Progressive Calendar 01.22.09
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Thu, 22 Jan 2009 01:45:22 -0800 (PST)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    01.22.09

1. Wasteland         1.22 4pm
2. Eagan peace vigil 1.22 4:30pm
3. Northtown vigil   1.22 5pm
4. Roe v Wade anniv  1.22 5:30pm
5. AntiWarMN         1.22 7pm

6. Permaculture day  1.23 8:30am
7. Iraq/Arnove       1.23 11am
8. Moyers/Obama govt 1.23 9pm

9. Noam Chomsky - "Exterminate all the brutes": Gaza 2009  (pt 1)

--------1 of 9--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com>
Subject: Wasteland 1.22 4pm

Thursday, 1/22, 4 to 5:30 pm, Harvard prof of science history Peter
Galison speaks on "Wastelands and Wilderness," i.e. the connection between
land too pure to be used and land so defiled with nuclear waste that it
cannot be used for 10,000 years, room 125, Nolte Center, 315 Pillsbury Dr
SE, East Bank U of M, Mpls.  612-626-5054.


--------2 of 9--------

From: Greg and Sue Skog <family4peace [at] msn.com>
Subject: Eagan peace vigil 1.22 4:30pm

CANDLELIGHT PEACE VIGIL EVERY THURSDAY from 4:30-5:30pm on the Northwest
corner of Pilot Knob Road and Yankee Doodle Road in Eagan. We have signs
and candles. Say "NO to war!" The weekly vigil is sponsored by: Friends
south of the river speaking out against war.


--------3 of 9--------

From: EKalamboki [at] aol.com
Subject: Northtown vigil 1.22 5pm

NORTHTOWN Peace Vigil every Thursday 5-6pm, at the intersection of Co. Hwy
10 and University Ave NE (SE corner across from Denny's), in Blaine.

Communities situated near the Northtown Mall include: Blaine, Mounds View,
New Brighton, Roseville, Shoreview, Arden Hills, Spring Lake Park,
Fridley, and Coon Rapids.  We'll have extra signs.

For more information people can contact Evangelos Kalambokidis by phone or
email: (763)574-9615, ekalamboki [at] aol.com.


-------4 of 9-------

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at] mnwomen.org>
Subject: Roe v Wade anniv 1.22 5:30pm

January 22: Our member groups in the Minnesota Choice Coalition invite
you to the 36th Anniversary of Roe v Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that
guaranteed a woman's right to choose. 5:30 - 7:30 PM at Elsie's
Restaurant and Bowling Center. $25.


--------5 of 9-------

From: Jess Sundin <jess [at] antiwarcommittee.org>
Subject: AntiWarMN 1.22 7pm

ORGANIZE WITH THE A.W.C.: The Anti-War Committee always need help
organizing protests and educational events. Join us at our weekly meetings
(Thursdays at 7pm, 1313 5th St SE #112C, Minneapolis).


--------6 of 9--------

From: christine gamm <cmgamm14 [at] yahoo.com>
Subject: Permaculture day 1.23 8:30am

Permaculture: Landscape Design For Ecological Cultures, A Workshop for
Design Professionals
Friday January 23, 8:30am to 4:30pm
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, 3675 Arboretum Dr, Chaska, MN 55318

Register: Fee: $175 or the Workshop Kit: $350 - Includes PRI Cold Climate
Annual Membership, Workshop and Edible Forest Gardens Vol 1 and 2 by Dave
Jacke ($385 Value) Online Registration at www.pricoldclimate.org

For more information: Visit www.pricoldclimate.org or contact Kara
Ferguson at karaferguson08 [at] gmail.com or 612.423.5441.

Sponsored by PRI Cold Climate and Minneapolis College of Art and Design


--------7 of 9--------

From: Lydia Howell <lydiahowell [at] visi.com>
Subject: Iraq/Arnove 1.23 11am

Hear author ANTHONY ARNOVE talking about the THE CASE FOR IMMEDIATE
WITHDRAWAL FROM IRAQ, based on his newest book (see below).

FRI. JAN. 23, 11am interviewed on CATALYST on KFAI RADIO, 90.3fm Mpls
106.7fm St.Paul live-streamed/archived http://www.kfai.org

SUNDAY, JAN. 25, 2PM
MAY DAY BOOKS, 301 Cedar Ave. S.(basement of HUB Bikes),West Bank,
Minneapolis
612-333-4719
or
MONDAY, JAN.26,7pm
ST. JOAN OF ARC CHURCH, 4537 Third Ave, S., MInneapolis

Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal
By Anthony Arnove
Published by Metropolitan Books
paperback | 208 pages
1/9/2007 | US$13.00
ISBN: 0805082727

About the book:
Almost four years after the start of the war in Iraq, violence and misery
continue to plague the country, and conservatives and liberals alike are
struggling with the question of when - and under what circumstances - U.S.
and coalition forces should leave. In this cogent and compelling book,
Anthony Arnove argues that the U.S. occupation is the major source of
instability and suffering for the Iraqi people. Challenging the idea that
George W. Bush was ever interested in bringing democracy to Iraq - and the
view widely held across the political spectrum that it would be more
damaging to leave prematurely - Arnove shows why continuing the occupation
is a wildly unrealistic and reckless strategy that makes the world a more
dangerous place. /Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawl/ concludes by laying out a
clear vision for building a movement to bring the troops home.

Anthony Arnove is the editor, with Howard Zinn, of /Voices of a
People's History of the United States/. He is also the editor of /Iraq
Under Siege: The Deadly Impact of Sanctions and War/ and of /Terrorism
and War/, a collection of post-September 11 interviews with Howard
Zinn. Arnove's writing has appeared in /Financial Times, The Nation, In
These Times, Monthly Review, Z/, and many other publications. He lives
in New York City.


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From: t r u t h o u t <messenger [at] truthout.org>
Subject: Moyers/Obama govt 1.23 9pm

Bill Moyers Journal: Expectations of the Obama Administration
http://www.truthout.org/012109U

Bill Moyers Journal: "America saw a historic moment with the inauguration
of President Obama, but was it a progressive landmark? Bill Moyers sits
down with Columbia law professor and Nation columnist Patricia Williams
and Princeton politics and African-American studies professor Melissa
Harris-Lacewell about the significance of this milestone and what it means
for the future. Then, political columnist and blogger David Sirota and
Wall Street Journal columnist Thomas Frank talk with Bill Moyers about the
expectations of this administration and what must be accomplished for
Obama to be considered a progressive president."


--------9 of 9--------

"Exterminate all the Brutes": Gaza 2009   [Part 1 of 2]
By Noam Chomsky
January 20, 2009
ZNet

On Saturday December 27, the latest US-Israeli attack on helpless
Palestinians was launched.  The attack had been meticulously planned, for
over 6 months according to the Israeli press.  The planning had two
components: military and propaganda.  It was based on the lessons of
Israel's 2006 invasion of Lebanon, which was considered to be poorly
planned and badly advertised.  We may, therefore, be fairly confident that
most of what has been done and said was pre-planned and intended.

That surely includes the timing of the assault: shortly before noon, when
children were returning from school and crowds were milling in the streets
of densely populated Gaza City.  It took only a few minutes to kill over
225 people and wound 700, an auspicious opening to the mass slaughter of
defenseless civilians trapped in a tiny cage with nowhere to flee.

In his retrospective "Parsing Gains of Gaza War," New York Times
correspondent Ethan Bronner cited this achievement as one of the most
significant of the gains.  Israel calculated that it would be advantageous
to appear to "go crazy," causing vastly disproportionate terror, a
doctrine that traces back to the 1950s. "The Palestinians in Gaza got the
message on the first day," Bronner wrote, "when Israeli warplanes struck
numerous targets simultaneously in the middle of a Saturday morning. Some
200 were killed instantly, shocking Hamas and indeed all of Gaza." The
tactic of "going crazy" appears to have been successful, Bronner
concluded: there are "limited indications that the people of Gaza felt
such pain from this war that they will seek to rein in Hamas," the elected
government.  That is another long-standing doctrine of state terror.  I
don't, incidentally, recall the Times retrospective "Parsing Gains of
Chechnya War," though the gains were great.

The meticulous planning also presumably included the termination of the
assault, carefully timed to be just before the inauguration, so as to
minimize the (remote) threat that Obama might have to say some words
critical of these vicious US-supported crimes.

Two weeks after the Sabbath opening of the assault, with much of Gaza
already pounded to rubble and the death toll approaching 1000, the UN
Agency UNRWA, on which most Gazans depend for survival, announced that the
Israeli military refused to allow aid shipments to Gaza, saying that the
crossings were closed for the Sabbath.  To honor the holy day,
Palestinians at the edge of survival must be denied food and medicine,
while hundreds can be slaughtered by US jet bombers and helicopters.

The rigorous observance of the Sabbath in this dual fashion attracted
little if any notice.  That makes sense.  In the annals of US-Israeli
criminality, such cruelty and cynicism scarcely merit more than a
footnote.  They are too familiar. To cite one relevant parallel, in June
1982 the US-backed Israeli invasion of Lebanon opened with the bombing of
the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila, later to become famous
as the site of terrible massacres supervised by the IDF (Israeli "Defense"
Forces).  The bombing hit the local hospital - the Gaza hospital - and
killed over 200 people, according to the eyewitness account of an American
Middle East academic specialist.  The massacre was the opening act in an
invasion that slaughtered some 15-20,000 people and destroyed much of
southern Lebanon and Beirut, proceeding with crucial US military and
diplomatic support.  That included vetoes of Security Council resolutions
seeking to halt the criminal aggression that was undertaken, as scarcely
concealed, to defend Israel from the threat of peaceful political
settlement, contrary to many convenient fabrications about Israelis
suffering under intense rocketing, a fantasy of apologists.

All of this is normal, and quite openly discussed by high Israeli
officials.  Thirty years ago Chief of Staff Mordechai Gur observed that
since 1948, "we have been fighting against a population that lives in
villages and cities." As Israel's most prominent military analyst, Zeev
Schiff, summarized his remarks, "the Israeli Army has always struck
civilian populations, purposely and consciously...the Army, he said, has
never distinguished civilian [from military] targets...[but] purposely
attacked civilian targets."  The reasons were explained by the
distinguished statesman Abba Eban: "there was a rational prospect,
ultimately fulfilled, that affected populations would exert pressure for
the cessation of hostilities." The effect, as Eban well understood, would
be to allow Israel to implement, undisturbed, its programs of illegal
expansion and harsh repression.  Eban was commenting on a review of Labor
government attacks against civilians by Prime Minister Begin, presenting a
picture, Eban said, "of an Israel wantonly inflicting every possible
measure of death and anguish on civilian populations in a mood reminiscent
of regimes which neither Mr. Begin nor I would dare to mention by name."
Eban did not contest the facts that Begin reviewed, but criticized him for
stating them publicly.  Nor did it concern Eban, or his admirers, that his
advocacy of massive state terror is also reminiscent of regimes he would
not dare to mention by name.

Eban's justification for state terror is regarded as persuasive by
respected authorities.  As the current US-Israel assault raged, Times
columnist Thomas Friedman explained that Israel's tactics both in the
current attack and in its invasion of Lebanon in 2006 are based on the
sound principle of "trying to `educate' Hamas, by inflicting a heavy death
toll on Hamas militants and heavy pain on the Gaza population." That makes
sense on pragmatic grounds, as it did in Lebanon, where "the only
long-term source of deterrence was to exact enough pain on the civilians -
the families and employers of the militants - to restrain Hezbollah in the
future." And by similar logic, bin Laden's effort to "educate"  Americans
on 9/11 was highly praiseworthy, as were the Nazi attacks on Lidice and
Oradour, Putin's destruction of Grozny, and other notable attempts at
"education."

Israel has taken pains to make clear its dedication to these guiding
principles.  NYT correspondent Stephen Erlanger reports that Israeli human
rights groups are "troubled by Israel's strikes on buildings they believe
should be classified as civilian, like the parliament, police stations and
the presidential palace" - and, we may add, villages, homes, densely
populated refugee camps, water and sewage systems, hospitals, schools and
universities, mosques, UN relief facilities, ambulances, and indeed
anything that might relieve the pain of the unworthy victims.  A senior
Israeli intelligence officer explained that the IDF attacked "both aspects
of Hamas - its resistance or military wing and its dawa, or social wing,"
the latter a euphemism for the civilian society.  "He argued that Hamas
was all of a piece," Erlanger continues, "and in a war, its instruments of
political and social control were as legitimate a target as its rocket
caches."  Erlanger and his editors add no comment about the open advocacy,
and practice, of massive terrorism targeting civilians, though
correspondents and columnists signal their tolerance or even explicit
advocacy of war crimes, as noted.  But keeping to the norm, Erlanger does
not fail to stress that Hamas rocketing is "an obvious violation of the
principle of discrimination and fits the classic definition of terrorism."

Like others familiar with the region, Middle East specialist Fawwaz Gerges
observes that "What Israeli officials and their American allies do not
appreciate is that Hamas is not merely an armed militia but a social
movement with a large popular base that is deeply entrenched in society."
Hence when they carry out their plans to destroy Hamas's "social wing,"
they are aiming to destroy Palestinian society.

Gerges may be too kind.  It is highly unlikely that Israeli and American
officials - or the media and other commentators - do not appreciate these
facts.  Rather, they implicitly adopt the traditional perspective of those
who monopolize means of violence: our mailed fist can crush any
opposition, and if our furious assault has a heavy civilian toll, that's
all to the good: perhaps the remnants will be properly educated.

IDF officers clearly understand that they are crushing the civilian
society.  Ethan Bronner quotes an Israeli Colonel who says that he and his
men are not much "impressed with the Hamas fighters." "They are villagers
with guns," said a gunner on an armored personnel carrier.  They resemble
the victims of the murderous IDF "iron fist" operations in occupied
southern Lebanon in 1985, directed by Shimon Peres, one of the great
terrorist commanders of the era of Reagan's "War on Terror." During these
operations, Israeli commanders and strategic analysts explained that the
victims were "terrorist villagers," difficult to eradicate because "these
terrorists operate with the support of most of the local population." An
Israeli commander complained that "the terrorist...has many eyes here,
because he lives here," while the military correspondent of the Jerusalem
Post described the problems Israeli forces faced in combating the
"terrorist mercenary," "fanatics, all of whom are sufficiently dedicated
to their causes to go on running the risk of being killed while operating
against the IDF," which must "maintain order and security" in occupied
southern Lebanon despite "the price the inhabitants will have to pay." The
problem has been familiar to Americans in South Vietnam, Russians in
Afghanistan, Germans in occupied Europe, and other aggressors that find
themselves implementing the Gur-Eban-Friedman doctrine.

Gerges believes that US-Israeli state terror will fail: Hamas, he writes,
"cannot be wiped out without massacring half a million Palestinians.  If
Israel succeeds in killing Hamas's senior leaders, a new generation, more
radical than the present, will swiftly replace them. Hamas is a fact of
life. It is not going away, and it will not raise the white flag
regardless of how many casualties it suffers."

Perhaps, but there is often a tendency to underestimate the efficacy of
violence.  It is particularly odd that such a belief should be held in the
United States.  Why are we here?

Hamas is regularly described as "Iranian-backed Hamas, which is dedicated
to the destruction of Israel." One will be hard put to find something like
"democratically elected Hamas, which has long been calling for a two-state
settlement in accord with the international consensus" - blocked for over
30 years by the US and Israel, which flatly and explicitly reject the
right of Palestinians to self-determination.  All true, but not a useful
contribution to the Party Line, hence dispensable.

Such details as those mentioned earlier, though minor, nevertheless teach
us something about ourselves and our clients.  So do others.  To mention
another one, as the latest US-Israeli assault on Gaza began, a small boat,
the Dignity, was on its way from Cyprus to Gaza.  The doctors and human
rights activists aboard intended to violate Israel's criminal blockade and
to bring medical supplies to the trapped population.  The ship was
intercepted in international waters by Israeli naval vessels, which rammed
it severely, almost sinking it, though it managed to limp to Lebanon.
Israel issued the routine lies, refuted by the journalists and passengers
aboard, including CNN correspondent Karl Penhaul and former US
representative and Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney.
That is a serious crime - much worse, for example, than hijacking boats
off the coast of Somalia.  It passed with little notice.  The tacit
acceptance of such crimes reflects the understanding that Gaza is occupied
territory, and that Israel is entitled to maintain its siege, even
authorized by the guardians of international order to carry out crimes on
the high seas to implement its programs of punishing the civilian
population for disobedience to its commands - under pretexts to which we
return, almost universally accepted but clearly untenable.

The lack of attention again makes sense.  For decades, Israel had been
hijacking boats in international waters between Cyprus and Lebanon,
killing or kidnapping passengers, sometimes bringing them to prisons in
Israel, including secret prison/torture chambers, to hold as hostages for
many years.  Since the practices are routine, why treat the new crime with
more than a yawn?  Cyprus and Lebanon reacted quite differently, but who
are they in the scheme of things?

Who cares, for example, if the editors of Lebanon's Daily Star, generally
pro-Western, write that "Some 1.5 million people in Gaza are being
subjected to the murderous ministrations of one of the world's most
technologically advanced but morally regressive military machines.  It is
often suggested that the Palestinians have become to the Arab world what
the Jews were to pre-World War II Europe, and there is some truth to this
interpretation.  How sickeningly appropriate, then, that just as Europeans
and North Americans looked the other way when the Nazis were perpetrating
the Holocaust, the Arabs are finding a way to do nothing as the Israelis
slaughter Palestinian children." Perhaps the most shameful of the Arab
regimes is the brutal Egyptian dictatorship, the beneficiary of most US
military aid, apart from Israel.

According to the Lebanese press, Israel still "routinely abducts Lebanese
civilians from the Lebanese side of the Blue Line [the international
border], most recently in December 2008." And of course "Israeli planes
violate Lebanese airspace on a daily basis in violation of UN Resolution
1701" (Lebanese scholar Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, Daily Star, Jan. 13).  That
too has been happening for a long time.  In condemning Israel's invasion
of Lebanon in 2006, the prominent Israeli strategic analyst Zeev Maoz
wrote in the Israeli press that "Israel has violated Lebanese airspace by
carrying out aerial reconnaissance missions virtually every day since its
withdrawal from Southern Lebanon six years ago. True, these aerial
overflights did not cause any Lebanese casualties, but a border violation
is a border violation. Here too, Israel does not hold a higher moral
ground." And in general, there is no basis for the "wall-to-wall consensus
in Israel that the war against the Hezbollah in Lebanon is a just and
moral war," a consensus "based on selective and short-term memory, on an
introvert world view, and on double standards.  This is not a just war,
the use of force is excessive and indiscriminate, and its ultimate aim is
extortion."

As Maoz also reminds his Israeli readers, overflights with sonic booms to
terrorize Lebanese are the least of Israeli crimes in Lebanon, even apart
from its five invasions since 1978: "On July 28, 1988 Israeli Special
Forces abducted Sheikh Obeid, and on May 21, 1994 Israel abducted Mustafa
Dirani, who was responsible for capturing the Israeli pilot Ron Arad [when
he was bombing Lebanon in 1986].  Israel held these and other 20 Lebanese
who were captured under undisclosed circumstances in prison for prolonged
periods without trial. They were held as human `bargaining chips.'
Apparently, abduction of Israelis for the purpose of prisoners' exchange
is morally reprehensible, and militarily punishable when it is the
Hezbollah who does the abducting, but not if Israel is doing the very same
thing," and on a far grander scale and over many years.

Israel's regular practices are significant even apart from what they
reveal about Israeli criminality and Western support for it.  As Maoz
indicates, these practices underscore the utter hypocrisy of the standard
claim that Israel had the right to invade Lebanon once again in 2006 when
soldiers were captured at the border, the first cross-border action by
Hezbollah in the six years since Israel's withdrawal from southern
Lebanon, which it occupied in violation of Security Council orders going
back 22 years, while during these six years Israel violated the border
almost daily with impunity, and silence here.

The hypocrisy is, again, routine.  Thus Thomas Friedman, while explaining
how the lesser breeds are to be "educated" by terrorist violence, writes
that Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 2006, once again destroying much of
southern Lebanon and Beirut while killing another 1000 civilians, was a
just act of self-defense, responding to Hezbollah's crime of "launching an
unprovoked war across the U.N.-recognized Israel-Lebanon border, after
Israel had unilaterally withdrawn from Lebanon." Putting aside the deceit,
by the same logic, terrorist attacks against Israelis that are far more
destructive and murderous than any that have taken place would be fully
justified in response to Israel's criminal practices in Lebanon and on the
high seas, which vastly exceed Hezbollah's crime of capturing two soldiers
at the border.  The veteran Middle East specialist of the New York Times
surely knows about these crimes, at least if he reads his own newspaper:
for example, the 18th paragraph of a story on prisoner exchange in
November 1983 which observes, casually, that 37 of the Arab prisoners "had
been seized recently by the Israeli Navy as they tried to make their way
from Cyprus to Tripoli," north of Beirut.

Of course all such conclusions about appropriate actions against the rich
and powerful are based on a fundamental flaw: This is us, and that is
them.  This crucial principle, deeply embedded in Western culture,
suffices to undermine even the most precise analogy and the most
impeccable reasoning.

As I write, another boat is on its way from Cyprus to Gaza, "carrying
urgently needed medical supplies in sealed boxes, cleared by customs at
the Larnaca International Airport and the Port of Larnaca," the organizers
report.  Passengers include members of European Parliaments and
physicians.  Israel has been notified of their humanitarian intent.  With
sufficient popular pressure, they might achieve their mission in peace.

The new crimes that the US and Israel have been committing in Gaza in the
past weeks do not fit easily into any standard category - except for the
category of familiarity; I've just given several examples, and will return
to others.  Literally, the crimes fall under the official US government
definition of "terrorism," but that designation does not capture their
enormity.  They cannot be called "aggression," because they are being
conducted in occupied territory, as the US tacitly concedes.  In their
comprehensive scholarly history of Israeli settlement in the occupied
territories, Lords of the Land, Idit Zertal and Akiva Eldar point out that
after Israel withdrew its forces from Gaza in August 2005, the ruined
territory was not released "for even a single day from Israel's military
grip or from the price of the occupation that the inhabitants pay every
day... Israel left behind scorched earth, devastated services, and people
with neither a present nor a future.  The settlements were destroyed in an
ungenerous move by an unenlightened occupier, which in fact continues to
control the territory and kill and harass its inhabitants by means of its
formidable military might" - exercised with extreme savagery, thanks to
firm US support and participation.

The US-Israeli assault on Gaza escalated in January 2006, a few months
after the formal withdrawal, when Palestinians committed a truly heinous
crime: they voted "the wrong way" in a free election.  Like others,
Palestinians learned that one does not disobey with impunity the commands
of the Master, who continues to prate of his "yearning for democracy,"
without eliciting ridicule from the educated classes, another impressive
achievement.

Since the terms "aggression" and "terrorism" are inadequate, some new term
is needed for the sadistic and cowardly torture of people caged with no
possibility of escape, while they are being pounded to dust by the most
sophisticated products of US military technology - used in violation of
international and even US law, but for self-declared outlaw states that is
just another minor technicality.  Also a minor technicality is the fact
that on December 31, while terrorized Gazans were desperately seeking
shelter from the ruthless assault, Washington hired a German merchant ship
to transport from Greece to Israel a huge shipment, 3000 tons, of
unidentified "ammunition."  The new shipment "follows the hiring of a
commercial ship to carry a much larger consignment of ordnance in December
from the United States to Israel ahead of air strikes in the Gaza Strip,"
Reuters reported.  All of this is separate from the more than $21 billion
in U.S. military aid provided by the Bush administration to Israel, almost
all grants. "Israel's intervention in the Gaza Strip has been fueled
largely by U.S. supplied weapons paid for with U.S. tax dollars," said a
briefing by the New America Foundation, which monitors the arms trade.
The new shipment was hampered by the decision of the Greek government to
bar the use of any port in Greece "for the supplying of the Israeli army."

Greece's response to US-backed Israeli crimes is rather different from the
craven performance of the leaders of most of Europe.  The distinction
reveals that Washington may have been quite realistic in regarding Greece
as part of the Near East, not Europe, until the overthrow of its US-backed
fascist dictatorship in 1974.  Perhaps Greece is just too civilized to be
part of Europe.

Were anyone to find the timing of the arms deliveries to Israel curious,
and inquire further, the Pentagon has an answer: the shipment would arrive
too late to escalate the Gaza attack, and the military equipment, whatever
it may be, is to be pre-positioned in Israel for eventual use by the US
military.  That may be accurate.  One of the many services that Israel
performs for its patron is to provide it with a valuable military base at
the periphery of the world's major energy resources.  It can therefore
serve as a forward base for US aggression - or to use the technical terms,
to "defend the Gulf" and "ensure stability."

The huge flow of arms to Israel serves many subsidiary purposes.  Middle
East policy analyst Mouin Rabbani observes that Israel can test newly
developed weapons systems against defenseless targets.  This is of value
to Israel and the US "twice over, in fact, because less effective versions
of these same weapons systems are subsequently sold at hugely inflated
prices to Arab states, which effectively subsidizes the U.S. weapons
industry and U.S. military grants to Israel."  These are additional
functions of Israel in the US-dominated Middle East system, and among the
reasons why Israel is so favored by the state authorities, along with a
wide range of US high-tech corporations, and of course military industry
and intelligence.

Israel apart, the US is by far the world's major arms supplier.  The
recent New America Foundation report concludes that "U.S. arms and
military training played a role in 20 of the world's 27 major wars in
2007," earning the US $23 billion in receipts, increasing to $32 billion
in 2008.  Small wonder that among the numerous UN resolutions that the US
opposed in the December 2008 UN session was one calling for regulation of
the arms trade.  In 2006, the US was alone in voting against the treaty,
but in November 2008 it was joined by a partner: Zimbabwe.

There were other notable votes at the December UN session.  A resolution
on "the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination" was adopted
by 173 to 5 (US, Israel, Pacific island dependencies).  The vote strongly
reaffirms US-Israeli rejectionism, in international isolation.  Similarly
a resolution on "universal freedom of travel and the vital importance of
family reunification" was adopted with US, Israel, and Pacific
dependencies opposed, presumably with Palestinians in mind.

In voting against the right to development the US lost Israel but gained
Ukraine.  In voting against the "right to food," the US was alone, a
particular striking fact in the face of the enormous global food crisis,
dwarfing the financial crisis that threatens western economies.

There are good reasons why the voting record is consistently unreported
and dispatched deep into the memory hole by the media and conformist
intellectuals.  It would not be wise to reveal to the public what the
record implies about their elected representatives.  In the present case
it would plainly be unhelpful to let the public know that US-Israeli
rejectionism, barring the peaceful settlement long advocated by the world,
reaches such an extreme as to deny Palestinians even the abstract right to
self-determination.

One of the heroic volunteers in Gaza, Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert,
described the scene of horror as an "All out war against the civilian
population of Gaza."  He estimated that half the casualties are women and
children.  The men are almost all civilians as well, by civilized
standards.  Gilbert reports that he had scarcely seen a military casualty
among the 100s of bodies.  The IDF concurs.  Hamas "made a point of
fighting at a distance - or not at all," Ethan Bronner reports while
"parsing the gains" of the US-Israeli assault.  So Hamas's manpower
remains intact, and it was mostly civilians who suffered pain: a positive
outcome, according to widely-held doctrine.

These estimates were confirmed by UN humanitarian chief John Holmes, who
informed reporters that it is "a fair presumption" that most of the
civilians killed were women and children in a humanitarian crisis that is
"worsening day by day as the violence continues." But we could be
comforted by the words of Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the
leading dove in the current electoral campaign, who assured the world that
there is no "humanitarian crisis" in Gaza, thanks to Israeli benevolence.

Like others who care about human beings and their fate, Gilbert and Holmes
pleaded for a ceasefire.  But not yet. "At the United Nations, the United
States prevented the Security Council from issuing a formal statement on
Saturday night calling for an immediate ceasefire," the New York Times
mentioned in passing.  The official reason was that "there was no
indication Hamas would abide by any agreement." In the annals of
justifications for delighting in slaughter, this must rank among the most
cynical.  That of course was Bush and Rice, soon to be displaced by Obama
who compassionately repeats that "if missiles were falling where my two
daughters sleep, I would do everything in order to stop that." He is
referring to Israeli children, not the many hundreds being torn to shreds
in Gaza by US arms.  Beyond that Obama maintained his silence.

A few days later, under intense international pressure, the US backed a
Security Council resolution calling for a "durable ceasefire." It passed
14-0, US abstaining.  Israel and US hawks were angered that the US did not
veto it, as usual.  The abstention, however, sufficed to give Israel if
not a green at least a yellow light to escalate the violence, as it did
right up to virtually the moment of the inauguration, as had been
predicted.

As the ceasefire (theoretically) went into effect on January18, the
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights released its figures for the final day
of the assault: 54 Palestinians killed including 43 unarmed civilians, 17
of them children, while the IDF continued to bombard civilian homes and UN
schools.  The death toll, they estimated, mounted to 1,184, including 844
civilians, 281 of them children. The IDF continued to use incendiary bombs
across the Gaza Strip, and to destroy houses and agricultural land,
forcing civilians to flee their homes.  A few hours later, Reuters
reported more than 1,300 killed. The staff of the Al Mezan Center, which
also carefully monitors casualties and destruction, visited areas that had
previously been inaccessible because of incessant heavy bombardment.
They discovered dozens of civilian corpses decomposing under the rubble of
destroyed houses or removed by Israeli bulldozers.  Entire urban blocks
had disappeared.

The figures for killed and wounded are surely an underestimate.  And it is
unlikely that there will be any inquiry into these atrocities.  Crimes of
official enemies are subjected to rigorous investigation, but our own are
systematically ignored.  General practice, again, and understandable on
the part of the masters.

The Security Council Resolution called for stopping the flow of arms into
Gaza.  The US and Israel (Rice-Livni) soon reached an agreement on
measures to ensure this result, concentrating on Iranian arms.  There is
no need to stop smuggling of US arms into Israel, because there is no
smuggling: the huge flow of arms is quite public, even when not reported,
as in the case of the arms shipment announced as the slaughter in Gaza was
proceeding.

The Resolution also called for "ensur[ing] the sustained re-opening of the
crossing points on the basis of the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access
between the Palestinian Authority and Israel"; that Agreement determined
that crossings to Gaza would be operated on a continuous basis and that
Israel would also allow the crossing of goods and people between the West
Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The Rice-Livni agreement had nothing to say about this aspect of the
Security Council Resolution.  The US and Israel had in fact already
abandoned the 2005 Agreement as part of their punishment of Palestinians
for voting the wrong way in a free election in January 2006.  Rice's press
conference after the Rice-Livni agreement emphasized Washington's
continuing efforts to undermine the results of the one free election in
the Arab world: "There is much that can be done," she said, "to bring Gaza
out of the dark of Hamas's reign and into the light of the very good
governance the Palestinian Authority can bring" - at least, can bring as
long as it remains a loyal client, rife with corruption and willing to
carry out harsh repression, but obedient.

Returning from a visit to the Arab world, Fawwaz Gerges strongly affirmed
what others on the scene have reported.  The effect of the US-Israeli
offensive in Gaza has been to infuriate the populations and to arouse
bitter hatred of the aggressors and their collaborators. "Suffice it to
say that the so-called moderate Arab states [that is, those that take
their orders from Washington] are on the defensive, and that the
resistance front led by Iran and Syria is the main beneficiary.  Once
again, Israel and the Bush administration have handed the Iranian
leadership a sweet victory." Furthermore, "Hamas will likely emerge as a
more powerful political force than before and will likely top Fatah, the
ruling apparatus of President Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority,"
Rice's favorites.

It is worth bearing in mind that the Arab world is not scrupulously
protected from the only regular live TV coverage of what is happening in
Gaza, namely the "calm and balanced analysis of the chaos and destruction"
provided by the outstanding correspondents of al-Jazeera, offering "a
stark alternative to terrestrial channels," as reported by the London
Financial Times.  In the 105 countries lacking our efficient modalities of
self-censorship, people can see what is happening hourly, and the impact
is said to be very great.  In the US, the New York Times reports, "the
near-total blackout...is no doubt related to the sharp criticism Al
Jazeera received from the United States government during the initial
stages of the war in Iraq for its coverage of the American invasion."
Cheney and Rumsfeld objected, so, obviously, the independent media could
only obey.

There is much sober debate about what the attackers hoped to achieve.
Some of objectives are commonly discussed, among them, restoring what is
called "the deterrent capacity" that Israel lost as a result of its
failures in Lebanon in 2006 - that is, the capacity to terrorize any
potential opponent into submission.  There are, however, more fundamental
objectives that tend be ignored, though they too seem fairly obvious when
we take a look at recent history.

Israel abandoned Gaza in September 2005.  Rational Israeli hardliners,
like Ariel Sharon, the patron saint of the settlers movement, understood
that it was senseless to subsidize a few thousand illegal Israeli settlers
in the ruins of Gaza, protected by the IDF while they used much of the
land and scarce resources.  It made more sense to turn Gaza into the
world's largest prison and to transfer settlers to the West Bank, much
more valuable territory, where Israel is quite explicit about its
intentions, in word and more importantly in deed.  One goal is to annex
the arable land, water supplies, and pleasant suburbs of Jerusalem and Tel
Aviv that lie within the separation wall, irrelevantly declared illegal by
the World Court.  That includes a vastly expanded Jerusalem, in violation
of Security Council orders that go back 40 years, also irrelevant.
Israel has also been taking over the Jordan Valley, about one-third of the
West Bank.  What remains is therefore imprisoned, and, furthermore, broken
into fragments by salients of Jewish settlement that trisect the
territory: one to the east of Greater Jerusalem through the town of
Ma'aleh Adumim, developed through the Clinton years to split the West
Bank; and two to the north, through the towns of Ariel and Kedumim.  What
remains to Palestinians is segregated by hundreds of mostly arbitrary
checkpoints.

The checkpoints have no relation to security of Israel, and if some are
intended to safeguard settlers, they are flatly illegal, as the World
Court ruled.  In reality, their major goal is harass the Palestinian
population and to fortify what Israeli peace activist Jeff Halper calls
the "matrix of control," designed to make life unbearable for the
"two-legged beasts" who will be like "drugged roaches scurrying around in
a bottle" if they seek to remain in their homes and land.  All of that is
fair enough, because they are "like grasshoppers compared to us" so that
their heads can be "smashed against the boulders and walls." The
terminology is from the highest Israeli political and military leaders, in
this case the revered "princes." And the attitudes shape policies.

The ravings of the political and military leaders are mild as compared to
the preaching of rabbinical authorities.  They are not marginal figures.
On the contrary, they are highly influential in the army and in the
settler movement, who Zertal and Eldar reveal to be "lords of the land,"
with enormous impact on policy.  Soldiers fighting in northern Gaza were
afforded an "inspirational" visit from two leading rabbis, who explained
to them that there are no "innocents" in Gaza, so everyone there is a
legitimate target, quoting a famous passage from Psalms calling on the
Lord to seize the infants of Israel's oppressors and dash them against the
rocks.  The rabbis were breaking no new ground.  A year earlier, the
former chief Sephardic rabbi wrote to Prime Minister Olmert, informing him
that all civilians in Gaza are collectively guilty for rocket attacks, so
that there is "absolutely no moral prohibition against the indiscriminate
killing of civilians during a potential massive military offensive on Gaza
aimed at stopping the rocket launchings," as the Jerusalem Post reported
his ruling.  His son, chief rabbi of Safed, elaborated: "If they don't
stop after we kill 100, then we must kill a thousand, and if they do not
stop after 1,000 then we must kill 10,000. If they still don't stop we
must kill 100,000, even a million. Whatever it takes to make them stop."

Similar views are expressed by prominent American secular figures.  When
Israel invaded Lebanon in 2006, Harvard Law School Professor Alan
Dershowitz explained in the liberal online journal Huffington Post that
all Lebanese are legitimate targets of Israeli violence.  Lebanon's
citizens are "paying the price" for supporting "terrorism" - that is, for
supporting resistance to Israel's invasion.  Accordingly, Lebanese
civilians are no more immune to attack than Austrians who supported the
Nazis.  The fatwa of the Sephardic rabbi applies to them.  In a video on
the Jerusalem Post website, Dershowitz went on to ridicule talk of
excessive kill ratios of Palestinians to Israelis: it should be increased
to 1000-to-one, he said, or even 1000-to-zero, meaning the brutes should
be completely exterminated.  Of course, he is referring to "terrorists," a
broad category that includes the victims of Israeli power, since "Israel
never targets civilians," he emphatically declared.  It follows that
Palestinians, Lebanese, Tunisians, in fact anyone who gets in the way of
the ruthless armies of the Holy State is a terrorist, or an accidental
victim of their just crimes.

It is not easy to find historical counterparts to these performances.  It
is perhaps of some interest that they are considered entirely appropriate
in the reigning intellectual and moral culture - when they are produced on
"our side," that is; from the mouths of official enemies such words would
elicit righteous outrage and calls for massive preemptive violence in
revenge.

The claim that "our side" never targets civilians is familiar doctrine
among those who monopolize the means of violence.  And there is some truth
to it.  We do not generally try to kill particular civilians.  Rather, we
carry out murderous actions that we know will slaughter many civilians,
but without specific intent to kill particular ones.  In law, the routine
practices might fall under the category of depraved indifference, but that
is not an adequate designation for standard imperial practice and
doctrine.  It is more similar to walking down a street knowing that we
might kill ants, but without intent to do so, because they rank so low
that it just doesn't matter.  The same is true when Israel carries out
actions that it knows will kill the "grasshoppers" and "two-legged beasts"
who happen to infest the lands it "liberates." There is no good term for
this form of moral depravity, arguably worse than deliberate murder, and
all too familiar.

In the former Palestine, the rightful owners (by divine decree, according
to the "lords of the land") may decide to grant the drugged roaches a few
scattered parcels.  Not by right, however: "I believed, and to this day
still believe, in our people's eternal and historic right to this entire
land," Prime Minister Olmert informed a joint session of Congress in May
2006 to rousing applause.  At the same time he announced his "convergence"
program for taking over what is valuable in the West Bank, leaving the
Palestinians to rot in isolated cantons.  He was not specific about the
borders of the "entire land," but then, the Zionist enterprise never has
been, for good reasons: permanent expansion is a very important internal
dynamic.  If Olmert is still faithful to his origins in Likud, he may have
meant both sides of the Jordan, including the current state of Jordan, at
least valuable parts of it.

Our people's "eternal and historic right to this entire land" contrasts
dramatically with the lack of any right of self-determination for the
temporary inhabitants, the Palestinians.  As noted earlier, the latter
stand was reiterated by Israel and its patron in Washington in December
2008, in their usual isolation and accompanied by resounding silence.

The plans that Olmert sketched in 2006 have since been abandoned as not
sufficiently extreme.  But what replaces the convergence program, and the
actions that proceed daily to implement it, are approximately the same in
general conception.  They trace back to the earliest days of the
occupation, when Defense Minister Moshe Dayan explained poetically that
"the situation today resembles the complex relationship between a Bedouin
man and the girl he kidnaps against his will...You Palestinians, as a
nation, don't want us today, but we'll change your attitude by forcing our
presence on you." You will "live like dogs, and whoever will leave, will
leave," while we take what we want.

That these programs are criminal has never been in doubt.  Immediately
after the 1967 war, the Israeli government was informed by its highest
legal authority, Teodor Meron, that "civilian settlement in the
administered territories contravenes the explicit provisions of the Fourth
Geneva Convention," the foundation of international humanitarian law.
Israel's Justice Minister concurred.  The World Court unanimously endorsed
the essential conclusion in 2004, and the Israeli High Court technically
agreed while disagreeing in practice, in its usual style.

In the West Bank, Israel can pursue its criminal programs with US support
and no disturbance, thanks to its effective military control and by now
the cooperation of the collaborationist Palestinian security forces armed
and trained by the US and allied dictatorships.  It can also carry out
regular assassinations and other crimes, while settlers rampage under IDF
protection.  But while the West Bank has been effectively subdued by
terror, there is still resistance in the other half of Palestine, the Gaza
Strip.  That too must be quelled for the US-Israeli programs of annexation
and destruction of Palestine to proceed undisturbed.

Hence the invasion of Gaza.

The timing of the invasion was presumably influenced by the coming Israeli
election.  Ehud Barak, who was lagging badly in the polls, gained one
parliamentary seat for every 40 Arabs killed in the early days of the
slaughter, Israeli commentator Ran HaCohen calculated.

That may change, however.  As the crimes passed beyond what the carefully
honed Israeli propaganda campaign was able to suppress, even confirmed
Israeli hawks became concerned that the carnage is "Destroying [Israel's]
soul and its image.  Destroying it on world television screens, in the
living rooms of the international community and most importantly, in
Obama's America" (Ari Shavit).  Shavit was particularly concerned about
Israel's "shelling a United Nations facility...on the day when the UN
secretary general is visiting Jerusalem," an act that is "beyond lunacy,"
he felt.

Adding a few details, the "facility" was the UN compound in Gaza City,
which contained the UNRWA warehouse.  The shelling destroyed "hundreds of
tons of emergency food and medicines set for distribution today to
shelters, hospitals and feeding centres," according to UNRWA director John
Ging.  Military strikes at the same time destroyed two floors of the
al-Quds hospital, setting it ablaze, and also a second warehouse run by
the Palestinian Red Crescent society.  The hospital in the
densely-populated Tal-Hawa neighbourhood was destroyed by Israeli tanks
"after hundreds of frightened Gazans had taken shelter inside as Israeli
ground forces pushed into the neighbourhood," AP reported.

There was nothing left to salvage inside the smoldering ruins of the
hospital. "They shelled the building, the hospital building.  It caught
fire. We tried to evacuate the sick people and the injured and the people
who were there. Firefighters arrived and put out the fire, which burst
into flames again and they put it out again and it came back for the third
time," paramedic Ahmad Al-Haz told AP.  It was suspected that the blaze
might have been set by white phosphorous, also suspected in numerous other
fires and serious burn injuries.

The suspicions were confirmed by Amnesty International after the cessation
of the intense bombardment made inquiry possible.  Before, Israel had
sensibly barred all journalists, even Israeli, while its crimes were
proceeding in full fury.  Israel's use of white phosphorus against Gaza
civilians is "clear and undeniable," AI reported.  Its repeated use in
densely populated civilian areas "is a war crime," AI concluded.  They
found white phosphorus edges scattered around residential buildings, still
burning, "further endangering the residents and their property,"
particularly children "drawn to the detritus of war and often unaware of
the danger." Primary targets, they report, were the UNRWA compound, where
the Israeli "white phosphorus landed next to some fuel trucks and caused a
large fire which destroyed tons of humanitarian aid" after Israeli
authorities "had given assurance that no further strikes would be launched
on the compound." On the same day, "a white phosphorus shell landed in the
al-Quds hospital in Gaza City also causing a fire which forced hospital
staff to evacuate the patients... White phosphorus landing on skin can
burn deep through muscle and into the bone, continuing to burn unless
deprived of oxygen." Purposely intended or beyond depraved indifference,
such crimes are inevitable when this weapon is used in attacks on
civilians.

It is, however, a mistake to concentrate too much on Israel's gross
violations of jus in bello, the laws designed to bar practices that are
too savage.  The invasion itself is a far more serious crime.  And if
Israel had inflicted the horrendous damage by bows and arrows, it would
still be a criminal act of extreme depravity.

[end part 1]

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   - David Shove             shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu
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