From Africa to Europe to the Middle East to Latin America, the unspoken macro trend of U.S. intervention abroad is society destruction. Look, for example, forward and backward from the last manufactured crises geared to enable US-led ruin of another society – the “weapons of mass destruction of Iraq”, the “genocidal plans of the dictator Gadaffi”, “Assad’s chemical weapons used on his own people”, or, across the ocean, Venezuela’s “despotism” which priorizes public education, healthcare and poverty elimination. Always the victim society has far more developed social programs than its neighbours, but this too is taboo to report.
The Generic Deadly Pattern
There is a common pattern of social destruction. It begins with US covert forces sponsoring opposition forces featuring fascist or jihadist insurrectionaries, mounting global media campaigns against the targeted leader, murders committed by covert operatives pretending to be state agents, growing civil division and hate towards civil war, exclusively one-sided reporting of the US point of view, and high moral justifications for what invariably ends in society destruction. These strategic axes for deposing constructed enemies reappear over and over again. Yet no common causal mechanism is spoken of in public, and so another war fable rules the air-waves to grow the failed global system further is as its threat to life on Earth grows ever more undeniable. “Terrorists” is in corollary the hate term for whatever organised force resists, a device also used by the Nazi war machine in Europe, and again in Eastern Ukraine.
US-led mayhem and violence varies widely, but the dots have not yet been joined on what is always achieved beneath the political-ideological shows – the tearing apart and dispossession of one society after another by US-led financial and armed means. Not only is the society decapitated, as in Ukraine to begin the crisis, or Libya or Iraq, or as demanded in Syria. Much more deeply the society’s civil bonds are rent asunder, its productive base is sabotaged, its social life supports are stripped, its government is made permanent debt servant, and its environment and resources hollowed out. Seek exception. There is no evident objective fulfilled except social-system destruction. Yet this reiterated outcome again and again is effectively taboo to observe, as is the unlocking of the society’s natural, human and market resources for new transnational corporate spread and looting. This multiplying global system growth is the only ordering principle in fact at work, and it metastases across regions and borders at every level of life organisation, as I demonstrate in depth across decades in The Cancer Stage of Capitalism/ from Crisis to Cure .
Yet the connections are unspeakable in official culture. Not long after destroying Iraq and Libya on known false pretexts, the US proclaimed again and again that mass-murderous gas used in Syria was by “Assad the war criminal” which went all the way to a White House plan to bomb Syria’s civilian infrastructures to correct the problem, as in Iraq and Libya. Even with Assad’s much trumpeted “war crime”, the truth found by multiple analysis was that “kitchen sarin” manufactured in Turkey and crude-missile lobbed by the al Nusra jihadists allied with the US and funded by Saudi Arabia and Qatar was the source of the gas massacre (as Seymour Hersh finally made public). But neither this fact nor the plan to bomb Syria has disappeared. The mass media including the New York Times continue to broadcast “Assad’s use of chemical weapons against his own people” while erasing Hersh’s research from the record. Disconnected from view at the same time is the reborn plan to bomb Syria so “to stop ISIS” whose creation was itself by the same parties that are now in coalition to bomb it as a mutated asset. Needless to say, it brings the armed forces of the U.S. overt and covert back into territory control by new bombing and war that Obama promised to stop. His quandary has its uses.
The men doing the bombing feel pumped with power, but the underlying logic of destroy to feed on is blinkered out. As General Rick Hillier, commander of Canada’s forces helping to bomb Libya said afterwards: “We did it because we could”. As CIA executive director Buzzy Krongard acknowledges about the permanent US war, but still without the consequence named: “It will be won by forces you do not know about, in actions you will not see, and in ways you may not want to know about”. ISIS is the latest example, financed, armed and orchestrated by covert US-and Gulf state allies to unseat Assad in Syria, it has morphed into a monster still deployed as an asset in the field of universalizing destabilization and war. But against what? Any nation or leader not serving transnational corporate control of resources and markets across borders is always the villain. Anything that stands in the way of further money-sequence system metastasis and growth across nations is the enemy to freedom. As a thought experiment, search for disconfirmation of this diagnosis.
The Ukraine Crisis as a Paradigm Illustration
The Ukraine crisis is like the U.S. script of the Cold War. We may recall here that Russia’s “plot to rule the world” was the bottom line story to explain why war must be made against it. But although the opposite has in fact occurred, Russia is again the villain since the US-led coup’etat in Ukraine has run into major opposition on the ground. Before the coup, as US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland told a business meeting afterwards, $5 billion of public money was invested for regime change. The method was familiar – ever-rising civil destabilization and US alliance with internal extreme-right parties, in this case, parties descended from Ukrainian Nazis supporting Hitler, Pravi (Right) Sektor and Svoboda (“Freedom”). Although Europe was near brokering a peace agreement, Nuland went ahead with the coup hand-picking the prime minister, banker Arseniy Yatsenyuk, and instructing him to consult with Oleh Tyahnybok (whose Nazi salute is well known on the Internet) “at least four times a week”. When reminded of the EU peace talks, she responded in famous leaked reply, “Fuck the EU”.
This US-orchestrated coup occurred after three days of sniper murder and chaos were blamed on the then government to overthrow it, but traced back to the coup alliance. All of this quickly disappeared into the memory hole of media and government reports, as did the words of former “Orange revolutionary” and gas oligarch leader of the Fatherland Party, Yulia Tymoshenko, when she was released from jail for criminal embezzlement of state property. She said: “Take up arms and go and wipe out these damn katsaps” [Russian minority] – - – so that not even scorched earth would be left of Russia.”
The Russian-speaking city of Luhansk was levelled months later by artillery, rockets and air-bombing of civilian centres and water and electricity infrastructures, with 350,000 forced to flee from this city. Yet here too the facts have disappeared down the memory hole, with by September one million people fleeing Eastern Ukraine ignored (figures reported by the UN High Commission for Refugees in September). The refugee figures exceed the ISIS clearances, with ISIS itself linked back to CIA and Gulf-allies backing. Control both sides of the war and all assets become accessible. But an opposite narrative is repeated non-stop to shift the blame. Those who resist are called “terrorists” or “Russia’s aggression”. Reverse projection is the syntax of the story every time.
The Betrayal of Canada’s Peace Tradition
Canada could play key peacemaker here with its federalist and bilingual model of government. Eastern Ukraine’s uprising began in fact with these very goals – return of Russia language rights abolished by the coup, and a federalist system as planned by Ukraine’s formerly governing Party of Regions. But none of this registers to Canada’s political parties, including the NDP’s foreign affairs critic, Paul Dewar. Rather a toxic amnesia of Canada’s historical success with evolving federal government and power sharing to bring culturally and linguistically opposed peoples into productive unity has crossed political parties. Any contribution to resolve Ukraine’s crisis by federalist organization and language rights has been pre-empted by one-sided diversion to “Russia’s aggression” and “Putin’s new Cold War”.
US-led geopolitical strategy directs Kiev, but the profound interests at stake are unnamed. Ukraine is the breadbasket of Europe and its biggest landmass. Public assets are all on the privatization block. Slash-and-burn budgets are set to pay unpayable debts to foreign banks with ample collateral on tap. Ukraine even has large and untapped fracking-gas deposits, and it provides new strategic military control up to Russia’s main border and its colossally rich natural resources on the other side. Once Ukraine is in the EU and NATO, there is no limit to the looting possibilities. Yet all we hear about is the reverse projection of “Russia’s imperial aggression”. With one-way pervasive media abuse, cumulatively destructive sanctions, and arming of the neofascist-led Ukrainian armed forces and Blackwater mercenaries (now surreally renamed ‘Academi’), vast global power and treasure are at stake in the constructed conflict.
Revealing the undertow power at work, Canada’s once-defining “peace mission” has become unspeakable. It is overwhelmed in the flood of corporate media accusations of “Russia the growing threat”, “the source of the rising crisis”, “the out-of-control power that must be stopped”. Few observe the constant operation of reverse blame at work from Iraq to Libya to Syria to Ukraine in one ruinous destabilization to the next. Yet always the US (and now Canada) accuse the Enemy of what it is doing itself as the justification for attacking it . Canada once avoided the worst from Vietnam to Iraq, but its lead parties now bark at Russia instead (which it is worth remembering has already been driven into the ground and a far lower population than Brazil).
What about Russia’s Seizure of Crimea in Violation of International Law?
“Russia’s brutal invasion and seizure of Crimea” is the core charge. Yet Crimea has been an historic Russian port and strategic peninsula for centuries since defeat of the Ottoman Empire there – a war beginning in the late 1500’s. Ukraine’s brief interregnum occurred by 1954 decree by Khrushchev a Ukrainian leading the defunct Soviet Union. This is “the sacred territory” that Harper has sworn will be retaken in pledging “family” loyalty on the September 18 visit of billionaire President Poroshenko to Ottawa. In fact, the Russian soldiers “who poured into Crimea to seize it” were already there and in fewer number than Ukraine-Russia contract allowed. Almost all of the 83% voter turnout elected integration with Russia after the literally fascist-led coup in February, whereas Poroshenko’s post-coup election was by a fraction of Ukraine’s total electorate with most of the Russia-speaking South and the East unable to participate. The October 26 snap parliamentary election continues the slow-motion ethnic cleansing with more than a million fled and organized political opposition banned.
Altogether erased from reports are the facts that the Supreme Council of Crimea referred to the United Nations Charter and “the right of nations to self-determination” (Article 2, Chapter 1), the very right Ukraine invoked in seceding from the USSR in 1991, and the same right invoked for the separation of Kosovo from Serbia. Also erased is the UN International Court ruling in July 2010 that “general international law contains no prohibition on declarations of independence”.
The collapse of Ukraine’s GDP by 60% after 1991 is evidently not enough for the ravenous appetite of US-EU corporate globalization. While mass media and states chorus “Russian brute force” and “what Hitler did back in the 1930’s” (Hilary Clinton), reverse projection is again the syntax of blame. The fire-bombing of the House of Unions in Odessa by regime gangs and again in Mariupol on Victory Day over the Nazis (May 9) were major mass murders never investigated. The atrocity of shooting down a full civilian plane MH17 which followed now increasingly points in evidence towards another Kiev-hatched black op to incite Nato to attack Russia – the constant goal. Already with Nato backing, the Kiev regime has escalated the conflict into war-criminal bombing of resisting Eastern cities and civilian infrastructures with US-selected PM Yatsenyuk shouting “Russia’s war to take Ukraine” throughout. War on civilians and mass murders blamed on the victims are familiar from the Nazi past, but now as then just push the Russia button and all becomes permissible.
Worth Remembering in the War Fever
The sniper murders of 21 people in the Kiev uprising in February 2014 by the Ukraine coup started the war against Eastern Ukraine, formerly the key to electoral power in Kiev. It was rather like Canada making war on Quebec, but so murderous and chaotic that the president ran away. The EU’s Foreign Minister’s recorded conversation with Foreign Minister, Urmas Paet of Estonia, speaks for itself. He reported that all 21 murders were (his words) by “the same type of bullets” and from “the same handwriting” which could only be from “the new coalition which does not want to investigate what happened”. Nor did any Western press.
In fact, such mass murder is grounds for prosecution of war crimes and crimes against humanity under international law and prosecution by the International Court. But due process of law and criminal prosecution do not count except as they serve corporate money sequencing to more, the underlying meta program. Meanwhile war-drums beat against those who draw a line against it. The deprived become the Enemy whenever they fight back.
Beyond amnesia: Who is the lawless aggressor?
Censorship rules by unseen means – selecting out of public view all facts not consistent with the ruling script. More exactly, corporate states and mass media reproduce only what sells the growth of the transnational money-sequence system. This is why we never hear of “lawless US aggression”. Pervasive accusations against resistance to it reverse the blame a-priori. We need to join the dots of what is not reported to comprehend the meaning.
The US has refused to ratify the International Criminal Court to uphold the law against war crimes and crimes against humanity, and it has publicly repudiated the Court’s right to investigate US criminal violations including the “supreme crime” of a war of aggression. While it invokes international laws to blame others of violating them (e.g., Syria’s unproven use of chemical weapons in fact used by jihadist opposition funded by the US and allies), it abhors any life-protective law applied to it. This is why the US has systematically undermined virtually all international laws to protect human life – treaties and conventions against landmines, against biological weapons, against international ballistic missiles, against small arms, against torture, against racism, against arbitrary seizure and imprisonment, against military weather distortions, against biodiversity loss, against climate destabilization, and even international agreements on the rights of children and of women.
As the U.S.-led global corporate system multiplies through life hosts across continents, not even international laws now protect them. It is time Canada awoke to its own historical values and meaning in a world disorder submerged in inanely virulent propaganda.
John McMurtry is an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and his work is published and translated from Latin America to Japan. He is the author and editor of the three-volume Philosophy and World Problems published by UNESCO’s Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS), and his latest book is The Cancer Stage of Capitalism/from Crisis to Cure .
I started working with the University of Toronto Beekeeping Education Enthusiast Society (U of T B.E.E.S.) student club in 2009 when a second year environmental studies student approached me with the idea of hosting honey bee hives on a rooftop at the university’s St. George campus.
The student club is made up of a group of students and community members committed to educating themselves and others about natural beekeeping, pollinators and the production of local honey. The club provides a rare space within Toronto where anyone can participate and learn the skills of natural beekeeping within an urban context.
The Constitution for the club indicates that it shall be the purpose of U of T BEES to allow students an opportunity to learn about the age-old tradition of beekeeping and the role that bees play in sustaining a healthy ecosystem. The club seeks to highlight the importance of urban beekeeping as a means of encouraging the survival of pollinators responsible for the existence of many plants. Urban beekeeping is very much an active way to save the bee population, an activity which is very important as bees are experiencing a decline in numbers due to unsustainable agricultural practices and global climate change. U of T BEES also provides a unique opportunity for students to connect with nature, learn about the process of honey creation and participate in the production of local food.
For me, it is important to connect students to nature and specifically to educate people on where our food actually comes from. In addition, having hives on campus provides an excellent opportunity to further educate the community concerning climate change / global warming and the environmental problems affecting our planet.
Many students are already aware of colony collapse disorder, a condition which killed nearly sixty percent of all honeybee hives in Ontario in 2013.
When we approached the warden of the University of Toronto’s Hart House, she was very enthusiastic about the idea of being the first to host two hives on campus. Full approval was given to the newly-established student club and funding was secured from the University of Toronto Environmental Resource Network. However, two weeks before the hives were to be installed at Hart House, the warden changed her mind and the student club was left without a hosting location!
My task was to secure an alternate location, something I managed to do with the great help of Trinity College’s Bursar. Trinity’s Henderson Tower proved to be a perfect venue for our bees as there is shelter from the wind; moreover, the views for visiting humans are spectacular!
Everything went well as the first two hives for U of T BEES were established. Over the years, the student club has grown to a membership of almost 500 students and now there are additional hive locations at the Faculty Club and the Environmental Sciences building.
Ahead of us lies the enormous challenge of finding solutions to impending cultural shifts. Some of these shifts will include a fundamental repositioning of how food is grown and the strengthening of our local food networks; a radical redesign of our built systems to conserve scarce resources and to increase biodiversity; and, of course, a restructured model of education to prepare the next generation for the great challenges climate change / global warming will bring.
One possible model for such a shift revisits the age-old practice of beekeeping. Most farmers rely on honeybees to pollinate crops but we are experiencing alarming declines in numbers due to a many factors including agricultural monocultures, the loss of native flora, habitat fragmentation, and, most of all, pesticide use. The success of crop pollination services provided by the honeybee will be most influenced by the ability of human societies to embrace efforts to conserve habitat.
A truly sustainable culture is uniquely informed by the local climate, geography and ecosystems that are connected to that culture. In order for us to learn to live in such a way that these natural systems are not further compromised for future generations, we must develop a deep awareness and understanding of these systems and, in particular, how human activities affect them. If you speak to any beekeeper, you will find a deep appreciation for the link between these tiny pollinators and their guardians. In other words, to understand the vast interconnectedness of our living world, we only need to be taught by the honeybees.Working with bees allows for the acquisition of new skills and truly transformational experiences for all who choose to participate.
Here are some astounding facts surrounding the honeybee:
• A hive can contain up to 70,000 bees in midsummer. There is one queen, 250 drones, 20,000 female foragers, 30,000 female house-bees, 5,000 to 7,000 eggs, 7,000-11,000 larvae being fed and 16,000 to 24,000 larvae developing into adults in sealed cells.
• The queen makes a mating flight during her early life during which she stores the sperm from up to twenty drones. Drones that mate with her die in the act. She can store the sperm for up to five years.
• Bees are busy outside of the hive from the onset of warm spring weather until the beginning of autumn. While flowers are in bloom they will collect nectar and turn it into honey, which they store in the hive to live on over the winter months.
• A worker honeybee in summer lives only six to eight weeks from the time she hatches as an adult bee. Before that, it takes just three weeks for her to develop from an egg.
• During the winter the bees rarely leave the hive but cluster together to keep warm. Winter bees live for six months and will occasionally go outside to defecate in order to keep the hive clean.
• Honey in its natural state can be in two physical states, clear (runny) or crystalline (set). When removed from the hive in late summer, it is warm, runny and clear. Once extracted some honey will crystallize (or set) within days, most naturally sets within weeks. There is no nutritional difference between the two.
• Because of its antiseptic properties, during the First World War honey was used to dress soldiers’ wounds. In the SecondWorld War it was used until penicillin became available. Honey is still claimed to be good for treating open sores and ulcers when used in a poultice.
• To collect 450 grams of honey, a bee might have to fly a distance equivalent to twice round the world. This is likely to involve more than 10,000 flower visits on perhaps 500 foraging trips.
• In a single collecting trip, a worker will visit between 50 and 100 flowers and return to the hive carrying over half her weight in pollen and nectar.
• Honey is stored on frames of wax inside the boxes of the hive. It is removed usually just once a year at the end of July and strained and bottled.
• A jar of honey weighs 454 grammes and a bee can carry about 0.04 grammes of nectar. But nectar is only about 40% sugar and honey needs to be about 80% sugar so the bee actually only carries about 0.02 grammes of honey on each trip.
• 22,700 bees are required to fill a single jar of honey. This sounds impressive but of course a colony of bees doesn’t just make one jar of honey. Over the year the queen will produce between 100,000 and 200,000 bees that will each spend between ten and twenty days collecting nectar.
• At its most productive a single colony of bees could produce around 800kg of honey, that’s almost a tonne!
The primary reasons to keep bees are of course honey production, pollination and environmental benefits. Honey may be the oldest sweet around, dating back more than eight thousand years. Bees help pollinate at least thirty percent of the world’s crops. Without these small hard working insects it would be impossible for many of our foods to reach the table. About four thousand bee species pollinate flowers in North America, which means no other pollinator has the degree of positive impact on environmental pollination as the honeybee.
This year U of T BEES has been very active in promoting urban beekeeping by participating in many public events such as farmers markets and hive tours open to any member of the U of T family and the public. The level of student interest is astounding and with it I hope to create a strong base to further the awareness surrounding the alarming rate of colony collapse disorder.
U of T BEES recently has undertaken to supervise a hive-mapping project by six University of Guelph students to map the existing hives within the City of Toronto. The idea is to indicate the clusters of hives and draw a three to five kilometer (as far as the honey bee flies out to collect pollen) circle to identify plant species available to the urban bee population. This will help in promoting more backyard food production and planting of bee friendly plant species.
There are many more plans in the works for 2015, so stay tuned for an update in the following months.
Pieter Basedow is the Chief Apiarist of the University of Toronto BEES
A recent film, The Lab , puts Israel’s weapons industry under the microscope. It can be said that Gaza, under the microscope, is the lab rat of Israel’s military/police complex. Gaza has been called the showcase for Israel’s expertise in asymmetric warfare – warfare that pits military / police / paramilitaries / mercenaries against civilian populations. Gaza is also a microcosm of many forces of global injustice: it is the historical product of settler colonialism and ethnic cleansing, a product of de-peasantization and concentration of displaced and impoverished people in urban slums [and refugee camps] brought on by neo-liberal reorganizing of society, and a victim of sadistic militarism and moral hypocrisy that is dissembled through sophisticated propaganda.
The following report goes into some detail to provide a context for challenging two assumptions: 1. That Israel is a victim, entitled to defend itself by any means against Hamas terrorist attacks aimed at civilians. 2 . That Hamas violates ceasefire agreements, necessitating a full-scale military response.
Recurrent ceasefires and assaults
In a talk on September 5, 2014, Noam Chomsky summarized a fixed pattern over the last decade in which the terms of ceasefire agreements and their aftermath recur over and over again. Israel ignores the terms, commits many acts of repression and violence until their brutality elicits a response from Hamas. Israel then responds with an overwhelming assault, claiming a right to defend itself. The brutal attacks are euphemistically called “mowing the lawn.” A high level American military official, appalled by the savagery against the captive population of Gaza, called it “removing the topsoil.” In November, 2005 and in subsequent agreements, the ceasefire agreements included lifting restrictions on movement and access, allowing a crossing between Gaza and Egypt at the Rafah crossing for the export of goods and transit of people, the reopening of the airport in Gaza, reduction in obstacles to movement in the West Bank, continuous operation of crossings for the import and export of goods and transit for people between Israel and Gaza, a seaport in Gaza, truck and bus convoys between the West Bank and Gaza. Even though Hamas has abided with the ceasefire terms, stopping all rocket attacks, Israel has only tightened its stranglehold.
Israeli attacks on Gaza are ongoing. The IDF has killed on average two children/ week over the last decade. Preceding the large-scale assaults on Gaza, Gazans lived in appalling conditions. Two high-profile political assassinations led to massive popular reactions.
2002 living conditions
The writer Russell Banks visited Gaza as a member of the International Parliament of Writers during Israel’s attack on the Palestinian territories in April 2002. Banks wrote “…descended into Gaza, where we visited the refugee camps, gazed on the violent destruction of whole neighborhoods and villages, witnessed the deliberate, calculated humiliation of the checkpoints, and saw for the first time the appalling scale, the dominance, and encroachment of the Jewish settlements.” 1
1) 2002.assassination of Salah Shehade. “Israeli F-16 warplanes bombed the house of the military commander of Hamas in Gaza City last night, burying him and at least 11 other Palestinians, including seven children, beneath the rubble of a four-storey block of flats, and wounding 120 others.”
2) 2004: Assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, 66, founder and leader of Hamas. “The attack came just a day after Sheik Yassin had outlined, in several well-publicized interviews, conditions under which Hamas might consider a cease-fire. The conditions included an Israeli military pullback and an end to pinpoint killings of militants.” In addition to Sheikh Yassin, 7 Palestinian civilians, including 3 of Sheikh Yassin’s bodyguards, were killed and 17 others injured, including two of Sheikh Yassin’s sons. http://www.nytimes.com/2002/07/24/world/gaza-mourns-bombing-victims-israel-hastens-to-explain.html
In September, 2005, Israel transferred Jewish settlers in Gaza to the West Bank, represented as a peace effort. In reality, “The significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process,” Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s senior adviser Dov Weisglass told Haaretz. “The disengagement is actually formaldehyde,” he said. “It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians.” http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/top-pm-aide-gaza-plan-aims-to-freeze-the-peace-process-1.
The Israelis “left behind a scorched earth, people without present or future, settlements destroyed, Israel continuing to control the territory through its formidable military might” (Chomsky).
In January 2006, in a free and carefully monitored election, Hamas was elected and formed a unity government with Fatah. Canada, Israel, and the U.S. were the first states to withdraw recognition and funding to the unity government. Violent conflict erupted in Gaza between Hamas and Fatah, “but to suggest that Hamas ‘seized power’ – as American Jewish leaders often do – ignores the fact that Hamas’ brutal takeover occurred in response to an attempted Fatah coup backed by the United States and Israel. In the words of David Wurmser, who resigned as Dick Cheney’s Middle East advisor a month after Hamas’ takeover, ‘what happened wasn’t so much a coup by Hamas but an attempted coup by Fatah that was pre-empted before it could happen.’” http://www.haaretz.com/misc/iphone-article/.premium-1.608008
The election of Hamas in 2006 was followed by the siege of Gaza in 2007, and by four major military assaults (2006, 2008-09, 2012, 2014).
2007 – The Siege
Gaza has been called “the largest open-air prison in the world.” Dov Weisglass’ plan to “put Palestinians on a diet” was implemented with the collusion of Israeli physicians who calculated the minimal caloric intake of the young and old, male and female.
The strangulation was imposed 2007, ostensibly in response to the election of Hamas. It was estimated that 85% of Gaza’s 1.5 million people depended on humanitarian aid for securing their basic needs. 80% lived below the poverty line. 70% of infants aged nine months suffered from anemia. 13% to 15% of Gaza’s children were stunted in growth due to malnutrition. Six months before the capture of Cpl. Shalit, Physicians for Human Right-Israel (PHR-I) filed a petition and a request to the Israeli Supreme Court for a temporary injunction to stop the sonic booms, deeming it a collective punishment of the civilian population that particularly traumatized children. The petition was rejected and the sonic booms continued. In the months prior to Cast Lead, Amnesty International Urgent Action reported that Israel barred infants from leaving Gaza for life-saving cardiovascular surgery. About 290 Palestinian patients died after June 2007, unable to leave the Strip due to the closure. Amongst these deaths, 35 percent were children.
The siege has impacted all medical institutions in the Gaza Strip, including hospitals and primary healthcare centers that were unable to meet the needs of the civilian population. Before the 2008 December 27th Cast Lead attack, 105 items of main medical tools and 255 of medical disposables were unavailable or in short supply. As of January 2008, there were no first line pediatric antibiotics available in the Ministry of Health, the majority of diagnostic laboratory equipment was not functioning, 19% of the necessary medicines were unavailable. (WHO data).
There is a fixed pattern to the four major military assaults on Gaza since 2006: the claim by Israel that the attacks are self-defence; destruction of vital infrastructure, including electricity, sewage and sanitation, potable water; attacks on hospitals, ambulances, medics; use of unconventional weapons including DIME (Dense Inert Metal Explosives), white phosphorus, flechette shells; collective punishment with the majority of casualties being civilian; minimal Israeli civilian casualties; destruction of UN schools and mosques; failure of national and international institutions to intervene; Israel’s impunity.
June 28, 2006 Operation Summer Rains
Between June 9, 2006 and the June 26 capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, the Israeli military killed 22 Gazans, 20 of whom were civilians, seven from one family. On the first day of the full military assault, June 28, 2006, Israel bombed the only electrical power station in the Gaza Strip, crippling sanitation and sewage, the availability of potable water, medical services. Targeted were schools, mosques, government buildings, roads and bridges. Stephen Harper called Israel’s 2006 attack on Gaza and Lebanon a “measured response” and Michael Ignatieff said that he did not lose sleep over it.
Dr Mads Gilbert described wounds caused by unconventional weapons: “Large chunks of flesh, of muscles were cut away. We didn’t find any shrapnel and [the wounds] were delivering a strange fume. Gradually, we came to understand these must have been the new DIME ¨[dense inert metal explosives] weapons developed by the US Air Force together with the Israelis,” he said. The month-long attack killed more than 400 Palestinians, primarily civilians.
In 2006, Israel legalized what is illegal under international law: The Principle of Distinction and the Principle of Disproportionality. Gadi Eisenkott, head of the IDF’s Northern Command, describes the Dahiya Doctrine which erases the distinction between civilians and the military: [what] “will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on…. We will apply disproportionate force on it and cause great damage and destruction there. From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages, they are military bases.… This is not a recommendation. This is a plan. And it has been approved.” http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article39460.htm
2008-09: “Cast Lead”
Henry Siegman, former president of the American Jewish Congress, published “Israel’s Lies” in January 2009 London Review of Books at the height of the Cast Lead massacre: “Western governments and most of the Western media have accepted a number of Israeli claims justifying the military assault on Gaza: that Hamas consistently violated the six-month truce that Israel observed and then refused to extend it; that Israel therefore had no choice but to destroy Hamas’s capacity to launch missiles into Israeli towns; that Hamas is a terrorist organisation, part of a global jihadi network; and that Israel has acted not only in its own defence but on behalf of an international struggle by Western democracies against this network. Middle East peacemaking has been smothered in deceptive euphemisms, so let me state bluntly that each of these claims is a lie. Israel, not Hamas, violated the truce: Hamas undertook to stop firing rockets into Israel; in return, Israel was to ease its throttlehold on Gaza. In fact, during the truce, it tightened it further.”
Operation Cast Lead caused over 1400 fatalities, mostly civilian, one-third children. The world again witnessed Israel’s advanced weaponry destroy infrastructure and Israel’s use of unconventional weapons. Dr. Abdel-Rahman Lawendy, an orthopedic surgeon providing emergency care in Gaza during Cast Lead, spoke on a Science for Peace panel in Toronto and showed slides of horrific injuries and of the overall destruction. Physicians for Human Rights/Israel, the ICRC, Red Crescent, and Medical Aid for Palestine reported hospitals without power and without basic equipment. Half the ambulance fleet was non-functioning due to lack of fuel. Israeli helicopters targeted ambulances and killed medics. The Israeli army prevented evacuation of the wounded. Doctors for Peace stated that “Gaza now has no functioning medical system at all. Most of it has no electricity nor running water.”
All of Gaza’s 10,000 smallholder farms were damaged in the 2008-09 onslaught, half a million trees uprooted and more than one million chickens were killed along with sheep, cattle and goats. The Israelis destroyed 60 per cent of the agricultural industry in Gaza, causing $268m in losses.
Canada was the only country on the UN Human Rights Council that rejected the call for a ceasefire. After the hostilities, Israel refused to cooperate with the Goldstone investigation of war crimes and violations of international law, and Canada fully supported Israel’s rejection of the Goldstone report.
2012 Operation Pillar of Cloud
From the Report from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, 21 May 2013, regarding Operation Pillar of Cloud. “…accountability and an effective remedy for violations of international humanitarian and human rights law committed during the crisis remain elusive. Between 14 and 21 November, 2012, over 174 Palestinians were killed in Gaza of whom 101 are believed to have been civilians, including 14 women and 36 children. Another 1,046 Palestinians were injured and 482 houses were destroyed or sustained major damage. Six Israelis, including four civilians, were killed. This brief update raises initial concerns regarding lack of progress towards accountability and access to an effective remedy for victims of violations of international humanitarian law, six months after the end of the escalation of hostilities in Gaza and southern Israel…” http://www.globalprotectioncluster.org/_assets/files/field_protection_clusters/Occupied_Palestinian/files/oPt_PC_Update_Accountability_Reported_IL_Violations_05.2013_EN.pdf
2014 Operation Protective Edge
Between July 8, 2014 and August 11, 2014, Israeli forces killed 2,168 Palestinians, 519 of whom were children. Palestinian resistance forces killed 71 Israelis, one of whom was a child. Approximately 77% of the Palestinians killed during this period were civilians, while approximately 9% of Israelis killed were civilians.
There were massive demonstrations worldwide against Israel. El Salvador, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and Peru recalled their ambassadors from Israel. China suspended free-trade negotiations with Israel. Amnesty International issued a press release on 4 August, 2014, appealing to the U.S. government “to immediately halt the transfer of a US fuel shipment currently on its way to Israel for use by the Israeli military.” The US government continued to supply hundreds of thousands of tons of fuel to Israel, including fuel for fighter jets and military vehicles.
There was extensive reporting, analysis, commentary during the assault. Here is a selection:
Richard Falk , former U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories and Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University, named this 2014 Israeli attack an atrocity, a massacre, a crime against humanity. He stated that the term “warfare” does not apply to Israel’s aggression involving high tech military weaponry used against densely populated civilian neighborhoods, that Israel’s violence cannot be reconciled with the recognized rules of land warfare. He stated that Israel’s mode of attack is an unspeakable departure from what had been anticipated as the baseline of legitimate uses of force for purposes of security and self-defense and needs to be defined as other than warfare. The illegality is compounded because there is no option for civilians to escape, either by crossing borders or by becoming internally displaced into safer enclaves. He stated that the large scale military operation was unjustified from the beginning, that it was orchestrated by Israel after the kidnapping incident on June 12th and Israel’s effort to provoke Hamas by arresting hundreds of people suspected of Hamas connections, using all kinds of coercive tactics on the West Bank, and provoking Hamas’ recourse to rockets. Falk stated that the rockets were the only recourse of resistance for the people in Gaza, and that the rockets were used as Israel’s pretext for launching its massive operation. Israel’s attacks are punitive and used as collective punishment, illegal under Article 33 of the 4th Geneva Convention. With regard to the bombing of hospitals, ambulances, medical personnel, there is an absolute prohibition against targeting any medical facility, especially if marked and known. http://cindysheehanssoapbox.blogspot.ca/2014/07/richard-falk-courageous-peacemaker.html Also http://richardfalk.wordpress.com/?s=Gaza+Operation+Protective+Edge&submit=Search Also http://richardfalk.wordpress.com/?s=Gaza+Operation+Protective+Edge&submit=Search 16 July 2014
Dr. Mona El-Farra is a prominent Palestinian physician living in Gaza. She is the health chair of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society of the Gaza Strip and director of the Gaza projects for the Middle East Children’s Alliance. She was interviewed by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now. “Yeah. It was 2:30 in the morning that day, and the first rocket hit the house. Then the father, who is my second cousin, and the children and the rest of the family were trying to leave the house, got into the street, where the second [inaudible] hit on the side, has hit [inaudible] the house. So, it was not eight; it was nine people who were killed, and many injured. And one of my second cousins, she is very pregnant; she lost her baby in the hospital. The children were in their pajamas. And I don’t think my cousins and their grandchildren were human shields there for Hamas or anybody. For me, I’m very devastated, but my family is no different from any other family [inaudible]. Up to now, at least 60 families have been wiped away completely during those attacks. And [inaudible]…”
Ilan Pappe is a Professor of History and Director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies at the University of Exeter. Pappe called Israel’s plan an “incremental genocide”: “Israel’s present assault on Gaza alas indicates that this policy continues unabated. The term is important since it appropriately locates Israel’s barbaric action — then and now — within a wider historical context. This context should be insisted upon, since the Israeli propaganda machine attempts again and again to narrate its policies as out of context and turns the pretext it found for every new wave of destruction into the main justification for another spree of indiscriminate slaughter in the killing fields of Palestine.” Electronic Intifada. 13 July 2014
Mustafa Barghouti – Palestinian MP, member of the PLO’s Central Council, and General Secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative, addressed Palestine Solidarity Campaign activists in London. He is a medical doctor and was in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge. ”What happened in Gaza, as has happened before in the West Bank is nothing but war crimes and crimes against humanity. What happened was nothing but massacres against the civilian population and Israel couldn’t have done that without a feeling of impunity and without having impunity from international law, and this couldn’t have happened if so many Western world leaders hadn’t been complicit in what happened. When major world leaders come out and speak about the right of Israel to self defence and not a single word about the Palestinian right to self-defence when Palestinians are slaughtered and occupied for 47 years, this is an insult to humanity. And let me tell you frankly, after all these days and all this suffering, I have no patience for diplomatic talk.
“This was intentional bombardment by the Israeli army and navy and air force to destroy whole neighbourhoods.
“Shujaya, which was completely destroyed was not a neighbourhood. It was a town, it was a city, with 150,000 people and it was destroyed, one house after another. Every house, every clinic, every mosque, every building was destroyed. Even a home for people with disabilities was destroyed. The destruction was beyond belief, and it is there for people who want to see.
“They did so many insults to humanity. They talk about warnings by shooting people. They will shoot a small rocket at a house as a warning sign and then shoot a rocket from an F16 and destroy the house. And these small rockets kill people, tens of people.
“How can the world live with that? How can the BBC speak about the Israeli army warning people with rockets and call it a humanity? 461,000 people lost their homes. One woman called me. She was in one of these shelters. She said: ‘At four in the morning they started bombarding us. There was one bomb, then a second bomb, then a third. I woke up, it was dark, I couldn’t find anybody. I started looking for my children, and then I found Mohammed. I put my hand out and he was without his head.’
“He was decapitated. This is what they have done.
“They used 21,000 tonnes of explosives. This is equal to two 1 megaton nuclear bombs. Two nuclear bombs basically were dropped on Gaza.
“They used prohibited weapons. Dime bombs, tungsten, depleted uranium, even bombs that throw nails everywhere, so they kill as many people as possible.
“They destroyed water networks, sewage systems, they attacked and destroyed the only electricity station in Gaza. And they created epidemics
“The devastation is unbelievable. They attacked 36 ambulances, they killed 22 first aid and health providers. They devastated eight hospitals. They killed 18 journalists and attacked seven UNWRA schools. They killed five people in Shifa hospital. Two disabled women were killed in a disabled centre. 450 factories were destroyed. Farms were destroyed. Today there is no meat in Gaza, because all the sheep were killed in the attacks. The soil is so covered in chemicals that it’s not good for human use, for farming. People are not numbers.
“People are human beings. None of you would expect to be treated as a number. You are a human being with a history, with family, with children, with relatives, with a whole life. Every single one of those people who were killed should be recorded and people should know about them.
“They tried to dehumanise us as Palestinians. First they tried to dehumanise Hamas, then all Palestinians. Netanyahu even has the guts to try and compare Hamas with Isis.”
Noura Erakat , human rights attorney and member of the Legal Support Network for the Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Refugee and Residency Rights: “Within two days of Israel’s aerial assault on the population of the Gaza Strip, Hamas announced five conditions for a ceasefire: 1) stop the airstrikes; 2) observe terms of 2012 ceasefire; 3) release the Palestinians released during the Shalit prisoner exchange who were recently re-arrested; 4) lift the siege; and 5) don’t interfere with Palestinian unity government. What little is known about the proposed ceasefire agreement (by Israel, and not delivered directly to Hamas) is that it demands a cessation of violence with no conditions, thus reverting to conditions that are even worse than the status quo ante… By 2020, it is predicted that Gaza’s one source of clean water will be unusable and the World Health Organization says the 150 square mile Strip will be unlivable.” July 15, 2014 IMEU: “FAQ on Failed Effort to Arrange Ceasefire between Israel and Hamas”
Richard Falk comments on the Egypt/Israel ceasefire offer: “The vague terms depicted, alongside the failure to take any account of Hamas’ previously announced conditions, suggest that this initiative was not a serious effort to end the violence, but rather a clever ploy to regain moral credibility for Israel thereby facilitating the continuation and even intensification of its violent military campaign that was never defensive in conception or execution. Rather than being a real effort to end the violence, such a ‘ceasefire’ seems best understood as a sophisticated form of escalation produced by a descent into the lower depths of Israeli hasbara.”
So far this report provides information about Israeli massacres in Gaza during the last decade, the ceasefire agreements, the humanitarian situation. The following sections provide further analysis.
Israel is not a victim. Israel is a principal arms supplier to India and in the past sold weapons to the military dictatorships of Latin America. Israel and apartheid South Africa had an “atomic bond” to develop their nuclear weapon capability. In Canada, the Coalition Opposed to the Arms Trade provides extensive information about current Canadian companies supplying critical components to Israel’s weapons and about investments in the Canadian military. There are also joint training exercises and weapons/surveillance purchases between Canadian and Israeli police.
Shir Hever, Israeli political economist: “We’ve seen in the last couple of years a pattern. Every two years or so, the Israeli military attacks Gaza, attacks the Gaza Strip, and causes a lot of destruction. But right after each one of those attacks, there is a trade show in which Israeli weapon companies show their wares, show their technologies, and boast that these are the very technologies that have been used just now against Palestinians in Gaza. We saw that after the attack of 2008-2009, known as Cast Lead, where the main theme was those robots that go into houses to look around corners. Then we saw that again in the attack of 2012, which was called Pillar of Cloud, in which the main theme was the Iron Dome system that can intercept the Palestinian rockets. And now, in the current attack, we have again the Iron Dome system that is supposed to intercept rockets.
“And all of these Israeli companies, which are becoming an increasingly important and very significant part of the Israeli export system and the Israeli economy, depend on those wars. They depend on periodic fighting where they can showcase their equipment, their technology. And the first thing that they say when they try to market whatever it is that they develop: we’ve already used that on actual human beings. And by making that claim, they’re able to compete with weapon manufacturers from other countries.”
While hundreds of thousands of people worldwide protested against Israel’s brutality, the response of most national governments, political parties, NGOs, the UN Security Council was formulaic: finding some equivalence between Israel and Hamas by condemning Hamas for intentional and indiscriminate attacks on Israel’s civilian population and by citing Israel’s right to defend itself. Their statements do not include anything about Gaza’s right to self-defense or anything to substantiate the allegation that Hamas intentionally aims to kill civilians.
Significantly, there were calls of “Death to the Arabs” by Israeli Members of the Knesset and by Israeli religious leaders. Ha’aretz columnist Gideon Levy wrote an article “Israel’s real purpose in Gaza operation? To kill Arabs”: “The Israel Defense Forces already has a ‘map of pain,’ a diabolical invention that has replaced the no less diabolical ‘bank of targets,’ and that map is spreading at a sickening pace.” There were no parallel reports about the Palestinians of Gaza calling for “Death to the Jews.” The Anti-Defamation League in the United States reported anti-Semitic “violence and vitriol” during Operation Protective Edge, but only in non-Arabic, non-Muslim countries! The ADL list of incidents involves individuals, not heads of state or prominent leaders: “ADL Documents ‘Dramatic’ Surge in Global Anti-Semitism During Israel’s Operation In Gaza”
Only a handful of institutions and groups held Israel fully responsible. Six Nobel peace prize laureates (Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Adolfo Peres Esquivel, Jody Williams, Mairead Maguire, Rigoberta Menchú and Betty Williams), together with a number of other well-known people, called for an arms embargo, and their statement unequivocally held Israel and complicit nations fully accountable. Five Latin American countries (Brazil, Chile, El Salvador, Ecuador, Peru; Nicaragua, Bolivia and Venezuela had previously severed ties) withdrew their ambassadors from Israel, but as the Nobel peace laureate statement pointed out, “emerging economies such as India, Brazil and Chile, are rapidly increasing their military trade and cooperation with Israel, despite their stated support for Palestinian rights. We call on the UN and governments across the world to take immediate steps to implement a comprehensive and legally binding military embargo on Israel, similar to that imposed on South Africa during apartheid.”
Placing full blame on Israel, the Russell Tribunal Palestine’s Emergency Session on Israel’s Operation Protective Edge was held on September 24, 2014. The jurists included former UN Special Rapporteurs on the Occupied Territories John Dugard and Richard Falk. They found “evidence of war crimes, crimes against humanity, crimes of murder, extermination and persecution and also incitement to genocide.” The Jury reported: ‘The cumulative effect of the long-standing regime of collective punishment in Gaza appears to inflict conditions of life calculated to bring about the incremental destruction of the Palestinians as a group in Gaza.’” The Tribunal will present its findings to the European Parliament.
So despite the magnitude of this “hideous Israeli assault” (Falk), extensively reported and photographed and available on both major and alternative media, official responses wholly evaded the facts on the ground by framing the assault as a two-sided conflict. “The inability of Hamas to mount any sort of defense for the people of Gaza or even to provide protection via shelters and the like, epitomizes the criminal nature of Protective Edge, and more generally, of totally one-sided warfare.” http://richardfalk.wordpress.com/2014/07/16/no-exit-from-gaza-a-new-war-crime/ The Rand Corporation, the influential conservative U.S. think tank, fully supporting an ongoing “war of attrition, known as a ‘long war’” as the only viable strategy,” effectually (and ironically) disconfirmed the representation of Hamas as a military threat to Israel: “while Hamas’s bombardment managed briefly to scare some Western airlines into suspending flights to Ben Gurion Airport, Israel’s strategic infrastructure remained unharmed” (my italics) http://www.rand.org/blog/2014/09/the-grim-lessons-of-protective-edge.html
The elected representatives in United States and Canada unequivocally support Israel. This includes the seemingly progressive side of the spectrum: the U.S. congressional Black Caucus, U.S. senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, the Canadian NDP. Canadian Green Party M.P. Elizabeth May said that “from the bottom of my heart” she wanted both Gazan and Israeli children to have an “equal right to be free from bombardment”, condemned Hamas as a “terrorist organization” for firing rockets into Israel, stated that Israel violates international law and humanitarian norms, but that the Green Party strongly supports Israel, “a bulwark of democracy in the Middle East.” Canadian Liberal Party M.P. Dr. Carolyn Bennett, currently Critic for Aboriginal Affairs and Chair of the National Liberal Women’s Caucus, was part of a Solidarity Mission to Israel during Operation Protective Edge, sponsored by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and the Jewish National Fund. She placed full blame on “the terrorist organization” Hamas, saying that she was focusing on the challenges of dealing with a terrorist organization and that “the people of Gaza are not being well served in this reign of terror that’s so upsetting to everybody.” She visited and offered condolences to the family of a slain Israeli soldier and did not extend condolences to any Gazan families,
The European Union condemned the violations of the laws of war by both sides. To reiterate: Richard Falk states that the laws of war do not apply to this assault on a captive people with nowhere to flee. A number of other countries criticized Israel but did not impose an arms embargo. South Africa called for restraint by both Israel and Hamas and condemned the collective punishment of Palestinians. At most, several Latin American countries withdrew ambassadors from Israel.
The U.N. Security Council
Unequivocally criticizing the UNSC, Navi Pillay, outgoing head of the UN Human Rights Council, said “I firmly believe that greater responsiveness by this council would have saved hundreds of thousands of lives,” She cited conflicts in Afghanistan, Central African Republic, DR Congo, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Ukraine and Gaza. “These crises hammer home the full cost of the international community’s failure to prevent conflict,” Pillay said. “None of these crises erupted without warning.”
The following letter to Ban Ki-Moon was prepared by Badil, an internationally recognized NGO working for Palestinian refugee rights. “Open letter to Mr. Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon: stand for law and Justice or resign! 5 August 2014For humanity and the little remained credibility of international law: UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, stand for law and Justice or resign! We, the under signed Palestinian human rights and community-based organizations are extremely disappointed by your performance, notably by your biased statements, your failure to act, and the inappropriate justification of Israel’s violations of IHL, which amount to war crimes. Until today, you have taken no explicit and tangible measures to address the recent Israeli attacks in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) since 13 June” see the entire letter at http://richardfalk.wordpress.com/2014/08/07/palestinian-open-letter-to-unsg-ban-ki-moon-on-gaza/
The front page article of the Guardian Weekly Oct 2 2014 is about UN paralysis, one effect being that “much of Gaza lies in ruins and there is no longer even a pretence of reviving Israel-Palestinian peace talks.” On the ineffectiveness of the UN to ever rein in Israel, Palestinian political analyst Ali Abunimah points out that Mahmoud Abbas’ speech to the UNGA and Abbas’ charging Israel with genocide is just “another initiative to bring forward another UN resolution to add to the hundreds of UN resolutions gathering dust. So really it was the speech of an individual who lacks legitimacy, lacks authority, and who has absolutely reached a political dead-end.” In fact, Abbas gave the exact same speech during Cast Lead, January 8, 2009. http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/video-ali-abunimah-abbas-un-speech-new-fatah-hamas-deal-gaza
Israeli Violence and Cruelty, especially regarding children
After the assault, Israel’s violence and cruelty continue unabated with the full support of globally powerful decision-makers like Stephen Harper and Barack Obama and people in positions of influence and responsibility. The untruths and distortions about Palestinians can produce terror in some people. But many facts-on-the-ground belie attributing the motive of Israeli assaults to fear for Israel’s survival: for example, the Jewish National Fund in Toronto held an almost celebratory event showing Israeli children playing in pristine outdoor parks and well-equipped bomb shelters during Operation Protective Edge, while attractive young Canadian-Jewish professional women on a goodwill mission served hot and tired Israeli soldiers slushies and cold drinks, posting photos of this on Facebook. There was no fear, and completely out of consciousness were the 519 children killed in Gaza, or the total decimation of communities like Shujaiya that was occurring at the same time, or concern about Israeli weapons terrorizing and killing other human beings.
The targeting of children and parents urgently needs a study of its own. The guiltless sadism directed against Palestinian parents and children is not unique to Israel: think of the assaults on First Nations families in Canada or on African slave families in the U.S., or Madeline Albright’s saying that the death of 500,000 Iraqi children was worth it. Shameful that former Prime Minister Golda Meir is so vicious – a “soul murderer” : “We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children,” she said. “But we can never forgive them for forcing us to kill their children. Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us..”
Ayelet Shaked, a Member of the Knesset from the ultra-nationalist Jewish Home party called for the slaughter of Palestinian mothers who give birth to “little snakes.” “They have to die and their houses should be demolished so that they cannot bear any more terrorists,” Shaked said, adding, “They are all our enemies and their blood should be on our hands. This also applies to the mothers of the dead terrorists.”
Netanyahu: “We don’t educate our people, our children in suicide kindergarten camps, as happens in the Palestinian side, and you should see what Hamas is educating them to…. And the worst thing that I see, the worst thing, is that they use their children, … they don’t give any thought about them.” A film by Israeli filmmaker Avi Mograbi shows how Israeli youth are taught from pre-kindergarten to young adulthood to idealize suicide terrorism through the Samson and Masada myths.
Dr. Nurit Peled-Elhanan, an Israeli mother who lost her daughter to a suicide bombing has committed her life to opposing war. She talks about the daily humiliation of Palestinian mothers in front of their children: “I have never experienced the suffering Palestinian women undergo every day, every hour. I don’t know the kind of violence that turns a woman’s life into constant hell. This daily physical and mental torture of women who are deprived of their basic human rights and needs of privacy and dignity, women whose homes are broken into at any moment of day and night, who are ordered at a gun-point to strip naked in front of strangers and their own children…”
The late Dr. El-Sarraj, former director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme: “For many of these children the most excruciating ordeal was to see their fathers being beaten by Israeli soldiers — and not offering any resistance. This is truly a terrifying experience… This will have a lasting impact on any observer, but particularly on children. No wonder the Palestinian child will see his model not in his father, but in that soldier; and no wonder his language will be the language of force and his toys and games the toys and games of death.” In an earlier report, Dr. El-Sarraj wrote: “those children were subjected to several traumatic and violent experiences including beating, bone-breaking, injury, tear gas and acts of killing and injury, all of which experiences have left indelible effects on their psyche. Yet, to many, the most excruciating experience was seeing their fathers beaten helpless by Israeli soldiers without resistance.” 4
Israeli poet Aharon Shabtai sees it differently from Netanyahu, Golda Meir and their accomplices. He wrote J’Accuse about a Palestinian child killed by an Israeli sniper, about the many “technicians of slaughter” planning every step of the outrage, so that when “that man smiles, ….when hoarsely, he pronounces the word ‘Peace’ – mothers wake up trembling;…and now, at long last, he’ll roll up his sleeves and get down to the work at which he excels, and bring about a blood bath.”
To close, this is from Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish’s obituary for Edward Said:
“Adept snipers, hitting their target
with maximum proficiency.
This land is smaller than the blood of its children
standing on the threshold of doomsday like
Invent a hope for speech,
invent a direction, a mirage to extend hope.
And sing, for the aesthetic is freedom
Judy Deutsch is Executive Member-at-Large and a past President of Science for Peace
1 Varvin, Sverre and Volkan, Vamik (2003). Violence or Dialogue?
2 Psychoanalyst Leonard Shengold used the words “soul murder” to describe extreme child abuse and deprivation.
3 Avi Mograbi: “Avenge but one of my two eyes.” I presented a paper on this film for the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme and World Health Organization meeting on the siege of Gaza, 2008: http://www.palestinejournal.net/gaza/papers/j_deutsch_psychoanalytic_thoughts_on_israel_and_the_siege_of_gaza_-_the_exploitation_of_children.htm
4 El-Sarraj, E. (2007). “The Psychosocial causes for the Palestinian Factional War.” 14 February 2007. At http://www.gcmhp.net
El-Sarraj, E. (2008). “The Grief Counselor of Gaza.” In The Link (July-August 2008). Vol. 41, Issue 3. www.ameu.org