Posts Tagged ‘Israel’


TERRORISM, noun
1. the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.
2. the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization.
3. a terroristic method of governing or of resisting a government.
–dictionary.com

Yesterday we looked at the first of Israel’s terrorism problems: Hamas, Israel’s role supporting it in the 1980s, the blowback that’s caused, and how both Hamas and the Israeli government have benefited from the carnage that’s ensued.

Today, we’ll look at an even more serious terrorism in Israeli: the nature of its government. Israel has become a terrorist state.

That’s not overstatement.

Before looking at current events, let’s look back four years to the bombardment and massacre of civilians in Gaza in 2014. Using Hamas’ largely ineffectual terrorism as an excuse (four civilians murdered, including one child), the Israeli government unleashed a firestorm on what has been called “the world’s largest open-air concentration camp,” while refusing to allow civilians to flee (a war crime).

The result? In contrast with the four Israeli civilians murdered by Hamas, the Israel armed forces murdered, according to UN figures at least 1,473 civilians, including 501 children and 257 women. The Israeli assault also left  over 11,000 wounded civilians, including over 3,300 children, of whom 1,000 are suffering lifelong disabilities.

Why? To bludgeon and frighten the captive population in Gaza into submission.

This is a classic case of state terrorism.

Not surprisingly, the Israeli government has claimed that this massacre was Hamas’ fault, and that it was acting “defensively.” This is equivalent to hostage-killing kidnappers claiming that they were “forced” into committing murder by those who refused to give into their demands. This is hypocritical and morally repugnant.

Now let’s look at current events.

Yesterday the Israeli armed forces murdered over 60 (including six children) and wounded over 2,000 unarmed protesters at the Israel-Gaza border. (The protesters, the descendants of the 700,000 Palestinians who were driven into exile and lost their lands in the 1948-1949 war are demanding the “right to return.”)

How is Israel doing this? They’re using snipers with high-powered rifles to shoot across the fence separating Israel and Gaza into the crowd of protesters (a reported 35,000 yesterday, even after weeks of protests in which the Israeli military had already murdered dozens of protesters). According to reports, the snipers were taking their time between shots, methodically targeting individuals dozens or hundreds of yards from the fence. The only conceivable reason for this is terrorism: the used of deadly violence to attempt to intimidate the Palestinians into submission.

(As for Israel’s claim that it’s acted in self-defense, consider this: not a single Israeli, soldier or civilian, has been injured, let alone killed, in the protests in which over 100 Palestinians have died and thousands have been injured (many by sniper fire), dozens of whom are now amputees as a result of Israeli snipers. Of course, Donald Trump, and other thugs and hypocrites in his administration — who love murderous regimes such as those in the Philippines, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia — have echoed Israel’s grossly hypocritical claim of “self-defense.” [I follow these events closely and have not seen a single report of any Israeli injuries.])

If you still doubt that Israel is engaging in a deliberate policy of state murder and terrorism, consider these quotes from news stories over the last few weeks:

On amputations and sniper fire: “When he was hit by a bullet fired by Israeli forces during demonstrations in Gaza on April 6, Mohammed al-Zaieem lost so much blood, and his left leg was so deformed, he feared he wouldn’t survive. His arteries, veins and a large piece of bone were destroyed. His right leg wasn’t spared either as the round created a massive exit wound and then hit it as well.”

On murders by sniper fire:

“One mourner, Mohammad Sabbagh, 30, sat with his family on plastic chairs in a green funeral tent outside their home in the city of Beit Lahia listlessly receiving condolences from well-wishers. He recalled seeing his brother Bader, 10 years his junior, shot through the head on Friday.

“He said, ‘I am bored, I don’t want this life’. He asked me for a cigarette; I gave him a lit one, he took about two puffs and then a bullet shot him in the head and went out the other side. I carried him to the ambulance, and he was dead,” he said. . . .

“The brothers stood between the group at the front of the protest, who were throwing rocks at Israeli forces, and the demonstrators at the back, where thousands of men, women and children had gathered. “He didn’t do anything; he was standing next to me,” Mohammad said of his brother.”

Israeli soldiers cheer a murder: (This incident took place in December along the Gaza-Israel border, but was just reported last month.)

“With international criticism of Israel’s response to the Gaza protests growing, video emerged on Monday appearing to show an Israel Defence Forces (IDF) sniper shooting a Palestinian man standing near the border fence.

“After the Palestinian man falls to the ground, soldiers are heard cheering in the background. One yells, “What a legendary film!”
“The video, which circulated on social media, appears to be through a scope, showing the Gaza border fence and a field behind it.
“The sniper is heard discussing the shot with another soldier nearby.
“‘When he stops, you take him down,’ the soldier says. ‘Are you on him?
“‘I can’t fire because of the barbed wire,’ the sniper responds a short time later.
“‘Take out the one in the pink,'” the other soldier says after a few moments.
“IDF soldiers cheer as you hear the gunshot and see the Palestinian man fall.”
And how have most American liberals and the corporate news media responded? Some actively support Israel’s murderous activities (e.g., Chuck Schumer), many others (e.g., Obama and the Clintons) have been conspicuously silent about it, and a good majority of the media are either silent or actively complicit in the coverup of the murders (e.g., describing them as “clashes” — incidents in which one side occurs no casualties while killing dozens on the other side of a fence with sniper fire). The “news” organizations engaging in this shameful misrepresentation of murder include supposedly progressive MSNBC. (Chris Hayes is an honorable exception on MSNBC; he’s probably safe because he’s their second biggest star.)
All of this strongly suggests that Western liberals are morally bankrupt, that their humanitarianism is a sham.
They stay silent in the face of oppression and murder.
No one but the dishonest and the willfully blind can deny that Israel is engaging in state terrorism

 

 


TERRORISM, noun
1. the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.
2. the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization.
3. a terroristic method of governing or of resisting a government.
–dictionary.com

The Hamas Problem

Israel has two terrorism problems. The first is the religious-authoritarian threat posed by the Islamist group, Hamas. The irony is that Hamas is in good part a creation of Israel.

An offshoot of the (Egypt-based) Islamic Brotherhood in the 1970s, the group really began to grow the 1980s when Israel began to back  Hamas — including financially — as a counterweight to the leftist, secular Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). (PLO head Yasser Arafat referred to Hamas as a “creature of Israel.”) In 1988, the PLO renounced terrorism, while Hamas has never formally renounced it. Since the PLO renouncement, PLO splinter groups have continued to engage in terrorism, though not on the level of Hamas.

This Israeli backing of Hamas is, of course, reminiscent of Ronald Reagan’s cynical support of the most hardline  Islamist elements in Afghanistan in the 1980s during the uprising against the Soviet-backed Afghan government and the Soviet forces propping it up. That U.S. involvement in Afghanistan in the 1980s created horrific blowback: the creation of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Similarly, Israel is now suffering blowback from its support of Hamas in the 1980s.

It’s worth noting that while both the American and Israeli people have suffered as a result of their governments’ backing of radical Islamist groups, the extreme right governments in both countries have profited handsomely from the terrorism they supply. Terrorism on even a small scale provides both the U.S. and Israeli governments with an ideal means of frightening the public, an ideal excuse for mass surveillance, restriction of civil liberties, intimidation of critics, and all manner of horrifying, brutal acts, including the murder of civilians.

Thus, Hamas’, Al-Qaeda’s, and the Taliban’s terrorism serves the interest of the ruling rightist elites in both Israel and the United States. (This is not to imply that Hamas is as bad as Al-Qaeda or the Taliban: it isn’t. It’s not even in the same ballpark.) At the same time, it serves the interests of the terrorist groups themselves.

How? It provokes (more accurately, supplies cover for) disproportionate, violent responses, often targeting civilians. This not only fuels popular anger, helping to ensure a steady supply of recruits for the terrorist groups, but it greatly discourages popular involvement in other forms of politics. One would have to have, for example, great courage to engage in civil disobedience in Afghanistan. To put this another way, terrorism tends to reduce everyday people to powerless, terrorized spectators, standing on the sidelines (when they’re not being shot or bombed “accidentally”) while the authoritarian terrorists and authoritarian governments slug it out.

Thus one presumes that both Hamas and the Israeli government are happy with the current bloodletting (of Palestinian civilians).

Coming Tomorrow — part II (Terrorist Israel)

 

 

 

 


Anyone who reads this blog should be well aware that I have no great love for Islam — nor for any other religion — and I consider Islam a graver threat to human freedom than the other major religions combined.

Islam itself is bad enough, but the current administration is poking an Islamic hornets’ nest with a stick.

Its approach to Islamic peoples in the Middle East is extremely dangerous, as Donald Trump seems to be doing everything he can, via foreign policy, to encourage violence by radical Islamists, and seems to be doing everything he can to drive the young, impressionable, and desperate into the arms of violent extremists.

Trump is siding with the worst, most repressive regimes in the Middle East, most importantly Islamic extremist Saudi Arabia, but also the brutal military regime in Egypt, and the extreme right in Israel, which is turning Israel/Palestine into an apartheid state.

None of this plays well with the oppressed in those lands, nor with those in other countries who care about the oppression of their brothers and sisters.

Trump’s (and Obama’s, and Bush the Lesser’s, and Clinton’s, and their predecessors’) interventionist policies in the Middle East have created a situation that’s a festering sore, and that will remain one until the U.S. stops supporting oppression.

Just getting the hell out of the Middle East entirely would be a huge improvement on past and current U.S. policy. Even better, the U.S. could begin supporting democratic, secular elements in the region — shockingly enough, this is now happening in one very limited instance, with the Kurds fighting ISIS — and spending money on development aid.

But this is pure fantasy. I’d be more than happy with simple U.S. military withdrawal from the Middle East and the end of U.S. military and financial support for repressive regimes there. That alone would do more than all the bombs ever dropped to end Islamic radicalism.

To make matters worse, Trump also seems to be doing everything he can, via domestic policy, to promote radical Islam and violence by radical Islamists. While he supports repressive Islamist regimes abroad (our Saudi “allies” et al.), he’s targeting powerless, desperate refugees at home, and his hateful rhetoric inspires violence against them.

Again, this drives impressionable, angry Muslim teenagers and young adults into the arms of ISIS and other Islamic death cults.

It also isolates the Muslim community, producing an us-versus-them mentality. This is what Trump, his goose-stepping alt-right supporters, ISIS, and Al Qaeda want, but it is not what the rest of us should want.

Tolerance and communication will reduce Islamic extremism, isolation won’t.

If you want to fight Islamic extremism, don’t harass Muslims. It might make you feel better to harass them, but it’s cowardly and it’ll ultimately backfire. Leave them alone. If you want to drive them into the arms of the fundamentalists and the terrorists, you won’t find a better way to do it than to harass them on the street.

Think about it. How would you react to being harassed (or worse, physically attacked) simply because of your appearance? Your perceived religious beliefs? Would you be more sympathetic to your attackers or to those who present themselves as fighting your attackers?

How would you feel if someone attacked your family because of their appearance or perceived beliefs?

Harassment and physical attacks increase the isolation and fear level of Muslims in the U.S. — precisely the conditions under which extremism flourishes.

If we believe in religious freedom, let’s act like it. Treat people with respect no matter who they are or what their perceived beliefs.

And let’s exercise our freedom of speech. Islam (and Christianity and religious Judaism and Hinduism for that matter) cannot stand up to scrutiny and ridicule.

Give that to them in spades, subject those religions — but not their individual adherents — to scrutiny and ridicule at every opportunity. The best antidote to Islamic and Christian authoritarianism is freedom of speech and freedom of belief.

Our ideas are better than theirs. Let’s start acting like we believe it. Let them express their noxious beliefs: they won’t stand up to scrutiny.

Let’s start acting like we have respect for human rights and individual human beings.

And let’s start acting like we’re serious about defeating Islamic fundamentalism, and stop harassing Muslims.

 


No, I’m not kidding. Trump has actually done a number of good things.

First, let’s list only the unalloyed positives:

  • Trump has armed the Kurdish YPG (People’s Protection Units) fighting ISIS in northern Syria, much to the annoyance of Turkish Islamist would-be dictator and ISIS enabler Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (Update: As of January 2018, the U.S. is planning to keep 30,000 troops in northern Syria — the Kurdish part of Syria — and is promising to help the Kurds builda protective border wall on the Syrian-Turkish border, where for once a wall will be a good thing.)

As for the Kurds themselves, the YPG, a major part of the Syrian Democratic Forces, is the most effective military entity fighting ISIS in Syria. It’s also the only secular, democratic, libertarian (with a small “l”) force in the region in which gender equality is actively promoted. (There are all-women YPG units.)

It’s worth noting that to appease Islamist thug Erdogan, Hillary Clinton, had she won, would probably not have armed the YPG. All of the facts noted above have been obvious for years, yet Obama refused to arm the YPG. It’s a good bet that former Obama Secretary of State Clinton wouldn’t have, either.

(For more info, see “The Anarchists vs. the Islamic State.“)

  • Trump killed the TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a “free trade” pact and mutant descendant of NAFTA. (I won’t even get started on NAFTA here; for now, suffice it to say that it screwed American industrial workers and Mexican small farmers — spurring a wave of jobless workers across the border,  desperate to provide for their families — while vastly benefiting transnational corporations.) Among other things, the TPP would have a allowed commercial “courts” to overrule U.S. laws, would have made the already atrocious copyright situation even worse, strengthening the hold of the media conglomerates, would have allowed U.S. pharmaceutical firms to force companies in signatory nations to stop producing affordable versions of life-saving drugs, and would have allowed foreign firms to sue the U.S. and U.S. state governments over “loss” of projected profits caused by environmental regulations.

Clinton was in favor of this abomination, calling it the “gold standard” of trade agreements. Until she wasn’t in favor of it. If she’d won, there’d likely have been a few cosmetic changes to it which would have made it “acceptable” to her. And we’d have been further screwed.

  • Trump is reportedly going to crack down on H-1B visa abuse. This type of visa allows employers to hire foreign workers for jobs for which there supposedly aren’t enough qualified American applicants. In practice, this program provides employers with indentured servants working for half the prevailing wages (often in the computer industry). Even worse, some “employers” have been more slave traders than job creators, hiring H-1B workers and then renting them to actual employers while taking part of their wages. (Ironically, in 2017 Trump took advantage of the closely related H-2B program to hire 70 low-skilled workers [cooks, maids, food servers] for his Mar-a-Lago resort.)
  • Trump, almost certainly out of personal pique against CNN, has opposed the ATT-Time-Warner merger, which would have further consolidated media control into fewer and fewer hands.
  • Trump, through his defeat of Clinton, has partially broken the hold of the corporate Democrats on the Democratic Party — the Republicans’ junior partner in the looting of the American working class — and made it at least possible that the “democratic wing of the Democratic Party” will ascend.

For decades, the corporate Dems have had a stranglehold on the party as they’ve catered to the corporate elite (e.g., Obama’s refusal to prosecute any of the banksters responsible for the financial crash), taken massive amounts of money from the corporate elite, and refused to advance policies (most notably “Medicare for all”) favored by a large majority of Americans, and an even larger majority of Democrats.

At the same time, the corporate Democrats have been chasing the chimera of the “center” (the maybe 10% of eligible voters who are so poorly informed that they can’t make up their minds until the last minute) while ignoring the vastly higher number of those eligible to vote who don’t even bother to do it (41% in the last election), largely because of disillusionment, largely because they can’t see any real differences between the parties (at least in terms of economics).

Next, a mixed but overall positive move:

  • Trump has been pressuring U.S. allies to increase their military spending to bring it more in line with U.S. spending and thus, in theory, relieve financial pressure on U.S. taxpayers. Thus far he seems to have had some success with Canada, which will increase its military spending by 70% over the coming decade. This would be far more impressive if the U.S. didn’t already account for 43% of world military spending, and if Trump didn’t want to drastically increase that spending.

As for other good things Trump has done deliberately, none come to mind. But he has also inadvertently done some good:

  • He’s laid bare the hypocrisy of the Republican Party on healthcare. Republicans had seven years in which to prepare a replacement for Obamacare, and, after they unexpectedly won the presidency last November (plus both houses of Congress), they had to scramble to come up with a nightmarish mishmash of cuts and half-measures that would have cost 23 million Americans healthcare coverage.
  • Trump has laid bare the hypocrisy of American foreign policy rhetoric. For decades, American “leaders” have been spewing the same line about “defending democracy,” while they’ve been supporting many of the world’s most barbaric dictators and authoritarian regimes. Trump’s praise for Putin, Erdogan, mass murderer Duterte, and our war-criminal, Islamist Saudi “allies” brings out in the open America’s support for dictators and authoritarianism.
  • He’s laid bare the racism of the Republican Party. For half a century Republicans have catered to racists — restricting voting rights of blacks and latinos, persecuting undocumented immigrants, promoting the war on drugs that has devastated black and latino communities, promoting “tough on crime” (tough on poor people) laws, and promoting outright slavery of the incarcerated — while at the same time hypocritically hiding behind code words and insisting that they aren’t racist. Under Trump, Republican racism is out in the open. (Unfortunately, that racism sometimes takes physical form; the assaults and murders it produces are a hideous byproduct of it.)
  • By acting as an apologist for neo-Nazis in the wake of Charlottesville, and by pointing out that Washington and Jefferson were slaveholders, he’s put a spotlight on a seamy side of American “revolutionary” history that virtually no one talks about. (For more info on this see “A People’s History of the United States, by Howard Zinn.)
  • Trump, by announcing the move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, has ended the sick charade of the U.S. government’s pretensions of being an “honest broker” in the Middle East. In regard to Middle East policy, for decades the government has been hostage to the extreme right wingers in AIPAC, and to a lesser extent the religious right (some of whom want Armageddon), and has actively aided, abetted, and financed the Israeli oppression of the Palestinians. Trump just tore away the “honest broker” mask.
  • Trump has interrupted the creeping fascism that has been strangling America since at least the time of Truman, in favor of galloping fascism. The good news is that Trump is so repulsive and inept — good only at manipulating and swindling the fearful, desperate, uninformed, and angry — that he likely won’t succeed in destroying what’s left of our freedoms.

Had Clinton won last year, creeping fascism would have continued; nothing would have fundamentally changed; popular discontent and resentment would have continued to fester; even while they controlled both the House and Senate, Republicans would have blamed everything that’s going wrong on the “liberal” (she isn’t) Clinton; and an overt, more competent Republican theofascist would probably have taken power in 2020, which, had Clinton won last year, could have meant “game over” for American democracy.

  • Without intending to do it, Trump has spurred a wave of political activism in the U.S., the like of which hasn’t been seen in nearly half a century. This is a good thing for American democracy.

Contrary to popular belief, Trump’s victory in 2016 hasn’t been a total disaster, and in the end might turn out to be a good thing — assuming he doesn’t start a nuclear war. In the long run, a Clinton victory could (in my view would) have turned out a whole lot worse.

Of course, things could and probably will, for now, get worse under Trump. He and his minions will continue to degrade the environment, abet the banksters and other corporate thugs in the looting of the economy, and will continue to impose the evangelical theofascist social agenda on all of us.

Still, they’re probably too inept to stage a Reichstag Fire and get away with it. But god help us if there’s a major terrorist attack. Naomi Klein at The Intercept offers a cogent analysis of this possibility in “The worst of Donald Trump’s toxic agenda lies in wait — a major U.S. crisis will unleash it.”

For now, just be glad that Hillary Clinton isn’t in the White House, and let’s hope for a wave of new social movements; let’s also hope that in the meantime the “democratic wing of the Democratic Party” will at least temporarily stave off the corporate-lackey Democrats and the theofascist Republicans until there’s an opening for real social change.


Putin’s Puppet, Donald Trump, the bully and sexual predator, the entitled slumlord’s son, wants to provoke terrorism on the part of Palestinian extremists.

Moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem will do exactly that.

He’s aligned himself with the Israeli extreme right in a move designed to provoke Palestinian hard liners, indeed damn near all Palestinians and damn near all Muslims.

If he actually does this, it will be as provocative as publishing a cartoon of Mohammed having sex with a dog.

Trump is aligning himself with the deeply corrupt Benjamin Netanyahu in violation of the 4th Geneva Convention, which prohibits occupying powers from moving settlers onto occupied lands.

This is a recipe for permanent conflict. And it’s a mark of how deeply the U.S. corporate media and political parties are in the pocket of far-right Zionists; ask yourself this: which is more likely, that the U.S. and Israel alone are right, victims of anti-Semitism, or that the other 191 nations in the UN are all anti-Semitic? — in itself a non sequitur, because the Palestinians are Semitic.  (As an otherwise progressive Zionist put it to me a few years ago, ¨They’re our cousins.¨)

Trump apparently wants terrorism.

He’s an irresponsible, but calculating, moron, and he could actually want further conflict in the Mideast, no matter the cost in human lives.

Trump very obviously has no respect for freedom of speech, no respect for the U.S. Constitution, no respect for the Bill of Rights. He apparently wants to provoke terrorist incidents.

Why? They could provide a convenient pretext for imposing martial law.

I’m not exaggerating. This utterly authoritarian American Mussolini is a traitor to everything America is supposed to stand for.

 


We put up our 1,000th post about three weeks ago. Since then, we’ve been looking through everything we’ve posted, and have been putting up “best of” lists in our most popular categories.

This is the ninth of our first-1,000 “best of” lists. We’ve already posted the Science Fiction, HumorMusicInterviews, AtheismEconomics, Science/Skepticism, and Addictions lists, and will shortly be putting up our final “best of”: Religion.

Here, we’ve folded three categories (Anarchism, Libertarianism, and Politics) into this post because of the relative paucity of posts on Anarchism and Libertarianism. We hope you’ll enjoy at least some of these posts.

Anarchism

Libertarianism

Politics


McCARTHYISM, n. 1. The hurling of baseless, slanderous charges at political opponents, be they groups or individuals; 2. A common means of leveling such charges through the deliberate conflation of two unrelated things, such as anti-Semitism and criticism of the state of Israel, or racism and criticism of Islam or Muslims (who come in all colors).

How these distinct things are identical is never explained, though one suspects transubstantiation or a particularly perverse form of syllogistic reasoning. To wit:

Most Islamic believers are black or brown.
So, criticism of Islam (a religion) is an attack on black and brown people.
Therefore those who criticize Islam are racist.

Or

Most Israeli citizens are Jewish.
So, criticism of Israel (a political entity) is an attack on Jewish people.
Therefore those who criticize Israel are anti-Semitic..

One could just as well argue the following:

Most American child molesters are white.
So, criticism of child molesters is an attack on white people.
Therefore those who criticize child molesters are racists.

And there you have it. What passes for political discussion in the land of the free.

* * *

–from the revised and expanded edition of The American Heretic’s Dictionary, the best modern successor to Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary

 

American Heretic's Dictionary revised and expanded by Chaz Bufe, front cover