Aletho News


Gaza children’s art exhibition to be hosted at Swarthmore college

By Nora Barrows-Friedman – The Electronic Intifada – 02/07/2012

A collection of artwork created by children in Gaza immediately after Israel’s attacks in the winter of 2008-09 (Operation Cast Lead) will be shown at Pennsylvania’s Swarthmore college in April.

As I reported back in September for The Electronic Intifada, the exhibiton — entitled “A Child’s View From Gaza” — was slated to show at the Museum of Children’s Art in Oakland (MOCHA) on 8 September but was canceled at the last minute after intense intimidation from local and national Israel lobby groups.

The Berkeley-based Middle East Children’s Alliance, which sponsored and helped curate the exhibition, was finally able to secure an alternative gallery space (around the corner from MOCHA) where the artwork was displayed through November. Because of the publicity that this outrageous censorship effort generated, the gallery attracted hundreds of visitors — and the attention of other venues across the US and across the world who want to show the exhibition.

The Phoenix, Swarthmore’s newspaper, reported on 2 February that the exhibition is being co-spondored by Students for Peace and Justice in Palestine (SPJP). The article added:

Daniel Hirschel-Burns ’14, a Jew and active member of SPJP, does not understand how anyone could have blocked the exhibit. He said that the images were “powerful” and “far more disturbing” than he could have imagined.

“To not feel anything after seeing these pictures, and to think that they are purely a political statement, I think, is missing the point. These are just children and they suffered terribly,” he said. “Even if you are pro-Israel and you believe that Operation Cast Lead was a strategic move that Israel had to make, not allowing the suffering of these innocent children to be exhibited is pretty incomprehensible.”

The exhibition opens at Swarthmore on 6 April.

February 7, 2012 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | Comments Off on Gaza children’s art exhibition to be hosted at Swarthmore college

Shabak tortures and ill-treats Palestinian detainees with impunity

By Adri Nieuwhof – The Electronic Intifada – 02/07/2012

The Public Committee against Torture in Israel (PCATI) has released a paper on its efforts to hold the Israel Security Agency (ISA) – or Shabak – to account for its practices of torture and ill-treatment of Palestinian detainees. In Accountability Still Denied, PCATI reveals how Israel has evaded criminal investigations into all 701 complaints of torture and ill-treatment.

In October 1991, Israel ratified the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Israel should therefore prevent acts of torture. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever may be invoked as a justification of torture, according to the Convention. According to article 4, Israel must ensure that all acts of torture, attempts to commit torture and acts of complicity or participation in torture are made punishable “by appropriate penalties which take into account their grave nature.” However, PCATI found that Israel has hitherto ignored its international obligations to halt torture.

Torture and ill-treatment of Palestinian detainees

Palestinian and Israeli human rights organizations have consistently reported about violations of the rights of Palestinian political prisoners. In its paper, PCATI presents a summary of two complaints on torture. In the case of Jihad Mughrabi the Shabak used physical force, beating the detainee’s head and chest with their fists and guns and kicking his legs. The violence produced bleeding wounds and the detainee lost consciousness while being tortured. He was taken to hospital. Shabak agents also exerted psychological pressure by showing Mughrabi detained family members. Mughrabi’s testimony is recorded on video.

Ala’a Salem also filed a complaint of torture suffered during Shabak interrogations. Ala’a was interviewed by Social Television to spread his story. The video is in Arabic with subtitles in Hebrew:

Habib Ph. Jaudy has translated what Ala’a said into English:

“They put me in jail for two days. Then they brought me back to the isolation cell and chained me.

Starting from there my treatment was beyond description. Naturally during this whole time I was forbidden to meet the lawyer.

I was placed on concrete, with my hands and feet in steel chains.

For the first period, after every eight hours of chaining they’d give me two and a half minutes of rest to eat and go to the toilet. But if you dare to ask to go to the toilet when you are chained [i.e. at a time other than your permitted two-and-a-half minute rest period], the eight hours would be extended to ten or even twelve hours of chaining as punishment.

At one time on the second day in the ‘hotel’ [this must be the interrogation place] there was a crazy Jewish person in the cell next to me shouting for 24 hours. So even if I was dying to sleep in my condition I couldn’t close my eyes. So I asked to go to the toilet, but in vain, I shouted but still in vain. (Video cut at that point.)

The reaction was that five soldiers came in and started hitting me. My nose was bleeding and blood came out of my mouth and I couldn’t do anything as I was chained. At that time I had tears running down my face … firstly because of the harsh pain and secondly because of the feeling that you can’t do anything about it.”

No proper procedure to investigate complaints

The majority of detainees who reported torture or ill-treatment to PCATI’s lawyers refused to submit complaints to the Israeli authorities. According to PCATI, the Palestinian detainees lack trust in Israel’s mechanism of investigation or fear reprisals.

Nevertheless, the Inspector of Interrogee Complaints (IIC) – who is an agent of the Shabak – received 701 complaints of torture and ill-treatment between 2001 and 2010. In 2009 and 2010 the IIC received 52 and 51 complaints respectively. PCATI informed me that the trend in the number of complaints continued in 2011.

Complaints of torture and ill-treatment have to be submitted to the Attorney General, who delegates a senior official within the State Attorney’s office to decide upon the complaints. Instead of opening a criminal investigation, the senior official refers the complaints for a preliminary inquiry to the Shabak Inspector of Interrogee Complaints. PCATI criticizes the inquiry:

Complainants’ testimonies are taken by the IIC during very brief and unannounced visits, It has been common practice for the IIC to falsely introduce himself as a representative of the Ministry of Justice, and complainants’ testimonies have been taken under conditions that replicate the interrogation itself: in the very same room where ISA interrogations take place, and, in some instances, while the complainants have remained shackled for the duration of the meeting.

No complaint of torture criminally investigated

Based on an analysis of its correspondence with the State Attorney’s Office, PCATI concludes that the majority of the complaints of torture and ill-treatment were closed because the authorities denied the facts. Fifteen percent of the complaints were closed because they were categorized under the “defense of necessity” doctrine. In 1999 the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the Shabak is not allowed to use physical means of interrogation that are aimed at tiring out or breaking the detainee. The Court did “not negate the possibility that the ‘necessity’ defense be available” to Shabak investigators and empowered the Attorney General to devise guidelines for such “ticking bomb” cases. PCATI writes that these guidelines – issued in 1999 – have served “as the basis for de facto approval of methods of interrogation amounting to torture and ill-treatment in such cases, thereby granting ISA interrogators blanket exemption from prosecution.”

However, the Convention against Torture does not recognize such a “defense of necessity doctrine”. The Convention is unequivocal in its absolute prohibition of torture.

In addition, the Human Rights Committee concluded in July 2010 that Israel “should ensure that all alleged cases of torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and disproportionate use of force by law enforcement officials, including police, personnel of the security service and the armed forces, are thoroughly and promptly investigated by an authority independent of any of these organs, that those found guilty are punished with sentences that are commensurate with the gravity of the offense, and that compensation is provided to the victims or their families.”

PCATI writes that following the publication of its first report on the topic – Accountability Deniedin 2009, there have been no substantive changes in Israel’s practices of torture and ill treatment. The closure of all 701 complaints of torture and ill-treatment by Palestinian detainees proves that the Israeli authorities protect the perpetrators. Meanwhile, Israel’s violations of Palestinian political prisoners’ rights continues. That is why the BDS Movement must keep Israel under pressure, and human rights organizations, social movements, activists and concerned citizens must call on their politicians, governments and embassies to intervene

February 7, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , | Comments Off on Shabak tortures and ill-treats Palestinian detainees with impunity

NYT Lets Nameless Official Smear Drone Researchers as Al-Qaeda Fans

By Peter Hart – FAIR – 02/06/2012

Not even a week after Barack Obama declared that not too many civilians die in the CIA’s drone strikes in Pakistan, a new report from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism finds that  “at least 50 civilians” have been killed in rescues attempts, 20 in strikes on funerals, with at least 282 total civilians killed since Obama took office.

That much you learn from the New York Times report by Scott Shane (2/6/12):

WASHINGTON — British and Pakistani journalists said Sunday that the CIA’s drone strikes on suspected militants in Pakistan have repeatedly targeted rescuers who responded to the scene of a strike, as well as mourners at subsequent funerals.

The report, by the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, found that at least 50 civilians had been killed in follow-up strikes after they rushed to help those hit by a drone-fired missile. The bureau counted more than 20 other civilians killed in strikes on funerals. The findings were published on the Bureau‘s website and in the Sunday Times of London.

For some reason the Times felt it necessary to get an anonymous U.S. official–again–to smear the people trying to count the dead:

A senior American counterterrorism official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, questioned the report’s’ findings, saying “targeting decisions are the product of intensive intelligence collection and observation.” The official added: “One must wonder why an effort that has so carefully gone after terrorists who plot to kill civilians has been subjected to so much misinformation. Let’s be under no illusions–there are a number of elements who would like nothing more than to malign these efforts and help Al-Qaeda succeed.”

For the record, the Times’ policy on the use of anonymous sources:

We do not grant anonymity to people who use it as cover for a personal or partisan attack. If pejorative opinions are worth reporting and cannot be specifically attributed, they may be paraphrased or described after thorough discussion between writer and editor. The vivid language of direct quotation confers an unfair advantage on a speaker or writer who hides behind the newspaper, and turns of phrase are valueless to a reader who cannot assess the source.

February 7, 2012 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | Comments Off on NYT Lets Nameless Official Smear Drone Researchers as Al-Qaeda Fans


By Damian Lataan | February 07, 2012

As the West prepares to march off to yet another war in the Middle East, we should perhaps remind ourselves of who is giving the West their marching orders.

In February 2003, just weeks before the US and their allies launched their attack on Iraq and her peoples, a delegation of US congressmen, together with the US Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, a well known pro-Zionist and neoconservative war-hawk, were in Israel at the invitation of the Israeli government then led by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Addressing the congressmen, Sharon told them ‘that Iran, Libya and Syria should be stripped of weapons of mass destruction after Iraq’. Later, Sharon told John Bolton ‘that Israel was concerned about the security threat posed by Iran, and stressed that it was important to deal with Iran even while American attention was focused on Iraq’.

Things didn’t quite work out as planned in Iraq. The Iraqi populace, instead of greeting the coalition forces as ‘liberating armies’ as they marched up the road to Baghdad, chose instead to resist the invaders. The neocons who had insisted on the war and were hoping to get their man Ahmed Chalabi into the Iraqi presidency before the summer holidays, found instead that their simplistic fantasies about the venture being a ‘cakewalk’ were turning into a nightmare that is still being played out today nine years later.

But all this hasn’t dulled the neoconservative’s enthusiasm to belatedly do as Ariel Sharon has demanded. Libya has been taken care of; Syria looks like it’s going to get the same treatment; and the whole shebang will reach a crescendo when the Final Confrontation against Iran occurs at some time in the future – and, judging by the way things are going at the moment, it could be in the very near future.

The point I really want to make here is that all of the events of the last twelve years or so haven’t been a series of unrelated or spontaneous occurrences but, rather, have been part of a grand plan carefully instigated by Israeli Zionists and their supporters in the US and around the world designed to eliminate all of Israel’s enemies who so far have successfully been able to resist the Zionist dream of creating a Greater Israel at the expense of the Palestinian people.

February 7, 2012 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

2,600 Bedouins threatened with displacement as Israeli settlements expand

By Sophie Crowe | The Electronic Intifada | 7 February 2012
Women sort through rubble of destroyed homes
Women sort through their belongings three days after Israeli forces demolished several homes in Anata, 26 January 2012. (Anne Paq / ActiveStills)

Jerusalem – The “E1” area of the West Bank, comprising 12 square kilometers, lies between the Maale Adumim settlement and occupied East Jerusalem, curling around and separating the Palestinian towns of Anata and Abu Dis. While E1 is home to roughly 2,600 Bedouins, Israel has prevented any Palestinian development there so that Maale Adumim might expand and new settlements can go up.

Though the settlement development project was temporarily postponed in 2008 due to disapproval from the United States, Israel has long planned on emptying the space of its Palestinian inhabitants in order to implement the plan. Many of these communities have been displaced several times since the 1970s to make way for Israel’s settlement enterprise.

Two years ago, rumors began circulating among the Bedouins living in the E1 area of Israel’s intentions to displace them once more. These rumors have been buttressed by waves of demolition orders in most of the Bedouin encampments.

Twenty communities, in which 2,600 persons live, are facing displacement, stated Abu Suleiman, mukhtar (or leader) of Qeserat, a Bedouin community within E1.

Stealing water resources

Qeserat, home to approximately 200 persons, spreads along the slope of a hill beside a busy highway, close to Anata. Israel moved the community there in the 1970s in order to use their land for Kfar Adumim settlement. The Israeli authorities wanted this site for its valuable water resources, Abu Suleiman noted.

Most of the Bedouins in this area are from the Jahalin tribe, originally from the Naqab (Negev) desert. They became refugees after 1948, when the new authorities forced them from their land, and eventually resettled in the West Bank.

Israeli authorities have suggested moving some of the communities in E1 to a location beside Abu Dis — an East Jerusalem suburb partitioned from the city by Israel’s wall in the West Bank — which borders Jerusalem’s chief garbage dump.

This site is already home to about 2,000 Bedouins, who were moved there in the 1990s from land which is to facilitate the expansion of Maale Adumim.

The Civil Administration (the body overseeing Israel’s occupation of the West Bank), however, may be backing down from its enforcement of this idea. Haaretz reported yesterday that Israeli Major General Eitan Dangot suggested Israel would find another location on which the Bedouin would be permanently settled (“Bedouin community wins reprieve from forcible relocation to Jerusalem garbage dump,” 6 February 2012).

Shlomo Lecker, an Israeli lawyer representing 250 Bedouin families threatened by removal, has advised them to refuse the Abu Dis plan at all costs.

He told Israeli daily Haaretz in November that Israel’s plan “is intended to cut them off from the area … No one wants to move to the Abu Dis village and those living there refuse to accept them” (“Israel cancels plans for new Bedouin neighborhood,” 7 November 2011).

The Bedouins have traditionally lived off rearing animals, but the continuing encroachment on their land has made grazing animals increasingly difficult. The proposed site near Abu Dis would bring a halt to this way of life altogether.

“To raise animals you need space,” Abu Suleiman told The Electronic Intifada. “We don’t want to go to Abu Dis. It is crowded and not a safe place for people to live.”

Land mines

Aside from the proximity to a refuse site, land mines remain on the land near the Abu Dis site from Israeli military training. The Bedouin Protection Committee, a representative body comprising leaders from each community, was formed last summer to discuss ways of dealing with the threat of displacement and to advocate for suitable living conditions.

The committee has asked why Israel should not — if they insist on transferring the Bedouins — let them return to their original home in the Naqab. “In our history we are refugees,” Abu Suleiman stressed.

He would be happy, he said, with a permanent Bedouin town, “away from the cities, near the Dead Sea.” He is not optimistic, however, but acutely aware of Israel’s intransigence: “They will not enlarge the Palestinian areas.”

Abu Rashed, mukhtar of Arara, another Bedouin encampment in E1, believes Israel is trying to coerce the Bedouin into accepting the Abu Dis site by expropriating land the communities may see as an alternative. In the first week of January, Israeli soldiers left a military order near Arara, informing them that Nabi Musa, a neighboring area of 18 dunams used for grazing animals, was now a closed military zone (a dunam is equal to 1,000 square meters).

Abu Rashed recalls how life changed after Israel’s occupation of the West Bank in 1967. “Under the Jordanian government we felt free,” he reflects. The situation began to worsen in the 1980s, by which time Israel’s illegal settlement of the West Bank was in full swing. “Israel was taking land, claiming it to be a military area,” he says. “Since then they have taken 90 percent of Arara’s land.”

Many of the E1 communities made agreements decades ago with the owners of the land, mostly residents of Anata or Abu Dis. “Since the settlements began to appear, people prefer for Bedouins to live on their land rather than use it for farming; it’s like protection,” Abu Rashed explained.

Thousands made homeless

The Bedouins of Abu Hindi, an encampment near Abu Dis that falls just outside E1, have been embroiled in a years-long legal battle for their right to stay on their land.

Abu Hamad, the mukhtar’s brother, explains that the deal with the original landowner was informal, agreed upon without the official documentation of ownership that Israel now demands of them.

Israel’s demolition of homes in Area C, creating 1,000 homeless persons in 2011, has continued unabated into the new year.

On 23 January Israeli forces demolished a home — Beit Arabiya, which houses the Shawamreh family and doubles as a peace center — near Anata, for the fifth time, leaving the family of seven homeless. Three other homes and several animal enclosures in the community were also torn down (“Halper vows to rebuild Palestinian home destroyed five times by Israeli soldiers,” Mondoweiss, 25 January 2012).

Two days later the Israeli military tore down six sheds, home to six Bedouin families, in the War ad-Beik area, also bordering Anata (“Army bulldozer destroys six sheds near Jerusalem,” International Middle East Media Center, 25 January 2012).

Abu Suleiman suspects Israel’s pressure on the Bedouins is part of a wider plan to push all Palestinians out of Area C of the West Bank — where Israel has total control. Israel creates obstacles in each facet of life, he says, taking away communities’ water tanks and tractors and refusing to supply them with electricity.

He does not see much change on the horizon. The state “will try to destroy people step by step,” he predicts.

Sophie Crowe is a journalist based in the West Bank. She can be reached at croweso [at] tcd [dot] ie.

February 7, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 2 Comments

An Exchange on “Humanitarian” Intervention with Rocky Anderson

The Infected Scalpel

By John V. Walsh | Dissident Voice | February 7th, 2012

A few days back I received an announcement from Rocky Anderson, announcing his presidential bid as the candidate of the newly formed Justice Party. Although social justice was mentioned prominently along with the desperate economic plight of many in the U.S., I was struck by the fact that the struggle against war was not prominently mentioned and the question of the U.S. Empire and overseas bases seemed to get no mention. “Human Rights,” an increasingly plastic category at least in the hands of the U.S. ruling elite, figures prominently in Anderson’s campaign literature and world view. I was further surprised that “High Road to Human Rights,” an organization founded by Anderson, counted on its board of advisers, Elie Wiesel, a defender of the Apartheid Israeli regime. On the other hand, Anderson was a staunch opponent of the war on Iraq and even the war on Libya, the latter because it lacked Congressional approval.

I wondered about Anderson’s commitment to anti-interventionism and his view on “humanitarian” interventions, something that should be crystal clear from someone running for president and appealing to progressives. The following email exchange resulted:

From JW to RA:  Hello Rocky,

I wish that you would spell all this out a bit more clearly.

Are you for “humanitarian” interventions as in the Balkans?  Have you read Jean Bricmont’s great (and short) book “Humanitarian Imperialism”?

Are you for getting rid of all our overseas bases and devoting a limited military to purely defensive purposes?

Many pwogs*, for example, Amy Goodman and CIA “consultant” Juan Cole, were cheerleaders for the Libyan intervention, despite Libya having had the highest Human Development Index in all of Africa before NATO destroyed its infrastructure and reduced it to rubble in the name of human rights.

We have two versions of imperialism – the “tough guy” Dick Cheney brand and the “humanitarian” Susan Rice version.  Both are the same in reality whatever the words attached to them.  We must break with them both and cease viewing the world solely through the very arbitrary lens of “human rights,” a good sell among the pwogwessives.

But what good are human rights to a starving illiterate woman in India, a category that Mao consigned to the dust heap of history in China?

From RA to JW:  Yes, so long as we are in compliance with the War Power Clause of the Constitution and the U.N. Charter, I favor the U.S. working with the international community in putting to an end massive atrocities.  I strongly believe in living up to the promise of “Never Again.”  Given all my work in this area, I don’t know how you would have any doubt about my position.  I don’t think political boundaries should control our moral obligations to our brothers and sisters elsewhere.

I recommend to you A Problem From Hell, by Samantha Power.

Your reference to Susan Rice was a curious one.  She sat on her hands (as you apparently would have had her do) when she was with the NSC and failed to take any action to stop the genocide that led to the slaughter of 800,000 Rwandans in 100 days.  According to an article in The Atlantic by Samantha Power, Susan Rice was apparently more concerned with the political implications in the mid-term elections in 1994 than she was about the horrendous fate of the Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda. Those who stood by when their action could have ended the atrocities are, in my view, complicit.

From JW to RA: I think the Samantha Powers of the world are a big part of the problem.

I recommend that you read Humanitarian Imperialism by Jean Bricmont.

From RA to JW: I think isolationist nationalists who don’t care about the suffering of other people who happen to be in other parts of the world are “the problem”.  Sorry, John, we’re on completely different moral planets here.

I’ll try to read the book you referenced.  Have you read A Problem From Hell?  It’s heart-breaking — and a real indictment of the failure of the US to do what is required to stop the atrocities.

From JW to RA: I cannot agree, Rocky.  The “international community” is a euphemism for NATO and the US.  The UN foolishly went along with the destruction of Libya – and we can now see that Russia and China are finally drawing a line in the sand at Syria.

You fail to see that the US is the most ruthless Empire in the history of humankind, and it will cover up its atrocities with appeals to “human rights.”  It is the biggest lie of all.   Would you favor military intervention to end apartheid in Israel?  Will you take that position on the campaign trail?

For those of us living in the heart of Empire there is no alternative to being principled anti-interventionists.  The Empire is incapable of waging a “good war,” whatever that may be.  An anti-interventionist is not an “isolationist nationalist.”  That is simply a smear.

Samantha Power has not written a heart rending account of what has been done to Iraq, I notice.

Finally, the Empire has always cloaked its wars in virtue, from the White Man’s burden to “human rights,” and it always will.  The path to hell is paved with naiveté.

From RA to JW: Samantha Power has not written that account of Iraq because we did not intervene on humanitarian grounds.  It was an illegal war of aggression, at odds with the War Power Clause and with the UN Charter.  You paint with a very misleading, broad brush.  You can advocate abandoning people during genocides and other mass atrocities.  I will always be on the other side.  I share your anti-imperialistic views; I do not share your willingness to turn a blind eye to humanitarian disasters.

You will never convince me of what I perceive to be an extremely selfish, heartless isolationist position.  I would always advocate doing what I would want the U.S. and international community to do if I were in the position of a victim of genocide.  To advocate doing what is right is hardly naïve.  And it is hardly countenancing wars of aggression.  No one has a stronger record of opposition to the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq than I.

From JW to RA: You are well meaning as far as I can tell, but you hold very dangerous views IMHO.

If people want to help those in far off lands, let them form their Abraham Lincoln brigades, something the US Empire also opposed.  Of course, that means putting one’s body on the line, not someone else’s body.

First do no harm.

From RA to JW: So you would advocate repeal of the Genocide Convention?  We couldn’t be further apart in our views on this.

But, then, I recognize the concerns with US empire that drive your views on this.  We need to strive to be better on all counts.  That’s why I have worked so hard in all of these areas over the years — and a large part of why I’m doing what I am now.

From JW to RA:  I never said that I wanted to repeal the Genocide Convention.  Why do you conclude that?

But what is being done to the Palestinians is a slow genocide.  Do you advocate military action against Israel to get rid of the Apartheid regime there?  You should be explicit about that.

Noam Chomsky points out that the slaughter in the Balkans, greatly exaggerated, took place AFTER NATO’s bombs started falling.  And that was not really a genocide either.

Nor is Darfur a genocide either – a brutal war on both sides apparently but not a genocide. In fact, only the US and that outrageous liar Susan Rice label it as such.

And then there is the slaughter in Libya a country that once had the highest Human Development Index in all of Africa.  The concrete reality is that the US is always up to no good and will kill and kill to get its way. We should not be in the business of providing cover for that.

I do not think that you really appreciate that the formerly colonized peoples of the world do not want Western interventions.  They have had quite enough of the benefits of such neocolonial acts.

From RA to JW: You are so incredibly wrong.  The people (at least the Tutsis) of Rwanda, and of Kosovo, view the U.S. as heroically coming to their aid and stopping the massacres.  You would have been content with sitting back after the massacre at Srebrenica.  To me, that is the greatest moral cowardice.

And how can you maintain that you would not seek the repeal of the Genocide Convention?  It creates a legal obligation to take action to stop genocides wherever they occur.

I cannot countenance the U.S. continuing to build its empire; neither can I countenance people — or our nation — turning a blind eye to mass atrocities when they can be stopped.

This will be my last email on this topic.  I’m dismayed that any person can be so insensitive toward victims of genocide or other mass atrocities.  (I’m curious.  What have you done, if anything, to help stop wars of aggression or mass atrocities?)

Good luck – 

At this point someone on the list of those cc’d to this exchange jumped in, J.A., an Israeli expat who as a young man was swept into the Yom Kippur war and saw many of his friends needlessly killed. He left Israel in part to save his son from future slaughters of this sort and has vowed never to return. He wrote:

From J.A. to RA and JW:  Rocky, humanitarian intervention is a slippery slope argument, and is being used for imperialistic ambitions (The latest example is Libya, and still Afghanistan – freeing the Afghan women. I remember well, Samantha Power supported this view) and, in general, being used to justify our military power. (Humanitarian aid via aircraft carriers, being the good policeman of the world, etc).

BTW, you wrote “illegal invasion”; is there a legal invasion?

Here is a question: Since you support “humanitarian” intervention, do you support attacking Israel and freeing the Palestinians from the  Israeli harsh occupation? You must know about the suffering of the Palestinians under the Israeli Apartheid and the stealth genocide by Israel, so should we invade Israel?

(It is a rhetorical question to demonstrate how absurd is the “humanitarian” intervention view).


From JW to RA:  You did not answer whether you would advocate in your campaign a military expeditionary force led by the US to end Israeli apartheid and the slow genocide of the Palestinians?  Why can you not answer that?

And will you launch another expedition to restore the Tibetan theocracy?  It will probably take a few million persons under arms and a return to the draft.  Or how about an occupation of India where the most dire poverty continues and the farmers driven from their agriculture by agribusiness commit suicide in huge numbers?  Or is that OK because “democracy” reigns?

And a second point.  The greatest stimulus to nuclear proliferation is the huge conventional military force which the US has.  That is the force that you need to preserve in order to save the world.  The only protection for a small nation is nukes.

Long ago when the US was trying to take down the Chinese revolution and waging a war on Vietnam, Mao Zedong opined that US imperialism is the number one enemy of the peoples of the world.  I am afraid that remains true.

And you are proof positive that the progressive movement, so called, is no longer anti-interventionist or anti-Empire.

As they say, “You’ve come a long way, baby.”

At least you admit it outright – and that amount of honesty deserves credit.  I suggest that you openly proclaim the new humanitarian interventionism as part of your platform.  Now if only other progressives would also do that, we could separate wheat from chaff more readily.


P.S. As a medical student I learned that there are some things that are beyond one’s control and that when one tries to control them the only thing that results is harm — sometimes fatal harm.

John V. Walsh can be reached at


* Pwog

A derisive term for a political progressive. First appeared in the 1960s as a term for old guard leftists of Jewish background. Derived from the tendency of Jews of Eastern European heritage to pronounce ‘R’ as ‘W’, in keeping with Yiddish pronunciation. Now can be used as a term for all progressives, regardless of ethnicity.

February 7, 2012 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | Comments Off on An Exchange on “Humanitarian” Intervention with Rocky Anderson

Lavrov Cheered by Syrians, Holds Talks with Assad

Al-Manar | February 7, 2012

The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held talks with Syrian President Bashar Assad, shortly after he arrived in Damascus and was received by thousands of regime supporters.

“Every leader in every country should be aware of his share of responsibility. You are aware of yours,” Lavrov said to Assad as they kicked off the talks, according to English-language reports by Russian news agencies.

“We hope that the Arab people can live in peace and understanding,” the Russian envoy added.

The Syrian state news agency SANA said that the foreign minister arrived in Damascus amid a huge popular reception in appreciation of Russia’s support to Syria, it’s people and its reform program.

“Huge crowds flocked to … greet Minister Lavrov and express appreciation of Russia’s stances,” it said.

State television showed footage of a sea of people waving Syrian and Russian flags as they lined the streets of the capital, many chanting: “Thank you Russia, thank you China.”

“I want to thank Russia and China for their stand in support of the Syrian people,” one woman said, before crowds swarmed to greet Lavrov’s convoy.

Lavrov’s trip comes days after Russia vetoed along with China against a UN Security Council resolution condemning Syria.

The mission is taking place on the orders of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Russian state media have said Lavrov is bearing a message from the Kremlin for Assad.

The foreign ministry said on Sunday the trip aimed to stabilize the escalating crisis in Syria by winning the “rapid implementation of much-needed democratic reforms” by the Assad regime.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Lavrov refused to divulge the purpose of the mission.

“When you go on a mission on the order of the head of state then the purpose of the mission is usually only revealed to the person it is addressed to. If I tell you everything now, then what is the point?” he said.


  | February 7, 2012

February 7, 2012 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism, Video | , , , | 4 Comments

Lebanese security officials seize suspicious cargo from US, Brazil

Press TV – February 7, 2012

Lebanon’s security officials say a suspicious cargo containing huge amounts of US dollars, guns, special passports and credit cards have been seized upon arrival in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, from the US and Brazil.

The items, packed in a number of chests and delivered via airmail, were discovered at Beirut’s airport, the Lebanese security officials said.

The chests also contained a list of both well-known and ordinary Lebanese citizens including a figure related to Salafi extremist groups. The security officials have summoned a number of the individuals, whose names were on the list, arresting some of them.

Beirut has redoubled security surveillance across the country following remarks by some Lebanese factions as well as widespread rumors about the presence of al-Qaeda in Lebanon.

Meanwhile, the Lebanese defense minister earlier confirmed that members of the al-Qaeda terrorist group, fighting against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, have entered Syria through Lebanon.

Over the past few months, reports have circulated that caches of weapons have been smuggled to armed gangs in Syria through the Lebanese border.


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February 7, 2012 Posted by | Corruption, Timeless or most popular | , , | Comments Off on Lebanese security officials seize suspicious cargo from US, Brazil