Tag Archives: racism

US Justice Department finds that police provoked unrest in Ferguson

By Kevin Martinez
July 3, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

Capitalism3On Monday, the US Justice Department released a report detailing the official police response to the protests last year in Ferguson, Missouri following the police killing of Michael Brown. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the report documents how inappropriate military and police tactics alienated and provoked the crowd of peaceful protesters into violent confrontation. The limited rioting and looting, universally denounced and vilified in the corporate media, was in effect, incited by the police.

The summary of the report states, “Had law enforcement released information on the officer-involved shooting in a timely manner and continued the information flow as it became available, community distrust and media skepticism would most likely have been lessened.” The report documents the 16 days following the August 9, 2014 shooting of Brown by police officer Darren Wilson and the “highly elevated tactical response” on the part of 50 different police departments. The findings hardly justify the disproportionate use of paramilitary tactics against unarmed civilians exercising their First Amendment rights to free speech and assembly.

The report stated that the use of police dogs “exacerbated tensions by unnecessarily inciting fear and anger among amassing crowds.” Tear gas was used inappropriately, “without proper warning, without sufficient attention paid to egress, and without consideration given to environmental conditions.”

Throughout the ensuing protests, citizens were told to “keep moving” by police. According to the report, these “vague and arbitrary” orders “violated citizens’ rights to assembly and free speech, as determined by a U.S. federal court injunction.”

From the standpoint of the Obama administration, which was coordinating the crackdown in Ferguson from the beginning, the report serves as a guidebook to preparing for unrest in the future. That is why, despite the brazen, unconstitutional tactics deployed by Ferguson police, there will be no accountability for the actions taken. Nevertheless, the report is a damning indictment of the authorities.

The report states that the various police agencies who responded to the protests were trained “on operational and tactical skills without appropriate balance of de-escalation and problem-solving training.” Snipers who fixed their scopes on unarmed civilians “exacerbate(d) tensions between protesters and police.” Moreover the military show of force was “not justified and served to escalate rather than de-escalate the overall situation.”

The lack of citizen complaints during the time period assessed by the report was “misleading” because, “a lack of confidence in the complaint process likely deterred citizens from filing complaints about police behavior.”

The report was addressed to the 50 police departments that were involved in repressing protesters in Ferguson. St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson declined to comment as did the Missouri Department of Public Safety, which oversees the Highway Patrol. Dotson told the Post-Dispatch that he had asked officials from the Justice Department’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) what was the best way to handle such protests. “I was told, ‘There are none, you are forging new ground.’”

The report is addressed to inappropriate actions and not individuals and stresses the need for law enforcement to better coordinate in the future as well as provide recommendations that better suppress social opposition while utilizing military gear in a more effective way. Thus it faults the “ineffective” training given to police and the failure in traffic control which supposedly presented “tactical advantages to the protesters and activists and safety hazards to the deployed officers.”

Further, the police “underestimated” social media and hacks of police computers which led to threats and the theft of some officers’ identities. This, in turn, led to some officers removing their name tags at the protests, which, the report says, “defeated an essential level of on-scene accountability that is fundamental to the perception of procedural justice and legitimacy.”

Many of the recommendations included in the report are significant in that they change nothing aside from placing the paramilitary SWAT teams in a somewhat lower profile. These include: possible color-coding of non-lethal weapons for officer and civilian clarification, “officers wearing defensive and tactical equipment should be staged out of sight during peaceful demonstrations,” and “armored vehicles should not be visible to protesters except in narrowly defined circumstances, for example when shots are fired and in some active shooter situations.”

Despite the Obama administration’s feigned appearance of sympathy, or at least neutrality, when it came to the protests in Ferguson and Baltimore, it has been complicit in the whole affair. Much of the military equipment used by Ferguson police was paid for by federal counterterrorism grants, which have been freely given to police nationwide since the start of the so-called war on terror.

Moreover, this is the third Justice Department report which, despite documenting rampant criminal behavior on the part of police, metes out absolutely zero punishments. The first report was the decision not to bring federal civil rights charges against Darren Wilson for murdering Michael Brown, and the second was a review of the Ferguson Police Department, which was found to have systematically violated its citizens constitutional and human rights on a daily basis.

The West Has Normalised Racist Wars – But You Can’t Solve Complex Problems With 1,000lb Bombs

‘Radicalisation’ is our new dirty word in the US and UK, yet radical change is needed. Here’s an idea: stop trying to fix the world with high explosives

By Frankie Boyle
July 01, 2015
Information Clearing House

 

31eae-hateflagJune 30, 2015 “Information Clearing House” – “The Guardian” – I suppose that whether this article prompted by the Charleston shootings feels topical enough will depend on whether America has another mass shooting before it goes to print. If you’re in the US, there’s a fair chance it will seem dated because you are actually being gunned down as you read it, so I’ll try to get straight to the point. It’s surely worth wondering whether it’s time to retire the flag that has for so long been a rallying point for racists and murderers, the stars and stripes. There’s a genuine question to be asked here: what responsibility does the US state bear for the Charleston shootings when racist murder seems to be part of its policing strategy and most of its foreign policy?

Occasionally I wonder whether at some point in the past 100 years the US gave the rest of the world a safe word and we’ve simply forgotten it. Or maybe we’re just saying it wrong (Aluminium? I’m sure you said it was aluminium …) Hillary Clinton has been speaking out against the “racist terrorism” of Dylann Roof despite being the architect of the US military intervention in Libya. The US’s record of invasions, assassinations and government overthrows is racist, I think. Imagining that you can kill people and seize control of their resources without believing them to be inferior requires a certain amount of intellectual flexibility. The same sort of intellectual flexibility that allows people to express grief for the migrants who drown in the Mediterranean and hatred for the ones who survive.

Part of the American mindset comes from the fact that the US was formed through the racist murder of indigenous people. The reason that whole country is such a horror story is that the entire thing is built on an Old Indian Graveyard. I worry that perhaps white America wants to believe that its racial fault lines only run as deep as the Confederate flag. Hence the current uproar at names of southern civil-war generals being on street signs while the faces of slave owners are still on the currency.

Of course not everybody gets behind the US’s view of itself, which is why it is the world’s largest producer of propaganda. Last year’s biggest movie, American Sniper, was billed as the story of the US army’s deadliest soldier, which must have felt pretty galling for the guy who dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. It was basically Star Wars from the point of view of one of the stormtroopers, and the director (Clint Eastwood – I’m not even joking) encouraged us to get behind the idea that you should take moral decisions when women and children are in your crosshairs, rather than long, long before. You got the feeling that the clunky scene explaining that sniper Chris Kyle’s unit painted skulls on their gear as a tribute to the Punisher was necessary in case viewers made the more logical supposition that it was a tribute to the Waffen-SS.

There are many indicators of advanced civilisations, but unthinking hero worship of the military isn’t one of them. The US, like the UK, has been forced to move away from a conscription army and now has a mercenary army. It’s the reason you don’t get war poets any more.

Indeed, before Britain feels too superior, we should perhaps remember that Roof’s main problem here would have been feeling torn between quite a few of the main parties at the last election. We live in a country where posting “Let’s riot or something bruv!” on Facebook will get you a couple of years in prison, while writing a column saying we should bomb Syria is practically an entrance exam for public intellectuals. Of course, it’s never phrased as a plea to kill shepherds in pursuit of our geopolitical interests. By the time it hits the broadsheets, it’s a plea to arm moderate rebels (they’ve got a moderate vision of the country’s future and they’re going to kill until they get it!). It’s a humanitarian intervention. We’re not fighting wars for control of resources. We’re not the aggressor in countries such as Iraq, we’re actually defending Iraq. From the Iraqis. The most obvious anti-war argument that none of this has ever worked just doesn’t seem to come up.

Of course our governments are just trying to protect us from terror. In the same way that someone banging a hornets’ nest with a stick is trying to protect us from hornets. Maybe I’ll even give them the benefit of the doubt and concede that they are just naive do-gooders trying to bring the world peace and stability through the medium of high explosives. What gets me is that the new dirty word in the west is “radicalisation”, as if radical change wasn’t obviously needed; as if the status quo has any decency, or is even survivable. It’s not actually difficult to see solutions to the US’s problems: children can do it, until we educate them out of it. Internationally, I propose the radical step of not trying to solve complex political problems with 1,000lb bombs; domestically, I propose they start addressing inequality by paying reparations for slavery. I’m well aware that in a society where war and discrimination are now almost entirely normalised, both options sound like madness.

 

© 2015 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

High-Seas Piracy: Israel’s Latest Bandit Act. “Gaza: the World’s Largest Open-air Prison”

By Stephen Lendman
July 01, 2015
Global Research

 

Israel se desvela a ojos del mundo por medio de su pirateríaPrevious articles discussed Israel’s seizure of the Swedish vessel Marianne Ship to Gaza carrying humanitarian aid despite Israel’s hollow denial. 

Israel wants Gazans trapped indefinitely in the world’s largest open-air prison deprived of essentials for well-being – suffocated under a policy of slow-motion genocide.

Israeli commandos lawlessly seized the Marianne in international waters. Netanyahu saying it was done lawfully is one of a litany of Big Lies he claimed about the incident – a bandit act like so many others Israel commits endlessly.

A June 29 Ship to Gaza press release said “the ‘Marianne’ contacted the Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC) and informed us that three boats of the Israeli navy had surrounded her in international waters, while sailing approximately 100NM from Gaza coast.”

“After that we lost contact with the ‘Marianne’ and at 05:11AM (Gaza time) the IDF announced that they had visited and searched Marianne. They had captured the boat and detained all on board ‘in international waters’ as they admitted themselves.”

“The only positive content in the IDF announcement was that they still recognize that there is a naval blockade of Gaza, despite Netanyahu’s government recent denial that one exists.”

We have no reason to believe that Marianne’s capture was ‘uneventful’ (as Israel claims), because the last time the IDF said something like that, in 2012″ activists on board the Estelle were savagely tasered and beaten with clubs.

In 2010, nine Mavi Marmara participants were murdered in cold blood, another died later from injuries sustained. They were designated in advance for assassination.

Israel’s so-called “no tolerance” policy assures collective punishment against 1.8 million Gazans – victimized by rogue state ruthlessness.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) “condemn(ed) in the strongest terms the Israeli Navy’s interception and seizure of the first vessel of Freedom Flotilla III taking it to Ashdod seaport in Israel.

“PCHR believes that this attack is aimed to impose the conspiracy of international silence towards crimes committed by Israel against the Gaza Strip’s population, including the illegal closure that has been imposed for the ninth consecutive year.”

“The act of piracy committed by Israeli occupation forces against solidarity activists who came to the Gaza Strip, unarmed but with their moral strength, is another attempt to silence the voices of the free people of the world who wished to send a message to the whole world that the total siege imposed the Gaza Strip is inhuman, illegal, a man-made disaster and a part of an ongoing war crime against Palestinian civilians.”

Israel’s summer 2014 aggression left much of Gaza in ruins – not rebuilt because Israel blocks most construction and other supplies from getting in. It holds the entire population hostage to its ruthlessness – high crimes demanding accountability not gotten.

Monday evening, Israel’s Population, Immigration, and Borders Authority said it detained 16 foreign nationals for questioning. Deportation would follow.

Hamas condemned the “kidnapping” of activists on board, explaining Marianne “succeeded in showing the crime of blockade.”

Flotilla organizers said “(w)e once again call on the government of Israel to finally lift the blockade of Gaza. Our destination remains the conscience of humanity.”

They vowed to use “passive resistance,” not violence when lawlessly boarded. Israel operates by different standards. Brutality is standard practice.

Reports indicate its commandos tasered activists on board. It’s not know so far if they were beaten or otherwise abused. We’ll know more when they’re able to speak freely.

So far, they’re held incommunicado except for former Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki, Palestinian MK Basel Ghattas and European parliamentarian Ana Miranda – released in Ashdod.

RT International correspondent Nadya Kevorkova was on board the Marianne. Ghattas said she was OK and would be released Tuesday. He confirmed Israeli commandos attacked some activists. Slight injuries were sustained. Swedish participants were singled out for abuse.

Ghattas explained even though Marianne was seized, activists achieved their goal of “attract(ing) attention of the world toward the issue of the illegal siege and toward the illegal blockade over Gaza.”

Crew members left video messages prior to seizure. Marianne’s captain Joel Opperdoes said “(i)f you see this video, this means that we are under attack in international waters by Israeli Air Defense Forces.” Other messages were similar.

After weeks of reports about Freedom Flotilla III’ mission, The New York Times addressed it for the first time Monday – highlighting Israel regarding these “action(s) as highly provocative,” failing to explain lawless collective punishment against 1.8 million largely defenseless people for political, not security reasons.

Gazans remain trapped in rubble – “ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished,” as Franklin Roosevelt said about one-third of Americans during the 1930s Great Depression.

His solution was expanded social services. Israel’s is continued collective punishment and naked aggression at its discretion.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

The Fifteen Most Outrageous Responses by Police After Killing Unarmed People

Killing With Impunity

By Bill Quigley
June 26, 2015
Counter Punch

 

Police kill a lot of unarmed people. So far in 2015, as many as 100 unarmed people have been killed by police. Here are fifteen of the most outrageous reasons given by police to justify killing unarmed people in the last twelve months.

First, a bit of background. So far in 2015, there have been around 400 fatal police shootings already; one in six of those killings, 16 percent, were of unarmed people, 49 had no weapon at all and 13 had toys, according to the Washington Post. Of the police killings this year less than 1 percent have resulted in the officer being charged with a crime. The Guardian did a study which included killings by Tasers and found 102 people killed by police so far in 2015 were unarmed and that unarmed Black people are twice as likely to be killed by police as whites.

One. He was Dancing in the Street and Walking with a Purpose. On June 9, 2015 an unarmed man, Ryan Bollinger, was shot by police in Des Moines after “walking with a purpose” towards the police car after he exited his vehicle after a low speed chase started when he was observed dancing in the street and behaving erratically. The deceased was shot by the police through the rolled up cruiser window. The murder is under investigation.

Two. Thought It Was My Taser. An unarmed man, Eric Harris, ran from the police in Tulsa Oklahoma on April 2, 2015. After he was shot in the back by a Taser by one officer and was on the ground, another 73 year old volunteer reserve officer shot and killed him, all captured by video. While dying he was yelling that he was losing his breath, to which one of the officers responded “F*ck your breath.”   The police said the officer thought he was shooting his Taser and “inadvertently discharged his service weapon.” The officer has been charged with second degree manslaughter. Running away from the police so often provokes police overreaction that the aggressive police response has several names including the “foot tax” and the “running tax.”

Three. Naked Man Refused to Stop. A naked unarmed mentally ill Air Force Afghanistan veteran, Anthony Hill, was shot and killed March 9, 2015 by DeKalb County Georgia police after police said he refused an order to stop. The killing is under investigation.

Four. Not Going to Say. On March 6, 2015 Aurora Colorado police shot and killed unarmed Naeschylus Vinzant while taking him into custody. For the last three months, while the investigation into the killing continues, the police have refused to say what compelled the officer to shoot Vinzant.

Five. Five Police Felt Threatened by One Unarmed Homeless Man. March 1, 2015 Los Angeles police shot and killed an unarmed homeless man Charly Leundeu Keunang after five officers went to his tent and struggled with him. One unarmed homeless man threatened five armed LAPD officers? Los Angeles police have killed about one person a week since 2000. An investigation is ongoing.

Six. My Taser Didn’t Work. On February 23, 2015, an unarmed man, Daniel Elrod, was shot twice in the back and once in the shoulder and killed by Omaha Nebraska police after he tried to climb a tree and jump a fence to escape police who suspected him of robbery. Police said their Taser did not work, he ignored their demands to get down on the ground, he did not show his hands, and they felt threatened. Video was not made available and the officer later resigned. This was the second person this officer killed. No criminal charges were filed.

Seven. Armed with a Broom. Lavall Hall’s mother called the police in Miami Gardens February 15, 2015 and asked for help for her son who was mentally ill. Lavall Hall, five foot four inches tall, walked outside with a broom and was later shot and killed by police who said he failed to comply with instructions and engaged them with an object. The killing is still under investigation.

Eight. Throwing Rocks. On February 10, 2015 an unarmed man, Antonio Zambrano-Montes, was fired at 17 times and killed by police in Kennewick, Washington. A video of his killing has been viewed more than 2 million times.   Officers said he had been throwing rocks at cars, ran away and then turned around.

Nine. Taser Worked but He Didn’t Stop Moving. On February 2, 2015, a Hummelstown Pennsylvania police officer shot unarmed David Kassick in the back with a Taser and when Kassick went to the ground on his stomach, then shot him twice with her gun in the back, killing him. The officer said Kassick, who was running away from a traffic stop, was told to show his hands and not move but continued to try to remove the Taser prongs from his back and the officer thought he was reaching for a gun. The officer has been charged with homicide.

Ten. Car going 11 Miles an Hour was going to Kill Me. Denver police fired 8 times at unarmed Jessica Hernandez, 17, who was killed January 16 after being hit by four bullets. The police said she drove too close to them when she was trying to get away and may have tried to run them down as she tried to drive away so they shot into the windshield and driver’s windows. The police said the car may have reached 11 miles per hour in the 16 feet it traveled before hitting a fence.   The police were not charged.

Eleven. Armed with a Spoon. Dennis Grigsby, an unarmed mentally ill man holding a soup spoon, was shot in the chest and killed in a neighbor’s garage by Texarkana Police December 15, 2015. The killing is under investigation.

Twelve. Armed with Prescription Bottle. Rumain Brisbon, a 34 year old unarmed man, was shot twice and killed by police in Phoenix on December 2, 2014, after he ran away, was caught and was in a struggle with the officer who mistook a prescription pill bottle in Brisbon’s pocket for a gun. The police officer was not charged.

Thirteen. It Was an Accident. On November 20, 2014, a New York City police officer fired into a stairwell and killed unarmed Akai Gurley.   The officer, who was charged with manslaughter, is expected to say he accidently fired his gun.

Fourteen. Don’t Mention It. On November 12, 2014, an unarmed handcuffed inmate was shot multiple times in the head, neck, chest and arms by officers while fighting with another handcuffed inmate in the High Desert State Prison in Carson City Nevada. His family was not told and did not know he had been shot until three days later when they claimed his body at a mortuary.

Fifteen. Armed with Toy Gun. John Crawford was unarmed in a Walmart store in Beavercreek Ohio on August 4, 2014, when he picked up an unloaded BB gun. When officers arrived they say they ordered him to put down the gun and started shooting, hitting him at least twice and killing Mr. Crawford. In a widely viewed video Mr. Crawford can be seeing dropping the BB gun, running away and being shot while unarmed. Likewise, Cleveland police shot and killed an unarmed 12 year old boy, Tamir Rice, who was playing with a toy pellet gun on November 22, 2014. Police said they shouted verbal commands from inside their vehicle in the two seconds before they shot him twice. In both these cases, the police story of shouting warnings and orders looks quite iffy at best.

These are the responses of police authorities who face less than one chance in a hundred of being charged when they kill people, even unarmed people.   These outrages demand massive change in the way lethal force is used, reported, justified and prosecuted.

Bill Quigley teaches law at Loyola University New Orleans and can be reached at quigley77@gmail.com.

 

Freddie Gray’s death was a homicide, autopsy confirms

By Kevin Martinez
June 25, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

The death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, an event which provoked massive protests and unrest, leading to a police-military occupation of Baltimore by 5,000 National Guardsmen, was an act of homicide caused by police officers, an autopsy report leaked by an anonymous source to the Baltimore Sun confirmed.

The loading of Gray into a cage inside a police van by the Baltimore police, where he was left with feet and wrists shackled and without any safety belt, exposed the young man to lethal injuries sustained while the vehicle accelerated and decelerated. Gray suffered neck and spinal injuries comparable to someone who had dived into shallow water, the medical examiner concluded.

The autopsy report was completed on April 30, one day before Maryland State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced criminal charges against the six police officers who detained Gray. The driver of the van, Caesar R. Goodson Jr., is being charged with second-degree murder, while the other five police officers face charges of manslaughter and second-degree assault.

The police defense team has claimed, in blatant contradiction to facts established by the autopsy, that Gray’s injuries were “self-inflicted.”

The autopsy’s findings were based on video footage of events surrounding Gray’s arrest, along with witness statements.

“Mr. Gray was still yelling and shaking the van,” the medical examiner said. “He was removed and placed on the ground in a kneeling position, facing the van doors, while ankle cuffs were placed, and then slid onto the floor of the van, belly down and head first, reportedly still verbally and physically active,” he added, referring to Gray’s condition during the second of five stops made by the police van.

The third stop was captured on video and shows the driver of the van, Goodson, getting out to look. After the fourth stop, Goodson called for assistance.

“The assisting officer opened the doors and observed Mr. Gray lying belly down on the floor with his head facing the cabin compartment, and reportedly he was asking for help, saying he couldn’t breathe, couldn’t get up, and needed a medic. The officer assisted Mr. Gray to the bench and the van continued on its way,” the autopsy states.

At the fifth stop, the officers picked up another detainee, only checking on the mortally wounded Gray after securing their new captive. At this point, Gray was “kneeling on the floor, facing the front of the van and slumped over to his right against the bench, and reportedly appeared lethargic with minimal responses to direct questions.”

Gray likely suffered fatal injury between the second and fourth stop, and perhaps before the third stop, according to the autopsy. He was probably killed as a result of being thrown against the metal walls of the van in the course of abrupt turns or stops on the part of the driver, according to the medical examiner.

An injury to the spine would have caused Gray to lose control of his arms and legs and would have impaired his ability to breathe, the report noted.

The autopsy has proven that Gray was in fact murdered by Baltimore police as a result of his “rough ride,” a euphemism used to describe the barbaric practice whereby police officers strap a detainee into a van unshackled and drive around the city, making sudden stops in order to intentionally cause injury to the person inside, who is typically shackled and without a seatbelt.

Today I Saw a Weeping Palestinian Man Holding a Plastic Bag of Meat: It Was His Son

By Brian Eno
Global Research, June 25, 2015
Stop the War Coalition, June 22, 2015

 

gaza_brian_eno_letter_460.jpg

Brian Eno speaking at the National Demonstration for Gaza, London, 26/07/14

Brian Eno’s letter to America: WHY? I just don’t get it

This article was originally published on 3 August 2014. Brian Eno is an artist, musical innovator, record producer for artists ranging from David Bowie to U2 and Coldplay. He has been a consistent supporter of Stop the War Coalition since it was first founded.

Dear All of You,

I sense I’m breaking an unspoken rule with this letter, but I can’t keep quiet any more.

Today I saw a picture of a weeping Palestinian man holding a plastic carrier bag of meat. It was his son. He’d been shredded (the hospital’s word) by an Israeli missile attack – apparently using their fab new weapon, flechette bombs. You probably know what those are – hundreds of small steel darts packed around explosive which tear the flesh off humans. The boy was Mohammed Khalaf al-Nawasra. He was 4 years old.

I suddenly found myself thinking that it could have been one of my kids in that bag, and that thought upset me more than anything has for a long time.

Then I read that the UN had said that Israel might be guilty of war crimes in Gaza, and they wanted to launch a commission into that. America won’t sign up to it.

What is going on in America? I know from my own experience how slanted your news is, and how little you get to hear about the other side of this story. But – for Christ’s sake! – it’s not that hard to find out. Why does America continue its blind support of this one-sided exercise in ethnic cleansing? WHY? I just don’t get it. I really hate to think its just the power of AIPAC… for if that’s the case, then your government really is fundamentally corrupt. No, I don’t think that’s the reason… but I have no idea what it could be.

The America I know and like is compassionate, broadminded, creative, eclectic, tolerant and generous. You, my close American friends, symbolise those things for me. But which America is backing this horrible one-sided colonialist war? I can’t work it out: I know you’re not the only people like you, so how come all those voices aren’t heard or registered?

How come it isn’t your spirit that most of the world now thinks of when it hears the word ‘America’? How bad does it look when the one country which more than any other grounds its identity in notions of Liberty and Democracy then goes and puts its money exactly where its mouth isn’t and supports a ragingly racist theocracy?

I was in Israel last year with Mary. Her sister works for UNWRA in Jerusalem. Showing us round were a Palestinian – Shadi, who is her sister’s husband and a professional guide – and Oren Jacobovitch, an Israeli Jew, an ex-major from the IDF who left the service under a cloud for refusing to beat up Palestinians. Between the two of them we got to see some harrowing things – Palestinian houses hemmed in by wire mesh and boards to prevent settlers throwing shit and piss and used sanitary towels at the inhabitants; Palestinian kids on their way to school being beaten by Israeli kids with baseball bats to parental applause and laughter; a whole village evicted and living in caves while three settler families moved onto their land; an Israeli settlement on top of a hill diverting its sewage directly down onto Palestinian farmland below; The Wall; the checkpoints… and all the endless daily humiliations. I kept thinking, “Do Americans really condone this? Do they really think this is OK? Or do they just not know about it?”.

As for the Peace Process: Israel wants the Process but not the Peace. While ‘the process’ is going on the settlers continue grabbing land and building their settlements… and then when the Palestinians finally erupt with their pathetic fireworks they get hammered and shredded with state-of-the-art missiles and depleted uranium shells because Israel ‘has a right to defend itself’ ( whereas Palestine clearly doesn’t). And the settler militias are always happy to lend a fist or rip up someone’s olive grove while the army looks the other way.

By the way, most of them are not ethnic Israelis – they’re ‘right of return’ Jews from Russia and Ukraine and Moravia and South Africa and Brooklyn who came to Israel recently with the notion that they had an inviolable (God-given!) right to the land, and that ‘Arab’ equates with ‘vermin’ – straightforward old-school racism delivered with the same arrogant, shameless swagger that the good ole boys of Louisiana used to affect. That is the culture our taxes are defending. It’s like sending money to the Klan.

But beyond this, what really troubles me is the bigger picture. Like it or not, in the eyes of most of the world, America represents ‘The West’. So it is The West  that is seen as supporting this war, despite all our high-handed talk about morality and democracy. I fear that all the civilisational achievements of The Enlightenment and Western Culture are being discredited – to the great glee of the mad Mullahs – by this flagrant hypocrisy. The war has no moral justification that I can see  – but it doesn’t even have any pragmatic value either. It doesn’t make Kissingerian ‘Realpolitik’ sense; it just makes us look bad.

I’m sorry to burden you all with this. I know you’re busy and in varying degrees allergic to politics, but this is beyond politics. It’s us squandering the civilisational capital that we’ve built over generations. None of the questions in this letter are rhetorical: I really don’t get it and I wish that I did.

Republican candidates received donations from white supremacist

By David Brown
June 23, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

Several Republican presidential candidates received significant donations from a leading white supremacist who helped inspire Dylann Roof, the person accused of killing nine people in Charleston, South Carolina, last week.

According to an exposé in the Guardian newspaper, Earl Holt, the president of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CofCC), which calls for opposition to “all efforts to mix the races of mankind,” gave $65,000 to Republican campaigns over the past few years, including the current presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Rick Santorum.

Roof cited the CofCC web site in his manifesto as crucial to his own development as a white supremacist. Roof describes his development as a white supremacist after being “truly awakened” by the 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin, which he saw as an act of self-defense on the part of the shooter, George Zimmerman.

The manifesto states, “It was obvious that Zimmerman was in the right, but more importantly this prompted me to type in the words ‘black on white crime’ into Google, and I have never been the same since that day.” His search took him to the CofCC web site and its hysterical denunciations of “brutal black on white murders.”

In an online statement, Holt responded by saying, “The CofCC is hardly responsible for the actions of this deranged individual merely because he gleaned accurate information from our website.”

The Cruz campaign announced that it would return the $8,500 that Holt has given to the candidate since 2012. The Paul and Santorum campaigns announced that they would donate to charity the $1,750 and $1,500 Holt had given them, respectively.

The ties between groups like the CofCC and sections of the Republican Party is a dirty secret of American politics.

Other Republican politicians that have received money from Holt over the years include Mitt Romney for his 2012 presidential campaign, Senators Tom Cotton and Jeff Flake, and Representatives Steve King and Michele Bachmann. High-ranking members of the Republican Party have also been speakers at rallies and conferences called by the CofCC since its founding in 1985.

Trent Lott, the former senator and majority leader, spoke at a 1992 conference, declaring that the organization stood “for the right principles and the right philosophy.” According to a 2004 report in Intelligence Report, at least 38 elected officials spoke at meetings of the white supremacist group between 2000 and 2004.

Although the number of politicians publicly attending CofCC rallies has diminished since the 2004 revelations, state and local officials still occasionally attend, including the then-chairman of the Carroll County Democratic Party in Mississippi, Bill Lord, in 2013.

In 2013, the current South Carolina governor, Nikki Haley, appointed a member of the CofCC, Roan Quintana, to co-chair her re-election campaign. Connections extend beyond the CofCC. The current House majority whip, Steve Scalise, notably spoke at a white-nationalist and neo-Nazi conference in 2002 that was led by ex-Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke.

The ties between sections of the Republican Party and white supremacist groups go back to the Republican strategy of winning the segregationist vote away from the Democrats, who had been the stronghold of the southern elite before and after the Civil War. Following the first steps toward federal desegregation, the Republican Party adopted the long-time political methods of Southern Democrats, and many of the determined segregationists like long-time senator of South Carolina Strom Thurmond switched party affiliation to Republican at the time.

In the decades since desegregation, the continued involvement of white supremacists in the US government has been an open secret. When these ties erupt in a scandal, it is quickly buried by the news media and hushed up by Democrats and Republicans alike.

The author also recommends:

The Republican Party and racism
[24 December 2002]

Networks fail to report Republican ties to racist groups
[1 January 1999]

Israel Bombing Elementary Schools Not Considered War Crimes, “Collateral Damage” according to UN Commissioned Task Force

By Sydney Barakat
June 22, 2015
The Anti Media, June, 16 2015

 

Image from: worldbulletin

The High Level International Military Group—a UN-commissioned group made up of 11 former chiefs of staff, generals, senior officers, and political leaders from the U.S., Germany, Spain, Holland, the U.K., Italy, Australia, and Colombia—dismissed all charges and allegations of Israel’s war crimes after investigating last summer’s attack on Gaza.

The report was issued on Saturday following the group’s five-day trip to the region in March. It ultimately claims that Israel acted responsibly and with much restraint when the IDF bombarded Gaza last summer during what is known as “Operation Protective Edge.” The report even refers to the attack as “legitimate.”

An excerpt from the report states the following:

“We were well aware of the allegations made by some governments, the United Nations, human rights groups and the media, that Israel acted outside the laws of armed conflict in Gaza. Some have suggested that the IDF lacked restraint or even deliberately targeted innocent civilians.”

Nevertheless, the investigators drew the following conclusion:

We examined the circumstances that led to the tragic conflict last summer and are in no doubt that this was not a war that Israel wanted. In reality Israel sought to avoid the conflict and exercised great restraint over a period of months before the war when its citizens were targeted by sporadic rocket attacks from Gaza. Once the war had begun, Israel made repeated efforts to terminate the fighting. The war that Israel was eventually compelled to fight against Hamas and other Gaza extremists was a legitimate war, necessary to defend its citizens and its territory against sustained attack from beyond its borders.

The report appears to be nothing close to the results of a “fact-finding mission,” as was claimed, but rather a written defense of the Israeli government.

It also claims:

“But none of us is aware of any army that takes such extensive measures as did the IDF last summer to protect the lives of the civilian population in such circumstances.”

Those extensive measures included killing 2,191 Palestinians, 519 of whom were children, injuring 11,231 Palestinians, damaging 61,800 Palestinian homes, displacing 108,000 Palestinians, damaging 220 Palestinian schools, 278 worship centers, and 62 hospitals, and overall costing a total of $7.8 million in damages.

The report gets worse:

“The measures taken were often far in excess of the requirements of the Geneva Conventions.”

If that is the case, then maybe we should revise the Geneva Conventions! But wait, they’re not finished yet:

“We understand that over 2,000 people died in Gaza during the conflict. In a population of approximately 1.8 million, over a 50-day period many would have died of causes unrelated to the fighting.”

This is tantamount to saying, “Eh, well, they would’ve died anyway. So who cares?

Furthermore, the report went on to say that that the members of the group are in agreement “on the record,”with U.S. Army General Martin Dempsey, who said last November that “Israel went to extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage and civilian casualties.”

By far, one of the most blatant statements that points out the biased nature of the report is the closing statement. It reads:

“The project was sponsored by the Friends of Israel Initiative.”

Overall, it is hard to find this report entirely “factual,” as it has been called by its commissioners. How can an investigation of a war that lasted 50 days be carried properly in a matter of only five days? Furthermore, how can they reduce the value of over 2,000 lives and treat those lives as if they were merely collateral damage, and that such a loss was to be expected anyhow? To say the least, this letter should be considered nothing more than a distastefully written doctrine of Israeli superiority and righteousness, bigotry toward Palestinians, and a testimony of utter disregard for human life. It is nothing short of appalling that it is being passed off as a formal, investigative report.

 

Author: Sydney Barakat

My interests include everything from writing, journalism, and art to politics, economics, and social matters, with an emphasis on Middle Eastern affairs. Currently, I am on the path of pursuing several degrees, including a doctoral, in my field of study – English literature and writing.

By Definition, An Aggressor Cannot Act in Defense

By Robert Barsocchini
June 18, 2015
Washington’s Blog

 

The statement that Israel has the right to defend itself against Palestine is similar to the statement that if, say, the US annexed, occupied, and started building illegal settlements in Cuba (the parts the US isn’t already illegally occupying and using as a torture camp, Guantanamo), then the US would have the right to “defend” itself against Cubans acting in retaliation to US aggression.

Everyone aside from blind fundamentalists and/or the hopelessly corrupt would laugh at the notion that in such a situation, US action against resistant Cubans would be “defense”.  Likewise, the world laughs at the idea that Israel can “defend” itself against the vastly more outgunned Palestinians resisting Israeli aggression.

International law reflects the common sense dynamics of this situation, which any child could easily understand and naturally grasp.
Georgetown International Law professor Noura Erakat explains the relevant rules:

…where an occupation already is in place, the right to initiate militarized force in response to an armed attack, as opposed to police force to restore order, is not a remedy available to the occupying state.

the right of self-defense in international law is, by definition since 1967, not available to Israel with respect to its dealings with real or perceived threats emanating from the West Bank and Gaza Strip population.

An occupying power cannot justify military force as self-defense in territory for which it is responsible as the occupant.

However, people-groups exploiting weaker groups try to deny elementary common sense and rewrite rules to defend what they are doing, and/or make themselves feel better about their awful acts.  For example, the Spanish inquisition made little rules for itself regarding its torture subjects, such as that they were not supposed to bleed.  Thus, the Inquisition, instead of say using thumbscrews (a Euro favorite), would burn people alive, as this, they ludicrously argued, did not make people bleed and thus made the Inquisition perpetrators moral and law-abiding, at least in their warped and self-serving minds.  (Also, they would make people bleed through various torture methods, anyway, and just ignore their own rules.)

Naturally, this is what Israel, the US, and all corrupt, nasty power-centers do.  Erakat explains how Israel plays these games with International Law:

[Israel tries to get around International Law by saying it does] not occupy [the Palestinian territories] within the meaning of international law. The UN Security Council, the International Court of Justice, the UN General Assembly, as well as the Israeli High Court of Justice have roundly rejected the Israeli government’s position. 

In its 2012 session, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination described current conditions following decades of occupation and attendant repression as tantamount to Apartheid.

[The International Court of Justice rules that “Article 51 of the Charter [the right to self defense] has no relevance” to Israel’s assaults and massacres against the territories it illegally occupies and colonizes.]

…Israel is distorting/reinterpreting international law to justify its use of militarized force in order to protect its colonial authority…

In doing this, Israel:

…forces the people of the Gaza Strip to face one of the most powerful militaries in the world without the benefit either of its own military, or of any realistic means to acquire the means todefend itself.

If Israel were concerned about small matters like honor, it would help or allow Gazans to acquire guided weapons for self-defense.  However, the Israeli state prefers to use its civilian population as a human shield (a tactic constantly used by Israel) to absorb the few unguided rockets that make it into populated Israeli areas, rather than have guided rockets hit designated Israeli military installations, which are enmeshed throughout Israeli civilian society.

Erakat concludes that, since the Israeli state’s behavior is an “affront to the international humanitarian legal order”, “the onus to resist this shift and to preserve protection for civilians rests upon the shoulders of citizens, organizations, and mass movements who can influence their governments enforce international law. There is no alternative to political mobilization to shape state behavior.”

… 

The next question is whether the Palestinians have the right to use arms to resist illegal Israeli occupation, annexation, settlement, and aggression.

If we return to our US-occupying-Cuba metaphor, the common sense/fairness answer is obviously yes, of course.  And again, the only reason many US citizens do not answer yes immediately to the question of whether Palestinians are allowed to use force to defend themselves against Israel’s armed aggression is that US citizens utterly lack exposure to information representative of common sense and world opinion.  What they are exposed to represents opinion and “reporting” heavily biased in favor of the US-backed aggressors, in ways that range from obvious to subtle and subconscious, from natural ethnocentrism to intentional insidiousness.

But again, international law, when we look at it, represents the common-sense interpretation of the situation at which any child would arrive.

Middle East scholars LeVine and Hajjar explain that Palestinians are not prohibited:

…from taking up arms to resist occupation.

Additional Protocol I established people’s right to use armed force to resist foreign occupation as well as colonial domination and to fight against racist regimes in the exercise of their right of self-determination. This Protocol was promulgated for the purpose of injecting IHL standards into asymmetric wars (between states and non-state groups).

Israel has refused to sign this Protocol (as has the US) and does not recognise the right of non-state groups to fight for those specified causes, even if they were to abide by the laws of war. Nevertheless, the lawfulness of the use of armed force is not contingent on the status of the adversaries but rather on whether those who fight do so in accordance with the principles of IHL (International Humanitarian Law) enumerated above [and, as Dr. Norman Finkelstein and others note, on whether a group under attack has the option or ability to retaliate within the technical bounds of IHL – ie, do Palestinians have guided, and thus legal, projectiles to use as a deterrent?  They do not.  Do they therefore lack the right to retaliate in the most effective ways they can?].

Further, as I have noted, the mostly symbolic and ineffective Palestinian projectile attacks – which have killed about 30 people in their entire history – are not only launched under illegal Israeli occupation, but also mainly “in retaliation for prior indiscriminate Israeli killings of Gazan civilians“, doubling both the illegality of Israeli action and the right to self defense of the Palestinians.

Examples of Israeli double-war crimes (occupation combined with further military assault/aggression) that have elicited defensive retaliation from Palestine include:

…the November 5 [2012] killing of a 23-year-old mentally disabled man who strayed too close to the border fence, and at least one boy killed while playing football five days later. Two other Palestinians who rushed to the latter scene to help the victims were themselves immediately killed by three more shells fired by Israeli forces [in 2012, and similar attacks by the Israeli occupier in 2014 that spurred retaliatory rocket firing, as Israel concedes.]

[In 2012, for example, Israeli] attacks prompted a retaliatory strike by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which launched an anti-tank missile at an army jeep near the border, wounding four soldiers. That attack by a group not under the operational control of Hamas in turn triggered the targeting of Jabari and the all-out assault on Gaza by Israel.

The second factor that undercuts the self-defence rationale is that Jabari was involved in negotiating an Egyptian-brokered comprehensive, long-term cease-fire with Israel when he was assassinated. In a November 17 New York Times op-ed, Israeli academic Gershon Baskin (who was a mediator in these negotiations) declared that Jabari had been given a near-final version of the agreement hours before he was killed.

the immediate causes of the most violent wave of rocket fire were precisely the indiscriminate killings of Palestinian civilians by Israeli forces and the assassination of the official who was engaged in negotiations to permanently curtail such rocket attacks. Moreover, Israeli officials had to know and anticipate that killing Jabari would precipitate a violent Palestinian response, raising serious questions about their moral and political responsibility for the ensuing violence.

The circumstances noted above are exactly similar to Israel’s 2014 massacre in Israeli-occupied Gaza, which began with Israeli killings of Gazans, including killing children on video, against the background of an imminent agreement between Hamas and the West Bank leadership, with US and EU approval.  This enraged Israel due to the prospect of another “Palestinian peace offensive”, which might mitigate Israel’s ability to continue illegally colonizing territory outside its legal and internationally recognized borders.

Indeed, Israel’s assaults on occupied refugee camps such as Gaza, “must be judged against a reality which, although vehemently rejected by Israeli officials … enjoys an overwhelming international consensus: Namely, that the entirety of the territories captured by Israel in 1967 remain occupied according to international law.”

The professors sum up:

Put simply, an occupying state has no legal right to wage a full-scale military war against an occupied population. Rather, the occupying state is legally obligated to protect the rights and prioritise the interests of this population, something Israel has manifestly not done in any part of the Occupied Territories.

The occupying power has rights, too, including the right to maintain order and to take steps to ensure for its own security. But in a context of occupation, these options are limited to police actions and at most use of small arms to address an immediate threat, not full-scale war.

Israel practices “continual deployment of large-scale, indiscriminate force against people and space of Gaza – and, equally important, the West Bank as well…”

These acts constitute “not merely the context for war crimes but for crimes against humanity and, because of their clearly aggressive nature, a crime against peace.”

Like all aggressive criminal actors, Israel would prefer to meet no resistance, and thus naturally insists that the Palestinians do not have “any right to use force, even in self-defence”.  Such desperate claims give “important insight into how Israel interprets the law to project the legality of policies and practices it wishes to pursue.”

Recognized as the most important and authoritative moral voice on the issue of resistance to tyranny, Mahatma Gandhi spoke specifically on the issue of Israeli tyranny against Palestine, and said,

[Israelis] can settle in Palestine only by the goodwill of the Arabs … nothing can be said against the Arab resistance in the face of overwhelming odds.

@_DirtyTruths

Author focuses on international force dynamics and writes professionally for the film industry.

Also see: The Hateful Likud [Israeli ruling organization] Charter Calls for the Destruction of Any Palestine State

Israel’s Race to Economic and Moral Bankruptcy

By Jonathan Cook
June 17, 2015
Jonathan Cook’s Blog

 

israel-drapeauTwo recent reports suggest that Israel could face catastrophic consequences if it fails to end the mistreatment of Palestinians under its rule, whether in the occupied territories or in Israel itself.

The Rand Corporation’s research shows that Israel could lose $250 billion over the next decade if it fails to make peace with the Palestinians and violence escalates. Ending the occupation, on the other hand, could bring a dividend of more than $120 billion to the nation’s coffers.

Meanwhile, the Israeli finance ministry predicts an even more dismal future unless Israel reinvents itself. It is likely to be bankrupt within a few decades, the finance ministry report says, because of the rapid growth of two groups who are not productive.

By 2059, half the population will be either ultra-Orthodox Jews, who prefer prayer to work, or members of Israel’s Palestinian minority, most of whom are failed by their separate education system and then excluded from much of the economy.

Both reports should be generating a tidal wave of concern in Israel but have caused barely a ripple. The status quo – of occupation and endemic racism – still seems preferable to most Israelis.

The explanation requires a much deeper analysis than either the Rand Corporation or Israel’s finance ministry appears capable of.

The finance ministry report points out that with a growing population not properly prepared for a modern, global economy, the tax burden is falling increasingly heavily on a shrinking middle class.

The fear is that this will rapidly create a vicious cycle. Wealthier Israelis tend to have second passports. Overwhelmed by the need to make up the revenue shortfall, they will leave, plunging Israel into irreversible debt.

Despite this doomsday scenario, Israel seems far from ready to undertake the urgent restructuring needed to salvage its economy. Zionism, Israel’s official ideology, is predicated on core principles of ethnic separation, Judaisation of territory and Hebrew labour. It has always depended on the marginalisation at best, exclusion at worst, of non-Jews.

Any effort to dismantle the scaffolding of a Jewish state would create a political crisis. Reforms may happen, but they are likely to take place too slowly and incrementally to make much difference.

The Rand report also raises the alarm. It notes that both peoples would benefit from peace, though the incentive is stronger for Palestinians. Integration into the Middle East would see average wages rise by only 5 per cent for Israelis, compared to 36 per cent for Palestinians.

But, while its economists may have found it easy to quantify the benefits of ending the occupation, it is much harder to assess the costs in shekels and dollars.

Over the past six decades, an economic elite has emerged in Israel whose prestige, power and wealth depends on the occupation. Career military officers earn large salaries and retire in their early forties on generous pensions. Nowadays many of these officers live in the settlements.

The army top brass are the ultimate pressure group and will not release their grip on the occupied territories without a fight, one they are well placed to win.

Backing them will be those in the hi-tech sector who have become the engine of the Israeli economy. Many are former soldiers who realised the occupied territories were the ideal laboratory for developing and testing military hardware and software.

Israel’s excellence in weaponry, surveillance systems, containment strategies, biometric data collection, crowd control, and psychological warfare are all marketable. Israeli know-how has become indispensible to the global appetite for “homeland security”.

That expertise was on show this month at a Tel Aviv armaments expo that attracted thousands of security officials from around the world, drawn by the selling point that the systems on offer were “combat proven”.

To end the occupation would be to sacrifice all this and revert to the status of a tiny anonymous state with no resources or notable exports.

And finally the settlers are among the most ideologically committed and entitled sector of Israel’s population. Were they moved out, they would bring their group cohesion and profound resentments back into Israel.

No Israeli leader wants to unleash a civil war that could rip apart the already-fragile sense of unity among the Jewish population.

The reality is that most Israelis’ perception of their national interests, both as a Jewish state and as military superpower, are intimately tied to a permanent occupation and the exclusion of Israel’s Palestinian minority from true citizenship.

If there is a conclusion to be drawn from these two reports it may be a pessimistic one.

Israel’s internal economy is likely to grow gradually weaker, as the ultra-Orthodox and Palestinian labour forces are under-utilised. As a result, the focus of Israel’s economic interests and activity is likely to shift even more towards the occupied territories.

Far from Israelis rethinking their oppressive policies towards the Palestinians, the ideological blinkers imposed by Zionism could push them to pursue the benefits of the occupation even more aggressively.

If the watching world really wants peace, economic wishful thinking will not suffice. It is past the time simply for carrots. Sticks are needed too.

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website iswww.jonathan-cook.net.

A version of this article first appeared in the National, Abu Dhabi.