Posts Tagged ‘world media’

Deprivation and Desperation in Gaza

November 25, 2008

By JOE MOWREY | Counterpunch, Nov  24, 2008

As conditions in the Gaza strip approach a catastrophic level of deprivation, the world media, and in particular the U.S. media, remain largely silent. The United Nations, whose truckloads of food and medical supplies continue to be denied entry into Gaza by Israel, appears to be one of the few international voices of dissent concerning the collective punishment of 1.5 million human beings. This, despite the fact that more than 50% of the population in Gaza is comprised of children under the age of 15.

Israel claims to be defending itself against the crude, often homemade rockets which militant factions in Gaza fire randomly into southern Israel. Though it may be considered politically incorrect, this writer refuses to precede his remarks with the requisite, “It’s wrong for militant Palestinians to be firing rockets into Israel.” The ethics of Palestinian resistance to the Zionist colonization of Palestine and the dispossession of the Palestinian people is a subject for another article. The issue at hand is one of collective punishment. Regardless of the actions of certain factions in Gaza, the fact remains that Israel (with the approval of the U.S.and the world community) is depriving an entire civilian population of food, medicine and clean drinking water in response to the violent actions of a few among that population. By any civilized standard this behavior is wrong and should be condemned vociferously. To paraphrase the words of an alien from another planet in a not-so-great Hollywood movie of some years ago, every sentient being knows the difference between right and wrong.

Apparently not. Israel’s Foreign Minister and likely future Prime Minister, Tzipi Livni, recently dismissed the notion that Israel’s actions in Gaza amount to collective punishment and claimed those actions were a justifiable response to the rocket attacks on Israel. She stated, “The international community must be more decisive in making itself heard and in using its influence in the face of these attacks.”

To suggest that the international community should condemn “these attacks” by militant Palestinian factions, yet ignore the humanitarian disaster being imposed on Gaza by the government of Israel demonstrates a nearly incomprehensible level of hypocrisy. But more importantly, the fact that Jews are the ones perpetrating these unconscionable actions in Gaza is a tragedy of historic proportions. The Geneva Conventions, particularly those articles addressing the  of civilian populations, were largely crafted in response to the treatment of Jews by the Nazis during World War II. Has the sense of exclusivity and entitlement created by the Zionist experiment in Israel become so great that people there no longer see themselves in the mirror of their own history? The irony of Jews, among the most egregiously persecuted and maligned people in history, denying food to hundreds of thousands of children in order, allegedly, to insure their own security, is breathtaking. Who could ever have imagined such a thing?

As people of Gaza suffer, here in the U.S., the vast majority of so-called progressives continue to revel in the recent election of the first Black man to the Presidency. While Obama has garnered a great deal of political and financial support by pledging his unconditional support for the Zionist regime in Israel, he remains completely silent on the plight of the children of Gaza. Our first Black President not only refuses to speak out against the collective punishment of an oppressed people, he actively supports and encourages the regime responsible for this behavior. This too is a tragedy of historic proportions. Have we come this far in the struggle against racism in our country only to see Barack Obama put a minority face on U.S. support for violations of international law and essential human dignity by Israel? Again, one has to say, who could ever have imagined such a thing?

Each morning I peruse the alternative media online and hope to see at least some minor degree of outrage at the situation in Gaza. A small but courageous handful of progressive web sites dare to criticize Israel and speak out against the abuse of the Palestinian people. But for the most part, the glorious and powerful “NetRoots” movement is too busy congratulating itself on the so-called victory it has achieved in the recent elections, too busy celebrating the illusion of change which Barack Obama represents, to admit the absence of any indication of substantive change in U.S. foreign policy in Palestine or the Middle East under his coming administration.

Does it ever occur to those who so blindly and passionately rallied ‘round their candidate for the Presidency that they might now use their voices to encourage him to oppose the human rights abuses being orchestrated in Gaza? The sad reality is, not even a chorus of such voices is likely to alter the course Obama appears to have taken. He has surrounded himself with a familiar cast of armchair militarists, corporatists and hard core pro-Zionist zealots who will continue to give their unconditional support to Israel regardless of what barbaric tactics the government there uses to advance the colonization of Palestine. He is choosing to turn his back on the men, women and children in Gaza and the West Bank who suffer chronic malnutrition, desperate poverty, dispossession and daily humiliation at the hands of the Israeli military.

We should stand up in opposition to instances of human rights abuses whenever and wherever they occur. The situation in Gaza is only one on an unfortunately long list, locally, nationally and internationally. And U.S. government (that means you and me) support for and complicity in many such instances is no secret. If each of us were to do just one thing per week to address these issues, the result might surprise us all. Take a minute out from the long and endless chatter of day to day living and speak to a friend about the idea of social equality. Write one letter to the editor of your local paper in support of human rights. Spend just one percent of your online hours learning the truth about our complicity as U.S. citizens in the exploitation and degradation of other people and their cultures. Turn off your television. Go stand on a corner with a sign to protest war. Wear a button promoting peace and justice. One small thing at a time.

To those who became politically active, possibly for the first time, and expended their valuable enthusiasm and energy in order to see Barack Obama elected: thank you for being a part of history. Now why not try on the mantel of social activism? Write our President-elect a letter and suggest that he at least acknowledge the suffering of the people in Gaza. It is doubtful it will change him or his policies, but it may change you. And that truly is “change we can believe in.”

Every sentient being knows the difference between right and wrong. The question is, why do so few of us act on that knowledge?

Joe Mowrey is an anti-war and Palestinian rights activist. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with his spouse, Janice, and their three canine enablers. You can write to him at jmowrey@ix.netcom.com.

President Ahmadinejad accepts Israel’s right to exist

September 30, 2008

The Iranian president has said he would accept a two-state solution if the Palestinians agree. So where are the headlines?

Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has made a remarkable announcement. He’s admitted that Iran might agree to the existence of the state of Israel.

Ahmadinejad was asked: “If the Palestinian leaders agree to a two-state solution, could Iran live with an Israeli state?”

This was his astonishing reply:

If they [the Palestinians] want to keep the Zionists, they can stay … Whatever the people decide, we will respect it. I mean, it’s very much in correspondence with our proposal to allow Palestinian people to decide through free referendums.

Since most Palestinians are willing to accept a two-state solution, the Iranian president is, in effect, agreeing to Israel’s right to exist and opening the door to a peace deal that Iran will endorse.

Ahmadinejad made this apparently extraordinary shift in policy during an
interview last week when he was in New York to address the UN general assembly.

He was interviewed on September 24 by reporters Juan Gonzalez, writing for the New York Daily News, and Amy Goodman for the current affairs TV programme, Democracy Now.

You can watch the full interview and read the full text on the Democracy Now website.

Surprisingly, Ahmadinejad’s sensational softening of his long-standing, point-blank anti-Israeli stance was not even headlined by the two reporters. Perhaps this was a decision by their editors? Did they not want to admit that Ahmadinejad may have, for once, said something vaguely progressive?

Equally odd, the story wasn’t picked up by the world’s media. For many years, the Iranian president has been vilified, usually justifiably. Now, when he says something positive and helpful, the media ignores it. Is this because of some anti-Iran or pro-Israel agenda?

Why ignore a statement that is, from any political and journalistic perspective, a radical departure from Ahmadinejad’s previous unyielding anti-Israel tirades? Only a week earlier in Tehran he was saying that the Israeli state would not survive.

Confused? Aren’t we all. Will the real Mahmoud Ahmadinejad please stand up?

Is he a deceiver and an unprincipled opportunist who will say anything to further Iran’s political agenda? Or could it be that beneath his often demagogic public rhetoric against Israel he is, in fact, open to options more moderate than his reported remarks about wiping the Israeli state off the map?

I am not defending or endorsing Ahmadinejad in any way, shape or form. Indeed, I am on record as being one of Ahmadinejad’s harshest critics. I’ve protested dozens of times outside the Iranian Embassy in London and written scores of articles exposing his regime’s persecution of trade unionists, students, journalists, human rights defenders, women’s equality campaigners, gay people, Sunni Muslims and ethnic minorities such as the Arabs, Kurds, Azeris and Balochis.

You can watch my Talking with Tatchell online TV programmes on the Iranian regime’s anti-Arab racism here, and on the rising popular resistance to its police state methods here.

But I also hope I am open-minded and fair. Even I can see that Ahmadinejad appears to have moderated his position and is now apparently willing, with Palestinian agreement, to accept the co-existence of two states: Israel and Palestine.

Many Israelis and their allies will no doubt say Ahmadinejad can’t be trusted; that his comments were part of a manipulative charm offensive during his visit to the UN in New York. They may be right. But even if he is being disingenuous, that fact that he’s made this public concession on Israel at all is a softening of sorts.

News of what he said will filter back to Tehran and he’ll have to account for his words to his government, including the hardline anti-Israel ayatollahs and revolutionary guards. I wonder what they think?

Call me naive, but in my view Ahmadinejad’s words were of major significance. He ought be pressed by world leaders, and Israel, to repeat them and to clarify them. His statement might, and I emphasise might, be evidence that Iran is open to some negotiation on the future of the Israeli state.

If Israel’s leaders had any sense, they would ignore past provocations by Iran and seize this moment to have dialogue with the Palestinian and Iranian leaders on a two-state solution. What Ahmadinejad has said could be an opening to diffuse the stand-off between Iran and Israel.

I am not relenting one inch in my condemnation of Ahmadinejad’s regime, with its grisly torture chambers, execution of juvenile offenders and neocolonial subjugation of national minorities. But I do find myself in considerable agreement with the Iranian president’s analysis of why the Middle East peace process has stalled. He told Gonzales and Goodman:

The first reason is that none of the solutions have actually addressed the root cause of the problem. The root cause is the presence of an illegitimate government regime that has usurped and imposed itself on, meaning they have brought people from other parts of the world, replaced them with people who had existed in the territory and then forced the exit of the old people out, the people who lived there, out of the country or the territories. So there have been two simultaneous displacements. The indigenous people were forced out and displaced, and a group of other people scattered around the globe were gathered and placed in a new place … A second reason is that none of those peace plans offered so far have given attention to the right to self-determination of the Palestinians. If a group of people are forced out of their country, that doesn’t mean their rights are gone, even with the passage of 60 years. Can you ignore the rights of those displaced? How is it possible for people to arrive from far-off lands and have the right to self-determination, whereas the indigenous people of the territory are denied that right?

Much as I loathe his regime, Ahmadinejad is basically right. The key to peace in the Middle East is concessions from the occupying power. As the stronger, wealthier and conquering partner, Israel should take the initiative and help kick-start the peace process by withdrawing unilaterally and totally from the territories it has occupied illegally (according to international law) since the 1967 war. This means pulling out from all of the West Bank and dismantling all the illegal Israeli settlements.

The West Bank, plus Gaza, should become the independent, sovereign state of Palestine, backed with international aid and investment to create the infrastructure for economic development and for social provision (new houses, schools, hospitals, transport links and sports facilities).

Jobs and prosperity in Palestine will undercut and isolate the men of violence. They will lose support and become marginalised in a self-governing state where ordinary Palestinians experience the tangible benefits of peace.

This is so damn obvious. When will Israel’s leaders wake up and realise that peace with justice is the only way to give their people lasting security?


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