Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Holocaust

By Dahlia Wasfi

December 31, 2008 "Information Clearinghouse" -- --Holocaust denial is anti-Semitic. But I’m not talking about World War II, Mahmoud Ahmedinijad, or Ashkenazi Jews. What I’m referring to is the holocaust we are all witnessing and responsible for in Gaza today and in Palestine over the last 60 years. By definition, a holocaust is a mass slaughter of people or a thorough destruction involving extensive loss of life, especially through fire. There isn’t a more accurate description of the hell that US-armed and –funded Israeli Occupation Forces are unleashing on the people of Gaza at this moment. Since Arabs are Semites, US-Israeli policy doesn’t get more anti-Semitic than this.

If you think I’m being grandiose, let us look at the words of Matan Vilnai, Israel’s Deputy Defense [sic] Minister, from February of this year: "The more Qassam [rocket] fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, they will bring upon themselves a bigger shoah because we will use all our might to defend ourselves.” In Hebrew, “shoah” refers to the Jewish Holocaust of the 1940's. But massive airstrikes are not self-defense if you are the aggressor. That goes for the whole stupid so-called “War on Terror,” in which not a single one of its victims had anything to do with the events of September 11, 2001. That goes for the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan; that goes for Israel in Palestine.

And that goes for Germany in Poland. In 1940, the Germans began massing Polish Jews into ghettoes prior to their deportation to extermination camps. The largest one was the Warsaw Ghetto, where an uprising—a Jewish insurgency—began in 1943. Today, Gaza is essentially a large ghetto, with a population of around 1.5 million living on about 139 square miles. Israel controls Gaza’s land border, airspace, water, maritime access, and the flow of goods including food and medical supplies. Since June 2007, Israel has imposed a blockade on the people of Gaza, slowly starving them to death, slowly killing them by denial of medical care amidst intermittent gunship airstrikes. These crimes against humanity are, of course, in violation of the Geneva Conventions—international law established after World War II in the spirit of “never again.” Unlike in Warsaw, Gaza is not the staging area for the extermination camps; Gaza IS the extermination camp.

Qassam rockets fired from Gaza as retaliation for Israeli F-16 airstrikes are the equivalent of the Molotov cocktails used by the resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943. Like the small arms of the Polish Jews, they are no match for the sophisticated weaponry of the invading army. This is why the death toll is so high for the people on the ground in Gaza, and minimal for Israelis. The mainstream media is depicting this as an “all-out war,” as it depicts the illegal occupation of Iraq. But in both cases, you have a starving, essentially unarmed people being assaulted with F-15s/F-16s, cruise missiles, depleted uranium, cluster bombs, tanks, and artillery. This is not war; this is mass murder; this is genocide. And it is American military, financial, and political support that makes this bloodletting possible.

From North America to Germany to Cambodia to Rwanda to Palestine to Iraq, mass murder is wrong. When Americans are looking for whom to blame, we cannot blame the victims. Yes, there are many players involved and many governments turning a blind eye to genocide, but don’t we brag about how much better we are than that? Shouldn’t we stop being complicit in these supreme crimes against humanity? All we have to do is abide by our own laws, which include all signed international treaties and agreements. We must end our illegal occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and stop funding and providing armaments for the illegal occupation and stealth of Palestinian land. In the words of Rachel Corrie, a 23 year old American college student who was murdered in Rafah by the Israeli Occupation Forces on March 16, 2003:

“…Just want to write to my Mom and tell her that I'm witnessing this chronic, insidious genocide and I'm really scared, and questioning my fundamental belief in the goodness of human nature. This has to stop. I think it is a good idea for us all to drop everything and devote our lives to making this stop. I don't think it's an extremist thing to do anymore. I still really want to dance around to Pat Benatar and have boyfriends and make comics for my coworkers. But I also want this to stop. Disbelief and horror is what I feel. Disappointment. I am disappointed that this is the base reality of our world and that we, in fact, participate in it. This is not at all what I asked for when I came into this world. This is not at all what the people here asked for when they came into this world…So when I sound crazy, or if the Israeli military should break with their racist tendency not to injure white people, please pin the reason squarely on the fact that I am in the midst of a genocide which I am also indirectly supporting, and for which my government is largely responsible.”

Let us heed her brave wisdom, and end illegal occupation. If we fail to act, then the next time someone flies airplanes into American buildings, let us not ask ignorantly, “Why do they hate us?”

Gaza: the logic of colonial power

As so often, the term 'terrorism' has proved a rhetorical smokescreen under cover of which the strong crush the weak.

By: Nir Rosen
Monday 29 December 2008, 08.00 GMT

I have spent most of the Bush administration's tenure reporting from Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Somalia and other conflicts. I have been published by most major publications. I have been interviewed by most major networks and I have even testified before the senate foreign relations committee. The Bush administration began its tenure with Palestinians being massacred and it ends with Israel committing one of its largest massacres yet in a 60-year history of occupying Palestinian land. Bush's final visit to the country he chose to occupy ended with an educated secular Shiite Iraqi throwing his shoes at him, expressing the feelings of the entire Arab world save its dictators who have imprudently attached themselves to a hated American regime.

Once again, the Israelis bomb the starving and imprisoned population of Gaza. The world watches the plight of 1.5 million Gazans live on TV and online; the western media largely justify the Israeli action. Even some Arab outlets try to equate the Palestinian resistance with the might of the Israeli military machine. And none of this is a surprise. The Israelis just concluded a round-the-world public relations campaign to gather support for their assault, even gaining the collaboration of Arab states like Egypt.

The international community is directly guilty for this latest massacre. Will it remain immune from the wrath of a desperate people? So far, there have been large demonstrations in Lebanon, Yemen, Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Iraq. The people of the Arab world will not forget. The Palestinians will not forget. "All that you have done to our people is registered in our notebooks," as the poet Mahmoud Darwish said.

I have often been asked by policy analysts, policy-makers and those stuck with implementing those policies for my advice on what I think America should do to promote peace or win hearts and minds in the Muslim world. It too often feels futile, because such a revolution in American policy would be required that only a true revolution in the American government could bring about the needed changes. An American journal once asked me to contribute an essay to a discussion on whether terrorism or attacks against civilians could ever be justified. My answer was that an American journal should not be asking whether attacks on civilians can ever be justified. This is a question for the weak, for the Native Americans in the past, for the Jews in Nazi Germany, for the Palestinians today, to ask themselves.

Terrorism is a normative term and not a descriptive concept. An empty word that means everything and nothing, it is used to describe what the Other does, not what we do. The powerful – whether Israel, America, Russia or China – will always describe their victims' struggle as terrorism, but the destruction of Chechnya, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, the slow slaughter of the remaining Palestinians, the American occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan – with the tens of thousands of civilians it has killed … these will never earn the title of terrorism, though civilians were the target and terrorising them was the purpose.

Counterinsurgency, now popular again among in the Pentagon, is another way of saying the suppression of national liberation struggles. Terror and intimidation are as essential to it as is winning hearts and minds.

Normative rules are determined by power relations. Those with power determine what is legal and illegal. They besiege the weak in legal prohibitions to prevent the weak from resisting. For the weak to resist is illegal by definition. Concepts like terrorism are invented and used normatively as if a neutral court had produced them, instead of the oppressors. The danger in this excessive use of legality actually undermines legality, diminishing the credibility of international institutions such as the United Nations. It becomes apparent that the powerful, those who make the rules, insist on legality merely to preserve the power relations that serve them or to maintain their occupation and colonialism.

Attacking civilians is the last, most desperate and basic method of resistance when confronting overwhelming odds and imminent eradication. The Palestinians do not attack Israeli civilians with the expectation that they will destroy Israel. The land of Palestine is being stolen day after day; the Palestinian people is being eradicated day after day. As a result, they respond in whatever way they can to apply pressure on Israel. Colonial powers use civilians strategically, settling them to claim land and dispossess the native population, be they Indians in North America or Palestinians in what is now Israel and the Occupied Territories. When the native population sees that there is an irreversible dynamic that is taking away their land and identity with the support of an overwhelming power, then they are forced to resort to whatever methods of resistance they can.

Not long ago, 19-year-old Qassem al-Mughrabi, a Palestinian man from Jerusalem drove his car into a group of soldiers at an intersection. "The terrorist", as the Israeli newspaper Haaretz called him, was shot and killed. In two separate incidents last July, Palestinians from Jerusalem also used vehicles to attack Israelis. The attackers were not part of an organisation. Although those Palestinian men were also killed, senior Israeli officials called for their homes to be demolished. In a separate incident, Haaretz reported that a Palestinian woman blinded an Israeli soldier in one eye when she threw acid n his face. "The terrorist was arrested by security forces," the paper said. An occupied citizen attacks an occupying soldier, and she is the terrorist?

In September, Bush spoke at the United Nations. No cause could justify the deliberate taking of human life, he said. Yet the US has killed thousands of civilians in airstrikes on populated areas. When you drop bombs on populated areas knowing there will be some "collateral" civilian damage, but accepting it as worth it, then it is deliberate. When you impose sanctions, as the US did on Saddam era Iraq, that kill hundreds of thousands, and then say their deaths were worth it, as secretary of state Albright did, then you are deliberately killing people for a political goal. When you seek to "shock and awe", as president Bush did, when he bombed Iraq, you are engaging in terrorism.

Just as the traditional American cowboy film presented white Americans under siege, with Indians as the aggressors, which was the opposite of reality, so, too, have Palestinians become the aggressors and not the victims. Beginning in 1948, 750,000 Palestinians were deliberately cleansed and expelled from their homes, and hundreds of their villages were destroyed, and their land was settled by colonists, who went on to deny their very existence and wage a 60-year war against the remaining natives and the national liberation movements the Palestinians established around the world. Every day, more of Palestine is stolen, more Palestinians are killed. To call oneself an Israeli Zionist is to engage in the dispossession of entire people. It is not that, qua Palestinians, they have the right to use any means necessary, it is because they are weak. The weak have much less power than the strong, and can do much less damage. The Palestinians would not have ever bombed cafes or used home-made missiles if they had tanks and airplanes. It is only in the current context that their actions are justified, and there are obvious limits.

It is impossible to make a universal ethical claim or establish a Kantian principle justifying any act to resist colonialism or domination by overwhelming power. And there are other questions I have trouble answering. Can an Iraqi be justified in attacking the United States? After all, his country was attacked without provocation, and destroyed, with millions of refugees created, hundreds of thousands of dead. And this, after 12 years of bombings and sanctions, which killed many and destroyed the lives of many others.

I could argue that all Americans are benefiting from their country's exploits without having to pay the price, and that, in today's world, the imperial machine is not merely the military but a military-civilian network. And I could also say that Americans elected the Bush administration twice and elected representatives who did nothing to stop the war, and the American people themselves did nothing. From the perspective of an American, or an Israeli, or other powerful aggressors, if you are strong, everything you do is justifiable, and nothing the weak do is legitimate. It's merely a question of what side you choose: the side of the strong or the side of the weak.

Israel and its allies in the west and in Arab regimes such as Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia have managed to corrupt the PLO leadership, to suborn them with the promise of power at the expense of liberty for their people, creating a first – a liberation movement that collaborated with the occupier. Israeli elections are coming up and, as usual, these elections are accompanied by war to bolster the candidates. You cannot be prime minister of Israel without enough Arab blood on your hands. An Israeli general has threatened to set Gaza back decades, just as they threatened to set Lebanon back decades in 2006. As if strangling Gaza and denying its people fuel, power or food had not set it back decades already.

The democratically elected Hamas government was targeted for destruction from the day it won the elections in 2006. The world told the Palestinians that they cannot have democracy, as if the goal was to radicalise them further and as if that would not have a consequence. Israel claims it is targeting Hamas's military forces. This is not true. It is targeting Palestinian police forces and killing them, including some such as the chief of police, Tawfiq Jaber, who was actually a former Fatah official who stayed on in his post after Hamas took control of Gaza. What will happen to a society with no security forces? What do the Israelis expect to happen when forces more radical than Hamas gain power?

A Zionist Israel is not a viable long-term project and Israeli settlements, land expropriation and separation barriers have long since made a two state solution impossible. There can be only one state in historic Palestine. In coming decades, Israelis will be confronted with two options. Will they peacefully transition towards an equal society, where Palestinians are given the same rights, à la post-apartheid South Africa? Or will they continue to view democracy as a threat? If so, one of the peoples will be forced to leave. Colonialism has only worked when most of the natives have been exterminated. But often, as in occupied Algeria, it is the settlers who flee. Eventually, the Palestinians will not be willing to compromise and seek one state for both people. Does the world want to further radicalise them?

Do not be deceived: the persistence of the Palestine problem is the main motive for every anti-American militant in the Arab world and beyond. But now the Bush administration has added Iraq and Afghanistan as additional grievances. America has lost its influence on the Arab masses, even if it can still apply pressure on Arab regimes. But reformists and elites in the Arab world want nothing to do with America.

A failed American administration departs, the promise of a Palestinian state a lie, as more Palestinians are murdered. A new president comes to power, but the people of the Middle East have too much bitter experience of US administrations to have any hope for change. President-elect Obama, Vice President-elect Biden and incoming secretary of state Hillary Clinton have not demonstrated that their view of the Middle East is at all different from previous administrations. As the world prepares to celebrate a new year, how long before it is once again made to feel the pain of those whose oppression it either ignores or supports?

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

George Washington's warnings and U.S. policy towards Israel

By: Glenn Greenwald
Tuesday Dec. 30, 2008 05:33 EST

University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes -- July 1, 2008:

A new poll of 18 countries finds that in 14 of them people mostly say their government should not take sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Just three countries favor taking the Palestinian side (Egypt, Iran, and Turkey) and one is divided (India). No country favors taking Israel's side, including the United States, where 71 percent favor taking neither side.

CQ Politics, yesterday:

Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle rallied to Israel’s cause Monday as it pressed forward with large-scale air attacks against Islamic militants in the Gaza Strip. . . .

“I strongly support Israel’s right to defend its citizens against rocket and mortar attacks from Hamas-controlled Gaza, which have killed and injured Israeli citizens, and to restore security to its residents,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid , D-Nev. . . .

His view was echoed by leaders of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“Israel has a right, indeed a duty, to defend itself in response to the hundreds of rockets and mortars fired from Gaza over the past week,” Howard L. Berman , D-Calif., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, the ranking Republican on the House committee, also expressed support for the Israeli offensive. . . .

The White House on Monday also took Israel’s side in the fighting, demanding that Hamas halt its rocket fire into Israel and agree to a last ceasefire.

Earlier this week, Nancy Pelosi issued an identical statement, and yesterday Democratic House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer did the same.

There sure is a lot of agreeing going on -- one might describe it as "absolute." The degree of mandated orthodoxy on the Israel question among America's political elites is so great that if one took the statements on Gaza from George Bush, Pelosi, Hoyer, Berman, Ros-Lehtinen, and randomly chosen Bill Kristol-acolytes and redacted their names, it would be impossible to know which statements came from whom. They're all identical: what Israel does is absolutely right. The U.S. must fully and unconditionally support Israel. Israel does not merit an iota of criticism for what it is doing. It bears none of the blame for this conflict. No questioning even of the wisdom of its decisions -- let alone the justifiability -- is uttered. No deviation from that script takes place.

By itself, the degree of full-fledged, absolute agreement -- down to the syllable -- among America's political leaders is striking, even when one acknowledges the constant convergence between the leadership of both parties. But it becomes even more striking in light of the bizarre fact that the consensus view -- that America must unquestioningly stand on Israel's side and support it, not just in this conflict but in all of Israel's various wars -- is a view which 7 out of 10 Americans reject. Conversely, the view which 70% of Americans embrace -- that the U.S. should be neutral and even-handed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict generally -- is one that no mainstream politician would dare express.

In a democracy, one could expect that politicians would be afraid to express a view that 70% of the citizens oppose. Yet here we have the exact opposite situation: no mainstream politician would dare express the view that 70% of Americans support; instead, the universal piety is the one that only a small minority accept. Isn't that fairly compelling evidence of the complete disconnect between our political elites and the people they purportedly represent?

There is, of course, other evidence for that proposition: the fact that overwhelming majorities of Americans have long wanted to withdraw from Iraq was completely dismissed and ignored by our bipartisan political class, which continued to fund the war indefinitely and with no conditions. But at least there, Democratic leaders paid lip service to the idea that they agreed with that position and some Democrats went beyond rhetoric and actually tried to stop or at least limit the war. But in the case of Israel, not even that symbolic nod to American public opinion occurs among the political leadership.

The other striking aspect of this lockstep American consensus is that the Gaza situation is very complex, and a wide range of opinions fall within the realm of what is reasonable. Even many who believe that Israel's attack is morally and legally justifiable as a response to Hamas rockets and who generally side with Israel -- such as J Street -- nonetheless oppose this attack on strictly pragmatic grounds: that it won't achieve anything positive, that it will exacerbate the problem, that it makes less likely a diplomatic resolution, that there is no military solution to the rocket attacks. Others condemn Hamas rocket attacks but also condemn the devastating Israeli blockade and expanding settlements. Others still who may be supportive of Israel's right to attack at least express horror over the level of Palestinian suffering and urge greater restraint.

Anyone minimally objective and well-intentioned finds Hamas rocket attacks on random Israeli civilians to be highly objectionable and wrong, but even among those who do, one finds a wide range of views regarding the Israeli offensive. But not among America's political leadership. There, one finds total, lockstep uniformity almost more unyielding than what one finds among Israeli leaders themselves -- as though Israel's wars are, by definition, America's wars; its enemies are our enemies; its disputes and conflicts and interests are, inherently, ours; and America's only duty when Israel fights is to support it uncritically.

* * * * *

All of that underscores one vital point I want to emphasize with regard to the commentary I've written on Israel and Gaza the last couple of days. Yesterday, George Mason Law Professor David Bernstein wrote another thoroughly childish response to something I wrote, and it merits very little attention [he continues to insist that I let him pay for me to vacation in Sderot so that I will see the light on the justifiability of Israel's assault on Gaza, which is exactly the same type of "argument" as if I offered to sponsor an online fundraiser to pay for him and his family tomorrow to travel to and vacation in Gaza City so he can blog from there about how restrained and justified and necessary the Israeli strikes and blockade are, which -- one would have thought (wrongly) -- anyone above the age of 12 would recognize as a juvenile and emotionally manipulative means of argumentation].

Bernstein's mentality is echoed by The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg, who defends Israel's actions by approvingly quoting Barack Obama's statement that "If someone was sending rockets on my house where my daughters were sleeping at night, I would do everything to stop it, and I would expect Israelis to do the same thing." But that mindset justifies any and all actions by any group with a legitimate grievance, as in: "if my family and I were forced to live under a 4-decade foreign occupation and had our land blockaded and were not allowed to exit and my children couldn't access basic nutrition or medical treatment, I would do everything to stop it, and I would expect Palestinians to do the same thing." That happens also to be the same mentality that was used to justify the 9/11 attacks ("if my family and I were forced to live in a region in which a foreign superpower dominated our politics and propped up brutal dictators for its own ends, I would do everything to stop it, and I would expect Muslims to do the same thing").

But -- just like those who insist that American Torture is different because American leaders use it for noble ends -- this is nothing more elevated than an adolescent refusal to view the world through any prism other than complete self-centeredness, where one's own side merits infinite empathy and the "other side" merits none. When it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute -- like most intractable, bloody, hate-driven, decades-long wars -- there is endless blame to go around to countless parties. Commentary which fails to recognize that, or, worse, which insists it's not true, is almost certainly the by-product of this blind self-regard.

* * * * *

The real point here is that none of these intractable disputes between Israel and its various neighbors should be a focal point of American policy at all. Yet the above-documented orthodoxy has ensured that it is. And -- at least in the U.S. -- that is the real issue, the reason why the Israeli attack merits so much discussion in the U.S. even among those who would just as soon refrain from having any involvement. In his reply yesterday, Bernstein wrote:

I find it rather amusing that Greenwald refers to me as an "Israel-obsessive." I blog a fair amount about Israel, not least because I'm there twice a year and my wife is Israeli. Greenwald, meanwhile, blogs far more about Israel, without similar ties. What does that make him?

Bernstein obviously has absolutely no idea what "ties" to Israel I do or don't have; he simply fabricated that claim. But (other than for those interested in Bernstein's honesty -- and I'm not one of them), that point is entirely irrelevant. The reason Americans need to be interested in what Israel does is obvious, and it has nothing to do with one's "ties" to that country.

As I wrote on Saturday regarding Israel's varied wars, walls and blockades: "since we fund a huge bulk of it and supply the weapons used for much of it and use our veto power at the U.N. to enable all of it, we are connected to it -- intimately -- and bear responsibility for all of Israel's various wars, including the current overwhelming assault on Gaza, as much as Israelis themselves." With our bipartisan policy of blind and absolute support for Israel -- not just rhetorical but military and material as well -- our political leadership has inextricably (and foolishly) tied American interests to Israel's interests.

Matt Yglesias made a similar point yesterday:

Jonathan Zasloff offers the futility argument with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:

All those who insist that the United States should “solve” the problem should explain how. And if they can’t do that, then maybe they should take some quiet time.

I think that would be an appealing solution to a lot of people who have no real desire to try to sit in delicate judgment weighing the moral balance between a Hamas movement that seems indifferent to human life, and an Israeli government that’s lashing out brutally as part of a domestic political drama. But as long as Israel is by far the largest recipient of US foreign assistance funds and by an even larger margin the largest per capita recipient of US foreign assistance funds, then I don’t see how “quiet time” is a realistic option.

Americans shouldn't be in the position of endlessly debating Israel's security situation and its endless religious and territorial conflicts with its neighbors. That should be for Israeli citizens to do, not for Americans. But that distinction -- between the U.S. and Israel -- barely exists because our political leaders have all but eliminated it, and have thus imposed on U.S. citizens responsibility for the acts of Israel.

In doing so, they have systematically ignored the unbelievably prescient warnings issued by George Washington in his 1796 Farewell Address, and have thereby provoked exactly the dangers he decried:

Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be, that good policy does not equally enjoin it? . . . . .

In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave.

It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. . . .

So likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification.

It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.

Uncritical support for someone's destructive behavior isn't "friendship"; it is, as Washington said, slavishness, and it does no good either for the party lending the blind support nor the party receiving it. It's hard to overstate the good that would be achieved if the U.S. simply adhered to those basic and self-evidently compelling principles of George Washington, who actually knew a thing or two about the perils of war.

* * * * *

If someone asked me to recommend just one must-read article on the Israeli-Gaza conflict, I would select this column... from yesterday in The Guardian by Israeli-American journalist Nir Rosen. I disagree with several of his points, particularly some of the specific ones about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but his generalized explanation about how the concept of "terrorism" is distorted and exploited by stronger countries can't be emphasized enough.

*UPDATE: To underscore the point: during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war, the Bush administration purposely expedited shipments of bombs to Israel to enable Israel to drop those bombs on Lebanon. We fed Israel the bombs they used on the Lebanese. A similar American action seems to have occurred with regard to the bombs that the Israelis are now dropping on Gaza.

*UPDATE II: Polls taken in the U.S. during the 2006 Israeli incursion into Lebanon bolster the above point regarding American public opinion. A USA Today/Gallup poll (.pdf) asked: "In the current conflict, do you think the United States should take Israel's side, take the side of Hezbollah, or not take either side?" A large majority (65%) answered "neither," while only 31% wanted to take Israel's side.

A Washington Post poll actually found that a plurality of Americans (46%) blamed "both sides equally" (Israel and Hezbollah) for the war and believed (48%) that Israel's claimed "bombing [of] rocket launchers and other Hezbollah targets located in civilian areas" was "not justified." The lockstep, uncritical support for everything Israel does in the political class is completely unrepresentative of American public opinion.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Eyewitness: Chaos in Gaza


A Palestinian girl cries at the site of an Israeli air strike in Rafah

The BBC's Rushdi Aboualouf in the Gaza Strip described the chaos as Israeli warplanes fired missiles at Hamas targets, killing at least 155 Palestinians.

December 27, 2008 -- BBC

Israeli planes are still flying over Gaza and they have just targeted another Hamas [security] compound in the middle of the Gaza Strip, in a place called Khan Younis.

We can see from our office here in Gaza, in the middle of Gaza City, ambulances are still evacuating the injured from buildings and school kids are trying to find secure places.

People who were going to their work were turned back and went home, and most of the residents in Gaza have been ordered by the Ministry of Health to stay indoors.

The mosques in Gaza are calling the people here to go to the hospitals and to donate blood. There is no room in the hospitals as far as we've heard from Hamas sources to treat the people.

No safe places

It's a very bad situation... There were Israeli aeroplanes everywhere, hitting everywhere. You could see smoke from north to south, from west to east. The people are really in a panic. The main object for the people now is to find a secure place to secure their family.

It's hard to find a secure place in Gaza. Gaza has no shelters, it has no safe places. The Hamas security compounds are in the middle of the city - it's not the kind of place where you see compounds outside the cities.

I have witnessed one of the compounds - which is 20m away from my house - I was standing on the balcony and I have seen the Israeli airplanes hitting the place.

Some of my balcony was damaged and my kid was injured and it's a very, very serious situation here in Gaza, the people can't do anything except stay

Bird’s Eye View of the News

Atila Sinke Guimarães
November 17, 2008
Tradition in Action, original HERE...

'HOMOSEXUAL MARRIAGE' & DEMOCRACY – The people of California have already said NO twice to homosexual marriage. Nonetheless, a plot by the heads of the executive and judiciary powers of the State insists on legalizing it. After the first ballot in 2004 when voters upheld the ban on same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court of California overturned that public mandate and ruled that an unnatural liaison between two persons of the same sex should be legal in this State. That decision was made by the Court on May 15 of this year and gave rise to a veritable flood of “legal unions” of this kind. Around 18,000 same-sex couples have “married” in California between June and November.

Frontally opposing the Court decision, on November 4, 2008, once again the electorate of California reaffirmed that marriage should be defined only as the union between a man and a woman. As soon as these results were announced, an orchestrated wave of protests started around the State.

No need to say that the Fourth Power - that is, the media - has given full support to these manifestations. Front page newspaper photos and television broadcasts focus on groups of supporters of same-sex marriage who are demonstrating up and down the State giving the impression there is a popular clamor favoring homosexuality. This is an obvious fabrication. The people of the State have already cast their votes and made their decision.

Entering the performance was Arnold Schwarzenegger, the actor-turned-governor who is championing the anti-democratic protest of the homosexuals. On November 8, 2008, referring to the approval of Proposition 8 banning “gay marriage,” he declared:

"It's unfortunate, obviously, but it's not the end. I think that we will again maybe undo that, if the court is willing to do that, and then move forward from there and again lead in that area."

The pronoun “we” Schwarzenegger used means that the State’s First Power, the executive, will pressure the Second Power, the judiciary, to again undo the will of the people.

This confrontation puts us in an interesting political conjuncture. On one side we have two established powers, the government and the courts, supported by the Fourth Power - the general media - all working together to undo the will of the people, which, according to the democratic saga, is the sovereign voice that decides everything. Clearly, something has gone awry.

Demagogy and oligarchy

When St. Thomas describes the legitimate and illegitimate forms of governments, he lists democracy and its corrupted form, demagogy, as the two types of government by the people. He understands democracy as government by the many turned toward the common good of society. It becomes demagogy when the people - instead of seeking the best interests of society - are turned only toward their own pleasures. In this condition they can easily be fooled and elect a demagogue: one who flatters them, a story-teller, a circus performer, etc.

When the Saint studies the government by the best - aristocracy - he also points out its corrupted form - oligarchy. The latter is understood as government by those who are bad but have the means - force, money or influence - to impose their will and govern.

If we apply these theoretical distinctions to today’s political situation in California, we see that its people, in a moment of self-indulgence, elected a movie actor and body-builder as their governor. His unique public merit was to represent a robot-type terminator in a series of films. With the popularity acquired from playing such an unintelligent role, he was elected the political head of the State. It is quite difficult not to think of St. Thomas' designation of a demagogue.

But the indirect democracy in which we live has also some characteristics of an aristocracy. Supposedly only the best are chosen to the House of Representatives and the Senate; supposedly only the best are named judges in Courts of Law. When those men, however, use their delegated powers to promote what is against nature, against the common good and against the expressed will of the people, they become an oppressive oligarchy. Adding to the picture the power of the media - which does all it can to induce the people to follow its leftist agenda – only reinforces a situation of abuse of authority.

The dusk of democracy

After the Muslim riots in Paris in 2006, social scholars and political analysts here and there began to point to the virtual end of democracy in the West. Their reasoning is simple: When, following the coherence of its own principles, a regime assimilates into its bosom a negative force turned toward its destruction, its death is near.

In fact, the excessively liberal immigration laws of many European countries like France give any Muslim born within their borders the status of citizen. Then, so that the parents can raise their child, the father and mother can become citizens. So also the grandparents. Today many countries of Western Europe already have millions of Muslims who cannot be put out. Europe swallowed the force that will destroy it.

The 2006 riots in Paris constituted a landmark test to check the extent of Muslim strength. There have been others such as the world wide protests against a Danish cartoon portraying Mahomet, the general indignation shown over a few lines of Benedict XVI's Regensberg address interpreted as offensive to Islam.

In the United States the problem is not primarily immigration, in my opinion. The Latino immigration is mostly beneficial, turned not toward the destruction of the US, but to its growth. It brings a new blood full of vitality and a more Catholic approach to life to a Protestant-minded United States.

The factor that is producing the destruction of the US is its moral tolerance: free-love, contraception, abortion, divorce, euthanasia, homosexuality, etc. It is these moral aberrations which, like AIDS, are destroying the immune system of the country and setting the US on its pathway to death.

The recent issue of “homosexual marriage” and the positions taken by the executive and judiciary powers of the State of California seem to confirm that we are living in the last days of Pompeii.


Two points which the author makes in this piece are particularly noteworthy in my opinion. First, homosexual "unions" are contrary to the natural law. Second, such "unions" are not in the interest of the common good irrespective of whether they are desired by the individuals involved. Legitimate forms of government must be dedicated to insuring the genuine interest of the common good rather than a select group of individuals since government exists to assure that the Divine Will as codified in the Natural Law is carried out by the responsible social agents--in a representative democratic republic, the legislature, judiciary and executive.

Any government which--in the name of personal freedom--enacts into positive law that which is contrary to the natural law and the common good is illegitimate by definition. Such "laws" can never be sustained since they directly contribute to the disintegration of society. Any government which attempts to enshrine them will disintegrate sooner rather than later. History demonstrates that moral degradation always precedes disintegration of the governing system--hence the author's reference to Pompeii.

--Dr. J. P. Hubert