Witness to an International Crime: Israeli State Terrorism in Gaza

“Protective Edge,” the cartoonish name given to the latest Israeli military offensive against the occupied people of Palestine, is representative of the inverted reality whereby the 1.7 million captive and largely defenseless Palestinians in Gaza are the vicious aggressors against the peace-loving settlers of Israel. Similar to the inverted reality in the U.S., where the myth of the innocent settler was created to justify the systematic slaughter of Indigenous peoples, the genocidal policies of Israel are camouflaged by the transformation of its position from an armed colonial invader to one of victim.

This repositioning is aided and abetted in the U.S. by a corporate media whose world view and angle of reporting is framed by the innocent settler narrative. This narrative simultaneously liquidates and normalizes the colonial relationship between the colonizer and the colonized so that the occupied territories are not occupied but transformed into “disputed” territories and all forms of resistance on the part of Palestinians becomes terroristic.

Informed by this imperial vision, the corporate media not only parrot Israel’s victim narrative but go even further with the creation of the two-equal-sides fiction. Mainstream coverage laments how both sides are locked in battle or a spiral of violence, giving the absurd impression that the violence in the occupied territories is a conflict between two forces with similar power and equal moral standing.

It should be clear that attempting to conceptually equate the force of the state of Israel, one of the most powerful militaries in the world, with a resistance movement of a captive people trapped by land and sea in an open-air concentration camp on one of the most densely populated strips of land on the planet is a position that is fundamentally immoral. Yet for most editors and reporters in the U.S., pro-Zionist liberals and their counterparts in the Christian Zionist movement as well as some elements of the European press and public, the conceptual blinders of white supremacist colonial consciousness makes it impossible to see the immorality inherent in this construction of the so-called conflict.

The position for most of the world is that the latest assault on the Palestinian people is a war crime and an ongoing crime against humanity. That position was affirmed by the international Court of Justice, which ruled that as an occupying military power Israel has an obligation under the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 to protect the rights of civilians under military occupation.

Within this legal framework, the killing of civilians under occupation, indiscriminate shelling of Palestinian communities, collective punishments, house demolitions, arbitrary imprisonment, the theft of water and other natural resources and the building of settlements in occupied territories are all considered war crimes and crimes against humanity.

That is the real story that should be communicated to the general public in the U.S. But instead, the public is being led to believe that the Israeli military assault is a legally and morally justified response to aggression from Hamas. From this perspective there is no special responsibility on the part of the Israeli authorities to protect the rights of Palestinians under military occupation, and the actions of the Israeli government in response to the killings of the three Israeli teenagers is seen as a measured and rational response.

Colonialism and the humanitarian fraud

Only the most naive believe the current military assault has anything to do with “defense” issues related to the symbolic resistance offered from Hamas via the firing of rockets into Israel. Honest commentators on this issue know that Israel provoked the response from the Palestinian resistance with the mass repression it launched in Gaza after the killings of the three Israeli teenagers in order to use the response to justify its attack on Hamas. An attack meant to destroy the newly established unity government of the Palestinians.

The colonialist mentality sees any resistance, no matter the form, as illegitimate, punishable by death and unrelenting terror. That message is clear for Palestinians as their homes are reduced to dust and the people dig out the bodies of their children, spouses, fathers and grandmothers. The other message communicated to Palestinians, once again, and which they understand all too well, is that compared to the lives of the settlers their lives are worthless and there is no “responsibility to protect” for them.

The assault on the people and the institutions of Gaza has as its objective the eradication of the people of Gaza – not necessarily in the physical sense, only because at this stage in global consciousness any such attempt would galvanize universal opposition, but to erase Gaza as a functioning society, to destroy it politically, culturally, spiritually and psychologically. A process that IIan Pappe refers to as “incremental genocide, that whatever the label is terroristic in its’ most naked, brutal and devastating effect.

When genocide or systematic ethnic cleansing is not a viable option, reducing the indigenous population to a weak, terrorized and dependent condition is the next best thing for settler policy. The targeting of the civilian infrastructure and governing institutions by the Israeli military makes it clear that this is the objective of the current attack on Gaza.

The international community has failed to hold the Israeli state accountable for war crimes and other serious violations of international law over the last four decades. Human rights organizations and United Nations special procedures have produced detailed reports on the crimes committed by Israel over the last four decades without the perpetrators being brought to justice. And when it comes to Israel, humanitarian intervention and the responsibility to protect is exposed as the imperialist ideological construct that it is.

Images of Palestinian children being dug out of bombed-out residential buildings have not resulted in calls for humanitarian intervention to save a population that may be the most brutalized on the planet today. Instead weak and pathetic calls are made for “both sides” to show restraint and protect “civilians” as though a distinction can be made or is ever made between combatants and non-combatants when it is the whole people who are seen as the enemy by Israeli authorities.

Richard Falk, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights points out the hypocrisy of the West when it comes to Israel.

“…instead of condemning such recourse to massive violence as “aggression” that violates the UN Charter and fundamental international law principles, the reaction of Western diplomats and mainstream media has perversely sided with Israel. From the UN Secretary-General to the president of the United States, the main insistence has been that Hamas must stop all rocket attacks while Israel is requested ever so politely to show “maximum restraint“.

What is the future for Palestine? Is reconciliation possible within the context of an ongoing colonial relationship? Is a two-state solution still viable with more than 500,000 settlers occupying almost half of the land that was supposed to be the Palestinian state, a land base that is just 22 percent of original Palestine before the establishment of Israel?

Frantz Fanon argues that:

One world, either that of the settler or that of the native, must be destroyed to bring the colonial system to an end. Not simply a military defeat or a political deal – the total destruction of the other mode of living.

As the Israelis continue to steal Palestinian land, murder, degrade and humiliate Palestinian people, and create “facts on the ground” that make it impossible to establish a viable, independent Palestinian state, it is becoming clear that the only solution to the original sin of the Zionist project is authentic decolonization where the presence, humanity and sovereignty of the colonized is restored.

Authentic decolonization is the only solution because the inner logic of the colonial/capitalist process suggests that Fanon’s assertion is correct – that there can be no reconciliation of Palestinian self-determination and independent development with the continuation of the Israeli state as a settler state. Because even within the framework of the so-called two state solution, the material basis of the Israeli colonial project is dependent on the continued expansion and expropriation of Palestinian land and the subordination of Palestinian people.

So while some Palestinians and their supporters still hope for a two-state solution, Israeli rulers also understand Fanon’s position that “only one mode of living will survive” and are moving to destroy Palestinian resistance. This is the real story of Gaza and all of the occupied territories – an ongoing crime that degrades all of us who are forced to witness it.

Iraq, Libya, Syria: Three reasons African Americans should oppose U.S. intervention in Africa

Iraq, Libya, Syria: Three reasons African Americans should oppose U.S. intervention in Africa

Mass slaughter, rape, torture, pillage, perpetual war, cultural degradation, creating social divisions, psychological manipulation – the essential tools employed by Western powers to establish their 522-year domination over many of the peoples of the world – are still being used with frightening efficiency and effect to maintain that dominance.

Just over the last decade and a half the orgy of violence unleashed by the U.S. and the gangster states of NATO in the name of promoting democracy and the racist absurdity of a “responsibility to protect” has been incalculable. Masked by the oxymoronic language that connects the White West with humanitarianism, the U.S. and its NATO allies have been on a killing spree in more than a dozen countries. President Obama has conducted imperialism’s version of a drive-by shooting with his drone warfare where wedding parties, funerals and even family gatherings are subject to being blown to bits just because the U.S. has the technology to do so and the power to get away with mass murder.

In “normal” times the racist megalomania of the U.S. that produced and is producing the carnage in Iraq, Libya, Syria and throughout the world would have been enough to caution African Americans against any pleas to the U.S. to militarily intervene to “bring back our girls” in Nigeria. But of course these are not normal times.

A brief historical recap of U.S. policy in Africa

There have been two factors that help to explain the relative success of white supremacist capitalist power to construct and impose an historical narrative in which they have been absolved of their criminal activities in Africa –  the post 9/11 focus on counter-terrorism, and the election of the first black president of the U.S.

Puerto Rican activist and writer Aurora Levins Morales reminds us that as the oppressed gain agency in their fight against dominance, memory is a site of struggle: “One of the first things a colonizing power or repressive regime does is attack the sense of history of those they wish to dominate by attempting to take over and control their relationship to their own past.” Continue reading

The Human Rights Crisis in Iraq: Bush, Blair, Obama and the Blood of Innocents

The civilized have created the wretched, quite coldly and deliberately, and do not intend to change the status quo; are responsible for their slaughter and enslavement; rain down bombs on defenseless children whenever and wherever they decide that their “vital interests” are menaced, and think nothing of torturing a man to death; these people are not to be taken seriously when they speak of the “sanctity” of human life, or the conscience of civilized world.”  (James Baldwin)

The human costs of the adventures of the U.S., EU/NATO and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) axis of evil over the last decade have been enormous. In an all-too-familiar spectacle last week, the 500,000 human beings – men, women and children – who fled the war torn city of Mosul, joined the millions throughout the Middle East and worldwide whose lives have been turned into a living hell by the policies of a moribund Western elite who still believe that the world is their personal chess board and people and nations are disposable pawns to be used and discarded at will.

When Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security advisor under President Carter, formulated the plan to draw the Soviet Union into becoming more directly involved in Afghanistan by arming a force of anti-communist Islamic fundamentalists who would wage war on the secular and progressive nationalist government in that country, there was no consideration for  the consequences of that decision for the people of Afghanistan or even for what would happen to those glorious anti-communist warriors once they were no longer needed. For Carter, Brzezinski, Reagan, the Bushes, Clinton and all of the servants of the capitalist elite, the value attached to the lives of non-Westerners has always had a utilitarian quality that was based on the degree to which they served or were in alignment with Western interests.  And even when that was the case, those lives were only considered so long as they advanced the longer term interests of the West.

It is only as a result of the callous manipulations of the elites when they experience “blowback” in the form of a 9/11 attack or the uprising in Iraq that the reality of the “other” is recognized, but then only in the Fanonian sense that it is through the violent expressions of the “others” that the reality of their existence is acknowledged, though not their fundamental humanity.

Unfortunately, for the people of Iraq, the racist, colonialist fantasies of Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney – who convinced themselves that the dignity of the Iraqi people was so thin that they would welcome foreign invaders as liberators – are once again being conjured with bizarre theories that U.S. airpower will somehow accomplish what thousands of ground forces were unable to do – defeat what is turning out to be a broad-based uprising among Sunnis, that includes the U.S. and GCC supported Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) – that has now evolved into a force with a significant degree of autonomy -  against what they see as a neocolonial Shia dominated government put in place by U.S. occupation forces.

Republicans, many Democrats, and (once again) some confused segments of the U.S. left are calling for some kind of intervention to block what is being widely reported in the Western media as a foreign invasion by ISIS.  While U.S. authorities make plans for some form of direct intervention, the people of Iraq are preparing themselves to once again be on the receiving end of a “humanitarian” war to save them from a situation that the U.S. created itself with the invasion in 2003 and the ill-fated attempt to dislodge al-Assad from the presidency in Syria.

The corporate capitalist airways are filled with the talking heads of empire who are disingenuously framing the rapid deterioration of the Iraqi government as the result of two factors: the decision not to force the Iraqi entity to enter into a status-of-forces agreement that would have allowed 10,000 soldiers to remain in the country; and the ineptitude of the al-Maliki government to properly manage the distorted state and obliterated society that the U.S. bestowed on the new government.

These private spokespersons, many of whom were the very same incompetents who developed and operationalized the criminal invasion in 2003, to a person have not discussed the three elements that really explain the current situation in Iraq – the 2003 invasion, the fact that the U.S. lost the war and was forced to retreat, and the predictable destabilization of Iraq as a consequence of arming Sunni extremists in Syria to overthrow the government of Bashir al-Assad.

On those first two elements, responsibility clearly rests with the war criminals of the Tony Blair and George W. Bush regimes. But on the last issue, the illegal arming and training of an insurgent force to undermine the sovereignty of an established state – that crime rests with President Barack Obama and his administration.

Democrats, including what is referred to as the “progressive” caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus and other caucus groups, along with the unprincipled and opportunist collection of Democratic party hacks at the Center for American Progress, the New American Foundation, Human Rights Watch and the other liberal and mainstream  institutions and publications who gave direct or tacit support to the foolish Bush era strategy to destroy Syria, all place the blame for the “debacle” in Iraq on al-Maliki. And while many of these elements opposed the Bush attack on Iraq, the moral basis for their opposition to direct war by the U.S. in Iraq under a Republican president failed them in response to the indirect war waged on Syria by a Democrat president. In both cases, it was war that was unleashed, and in both cases outside the parameters of international law and in opposition to the wishes and interests of the vast majorities of the peoples of those nations.

The delusional declaration that the foreign armies of the U.S. would be greeted as liberators in Iraq has been as devastating as the equally delusional support for a “moderate” opposition that would collaborate with foreign sources to wage war on their fellow citizens. All of this was predicted. Many of us who opposed the arrogant and illegal destabilization plan for Syria did so from the perspective that not only would the plan result in massive loss of life in Syria, but that its effect would inflame the entire region, especially since it was clear that the strategy was to sectarianize the battle in Syria. Even reports and analyses from publications on the right to more moderate and centrist publications like The National Interest recognized that the dangerous and incoherent policies in Syria were going to destabilize the entire region.

And even though for many of us the strategic necessity for opposing the machinations of the U.S., NATO and their GCC client-states in Syria was clear, the confused liberal left faced an ideological and political conundrum: While most opposed the illegal war on Iraq, they nevertheless surrendered to national and racial chauvinism and gave ideological and political support to the illegal war waged against Syria. But now, with the predictable result that the war in Syria has created conditions and a political argument for the militarists in favor of a military return to Iraq, the liberal/left is finding it hard to formulate a coherent let alone morally and politically consistent position on the issue of U.S. military involvement in Iraq.

And in light of the fact that policies operationalized over the last six year are responsible for the increased violence and destabilization in the region, the blame Bush position expressed by the defenders’ of Obama’s policy options in Iraq and the ongoing violence and chaos in the Middle-East is unconvincing.

These defenders of Obama are unable to accept that historically when reference is made to the criminal activities associated with the last gasps of empire in the Middle East, Obama’s policies and Obama himself will be linked to the infamous cast of war criminals alongside Tony Blair and George W. Bush – company that he has earned along with a legacy that will forever tarnish his presidency. But he will not be alone, with the blood that is flowing and will flow in Iraq and Syria, the hands of Democratic party operatives and their supporters who collaborated with U.S. power will also be stained with the blood of innocents.

Ajamu Baraka is a human rights activist, organizer and geo-political analyst. His latest publications include contributions to two recently published books “Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA” and “Claim No Easy Victories: The Legacy of Amilcar Cabral.” He can be reached at info.abaraka@gmail.com and www.AjamuBaraka.com