River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!
“If their trips were scheduled on the same day, they would change planes without being asked about visas or passports.”
US geopolitical designs have succeeded in creating chaos on Russia’s border
This article originally appeared at Johnson’s Russia List
Sergei Roy is a Russian journalist and author, Senior Fellow of the American University in Moscow and former editor of Moscow News.
We have published this article in a slightly edited form. Despite its length and very discursive quality it sets out the universal view in Russia of what the Ukrainian crisis is really about.
Russians, both inside and outside the elite, overwhelmingly see what the western media presents as a popular revolution against a corrupt government rather as a CIA sponsored coup carried out by violent Russia-hating neo-Nazi extremists against Ukraine’s democratic, constitutional order.
Economically and financially, Ukraine is a basket case; it is only kept this side of bankruptcy by Western sops (quite niggardly ones, it ought to be noted); by refusing to pay for Russian gas; by reneging on its social obligations; and similar antics.
Politically, it is a feudal-like agglomeration of oligarchies, with, say, Kolomoyskiy, governor of Dnepropetrovsk, openly challenging the authority of President Poroshenko – and why not? He has billions enough, he has a private army, he has power enough to install a confederate in, say, Odessa as governor. And Mr K. is just one example: 16 other oligarchs were given governorships in the wake of the February coup.
Does the EU want that kind of country among its rightful members? Surely not; Ukraine will stay “associated” for an indefinite period of time, that’s one of the few certainties in a highly uncertain context.
Now, what do the EU, NATO, and primarily the US want with Ukraine such as it is? This “association” gimmick simply makes a country aspiring to EU membership a colony or semi-colony of the strong EU economies.
There is abundant evidence of that: Bulgaria, Romania, the Baltics – they are, by and large, mere markets for European producers, while Europe has no need at all for the products of the newly incorporated countries’ industries – which simply die out. Will anyone in Europe buy Zaporozhye cars? They are the butt of jokes, vicious or good-natured, in Russia even. No one wants them.
US plans to replace cheap Russian gas for Europe with its own more expensive gas are widely discussed both in Russia and in Europe. In pursuance of those plans the gas pipelines leading from Russia to Europe through Ukraine must be taken possession of or destroyed; it does not much matter which, provided Russia is squeezed out of the equation. Hence the “color” revolutions in Kiev, one after another, which are textbook CIA operations.
All this is quite obvious, but it is only part of the bigger, geopolitical picture. The EU and – let me say it again – primarily the US, see Ukraine’s main role as that of a battering ram against Russia, a weapon to hit not only at its economy but its very existence.
Why this onslaught on Russia? Elementary. The US can only lead the fine, prosperous life it now leads, with that beautiful $17 trillion budget deficit, by dominating the world. There is enough ideological camouflage for that – the doctrine of “exceptionalism,” world leadership, promotion of freedom and democracy throughout the world, whatever.
Crucially, these ideological gewgaws are solidly backed by some 800 US military facilities – bases and suchlike – the world over. Europe included. The other day Vice President Joe Biden gave the Europeans a resounding slap in the face: he boasted that the Europeans had been unwilling to join the sanctions against Russia, but the US had forced them to do it. It is worth wondering whether Obama would have been able to pull that trick in the absence of those military bases.
There are two main obstacles on America’s road to complete world domination – China and Russia; both conscious of their national interests, both prepared to stand up for them, and both nuclear armed. The US does all it can to weaken China – v. the “color”-type turbulence in Tibet, Xinjang-Uyghur Province, currently in Hong Kong – but China is too big, too strong, and its economy and finances are too closely interwoven with those of the US. Russia is the weaker unit of this duo; so it is first in line to be crushed by the world hegemon.
Here’s the order of threats to the world that Obama recently set out in his speech at the UN: ebola, “Russian aggression,” ISIS. Ebola is, of course, strictly for the media to blab about and to scare the hoi polloi with; “Russian aggression”, though, is more dangerous to the world than ISIS, according to Obama. In short, the same old song: Russia is America’s enemy #1. So, let’s bomb ISIS as a sort of sideline, but mainly let’s support the Russia-hating junta in Kiev.
A lot of preparation had gone into installing in February 2014 that ultranationalist, Russophobic regime: nearly twenty-five years (23, to be precise); also $5 billion – but that’s according to Nuland only; who knows how much came from CIA secret funds, how much was brought into Ukraine during the Maidan months in “diplomatic’ suitcases bypassing the customs – these were spotted time and again. So-called noncommercial organizations, training camps for “color” revolutionists in Poland and the Baltics, seminars in the arts of the “orange” revolutions – all that had taken plenty of funds, too, and they had been readily provided, being but an infinitesimal part of the above-mentioned, nice budget deficit.
It must be noted here that these efforts fell on fertile soil. I do not mean only the young and not so young individuals whose fathers and grandfathers once marched with the Waffen SS, murdered Jews, Poles, and communists; the men who started marching again in the “independent” Ukraine, wearing Nazi swastikas and other insignia. There were also subtler cases, like the urban educated classes, driven by mammoth-size inferiority complexes: these could only assume a distinct, separate identity by rejecting the fact that they were essentially, deeply Russian (even if it’s Little, or Smaller, Russian) in terms of language, culture, religion, history, etc.
Indeed, it’s really comical to watch on TV a Ukrainian official making a speech in Ukrainian, then stumbling and whispering to someone, in a Russian aside: “What’s the word for ‘negative’?” The other day the Rada speaker was exhorting his unruly colleagues to take their seats, got emotional, and let a Russian swearword slip in his harangue, very loudly. In Ukraine, whoever reads books at all, reads Russian books – just take a look at the shelves in the bookshops. I handed out a copy or two of my recent novel to some Ukrainian chaps who worked on my dacha this past summer – and they asked for more, for their friends back home. It just shows, doesn’t it.
The Ukrainian intelligentsia’s rebellion against their own roots sometimes takes incredibly ludicrous forms. Some of them invent perfectly fantastic tales for the consumption of the masses: that the hominids called Ukrs arrived here from Venus in times immemorial; that the Ukrainian nation is 140,000 years old; that a Ukrainian empire rivaled in antiquity the Roman Empire; that the Russian and Ukrainian name for the Crimea, Krym, is a shortened form of K Rymu “Toward Rome,” indicating the direction in which ancient Ukrainian hosts moved on Rome; and lots of similar balderdash poured into receptive ears starting from kindergarten on.
The main feature of the subversive work intended to foster Russophobia was its omnivorous character. Any ideology was grist to the CIA and State Department mill: Neo-Nazism, the intelligentsia’s hankering for the “European values,” religious separatists’ fight against Orthodox Christians’ centuries-old adherence to the Moscow patriarchy, anything at all – provided it was anti-Russian.
These strenuous efforts brought about two “color” revolutions – the bloodless “orange” one of 2004 and the bloody February 2014 coup. The latter, dominated by the ultranationalists, was accepted and actually welcomed by the West as a victory for democracy. Germany and France first brokered an agreement between President Yanukovich and the oligarchs who opposed him and funded the Maidan. The very following day, though, they forgot all about that agreement and simply looked on as the Right Sector and similar Nazi riffraff broke every letter of it, seized government buildings, chased the president out of the country, and generally grabbed all power in the land.
By that act, Ukraine, with the instigation and connivance of the Western powers, stepped right out of the constitutional field, thereby putting itself outside any legal framework. No constitution provides for coups; no constitution envisages the sending of strike teams with the express aim of murdering the legally elected president – there’s enough evidence of that; no constitution provides for changing the constitution overnight, in the absence of the Constitutional Court (kicked out by the putschists) and in total disregard for the prolonged procedure incorporated in both competing constitutions.
In the absence of any constitutional order in the country, any part of it which refused to recognize this illegal central authority had every right to pursue its own political course.
In the Crimea, there was an organized political force that took the region through all the necessary legal steps – declaration of independence from central authority, referendum, appeal to Russia to accept the results of the referendum. In Donbass no such unified, organized force emerged, the referendum was not conducted according to strict legal procedure, and – perhaps no less importantly – there was no Russian military base on Donbass territory, as there was in the Crimea – a base that had always been there, and that in the last 23 years had been there by agreement with Kiev, with Russia dutifully paying rent to Ukraine. Had there been such a base in Donbass, it could have played the same role of silent catalyst as in the Crimea; like in the Crimea, no shots would have been fired, no blood would have been shed. That’s why the Crimeans are now watching the blood-letting and total destruction in Donbass with horror – and unspeakable relief at having escaped the same appalling fate.
What happened after the coup is too well known. Kiev declared armed groups of ultranationalists to be the National Guard, in direct contravention of the above-mentioned February agreement – signed by France and Germany – that provided for disbanding all illegal armed formations. These “legalized” bands started murdering, taking hostage, and torturing anti-Maidan activists, actually persecuting whomsoever they did not like – the people who insisted on, or just happened to be speaking Russian, reading Russian, teaching Russian, or indeed expressing any anti-Maidan sentiments.
This sparked off resistance in many areas which proved to be strongest and better organized in Donbass, a totally Russian-speaking region that was only added to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1922 by Lenin’s decree. Donbass fighters operated at first as separate guerrilla units, but war soon taught them the need for organization and unified command. These fighters defended their right to be what they were; they fought for their own land, their livelihood, and their homes, and were thus incomparably better motivated than their enemies – aggressive Nazi bands and youths drafted into the Ukrainian army against their will. After initial defeats Donbass opolchentsy (literally, militia) began to trounce Ukrainian army units, the National Guards, and the oligarchs’ private armies, eventually forcing the conclusion of ceasefire.
To explain their inability to cope with the resisters in Donbass, Ukrainian politicians and the media propagate the myth of “Russian invasion,” a myth that most of the Ukrainian and Western public accepts as God’s truth. That’s a big, a very Big Lie, and it is the sand on which the policies of the US and EU toward Russia are cynically based.
Sure, there are people from Russia fighting in Donbass – Cossacks from the neighboring Don and Kuban regions, Tatars, Chechens, even Georgians – volunteers who see the Kiev junta as Fascist and believe it their duty to fight Fascism wherever it raises its nauseating head; they fight it just as their forefathers had fought it and defeated it. Donbass fighters’ command puts the number of these volunteers at five percent of their forces. But! Except for that single combat vehicle with nine servicemen that lost its way at night in the Ukrainian steppe, there has been not one scrap of evidence of any Russian Army units fighting in Donbass. Most of the proof for Russian invasion originates in countless fakes flooding the internet.
Feeding on these fakes, the Big Lie persists. In particular, it is cited as the reason for the sanctions and the threat of more sanctions to be imposed on Russia.
Personally, I am all for these sanctions; I believe they’re a useful incentive for Russia to stand on its own feet, but this need not be gone into here. And anyway sanctions are not the reason why we here in Russia spend hours listening to the news from Ukraine. The reason lies in what I said at the beginning: Ukraine is a failed state, in every way. It can only be held together as a single whole in the form of a totally militarized, ultranationalist, chauvinistic entity dominated by one single ideology – Ukrainianizing everything in sight, winning the war against Donbass, and dreaming about regaining the Crimea. Parading through Sevastopol, as the Ukrainian defense minister once put it. An interesting figure, that war minister; I’d say emblematic for the current set-up in Kiev – a police officer who never served in the army, a political appointee who did not know the first thing about directing military operations, led his forces to a resounding defeat, and was the other day kicked out of the office. A civilian militarist, you might say.
Trouble is, such personages rule the roost in today’s Ukraine. You only have to look at the candidates for the new Rada most likely to be elected soon: they are veterans of what Kiev idiotically calls an “anti-terrorist operation”; they have no other agenda except vindicating themselves and driving the country into more war ventures. Poroshenko may talk all he wants about his 60 reforms, for the benefit of the folks in Washington who installed him in his post, but who will listen to him? Not those battalion commanders who will be elected to the Rada. Just you wait and see.
Thus the purpose of creating an ever more militarized Ukraine run by characters set on joining NATO and embroiling it in a war with Russia has been achieved. The countless US advisors embedded in Ukraine, plus the endless stream of visiting US officials, have done their job. Therein lies the mortal danger to world peace. The past few months have shown that the Kiev government – incompetent, corrupt, thieving, torn apart by warring oligarchic cliques – is totally incapable of winning a war even with what is, or until recently was, essentially a partisan movement. Ukraine is already asking for military aid – and receiving it, if not from NATO as a whole, then from individual NATO countries. That is a sure way to the escalation of the conflict, for Russia will not leave the Russians of Donbass to the mercy of better armed and better trained Ukrainian and non-Ukrainian forces. Russia’s government will act, no doubt about that – if only to avoid bad trouble from its own populace. Russians are a divided nation, and they are sick and tired of it.
All this may sound alarmist, but it is in fact a moderate assessment and forecast. Who could have predicted just a few months ago that the authorities in Kiev might start what amounts to genocide against the population of a part of their own country? No one, and yet it is all there on our TV screens – dozens of civilians killed every day, even greater numbers wounded or shell-shocked, infrastructure destroyed, residential areas destroyed, schools and kindergartens and hospitals destroyed, no gas, no water, no food, no medicine, no electricity, nothing but ever fresh evidence of Ukrainian forces’ atrocities, fresh mass graves.
This full-scale genocide, carried out by Western-backed war criminals in Kiev, remains virtually unknown to the outside world. The information blackout achieves its purpose. The public in the West only catches rare glimpses of it all, while feeling convinced that it is all because of “Russian aggression” – information warfare at its most effective. I listen, more or less regularly, to the BBC World Service, but I might as well save myself the trouble and listen to the Kiev propaganda machine – except that the BBC’s even more powerful propaganda weapon is dead silence over the murder of children, old men, and women by the Kiev forces using heavy artillery and multiple rocket launchers that cover vast residential areas at a single salvo.
With a few exceptions, European governments accept the myth of “Russian aggression” – just listen to what is being said in the European Parliament (though, to be fair, one third of it is said to have voted against anti-Russia sanctions). Will these governments back, and participate in, aggression against such an awful aggressor as Russia? Will the peoples of Europe permit the governments to go into the spiral of escalation?
With these uncertainties and imponderables, we step into an extremely dangerous, unpredictable future – where nothing, not even a nuclear conflagration, is ruled out. We can only pray to God to save us from such a fate, and to rid us of McCain-type power-mad politicos who keep pushing the world toward such an end.
Observers took hundreds of testimonies to compile reports on human shields and indiscriminate targeting of noncombatants.
By Assed Baig, London
Israel violated international law according to a report released Thursday that investigated the use of human shields during Israel’s 2014 onslaught of the Gaza Strip.
The report, published by the Geneva-based Euro-Mid human rights observer, says that the Israeli army broke international law on at least six occasions in the southern Gaza Strip in August.
Civilians were subjected to “inhumane and abusive” treatment, according to the report entitled, “Israeli Matrix of Control: use of Palestinian civilians as human shields.”
Palestinians were beaten and exposed to the hot sun while naked for long periods of time, investigators found.
The human rights organization claims that testimonies collected by its observers show that the use of Palestinian human shields is a recurring Israeli policy since there have been similar cases outside of Gaza, such as in the West Bank.
Jessica Purkiss from the Middle East Monitor, told Anadolu Agency on Thursday that the cases of human shields were “horrific.”
Purkiss referenced the case of Ramadan Qdeih from Khan Younis, where he told observers that he saw his father shot dead and was made to stand at the windows with his hands tied while Israeli soldiers stood behind him, shooting.
“It’s complete injustice, it’s treating people absolutely like animals, and I think it’s symbolic of how the Israeli military see Palestinians and Gazans,” said Purkiss.
The Euro-Mid team also said that they did not find any evidence of Palestinians who were forced to stay in their homes or to use their bodies for the protection of Palestinian fighters.
The report calls on Israeli military prosecutors to carry out a “serious and reliable” investigation of the cases documented in the report and asks for the individuals that are found guilty to be held to account.
Euro-Mid also called on the United Nations Human Rights Council to establish a fact-finding mission into the recent conflict and to investigate the issue of human shields.
Ihsan Adel, a legal advisor working at Euro-Mid, told Anadolu Agency that they will give the evidence that they have gathered to the UN in the hope that those who committed crimes would face trial.
Adel said that both Palestinians and Israelis should join the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court and an investigation should be launched into war crimes committed during the war on Gaza.
In a separate report released Thursday by the same organization, it was claimed that the Israeli military deliberately carried out indiscriminate attacks on the Gaza Strip.
The observers based their claims on the testimonies of 432 people and again urged a UN investigation.
Euro-Mid said that “reconstruction of the Gaza Strip is needed for Palestinians… However without accountability for crimes and protection for human rights; it will be a life without dignity or hope.”
The report concludes that Israel violated Article 16 of the fourth Geneva Convention that obliges parties to protect people with special needs such as those with disabilities.
“By bombing a Palestinian charity and other institutions housing disabled people without effective warning, Israeli forces violated its obligations under the fourth Geneva Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities,” the report said.
Israel has denied all charges that it has acted outside of international law and has instead accused Hamas of using human shields.
During Israel’s onslaught this summer, over 15,000 housing units were damaged across the Gaza Strip, including 2,200 that were totally destroyed, according to official Palestinian figures.
More than 2,160 Gazans were killed and 11,000 injured, mostly civilians, during seven weeks of unrelenting Israeli bombardment — from air, land and sea — throughout July and August.
Palestinians carry the body of fourteen-year old Orwa Hammad at his funeral in the West Bank village of Silwad on 26 October. Israeli occupation forces shot and killed the US citizen on 24 October.
Thousands attended the 26 October funeral of Orwa Hammad, the fourteen-year-old Palestinian-American boy who was shot dead by Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank village of Silwad two days earlier.
Israeli occupation forces claimed Orwa had been about to throw a molotov cocktail, a justification frequently given for the killings of children.
Local residents told The New York Times that “Palestinians throwing stones clashed with Israeli soldiers in the village after Friday Prayer, but that Orwa was apparently killed hours later.”
The US State Department expressed “condolences” for Orwa’s death but failed to condemn it, in contrast to the killing of an Israeli-American baby in Jerusalem days earlier when a Palestinian driver crashed a car into a group of pedestrians in eastern occupied Jerusalem.
The US called for “a speedy and transparent investigation” into Orwa’s death.
What no one disputes, however, is that Orwa was killed by Israeli bullets.
Thousands of miles from where Orwa died and was buried, Shukri Abu Baker sits in a maximum security US federal prison in Beaumont, Texas, serving out a 65-year sentence.
It turns out he has a connection to Orwa and light to shed on the tragedy his family has lived through under occupation.
Using the authorized prison email system, Abu Baker sent this message to his family and friends. His daughter Nida Abu Baker shared it with The Electronic Intifada:
From: SHUKRI ABU BAKER (32589-177)
Date: 10/27/2014 5:21:14 PM
Subject: Bullets That Kill Message:
Family and friends,
On Friday, October 24, Israeli soldiers swarmed the northern West Bank village of Silwad to quell a protest by dozens of frustrated youngster. Upon arriving, the heavily armed soldiers opened fire at 14-year-old, Orwa Hammad, aiming at his head and neck. The boy fell to the ground and bled to death before the soldiers called an ambulance. Six others were wounded. In summer 1992, during a visit to my home village, Silwad, I met Nabil Qaddorah, 19, handsome, full of energy and optimism, and excited about his planned engagement to the love of his life.
The Israeli soldiers raided the village with their military jeeps and started shooting at a crowd of youngsters who had started to throw stones at the military vehicles. Nabil received multiple wounds in his chest. As he fell to the ground a soldier started to jump up and down pounding on his chest. They carried him inside a jeep and took off. After dark, two days later, his family claimed his body and brought him home for his elderly parents, relatives, and friends to view before he was put to grave in the same night. I viewed his body, kissed him on the forehead, and said goodbye.
Nabil’s sister is Orwa’s mother [Ikhlas Hammad]. In a span of 22 years she has lost a brother and a son. Orwa’s father, Abdelwahab, is my wife’s maternal cousin who was in New Orleans, Louisiana when his son was murdered. He asked that the burial of his son be put off for three days to allow him to make it back in Silwad and attend the burial. Orwa was an American citizen by birth.
His family is expecting a statement from the State Department demanding answers from the Israelis, and I say, it won’t happen because we already know that it was the soldiers who shot Orwa, but where did the bullets that killed him come from?
Now cut across to Monday’s State Department press briefing where AP correspondent Matt Lee challenged US officials on what they were going to do to get answers in Orwa’s case and others.
“Several months ago, there was a shooting – there was an incident involving a shooting of some Palestinian youths. They weren’t Americans, but you called at that time for an [investigation],” Lee said, “this was the video, the one that was captured on videotape. Are you aware of the results of that Israeli investigation?”
Lee was referring to the cold-blooded shootings by snipers of Palestinian teens Nadim Nuwara and Muhammad Abu al-Thahir in the occupied West Bank village of Beitunia on 15 May.
Despite plenty of video evidence and the US request for an investigation, Israel has made no arrests and issued no report.
This is the standard impunity that Israeli killers of Palestinians receive.
State Department spokesperson Jennifer Psaki answered Lee: “I would encourage you to ask the Israeli authorities for any outcomes they would like to share with you.”
In other words, there will be no follow up from the US government, not for Nadim and Muhammad, not for Orwa – an American – and not for thousands of Palestinians killed by Israel with weapons provided or paid for by the United States.
The total impunity the Obama administration continues to afford Israel is just as lethal to Palestinian children as the weapons the US gives Israel in order to kill them.
Man dies of wounds sustained in Gaza war
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 28 Oct — A young Palestinian man on Tuesday died in Turkey of wounds he sustained in Israel’s recent offensive on the Gaza Strip. Palestinian medical sources and family members told Ma‘an that 20-year-old Ibrahim Adli Asila from Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip had succumbed to his wounds. Asila was critically injured after Israeli forces targeted his house with an airstrike, killing a number of his family members.
Remains of slain Palestinian located under rubble of destroyed mosque
IMEMC/Agencies 28 Oct by Saed Bannoura — Palestinian medics and workers located, on Monday afternoon, the remains of a young man who was killed when the Israeli army bombarded a mosque in Gaza on August 9, during the Israeli offensive on the coastal region. Medical sources said Zohdi Abdul-Hamid Abu ar-Roos, 22, died under the rubble of the Al-Qassam Mosque during dawn prayers when the Israeli army fired a missile into the building killing three Palestinians and wounding dozens. Abu ar-Roos is a married father of one daughter. Hundreds of Palestinians participated in the funeral procession, and ceremony, held on Monday evening. The slain Palestinian was laid to rest at the Nusseirat Graveyard, in Central Gaza. Following the bombardment of the mosque, the Palestinians located the remains of three Palestinians killed under the rubble, while ongoing and extensive Israeli bombardment of the besieged and densely populated coastal region forced them to stop. Although [al-Roos] was presumed dead, his whereabouts remained unknown until his remains were located during the removal of debris as part of a debris removal and reconstruction project.
The U.S. will consider arming tribes in Iraq’s al-Anbar province with the precondition that the move is approved by the Iraqi government, Anadolu Agency reoprted reffering to the statement by the chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Gen. Martin Dempsey said Iraqi security forces in the province are in defensive positions and would be unlikely be able to respond to a request for assistance from the Albu Nimr tribe, stranded by IS.
“That’s why we need to expand the train, advise and assist mission into the al-Anbar province,” he said. “But the precondition for that is that the government of Iraq is willing to arm the tribes.” Dempsey also noted that there are signals from the Iraqis that they would approve such a measure but nothing yet official.
The train assist and advice mission will have three components, Dempsey said. The first of which would cover the Iraqi army and peshmerga forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government; the second is to reach out to the local tribes and third is to form a national guard.
Currently, the focus has been on the Iraqi security forces.
“We got a program in place where we’re beginning to restore some offensive capability and mindset to the Iraqi security forces. We need to think about how to do that with the tribes,” he said.
The general also said that the tribes should be armed in order to help them link with isolated Iraqi forces spread around Iraqi territory.