Iran protests: Western salivation, agitation & desperation

December 31, 2017

by Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker blog

Iran protests: Western salivation, agitation & desperation

I am on vacation and trying to stay away from politics to recharge my batteries, but a sane voice on Iranian politics in English is almost impossible to find, so….

Despite the Western media’s slobbering at the minor protests in Iran, there is no need to fear that Iranian democracy is about to “fall”. Allow me to get right to the heart of the matter and prove why:

What did the 2009 protests prove?

Firstly, that opposition to the Iranian system is obviously a minority, which was immediately indicated back then by the fact that the pro-Ahmadinejad counter-protests were larger – a rarely reported fact. Today there are major pro-government counter-protests now planned all over Iran, but good luck hearing much about that either.

Secondly, and more importantly – and this cannot be disputed whatsoever:

Exactly like in Venezuela this year – there is a hardcore, GRASSROOTS system of citizen supporters who will defend the Iranian Revolution with their lives…because they feel the Iranian Revolution (like Chavismo) has benefited the average citizen so very much. That’s why Venezuelan democracy didn’t fall – it was due to the common person attending a counter-protest, maybe even wielding a garden tool. This is what preserved Venezuelan democracy – not state military action – and this is also what happened in Iran in 2009.

So Iran 2009 and Venezuela 2017 proved that Mao was wrong when he said “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun” – if you have enough of the People, all you really need is a makeshift club.

Because true politics – which is far different from pathetically snarky discussions on TV – is ultimately about People Power, and Iran’s government has the People clearly on their side. 2009 proved that if you push the Iranian People to the brink, you will be confronted with their power. (Iran is NOWHERE near the brink right now, of course.)

Iran’s Basij Resistance Bases – or volunteer militias, in Western terms – are far more deeply embedded in all levels of society than Chavismo colectivos. They are more more akin to the Chinese Communist Party (minus the formalised and incredibly rigorous testing and selection policy) as they compose perhaps 11 million people in an 80-million person country. Strikes are basically the only way to get any revolution going, but good luck getting an unjust strike past the Basij branches which are set up among unions, professional organizations, civil servants groups, student groups, industrial workplaces, etc.

And most of these members are unpaid. And they have families who likely feel similarly. And they have friends who clearly aren’t opposed to them…because they are still friends, after all.

So, you see…we are not talking about a “group” – we are basically talking about half of Iran.

Now you can ignore the ironclad reality of such grassroots (i.e. popular democratic) support all you like, but you will never defeat them internally. Never.

For that, as Libya proved, you need NATO bombs. There was huge internal support for the Libyan system: I was there when it started, and I witnessed pro-Ghadaffi protesters, and I was awed by their intensity – but they were overwhelmed by US and French bombs, 40 tons of illegal arms drops by France, a naval and air blockade spearheaded by the UK, Canada and all of Western Europe, etc.

So the analysis above should answer the question on every idiot Western commentator’s lips regarding a possible “fall” of Iran. I simply say: How do you account for the already-proven massive number of people willing to forget about political niceties/compromises and fight FOR Iran’s government?

This is not “tough talk” or “nationalistic talk” on my part – this is reality, and it must be accounted for in any discussion which claims to be serious (or worth having).

Foreign interventions and false flags – also not a worry for Iran

What must also be remembered is that Iran already had their “NATO intervention” – it was called the Iran-Iraq War. For 8 horrible years the West foisted Iraq on Iran, supplied Iraq with weapons, turned a blind eye to the worst chemical weapons atrocities since World War One, and did all they could to create, prolong and influence the deadliest war in the last quarter of the 20th century.

And it was still not enough.

A 2nd phony Western war would also totally backfire in 2018 – have no doubt about that. The Iran-Iraq War created a nationalist unity which Libya did not have; Libya’s revolution did create the highest standard of living in Africa and fewer poor people than the imperialist Netherlands (and free loans, education, health care, etc.), but it was never really tested. Syrians, on the other hand, will soon enjoy a nationalist unity also forged in the crucible of a horribly unjust war.

So there are simply not the type of divisions in Iranian society which the West was able to exploit in Libya. A 2nd phony Western war would undoubtedly be met with a largely-unified response to expel the invaders and Iran would never be fooled by their phony promises; this is evidenced by massive popular support for our right to nuclear energy, even though it is (allegedly) the main source of inhumane sanctions. The Iran-Iraq War not only “made the bones” of the Iranian system, but it is remembered and feared – a return to that will be wildly, massively opposed.

Iran is, in this sense, like Cuba and China: a revolutionary country full of many revolutionaries. There is no irony in their politics, nor any going back.

Iran is definitely one step ahead of Venezuela in another way: their government is not revolutionary, after all, but based on a democratic support for Chavismo that is fundamentally bourgeois (West European democracy). I am not denigrating Venezuela, but they have never instituted the fundamental, wholesale changes which countries like Cuba, China, Vietnam, Eritrea and others have implemented. This commitment to “playing by the rules” of a bourgeois democratic system leaves them very vulnerable and almost welcoming of the very forces which want to destroy the gains democratically won by Chavismo.

And it was not enough in Venezuela, too – Chavismo is still standing. It’s bruised, bloodied and shaky, but it’s still there despite the vast US-led effort against it. The source of the reactionary-foreign capitalist pact against Venezuelan socialism was because Chavistas are, correctly, starting to implement Cuban-style changes to their governmental structure in order to become less bourgeois and more poplar democratic.

What’s a more realistic fear? A Ukraine-style false flag operation.

recently re-broadcast a totally-ignored Italian report on 3 snipers who admitted they were paid to shoot at both sides at Ukraine’s Maidan. That caused the killing of 100 people, massive chaos, the subsequent discrediting of the government and then what still reigns today – horrible civil war.

However, Ukraine is no revolutionary society. The Iranian government would not, and should not, permit an encampment like at Ukraine’s Maidan. Iran is a country which has been besieged by foreign forces for decades, and is no position to allow an “Occupy” type of protest at Zuccotti Park in New York City (razed at night after less than 2 months, with more repression to prevent their return; that’s a slightly better democratic score than other Occupy protests in the US which were stopped much sooner; and a far better score than France, who rousted out their Nuit Debout protesters in Paris every single night, forcing them to rebuild the following day.) because we all know that it would be filled with 10 times more foreign operatives than in Ukraine, i.e., it cannot possibly be as democratic is it would claim to be. There would be Mossad, CIA, MKO, Al-Qaeda, ISIL, Mi5, DGSE and truly the worst of the worst in the world. You cannot compare the US and Iran; Iran is fighting for its life and its sovereignty, while the US government fights to preserve its capitalist inequality.

However, all those foreign, murderous groups will have no problem creating a sort of false-flag which kills hundreds and hundreds of innocent Iranians if it means installing a compliant billionaire puppet like in Ukraine – Iran is far, far richer than Ukraine, after all. And Iran is also the only thorn in the side of Western imperialist capitalism in the Muslim world.

With great power comes great responsibility, and thus Iran’s government is not about to allow a Ukraine-style Maidan to occur. Staggeringly, Iran has seen 17,000 people killed by terrorists since 1979; during this year’s ISIL attacks there was no overreaction such as installing a 2-year state of emergency like in France. Iran both does not mess around with risks and does not needlessly antagonise their own people (which actually means to make another risk).

Two people have died in the protests, and the government declared that security forces fired no bullets, and attributed the death to foreign agents. Given what has happened in Ukraine (and hundreds of other places over the years), and given the massive democratic support the government has…it would be insane and illogical to rush to judgment against the government.

Of course, this is exactly what the Western media is doing. They will desperately blow this out of proportion. They will salivate at the protests, dissimulate regarding their own hypocrisies, agitate for war, and all because they are so desperate to push their anti-Iranian agenda. This is textbook, and the historical modus operandi, and it will not change when the Western calendar turns to 2018 in around 12 hours.

It will likely work to great effect outside of Iran, but inside? No way. Iran is too busy trying to repair our issues – which every society has because humans are not perfect – to be fooled by tabloid journalism.

Are Iranians not permitted to have normal protests?

These protests are economic. Have you not noticed that these have swept much of the world for the past decade?

You might have an insane MKO cult member willing to burn a poster of Khamenei – giving the Western media the chance to blow that out of proportion – but this is an economic protest. But these are not a fruit-seller setting himself on fire, like in Tunisia, to desperately protest corruption, harassment and everyday brutality.

Protests are not unknown in Iran society: Has your country pulled off a silent march larger than Iran in 2009? Remember the silent marches of 2009? 1979 saw more than a small bit of protesting too, let’s remember. These protests are akin to the 3-500 protests per day in supposedly-undemocratic China: more effective government policies are being called for, not a whole new government!

Because these protests are economic, I will insist that the West give the Iranian government as much leeway as they take for themselves when confronted with similar demonstrations.

Waitaminut…I sure hope Iran is not THAT bad!

Because during the age of austerity I have been tear gassed too many times to count while covering economic protests in France. Only because I am a foreign journalist, I have not been among the thousands of arrested pro-democracy protesters; there have been hundreds of banned protests (how many more chilled into silence and thus strangled in the cradle?); plenty of harsh jail sentences of leading activists; countless people hurt by batons and water cannons amid total Western media silence; countless protesters cowed by invasive searches by riot police and the guarantee of rough treatment.

But where were the Western calls for “regime change” in France, like which are pouring from the mouths of Western commentators?

When Hollande and Macron forced through by executive order the widely-opposed capitalist laws which sparked the anti-government protests, where are their accusations of “authoritarianism”?

Of course there were none.

Ugh. I just remembered I’m on vacation…I shouldn’t be wasting me time trying to point out that Iran’s government doesn’t needs to defend their actions to Westerners….

But the crimes of capitalism do not take a vacation

The truth is that Iran’s economic policies – like China, Cuba and everyone else – have been negatively tainted by the anti-socialist and neoliberal ideas which swept the world after the fall of the USSR.

While Iran has implemented an army of pro-socialist ideas which have undeniably redistributed wealth in an amazingly effective fashion, they have also pursued some pro-capitalist and pro-neoliberal ideas – this trend has spared no nation since 1991. The recent economic choices of Cuba and China are no different, but even though Marx said we must use the tools of capitalism in order to create socialism…that necessarily creates economic problems.

Now without a doubt, the main problem with Iran’s economy is simple: international blockade. It is deranged to believe otherwise.

However, the protests can be interpreted as evidence that experimentations with capitalism have not worked – indeed, they never have and never will. Neoliberalism has led to what it always does – inefficiency and ineffectiveness.

These protests are the same as in France: against decreased purchasing power and unemployment. Can’t we have a “normal” protest, LOL? It is sad, but many have been led to believe that Iranians are aliens, but our problems are actually the same as yours!

But Iran does have much better alternatives, however: Khamenei’s pushing of a “resistance economy” – meaning a nationalist economy which rejects capitalism – is in direct opposition to neoliberalism. But – NEWS FLASH – Iran is a democracy; Khamenei is not anything close to an absolute ruler (the translated title of “supreme leader” is quite misleading, LOL); there are supporters of capitalism in Iran.

Thankfully, supporters of capitalism are a minority, as Iran follows what I have termed “Iranian Islamic Socialism”. These protests will lead to economic changes which implement more Islamic and socialist economic principles.

As we all know, these are two things which the Western media hates.

And thus, the Western media wants to ignore these complaints – which reflect near-universal economic hardship amid the Great Recession (even in non-blockaded countries) – and portray all protesters as pushing for the downfall of the Iranian system.

That’s nonsense, and it won’t happen. The reason why is simple: there is widespread democratic support for Iran and the popular, democratic revolution which set up the current system. Again, I am on vacation and I won’t waste more time telling people that the sky is blue – stick your head out the window and if you still disagree: it must be nighttime, you blockhead.

A minor point: a common Western trope is that these protests are in response to the “wasted resources” caused by lending support and solidarity to places like Palestine, Syria and Iraq. However, polls of Iranians show there is massive support for giving material and military support to these countries. (“In general, to what degree do you support or oppose Iran providing help to”: Hezbollah (71% approve), government of Assad (66% approve), Hamas (70% approve) Shiites and Kurds in Iraq fighting ISIL (88% approve), Iran should send military personnel to Syria(63% approve)) Clearly, the naysayers are in the minority: therefore, changing these policies would be undemocratic. Of course, the West would be ecstatic if Iran was no longer around to thwart their imperial projects. However, Iran’s politicians work in a democracy: if they want to win re-election, they will continue with these popular policies.

A final point: Why are democratic protests for policy reform a “sign of a vibrant and healthy democracy” when they occur in the West…but “an indicator people want to bring down the system” whenever they occur in non-Western countries? Ultimately, these protests will be heeded and, like all genuine protests, will make Iranian democracy stronger and the country better.

But as far as believing the Western media’s coverage of Iran’s protests – which is both uninformed and not remotely objective (and capitalist-imperialist, of course) — I suggest following my lead: enjoy your vacation instead.

Happy Western New Year to all!

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television. He can be reached on Facebook.

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What Is Happening in Iran? Is Another “Color Revolution” Underway?

Global Research, December 31, 2017

A familiar sight is taking place across Iran tonight and it has been for the last three days. Protests are taking place in numerous cities citing grievances and demanding that the Ayatollah and Iranian President step down. For a few days, the protests remained non-violent but now violence has indeed flared up as protesters have laid waste to a number of government properties and those belonging to “pro-government militias.”

Neo-cons in the American media and the U.S. President are all demanding that Americans stand with the “Iranian people” and the “protesters” in their “fight for freedom.”

The reason this sight is familiar is because we have seen it in Egypt, Libya, and Syria in the past as well as in Iran itself in the late 2000s. Protests that turn violent, a subsequent crackdown that either is violent or is reported as such, and the weight of American propaganda against the target government are all “Arab Spring” repeats that are themselves nothing more than the color revolution/destabilization apparatus that has been used by the West in countries all across the world for decades, particularly in the last twenty years.

What Do The Protesters Want?

The alleged demands of the protesters seem reasonable and legitimate enough. The Western media has, up until this point, been reporting that the main argument being made by the demonstrators center around economic concerns, i.e. falling living standards, unemployment, and rising food prices. However, as the third day of protests took place, the Western media began reporting that the protesters are demanding an end to religious dictatorship and policies of both the Ayatollah Khamenei andPresident Rouhani. According to some reports, female protesters have gone so far as to shout “death to Khamenei” and shed their hijabs in order to construct makeshift flags. Others say the protesters are focused on government corruption.

However, there is much question about these protests. The first question is “Are they organic Iranian protests?” This question has yet to be answered fully. Iran is most certainly a religious dictatorship and many Iranians want freedom from religious rule. However, it should be remembered that the United States and Israel have openly stated a desire to see Iranian influence broken and as recently as 2009, the United States attempted to engineer a color revolution in the country. The first three days of the Green Movement in Iran looked very much like the first three days of this current movement.

Clearly, economic concerns are a major issue in Iran, a country whose economy has been suffering for years under Western sanctions and whose own inability to capitalize on a state-owned National Bank. Official unemployment in Iran is around 12% and it is likely that the real rate is much higher. Despite lifting of some sanctions, there is hardly economic growth in the country, another result of neo-liberal economic and trade policies. Yet, it is also worth noting that Khamenei has also been critical of the poor economy and the handling of economic issues by the government yet Khamenei is being insulted at the protests.

These demands are not unreasonable by any stretch of the imagination. However, the religious protests come at a very odd time. Iran recently liberalized its laws regarding women’s forced head coverings, so why protest now over religious laws?

In addition, special attention must be paid to the concept of “government corruption,” a hallmark of color revolutions since government corruption is often more of a conceptual issue than anything concrete. A step down from power from a few key people, wrist slaps, and token reform can all achieve an “end” to corruption while more concrete demands need concrete applications and thus present a minor loss to those who will taking over the rains of power after the demonstrations have ceased.

There are also more concerning demands that can be found in the slogans being chanted by the demonstrators. First, in case it could be missed, the demonstrators are calling for the Ayatollah and the President to step down. In other words, they are calling for regime change. This is precisely what the United States, GCC, NATO, and Israel also want to see happen.

Second, numerous demonstrators are chanting “Let go of Palestine,” and “Not for Gaza, Not for Lebanon, I’d give my life (only) for Iran.” Again, protesters are now chanting foreign policy demands identical to that desired by the United States, NATO, GCC, and Israel. All this in a protest that is supposed to be about economic concerns.

Moon of Alabama, in its article entitled “Iran – Regime Change Agents Hijack Economic Protests,” reveals a number of important reports regarding the beginning of the protests and where they stand currently. MOA writes,

Protests against the (neo-)liberal economic policies of the Rohani government in Iran are justified. Official unemployment in Iran is above 12% and there is hardly any economic growth. The people in the streets are not the only ones who are dissatisfied with this:

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has repeatedly criticized the government’s economic record, said on Wednesday that the nation was struggling with “high prices, inflation and recession”, and asked officials to resolve the problems with determination.

On Thursday and today the slogans of some protesters turned the call for economic relief into a call for regime change.

. . . . .

Today, Friday and the weekly day off in Iran, several more protest took place in other cities. A Reuters report from today:

About 300 demonstrators gathered in Kermanshah after what Fars called a “call by the anti-revolution” and shouted “Political prisoners should be freed” and “Freedom or death”, while destroying some public property. Fars did not name any opposition groups.

Footage, which could not be verified, showed protests in other cities including Sari and Rasht in the north, Qom south of Tehran, and Hamadan in the west.

Mohsen Nasj Hamadani, deputy security chief in Tehran province, said about 50 people had rallied in a Tehran square and most left after being asked by police, but a few who refused were “temporarily detained”, the ILNA news agency reported.

Some of these protests have genuine economic reasons but get hijacked by other interests:

In the central city of Isfahan, a resident said protesters joined a rally held by factory workers demanding back wages.

“The slogans quickly changed from the economy to those against (President Hassan) Rouhani and the Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei),” the resident said by telephone.

Purely political protests are rare in Iran […] but demonstrations are often held by workers over layoffs or non-payment of salaries and people who hold deposits in non-regulated, bankrupt financial institutions.

Alamolhoda, the representative of Ayatollah Khamenei in northeastern Mashhad, said a few people had taken advantage of Thursday’s protests against rising prices to chant slogans against Iran’s role in regional conflicts.

“Some people had came to express their demands, but suddenly, in a crowd of hundreds, a small group that did not exceed 50 shouted deviant and horrendous slogans such as ‘Let go of Palestine’, ‘Not Gaza, not Lebanon, I’d give my life (only) for Iran’,” Alamolhoda said.

Media and Neo-Con Support

While it is to be expected from a virulently anti-Iran administration and mainstream press in the United States, it is interesting how the U.S. President immediately has latched on the protests, encouraging Americans to stand with the protesters and their demands. This is coming from a man who rarely sees a protest that isn’t directed at him. Meanwhile, Neo-Con organs like FOX News are also repeating calls for Americans to support the brave “freedom fighters” in Iran. It is seldom, if ever, true that evil does good in the world so when Neo-Cons call for support to protests, eyebrows should be raised in skepticism.

It is also important to question just how popular these protests are. While mainstream western media and various terrorist organizations also conveniently supporting them paint them as involving tens of thousands at each demonstration, video and pictures tend to show only dozens to hundreds at the most while others wander about around them.

“A video of that protest in Mashad showed some 50 people chanting slogans with more bystander just milling around,” writes MOA. . . . . “Two videos posted by BBC Persian and others I have seen show only small active protest groups with a dozen or so people while many more are just standing by or film the people who are chanting slogans.”

Trump Administration/Israel Agreement

The protests taking place in Iran are taking place only a month after the White House and Tel Aviv met to discuss a strategy on Iran.

“A delegation led by Israel’s National Security Adviser met with senior American officials in the White House earlier this month for a joint discussion on strategy to counter Iran’s aggression in the Middle East, a senior U.S. official confirmed to Haaretz,” wrote Haaretz agency. (Israeli Delegation Met U.S. Officials to Discuss ‘Iran Strategy,’ Syria)

AXIOS provides a quote from the meeting:

[T]he U.S. and Israel see eye to eye the different developments in the region and especially those that are connected to Iran. We reached at understandings regarding the strategy and the policy needed to counter Iran. Our understandings deal with the overall strategy but also with concrete goals, way of action and the means which need to be used to get obtain those goals.

Could this apparent color revolution be the result of that US/Israeli meeting?

Color Revolution In Iran

The idea that a color revolution could be attempted in Iran is no fantasy. It would be a repeat of history. Remember, in 2009, an attempt at a color revolution deemed the “Green Revolution” was launched but was quickly put down by the iron fist of the Iranian government.

The Path To Persia

The plan for a Western or a Western/Israeli attack on Iran, along with the theatre of alleged US-Israeli tensions leading up to a strike and outright war, has been in the works for some time. For instance, in 2009, the Brookings Institution, a major banking, corporate, and military-industrial firm, released a report entitled “Which Path To Persia? Options For A New American Strategy For Iran,” in which the authors mapped out a plan which leaves no doubt as to the ultimate desire from the Western financier, corporate, and governing classes.

Screenshot from Brookings report: “Which Path To Persia? Options For A New American Strategy For Iran,”

The plan involves the description of a number of ways the Western oligarchy would be able to destroy Iran including outright military invasion and occupation (see table of contents above). However, the report attempts to outline a number of methods that might possibly be implemented before direct military invasion would be necessary. The plan included attempting to foment destabilization inside Iran via the color revolution apparatus, violent unrest, proxy terrorism, and “limited airstrikes” conducted by the US, Israel or both.

The report states,

Because the Iranian regime is widely disliked by many Iranians, the most obvious and palatable method of bringing about its demise would be to help foster a popular revolution along the lines of the “velvet revolutions” that toppled many communist governments in Eastern Europe beginning in 1989. For many proponents of regime change, it seems self-evident that the United States should encourage the Iranian people to take power in their own name, and that this would be the most legitimate method of regime change. After all, what Iranian or foreigner could object to helping the Iranian people fulfill their own desires?

Moreover, Iran’s own history would seem to suggest that such an event is plausible. During the 1906 Constitutional Movement, during the late 1930s, arguably during the 1950s, and again during the 1978 Iranian Revolution, coalitions of intellectuals, students, peasants, bazaari merchants, Marxists, constitutionalists, and clerics mobilized against an unpopular regime. In both 1906 and 1978, the revolutionaries secured the support of much of the populace and, in so doing, prevailed. There is evidence that the Islamic regime has antagonized many (perhaps all) of these same factions to the point where they again might be willing to support a change if they feel that it could succeed. This is the foundational belief of those Americans who support regime change, and their hope is that the United States can provide whatever the Iranian people need to believe that another revolution is feasible.

Of course, popular revolutions are incredibly complex and rare events. There is little scholarly consensus on what causes a popular revolution, or even the conditions that facilitate them. Even factors often associated with revolutions, such as military defeat, neglect of the military, economic crises, and splits within the elite have all been regular events across the world and throughout history, but only a very few have resulted in a popular revolution. Consequently, all of the literature on how best to promote a popular revolution— in Iran or anywhere else—is highly speculative. Nevertheless, it is the one policy option that holds out the prospect that the United States might eliminate all of the problems it faces from Iran, do so at a bearable cost, and do so in a manner that is acceptable to the Iranian people and most of the rest of the world.

Conclusion

While the situation in Iran continues to develop, it appears that another color revolution is underway. While many of the demands are legitimate, all signs are pointing toward Western treachery in an attempt to break Iran in the final domino to fall in the Middle East before an even bigger confrontation is ignited. Destroying Iran would also destroy Hezbollah, weaken Syria and Russia, and threaten Israel. Whether or not it will succeed will depend on the level of subversion that has been possible by the United States intelligence apparatus since 2009 and the ability of Iran to squash the revolt. If anything can be learned from the 2009 revolution, Iran will move quickly and will smash the protests with an iron fist. However, if the protests taking place in Iran today are indeed a color revolution and if the West is committed, the Path to Persia will likely see an escalation in activity, violence, and ultimately directly military confrontation by proxy and even by the U.S. military itself.

We will be following these protests in detail over the coming days.

Brandon Turbeville writes for Activist Post – article archive here – He is the author of seven books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom7 Real ConspiraciesFive Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 and volume 2The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria, The Difference it Makes: 36 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Should Never Be President, and Resisting The Empire: The Plan To Destroy Syria And How The Future Of The World Depends On The OutcomeTurbeville has published over 1000 articles on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s radio show Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV. His website is BrandonTurbeville.com He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com.

In the Occupied Territory, Two Kinds of Justice

Originally published in CounterPunch Magazine December 25, 2017

In the Occupied Territory, Two Kinds of Justice

Many take their liberty for granted even as they have endless time to rail on and on about how “they” are coming for us. Be it the “coup”, apparently now underway, or the spread of domestic McCarthyism that seeks to cower us into silence, or the baffling, sudden, corrupt reach of the Department of Justice, for most white men here we enjoy a privilege that says not us. Typically, it works.

A world away, liberty is less a race-based edge than it is the benefits you gain by the day of the week you celebrate your faith. For those who get directions from god on Saturdays, there appear to be no limits to the dispensation to which you are entitled; be it the execution of an unconscious prisoner, the mass arrest of a family with the temerity to fight for their land or a Prime Minister protected by legislative fiat empowered well beyond the reach of mere mortal law.

Israel has long preached justice and equality to the world. How often have we heard its mantra about democratic ideals and traditions as so much a unique historical tenet of its travel… a journey for the chosen that get to choose who the beneficiaries are… and are not.

For those of us in the US, either schooled in the classic process of the law or victimized by its aim, we’ve grown spoiled by its safeguards even though they remain but abstract and elusive for those many in the prisoner dock of  “wrong” color, with but coins in their pocket or militant politics in their gait.

Yet, despite the betrayal of equal hope for all, the march from investigation to arrest to trial and result knows no formal de jure distinction along the way. Of course, one would be so much a fool to argue that justice is blind, or little more than a commodity for purchase, or the skill of one’s advocate, or the luck of one’s judicial draw. Yet these damning imperfections leave hope along the way that justice may, on occasion, just slip and fall into ones lap despite a long and tarred drop.

That is not the case in Israel. Israel has two systems of justice… one for Jews and the other for Palestinians be they Muslim, Christian or atheist. Nowhere is that more apparent or destructive than it is in the Occupied Territory.

The Detention of Children

Several days ago, 16 year old Ahed Tamimi was arrested, by heavily armed Israeli soldiers, during a violent pre-dawn raid on her home. It followed a video, since gone viral, of her slapping a soldier on the face and arm and pushing another soldier, standing nearby, who she was ushering away from the family home… this, after her 14-year-old cousin, Mohammed,  had been shot by an Israeli rubber coated bullet that entered through his mouth and lodged in his brain.

For Ahed, it was not the first time that her challenge to the occupation received international attention and acclaim.  As an 11 year old, she was video recorded confronting soldiers with clenched fist. She did not back down.  At 13, she helped to wrestle her 11 year old brother, his arm in a cast, from the clutches of an Israeli soldier who was physically assaulting him during a standoff near her family home. For that, she was the recipient of the Handala Courage award in Turkey.

Not long after Ahed’s current arrest, Nariman Tamimi was seized when she went to the local police station to check on her daughter. After attending his daughter’s initial military court appearance, Bassem Tamimi, a prominent land defender and non-violent organizer in the village of Nabi Saleh, was also taken into custody. He has been arrested numerous times by Israeli forces. In 2012, he was termed a “prisoner of conscience” by Amnesty International during one of his several detentions in an Israeli prison.

Later that night, soldiers seized a family cousin, Nour Tamimi, a 21 year old journalism student, from her own family home.

Mother, father, daughter, and cousin arrested after another cousin shot… all within a matter of a few days.  Welcome to Palestine. Welcome to the Occupation.

Liberty means more than the freedom to walk in and out of your home with the approval of those who occupy the streets that lead to it. 

Though the arrest of Ahed has captured the attention of many, it is as much the force of her charisma as it is the call of justice that has produced it. Since 2000, over 8,000 Palestinian children have been arrested and prosecuted in an Israeli military system devoid of any meaningful protection for the most vulnerable and traumatized among those that have known nothing but the bark of occupation their entire lives.  It is a military justice process notorious for the systematic ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children.

The majority of these children have been seized in middle of the night raids by heavily armed Israeli soldiers. By now, military kidnappings have become so much the expected norm that Palestinian teens sleep with their clothes on to maintain their modesty when the doors to their bedroom are kicked in with the shouts of “get up get up” by heavily armed soldiers.

Dragged out the door to the screams of their powerless parents, for most, it will be the last they will hear from them without the watch and eavesdrop of prison guards for the many months of detention to follow.

Several hours after their arrest, children arrive at an interrogation and detention center alone, tired, and frightened.

All Interrogations, by their very nature, are inherently coercive no matter the age or experience of its target.  None are more so than for an often bruised and scared child forced to go through the process without the benefit of counsel or the presence of parents who are never permitted to participate.

Israeli law provides that all military interrogations must be undertaken in a prisoner’s native language and that any statement made by them must be reduced to writing in that language. Despite this prohibition, detainees are typically coerced into signing statements, through verbal abuse, threats, and physical violence, that are written by police in Hebrew… which most cannot understand. These statements usually provide the main evidence against these children in Israeli military courts.

By virtue of the military court process, as of the end of this past summer there were 331 Palestinian minors held in Israeli prisons as security detainees and prisoners, including 2 administrative detainees.

The Military Court Process

The military courts, themselves, are held inside military bases and closed to the public… and usually family members of the accused.  Within these courts, military orders supersede clear Israeli and international law.  The court proceedings reduce the prospect of any justice to little more than a military dress parade where soldiers exhibit their uniform without any independence or skill attached to it whatsoever.

In military courts, all parties to the proceeding… the judge, prosecutor and translators… are members of the Israeli armed forces. The judges are military officers with minimal judicial training and, by-in- large, served as military prosecutors before assuming the bench

The prosecutors are Israeli soldiers appointed to the position by the Area Commander.  Some of them are not yet certified as attorneys under the Israeli Bar Association.

Under the rules of occupation, all defendants in military courts are Palestinian… with the jurisdiction of the Israeli military court never extended to some eight hundred thousand Jewish settlers living in the West Bank.  They are accorded the full benefit and safeguard of Israeli civil law.

Under Israeli military orders, a Palestinian can be held without charge, for the purpose of interrogation, for a total period of 90 days during which he or she is denied the benefit of counsel. These detention periods can be extended without limit and require but an ex parte request of military prosecutors.  By comparison, an Israeli citizen accused of a security offense, within the Occupied Territory, can be held without indictment within the civil process for a period of 64 days during which time counsel is available at all times.

Though Palestinian detainees are entitled to trials in military proceedings which must be completed within eighteen months, if the trials have not concluded within that time frame, a judge from the Military Court of Appeals can extend the detention of a Palestinian by multiple six-month increments… indefinitely. It is this process which has left thousands of Palestinian political detainees imprisoned for years on end without the benefit of counsel, formal charges, or trial. The comparable time limit for detainees before Israeli civilian courts is nine months.

While criminal liability begins at age 12 for Palestinians and Israelis alike, under the military system Palestinians can be tried as adults at age 16. For Israelis, the age of majority for trial as an adult in a civilian court is 18.  This two year difference, without physical distinction of consequence, can mean the difference of many years in sentence should a conviction ensue.  In some cases, it can literally mean a variance between a few years in prison versus decades upon conviction.

For those Palestinian detainees who have been accorded a military trial in the Occupied Territory, the conviction rate is but a bit short of 100%. All military trials are undertaken by a judge and not a jury.

Although the United Nations has repeatedly held that the military justice system in the Occupied Territory violates international law, it has done nothing to ensure equal protection to hundreds of thousands denied justice by virtue of being Palestinian and nothing else.

Detention as a Political Weapon

For fifty years, the justice system in the Occupied Territory has been the exclusive domain of the Israeli army… completely removed from any oversight by civilian laws, courts, and safeguards. It’s been estimated that, during this time, several hundred thousand Palestinians have been sentenced for a wide range of “security violations” as defined by arbitrary military fiat on a case by case basis. It has been reported that 20% of the Palestinian population have been swept up and detained by the military during this time.

While Israel has tried to portray its exercise of judicial authority in the Occupied Territory as one largely concerned with traditional criminal offenses or serious acts of “violence”, in point of fact, most of those seized have been detained for little more than non-violent political activity.

Designated as “Hostile Terrorist Activity,” these offenses often target speech, association, cultural expression, “unauthorized” assembly and movement, non-violent protest, and political activity carried out by elected representatives of local Palestinian government entities.

Others have been detained for “incitement” or membership in “illegal associations” as determined by the local Israeli military commander… or for “leaving the area without permission.”

Journalists have been arrested because of their critical coverage of the military at demonstrations or for reporting about the occupation in general. One was arrested for making a Facebook comment on another arrested Palestinian’s mugshot: “your smile will end the occupation.”

Troops have raided and shut down several broadcast outlets for six months on the grounds of incitement including the Manbar al-Hurriya radio station and eight local outlets operated by PalMedia, Ram Sat and Trans Media.

Documentation of almost two dozen Palestinians, in the West Bank, detained by the Israeli military for nothing more than Facebook posts or exchanges is claimed by 7amleh, the Arab Centre for Social Media Advancement. Additionally, Israel’s security system handed over a list of 400 other Palestinians, having posted to Facebook, to the security of the Palestinian Authority, who arrested them.

Members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) have been arrested and detained for carrying out a population census in occupied East Jerusalem which the military deemed as “illegal work” with the Palestinian Authority.

Although International law prohibits interference with the free exercise of one’s political opinions, the Israeli military has sought to suppress the Palestinian political process, as a whole, for decades. Palestinian political leaders and activists are routinely arrested and detained.

In July of 2014, a high of 38 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council were detained for political activity. As of November 2017, the current number is 11 members.    Others have been prevented from travelling outside the Occupied Territories.  A number of Legislative Council members had their residencies in Jerusalem revoked and were forcibly deported to other parts of the Occupied West Bank.

70 lawmakers from the Palestinian Legislative Council have been arrested since 2002 for political activity and little else, including a number that have been detained on multiple occasions.

Among the current members of the PLC in Israeli detention is 55-year-old Khalida Jarrar, a female legislator and senior member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

Head of the Prisoners’ Commission of the PLC and vice-chairperson of the board of directors of Palestinian Prisoners’ Rights Group, Jarrar, who was last released from Israeli detention a year ago, was accused of “promoting terror activities”.

For seventy years, Israel has held itself out as a nation under siege.  It has used this talisman to evade and avoid the clear mandate of international law. Nowhere is that more readily apparent and painful than in the Occupied Territory which, with the passage of time, has become illegally annexed and policed by military force of law.

Jails do not break the back of resistance. They firm it with the price expected for the cost of freedom. In Palestine, it is a price willingly embraced by both the young and those who have aged with the slam of the prison gate.

Perhaps one day, Israel will awaken to the truth that the siege it fights is the very one it promotes. Until then, neither the military nor its sham courts will quell the taste of freedom or the natural beckon for it.

Parallel Worlds: Gaza and Israel

Originally published December 29. 2017 in

Parallel Worlds: Gaza and Israel

History is inexplicable.  It has a way of seizing the chosen few to deliver a commanding message that transcends the tapered, often rote, confines of time, place and journey.

Like the mystery of magic, defining moments seem to find powerful launch through the flash of a sudden second and echo through the voice of those destined to become iconic well beyond the rhyme of powerful lyric alone.

To them, theirs is a journey of the ages. For those fortunate enough to witness such passage it is a transcendent reminder that greatness is measured not through acquired wealth or power but by the prompt of the principle, courage and sacrifice of the few.

Who can forget Faris Odeh, 15 years old when he stared down a tank with little more than a stone in his hand, murdered by Israel in Gaza?  Or 23 year old Rachel Corrie, on that mist covered morning, armed with a bullhorn as she faced off against a bulldozer to save a home, murdered by Israel in Gaza.

Ibrahim Abu Thuraya3

And now legend has taken 29 year old Ibrahim Abu Thuraya from us.  Disabled but not disarmed, he had the boldness to stand his ground clutching his weapon, the flag he loved… murdered by Israel in Gaza.

What is there about a tiny enclave known as Gaza that so offends, so alarms, so intimidates Israel? It would be far too easy to say nothing and simply reduce it to Tel Aviv’s voracious chase of its off-shore gas reserves or its potential as a Mediterranean tourist coastline …once cleansed of its native population and the destruction which bears the marked Star of David.

No. Gaza terrorizes Israel not by force of arms but through the endless resound of its resilience and the muscle of its inspiration.

To millions of Palestinians under siege in Palestine, or those forcibly exiled by a Diaspora now 70 years of age, and to its chorus of supporters worldwide, Gaza stands as a shining beacon of resistance and hope.  Yet, to romanticize Gaza is to lend excuse to Israel and no such apologia will be offered here.

50 miles from the destruction that is Gaza sits Tel Aviv… as so much a marker of grotesque Israeli indifference.

Indeed, not a day passes without a new tease from the “third hottest city” in the world and “party capitol of the middle east” whether it’s the pristine Mediterranean seashore, cosmopolitan restaurants, coffeehouses, and galleries or hip after hour dance and bar scene of the “City that Never Sleeps.”

Ranked as the 25th most important financial center in the world, Tel Aviv has the third-largest economy of any city in the Middle East and draws well over a million international visitors annually to its numerous upscale hotels. Home to Israel’s only stock exchange, it has some 70 skyscrapers as tall as an American football field and includes one with 80 floors topped by a spire 150 feet in height.

Described as a “miniature Los Angeles,” Tel Aviv has been called one of the 10 most technologically influential cities in the world. Serving as home to numerous venture-capital firms and scientific research institutes, it has hundreds of startup companies, textile plants and food manufacturers.

Israel’s second largest municipality, Tel Aviv never wants for “culture” and entertainment. Its population of almost half a million, with an unemployment rate of approximately 4% and income 20% above the national average, can choose from eighteen of Israel’s 35 major centers for the performing arts. The Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center is home of the Israeli Opera and the Cameri Theatre. The Heichal HaTarbut is Tel Aviv’s largest theatre and home to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

But an hour’s drive, yet worlds away, sits Gaza; home to two million Palestinians.

Once known, in polite social circles, as the earth’s largest open air prison, it long ago moved on from jail to Israeli administered death camp. Whether by embargo or bombs, it is simply impossible to watch the life and death of the coastal enclave without seeing Israel’s criminal plan unfold.

With the first blush of sunrise, the streets of Gaza City fill rapidly with those who’ve survived its ritual night of darkness illuminated solely by bursts of another Israeli bombing run.  For them, with each passing hour, the taste of daylight portends a constant race against what little time remains to shop at empty markets, rush for medicines long gone, or dangerously dated, search for missing bottled water, or attend to the needs of family too paralyzed or ill to join the chase.

While Tel Aviv remains a constant tease of new ventures, glorious dining and enrapt theater going, Gaza lives a repetition of bare survival… at least for the lucky.

For others, it’s an endless wail of mourn as infants are laid to rest with lungs once barely filled with the breath of life. Alongside them sleep the young who, traumatized by the unbearable pain of living, tragically surrendered to the calm of willing death. Next to them lie the “elderly” who grew old and ill far too soon while their generation is coming of age and power everywhere else.

By now, it seems some have grown inured, indeed, comfortable with the visible suffer that is uniquely Gaza. Unlike an explosive genocide that unfolds overnight, impossible for many to ignore, Gaza has long simmered out of sight…out of mind.

Entering its second decade of complete isolation and embargo, Gaza periodically, inevitably, explodes from mindless rage in which Israel seeks to “mow the lawn” for little more than the embattled enclave’s determined resilience.

In late 2008 through early 2009, Israel unleashed an all out military attack on the defenseless population of Gaza. When the toxic white phosphorous cleared, some 1,417, mostly civilians, lay dead along with 13 Israeli soldiers… 4 from friendly fire.

In 2014, Israel undertook a 50 day all-out assault on Gaza as it once again targeted the entire enclave with massive disproportionate force.

Although some debate continues over the exact results, according to most estimates up to 2,310 were killed of whom 1,492 were civilians, including 551 children and 299 women. Another 10,895 were wounded including 3,374 children of whom 1,000 were left permanently disabled. 

Among the infrastructure leveled were 220 factories, dairy farms with livestock and the orange groves of Beit Hanoun.  138 schools and 26 health facilities were damaged and thousands of homes totally destroyed or severely damaged. The lone power station in Gaza and its transmission lines was targeted and severely damaged.  Sewage pumps and a major sewage pipe serving 500,000 inhabitants were destroyed. 10 out of 26 hospitals were damaged or destroyed along with several TV stations. 203 mosques were damaged, with 73 destroyed … along with two of Gaza’s three Christian churches.

Israel lost 66 soldiers and 5 civilians, including one child. 469 Israeli soldiers and 261 civilians were injured.

Four years later, conditions have only worsened in Gaza. Where once the UN announced it would be uninhabitable by 2020, for all intents and purposes, that day has come and gone. Yet the determination of its people continues on.

Gaza Today

Today, years of Israeli attacks and siege, have left Gaza reeling from an absence of a basic infrastructure capable of meeting even the minimal needs of its two million people.

Whether its electricity, clean water, healthcare, or sewage treatment and waste management, Gaza is undergoing a very public humanitarian crisis now entering its second decade.

In Gaza, abject poverty is rampant. At 41.1 percent, the unemployment rate is the highest in the world. Its youth unemployment is 64 percent. Currently there are 50,000 young women and men with university and graduate degrees unable to find work in their chosen fields… or any other. That figure grows each year by some 17,000 to 18,000. While once the industrial and production sectors offered more than 120,000 job opportunities per year, now less than 7,000 such positions become available.

Although thousands of homes damaged or destroyed during Israel’s attack in 2014 are still in need of repair, the construction sector is practically idle and essentially out of business. It used to contribute to about 22 percent of local production and offered some 70,000 job opportunities.

Sixty per cent of Gaza lives under the poverty line. Over a fifth of it lives in “deep poverty.” According to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), “over 80 percent of the people in Gaza depend on humanitarian assistance.”

Another report by UNOCHA found that over 80 percent of its displaced families have borrowed money to get by in the past year, over 85 percent purchased most of their food on credit, and over 40 percent have decreased their consumption of food.

According to UNICEF a third of Gaza’s children suffer from chronic malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies that can stunt development and affect overall health.

In other, less visible, ways, the residual impact of years of Israeli attacks and a decade long siege have produced a palpable and deleterious psychological impact on the people in Gaza.

In the immediate aftermath of the attack OCHA estimated that at least 373,000 children required psychosocial support. Today the UNRWA Community Mental Health Programme has found that Gazans are experiencing increasingly higher levels of stress and distress. The World Health Organization (WHO) has found Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to be widespread with studies indicating that upwards of 54% of Gaza’s children, teens and adults either symptomatic, or suffering from its full-on effects.

According to WHO between 10 and 20 percent of the population suffer from severe mental illness. Because of isolation, community pressure or lack of treatment opportunities the figure is likely much higher. Once unheard of, suicide has now becoming a familiar occurrence in Gaza clearly suggesting that the coping skills of Palestinians are being exhausted. Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor reported at least 95 people tried to commit suicide in the Gaza Strip in the first quarter of 2016, a nearly 40 percent increase from previous years.

Life in Darkness

For nearly a decade, Tel Aviv has held a yearly blackout in support of Earth Hour. Meanwhile, millions of nearby Palestinians struggle to eke out a life of bare existence with twenty-one hours of darkness each and every day.

Indeed, while Tel Aviv has converted an idle power station named “Gan HaHashmal” (Electricity Park) into a public park, recently OCHA published new data that shows electricity for Gaza has dropped to a total of just three hours daily and at times that vary from day to day. Lacking any advance notice as to when the electricity will go on, or off, the most rudimentary of life’s work is left largely to little more than blind wish leaving familial, educational, employment and health tasks either undone or incomplete.

According to the WHO, power cuts and fuel shortages have created constant crises for Gaza’s 14 public hospitals; threatening the closure of essential health services leaving thousands of people without access to life-saving medical care.

In Shifa hospital, tiny premature babies, some with multiple infections or congenital diseases, lie crammed in incubators fighting for life as lights sputter. With electricity virtually cut off, their life support is entirely powered by a generator with unpredictable current.

At any given time, power loss threatens the lives of hundreds of the new-born and adults in neonatal and intensive care units and some 658 patients requiring bi-weekly haemodialysis, including 23 children. Refrigeration systems for blood and vaccine storage are also at risk.

With adversity often the mother of invention, many in Gaza have struggled to keep pace with the needs of energy through use of poorly vented generator systems and candle light when available. According to Al Mezan, 29 people including 24 children have died since 2010 from fire or suffocation incidents related to attempts to overcome power outage. In one such tragedy, three siblings were killed after their home caught fire from the candles being used during the power outage.

Water Crises in Gaza

While Tel Aviv holds a yearly contest with an award of free parking to the family that has consumed the least amount of water, in Gaza it would be a competition without a challenge.

As a result of repeated attacks that have targeted Gaza’s water infrastructure… and a 10 year embargo on materials necessary for its repair, a crises in the making has now reached one of epic proportions unmatched anywhere else in the world.

For two million people, it is estimated that 3% of the water of Gaza remains fit for human consumption. In particular, it poses grave risks to its children.

As a result of untreated sewage dumped into the Mediterranean Sea, agricultural chemicals and unfiltered seawater, the rest of Gaza’s water is dangerous; 68% of it biologically contaminated during storage or transportation to Gaza’s households. Indeed, recent studies have shown Gaza’s water contains a large concentration of chloride… as well, nitrate rates two to eight times higher than the WHO recommends.

Recently the UN warned its underground water aquifer, upon which the territory is almost entirely dependent, will soon be completely contaminated; stripping Gaza of access to all its water.

With the shortage of clean water comes the well based fear of a deadly cholera epidemic… particularly in a community with an unusually young population.  This is all the more likely where signs of acute malnutrition and severe wasting are an increasing phenomenon among the young children in Gaza.

Healthcare Dying

Cancer rates are exploding in Gaza. A decade of Israeli wars has poisoned its soil and water, leaving depleted uranium in their wake. Daily spray of insecticides used by Israel to clear border areas, have exacerbated what is becoming a deadly environmental disaster to a community long under siege through every means possible.

According to the head of oncology at Shifa Hospital, today Gaza produces 90 cases of cancer per 100,000 people compared with 65 in 2010. These statistics are particularly ominous given the unusually young population of Gaza with 60% of its residents under 25. Due to a lack of early diagnosis and treatment options in Gaza, women with breast cancer are dying at rates two to three times those receiving first world care.

On top of its energy crises, Gaza suffers from a chronic shortage of hospital beds, medical equipment and specialist physicians.

Treatment for an estimated 6,000 cerebral palsy patients is particularly problematic with many families unable to cover the cost of its specialized care. Ashraf al-Qidra, a spokesman for Gaza’s Health Ministry notes:

The poor financial conditions of families (means they) cannot take responsibility for their children who suffer from cerebral palsy or provide them with medical care such as physiotherapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy.

According to the World Bank, 56 % of all Palestinians have no access to “reasonable and customary” healthcare. For those few, in Gaza, with the financial ability to obtain necessary health care, a lack of embargoed “sensitive” medications has created a “very very dangerous” situation with dozens of drugs unavailable… including antibiotic skin ointment and medicines to treat infants born with hypoglycemia and to counteract venomous snake bites. The UN reports that 34% of essential life preserving drugs at the Central Drug Store in Gaza are completely out of stock.

According to Physicians for Human Rights-Israel  (PHRI), the public health system is not able to provide specialized treatments for complex medical problems in a variety of fields including neonatal care, cardiology, orthopedics and oncology. Moreover, nearly 50 percent of Gaza’s medical equipment is outdated and the average wait for spare parts is approximately six months. With few functioning mammography machines and the unavailability of radiation treatment, lumpectomies and plastic surgery, women with breast cancer routinely receive mastectomies as the only option.

The energy crisis has shed light on the huge rise in babies born with congenital, and other, disabilities who are waiting to leave Gaza for specialist treatment in Israel or elsewhere. For many, the wait for the much sought after exit permit can prove too long to survive.

Recently, three seriously ill babies died after permits to grant the children treatment in Israel were denied by the Palestinian Authority.  Earlier this year, a 5 year old girl with cerebral palsy died while waiting permission from Israel to leave for external treatment.  Not long thereafter, another 5 year old boy and 22 year old man died waiting permission to obtain treatment outside of Gaza.

Ka’enat Mustafa Ja’arour, 42, died of uterine cancer while awaiting a response to her permit request for treatment at a hospital in Jerusalem.  In May, 52-year-old Talat Mahmoud Sulaiman al-Shawi, a resident of Rafah, died after being denied entry to Israel to treat a kidney tumor. In August, Fatin Nader Ahmed, 26, died in hospital, while awaiting a travel permit for treatment for her brain cancer.

So far this year, 20 patients have died after their exit permits were either denied or not granted in time. Physicians report that another 10 who, in July, died of cancer but could have been saved if they had been transferred elsewhere for treatment.

A short distance from Gaza, Israeli patients receive the benefit of complex medical treatment from some of the finest and most specialized hospital and emergency care centers in the world.

The Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center has been selected as one of the world’s top 10 medical destinations specializes in adult and pediatric neurosurgery, orthopedic and surgical oncology, kidney-pancreas transplants, liver transplants, micro neurosurgery and trauma.

The Assuta Hospital, in Tel Aviv, is part of Israel’s largest private medical service and offers surgeries and diagnostic procedures in all fields of medicine; including cardiology, oncology, gynecology and urology.

The Wolfson Medical Center, on the southern border of Tel Aviv, addresses a wide range of health conditions from malaria to diabetes and heart conditions and specialty care in ENT, orthopedics, infectious diseases, pediatrics, OB/GYN, family medicine and psychiatry.

Meanwhile, back in Gaza, Yara Bakheet, age 4, and Aya Abu Mutalq, age 5, are laid to rest… denied access to basic medical treatment that would have saved their lives but for Israel’s delay in granting an exit visa for treatment.

Gaza Lives

In the light of this nightmare, some wonder what can drive hundreds, at times, thousands of young women and men to the edge of steel barricades and barbed wire that make their home a prison built of walls but not of silence.  Yet they struggle on as they toss stones at soldiers hundreds of yards away and ignite fires that pose no threat but speak loudly of freedom.

Ultimately, it’s the indefatigable spirit of these 140 square miles of self-determination that threatens the myth, indeed, puts the lie to the grand sale of an all powerful and democratic Israel.

What little mark Israel has built and, ultimately, will leave behind in the assembled home it seized has been erected not by the call of principled purpose but the drive to become but another mini-empire in a region long known for despots that have placed economic and political profit before people.

At day’s end, it’s a legacy that knows no home, or welcome, but that of brute force.

For empires large and small, real or sham, history is but a predictable march of gaudy pretense.  Gilded shacks built of shallow stilts and tattered shrines, theirs is homage to little more than empty tease. It’s who and what they are… it’s what they do… at least until they crash. And sooner or later they all crash.

Be assured, Israel will not be the exception.

Yes, empires come and go like so much a cheap, but deadly, chase for a call in eternity that welcomes no such guest.  For the learned, it’s a lesson of history acquired not by 140 characters but by keen informed observation. For far too many, empty sound bites have, today, become a defining vision without a view.

Yet, there are crossroads in history where an image, a single glance, depicts more powerfully than the finest of poetic verse, a statement of principle, determination and sacrifice which inspires the winds of time for evermore.

Somewhere, right now Faris Odeh, Rachel Corrie and Ibrahim Abu Thuraya smile down upon us as history’s hope and eternity’s message.

Iran – Regime Change Agents Hijack Economic Protests

By Moon Of Alabama

December 30, 2017 “Information Clearing House” –   Yesterday and today saw some small protests in Iran. They are probably the first stage of a large “regime change” operation run by the U.S. and Israel with the help of Iranian terrorist group.

Earlier this month the White House and the Zionist prepared for a new assault on Iran:

A delegation led by Israel’s National Security Adviser met with senior American officials in the White House earlier this month for a joint discussion on strategy to counter Iran’s aggression in the Middle East, a senior U.S. official confirmed to Haaretz.

Another report about the meeting quotes Israeli officials on the result:

“[T]he U.S. and Israel see eye to eye the different developments in the region and especially those that are connected to Iran. We reached at understandings regarding the strategy and the policy needed to counter Iran. Our understandings deal with the overall strategy but also with concrete goals, way of action and the means which need to be used to get obtain those goals.

This is probably a result of the above meeting:

Hundreds took to the streets of Iran’s second largest city of Mashad on Thursday to protest over high prices, shouting slogans against the government.

Videos posted on social media showed demonstrators in Mashad in northwest Iran, one of the holiest places in Shia Islam, chanting “death to (President Hassan) Rouhani” and “death to the dictator”.

The semi-official ILNA news agency and social media reported demonstrations in other cities in Razavi Khorasan Province, including Neyshabour and Kashmar.

video of that protest in Mashad showed some 50 people chanting slogans with more bystander just milling around.

Protests against the (neo-)liberal economic policies of the Rohani government in Iran are justified. Official unemployment in Iran is above 12% and there is hardly any economic growth. The people in the streets are not the only ones who are dissatisfied with this:

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has repeatedly criticized the government’s economic record, said on Wednesday that the nation was struggling with “high prices, inflation and recession”, and asked officials to resolve the problems with determination.

On Thursday and today the slogans of some protesters turned the call for economic relief into a call for regime change.

My hunch is that the usual suspects are behind these protests. Note that these started in several cities at the same time. This was not some spontaneous local uproar in one city but had some form of coordination.

Then there is this:

Carl Bildt‏ @carlbildt – 9:38 PM – 28 Dec 2017 from Rome, Lazio

Reports of signals of international satellite TV networks jammed in large cities of Iran. Would be sign of regime fear of today’s protests spreading.

A search in various languages finds exactly zero such “reports”. Carl Bildt is a former Swedish prime minister. He was recruited in 1973 as a CIA informant and has since grown into a full blown U.S. asset. He was involved in the Ukraine coup and tried to personally profit from it.

The only response to Bildt’s tweet was from one Riyad Swed‏ – @SwedRiyad who posted several videos of protests with one of them showing burning police cars.

I am not sure the video is genuine. The account has some unusual attributes (active since September 2016, 655 tweets but only 32 followers?).

Just yesterday one lecture at the CCC “hacker” congress was about the British GHCQ Secret Service and its sock-puppet accounts on Twitter and Facebook. These are used for acquiring human intelligence and for running “regime change” operations. Page 14-18 of the slides (11:20 min) cite from obtained GCHQ papers which lists Iran as one of the targets. The speaker specifically notes a GCHQ account “@2009Iranfree” which was used in generating the protests in Iran after the reelection of then President Ahmedinejad.

Today, Friday and the weekly day off in Iran, several more protest took place in other cities. A Reuters report from today:

About 300 demonstrators gathered in Kermanshah after what Fars called a “call by the anti-revolution” and shouted “Political prisoners should be freed” and “Freedom or death”, while destroying some public property. Fars did not name any opposition groups.

Footage, which could not be verified, showed protests in other cities including Sari and Rasht in the north, Qom south of Tehran, and Hamadan in the west.

Mohsen Nasj Hamadani, deputy security chief in Tehran province, said about 50 people had rallied in a Tehran square and most left after being asked by police, but a few who refused were “temporarily detained”, the ILNA news agency reported.

Some of these protests have genuine economic reasons but get hijacked by other interests:

In the central city of Isfahan, a resident said protesters joined a rally held by factory workers demanding back wages.

“The slogans quickly changed from the economy to those against (President Hassan) Rouhani and the Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei),” the resident said by telephone.

Purely political protests are rare in Iran […] but demonstrations are often held by workers over layoffs or non-payment of salaries and people who hold deposits in non-regulated, bankrupt financial institutions.

Alamolhoda, the representative of Ayatollah Khamenei in northeastern Mashhad, said a few people had taken advantage of Thursday’s protests against rising prices to chant slogans against Iran’s role in regional conflicts.

“Some people had came to express their demands, but suddenly, in a crowd of hundreds, a small group that did not exceed 50 shouted deviant and horrendous slogans such as ‘Let go of Palestine’, ‘Not Gaza, not Lebanon, I’d give my life (only) for Iran’,” Alamolhoda said.

Two videos posted by BBC Persian and others I have seen show only small active protest groups with a dozen or so people while many more are just standing by or film the people who are chanting slogans.

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Videos published by the terrorist group Mujahedin-e Khalq [MEK], 12345, also show mostly small protests despite the MEK’s claim of Tens of thousands of people chant “death to dictator”. The MEK, or its “civilian” organization National Council of Resistance of Iran , seem to be most involved in the current protests. Its website is currently filled with the protest issue with a total of ten reports and its head figureissued a supportive statement:

Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the Iranian Resistance, saluted the heroic people of Kermanshah and other cities who rose up today chanting “death or freedom”, “death to Rouhani”, “death to the dictator”, and “political prisoners must be freed”, and protested against high prices, poverty and corruption.

She said, “Yesterday Mashhad, today Kermanshah, and tomorrow throughout Iran; this uprising has tolled the death knell for the overthrow of the totally corrupt dictatorship of the mullahs, and is the rise of democracy, justice and popular sovereignty.

This very early engagement of the MEK -its first report was published yesterday at 10:26 am- is extremely suspicious.

In 2012 it was reported that Israel had used the MEK terrorist organization to assassinate nuclear scientists in Iran:

On Thursday, U.S. officials speaking to NBC news claimed that Mossad agents were training members of the dissident terror group People’s Mujahedin of Iran in order assassinate Iranian nuclear scientists, adding that the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama was aware of the operation, but had no direct link to them.

The U.S. officials reportedly confirmed the link between Israel and the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK), with one official saying: “All your inclinations are correct.”

In October a CATO Institute paper analyzed (and rejected) several options for U.S. handling Iran. Under Option Three: “Regime Change from Within” it noted:

In this approach, the United States would pressure the Iranian regime and simultaneously back groups that oppose it-whether the exiled extremist National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), pro-democracy Green Revolution factions, or ethnic minorities within Iran-a strategy advocates often compare to Reagan’s support for civil society groups in the Soviet Union.

[A] proponent of “coerced democratization,” the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Mark Dubowitz, urged President Trump to “go on the offensive against the Iranian regime” by“weakening the Iranian regime’s finances” through “massive economic sanctions,” while also “undermin[ing] Iran’s rulers by strengthening pro-democracy forces” inside Iran. This option appears to be gaining traction in the Trump administration’s ongoing Iran policy review and has received public support from Tillerson. CIA Director Mike Pompeo also favored such an approach during his time in Congress.

The MEK/NCRI noted that Senator Tom Cotton, who will likely replace CIA chief Pompeo when Pompeo moves to the State Department, issued a supportive statement for the protests.

The White House and the Netanyahoo regime agreed on a strategy towards Iran. Major members of the Trump administration are in favor of “regime change” by “pro-democracy forces” in Iran. A few weeks after an agreement was found, coordinated economic protests start in Iran which are soon hijacked by small groups of very active regime changers. A group of Iranian exile terrorists, well known for deadly collaboration with Israeli spies as well as for having operation cells in Iran, is highly engaged in the protest from very early on.

If this the “regime change” operation I presume, the protests will soon get bigger. When the people need money a few thousand dollars are enough to create a large crowd. Small groups will riot while hiding within the larger protests of maybe genuinely concerned people. The “western” media will engage with their usual pseudo liberal humanism and concern trolling. When the police in Iran tries to arrest those rioters who are raising havoc the media will scream “brutality”. Some “martyr” will be created and iconified. Rumors of censorship and suppression will be raised (see Carl Bildt above), fake news will come from everywhere and hundreds of sock puppet Twitter and Facebook accounts will suddenly be “Iranian” and breathlessly report “from the scene” of their Langley offices.

For the Iranian politicians and police the issue is tricky. Economic protests are clearly justified with even Khameni voicing support for the issue. But rioting in the streets must be suppressed before it further escalates and becomes uncontrollable. Weapons on the protesters site firing in all directions may soon become a problem. The Mossad and the MEK are not shy of killing random people.

But the Islamic Republic in Iran has genuine support in large parts of the society. There are big civil organizations that support the government – not on every issue but in its general framework. Most Iranian’s are proud nationalists and will be difficult to divide. If this is indeed the “regime change” attempt I suspect, I predict that it will fail.

This article was originally published by Moon Of Alabama 

فلسطين والخليج

 

Ahed Tamimi Becomes Global Cause Célèbre; Israelis Beginning to Panic

Posted on 

“Free Ahed Tamimi” poster. Photo by @ProtestStencil

Despite rather obvious attempts by Zionist media to deliberately downplay the story of her arrest, Palestinian teen Ahed Tamimi is rapidly becoming an international cause célèbre. She has made news in Pakistan, India, and Singapore, and her face can now be seen on billboards at bus stops and train stations in London.

All of this of course is being watched by Israelis in exasperation and perhaps with something akin to panic now setting in. Take the comments of Michael Oren for instance, former Israeli ambassador to the US. In what sounds like a desperate attempt at staving off a public relations disaster, Oren claims the Tamimis “may not be a real family,” and then goes on to imply that Ahed is not actually the daughter of her mother and father, Bassem and Nariman Tamimi, but a paid actor.

“The Tamimi family–which may not be a real family–dresses up kids in American clothes and pays them to provoke (Israeli) troops on camera,” Oren purported on Twitter.

“This cynical and cruel use of children constitutes abuse. Human rights organizations must investigate!” he added.

The Tamimi family—which may not be a real family—dresses up kids in American clothes and pays them to provoke IDF troops on camera. This cynical and cruel use of children constitutes abuse. Human rights organizations must investigate!
https://news.walla.co.il/item/3120423?utm_source=Generalshare&utm_medium=sharebuttonapp&utm_term=social&utm_content=general&utm_campaign=socialbutton&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=sharebutton&utm_term=social&utm_content=twitter&utm_campaign=socialbutton  via @wallanews

תקיפת החיילים בידי הפלסטיניות: גם פרובוקציה ראויה למעצר

בת למשפחת תמימי מנבי סלאח הגיעה שוב במטרה לסחוט פרובקציה מלוחמי צה”ל. חרף הידיעה כי מדובר במלכודת תקשורתית נשמעת בציבור…

news.walla.co.il

Oren’s claim sounds very much to me like the fevered imagination of someone who is in full panic mode.

And of course you have to wonder how many other Israeli officials are similarly distraught at present.

For the benefit of anyone who may have been sleepwalking for the past ten days, Ahed Tamimi is the Palestinian girl who was arrested on December 19 after slapping an Israeli soldier. Her mother and her cousin are also in custody.

Another Israeli who seems to have gone off the deep end over the affair is Ben Caspit, author and prominent journalist for the daily Ma’ariv.

“In the case of the girls, we should exact a price at some other opportunity, in the dark, without witnesses and cameras,” Caspit wrote.

Though the writer didn’t specify what “price” he had in mind, the statement sounds threatening to say the least, and perhaps more than a tad bit maniacal. Caspit’s article originally appeared in Hebrew, here, but the gist of his comments have been translated into English, here.

Another engaged in teeth gnashing (though perhaps not to the extent of Caspit) is the Jewish Chronicle which just today published an article decrying the “Controversy over campaign to make teenager who slapped Israeli soldier a heroine.”

Of course there is nothing “controversial” at all about Ahed’s status as global heroine–other than in the minds of Zionists. For the rest of humanity, a defenseless teenage girl with the temerity to slap a soldier in combat gear is probably inevitably going to win praise and acclaim–especially when the soldier represents a brutal occupation that has disgusted the world while dragging on for decades. Nevertheless, Ben Weich, the writer of the article, puts the words “peace activist” in quotes in his lead-paragraph reference to Ahed.

There may be other reasons for panic as well. A group of 63 Israeli students from high schools across the country have signed a letter saying they will defy mandatory military service despite the risk of jail.

“The army implements the policy of a racist government that violates basic human rights, which applies one law to Israelis and another to the Palestinians in the same area,” the letter states.

The students cite the “occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people,” and say they want to “change the entire system.” Whether the Ahed’s arrest and detention was a factor in their decision to come forth with such a letter at this time is not clear, but the missive is addressed to: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Education Minister Naftali Bennett and military Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot.

Of the recipients named, Bennett and Lieberman have each issued particularly venomous statements regarding the slap heard round the world. Lieberman has vowed that “not only the girl but also her parents and those around them will not escape from what they deserve,” while Bennet has called for Ahed to be locked up for the rest of her life.

And to top it all off, yesterday an Israeli court extended Ahed’s detention once again–for the third time since she was arrested. In following such a course, the Israelis are doing nothing but making things worse on themselves, but apparently they are too blind to realize this.

Finally, in a post on December 21, I coined the term “the slap heard round the world.” Apparently others are now picking up on it. Here is a cartoon that appeared at Mondoweiss a bit earlier today.

Below are a few articles I’ve gathered to help keep readers updated on the case.


Activists Bring London Commuters Face-to-Face with Ahead Tamimi

By Natasha Roth

Commuters across London came face-to-face with the occupation on Thursday, after local activist groups put up posters at bus stops around the city calling for the release of Ahed Tamimi. The project — conceived and executed by London Palestine Action and Protest Stencil — hit London’s streets nine days after Israeli soldiers took Ahed, 16, from her Nabi Saleh home in the middle of the night, and is the latest in a series of global protests against the arrest.

“Following Ahed’s arrest, we wanted to publicly show solidarity again — with Ahed, with the Tamimi family, with Nabi Saleh,” Leila White of London Palestine Action told +972 Magazine. “Many of those involved in London Palestine Action have been to Nabi Saleh, and have joined protests there, have marched behind Ahed and her family.”

Continued here

***

Icon of Resistance: Palestinian Teenager Ahed Tamimi Who Slapped Israeli Soldier to Face Charges

A 16-year-old Palestinian girl, who has been hailed as a national hero will face charges of assault in an Israeli military court, prosecutors said on Thursday.

Ahed Tamimi was held until Monday along with her mother Nariman, 43, a military spokeswoman said. It was later announced that she will be charged for “insulting a soldier” and “aggravated assault.”

Her cousin Nour, 21, is to be released on Sunday if no new evidence is presented by then.

Continued here

***

Ahead Tamimi’s Father: Israeli Occupation Won’t Break Us

Bassem Tamimi, father of jailed 16-year old Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi, says the arrest of Ahed along with her mother and cousin won’t break the family’s determination to resist Israeli occupation.

Interview with Bassem Tamimi | 29 Dec 2017

Transcript:

AARON MATÉ: It’s the Real News. I’m Aaron Maté. Last week, 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi was arrested by Israeli forces at her home in the occupied West Bank, joining hundreds of Palestinian children arrested by Israeli forces each year. Ahed was seized just days after a video went viral of her confronting an Israeli soldier. Just minutes earlier, Israeli forces had shot Ahed’s 14-year-old cousin at close range in the face, leaving him in a coma. On Monday, an Israeli court ordered Ahed, her cousin and her mother, who was arrested when she came to visit Ahed to remain behind bars for at least four more days.

Continued here

***

Why is the State of Israel so Afraid of 16-Year-Old Ahed Tamimi?

By Ariel Gold, Taylor Morley

Sixteen-year-old Ahed Tamimi was back in court Thursday, with the judge ruling for the third time that her detention is extended, this time for another five days. Over the past week and a half, Ahed has been shuffled between numerous Israeli prisons and police stations. She has been held in cold isolation cells with cameras pointed at her 24 hours a day. Repeatedly, without a parent or lawyer present, they have attempted to interrogate her. The reasoning for the judge’s rulings to extend her detention is that she “poses a risk” to the military and the Israeli government’s case against her.

Israel is right that Ahed Tamimi poses a risk. But it isn’t a risk to one of the most heavily armed and advanced militaries in the world or to the legal case being built against her. The risk she poses is in her refusal to submit to the Israeli demand that Palestinians acquiesce to their own occupation. Israeli logic is that Palestinians should cooperate with their own oppression. They should move quietly through the checkpoints, open their bags, not look their occupiers in the eye and not challenge or protest the theft of their lands, resources and freedoms. Israeli logic is that if they don’t like it, they can leave. Actually, they would strongly prefer that Palestinians leave. The strategy is to make life so unbearable for Palestinians, that they leave willingly. This even has a name: “voluntary transfer.”

Continued here

***

Why is the West Praising Malala, but Ignoring Ahed?

By Shenila Khoja-Moolji

Ahed Tamimi, a 16-year-old Palestinian girl, was recently arrested in a night-time raid on her home. The Israeli authorities accuse her of “assaulting” an Israeli soldier and an officer. A day earlier she had confronted Israeli soldiers who had entered her family’s backyard. The incident happened shortly after a soldier shot her 14-year-old cousin in the head with a rubber bullet, and fired tear-gascanisters directly at their home, breaking windows.

Her mother and cousin were arrested later as well. All three remain in detention.

There has been a curious lack of support for Ahed from Western feminist groups, human rights advocates and state officials who otherwise present themselves as the purveyors of human rights and champions of girls’ empowerment.

Continued here

***

[Additional editor’s note: photo at the top of this post was taken by Protest Stencil. You can visit their Twitter page here.  ]

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