Posts Tagged ‘Middle East’


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

 

 


American War by Omar El Akkad front cover(American War, by Omar El Akkad. Knopf, 2017, $26.95, 333 pp.)

reviewed by Zeke Teflon

 

In recent decades, dystopian novels have become nearly synonymous with science fiction. It´s easy enough to see why: climate change seems to be accelerating, some areas (e.g., the American Southwest, where I live) are already feeling severe effects from it, and the results worldwide in coming years promise to be catastrophic; we’re on the brink of a new dark age under the iron fist of religious totalitarians and their political co-conspirators; we’re well into a period of mass extinction; there’s runaway population growth actively encouraged by some of the “great” religions; modern weapons of mass destruction are far beyond “nightmarish”; technological advances are far outstripping social advances; and sadism and stupidity are running neck and neck as national hallmarks.

Given such conditions and such bleak prospects, it’s easy to see why dystopianism is the far-from-new normal in science fiction.

So, having heard next to nothing about American War, I was expecting a fairly standard take on the horrors to come, especially the ecological horrors. But  American War, which describes the “second civil war” (2074 – 2095), is a far from standard tale.

El Akkad deliberately (I’d bet the farm on this) sabotages the plausibility of his dystopia.

The first hint is the map in the front of the book showing the breakaway “Free Southern States” (FSS) of Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi as opposed to the rest of the U.S., with the Southwest mostly part of the “Mexican Protectorate.”

My reaction to the map was, “What the hell? Three poor, backwards states standing against the rest of the country? Holding on for 21 years?”

Very shortly into the text, El Akkad makes it very plain that he’s not projecting possible future developments in the United States, but is up to something quite different.

The reason for the FSS rebellion is the prohibition of use of petroleum products as fuels. Again, what the hell? None of the three states are significant oil producers; we’re rapidly approaching peak oil production; most new production in North America (shale, tar sands) is much more expensive than pumping from the old, rapidly depleting oil fields; and the cost of renewables is falling like a rock. This almost certainly means that oil will go up in price and will be rapidly displaced by cheaper renewables. The underlying premise is barely plausible now and will become increasingly implausible as time passes; it will make no sense at all six decades from now. So, El Akkad deliberately chose an extremely improbable background premise.

Then there’s a glaring–and I mean glaring–absence in the social structure of the FSS: racism. Racism disappearing from the American South in a mere sixty years, and during a time of upheaval and economic desperation? What the hell?! Who, if they thought about it, could possibly buy this?

So, just what is Akkad up to?

The first clue is the title of the book, “American War.” That seems a bit ambiguous, and why isn’t there even a vague reference to the “second civil war”? (It would be quite easy to add such a reference in a subtitle.)

The second clue is provided by the book description on the inside of the dust jacket:

Sarat Chestnut, born in Louisiana, is only six when the war breaks out in 2074. But even she knows that oil is outlawed, her home state is half underwater, and the unmanned drones that fill the sky are not there to protect her. A stubborn, undaunted and thick-skinned tomboy, she is soon pulled into the heart of secessionist country when the war reaches Louisiana and her family is forced into Camp Patience, a sprawling tent city for refugees. There she is befriended by a mysterious man who opens her eyes to the injustices around her and under whose tutelage she is transformed into a deadly instrument of revenge.

Fair enough, but the final sentence of the second paragraph on the inside flap reads, “It’s a novel that considers what might happen if the United States were to turn its devastating weapons upon itself.”

Close, but not right.

Above all, American War is about the present. (Tellingly, there’s no mention of any technology whatsoever beyond what’s currently available.)

American War is not about the effects of developing technologies; it’s not about an even remotely plausible future in the U.S.

It’s about the psychological effects of the type of war the United States has been waging sporadically for decades, and nonstop for the last 15 years, in the Near East, Middle East and Northern and Eastern Africa. It’s about what happens to people who are torn from their homes, are forced into miserable refugee camps, are under constant deadly and random threat from above, and are kidnapped, imprisoned without charge, and brutally tortured.

Shortly into the narrative, El Akkad reveals that the U.S. unmanned drones are solar powered, can stay aloft indefinitely, rained down destruction during the entire two-decades-plus of the war, and are uncontrolled, because Southern “terrorists” destroyed the “server farms” controlling the drones. This is beyond ridiculous on several counts, and again points to the very high likelihood that El Akkad deliberately made his background — in this particular, the drones — implausible.

Why would he do that? (Such apparent sloppiness is in stark contrast with Akkad’s adroitly drawn and developed characters and his skillful rendering of both action sequences and physical background.)

The point is that the drones are simply there as a constant threat, maiming and killing the innocent, seemingly at random. The point is the constant, year-in-year-out state of fear and anger suffered by those under threat.

The same holds for all of the other horrors El Akkad describes, and their woeful, ever worsening effects on the personalities, outlooks, and consequent actions of his characters, especially Sarat.

This story could be set in virtually any combat zone in any Muslim country. El Akkad set it in the U.S., using American characters, disguising it as a run-of-the-mill sci-fi dystopian tale, simply so that American readers will be able to relate to it on an emotional level.

There’s little point in saying more, except that if you want to understand the psychological roots of the hate and terrorism engendered by America’s foreign wars, American War is a good place to start.

This book is a masterpiece.

Very highly recommended.

* * *

(Reviewer Zeke Teflon is the author of Free Radicals: A Novel of Utopia and Dystopia. He’s currently working on its sequel and an unrelated sci-fi novel. A large sample from Free Radicals, in pdf form, is available here.)

Free Radicals front cover