CALL OF DUTY: MODERN WARFARE – WHITE HELMETS, “BANA AL-ABED” AND KILLING “EVIL RUSSIANS”

South Front

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare - White Helmets, “Bana al-Abed” and Killing “Evil Russians”

Since the formal defeat of ISIS’ self-proclaimed caliphate and so-called “moderate rebels” in most of Syria, the Middle Eastern country, has largely disappeared from the front-pages of mainstream media outlets. Nonetheless, the narrative management operation to distort the real situation in the war-torn country and demonize the Damascus government and its allies fighting foreign-backed radical militant groups continues.

The upcoming Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is an obvious example of the scale and spread of this campaign. The official trailer for the new part of the franchise features “heroic actions” of the White Helmets, “big bad Russians” bombing civilians and a kid in a gas mask apparently signaling the expected usage of “Assad’s chemical weapons” mantra in the story-telling.

The description of the first missions of the coming part of the world franchise reveals that they will incorporate Russian soldiers laughing while killing civilians as well as using chemical weapons against civilians. So, a “Bana al-Abed”-styled girl will have to kill some “evil Russkies”.

It appears that the goal of this effort is to bring back into attention some propaganda narratives that appear to have, at least partially, died down in recent years under pressure of facts. It’s an open secret that the White Helmets have deep ties with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly the official branch of al-Qaeda in Syria) and other radical groups de-facto playing a role in their propaganda wing and participating in staging chemical attack provocations.

The Twitter account of Bana al-Abed became widely known during the battle for Aleppo in 2016. The account operator, using the name and photos of the then 7yo girl, was writing scripted tweets blaming the “Assad regime” and Russia for civilian casualties, spreading fake news and even calling to start a new world war if that’s what’s needed to rescue what the account described as “innocent civilians”. After defeat of the radical groups controlling her part of the city, Bana and her parents withdrew from Aleppo alongside other members of militant groups that had reached a surrender deal with the Damascus government. Later, she and her family appeared in Turkey where Bana’s image continued to be used as a tool of the ongoing campaign against Syria. Her case is a sad example of how kids are being used for war propaganda purposes.

An interesting fact is that the “Call of Duty” game writer is not even hiding that the mainstream video game franchise seeks to indoctrinate its users. Taylor Kurosaki said that “he wants “Call of Duty” to be spoken of as on par with the best war films, and he hopes ‘Modern Warfare’ will inspire fans to check out the harrowing and eye-opening documentaries ‘The White Helmets’ or ‘Last Man in Aleppo”.” It’s no surprise that both mentioned “documentaries” were designed to glorify the White Helmets and militant groups they were assisting by their work and had little in common with the real situation in parts of the country, including, at some point, eastern Aleppo, controlled by MSM-promoted “moderate rebels”.

However, the latest Call of Duty: Modern Warfare game, underlined a tendency that is by no means new. In some cases, modern video games, movies and even comic books are infested with war propaganda even more than news pieces released by CNN and similar media outlets.

Even DC comics, in late 2018, in its Doomsday Clock crossover with Watchmen showcased a superhero from Syria, called Sandstorm, who could control the desert sands. The generic stereotype boy called Nabil Azmah was from Douma, which isn’t even in the desert. He was later killed in the comics, fighting against the “Assad regime.” According to his fictional biography, his family were killed by fighters allied to Assad and his sister was gassed.

To top it off, in the next issue, Russian President Vladimir Putin was portrayed as the bad guy and even picked a fight with Superman, after a US superhero – Firestorm – democratically turned Russian citizens on Red Square into glass.

These tendencies are nothing new. DC comics, in the 80s, portrayed Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini, who concludes a deal with Batman’s infamous enemy the Joker. The Joker then says that Iranians and him have a lot in common, namely “being insane.”

The mainstream entertainment industry is doing its best to “inform”  American youth of who the “good guys” are in Syria and around the world, even if these “good guys” accidentally appear to be members of al-Qaeda.

This situation is a demonstration of how little propaganda capabilities Syria, Venezuela, China, Iran or Russia really do have in comparison with their “Western partners”. In most cases, the US and the EU use bogeyman stories about the mighty Russian, Chinese, Iranian and even Syrian propagandists as formal justification to tighten censorship and to increase their own propaganda efforts.

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Syria Military Operation to Liberate Idlib Has Begun. Estimated 40,000 Terrorists in Idlib

The last terrorist-held territory under attack

Global Research, May 08, 2019

The zero-hour has arrived in Idlib, as the long awaited military operations to clear the last remaining terrorist-controlled area in Syria has begun.  It is estimated that there are 40,000 terrorists, some with their families, and they comprise many different terrorist groups, which are now aligned under one umbrella.  Colonel Suheil Al-Hassan of the Tiger Forces is part of the ground forces advancing on the province, in the wake of air strikes.   Idlib’s population, about 2 million today, has changed since 2011.

Idlib was one of the first areas infiltrated by the Radical Islamic political ideology of the Free Syrian Army (FSA).  The very first murder in Idlib by the Syrian ‘rebels’ in 2011 was the pharmacist Dr. Samir Kanatry, who was killed and then burnt up inside his pharmacy in August 2011 at Ma’arat Numan.  He was murdered because he was advocating secular values.  The US-backed FSA were sectarian from the outset, and any secular political ideals were their enemy.

The majority of Syrians do not support armed revolution in order to create a new sectarian based Syrian government. The ‘rebels’ only hope was to incite a military intervention by US-NATO forces based on a fabricated story of a chemical attack.  They tried this ploy repeatedly, and it never succeeded.  Even aligning them with Al Qaeda didn’t work, as the FSA and Al Qaeda developed their own ‘wars’ amongst themselves.

Beginning in 2011 many residents of Idlib fled: some to Latakia as a safe-haven from the ‘rebels’, who by then were clearly acting as terrorists.  Some of the residents of Idlib sided with the terrorists, and yet others fled to Turkey which is close by, with promises not only of safety, but financial support, and possible long term benefits from Turkish citizenship and income.

The current residents in Idlib are a very mixed bag: almost 4,000 of them are Chinese citizens. They are Uyghers from the far West of China, which is a Turkic speaking Muslim population.  Pres. Erdogan of Turkey inticed them to come to Turkey on passports he had issued, and then cross the border into Syria.  He supported their Jihad to Syria, and they brought parents, wives, and children and they are well-armed.   Pres. Erdogan sees the Uyghurs as ‘long lost cousins’, sharing the same root language as modern Turkey.

The “White Helmets” are in Idlib, too.  This award-winning video troop has been evacuated from other terrorist areas which were cleared by the SAA.

Why are the “White Helmets” (WH) only in areas under terrorist control?

Why have we never seen any WH rescuing people in places that were targeted by the ‘rebels’?  Recently, a missile fell on the Palestinian refugee camp in Latakia and destroyed a home: why weren’t the WH there to pull the injured from the rubble?

Raed Saleh, the main organizer of the WH recently spoke with National Public Radio in the USA, and he said,

“The revolution still goes on.  We have not lost. This revolution continues.”

He also admitted that his group still receives funding from the US government.  It appears his focus is not helping to rescue people or any humanitarian project: his goal is a “revolution”.  This proves the group is not neutral, or humanitarian.

They work strictly within a political framework that was developed by the US-NATO organizers of the destruction of Syria.  The question not asked of him by NPR is: “How much support does the revolution have among the current population in Syria?”  The majority of Syrian citizens who have never left Syria, and have endured 8 years of armed conflict, want peace.  They want to rebuild their lives, homes, and businesses.

Russia and Turkey entered into a de-escalation agreement on Idlib last year.  This agreement was supposed to entail the Al Qaeda affiliates, as well as ISIS and all other recognized terrorist groups, moving away from civilian areas, thus allowing forces to target and eliminate terrorists, while protecting innocent civilians.  However, the agreement did not cause the separation of the innocent from the terrorists.

In fact, some terrorist groups fought with each other and innocent civilians were killed and injured, as well as some armed groups made new alliances that moved their designation from ‘rebels’ to terrorists.  Many people wondered why would Russia and Turkey make a pact to safeguard and protect armed groups?  Turkey has always been a supporter of the armed groups, including Al Qaeda’s Syrian branch, Jibhat al Nusra, which is the leading force occupying Idlib.

Idlib residents are Americans, French, Belgian, Australian, British, North African, and Saudi Arabian.  Some are Syrians but were originally from Aleppo, Deraa, Homs, East Ghouta and other locations far removed from Idlib. The Syrians living in Idlib today were mainly bussed to Idlib, as their areas fell to the SAA, and they chose to live in exile in Idlib rather than surrender and resume peaceful life.

The Western media warns of the largest humanitarian disaster waiting to happen in Idlib if the SAA and its Russian allies take the area.  One wonders where the Western media was when those terrorists in Idlib shot missiles repeatedly at Kessab, Latakia, Slonfa, Hama, Aleppo, Jeblah, and M’Hardeh.  Where were the cries about deaths, injuries, and loss of property such as schools, and homes in places targeted by the terrorists?

In fact, many industries which lay on the perimeter of Idlib are unable to recover or rebuild, even though peace is restored, because they live under the threat of missile and drone attacks, launched by the terrorists who are protected in Idlib.  An example is Kessab, which was attacked, destroyed and occupied in March 2014 by the FSA and Al Qaeda.  The Christian village is far from Idlib, yet the missiles still land there and have landed in the school while children were playing.

America and her western allies, including the Arab Gulf monarchies, have the policy to prevent Syria from peaceful recovery and rebuilding.   They are demanding ‘regime-change’ prior to rebuilding, even though they lost the war.  Once Idlib is retaken by the SAA, the US-NATO project for the “New Syria” made in their image will be declared dead.

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This article was originally published on InfoRos.

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BBC-staged footage on Syria’s Douma Western media’s ‘theater of absurd’: Russia

Source

Press TV – February 14, 2019

Russia's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova reacts during the annual news conference of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (not pictured) in Moscow, Russia, on January 16, 2019. (Photo by Reuters)Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova reacts during the annual news conference of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (not pictured) in Moscow, Russia, on January 16, 2019. (Photo by Reuters)

Russia says the latest revelations by BBC that the footage of an April chemical attack near the Syrian capital was fabricated proves the “theater of absurd” in Western media’s coverage of events in the Arab country.

“Over the past few years, and not just in Syria, we have been witness to a travesty being staged by the West and its media agencies, which on [the one] hand brags about brilliant democratic goals and support for civilians of a sovereign state, but on the other does not … give a damn about … international law, various forms of freedom and rights of a nation or a certain minority,” the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, told reporters in Moscow on Thursday.

The footage broadcast by BBC showed people being treated after a chemical attack in Douma.

BBC Syria producer Riam Dalati wrote on Twitter on Wednesday that the issue had been investigated for six months.

Zakharova added, “The culmination of this theater of absurd may be a statement by a BBC producer, who confirmed based on his own research that the footage [in Douma] had been staged with direct participation of [the so-called civil defense group] White Helmets.

She further pointed out that Russia wanted to listen to BBC’s explanation because it actively covered the events in favor of the US-led coalition purportedly fighting the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.

The Western-backed White Helmets group, which has been repeatedly accused of cooperating with Takfiri terrorists and staging fictional chemical attacks, published a video in April 2018, alleging that Syrian government forces had launched a chemical assault in the city of Douma, located about 10 kilometers northeast of Damascus.

The US has warned it would respond to any possible chemical weapons attack by Syrian government forces with retaliatory strikes, stressing that the attacks would be stronger than those conducted by American, British and French forces last year.

On April 14, 2018, the US, Britain and France carried out a string of airstrikes against Syria over a suspected chemical weapons attack on the city of Douma.

Washington and its allies blamed Damascus for the Douma attack, an allegation rejected by the Syrian government.

On September 11 last year, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov censured the US threats to use military force against Syria as part of Washington’s blackmail policy.

“Unlike the United States, Britain and their allies, Russia provides particular facts on a daily basis through its Defense Ministry, the Foreign Ministry as well missions in New York, The Hague and Geneva. We particularly name geographical points, where preparations are underway for certain terrorist groups backed by the US and its allies to carry out provocations,” Ryabkov said.

 

Source of pro-israel (apartheid state) guerrilla warriors on social media exposed

Source of pro-Israel Guerrilla Warriors on Social Media Exposed
By Nasim Ahmed

In this photo illustration, The Twitter logo is displayed on the screen of an Apple Inc. iPhone 5 in this arranged photograph on September 25, 2016 in Paris, France (Photo illustration by Chesnot/Getty Images)

A number of prominent Jewish-American leaders are funding covert, anonymous campaigns targeting pro-Palestinian student activists, The Forward has found. The Jewish daily newspaper, which has been publishing valuable information concerning the source of funding for these hyper-aggressive and shadowy groups – which spearhead coordinated hate campaigns against critics of the Zionist state – has uncovered the identities of those behind hidden social media accounts.

Community heads and prominent Jewish organisations with a carefully-crafted, respectable public profile have donated millions to fund secret projects targeting students and lecturers, the report has found. On a number of occasions, their blind support for Israel has seen them bankroll far-right and anti-Muslim hate groups.

The latest pro-Israeli group to be exposed by The Forward is the campaign targeting the pro-Palestinian campus network Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). SJP is said to be the most well-known advocate of the Palestinian cause on US campuses. It has been the target of a pro-Israel group known as SJP Uncovered, which anonymously attacks student activists affiliated with SJP across the country. With more than 100,000 followers on Facebook, SJP Uncovered has gone after pro-Palestinian students by maintaining a veil of anonymity that is said to be all-but impenetrable.

Until now, the source of funding for SJP Uncovered had been a mystery. The Forward has now been able to shed light on the organisation to reveal that the site is a secret project of the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC), a Washington DC-based pro-Israel organisation tied to most mainstream funders and organisations in the Jewish community.

On its official website, the ICC says that its vision is to create a campus environment where “dialogue and ideas are freely exchanged about Israel”. Publicly, the ICC presents a respectable face typical of nearly all pro-Israeli groups, but privately it is funding one of the most aggressive and shadowy student groups responsible for hateful campaigns against critics of the Zionist state. The Forward revealed that the ICC paid over $1 million in the 2016/2017 fiscal year to SJP Uncovered, in that time also running vicious campaigns against students with the aid of political consulting firms.

Until around 2014, the ICC is said to have been a standard pro-Israel advocacy group receiving donations from the largest and most mainstream Jewish-American foundations. In 2015, its operations changed to “covert, anonymous campaigns targeting pro-Palestinian student activists, often with the help of top-tier paid professional political consultants,” according to the investigative report.

Describing the change in focus, one former pro-Israeli campus official said: “It was clear that the old way of doing business […] was not making the cut, and was not enough, and there was a totally new offensive approach to things.” He added:

The overall framing was [that] the pro-Israel community is no longer going to sit back and let things happen, they are going to go on the offense […] It was very clear that going on the offensive to them meant going after students and the organizations that were bringing BDS.

With the change in emphasis in 2015 towards more aggressive campaigns, the ICC began hiring paid political consultants – including opposition researchers – to work on campuses. It transformed itself into a cog in what is often described as Israel’s secret global war against pro-Palestinian activists, which is operated by a dedicated ministry in Tel Aviv known as the Ministry of Strategic Affairs. Its main function is to spearhead Israel’s overt and covert efforts to smear the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that is modelled on the global campaign that helped end Apartheid in South Africa. In November, the Electronic Intifada published in full an undercover Al Jazeera documentary that revealed some of the ministry’s tactics. The documentary was censored, allegedly after Israel lobby pressure on Qatar, which funds Al Jazeera.

SJP Uncovered is one of many pro-Israel organisations to emerge from a new consensus within sections of the Jewish-American community. They believed that defeating the global BDS movement was a key priority, which could only be achieved through aggressive means. Such tactics, however, not only risked falling foul of the rules of respectable public institutions, it was bad for their image.  The solution for Zionist and pro-Israel groups, both in the US and Israel, was to adopt secretive and clandestine tactics against their targets in an effort to protect their reputation. One of the best known of these operations is the formerly-anonymous website Canary Mission, which posts political dossiers on college students. The site went live in 2015, and has since grown to include dossiers on thousands of students.

A series of Forward exposés in October revealed that a foundation controlled by the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, a major Jewish charity with an annual budget of over $100 million, had donated $100,000 to the website, whose work has drawn comparisons to a McCarthyite blacklist. An Haaretz profile of the Canary Mission found that, for three years, the website had spread fear among undergraduate activists by posting more than a thousand political dossiers on student supporters of Palestinian rights. At the same time, the website had gone to great lengths to hide the digital and financial trail connecting it to its donors and staff. Registered through a secrecy service, the site had been untraceable until recently.

While the federation had assured that it was a “one-time grant” that would never happen again, the uncovering of a publicly respectable pro-Israel organisations giving funds to operate clandestine hate campaigns against pro-Palestinian activists triggered further investigations. The Canary Mission was just the tip of the iceberg, as tax filings seen by the magazine +972 showed that there was a pattern of systemic financing of radical right-wing and anti-Muslim groups.

Why was 2015 pivotal to this shift in strategy? Jewish leaders in the US, says Forward reporter Josh Nathan-Kazis, decided to spend significant communal resources attacking college students in that year because there was a coming-together of Israel’s spy culture and Jewish-American mega donors like Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban. Both felt that the work being carried out by mainstream Jewish organisations was unsatisfactory. Wanting to shift the entire tenor of the Jewish communal approach to fighting anti-Semitism and BDS, major Jewish organisations were called to a secret meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada.

During this 2015 meeting, there was a consensus for a push towards more aggressive responses to BDS. A new initiative, named after Jewish guerrilla warriors Maccabees, was formed. On its website, the Maccabee taskforce – which claims that the BDS movement is spreading anti-Semitism across the world – says it is “determined to help students combat this hate by bringing them the strategies and resources they need to tell the truth about Israel”.

Strategies developed by Israeli think tanks like the Reut Institute became the playbook for the aggressive tactics that is said to have come into maturity during that period. These tactics, Nathan-Kazis explains, called for pro-Israel advocates to “out, name and shame” harsh critics of Israel, and to “frame them […] as anti-peace, anti-Semitic, or dishonest purveyors of double standards”. They talked about “establishing a ‘price tag’” for attacks on Israel and “isolating” advocacy groups that attack Israel, while “organizing regular meetings of pro-Israel networks”.

This article was originally published by MEMO” –

Major Psy-Op in Europe Exposed: UK Government Tramples on Values It Vowed to Protect

Major Psy-Op in Europe Exposed: UK Government Tramples on Values It Vowed to Protect

Major Psy-Op in Europe Exposed: UK Government Tramples on Values It Vowed to Protect
Those who have been saying that the West has turned Russia into a scapegoat to be blamed for each and every thing that goes wrong have been proved right. We have witnessed concocted stories invented to denigrate Moscow that have gone viral as directed by the secret services. The UK, the country that is spearheading the anti-Russian information campaign, offers a good example that illustrates how this is being done.An online group of hackers known as Anonymous has just revealed covert UK activities in the EU. According to the documents released by that group, London is in the midst of a major program to interfere in the internal affairs of EU members, the US, and Canada. Anonymous threatens to release more information on the clandestine operations of the UK government, unless it agrees to remove the shroud of secrecy protecting those information-warfare efforts. On Nov. 24 Twitter deleted RT comments on the issue. The UK knows it has friends it can rely on in a crunch.

The Integrity Initiative is a London-based organization set up and funded by the government-friendly Institute for Statecraft, in cooperation with the Free University of Brussels (VUB) to wage information-warfare operations against Russia. Anonymous calls it a “large-scale information secret service.” It aims to “change attitudes in Russia itself” as well as the influence of Russian natives living abroad. The Integrity Initiative’s budget for the fiscal year ending on March 31, 2019 is estimated at £1.96 million ($2.51 million). The network has received grants from NATO, the US State Department, and Facebook.

The Initiative’s operations have been kept under wraps. Its activities are conducted by “clusters” of local politicians, journalists, military personnel, scientists, and academics involved in anti-Russian propaganda efforts. The list includes William Browder, a US-British businessman convicted in absentia in Russia for tax evasion.

The Integrity Initiative network has offices from which to conduct its covert operations in France, Germany, Italy, Greece, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Norway, Serbia, Spain, and Montenegro. Its plans to expand to the US, Canada, Eastern Europe, and the MENA region are already underway.

The Anonymous hackers mention Operation Moncloa that was launched in June in Spain to prevent Pedro Baños, a colonel known for his Russia-friendly views, from being appointed the new head of Spain’s influential national security agency.

It’s all part of a broader picture. In March, Prime Minister Theresa May promised to “defeat” Russia with a new cyber-warfare initiative titled the Fusion Doctrine. Back then, Ms. May told British intelligence services to use social media “to prevent the spread of misinformation.” In other words, she has pulled the military into this anti-Russian propaganda effort. Security sources have floated the idea that that the UK must harness “soft power” and “counter-propaganda” on social media networks. Is it possible to imagine any media remaining independent in a country where they’re part of a “soft power strategy” implemented by the government under the rallying cry of protecting national security?

This is the origin of so many fantasies about Russia and the imaginary threat it poses. The plan included an enhanced role for the BBC World Service to promote British “values” abroad, ensuring that the Ofcom shuts down media organizations that fail to meet “high British standards.” Only gullible people can believe that such “values” and “standards” exist. Russia has been used as a bogeyman to justify measures aimed at killing off the freedom of the media. Any story about Russia’s nefarious deeds spread by British news outlets should be taken with a grain of salt.

The UK government is facing some hard times. The Brexit deal with the EU is headed to parliament for approval. It’s impossible to predict whether the MPs will vote yes or no. Both outcomes threaten the very existence of the United Kingdom. The use of the “Russian threat” is seen as one way to keep the nation united and the media under control.

Keeping its activities out of the public eye, the government is doing exactly what it has so indignantly accused Russia of. The pot is calling the kettle black. As the freedom of the press is being suppressed and the media networks are following the government’s instructions about what information they should offer their readers, UK officials continue to brazenly deliver their pompous speeches about the need to protect those very values to which the government itself poses the greatest challenge. Anonymous is right — any responsible government must explain the intentions behind the Integrity Initiative, how exactly it is funded, and why its activities should be shielded from public view.

Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza

Photo Source U.S. Embassy Jerusalem | CC BY 2.0

Whenever bombings and shootings escalate in the Middle East, Israeli propagandists say that Israel is exercising its right of military self-defense against indiscriminate attacks coming from the Gaza Strip. But as this article documents, the right to use force in self-defense is contingent on Israel ending its military occupation and blockade of Gaza.

DON’T MISQUOTE ME ON THAT!

Doubtless some unscrupulous person or persons will quote or interpret this article out of context and claim that I’m saying that Israel has no right to self-defense at all. So, let me be clear: Israel is a nation-state like any other, like it or not. It therefore has the same legal rights as any nation-state, like it or not; including the right to use self-defense when under attack.

However, that right within the context of occupation is contingent on Israel’s adherence to international law; again, just like any state. For example: The US and British forces had no legal right to hurt or kill Iraqis resisting the illegal US-British invasion and occupation, which began in 2003. The only rights that the US and British had there was to leave.

Since 1967, Israel has occupied the Gaza Strip (and the West Bank of the Jordan, which it has now de facto annexed) in violation of international law. Yes, Israel withdrew its illegal colonies from Gaza in 2005, but it maintained the military blockade, which is an act of war and a violation of the IV Geneva Convention, which prohibits collective punishment.

As long as it continues its occupation/annexation of the Palestinian territories, Israel cannot use force in self-defense from attacks, even indiscriminate ones, emanating from Gaza. If it ended the occupation and blockade of the Palestinian territories, then it could argue a case for the use of force, assuming peaceful options are exhausted.

WHAT THE LIBERAL MEDIA SAY

Forget the madcap right-wing (e.g., a Fox News reporter standing next to what he claims is a flaming bakery hit by Palestinian rockets). How are the supposedly more intelligent and humane liberal media reporting the current violence?

The BBC says that “Violence has flared between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, a day after seven militants and an Israeli soldier were killed during an undercover Israeli operation in Gaza.” Militants? It goes on to say that: “Militants fired 300 rockets and mortars at Israel. One hit a bus, seriously injuring a soldier nearby. Israel responded with more than 70 strikes on what it said were targets belonging to Hamas and Islamic Jihad.” Responded? Surely the BBC means to say that armed Palestinian groups responded to Israel’sactions, which occurred in the context of its unlawful 50-year occupation?

Notice the use of the word “militants.” The report doesn’t use words like “Zionists” when describing Israelis.

The online article includes an embedded tweet from the Israeli Defense Forces: “RAW FOOTAGE: The skies of southern Israel RIGHT NOW. Dozens of rockets are being fired from #Gaza at Israeli civilians.” There is no embedded video of the shocking conditions in which Palestinian civilians are forced by Israel to live (a point to which we shall return). Near the bottom of the article, the BBC approaches something bordering truthfulness when it says: “Israel, along with Egypt, has maintained a blockade of Gaza,” but it then goes back to the lies: “…since about 2006 in order, they say, to stop attacks by militants.”

The word “occupation” is mentioned not once. So, the gist of the BBC’s reporting is that Gaza is plagued by dangerous Islamists hell-bent on Israel’s destruction and that Israel is doing what it can, sometimes ham-fistedly (as in the latest “botched” special forces operation), to defend itself.

CNN quotes Israeli PM Netanyahu as saying that “Hamas vowed to destroyed Israel,” ergo long-term peace was “impossible.”

The Washington Post claims that the latest “flare-up” was “triggered” by a “botched” Israeli operation inside Gaza. It quotes Israeli Army spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, that Israelis under Palestinian rocket-fire face “the most severe attack on … civilians by terrorist organizations from Gaza since our 2014 operation [Protective Edge].” Near the end of the article, the reporters mention, casually, Israel’s “tight restrictions on trade and travel.” Below, we’ll take a look at what these “tight restrictions” actually mean.

The New York Times describes what is happening as “An eruption,” rather than a continuation and predictable consequence of Israel’s ongoing brutality. It also mentions Israel’s “tight control over the border,” which has endured since 2005, they claim (not 1967 as is the reality), when Israel withdrew its illegal colonies. Approaching truth toward the end of the article, the NTY, unlike the BBC, quotes Chris Gunness of the UN Relief and Works Agency, who describes the humanitarian situation in Gaza for nearly 2 million ordinary civilians, half of whom are children, as a disaster and a “collective punishment.”

WHAT HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS SAY

With the exception of the Gunness quote, the media have suppressed the severity of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The crisis is caused by the US-enabled Israeli blockade. Its importance in terms of the number of people affected vastly eclipses the firing of indiscriminate rockets into Israel by armed Palestinian groups.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs states:“Palestinians in Gaza are ‘locked in’, denied free access to the remainder of the occupied Palestinian territory and the outside world.” According to the UN children’s fund UNICEF, “more than 96 per cent of abstracted water is polluted and not fit for human consumption due to high salinity levels from sea water intrusion and high nitrate levels from excessive use of agrochemicals and wastewater infiltration.”

Jamie McGoldrick and James Heenan of the UN say:

“All over the occupied Palestinian territory, but particularly in the Gaza Strip, we see children robbed of every right. Families cope with four hours of electricity per day in the sweltering heat. Clean drinking water is expensive and hard to find. The start of the school year in one month will be very difficult for tens of thousands of families who cannot afford basic school supplies.”

When trapped Gazans resist with overwhelmingly non-violent protest, they receive the following treatment, as described by a Red Cross doctor, Gabriel Salazar: “We estimate there are over 1,300 people with complex, sometimes multiple injuries,” care of the Israeli Defense Forces responding to the protests, “that will require at least three to five surgeries each. The recovery period may take months or even years and we believe some 400 will remain with temporary or permanent disability.” Many demonstrators are deliberately shot in the legs and refused treatment by Israel in neighboring Jordan.

IS GAZA STILL OCCUPIED?

Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, have been unlawfully occupied by Israel since June 1967. This means that every Israeli military action in those territories, except withdrawal, is unlawful. In November 1967, the United Nations adopted Security Council Resolution 242, which states:

Emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in which every State in the area can live in security,…

1. Affirms that the fulfillment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles:

(i) Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict…

In 2004, the International Court of Justice opined:

“All these territories (including East Jerusalem) remain occupied territories and Israel has continued to have the status of occupying Power … Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, are illegal … The Court concludes that the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (including East Jerusalem) have been established in breach of international law.”

In 2018, the UN Human Rights Council reaffirmed that Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are occupied by Israel:

“In the resolution, adopted by a vote of 29 in favour, two against [the US and Australia], and 14 abstentions, the Council decided to urgently dispatch an independent, international commission of inquiry, to be appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council, to investigate all alleged violations and abuses of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military assaults on the large-scale civilian protests that began on 30 March 2018.”

ISRAEL’S RIGHT OF SELF-DEFENSE

Given that the international consensus is that Israel remains the illegal occupying power in the Palestinian territories (including Gaza and East Jerusalem), Israel has no right to use force to defend itself against Palestinian attacks while it remains the illegal occupying power. If Israel ended the occupations of Gaza and the West Bank, it would be entitled to use force in self-defense, assuming that peaceful options are exhausted.

Hyde’s International Law Volume III states: “A belligerent,” i.e., Israel in this case, “which is contemptuous of conventional or customary prohibitions,” i.e., Israel continues to occupy Gaza, “is not in a position to claim that its adversary,” i.e., Hamas and other armed Palestinian groups, “when responding with like for like,” i.e., rocket-fire into Israel, “lacks the requisite excuse” (emphasis in original).

The Annual Digest and Reports of Public International Law Cases 1948 states: “Under International Law, as in Domestic Law, there can be no reprisal against reprisal. The assassin who is being repulsed by his intended victim may not slay him and then, in turn, plead self-defense.” By the same logic, Israel cannot occupy Gaza, collectively punish the population, and then claim to be acting in self-defense against Gazan rocket-fire.

In response to the Gaza massacre 2014, international jurist John Dugard said: “given the fact that Gaza is an occupied territory, it means that Israel’s present assault is simply a way of enforcing the continuation of the occupation, and the response of the Palestinian militants should be seen as the response of an occupied people that wishes to resist the occupation.”

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Dr. T. J. Coles is director of the Plymouth Institute for Peace Research and the author of several books, including Voices for Peace (with Noam Chomsky and others) and the forthcoming Fire and Fury: How the US Isolates North Korea, Encircles China and Risks Nuclear War in Asia (both Clairview Books).

US, Britain Push Yemen Ceasefire as Tactic to Defeat Houthis

US, Britain Push Yemen Ceasefire as Tactic to Defeat Houthis

FINIAN CUNNINGHAM | 16.11.2018 |

US, Britain Push Yemen Ceasefire as Tactic to Defeat Houthis

At first glance, it may seem like a positive move. The Trump administration and London are both putting pressure on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to implement a ceasefire in Yemen’s atrocious war. Washington and London are also calling for warring sides to enter into peace negotiations within a month.

What’s wrong with that, you may ask? Well, as Houthi rebels who took over Yemen at the end of 2014 are saying, the country has been under aggression for the past three years from a Saudi-led coalition supported militarily by the US, Britain and France. The unrelenting war on the poorest country in the Middle East has led to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in decades, with over half of the population – some 14 million people – at risk of starvation, according to the UN.

Therefore, the appropriate legal and moral course of action now is not merely a ceasefire or talks. It is for the Western-backed Saudi, Emirati coalition to immediately halt its criminal aggression against Yemen. In short, stop the foreign interference in Yemen’s sovereign affairs.

US Secretary of State James Mattis and Britain’s Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt appear to be impelled by humanitarian concern for the massive human suffering in Yemen with their recent calls for cessation of hostilities.

But a more nuanced reading of their exhortations suggest that the real concern is to burnish the blood-soaked image of the Saudi coalition that their governments support, and, secondly, to inveigle the Houthis into a negotiations framework that will result in undue foreign influence over Yemen’s politics.

Last week, Washington announced that it was suspending mid-air refueling flights for Saudi and Emirati warplanes that have been pounding Yemen since March 2015, which has resulted in a horrendous death toll among civilians. The indiscriminate killing of the Saudis and Emirati air strikes has been amply documented, albeit downplayed by Western media. The latter keep repeating a figure of 10,000 dead in Yemen – a figure which has bizarrely remained unchanged for at least the past two years. The real death toll from air strikes is unknown but likely to be near 50,000.

American, British and French military support for the murderous operations in Yemen should have stopped months, even years ago, if official humanitarian concerns were genuine.

The question is: why the sudden effort by Washington and London, as well as Paris, to call for a ceasefire and follow-on political talks?

One factor, no doubt, is the barbaric murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi by assassins linked to the House of Saud. Turkish authorities believe that Khashoggi was brutally murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, his body hacked to pieces and dissolved in industrial-strength acid. Audiotapes obtained by the Turkish authorities have implicated the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the murder plot against the dissident journalist.

The gruesome details of Khashoggi’s killing and the blatant lies that the Saudi rulers have issued to cover up their barbarity have heaped immense pressure on Washington, London and Paris over their close ties with the House of Saud. Public outrage has demanded that sanctions be imposed on Riyadh, such as cancelling multi-billion-dollar arms deals.

It seems significant that the acute disgrace over the appalling Khashoggi affair and the association of the US, British and French governments with such a despotic Saudi regime has in turn prompted these Western powers to mount a damage-limitation exercise in public relations.

This is where the Yemen war provides an opportunity for the Western powers and their Saudi clients to salvage their tarnished public image.

By pushing for a ceasefire in Yemen, Washington, London and Paris can claim to be “getting tough” with the Saudis for the sake of alleviating “humanitarian suffering”. By appearing to respond to the Western calls for a ceasefire, the Saudis can then also claim they are relenting out of humane concern.

However, such pleas have not stopped Saudi and Emirati-backed militia on the ground besieging the Yemeni port city of Hodeida on the Red Sea, for which 80-90 per cent of the entire population in the country rely on for food and other vital supplies. In other words, the Western-backed Saudi coalition is using starvation tactics to bring the Houthi rebels and the wider Yemeni population to their knees. That is a monstrous war crime.

What Mattis is calling for in terms of ceasefire is for all heavy weapons in Yemen to be put under the control of United Nations peacekeepers. Washington is also demanding that the Houthis rebels withdraw from the country’s border with Saudi Arabia, from where the rebels have mounted missile attacks which have gravely harassed the Saudis, including in the capital Riyadh. The Houthis have struck Saudi territory in response to the air strikes.

So, what the Americans, British and French are striving for is, firstly, a respite from the sordid publicity over the Khashoggi killing. If the “humanitarian appeal” over Yemen succeeds to placate Western public outrage, then these governments will be able to continue business-as-usual selling the Saudi regime lucrative weapons contracts.

Secondly, by drawing the Houthi rebels into “peace negotiations” that will also burnish the Western and Saudi public image, as well as – equally importantly – forcing the rebels into accepting a compromise on their revolutionary government. By entering negotiations with the Saudi-backed remnants of the exiled Yemeni leader Mansour Hadi, the Houthis will inevitably have to accept making concessions and allowing an accommodation with the ousted, discredited regime.

Mansour Hadi, who has been living in exile in Saudi Arabia since the Houthis seized power, was reviled by most Yemenis for his corruption and being a puppet of the Saudis and Americans. His exiled clique is routinely and mendaciously referred to by Western media as the “internationally recognized government of Yemen”.

When he fled the country in ignominy in early 2015, the Houthi rebels had succeeded in spearheading a popular revolt. The rebels profess a branch of Shia Islam, but there was every indication that they had a relatively democratic program for pluralist governance.

The Saudi and American sponsors of the ousted Mansour Hadi reacted to the overthrow of their puppet by launching an air war on Yemen in late March 2015 – a war which has continued unremittingly ever since, with Britain and France also joining the profitable slaughter by suppling warplanes and missiles.

Another lie told by Western media is that the rebels are proxies of Iran, a lie which is used to “justify” the Western-backed criminal war against the country. Iran supports the Houthis diplomatically, but there is no evidence of arms supplies. Even if there was, so what? That wouldn’t justify aerial bombardment of the country and its people.

The devastation inflicted on Yemen and its people has largely been ignored by Western news media. Despite the lack of coverage, the Western public have nevertheless become aware of the horror and their governments’ complicity. Harrowing images of skeletal children dying from starvation and lack of basic medicines have shamed Washington, London and Paris into taking some action, however despicably inadequate and long overdue.

The recent impetus for a ceasefire and talks in Yemen coming from the US and its Western allies is not due to humanitarianism. It’s a cynical PR exercise to whitewash bloodied images – both theirs and that of their Saudi client regime. The Yemen war has been shown to be a sickening charnel house in a futile bid for Western regime change against the Houthi revolution. By forcing the Houthis into negotiations, the Western powers hope to achieve their regime change objective by another tactic – and gain PR capital at the same time.

If Washington, London and Paris were really serious about ending the suffering in Yemen, they would simply demand that the aggression stops immediately, so that the Yemenis are allowed to determine their own political future without foreign interference. But the Western powers will not do that because their interference in Yemen, along with the Saudis, is the very reason why this criminal war of aggression started and grinds on.

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