Iraq: Biggest crime you’ve never heard of: when US and UK killed half a million children

Biggest crime you’ve never heard of: when US and UK killed half a million children

No country had ever been subjected to more comprehensive economic sanctions than Iraq, enforced mainly by US and UK.

Iraqi child dying of malnutrition

In 1999, United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) estimated that over 500,000 Iraqi children under the age of five had died as a result of sanctions.


They must have known, mustn’t they? How could they not? Perhaps they chose not to know. With the world commemorating the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the nazi-run death camps the question of what ordinary Germans knew (and did) about the genocide their government was perpetrating has once again been in the news.

Of course, the assumption behind much of the coverage of the liberation of Belsen and other camps is that we, living enlightened lives in contemporary Britain, are lucky to live in a society where horrendous crimes do not happen. And if they did, they would be quickly reported by our free and stroppy media and quickly halted.

But what if our own government has been responsible for genocide-level suffering, without the media raising the alarm and therefore leaving the general public in a state of ignorance?

What would this say about our political class? What would it say about the media? And what would it say about us?

Unfortunately this isn’t a hypothetical debate but the cold, brutal reality.

To understand this distressing fact we need to return to February 1991 when the US-led coalition kicked Iraq out of Kuwait, which it had illegally invaded in August 1990.

According to John Hoskins, a Canadian doctor leading a Harvard study team, the US-led air assault “effectively terminated everything vital to human survival in Iraq — electricity, water, sewage systems, agriculture, industry and healthcare.” Purportedly to compel Saddam Hussein’s government to give up its weapons of mass destruction (WMD), the UN imposed economic sanctions on Iraq, which lasted until the 2003 invasion. The sanctions regime was enforced by the US and Britain which took the toughest line on compliance.

“No country had ever been subjected to more comprehensive economic sanctions by the United Nations than Iraq,” notes Hans Von Sponeck, the former UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, in his 2006 book A Different Kind of War.

“Communicable diseases in the 1980s not considered public health hazards, such as measles, polio, cholera, typhoid, marasmus and kwashiorkor, reappeared on epidemic scales.”

In 1999 the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) estimated that over 500,000 Iraqi children under the age of five had died because of a lack of medication, food or safe water supplies.

To counter some of the worst effects of sanctions, in 1996 the UN set up the Oil-For-Food Programme, which allowed Iraq to sell oil in exchange for food, medicine and other goods.

However, the programme was far from adequate. “At no time during the years of comprehensive economic sanctions were there adequate resources to meet minimum needs for human physical or mental survival either before, or during, the Oil-For-Food Programme”, Von Sponeck notes in his book.

In 1998/99, each Iraqi received a food allocation of $49 (£32) — 27 (19p) cents a day – for a six month period. In contrast, the dogs the UN used to help de-mine Iraq each received a food allocation of $160.

In protest at what 70 members of the US congress called “infanticide masquerading as policy,” Denis Halliday, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq who ran the sanctions regime, resigned in 1998. Noting the sanctions were causing the deaths of up to 5,000 children a month, Halliday bluntly stated: “We are in the process of destroying an entire society. It is as simple and terrifying as that. It is illegal and immoral.”

Speaking to journalist John Pilger, Halliday later explained: “I was instructed to implement a policy that satisfies the definition of genocide — a deliberate policy that has effectively killed well over a million individuals, children and adults.”

Halliday’s successor Von Sponeck resigned in protest two years later, asking in his resignation letter: “How long should the civilian population of Iraq be exposed to such punishment for something they have never done?” Later he told Pilger: “I have not in the past wanted to use the word genocide, but now it is unavoidable.”

Making a hat-trick, Jutta Burghardt, head of the UN World Food Programme in Iraq, resigned two days after Von Sponeck, describing the sanctions regime as “a true humanitarian tragedy.”

With a few honourable exceptions such as Pilger, Tony Benn and George Galloway, the response of the British political class and media was either to ignore or dismiss the fact sanctions were killing Iraqis on a mass scale.

According to the media watchdog Media Lens, in 2003 Halliday was mentioned in just two of the 12,366 Guardian and Observer articles mentioning Iraq. Von Sponeck was mentioned a grand total of five times in the same year. Von Sponeck’s book on the sanctions has never been reviewed in the British press, and has been mentioned just once — by the veteran Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk.

Echoing the denials of new Labour ministers such as Peter Hain and Robin Cook, in 2002 Observer Editor Roger Alton responded to a reader challenging him about the sanctions, stating: “It’s Saddam who’s killing all the bloody children, not sanctions. Sorry.” The highly respected Middle East specialist Professor Fred Halliday was equally dismissive, rubbishing “claims that Iraq still lacks the means to provide a basic supply of food” in a book review in the Independent in 1999.

The governing elite, assisted by a pliant media and the silence of much of academia, have carried out a magic trick of epic, sinister proportions. In a world of 24-hour news culture they have effectively managed to bury the bodies of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who died as a direct result of British foreign policy.

The lack of coverage, concern or discussion today about the sanctions shows how shockingly successful they have been in this endeavour.

As Harold Pinter sarcastically noted in his Nobel Peace Prize speech, “It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest.”

No conspiracy is needed. “The sinister fact about literary censorship in England is that it is largely voluntary. Unpopular ideas can be silenced, and inconvenient facts kept dark, without the need for any official ban,” George Orwell argued in his censored preface to Animal Farm.

He provides two reasons for thought control in democratic society — first, the owners of the British press, socially, politically and economically part of the governing elite, “have every motive to be dishonest on certain important topics.” And second, he explains: “At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed that all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to say this, that or the other, but it is ‘not done’ to say it”.

As always, it’s up to those who care about the lives of people regardless of their nationality or skin colour, who care about truth, who take their responsibility as world citizens seriously, to raise their voice and remember this moral and historical outrage.

  • Ian Sinclair is the author of The March That Shook Blair: An Oral History of 15 February 2003, published by Peace News Press. He tweets @IanJSinclair.
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West Bank Village Struggles to Survive

by Stephen Lendman

Batir is special. Its heritage is longstanding. It’s been that way for centuries. It’s one of Palestine’s most beautiful villages.

It’s built around natural spring water. It’s dotted by wells and reservoirs. Traditional agriculture is its way of life. Villagers want it kept that way.

Spring water irrigates Batir’s gardens. They made village produce famous. Preserving it is vital. It’s too important to lose.

In 1948, Batir was on the front line of Israel’s War of Independence.

Green Line separation divides its ancestral lands. Its residents were the only Palestinians allowed to cultivate them inside its post-war border.

For decades it struggled to survive. Israeli land theft and development threaten it.

Israel’s Separation Wall is Exhibit A. Constructing it threatens traditional Batir agriculture. Its route isn’t yet finalized. If built as planned, Batir’s way of life will end.

One farmer spoke for others, saying:

“It is a tragedy for all farmers and all the residents of Batir village. Most of the residents are farmers and depend on these green lands.”

“They depend on farming the Batir eggplant which is famous in the Palestinian lands. Also we have other vegetables such as beans, cauliflower, and pepper.”

Israel’s Separation Wall “affects us. If only you knew how much it will destroy our lives and land. We do not know how we will live afterwards.”

“Our life is attached to this land. It is the source of our honor. We will never give it away no matter what happens.”

Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority CEO Shaul Goldstein agrees. He opposes Israel’s plan.
Samedi 10 Novembre 2012  Le partage de l'information à propos du village de BATTIR se prolonge au-delà du programme du FIG 2012. Il s'agit à la fois de suivre le travail d'observation élaboré par le groupe de paysagistes dont le travail a été présenté lors du Café-carto du Samedi 13 octobre 2012, au Bureau, à St-Dié-des-Vosges - et de suivre l'impact de l'entretien des vallées de Battir sur les enjeux de son avenir...  Les travaux de restauration des paysages de Battir, réalisés ces derniers mois, ont offert de nouvelles occasions d'expliquer ces enjeux : c'est M. Hassan Muamer qui les a dirigés, qui a bien voulu répondre à mon invitation - nous devons tous le remercier très sincèrement, depuis Battir jusqu'ici, d'avoir accepté de partager avec nous ses Paysages, tout ce mois d'octobre, depuis le FIG, puis à Rouen, jusqu'à l'Université de Besançon.  Les publications vont être diffusées ces prochains mois... Et j'espère que l'avenir de ce merveilleux village saura préserver les richesses de son passé.  Thank you so much, and thank you to share.“Israel has the right to defend itself,” he said. “We think we can do it with electronic devices, closed circuit cameras, and radars, not by a physical barrier, not a fence, not a wall, nothing.”

“We need it open for the public. We need it open for nature.”

Area around Batir provides an ecological corridor. Destroying it by wall or fence construction would be tragic, he added.

He stressed two main points. One is the ecological corridor. It provides animals different climate areas.

Batir landscape is the other. It’s too beautiful and historic to destroy. It’s unique and picturesque. It’s on a hillside south of Jerusalem.

Farmland is arranged by traditional terraces. Natural springs irrigate it.

According to engineer Raed Samara:

“The damage that will happen if the wall is built will never be solved. There will be environmental damage.”

“There will be increase in rats and harmful animals. The animals who are living in this area will not be able to move around, such as gazelles.”

Since 2005, villagers waged legal battles. They petitioned Israel’s High Court. They did so through through Israeli environmental organizations, Friends of the Earth of Middle East, and Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority.

Last October, Israel’s High Court ruled. It issued an injunction. It banned Wall construction. Justice Uzi Vogelman gave Israeli authorities 14 days to respond.

Surtout ne manquez pas cette rencontre avec la vie - la vie qui tient en quelques mots : équilibre, douceur, beauté, volonté... le résultat d'un travail acharné, du fil des siècles à celui des saisons... C'est ici, en Palestine, dans les vallées de Battir - là où notre regard, celui de tous, est impératif, indispensable.  Above all, don't miss this meeting with the life - the life that takes in a few words: balance, sweetness, beauty, will... the result of a hard work, the wire of the centuries and of the seasons... It is here, in Palestine, in the valleys of Battir - where our attention, from each of us, is imperative, essential.Villagers proposed an alternate Wall route. Doing so leaves their land intact. Part of Batir lies inside the Green Line. Israeli construction so far hasn’t violated it.

Attorney Kais Nasser represents villagers. “According to (Israel’s) plan,” he said, (village) lands will remain behind the fence, which will drastically change the status quo in the area and lead to the breaking of an international agreement between the parties.”

It existed since 1948/49. Nasser rejects Israeli claims. Saying Wall construction protects Israeli security doesn’t wash. It’s the land, stupid.

Israel wants it. It wants all valued Judea and Samaria areas. It wants Jewish development only. It wants Palestinians ethnically cleansed. It’s longstanding policy.

In 2011, UNESCO awarded Batir $15,000. It did so for “Safeguarding and Management of Cultural Landscapes.” Its care for ancient terraces and traditional irrigation were highlighted.

Palestinian Authority officials want Batir declared a World Heritage site. Ahead of Israel’s High Court injunction, they petitioned UNESCO to do so. They want ancient Batir terraces protected.
“We hope that UNESCO which gave Batir the first award for protecting the environment. We hope this award will help to stop building the wall and will return life to Batir,” said Samara.

Last October, UNESCO gave Palestine full member status. It did so despite intense US and Israeli opposition. PA officials submitted an emergency petition. It requested swift resolution. It wants Batir protected. It said in part:

“(T)he nominated property is currently at risk because of the Separation Barrier currently being constructed by the Government of Israel. The Batir Village Council brought this case to the Israeli Supreme Court.”

“The court case aims at preventing the construction of the ‘Barrier’ in a historically sensitive area such as the ‘jenan’ or ‘gardens’ where a millenary irrigation system is still in use to water the vegetable gardens of Batir.”

“The Israeli Supreme Court is expected to issue its decision in the near future, which justifies the submission of this dossier to be processed on an emergency basis, in order to protect an area of ‘Outstanding Universal Value’ and prevent its irreversible destruction.”

“Since 1967, intensive Israeli activities of settlement expansion are threatening the property and its surrounding villages.”

“The increasing construction of housing units, infrastructures, roads and other various kinds of services for the exclusive use of Israeli settlers, has resulted in the progressive enclavisation of both the territorial area and the inhabitants of the nominated property, severely threatening the integrity of its landscape and the sustainability of its ecological and environmental equilibrium.”

If Israel’s Wall is built as planned, it’ll separate villagers from 740 acres of their land. Doing so will violate 1948/49 armistice agreements. Subsequent oral ones will end.

Traditional agriculture won’t survive. Batir’s entire terrace system may collapse. “It’s like a net,” said one farmer. “You can’t cut it down in the middle without it being destroyed.”

Perhaps Israel has that in mind. It wouldn’t be the first time. Targeting Palestine’s way of life is longstanding.

Batir is one of its last untouched areas. Villagers prioritize preserving it. Wall construction destroyed adjacent Walaja village.

Good Water Neighbors at Friends of the Earth Middle East’s Michal Sagiv said:
“On the Israeli side, (Walaja) terraces ceased to be used for agriculture and are remnants. Here it’s still a living system.” Batir villages want it kept that way.

On February 17, Haaretz headlined “Palestinians reject Israel’s compromise for West Bank fence: Stop rail traffic instead of building on our land.”

In response to villagers’ High Court petition, Israeli officials “suggested building a fence, rather than a wall….”

They lied. They said doing so would minimize environmental damage. They stressed non-existent security concerns.

Palestinians reject them for good reason. They understand Israel’s real aims. Land theft is prioritized. So is settlement construction and other Jewish development.

Doing so requires displacing Palestinians. It’s been ongoing for decades. It shows no signs of stopping.

In rejecting Israel’s “compromise,” villagers “quoted landscape conservation experts who said that a fence would cause as much damage as a wall – both through direct damage to the terraces on which it would be built and by interrupting the contiguity of cultivated land.”

They said construction will impede villagers’ access to their land. Israel plans it. Concerns raised are subterfuge for its real aims.

The struggle to preserve Batir continues. Hope springs eternal. Israel plans returning 1,200 dunums of Jordan Valley land.

According to its Lands Administration (ILA), its Kibbutz Merav mistakenly got it. It’s inside the Green Line.

ILA officials admitted a 30-year old error. Doing so was perhaps a one-off. What Israel steals it keeps. Rare exceptions prove the rule.

In January 2012, Israel told kibbutz officials what happened. The land’s not theirs was explained. It’s still being cultivated.

It’s private Palestinian land. It’s legal owners were excluded for decades. They still are despite ILA’s ruling.

Making it was historic. It remains to be seen what follows. Anything positive perhaps bodes well for Batir. The struggle to preserve it continues.

About the Author: Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.
His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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 this Blog!

Ten Years After This Wall

Ten Years After This Wall

My view of The Wall from a rooftop in Bethlehem,
Aida Refugee Camp

Ten Years After This Wall
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In Cold Irons Bound, The Walls of pride are high and wide, Can’t see over to the other side.-Bob Dylan

Ten years ago, Israel began construction of its 490-mile mostly cold concrete barrier without any agreement with the Palestinian Authority about borders.
Over 80% of Israel’s Wall has been built on legally owned Palestinian property because it lies beyond the Green Line.
The Wall has cost over $1 billion so far and it continues to grow:

“Financed with U.S. aid at a cost of $1.5 million per mile, the Israeli wall prevents residents from receiving health care and emergency medical services. In other areas, the barrier separates farmers from their olive groves which have been their families’ sole livelihood for generations.” [Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Page 43, Jan/Feb. 2007]
In Hebrew The Wall is called “Michshol Hafrada” which translates to “The Separation Wall” in English and “Apartheid Wall” in Afrikaans.
The Israeli spin has been repeated ad nauseam by US Media and Politicians who claim The Wall is against terrorist attacks. <!– /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:Arial; panose-1:2 11 6 4 2 2 2 2 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:3 0 0 0 1 0;} @font-face {font-family:Cambria; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:3 0 0 0 1 0;} @font-face {font-family:"Trebuchet MS"; panose-1:2 11 6 3 2 2 2 2 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:3 0 0 0 1 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ascii-font-family:Arial; mso-fareast-font-family:Cambria; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Arial; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} –>
Reality is that in the ‘holy’ name of SECURITY, the Holy Land is in pieces-enclaves-Bantustans!



The Jewish only settlements are in reality colonies that divide
Palestinian neighborhoods throughout the occupied territories.



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Israel’s Wall traps over 100,000 indigenous Palestinians and the over 600 checkpoints deny them access to their aquifers, land, jobs, families and holy sites.
In 2003, the UN General Assembly voted 144– 4 to condemn the barrier, but the US vetoed that Security Council resolution.
In 2004, an International Court of Justice advisory opinion called The Wall “contrary to international law” and ruled that where ever it did not follow the Green Line it must be removed and reparations paid to the Palestinians whose land was confiscated and property destroyed.
Over one million fruit bearing trees have been destroyed by Israel’s Wall depriving the agricultural based Palestinian economy of money as well as food to feed their families.
The Israeli government and a misinformed America contend that the West Bank is not occupied territory because it was never previously an independent, recognized sovereign state.
Up until the Establishment of Israel-whose very statehood was contingent upon upholding the UN UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS, the British occupied Palestine beginning in 1920 after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, which had ruled from the 14thcentury.
When Israel became a state in 1948, they promised:

“On the day of the termination of the British mandate and on the strength of the United Nations General Assembly declare The State of Israel will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel: it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion it will guarantee freedom of religion [and] conscience and will be faithful to the Charter of the United Nations.” May 14, 1948. The Declaration of the Establishment of Israel

Up until the Six-Day War in 1967, the West Bank had been under Jordan administration, but ever since the Israeli Military Occupy’s it.

Professor Reece Jones, author of Border Walls: Security and the War on Terror in the United States, India, and Israelpublished by Zed Books, wrote:

“Despite the official Israeli position that the wall is a temporary barrier against terrorism, its political consequences cannot be ignored…Arguably the most significant consequence is that the wall physically separates Jerusalem and its important religious sites from the rest of the West Bank.

“In January 2012, Palestinian officials reported that in closed door talks Israeli negotiators abandoned the position that the wall was temporary and proposed the wall route itself as the final political border between Israel and a new Palestinian state.

“In late May, Israeli Defense Secretary Ehud Barak stated publicly that Israel should consider unilaterally establishing a border between the two states. If the wall does become the final border, it will substantially expand the territory of Israel at the expense of longstanding Palestinian property rights and religious connections to the land. It will also demonstrate the power of walls to crystallize and formalize claims to territory by physically excluding other people from the land. Finally, it will undermine the international consensus against the annexation of territory gained through expansionary wars.

“Rather than setting this dangerous precedent, ten years after construction began the United States and the international community should reaffirm that the Green Line, rather than the route of the wall, as the starting point for any future talks about a border between Israel and Palestine. The territorial conflict should be resolved through a negotiation that respects the rights and concerns of both Israelis and Palestinians, not through the unilateral construction of a separation wall.” [read more-link here]

In February 2003, Claire Anastas and her family of fourteen -whose three story home with a gift shop on the first floor that had been the closest shop to Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem- were informed by the Palestinian Authority that The Wall would be coming to their neighborhood.
Eileen Fleming at ‘Claire’s Tomb’
photo copyright Meir Vanunu

The family had moved into their home in 1967, and their back yard garden once had a view of open green space.

The family is now encircled on three sides by thirty-feet high slabs of cold concrete which has imprisoned them from the rest of the Little Town of Bethlehem: which is Occupied Territory.

For months the family helplessly observed the preparation work all around them, and then one week before Christmas 2003, Claire’s children went to school and came home to discover that every view from every window was of the concrete monster.

The once economically thriving and vibrant main street in Bethlehem is now a ghost town and Rachel’s Tomb and ‘Claire’s Tomb’ are divided by the concrete barrier which is topped by guard towers and patrolled by soldiers in battle gear.

In 2003, Dr. Jad Issac, the director general of the Applied Research Institute examined a satellite photograph of the area and stated, “Bethlehem is the Bethlehem ghetto now…rather than seeking to ensure freedom of religion, Israel was pushing Bethlehem’s Christian Palestinians to pack up and leave. About 360 Palestinians would be left on the Israeli side and once they get rid of the Christians, then they will label the rest as terrorists.”

Dr. Shmuel Berkovitz, an expert on Jerusalem and Jewish holy places, said The Wall effectively annexed Rachel’s Tomb to Jerusalem from Bethlehem “as a matter of technical separation, without an official declaration. Right now, you can’t see any romantic place there; you can see it only as a military position.”

Rachel’s Tomb is a small stone building with a dome, which was built during the Ottoman rule, but is now completely enclosed by Israel’s cold iron fortifications, built in 1996 and 1997.

During my first of three visits to Claire’s home, she told me, “Six years ago when the Israeli army blocked the main street in Bethlehem we hoped it would be temporary. We could not imagine anyone could block another human being and isolate them like they have done to us. A week before last Christmas my children went to school and when they returned they were faced with the concrete wall in front of them. They cried and cried and wanted to know how could such a thing be done to them? We are living in a tomb, we are buried alive. My children suffer and their mother and father can do nothing.

“In another ten years there will be no more Christians in Bethlehem if things do not change soon. Everyone is leaving, we need work, and we need to feed our children. Jesus was born here but we are dying. My children suffer, they are angry and shout because nobody comes to visit us anymore and the children must stay inside after school.

“We use to enjoy being out in our garden watching the people, the trees, the cars that would pass by, but now we only see concrete walls. Our lives have been stolen!

“Do Americans understand what happens to children when they are buried alive?

“When Hillary Clinton visited Jerusalem and said the wall was not against the Palestinian people, she killed us too! Christians who do not care kill us too!”

A few weeks after his Freedom of Speech Trial began in 2006, Israel’s Nuclear Whistle Blower, Mordechai Vanunu sent this invitation to Hillary Clinton and US Christians:


I do believe that man made walls can fall in a day, but the walls in hearts and minds must fall first.

I do believe The Truth Will Set US All Free but first must come the education that leads to compassion which is the way to bring in the change all people of conscience want to see:

A Holy Land that is Whole indeed! &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;!– /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:Arial; panose-1:2 11 6 4 2 2 2 2 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:3 0 0 0 1 0;} @font-face {font-family:Cambria; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:3 0 0 0 1 0;} @font-face {font-family:&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;quot;Trebuchet MS&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;quot;; panose-1:2 11 6 3 2 2 2 2 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:3 0 0 0 1 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;quot;&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;quot;; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;quot;Times New Roman&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;quot;; mso-ascii-font-family:Arial; mso-fareast-font-family:Cambria; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Arial; mso-bidi-font-family:&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;quot;Times New Roman&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;quot;; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} a:link, span.MsoHyperlink {color:blue; text-decoration:underline; text-underline:single;} a:visited, span.MsoHyperlinkFollowed {mso-style-noshow:yes; color:purple; text-decoration:underline; text-underline:single;} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} –&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;


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BEYOND NUCLEAR: Mordechai Vanunu's Freedom of Speech Trial


I am Eileen Fleming and I approve of all of my messages.

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The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

Lebanon Wants Israel Stop Erecting Wall for Violating Sovereignty

Lebanon has asked the leadership of the international forces in the south to demand that Israeli occupation stop working on the separation wall near Metulla settlement pending verification of the breach to Lebanese sovereignty by Israel.

Working on separation wallThe Israeli occupation had extended the wall opposite to Kfar Kila to a distance longer than agreed upon something the Lebanese authorities rejected.

Lebanon had objected to the excavation, arguing that at several points it was between 30 and 65 centimeters closer to the pavement on the Lebanese side of the border than originally agreed upon.

Lebanese officers were given topographical maps by the U.N. in order to follow the construction of the wall to ensure that it follows the agreement.

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 this Blog!

From Tribalism to Humanism



The Path to Freedom

A journey from the narrowness of egotism to the splendour of Universalism

In his new book “The wandering Who”, Gilad Atzmon reflects on his transforming journey from an IDF “Israeli”, a racist tribalist, self-ghettoized Zionist, with exclusionist mentality, who was greatly influenced as a child by his “veteran Zionist terrorist” grandfather, into simply a Universalist and Humanist.

A courageous and enthralling journey that began in the most unexpected places, in one of the suburbs of occupied Jerusalem, Al Quds, and by no other tool than a musical instrument, a saxophone!

A journey that he didn’t choose initially, rather, he stumbled upon. He came to discover that in the world out there, where gentile live, raw talents, daring intelligence and breathtaking beauty not only exist but also thrive. This realization took him by surprise; it contradicted his basic supposition of his own and his people’s superiority as Jews. This revelation pressed on him by necessity to take a good look in the mirror, the inner mirror of the self.

Gilad describes how he fell in love and became fascinated with Afro-American music; it was that love that opened the door of escape for him and enabled him to flee the narrowness of the Ghetto of tribalism to the wide world of humanism. As he discovered the brilliance and the captivating beauty of the music played not by Jews, but by gentiles, moreover, most of those musicians were actually black, Atzmon explains: “… it was kind of a revelation. In my world, it was only Jews who were associated with anything good”.

Thus was the beginning of the young Gilad’s voyage.

Gilad’s long journey started as he explains by asking himself serious questions about his own identity. With all the frankness, dignity and courage, Gilad admits to himself and later to his readers, that he did not like what he saw. He was hit with the fact that he as Jew, might not be the fairest-one-of-all after all, as he was brought up to believe. What he realized is in fact other human beings, who are not Jews but gentiles, might be just as good! This was the first revelation in Gilad’s journey of self discovery.

Gilad reflects on how they learned -as young Jews – to view Palestinian as workers and providers of cheap labour, those nameless, faceless people who roam around:

We never socialised with them. We didn’t really understand who they were and what they stood for. Supremacy was brewed in our souls, we gazed at the world through racist chauvinistic binoculars. And we felt no shame about it either

The breaking point of his attachment was his visit to Ansar prison camp in South Lebanon in 1994. His IDF orchestra team was invited to visit. Gilad describes how did this journey affected him and changed him forever: “As we continued past the barbed wire I continued gazing at the inmates and arrived at an unbearable truth: I was walking on the other side, in Israeli military uniform. The place was a concentration camp. The inmates were the “Jews” and I was nothing but a “Nazi”“.



He then goes on to tell the tale of the last straw that broke the camel’s back: “while I contemplated the resonance of my uniform, trying to deal with the great sense of shame in me, we came to a large, flat ground at the centre of the camp. The officer guiding us offered more platitudes about the current war to defend our Jewish haven. While he was boring us to death with these irrelevant Hasbara (propaganda) lies, I noticed that we were surrounded by two dozen concrete blocks each around 1m² in are and 1.3m high, with small metal doors as entrances. I was horrified at the thought that my army was locking guard dogs into these boxes for the night. Putting my Israeli chutzpah into action, I confronted the officer about these horrible concrete dog cubes. He was quick to reply: “these are our solitary confinement blocks; after two days in one of these, you become a devoted Zionist!”. This was enough for me. I realized that my affair with the Israel state and with Zionism was over

Gilad then goes on to say: “it took me another ten years before I could leave Israel for good. During that time, however, I began to learn about the Israel-Palestine conflict, and to accept that I was actually living on someone else’s land. I took in the devastating fact that in 1948 the Palestinians hadn’t abandoned their homes willingly –as we were told in school- but had been brutally ethnically cleansed by my grandfather and his ilk.”

Discovering these exterior realities around him helped him to understand the atrocious role his people -including his much admired grandfather- played in creating the catastrophe of the Palestinian people.

Then came the time when young Gilad thirsted for answers and needed to dive deeper in his own self; he began to reflect upon the question of identity, and what it means to him to be defined as a Jew.

Years of observation and reflection he came to notice that those who call themselves Jews could be divided into three main categories:

  1. Those who follow Judaism.
  2. Those who regard themselves as human beings that happen to be of Jewish origin.
  3. Those who put their Jewish-ness over and above all of other traits.

Atzmon is more puzzled and concerned with people in the third category, as the first two are pretty self evident.

Gilad view is that the people in the third category are the manifestation of what early Zionists have defined and envisaged. Chaim Weizmann, a prominent early Zionist said “There are no English, French, German or American Jews, but only Jews living in England, France, Germany or America” Gilad explains: “In just a few words, Weizmann managed to categorically define the essence of Jewish-ness. It is basically a “primary quality”. You maybe a Jew who dwells in England, a Jew who plays the violin, or even a Jew against Zionism, but above all else you are a Jew.

This definition takes me personally a few years back, when I was intrigued by the fact that some of our Jewish supporters in the solidarity movement were atheists, yet they also defined themselves as Jews. No matter how much I turned this in my head, it just didn’t make sense; how can one be an atheist Jew?

So I asked one of my Jewish friends one day: “what do you mean when you say you are Jewish? Since you reject faith and disbelieve in Judaism as a religion, and since your culture is more Western-European than it is African-Jewish or Middle-Eastern-Jewish or any other Jewish culture, you are not Jewish by race, as there is no such a thing as Jewish race or Jewish genes, there is no unified Jewish history, and even your language is English not Hebrew? So what is it that makes you still define yourself as Jewish”?

My friend was taken aback by the question, he paused for some time, then he said something I would never forget, he said: “ I don’t know, I don’t know how to explain it, it’s just something you know, something you feel inside you”!

Perhaps if my friend and other Jews who define themselves as atheist Jews, if they would allow themselves the freedom to reflect upon and to explore such question and search deep inside them as Gilad did, maybe they would understand why are we -who ask these questions, are so perplexed by their definition.
From an outsider perspective, the word atheist Jew does not correspond to any logic, common sense or rationality, unless of course, one see him/herself as exclusively different as defined by Ultra Orthodox Chabad; i.e having a distinctive Neshama “Jewish soul”, or special Jewish genes, which surely is not the case of our atheist friends!


Gilad was brave enough to put himself on trial and to ask the daring questions, who am I? why am I defined as a Jew? and what does it really mean to be a Jew?

By asking these questions, one would not expect to find answers in any books of course. The answer can only be found deep within. It requires an inner journey.

Gilad pondered and wondered, he asked the questions then he pursued the answer, “The Wondering Who” is a summary of his journey; of spiritual reflection and of intellectual discovery and endeavour .

His book is a profound testimony of the resilience, strength and beauty of human spirit and the boundless aptitude of human potential.

Despite the many years of indoctrination, Gilad dared to ask questions that many of us do not dare to ask. Instead of looking outside to find explanations and answers, he looked within, he tried to identify that which might be problematic and harmful. He came to admit before the world that his own grandfather, whom he admired and who had “tremendous influence” on him as a young person, is actually a terrorist and murderer. He came to discover and then to admit that his own people whom he thought were the best in the world and whom he was taught it’s only them “who were associated with any thing good“, were in fact people who committed crimes of theft, terrorism and ethnic cleansing against another people.

He came to discover and admit that many of the people who call themselves Jews, who live in many countries of the world, and who blindly support an entity that engages in acts of terrorism and war crimes are also implicated.

Telling the truth can be daunting sometimes, and indeed it can expose the truth teller to all sorts of harmful attacks, however, facing the truth is far more excruciating, agonizing and life shattering experience.

It requires the embarking on an overwhelming inner journey of self discovery. If we find the courage within ourselves to take up the challenge, the outcome would be spectacular… and life would become a magnificent abode of bliss and contentment.

Through his gripping experience Gilad revealed that the change we seek and desire in order to improve our conditions begins with making the change within us. Change is possible, attainable, straightforward and available to all. It begins by being open and honest with ourselves, to allow ourselves to explore our inner core, and in particular facing that which is ugly; arrogance, ego, selfishness. . . within each and every one of us.

Through his fascinating and extraordinary journey Gilad came face to face with the Qur’anic statement of truth:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ لا يُغَيِّرُ مَا بِقَوْمٍ حَتَّى يُغَيِّرُوا مَا بِأَنْفُسِهِمْ

“Verily never will God change the condition of a people until they change themselves (what is within their own souls)” (Qur’an; 43:11)

Gilad realized that one cannot be a tribalist and a humanist simultaneously, so he chose humanism and universal values. He severed his ties with racism and supremacy, he departed from loyalty to the tribe, he refused to be a sayan at the expence and suffering of others. He offered his loyalty to the whole of humanity. The high values of equality, justice and humanism became his passion.

By doing so, Gilad came to affirm and to live by, yet again, another Qur’anic statement of truth:

“Ye who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for God can best protect both. Follow not the desires (of your hearts) (4:135)

“God commands justice, the doing of good, and kindness to kith and kin, and He forbids all shameful deeds, and injustice and antagonism: He advices you, that ye may be reminded.” (16-90)

One can and must love and show kindness to his kin and clan, but one should NEVER put his sentiments above JUSTICE and HUMANISM.

For his honesty and integrity, for telling the truth even when it hurts, and for siding with justice even against his own clan, Gilad was vilified by Zionists and anti-Zionists alike. For them, he has committed the worst sin of all, he is a mosser.

Instead of looking at his journey with curiosity and open-mindedness, instead of listening to his universal message of equality, and instead of examining his work that points at the ills within, his adversaries look at it through the eyes of vindictiveness, hatefulness and bottomless animosity.

Gilad’s adversaries exhibit more understanding, rationality, courtesy and civility even when dealing with Zionists, soft and hard core.
As we know, Zionists and soft Zionist are often invited and welcomed to some of the anti-Zionists activities and events -under the pretext of reaching out to the Jewish community. As we know also, some of those Zionists who attend such events might actually be IDF members who trained to commit murder. Unlike them Gilad has no weapons except his words and saxophone, yet he -not the hard core militant British Zionists, is the one who is ostracized, chased and chastised by some self claimed “friends of Palestine”.

He is portrayed as the worst “enemy of the Jewish people” rather than the one who offers his honest voice to help and heal through his experience and sincerity.
He was followed around the globe, with pickets, leaflets, deluge emails and sinister phone calls trying to discredit him, trying to prevent people from listening to him and trying to smother his voice of liberation, that calls for the tearing down of the self erected ghetto walls of mind and soul.

From an Islamic perspective, Gilad’s journey is what Muslims call the “Greater Jihad”, the inner journey that one embarks upon to examine one’s purpose in life, one’s identity, one’s thoughts, one’s intentions, and one’s inner most hidden harmful characteristics. Such perpetual reflection helps us to identify and face our dark side, contain our ego, curtail our greed, and work with awareness to replace or transform such ills into a more constructive, caring, compassionate and generous qualities.

It is my personal feeling that Gilad, a Humanist of Jewish ancestry, by imposing self exile and by uprooting himself from his place of birth, through his journey of self discovery, and through the hard questioning of his identity, his morality and his intentions, had earned his redemption as an X- IDF occupier.

From my modest perspective as an exiled Palestinian and activist, Gilad had washed away his sins of being a member of IDF in the past, he has cleansed his conscience by choosing who he wants to be not by who he found himself being.

I welcome Gilad as a brother in humanity, and as a Palestinian-born visionary.

I hope and pray that his chosen exile and my forced exile would both end one day by our return back home to our beloved and liberated Palestine, and with us all those millions of refugees, and those good Jewish Palestinians like Gilad who chose to extract themselves rather than being part of a criminal and illegitimate entity.

Welcome brother Gilad, welcome brother “Jihad” to the family of humanity, and welcome a dear son of Palestine.
.

Buried Alive (Documentary about The Segregation Wall)

Posted on October 17, 2011 by mohamadyousef


http://widgets.vodpod.com/w/video_embed/Groupvideo.10283488

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

A New Video about the Annexation wall

Introduction by Gilad Atzmon: This important video explores the brutal reality inflicted by the neo-ghetto ideology and the walls it surrounded itself with. Zionism was there to drift the Jew away from the Ghetto but Israel has managed to relocate the Jew behind the Ghetto wall. Israel has managed to separate its people from land and its indigenous people i.e. the Palestinians.

The monstrous wall is a clearly true reflection of the failure of the Jewish national project. The Annexation wall is, in fact, a devastating glimpse into Israeli collective phobia.

You can now order Gilad Atzmon’s New Book on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

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