Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Scott McConnell :Why Americans Don't Understand The Palestinians & Civilians Targeted by Israeli Attack & IDF Soldiers "We Are Human The Arabs Are Animals"

If a man from Mars descended to observe Israel’s attack on the Gaza strip, he would have seen one group of humans trapped in a densely populated area, largely defenseless while a modern air force destroyed their buildings at will. He might have learned that the people in Gaza had been essentially enclosed for several years in a sort of ghetto, deprived by the Israeli navy of access to the fish in their sea, generally unable to travel or to trade with the outside world, barred by Israeli forces from much of their arable land, all the while surveyed continuously from the sky by a foe which could assassinate their leaders at will and often did. --quote from Scott McConnell article  Why Americans Don't Understand Palestine by Scott McConnell at National Interest Nov. 27, 2012

Real News Network Gaza November 27, 2012
50 Children Killed and 450 Injured in Israeli Attack on Gaza
Jihan Hafiz in Gaza: As people dig out of the rubble, a Palestinian doctor says civilians were targeted by Israeli attack

More at The Real News

 So who are the oppressed and who are the oppressors and who are the bullies the Israelis or the Palestinians .

 And in an article from Tom Dispatch we get an insight or insider's view of how the IDF act and their attitude they have concerning the Palestinians whom they say are not quite human . One IDF soldier talks about a battalion operation in Gaza in which a particular neighborhood the soldiers were ordered to search sixty houses occupied by Palestinians . The search was done in the middle of the night without warning . The Israeli soldiers entered each house put the residents in one room and then trashed the house and then arrested all males between sixteen and twenty nine who were taken to HQ set up in the nearby school. The Israelis beat up many of those arrested and shot at anyone who was in the streets. Anyone who was killed was labeled a terrorist though there was no evidence to prove it .
 As we know the Obama administration uses similar logic especially note worthy in US Drone attacks in which any male over age 15 is to be counted as Taliban or Al Qaeda essentially as terrorists and enemy combatants so a group of children gathering firewood or looking after a flock of sheep are considered fair game according to the Bush/Obama doctrine in which all citizens are considered to be enemies of America . Otherwise Obama would have to admit that American troops including Helicopter crews and others have also been guilty of War Crimes and Crimes against humanity.

When US troops in Iraq or Afghanistan believe that their main goal is to meet a body count quota each day then they are going to be trigger happy unless they are given clear instructions about who counts as the enemy and who does not.

The bravest soldiers and the soldiers with real integrity and a moral compass coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan have blown the Whistle on the War Crimes being committed by US troops and their allies on a daily basis. But of course as we now see Obama like Bush has an aversion to truth in these matters.

When Obama was first elected he mad a big deal about investigation the crimes of the former administration once in power he reversed course and let the major players from the Oval office down to the Pentagon, the CIA and FBI and Special Forces etc that none of them would ever have to worry about being investigate let alone charged with criminal offenses and especially not those put into play by the International Court . That was the beginning of burying the truth and what should have been its consequences.

In the excerpt below taken from the article at Tom Dispatch a former IDF soldier explains the operation the soldiers assumed was ostensibly to root out terrorists or to search for weapons cache etc. based on new intel which did not in fact exist but the real purpose this outspoken former IDF soldier says was to terrorize the civilian population to show them that they the Palestinians had no power and no rights and that their lives were essentially in the hands of Israel and the IDF.

  Tomgram: Oded Na'aman, Is Gaza Outside Israel? by Oded Na'aman , Nov. 25, 2012
...Other than the Palestinians themselves, no one has experienced this grim reality in a more up close and personal way than Israel’s soldiers, sent repeatedly into the Gaza Strip and into Palestinian towns and villages in the Occupied Territories, where a creeping program of land theft is still underway. Testimonies from a large number of veterans of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) on their daily experiences -- on what the (IDF) once described as a policy of “searing of consciousness,” involving brutal methods of all sorts -- have been gathered by the dissident group Breaking the Silence. These can now be found in a powerful new book, Our Harsh Logic: Israeli Soldiers’ Testimonies From the Occupied Territories, 2000-2010, published here this September (and almost totally ignored ever since).
Today, they couldn’t be more grimly relevant. These are testimonies that must be read if the situation and anger in the region are to be fully grasped. Think of them as the equivalent of the Winter Soldier Investigation of the Vietnam era, in which American Vietnam veterans testified to the horrific on-the-ground brutality of a failing pacification war. Oded Na'aman, an IDF veteran and co-editor of Harsh Logic, introduces a small selection of the testimonies from that book, adapted and abridged for this site. Tom...
(Former IDF soldier) "...They said there are sixty houses that have to be searched. I thought there must have been some information from intelligence. I tried to justify it to myself.
(Interviewer) You went out as a patrol?
It was a battalion operation. They spread out over the whole village, took over the school, smashed the locks, the classrooms. One was used as the investigation room for the Shin Bet, one room for detainees, one for the soldiers to rest. We went in house by house, banging on the door at two in the morning. The family’s dying of fear, the girls are peeing in their pants with fear. We go into the house and turn everything upside down.
What’s the procedure?
Gather the family in a certain room, put a guard there, tell the guard to aim his gun at them, and then search the rest of the house. We got another order that everyone born after 1980... everyone between sixteen and twenty-nine, doesn’t matter who, bring them in cuffed and blindfolded. They yelled at old people, one of them had an epileptic seizure but they carried on yelling at him.
Every house we went into, we brought everyone between sixteen and twenty-nine to the school. They sat tied up in the schoolyard. "
...But we didn’t find any weapons. They confiscated kitchen knives. There was also stealing. One guy took twenty shekels. Guys went into the houses and looked for things to steal. This was a very poor village. The guys were saying, “What a bummer, there’s nothing to steal.” Occupy update rich insist on cuts to programs which give some help and financial aid to the poor and disabled and elderly.
So as we see the Israelis either simply make no distinction between terrorists and the civilian population or are unaware that there might be a distinction. The Israelis say the same thing about all Arabs as America's used to say about the native Americans that the only good Indian was a dead Indian and the Israelis argue the only good Arab is a dead Arab. This sort of "eliminationists" language in the end leads to the wanton murders of Palestinians of any age or gender. According to this mind-set stoked by Israeli propaganda only leads to more deaths even of young children including toddlers because each child is just a future enemy of Israel so even killing infants and toddlers is therefore they believe justifiable.

So since Israel has God on its side it can kill with impunity and in fact given the notion of "harem" they must show no mercy as they didn't show the "Canaanites" or as the Mexican Army also did at the "Alamo" or as the Japanese did in Nanking or the Turks did to the Armenians or the US troops did at "Wounded Knee" and a century later at Mi Li as Kurt Vonnegut says and so it goes there is no end to the slaughter.

 It would be disingenuous of President Obama to object to such an attitude or the resulting actions since Obama also sees little wrong with dropping bombs on innocent civilians killing dozens if not hundreds of innocent civilians to ostensibly take out one terrorist. The politicians and the Media in the USA foster the notion or talking point promoted by Israeli propaganda that Israel is the nation which is suffering most and is therefore the real victim and not that of the Palestinians in the West Bank or Gaza .

 In reality the people of Gaza have been suffering under an occupation and draconian blockade or siege by the Israelis. Israel isn't just stopping arms from entering Gaza but a whole host of goods including building materials and medical supplies and food . The citizens of Gaza are not permitted to freely cross their borders and are prevented from fishing in the waters off their shore.

The rockets being fired from Gaza are are fairly rudimentary as opposed to the fire power of Israel's army. Gaza does not have battle ships or gun boats or fighter jets or tanks or even personnel carriers. Israel has the eighth largest military in the world and has a nuclear weapons stockpile of at least 150 nukes .This open secret about Israel's illegal nukes for the US media and the Western Media is taboo no one is supposed to mention it because for one thing Israel built these nuclear weapons without getting approval from the International Community or the United Nations etc.

 The IDF appears to make up its rules of engagement with Palestinians as they go along so the rules can change from one day or one group of soldiers to another. The Israelis accuse Hamas fighters of hiding in populated areas using civilians as human shields. The problem is that Gaza is one the most densely populated regions on earth so it is difficult for any armed resistance to find areas where there are few civilians. This would be like the armed resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto being forced to fight only where there were no so-called innocent civilians since all were in fact innocent but some of the innocents decided to fight the Nazi War machine no matter how futile.

The "Human Shield" accusation is just an excuse for Israel to bomb civilian infrastructure in the recent incursion of the Israelis they bombed a soccer stadium, TV and other media outlets , cement factories , schools , hospitals and first responders. The Israelis also attacked areas of Gaza when they knew the conditions would be that of the most crowded on a particular day. But Americans are told over and over again that the Israelis are the good guys and can do no wrong no matter how many innocent civilians including children they kill and no matter how many Palestinians are thrown into Israeli prisons under Indefinite Detention and having their rights trampled upon and even being tortured .

We can't expect Americans or their allies in general to be bothered by most of these illegal, immoral, unethical , brutish treatment of the Palestinians when the USA under George W. Bush and now under President Obama is itself carrying out similar actions in its so-called "Global War On Terror". Obama may want to re-brand this war anyway he wants but in the end the policies of Obama are for the most the same as George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

In his speech supporting Israel against the Gazans did not mention the occupation and blockade Israel is conducting against Gaza and its virtual control of the the West Bank and Occupied Territories where Palestinians are denied their rights and in fact are treated as if they have no rights at all. President Obama for all the criticism he gets from the GOP and the right accusing him of not supporting Israel he seems to be carrying out policies to favor Israel. Obama has promised more arms for Israel's War Machine and US troops to do Israel's bidding . If Obama was as committed to fairness and justice as he and his supporters claim he would not continue spewing the party line of Israel's Propaganda Machine .

    Some had hoped that in second term he would develop at least some personal integrity and be able to stand up to the Status Quo and the Lobbyists but no he is once again failing while managing to throw out some crumbs to quiet his progressive supporters such as ending DADT and approving of Gay Marriage  while at the same time Kow Towing to the Pentagon, Wall Street , the Neo-liberals such as the Clintons and ignoring the spreading of the militarization of America's police forces and their over the top violent reaction to American citizens legally protesting or helping the brutal regime in Bahrain to continue to beat, torture, gas and kill protesters in that country as the USA did in Egypt til they saw the writing on the wall.

 If Obama were really fair-minded and wanted real change in America's government he would instead of taking sides with Israel no matter what. He would instead develop a saner more even handed policy and would become himself better informed about the plight of the Palestinians and then would attempt to explain the reality of the ongoing conflict as opposed to the mythology surrounding the state of Israel as God's Chosen nation and the companion myth that the Palestinians are therefore by definition by being the enemies of Israel as being minions of Satan or the Anti-Christ. But for all we know Obama himself has bought into this myth and believes every word of it.

But one can only characterize the Israelis as the Chosen ones if one accepts a literal inerrant view of the Bible from Moses at least to the Book of Revelation.So is Obama like George Bush basing his foreign policies in the Middle East based upon the Bible and not on reality. So he like the Evangelical Fundamentalists expecting Armageddon and the coming of the anti-Christ and the Second Coming of Jesus as Messiah. If Obama does believe as millions of other Americans in this type of End-Times scenario then the Middle East is doomed and no Palestinian or Arab or Persian or Pashtun or Turk or Kurd or any Muslims should believe that he is their friend in any way shape or form.

 Why Americans Don't Understand Palestine by Scott McConnell at National Interest Nov. 27, 2012
...A free and responsible press could challenge this political monoculture. But while there was more varied commentary about this Middle East war than previous ones, major journalistic organs failed dramatically at providing Americans information to understand the conflict. On November 19, the New York Times published an editorial outlining its view of the Gaza war. Its core passage described the outbreak of conflict:

Hamas, which took control of Gaza in 2007 and is backed by Iran, is so consumed with hatred for Israel that it has repeatedly resorted to violence, no matter what the cost to its own people. Gaza militants have fired between 750 to 800 rockets into Israel this year before Israel assassinated one of its senior leaders last week and began its artillery and air campaign.

This summary mirrors precisely the oft-voiced Israeli hasbara point “We withdrew from Gaza, and they started firing rockets.”

But the Times ignored entirely the virtual occupation of Gaza that Israel has maintained over the territory since its withdrawal, an occupation which intensified after Hamas won a Palestinian election, then prevailed in a struggle against the PA for control of the strip. The Times “balanced” its assessment with mild extraneous criticism of Israel for “marginalizing” the Palestinian Authority and isolating itself diplomatically.

But the Israel-dominated reality Gazans had faced for the prior six years is left out. ...One explanation for such sentiments is that most Americans take foreign policy cues from political leaders, and no prominent American politician is willing to publicly express sympathy or compassion for Palestinians at the expense of Israel.

Since roughly the time of John F. Kennedy, the politically ambitious have understood that expressing a wish for even-handedness between Israel and Palestine would threaten one’s career. Whatever their private views might be, by the time they get to Congress legislators learn that uncritical support for Israel is the “smart” political choice.

The spectrum of Congressional debate is shaped by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, whose leaders vet potential candidates from across the political spectrum for their willingness to promote AIPAC-sponsored views on the Middle East, and ensure the access of those who agree to the lobby’s superb national fundraising networks. Those who stray are punished.

Among notable victims was Illinois Senator Charles Percy, a moderate Republican once considered by many a possible future president. But after Percy refused to sign “the letter of 76” senators opposing President Ford’s call for a reassessment of U.S. Middle East policy, and described Yasser Arafat as relative moderate among Palestinians, he faced well-funded opponents in the primary and general elections, and an outsider from California spent more than $1 million in negative ads against him.

As J. J. Goldberg, editor of the Forward, noted a decade ago, “there is this image in Congress that you don’t cross these people or they take you down.” Given the absence of any publicly Palestine-sympathetic politicians at the national level, it may be surprising that support for Israel’s strikes is not higher than 57 percent. ...Yes, it is true that Hamas is hostile to Israel and that its charter is anti-Semitic. It is also true that Hamas leaders have expressed interest in a long-term negotiated truce—a concession many observers feel is prelude to accepting a two state solution. By failing to acknowledge that Israel had been blockading Gaza and its people, the Times gave its readers no way to understand why the people under Hamas rule might support resistance against Israel, including firing rockets, or why millions of people throughout the Arab and Muslim world support them.

On the same day in the Washington Post, Richard Cohen accused Hamas of not caring about human life, including that of Gazans. He too dwelled on the anti-Semitism in the Hamas charter, and mentioned the 2005 Israeli “pullout” from Gaza. He chided Israel for building settlements, but also could not bring himself to mention the blockade Israel has imposed on Gaza. Neither, writing a few days hence, could his Post colleague David Ignatius. Like Cohen, Ignatius is a centrist, sometimes critical of Israeli actions. But about Gaza he hewed tightly to Israeli propaganda guidelines:
The Israelis withdrew from Gaza in 2005, only to have Hamas fire about 12,000 rockets and mortars at the Jewish state. The Israel Defense Forces invaded in 2008 (Operation Cast Lead) and a ceasefire followed. But in the years since, Hamas and other militias fired more than 3000 rockets and mortars, despite periodic cease-fires. On November 14, the Israelis got fed up and retaliated. . . they assassinated Hamas military leader Ahmed Jabari.
Again, no mention of the blockade, no reference to Israel’s denial of Palestinian access to everything from the fish off their seacoast, to the opportunity to go to universities run by their compatriots on the West Bank, to their best arable land, to the equipment that would allow them to mend their broken water system. Palestinian resistance to the occupation is presented as simple bloody-mindedness.

It is less surprising that Post columnist Charles Krauthammer, whose views track more closely with Israel’s right-wing government, would take the identical line: Israel withdrew, got rockets in return. Does not publishing this kind of narrative, again and again, constitute a kind of journalistic malpractice, an abrogation of a major newspaper’s responsibility to inform? To imply that the Palestinians have no cause to resist, when rather plainly they exist in circumstances no people on earth would tolerate, is not really different from an actual lie. Israel can lie about Gaza if it wants, as governments do. But should major U.S. newspapers do so in their editorial and opinion pages?

It is hardly as if such journalistic distortions come without cost to Americans. Faced with a vast region of critical strategic importance, American readers are being deprived of information essential to understanding what is going on. The Arab world is radicalizing rapidly, often in anti-American ways, and one stream feeding the radicalism is U.S. diplomatic and moral support for Israel’s cruel blockade of Gaza. This is not to say that media coverage of the Israel Palestine issue has not improved. Now, perhaps for the first time, Palestinians appear on network talk programs (Chris Hayes) and major radio outlets (NPR). It is important that Yousef Munayyer can be heard telling Democracy Now radio host Amy Goodman that to claim Israel is not occupying Gaza is like saying your goldfish are not under your control if you are not actually in the tank swimming with them.

and so it goes,


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