order to understand why this is so, we have to take a close look at inter-Allied relations in early 1945. In mid- to late January, the Americans were still involved in the final convulsions of the “Battle of the Bulge,” an unexpected German counter-offensive on the western front which had caused them great difficulties. The Americans, British, and Canadians had not yet crossed the Rhine, had not even reached the western banks of that river, and were still separated from Berlin by more than 500 kilometers. On the eastern front, meanwhile, the Red Army had launched a major offensive on January 12 and advanced rapidly to within 100 kilometers of the German capital. The resulting likelihood that the Soviets would not only take Berlin, but penetrate deep into Germany’s western half before the war ended, greatly perturbed many American and British military and political leaders. Is it realistic to believe that, under those circumstances, Washington and London were eager to enable the Soviets to achieve even greater progress? Even if Stalin had asked for Anglo-American assistance from the air, Churchill and Roosevelt might have provided some token assistance, but would never have launched the massive and unprecedented combined RAF-USAAF operation that the bombing of Dresden revealed itself to be. Moreover, attacking Dresden meant sending hundreds of big bombers more than 2,000 kilometers through enemy airspace, approaching the lines of the Red Army so closely that they would run the risk of dropping their bombs by mistake on the Soviets or being fired at by Soviet anti-aircraft artillery. Could Churchill or Roosevelt be expected to invest such huge human and material resources and to run such risks in an operation that would make it easier for the Red Army to take Berlin and possibly reach the Rhine before they did? Absolutely not. The American-British political and military leaders were undoubtedly of the opinion that the Red Army was already advancing fast enough.

Towards the end of January 1945, Roosevelt and Churchill prepared to travel to Yalta for a meeting with Stalin. They had asked for such a meeting because they wanted to make binding agreements about postwar Germany before the end of the hostilities. In the absence of such agreements, the military realities in the field would determine who would control which parts of Germany, and it looked very much as if, by the time the Nazis would finally capitulate, the Soviets would be in control of most of Germany and thus be able to unilaterally determine that country’s political, social, and economic future. For such a unilateral course of action, Washington and London themselves had created a fateful precedent, namely when they liberated Italy in 1943 and categorically denied the Soviet Union any participation in the reconstruction of that country; they did the same thing in France and Belgium in 1944.[11] Stalin, who had followed his allies’ example when he liberated countries in Eastern Europe, obviously did not need or want such a binding inter-allied agreement with respect to Germany, and therefore such a meeting. He did accept the proposal, but insisted on meeting on Soviet soil, namely in the Crimean resort of Yalta. Contrary to conventional beliefs about that Conference, Stalin would prove to be most accommodating there, agreeing to a formula proposed by the British and Americans and highly advantageous to them, namely, a division of postwar Germany into occupation zones, with only approximately one third of Germany’s territory – the later “East Germany” – being assigned to the Soviets. Roosevelt and Churchill could not have foreseen this happy outcome of the Yalta Conference, from which they would return “in an exultant spirit.”[12] In the weeks leading up to the conference, they expected the Soviet leader, buoyed by the recent successes of the Red Army and enjoying a kind of home-game advantage, to be a difficult and demanding interlocutor. A way had to be found to bring him down to earth, to condition him to make concessions despite being the temporary favourite of the god of war.

It was crucially important to make it clear to Stalin that the military power of the Western Allies, in spite of recent setbacks in the Belgian Ardennes, should not be underestimated. The Red Army admittedly featured huge masses of infantry, excellent tanks, and a formidable artillery, but the Western Allies held in their hands a military trump which the Soviets were unable to match. That trump was their air force, featuring the most impressive collection of bombers the world had ever seen. This weapon made it possible for the Americans and the British to launch devastating strikes on targets that were far removed from their own lines. If Stalin could be made aware of this, would he not prove easier to deal with at Yalta?

It was Churchill who decided that the total obliteration of a German city, under the noses of the Soviets so to speak, would send the desired message to the Kremlin. The RAF and USAAF had been able for some time to strike a devastating blow against any German city, and detailed plans for such an operation, known as “Operation Thunderclap,” had been meticulously prepared. During the summer of 1944, however, when the rapid advance from Normandy made it seem likely that the war would be won before the end of the year, and thoughts were already turning to postwar reconstruction, a Thunderclap-style operation had begun to be seen as a means to intimidate the Soviets. In August 1944, an RAF memorandum pointed out that “the total devastation of the centre of a vast [German] city…would convince the Russian allies…of the effectiveness of Anglo-American air power.”[13]

For the purpose of defeating Germany, Thunderclap was no longer considered necessary by early 1945. But towards the end of January 1945, while preparing to travel to Yalta, Churchill suddenly showed great interest in this project, insisted that it be carried out tout de suite, and specifically ordered the head of the RAF Bomber Command, Arthur Harris, to wipe out a city in Germany’s east.[14] On January 25 the British Prime Minister indicated where he wanted the Germans to be “blasted,” namely, somewhere “in their [westward] retreat from Breslau [now Wroclaw in Poland].”[15] In terms of urban centres, this was tantamount to spelling D-R-E-S-D-E-N. That Churchill himself was behind the decision to bomb a city in Germany’s east is also hinted at in the autobiography of Arthur Harris, who wrote that “the attack on Dresden was at the time considered a military necessity by much more important people than myself.”[16] It is obvious that only personalities of the calibre of Churchill were able to impose their will on the czar of strategic bombing. As the British military historian Alexander McKee has written, Churchill “intended to write [a] lesson on the night sky [of Dresden]” for the benefit of the Soviets. However, since the USAAF also ended up being involved in the bombing of Dresden, we may assume that Churchill acted with the knowledge and approval of Roosevelt. Churchill’s partners at the top of the United States’ political as well as military hierarchy, including General Marshall, shared his viewpoint; they too were fascinated, as McKee writes, by the idea of “intimidating the [Soviet] communists by terrorising the Nazis.”[17] The American participation in the Dresden raid was not really necessary, because the RAF was undoubtedly capable of wiping out Dresden in a solo performance. But the “overkill” effect resulting from a redundant American contribution was perfectly functional for the purpose of demonstrating to the Soviets the lethality of Anglo-American air power. It is also likely that Churchill did not want the responsibility for what he knew would be a terrible slaughter to be exclusively British; it was a crime for which he needed a partner.

A Thunderclap–style operation would of course do damage to whatever military and industrial installations and communications infrastructure were housed in the targeted city, and would therefore inevitably amount to yet another blow to the already tottering German enemy. But when such an operation was finally launched, with Dresden as target, it was done far less in order to speed up the defeat of the Nazi enemy than in order to intimidate the Soviets. Using the terminology of the “functional analysis” school of American sociology, hitting the Germans as hard as possible was the “manifest function” of the operation, while intimidating the Soviets was its far more important “latent” or “hidden” function. The massive destruction wreaked in Dresden was planned – in other words, was “functional” – not for the purpose of striking a devastating blow to the German enemy, but for the purpose of demonstrating to the Soviet ally that the Anglo-Americans had a weapon which the Red Army, no matter how mighty and successful it was against the Germans, could not match, and against which it had no adequate defenses.

Many American and British generals and high-ranking officers were undoubtedly aware of the latent function of the destruction of Dresden, and approved of such an undertaking; this knowledge also reached the local commanders of the RAF and USAAF as well as the “master bombers.” (After the war, two master bombers claimed to remember that they had been told clearly that this attack was intended “to impress the Soviets with the hitting power of our Bomber Command.”)[18] But the Soviets, who had hitherto made the biggest contribution to the war against Nazi Germany, and who had thereby not only suffered the biggest losses but also scored the most spectacular successes, e.g. in Stalingrad, enjoyed much sympathy among low-ranking American and British military personnel, including bomber crews. This constituency would certainly have disapproved of any kind of plan to intimidate the Soviets, and most certainly of a plan – the obliteration of a German city from the air – which they would have to carry out. It was therefore necessary to camouflage the objective of the operation behind an official rationale. In other words, because the latent function of the raid was “unspeakable,” a “speakable” manifest function had to be concocted.

And so the regional commanders and the master bombers were instructed to formulate other, hopefully credible, objectives for the benefit of their crews. In view of this, we can understand why the instructions to the crews with respect to the objectives differed from unit to unit and were often fanciful and even contradictory. The majority of the commanders emphasized military objectives, and cited undefined “military targets,” hypothetical “vital ammunition factories” and “dumps of weapons and supplies,” Dresden’s alleged role as “fortified city,” and even the existence in the city of some “German Army Headquarters.” Vague references were also frequently made to “important industrial installations” and “marshalling yards.” In order to explain to the crews why the historical city centre was targeted and not the industrial suburbs, some commanders talked about the existence there of a “Gestapo headquarters” and of “a gigantic poison gas factory.” Some speakers were either unable to invent such imaginary targets, or were for some reason unwilling to do so; they laconically told their men that the bombs were to be dropped on “the built-up city centre of Dresden,” or “on Dresden” tout court.[19] To destroy the centre of a German city, hoping to wreak as much damage as possible to military and industrial installations and to communication infrastructures, happened to be the essence of the Allied, or at least British, strategy of “area bombing.”[20] The crew members had learned to accept this nasty fact of life, or rather of death, but in the case of Dresden many of them felt ill at ease. They questioned the instructions with respect to the objectives, and had the feeling that this raid involved something unusual and suspicious and was certainly not a “routine” affair, as Taylor presents things in his book. The radio operator of a B-17, for example, declared in a confidential communication that “this was the only time” that “[he] (and others) felt that the mission was unusual.” The anxiety experienced by the crews was also illustrated by the fact that in many cases a commander’s briefing did not trigger the crews’ traditional cheers but were met with icy silence.[21]

Directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally, the instructions and briefings addressed to the crews sometimes revealed the true function of the attack. For example, a directive of the RAF to the crews of a number of bomber groups, issued on the day of the attack, February 13, 1945, unequivocally stated that it was the intention “to show the Russians, when they reach the city, what our Bomber Command is capable of doing.”[22] Under these circumstances, it is hardly surprising that many crew members understood clearly that they had to wipe Dresden from the map in order to scare the Soviets. A Canadian member of a bomber crew was to state after the war to an oral historian that he was convinced that the bombing of Dresden had aimed to make it clear to the Soviets “that they had to behave themselves, otherwise we would show them what we could also do to Russian cities.”[23]

The news of the particularly awful destruction of Dresden also caused great discomfort among British and American civilians, who shared the soldiers’ sympathy for the Soviet ally and who, upon learning the news of the raid, likewise sensed that this operation exuded something unusual and suspicious. The authorities attempted to exorcize the public’s unease by explaining the operation as an effort to facilitate the advance of the Red Army. At an RAF press conference in liberated Paris on February 16, 1945, journalists were told that the destruction of this “communications centre” situated close to “the Russian front” had been inspired by the desire to make it possible for the Russians “to continue their struggle with success.” That this was merely a rationale, concocted after the facts by what are called “spin doctors” today, was revealed by the military spokesman himself, who lamely acknowledged that he “thought” that it had “probably” been the intention to assist the Soviets.[24]

The hypothesis that the attack on Dresden was intended to intimidate the Soviets explains not only the magnitude of the operation but also the choice of the target. To the planners of Thunderclap, Berlin had always loomed as the perfect target. By early 1945, however, the German capital had already been bombed repeatedly. Could it be expected that yet another bombing raid, no matter how devastating, would have the desired effect on the Soviets when they would fight their way into the capital? Destruction wreaked within 24 hours would surely loom considerably more spectacular if a fairly big, compact, and “virginal” – i.e. not yet bombed – city were the target. Dresden, fortunate not to have been bombed thus far, was now unfortunate enough to meet all these criteria. Moreover, the British American commanders expected that the Soviets would reach the Saxon capital within days, so that they would be able to see very soon with their own eyes what the RAF and the USAAF could achieve in a single operation. Although the Red Army was to enter Dresden much later than the British and the Americans had expected, namely, on May 8, 1945, the destruction of the Saxon capital did have the desired effect. The Soviet lines were situated only a couple of hundred of kilometers from the city, so that the men and women of the Red Army could admire the glow of the Dresden inferno on the nocturnal horizon. The firestorm was allegedly visible up to a distance of 300 kilometers.

If intimidating the Soviets is viewed as the “latent,” in other words the real function of the destruction of Dresden, then not only the magnitude but also the timing of the operation makes sense. The attack was supposed to have taken place, at least according to some historians, on February 4, 1945, but had to be postponed on account of inclement weather to the night of February 13-14.[25] The Yalta Conference started on February 4. If the Dresden fireworks had taken place on that day, it might have provided Stalin with some food for thought at a critical moment. The Soviet leader, flying high after the recent successes of the Red Army, would be brought down to earth by this feat of his allies’ air forces, and would therefore turn out to be a less confident and more agreeable interlocutor at the conference table. This expectation was clearly reflected in a comment made one week before the start of the Yalta Conference by an American general, David M. Schlatter:

I feel that our air forces are the blue chips with which we will approach the post-war treaty table, and that this operation [the planned bombing of Dresden and/or Berlin] will add immeasurably to their strength, or rather to the Russian knowledge of their strength.[26]

The plan to bomb Dresden was not cancelled, but merely postponed. The kind of demonstration of military potency that it was supposed to be retained its psychological usefulness even after the end of the Crimean conference. It continued to be expected that the Soviets would soon enter Dresden and thus be able to see firsthand what horrible destruction the Anglo-American air forces were able to cause to a city far removed from their bases in a single night. Afterwards, when the rather vague agreements made at Yalta would have to be put into practice, the “boys in the Kremin” would surely remember what they had seen in Dresden, draw useful conclusions from their observations, and behave as Washington and London expected of them. When towards the end of the hostilities American troops had an opportunity to reach Dresden before the Soviets, Churchill vetoed this: even at that late stage, when Churchill was very eager for the Anglo-Americans to occupy as much German territory as possible, he still insisted that the Soviets be allowed to occupy Dresden, no doubt so they could benefit from the demonstration effect of the bombing.

Dresden was obliterated in order to intimidate the Soviets with a demonstration of the enormous firepower that permitted bombers of the RAF and the USAAF to unleash death and destruction hundreds of kilometers away from their bases, and the subtext was clear: this firepower could be aimed at the Soviet Union itself. This interpretation explains the many peculiarities of the bombing of Dresden, such as the magnitude of the operation, the unusual participation in one single raid of both the RAF and USAAF, the choice of a “virginal” target, the (intended) enormity of the destruction, the timing of the attack, and the fact that the supposedly crucially important railway station and the suburbs with their factories and Luftwaffe airfield were not targeted. The bombing of Dresden had little or nothing to do with the war against Nazi Germany: it was an American British message for Stalin, a message that cost the lives of tens of thousands of people. Later that same year, two more similarly coded yet not very subtle messages would follow, involving even more victims, but this time Japanese cities were targeted, and the idea was to direct Stalin’s attention to the lethality of America’s terrible new weapon, the atomic bomb.[27] Dresden had little or nothing to do with the war against Nazi Germany; it had much, if not everything, to do with a new conflict in which the enemy was to be the Soviet Union. In the horrible heat of the infernos of Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Cold War was born.

Notes

[1] Frederick Taylor. Dresden: Tuesday, February 13, 1945, New York, 2004, pp. 354, 443-448; Götz Bergander, Dresden im Luftkrieg. Vorgeschichte, Zerstörung, Folgen, Weimar, 1995, chapter 12, and especially pp. 210 ff., 218-219, 229;

“Luftangriffe auf Dresden“, http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luftangriffe_auf_Dresden,  p. 9.

[2] See for example the comments made by General Spaatz cited in Randall Hansen, Fire and fury: the Allied bombing of Germany, 1942-45, Toronto, 2008, p. 243.

[3] Taylor, p. 416.

[4] Taylor, pp. 321-322.

[5] Olaf Groehler. Bombenkrieg gegen Deutschland, Berlin, 1990, p. 414; Hansen, p. 245; “Luftangriffe auf Dresden,” http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luftangriffe_auf_Dresden,  p.7.

[6] “Luftangriffe auf Dresden,” http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luftangriffe_auf_Dresden,  p. 7.

[7] Taylor, pp. 152-154, 358-359.

[8] Eckart Spoo, “Die letzte der Familie Tucholsky,” Ossietzky, No. 11/2, June 2001, pp. 367-70.

[9] Taylor, p. 190; Groehler, pp. 400-401. Citing a study about Yalta, the British author of the latest study of Allied bombing during World War II notes that the Soviets “clearly preferred to keep the RAF and the USAAF away from territory they might soon be occupying,” see C. Grayling, Among the Dead Cities: Was the Allied Bombing of Civilians in WWII a Necessity or a Crime?, London, 2006, p. 176.

[10] Alexander McKee. Dresden 1945: The Devil’s Tinderbox, London, 1982, pp. 264-265; Groehler, pp. 400-402.

[11] See e.g. Jacques R. Pauwels, The Myth of the Good War: America in the Second World War, Toronto, 2002, p. 98 ff.

[12] Ibid., p. 119.

[13] Richard Davis, “Operation Thunderclap,” Journal of Strategic Studies, 14:1, March 1991, p. 96.

[14] Taylor, pp. 185-186, 376; Grayling, p. 71; David Irving. The Destruction of Dresden, London, 1971, pp. 96-99.

[15] Hansen, p. 241.

[16] Arthur Travers Harris, Bomber offensive, Don Mills/Ont., 1990, p. 242.

[17] McKee, pp. 46, 105.

[18] Groehler, p. 404.

[19] Ibid., p. 404.

[20] The Americans preferred “precision bombing,” in theory if not always in practice.

[21] Taylor, pp. 318-19; Irving, pp. 147-48.

[22] Quotation from Groehler, p. 404. See also Grayling, p. 260.

[23] Cited in Barry Broadfoot, Six War Years 1939-1945: Memories of Canadians at Home and Abroad, Don Mills, Ontario, 1976, p. 269.

[24] Taylor, pp. 361, 363-365.

[25] See e.g. Hans-Günther Dahms, Der Zweite Weltkrieg, second edition, Frankfurt am Main, 1971, p. 187.

[26] Cited in Ronald Schaffer. “American Military Ethics in World War II: The Bombing of German Civilians,” The Journal of Military History, 67: 2, September 1980, p. 330.

[27] A. C. Grayling, for example, writes in his new book on Allied bombing that “it is recognized that one of the main motives for the atomb-bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was to demonstrate to the Russians the superiority in weaponry that the United States had attained…In the case of Dresden something similar is regrettably true.”

© Copyright Jacques R. Pauwels, Global Research, 2010

February 10, 2011 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | 2 Comments

Censorship in Academia – Cornell University

By Henry Hansteen | 9/11Blogger | February 9, 2011

I’ve been a Cornell Staff member for about thirty years, and pretty much every work day, I work with metal. Mostly machining, but also, bending, shearing, welding, annealing, heating, heat treating, etc.. One thing I’ve learned through my experience, is that gradually heated steel loses its strength gradually, not instantly. Since WTC7’s free fall and symmetric drop displayed all the characteristics of a controlled demolition, and none of a fire induced collapse, I’ve always been skeptical of the government’s “explanation” – that gradual heating of parts of the steel frame due to limited office fires caused WTC7’s drop.

Now that free fall acceleration has been well documented and finally acknowledged by government hired researchers at the NIST, this explanation also seems to be at odds with the findings of Sir Isaac Newton. With that in mind, for the past year or so, I’ve been trying to solicit opinions regarding WTC7’s free fall and symmetric drop from professors in Cornell’s engineering department. All of my initial email inquiries were ignored, and followup inquiries produced only one response, which was limited to a few words of condescension and sarcasm. None of the professors would address the actual research and evidence I provided, or respond to my questions. Brief, polite, and detailed phone messages were also ignored.

So, I decided to submit a guest column to Cornell’s student run paper, The Cornell Daily Sun. Again, my first submission was ignored, but my followup submission did receive a reply, which stated only that my piece would not not be published. No reason was given. I explained to the editors that I would be willing to make some changes if there are some key words or phrases that prompted the censorship, but no explanation for the censorship was forthcoming. I find censorship at a University particularly troubling, since this is an institution where the free and open exchange of ideas, information, and knowledge are not only encouraged, but the very reason for the institution’s existence.

My hope now is that members of the 9-11 Truth community will contact the Cornell Daily Sun by email and phone, and politely explain why 9-11 Truth is such and important and relevant topic, and that by censoring the open discussion of the facts related to 9-11-01,and perpetuating the government’s 9-11 myth, the Sun is also perpetuating the government’s 9-11 wars – wars that come with a very heavy price, in lives, taxpayer dollars, and our economic stability. And of course, these wars reduce rather than increase global security.

The editors at the Sun can be reached as follows:

Keenan Weatherford, editor in chief: editor@cornellsun.com

Tony Manfred, associate editor: associate-editor@cornellsun.com

The phone number at the Sun is 607-273-3606

Here is my censored guest column. If you decide to contact the Sun, please let me know.

Thanks,
Henry Hansteen

9-11-01: Myth vs Physics 10-15-10

Over the past few years, I’ve probably sent a dozen or so emails to Cornell engineering professors, asking them what I believe are clear and reasonable questions. Most of the professors do not reply at all, a few replied just to tell me that they are unable to answer my questions, and one reply was spiced with condescension and sarcasm. I have to say that I’m a bit disappointed in them. My Grandfather was a Cornell Professor, and he left me with a much different impression . The question is basically this – what can and what can’t cause a 47 story, hurricane and earth quake resistant, steel framed high rise to suddenly crush itself with near perfect symmetry, while accelerating at a rate that is indistinguishable from free fall? That’s what video evidence, government hired researchers from the NIST, and independent 9-11 truth researchers all agree took place on 9-11-01 when World Trade Center 7 dropped. The entire perimeter frame transitioned from standing straight to accelerating downward at the same rate it would have fallen through air. This building was supported by over forty massive interconnected steel columns that extended from bedrock to the roof, and the vast majority of them were never even exposed to any fire. According to the government’s final report, issued by NIST in November of 2008, structural damage from debris impacts didn’t contribute to WTC7’s free fall and symmetric drop. It is now blamed on nothing but ordinary office fires that occupied only a few floors in a small area of the building. The steel frame was designed to easily support several times the weight of the building. Like all steel framed high rises, it was designed with incredible reserve strength.

An object can only accelerate at the rate of free fall if all of its gravitational energy is converted to motion, and none is used to move, bend, crush, or break other objects. Believing that WTC7’s massive steel frame could accelerate through itself at free fall while bending, breaking, and shearing tens of thousands of tons of undamaged structural steel is, in effect, little different than claiming that a car will accelerate down Buffalo Street hill at the same rate whether it’s on the open road or rolling directly through a long row of parked cars. I’ve heard a few people speculate about “buckling”, and how quickly a vertical steel column will fail once it has buckled. This theory doesn’t hold up to analysis, though. Video evidence shows that most of the steel columns in WTC7 were never exposed to any fire, so obviously, gradual heating could not have caused them all to fail at the same instant. Also, steel columns in the process of buckling still have far more structural integrity than air, and could not cause the entire structure to suddenly accelerate at free fall. And even if the entire structure had been engulfed in a raging inferno, the steel would lose it strength gradually, rather than instantly. Revisiting my auto analogy, auto bodies and frames are specifically engineered to buckle, because buckling absorbs tremendous amounts of energy, which rapidly reduces the speed of a vehicle during an impact, and would have reduced (or stopped) the rate of WTC7’s free fall and symmetric drop. The structural integrity of the parked cars is not reduced to that of air once they begin to buckle. This is true even if some of the parked cars are on fire. Gradual heating cannot reduce the integrity of steel to that of air in an instant, and neither office fires nor buckling can explain how the structural integrity of all of WTC7’s exterior columns vanished in an instant.

What can explain WTC7’s free fall and symmetric drop, along with the extremely high temperatures and the molten and vaporized steel? What can explain the instant, total, and simultaneous failure of all of WTC7’s steel columns in an instant, the government’s refusal to test for incendiaries of any type, and its rapid destruction of the forensic evidence? Demolition explains all the evidence, and a team of nine scientists have discovered highly refined military grade nano thermitic material in dust and steel samples. I suggest reading http://www.911research.com and http://www.911speakout.org for those interested in verifying the points I’ve made here. If you think the points I’ve made here are valid, please present them to Cornell’s engineering professors and encourage them to take get informed and take a stand. This is too important an issue to be ignored, and the price for perpetuating the government’s impossible 9-11 conspiracy theory and the resulting 9-11 wars is too high. There comes a time when silence is complicity.

February 10, 2011 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Science and Pseudo-Science | 3 Comments

Freedom Flotilla II to Commemorate 1st Anniversary of Deadly Raid

By Tania Kepler for the Alternative Information Center | 09 February 2011

The Freedom Flotilla II will sail for Gaza during the last two weeks of May 2011, to commemorate the anniversary of the deadly attack on the first Freedom Flotilla on 31 May 2010, which left nine activists dead.

The International Coalition of the Freedom Flotilla II met in Madrid, Spain from the 4-6th of February to discuss the upcoming journey. The meeting, organized by the host delegation Rumbo a Gaza, was attended by delegates from organizations in Algeria, Canada, Scotland, Spain, France, Greece, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey.

“We have at least 15 different groups right now at one or two boats each,” said Huwaida Arraf, chairperson of the Free Gaza Movement, one of the leading nongovernmental organizations in the effort. “Every meeting we have, we get one or two new country-based networks or coalitions that want to join.”

The flotilla will be sailing to Gaza from southern Turkey, and IHH, the Turkish humanitarian organization, has reported that European parliamentarians, Arab and Turkish parliamentarians will also be joining the flotilla regardless of the potential threat of Israeli force.

According to organizers, the Freedom Flotilla II will have at least twice as many boats as last year, more volunteers, and more aid for the people in Gaza.

Israeli Special Forces attacked the Freedom Flotilla convoy in 2010, boarded the Turkish ship the Mavi Marama, and killed 9 Turkish citizens and injured dozens more.

The situation in Gaza, which has been dire for some time due to the Israeli military blockade, significantly worsened following Israel’s military attack Operation Cast Lead. The 22-day military strike reduced much of Gaza’s infrastructure and homes to rubble, and killed some 1,400 Palestinians, the majority of whom were civilians. The population is still reeling and in desperate need of supplies..

According to the UNHRC’s “Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories”, published in January, Rapporteur Richard Falk notes: “the situation of the civilian population in Gaza continues to be of critical concern. In 2010, Israeli uses of force resulted in 58 Palestinians killed in Gaza (including 22 civilians) plus 233 Palestinians injured (including 208 civilians).”

“Israel has declared a buffer zone that extends for 1,500 metres into Gaza from the border fence (comprising 17 per cent of Gaza), and Israeli military personnel fire at farmers and children who are pursuing normal peaceful activities close to the border,” the report continues. “These characteristics of the ongoing Israeli relationship to Gaza are strongly confirmatory of the legal and factual assessment that Gaza remains an occupied territory.”

February 10, 2011 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism | 1 Comment

US Terror Campaign in Pakistan?

“The two men Davis killed were ISI agents assigned to tail Davis”

By DAVE LINDORFF | CounterPunch | February 10, 2011

The mystery surrounding Raymond A. Davis, the American former Special Forces operative jailed in Lahore, Pakistan for the murder of two young motorcyclists, and his funky “security” company, Hyperion-Protective Consultants LLC, in the US continues to grow.

When Davis was arrested in the immediate aftermath of the double slaying in a busy business section of Lahore, after he had fatally shot two men in the back, claiming that he feared they might be threatening to rob him, police found business cards on him for a security company called Hyperion-Protective Consultants LLC, which listed as its address 5100 North Lane, Orlando, Florida.

A website for the company gave the same address, and listed the manager as a Gerald Richardson.

An investigation into the company done for CounterPunch that was published on Tuesday, disclosed that the address was actually for a vacant storefront in a run-down and almost completely empty strip mall in Orlando called North Lane Plaza. The 5100 shop was completely empty and barren, save for an empty Coke glass on a vacant counter.

Now Tom Johnson, executive of a property company called IB Green, owner of the strip mall property, says that the 5100 address was rented by a man named Gerald Richardson, who used it to sell clothing. “We made him move out in December 2009 for nonpayment of rent,” he says. Johnson recalls that at one point when Richardson was leasing the space for his clothing store, he told him, “Oh, I have another company called Hyperion which might get mail there.”

Hyperion-Protective Consultants LLC, as reported in the Counterpunch article, is not registered with the Florida Secretary of State’s office, although it still lists the vacant 5100 North Lane, Orlando address as its headquarters on the company website, which also provides an email address for Richardson, who is described as the company’s “manager and chief researcher.” (Efforts to reach Richardson via his email and by leaving a message on the one functioning number listed on the website have gone unanswered.)

But there are other mysteries here, too, regarding Davis (whose name does not appear on the Hyperion-Protective website), and regarding Hyperion.

As reported today in the New York Times Wednesday in an article by Jane Perlez, there is also a company in Las Vegas Nevada called Hyperion Protective Services. That firm’s 2006 registration information lists as its owners Raymond A Davis and his wife Rebecca J. Davis of 9811 W. Charleston St., Las Vegas, Nevada, 89117. It lists the company’s address as 9345 Boulder Opal Ave., Las Vegas. A registration in Nevada of that name says that Gerald Richardson “founded the firm” in 1999.

This company, which Perlez says claims it at least hoped to win government contracts, advertises its services (basically providing due diligence for companies making property purchases, and running background checks on employees), on a website called LasVegasComplete.com. On that site, it lists its website, which is the same original site for Hyperion-Protective Consultants, LLC, the apparently virtual company that was run out of Gerald Richardson’s clothing shop at 5100 North Lane, Orlando until he couldn’t pay the rent and got evicted, and that doesn’t have a listed number, or a person to answer the phone.

Meanwhile, the phone number listed for the Nevada incarnation of Hyperion-Protective is a cell phone with a Tucson, Arizona area code, which is registered to Raymond A. Davis. A call to that phone reached a recording of a male voice, with no mention of Hyperion-Protective, and no name offered, asking for call-back information. The call was not returned.

Perlez in her article, datelined Lahore, Pakistan, at least for the first time mentions the forensic evidence that both of Davis’s victims were shot in the back, and quotes police as saying that Davis had told them he shot the men not because they had menaced him with guns, as has earlier been asserted in the US media, based on statements from the State Department, but because “he believed that the men were armed.”

If that was the accepted standard for shooting someone in Texas or Arizona, half the residents of the state would be shooting the other half. It’s also a pretty lame justification for shooting two people in the back!

Perlez also confirms another point–the suspicious array of items that police found in Davis’s rented Honda Civic when they arrested him–though she diminishes their significance by offering the snide comment that the local Pakistani press has been “dwelling” on the items, as well as on his various, and mutually exclusive array of business cards, which included one listing him as working out of the Peshawar Consulate, on the edge of the Pashtun Tribal area, one listing him as a Defense Department contractor, and one listing him as an employee of the seemingly non-existent Hyperion-Protective Consultants LLC in Orlando.

The items that the Pakistani press are “dwelling” on though, as listed by Perlez, include a Glock handgun, a flashlight that attaches to a headband, and a pocket telescope. Unmentioned by Perlez, but also found by police in Davis’s car, were a large number of cellphones, including at least one satellite phone, a collection of batteries, bucketloads of bullets, both for the Glock and a Beretta allegedly used by Davis to kill the two motorcyclists in his pinpoint shots through his front windshield, and a load of M-16 shells. Police report that the bullets were high-powered killer projectiles not allowed in many countries. There were military-grade knives, wires, and a surprising array of high-capacity magazines for the handguns, too (like the one used to such devastating effect in the recent Tucson massacre. There was also something else police found that is profoundly puzzling and disturbing: a camera loaded with pictures of dozens of madrassas (religious schools) and other buildings around Lahore.

This was not the run-of-the-mill armament for an embassy security guard (one of the various titles — covers? —  that the State Department has claimed for Davis at the Lahore Consulate).

The US, which seems to really want this guy out of Pakistani hands, is reportedly threatening to cut off financial assistance to Pakistan and to cancel a planned visit by President Obama if Davis is not released–pretty heavy pressure for a low-ranking consular contractor–especially one who has admitted he shot two locals to death while apparently not working in any official capacity.

Perlez also uncritically parrots the US government’s line that Davis is “protected by diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Conventions and that he must be released from custody.”

The problem, as I reported in my earlier CounterPunch article, is that the Vienna Convention that Perlez and the US government are relying on to demand his release states very clearly that any immunity for diplomats or consular staff does not apply to “serious crimes,” and it would be hard to imagine a more serious crime than a double murder, which is what Davis is currently being charged with.

What seems clear at this point is that Davis, 36, is not what the US government is now claiming he is: a “technical advisor” to the consulate. His record –10 years in US Special Forces, supposedly ending in 2003–and his shell “security” company in the US, with its faked addresses, suggest strongly that he is working for the US, either in some intelligence branch, or more likely as an employee of some mercenary-for-hire company like Xe (Blackwater).

What he was actually doing on his ill-fated drive into the commercial heart of Lahore is up for grabs.

There have been several reports in the Pakistani press, unmentioned by Perlez, that the two men he killed were not, as initially reported by the US, petty thieves, but were actually agents working for Pakistan’s intelligence service, the ISI. Today, ABC’s Nick Schifrin, who has been the best reporter on this story in the US corporate media, reports that while the State Department “adamantly denies” the claim (big surprise, that!), four Pakistani officials, off the record, have told ABC that the two men Davis killed were ISI agents assigned to tail Davis because he was a spy who had “crossed a red line.”

What “red line?” Again there is speculation in Pakistan’s media that Davis may have been involved in some kind of covert US program to actually finance or orchestrate some of the bombings that have been rocking, and destabilizing Pakistan. (Certainly that could be an explanation for the stop at the ATM for a bundle of cash, and for all of those cell phones recovered from Davis’s car, which could serve nicely as bomb detonators–a popular method adopted by terrorists everywhere, though of course they could also have been dedicated lines or throwaways for “cutouts,” as one veteran of such black-ops notes.)

The suicide by rat poison of the 18-year-old bride of one of the two slain men would seem to point to the victim’s being more than just a petty street thief, too. The young woman, from her hospital bed, before dying, said that she was killing herself because she despaired of seeing justice done for the murder of her husband.

~

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, the new independent, collectively-owned, journalist-run, reader-backed (we hope!), online alternative newspaper. His work, and that of colleagues John Grant, Linn Washington, Jr., and Charles M. Young, can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net

February 10, 2011 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular | 2 Comments

Egyptian Army Prepares To Protect Presidential Palace

By Saed Bannoura – IMEMC & Agencies – February 10, 2011

At the eighteenth day of massive protests demanding the removal of Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, and his regime, the Egyptian army was extensively redeployed in several streets in Cairo, especially those leading to the Presidential palace.

The army was deployed in Nasr and Masr Al Jadeeda where the palace is located, and sealed off several other roads.

The army is aiming mainly at protecting the palace, Intelligence headquarters, and the building of Egypt’s official government-run TV station.

Local sources reported that the Curfew in Cairo was escalated while the army tightened its siege in Cairo and installed dozens of roadblocks to be added to the ones that were installed after the protests started.

Yet, Egyptian military sources said that the army will not prevent the residents from reaching the Tahrir Square in Cairo, the center point of the protests.

Meanwhile, the Youth Revolutionary Coalition denounced the statements of Egypt’s Vice President, Omar Suleiman, in which he stated that the alternative of dialogue is a coup.

The coalition said that such statements are a serious threat to the revolution, and confirmed their determination to continue their protests until the regime of Mubarak is ousted.

Ahmad Maher, coordinator of the April 6 Movement, stated that Suleiman is a man who runs secret intelligence services, and that he is wasting time in order to ensure the current government and its head remain in power.

Maher added that Suleiman’s call for dialogue with the revolting Egyptians is only a manipulation, and that after his calls were rejected, Suleiman started holding talks “with fake parties and unknown persons”.

He further stated that the Egyptians will not leave the Tahrir Square and all other squares where protests are being held, adding that “the threats of Suleiman and others will not intimidate the revolution”.

February 10, 2011 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism | Comments Off on Egyptian Army Prepares To Protect Presidential Palace

Egyptian army called to join protesters

Press TV – February 10, 2011

An Egyptian former MP has said that military personnel will join the protesters if the current situation in Cairo gets worse.

“It is obvious that military apparatus will leave Mubarak alone if the situation deteriorates… Unless something happens between military apparatus and people, the army will leave Mubarak alone,” Talaat Sadat told Press TV in an interview on Thursday.

The army is deployed to suppress the revolution as the nation prepares for another planned million-man march by the opposition on Friday.

Egypt’s revolution youth movement has also called on the army to join anti-government protesters.

Speaking to Press TV, members of the movement rejected remarks by the Egyptian Vice-president who said the protesters have to accept the government’s proposals to end the revolution or they will face army action.

The movement said it has information that some army officers will disobey any order from their superiors to open fire on the protesters.

Sadat also condemned the US stance on the Egyptian revolution.

“I think [US President Barack] Obama resembles a liar who cannot do his job properly and does not know what is going on in Egypt and the Islam world,” he said.

Nationwide protests against President Hosni Mubarak’s regime continue for the 17th day as striking doctors and a host of other workers have joined the revolution.

February 10, 2011 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism | 4 Comments

Levelling the Scales by Force: Thoughts on Normalisation in the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

By Rifat Odeh Kassis | Alternative Information Center | 10 February 2011

Anyone with any exposure to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will also be exposed to certain oft-repeated words and phrases that are woven through it like threads – or which are deployed around it like firecrackers. These words become markers, signals, and judgments. They are written and spoken all the time, but not always clearly defined – despite being among the most important ideas to truly understand.

One such word is normalisation. When actors in the Palestinian struggle for a just peace use this term, what do they mean? What is the reasoning behind a refusal to work with an individual or group because of a “normalising” attitude or act? And why is normalisation so damaging to achieving justice?

In order to clarify this goal – justice – it’s also important to clarify normalisation. I’d like to start with a straightforward definition of normalisation as expressed by the first Palestinian BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) conference, held in Ramallah in November 2007:

“Normalisation means to participate in any project or initiative or activity, local or international, specifically designed for gathering (either directly or indirectly) Palestinians (and/or Arabs) and Israelis, whether individuals or institutions; that does not explicitly aim to expose and resist the occupation and all forms of discrimination and oppression against the Palestinian people.”

This definition can take many forms in daily life. Among the important ones are succinctly defined in a document published by the Ma’an Development Center of Ramallah.[1]

Normalisation encompasses:

1. “Projects that do not agree on inalienable rights for Palestinians under international law and the conditions of justice,”

2. “Projects implying equity between Israelis and the Palestinians in the responsibility for the conflict, or that claim that peace is achieved through dialogue and understanding and increased cooperation between both sides, without achieving justice,”

3. “Projects that hide the situation of the Palestinian people as victims of the Israeli colonial project,”

4. “Projects that refuse, ignore or dilute the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, the right of return and compensation according to the UN resolution No. 194,” and

5. “Projects supported by or in partnership with the Israeli institutions that do not recognize the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people or projects receiving support or funding (in part or in whole) from the Israeli government such as cinema festivals, information technology exhibitions, etc.”

To me, the second kind of normalisation – implying equity between Israelis and the Palestinians in the responsibility for the conflict, or claim that peace is achieved through dialogue and understanding…without achieving justice – is among the most important to understand. Indeed, it is among the subtle, the most common, the most liable to be hidden under the trappings of good intentions – and, therefore, among the most difficult to stop.

Politicians are not the only ones who commit normalisation when it comes to the Israeli occupation. Newspapers do it, television does it, filmmakers and artists and pop singers do it, ordinary people talking politics over dinner do it. Language does it. Normalisation is the process, the instinct, the narrative that neutralises what can never be neutral, that renders over six decades of meticulously institutionalized Israeli military rule into an eternal and incorrigible spat between two groups of people who “can’t get along.”

If only the Palestinians would just stop throwing rocks! If only the Israelis would just stop building settlements for a few weeks! Then the talking could begin; then peace would be just around the corner. This is the belief that lies below the surface of even the most well-meaning normalisation. Let’s negotiate; let’s send rock bands to Tel Aviv as long as they go to Ramallah too; let’s send our children to summertime peace camps in the United States. Let’s do everything we can to domesticate anger, to level the scales by holding one of them down by force, to position Israelis and Palestinians (civilians, politicians, jazz musicians, whomever they may be) in a “dialogue” that disregards the fact that Palestinian civilians live without even most basic human rights; that Palestinian national politicians do not represent any actual nation; that Palestinian jazz musician cannot cross their checkpoint of choice in order to play where they please.

As the saying goes, only free men can negotiate. Normalisation is what makes them do it anyway.

I must once again stress the importance of language in all contexts, both overtly political and not, when it comes to normalisation. In its most brutal forms, normalisation is what turned the December 2008/January 2009 Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip, in which 1,400 Palestinians were killed, mostly civilians, including over 300 children, from a massacre into a “war.” Normalisation is what turns the Apartheid Wall into a “security fence.” Normalisation is what turns the 99 permanent military checkpoints, most of them inside the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) rather than along any kind of border, into “terminals.” And normalization in its less intentionally aggressive forms is what turns “colonialism” into “prejudice,” what turns “occupation” into “discrimination.”

This is crucial: normalisation prevents us from calling a spade a spade, from defining our reality as it is. If we cannot do that, we are lost.

To call it a spade, then – to deny the denial of our rights, and to demand those rights – we as Palestinian civil society organizations and as Palestinians in general must refuse to participate in this process that reduces us. In other words, we must refuse to participate in activities or collaborations with groups or individuals who perpetuate acts or atmospheres of normalisation. One important manifestation of this philosophy is the global BDS campaign, which is by definition a struggle against normalisation. I’d like address the BDS campaign further in this context: both the campaign itself and the importance of its opposition to normalisation, and the criticisms such a strategy often attracts.

The global BDS campaign calls upon us to boycott – to refuse normalisation – with the full range of injustices perpetrated by the state of Israel against Palestinians. The Israeli occupation restricts the entirety of our rights, not only the ones you can exercise in a court or a voting booth: it affects our economy, our education, our mobility, our language, our health, and our hope. It constitutes the geographic, economic, political, social, spiritual, and psychological fragmentation of Palestinian communities and lives. There is nothing remotely normal about any of this. To dismiss injustice and inequality only in name – while continuing to fund Israeli companies or buy Israeli products or play a concert in an Israeli hall because to do so seems logistically convenient or ethically uncomplicated – misses the point altogether. The BDS campaign is a reminder that the Israeli occupation is an enormous and intricate apparatus that can only change if we refuse to support it. Which is to say, if we refuse to normalise with it.

Both within the Israeli community and around the world, there exists a great deal of discomfort and confusion about the tactics and intentions of anti-normalisation work. Many people find the BDS campaign, among others, to be “imbalanced” or overly punitive; many believe the Palestinians should “dialogue” with the Israelis about what’s happening in the oPt, because the problem is just a lack of information and mutual understanding; many believe that only a “positive” approach will do, and BDS doesn’t qualify.

Unfortunately, these claims are not only patronizing and ineffectual, but also irrelevant. There is nothing “positive” about sixty-three years of land appropriation, expulsion, military violence, and systematic human rights violations. Nor is there anything “positive” in the way the Israeli state responds to dissent: targeted arrests, military brutality at nonviolent protests, blacklisting human rights organizations, the deportation of activists. The goal of “balanced dialogue” is impossible in a place where there is no balance, a place of forced silence. In short, it is absurd and offensive to advocate for “positive engagement” with an apartheid state, to “convince” it to be more empathic with the people it subjugates, to construe the ultimate goal as “mutual understanding” rather than an end to oppression itself.

The BDS campaign, then, is the only way for the Israeli community – and the world – to truly see, experience, and know what their government is doing in Palestine. Our responsibilities to the truth, both as Palestinians and Israelis, are both collective and deeply personal; anti-normalisation work is a way to honour and act upon those responsibilities. It is powerful – and powerfully nonviolent – resistance, with human solidarity as a tactic as well as a goal.

Let us remember that normalcy without honesty is meaningless, as is cooperation without justice. Let us care so deeply about our capacity for change that we will refuse to undermine ourselves, and each other, along the way.

~

Rifat Odeh Kassis is the President of Defence of Children-International, the Director of Defence of Children – Palestine Section and a Board Member of the Alternative Information Center (AIC).

February 10, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | Comments Off on Levelling the Scales by Force: Thoughts on Normalisation in the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

Memo from Egypt: We shall not be moved

By Ahmed Amr | Dissident Voice | February 10, 2011

With every passing day, the Egyptian uprising gathers strength as more citizens rally to the cause and demand the immediate resignation of Hosni Mubarak. The regime’s pillars are crumbling. Yesterday, the demonstrators surged out of Tahrir Square and marched towards the National Assembly and the building that houses the Ministry of Interior. But perhaps the most important development was the smaller demonstrations held in front of government owned media outlets and the resignations of a number of prominent journalists on the regime’s payroll.

The defection of journalists and TV personalities means that the regime has lost its ability to control the message. Until Monday, the coverage of the uprising by the government owned press has been scandalous. Now, the change in tone coming from the regime’s very own megaphone suggests that even state paid propagandists have read the writing on the wall and decided that the demonstrators have gained the upper hand.

One prominent headline in Wednesday’s issue of Al-Ahram, the official megaphone of the regime, demonstrated the dramatic tilt in coverage. “Fi Al Tahrir Hata al Raheel” translates into “We’ll Occupy Tahrir Square until Mubarak steps down” or in other words “We shall not be moved.” That would have been unthinkable a week ago.

What’s more astonishing about these developments is that a day earlier, Omar Suleiman, held a two hour meeting with the management of major government daily papers and privately owned opposition papers. I guess whatever message he was trying to deliver just didn’t sink in. It appears that even disreputable government employed journalists have bailed out on Mubarak because they understand the liability of being too closely identified with the dictatorial regime.

Every journalist in the country is suddenly howling about the mind boggling corruption of Mubarak’s government. The former minister of interior, Habib Adly, apparently amassed a fortune of $1.3 billion dollars. Not bad for a government employee. Other former ministers have amassed similar fortunes. According to Al-Ahram, the former Minister of Tourism, The former Minister of Housing and the former Minister of Health are all billionaires and the attorney general has already issued orders freezing their assets and barring them from leaving the country. In a country where the minimum wage was only recently raised to the equivalent of $70 a month, even a million dollars is considered surreal wealth. So you can only imagine how these revelations sit with the man on the street especially when they are confirmed by the government’s own media establishment.

Of course, the net worth of the Mubarak clan is still a taboo subject. There is speculation in the foreign press that the president is one of the richest men in the world with a fortune estimated at $40 billion. Al-Ahram won’t go there – not yet anyhow. But the disturbing news of the first family’s fabulous wealth has already reached Tahrir Square and it helps explain why the demonstrations are gaining strength.

With the sudden change in the sentiments of the scribes of the government press, all eyes are now focused on the army. So far, the army has maintained a neutral stance. The common wisdom in the western press is that the army will eventually tilt towards the regime because its senior officers are beneficiaries of many perks. That might be true but they’re still Egyptians and they won’t easily give up their status as the single most respected institution in the country. While the generals are often handsomely rewarded by the regime for their loyalty, the vast majority of officers are middle class and their compensation has taken a downward dive even as Mubarak targeted his largess towards the police and the Republican Guards. Anybody who knows anything about Egypt understands that the junior officers in the military will abandon their posts before accepting orders to abort a popular uprising. The military establishment has two choices – they can play a meaningful and constructive role in the Post-Mubarak era or they can prop up the faltering regime for a few months at the expense of losing the trust of their people.

As the uprising gains momentum, college professors, professional associations and trade unions are joining the fray. They know which way the tide is turning and so does the army’s rank and file.

The young people who led this uprising have a spirit and a love of country that no Egyptian can ignore. There is a surge of patriotism in the country that transcends anything seen since the 1973 war. Egypt has not experienced a popular uprising of this magnitude since 1919 when Egyptians became the first third world people to secure nominal independence from the British Empire. Those kids in Tahrir Square know their history and have seen three hundred of their finest shed their blood for freedom. They will honor their sacrifices by standing tall against any force that attempts to abort their uprising. A word to the wise – listen carefully to what these young men and women are saying – “we shall not be moved.”

~

Ahmed Amr is the former editor of NileMedia.com and the author of The Sheep and The Guardians – Diary of a SEC Sanctioned Swindle. He can be reached at: Montraj@aol.com. Read other articles by Ahmed.

February 10, 2011 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | Comments Off on Memo from Egypt: We shall not be moved