Friday, November 13, 2015

When our wars come home

The response to the attacks against Charlie Hebdo have been varied, from sympathy for the victims, to journalists promising to publish more, from Wikileaks calling for the release of more cartoons, to racist Islamaphobes calling for the death of all Muslims.  But one question has still not been asked. Why did they do this? Yes they can claim it was about cartoons, and it might be that simple that it is about only blaspheming Muhammad in satirical cartoons, but remember that our Judeo/Christian 10 Commandments teach against blasphemy as well. (See also here where I wrote more about this)
Blasphemy is contrary to the respect due God and his holy name. It is in itself a grave sin.
but if it turns out to be true that they were, or identified with, Al Qaeda in Yemen (as appears to be the case), then we can see a larger picture emerging that is not being talked about here.  Yes this was an attack on a newspaper possibly only over cartoons.  But it was still an attack in the streets of Paris, and while it is a rare event, it is happening more frequently.

Our wars are coming home.

We have been at war for more than a decade in almost a dozen countries.  We no longer fight them in our home countries or on our borders.  We send thousands of troops to the other side of the planet and occupy countries for 10 years, arresting all of the men, raping the women, torturing prisoners, bombing neighborhoods and massacring the population.  We don't hear about the everyday atrocities in the news.  Instead we hear platitudes about "supporting our troops" and how we are "freeing people from dictators and tyranny."  Meanwhile when people condemn the violence our soldiers commit in war this is the response.
We go to work, we do our errands, pay our bills, entertain ourselves, and then Muslim terrorists kill in our streets and we wonder why, and then proceed to unify against our enemy.

While I condemn violence, terrorists attack us for a reason, as I wrote on Twitter
Odd how terrorists and governments both say same thing "stop bombing us and killing innocent civilians or we will attack you in response"
We only seem to respond to terrorism when it occurs where we live, ignoring it when it is us who carry out attacks, or when the killers are not Muslim, for instance school shootings.  Democracy Now! had two great interviews last week discussing Yemen with Jeremy Scahill and terrorism and cable news terrorism "experts" with Glenn Greenwald.

Glenn said about terrorism that
every time there’s an attack where the assailant or the perpetrator is unknown, the media will say it’s unknown whether or not terrorism is involved. And what they really mean by that is: It’s unknown whether or not the perpetrator is Muslim. And as soon as they discover that the perpetrator is a Christian or is American, a white American, they’ll say, "We now have confirmation that this is not a terrorist attack." It’s something else—someone who’s mentally unstable, some extremist, something like that. It really is a term that functionally now means nothing other than Muslims who engage in violence against the West.
I remember there was an individual named Joseph Stack who flew an airplane into a government building in Texas, into the side of the IRS, actually. And for the first several hours of the reporting, it was said that the suspicion is that this is a terrorist attack, because it was on a government facility. And then when it was discovered that he was actually a right-wing, anti-tax, anti-government American, they said, actually, this isn’t a terrorist attack, this is just kind of this crazy person who did this for political ends.

same day as Hebdo was car bomb in Yemen
A large car bomb exploded outside a police academy inYemen’s capital, Sana, early Wednesday, killing or wounding dozens of applicants who were lined up at the building’s gate, according to security officials.
An Interior Ministry official said that at least 38 people had been killed and that more than 90 had been wounded.
Investigators said there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing. The attack was the deadliest in the capital since October, when a suicide bomber killed nearly 50 people at a protest.
Yemeni activist is republishing the cartoons

shooter ties to Syria fighting probed

2011 response to Charlie Hebdo publishing cartoons

France's own War on Terror in Africa

France has been fighting it's own War on Terror in Africa which has largely been absent from the headlines.

Operation Barkhane began in August 2014, replacing Operation Serval, the French military mission in Mali, and Operation Epervier, the mission in Chad according to the French Ministry of Defense.

As usual those who scream "Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood, Democracy" intervene when these values interfere with their own definition of the words, usually Western governments or their global allies fighting against people they define as "terrorists"

When France was weakened by World War II, the peoples of West Africa organized to regain their independence and it was in this region where there were the loudest calls for the establishment of a United States of Africa- then called Union of Independent African States. Soon after the independence of Ghana in 1957, the leaders of Ghana, Guinea and Mali proclaimed a unity based on Pan-African cooperation. Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Sekou Toure started this union that was later joined by Modibo Keïta of Mali. Mark DeLancey in his bibliographical essay on the The Ghana - Guinea - Mali Union: exposed the deep interest in that elementary Union and the deployment of western intellectuals to understand the internal dynamics of that Pan African experiment. [1] After the western intellectuals came the military interventions. First Ghana met the fate of the removal of Nkrumah in 1966 and then in 1968 General Moussa Traoré organized a coup d'état against Modibo Keïta, and sent him to prison in the northern Malian town of Kidal.
In the book, France Soldiers and Africa, Anthony Clayton laid out in graphic detail the military system of France and its impact on both France and Africa. One of the little known aspects of this militarization of Africa was how the French intellectual culture was negatively affected by the history of military engagement and interventions. Between 1960 and 2012 France had undertaken more than one hundred military interventions in Africa. The lowest point of this engagement and its intellectual variant was when France invaded Central Africa to assist those who were carrying out genocide in Rwanda in 1994.
The US and France have increasingly partnered in the war on terror in Africa, launching operations in almost every country as Vice reports (video report Part 1 here)
All of this comes as part of what analysts have dubbed the US military's "pivot to Africa." Although the US has engaged in counterterrorism activities in Africa since 2002, military operations have grown rapidly under the Obama administration. Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti remains the only official, permanent US base in Africa, but over the last decade, a constellation of sites, including "intermediate staging bases," and "cooperative security locations," have spread across the continent. A near-constant rotation of US military personnel, intelligence operatives, and private military contractors who engage in humanitarian missions, civil affairs activities, bilateral training exercises, and covert operations is now underway in almost every country in Africa. (emphasis mine)
"You could call it a fourth front in the war on terror, and it is not very much talked about," Reeve said.
Right.  but it should at least be talked about when once in a while, the war makes it's way back home.

As refugees currently come to Europe by boat from Libya, destroyed by the NATO/US bombing in 2011 that toppled Qadaffi and created a failed state with 2 rival governments, and the more recent refugee crisis from Syria makes headlines, these refugees are supposed to be a reminder that wars abroad have consequences at home.  

Unfortunately for most Europeans and certainly most US politicians, it is just another example of how evil the rest of the world is and how "they" are the ones trying to destroy "our civilization."

Yeah, sure.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Missing from American News, Context over clashes in Jerusalem

**this is a draft**

As clashes have increasingly erupted in Jerusalem between Palestinian rock throwers and the IDF since September/Rosh Hashanah, with Prime Minister Netanyahu escalating the response, allowing stone throwers to be shot, and cutting off larger parts of Arab neighborhoods from Jerusalem, what is missing from American news about the current crisis is the context (an often occurrence since the media only reports on the latest incident in a longer, more complicated situation that is never explained in corporate news media) about what started the conflict, specifically Netanyahu's policies in Jerusalem. 

Israeli historian Ilan Pappe describes in this article how members of Netanyahu's government including the Ministers of Education and Agriculture as well as other politicians put Jerusalem into a Jewish only context, ignoring cultural and religious teachings of Christianity and Islam in favor of the Jewish dream for Jerusalem and it's holy sites.

as he writes 
The only explanation official Israel and its supporters could give for why Palestinians have risen up lately is that they were influenced by Islamic propaganda. That propaganda so easily incited the “impulsive and unpredictable” Palestinians in recent weeks, according to Israeli spin.
fearing future of Al Aqsa is
a realistic analysis of the ideology of some of the potent political forces today in Israel, who are represented in Benjamin Netanyahu’s current government.
Netanyahu repeatedly calls it Jerusalem the "undivided Jewish Capital" which is political code that has stopped any real chance of peace negotiations with Palestinians, as the "Palestine Papers" leak showed the behind the scenes history of failed negotiations over the last 20 years.

The biggest failure in negotiations was not Palestinians refusing offers by peace-loving Israelis, but actually Israelis rejecting a Palestinian offer as I wrote in this blog post

quoting from the leaked secret negotiations called the Palestine Papers

Israel spurned offer of 'biggest Jerusalem in history'
The concession in May 2008 by Palestinian leaders to allow Israel to annex the settlements in East Jerusalem – including Gilo, a focus of controversy after Israel gave the go-ahead for 1,400 new homes – has never been made public.
All settlements built on territory occupied by Israel in the 1967 war are illegal under international law, but the Jerusalem homes are routinely described, and perceived, by Israel as municipal "neighbourhoods". Israeli governments have consistently sought to annex the largest settlements as part of a peace deal – and came close to doing so at Camp David.
Erekat told Israeli leaders in 2008: "This is the first time in Palestinian-Israeli history in which such a suggestion is officially made." No such concession had been made at Camp David.
But the offer was rejected out of hand by Israel because it did not include a big settlement near the city Ma'ale Adumim as well as Har Homa and several others deeper in the West Bank, including Ariel. "We do not like this suggestion because it does not meet our demands," Israel's then foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, told the Palestinians, "and probably it was not easy for you to think about it, but I really appreciate it".
Thanks to the Palestine Papers leak we can see Israel behind the scenes. The problem is when American Mainstream Media keeps these facts behind the scenes.

Stories of the Palestine Papers (NPR, January 24-28 2011) were later overshadowed by the Egyptian Revolution that ousted Mubarak (January 25-February 11 2011)

Just as President Obama announced that troops will not be leaving Afghanistan as he promised, and sadly Bernie Sanders agrees with Obama that we need some US troops there, occupations, wherever they are, are the issues that create wars and make them last longer, from Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan and Israel/Palestine "forever wars."

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Netanyahu, the Mufti, and the British White Paper

There was something I realized recently.

Because I was educated by Israelis at Hebrew School and Jewish summer camps, I learned nothing true about Israel.

But there was actually something that I did learn about from Rabbi Joseph Telushkin's excellent book Jewish Literacy, given to me when I graduated Hebrew school.***

***(That counts as them teaching me right? LOL.  Actually it was everything they didn't teach me, plus a few more lies about Israel).  The Jewish summer camp gave me Myths and Facts---everything is the opposite in that book......)

When recently Prime Minister Netanyahu claimed that in 1941 the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, convinced Hitler to kill the Jews of Europe instead of letting them just leave and emigrate to Palestine,

to the Zionist Congress on Tuesday night that “Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews.” The prime minister said that the mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini, had protested to Hitler that “they’ll all come here,” referring to Palestine.
“ ‘So what should I do with them?’ ” Mr. Netanyahu quoted Hitler as asking Mr. Husseini. “He said, ‘Burn them.’ ”
there was something Netanyahu, son of a historian (and personal secretary to Ze'ev Jabotinsky) knew he was leaving out.....the White Paper of 1939.

The news articles that I saw also left this out as part of the answer to Netanyahu's revisionist history.  While Israel focuses too much on the Holocaust in my opinion, as IDF soldiers recently showed how well they have learned lessons on their annual trips to Poland to visit concentration camps----there is one thing that we must remember.  Almost no country would take Jewish refugees during the war.  Not America, Canada, British Mandate Palestine, only the Dominican Republic offered to take in Jews in 1938, ironic because now they are kicking out Haitian descendants born in the Dominican Republic.

***OK one paper mentions the White Paper---The Times of Israel, in a contradictory argument that Netanyahu is right
The Grand Mufti’s meeting with Hitler was driven by his concern regarding the consequences of a possible expulsion of the Jews from the Reich, many of whom were likely to end up in Palestine, thus strengthening the Yishuv.[13]
However this prospect was no longer an option in 1941 because the British had barred the Jews to immigrate in Palestine by means of theWhite Paper[14]. As no other country was prepared to welcome Jews anyway, the Nazis concluded that the only remaining solution, which had to be final, consisted in systematically and industrially exterminate them.
Netanyahu rightly to remind that at the time of the meeting between the Grand Mufti and Hitler the Nazis were still expelling Jews,
last sentence in article, "the Nazis were still expelling Jews" when the Mufti met Hitler in 1941 contradicts the beginning of the excerpt that states that the White Paper barred emigration to Palestine and no country would welcome Jews anyway.  Expel them where??

another error---
Netanyahu never stated the Grand Mufti gave Hitler the idea of the Final Solution, but rather that he played an important role by campaigning relentlessly against Jewish emigration from Germany.
back to Netanyahu's quote
“Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews.” The prime minister said that the mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini, had protested to Hitler that “they’ll all come here,” referring to Palestine.
“ ‘So what should I do with them?’ ” Mr. Netanyahu quoted Hitler as asking Mr. Husseini. “He said, ‘Burn them.’ ”
Netanyahu certainly puts words in the Mufti's mouth beyond just "don't expel Jews from Germany."  Netanyahu does credit the Mufti with the final solution, telling Hitler not only to kill the Jews but to burn them. 

The 1939 British White Paper forbidding Jewish immigration to Palestine during World War 2.
After the outbreak of war in September 1939, the head of the Jewish Agency for Palestine David Ben-Gurion declared: 'We will fight the White Paper as if there is no war, and fight the war as if there is no White Paper.'[21]
The White Paper
called for the establishment of a Jewish national home in an independent Palestinian state within 10 years, rejecting the idea of the creation of a Jewish state and the idea of partitioning Palestine. It also limited Jewish immigration to 75,000 for 5 years, and ruled that further immigration was to be determined by the Arab majority (section II). Restrictions were put on the rights of Jews to buy land from Arabs (section III). Further, it promised that only with Palestinian support would Britain allow Jewish state. This greatly upset Zionists because of the increasing persecution of Jews in Europe at the onset of World War II, particularly in Germany.
Netanyahu clearly lied, but the newspapers explaining the history left out an important piece as well.