By Thomas A. Schweich
We no longer have a civilian-led government. It is hard for a lifelong Republican and son of a retired Air Force colonel to say this, but the most unnerving legacy of the Bush administration is the encroachment of the Department of Defense into a striking number of aspects of civilian government….
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By Ali Abunimah
The Electronic Intifada
27 December 2008
“I will play music and celebrate what the Israeli air
force is doing.” Those were the words, spoken on Al
Jazeera today by Ofer Shmerling, an Israeli civil defense
official in the Sderot area adjacent to Gaza, as images of
Israel’s latest massacres were broadcast around the world.
A short time earlier, US-supplied Israeli F-16 warplanes
and Apache helicopters dropped over 100 bombs on dozens of
locations in the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip killing at
least 195 persons and injuring hundreds more. Many of
these locations were police stations located, like police
stations the world over, in the middle of civilian areas.
The US government was one of the first to offer its
support for Israel’s attacks, and others will follow.
Reports said that many of the dead were Palestinian police
officers. Among those Israel labels “terrorists” were more
than a dozen traffic police officers undergoing training.
An as yet unknown number of civilians were killed and
injured; Al Jazeera showed images of several dead
children, and the Israeli attacks came at the time
thousands of Palestinian children were in the streets on
their way home from school.
Shmerling’s joy has been echoed by Israelis and their
supporters around the world; their violence is righteous
violence. It is “self-defense” against “terrorists” and
therefore justified. Israeli bombing — like American and
NATO bombing in Iraq and Afghanistan — is bombing for
freedom, peace and democracy.
The rationalization for Israel’s massacres, already being
faithfully transmitted by the English-language media, is
that Israel is acting in “retaliation” for Palestinian
rockets fired with increasing intensity ever since the
six-month truce expired on 19 December (until today, no
Israeli had been killed or injured by these recent rockets
But today’s horrific attacks mark only a change in
Israel’s method of killing Palestinians recently. In
recent months they died mostly silent deaths, the elderly
and sick especially, deprived of food and necessary
medicine by the two year-old Israeli blockade calculated
and intended to cause suffering and deprivation to 1.5
million Palestinians, the vast majority refugees and
children, caged into the Gaza Strip. In Gaza, Palestinians
died silently, for want of basic medications: insulin,
cancer treatment, products for dialysis prohibited from
reaching them by Israel.
What the media never question is Israel’s idea of a truce.
It is very simple. Under an Israeli-style truce,
Palestinians have the right to remain silent while Israel
starves them, kills them and continues to violently
colonize their land. Israel has not only banned food and
medicine to sustain Palestinian bodies in Gaza but it is
also intent on starving minds: due to the blockade, there
is not even ink, paper and glue to print textbooks for
As John Ging, the head of operations of the United Nations
agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA), told The Electronic
Intifada in November: “there was five months of a
ceasefire in the last couple of months, where the people
of Gaza did not benefit; they did not have any restoration
of a dignified existence. We in fact at the UN, our
supplies were also restricted during the period of the
ceasefire, to the point where we were left in a very
vulnerable and precarious position and with a few days of
closure we ran out of food.”
That is an Israeli truce. Any response to Israeli attacks
— whether peaceful protests against the apartheid wall in
Bilin and Nilin in the West Bank is met with bullets and
bombs. There are no rockets launched at Israel from the
West Bank, and yet Israel’s attacks, killings, land theft,
settler pogroms and kidnappings never ceased for one
single day during the truce. The Palestinian Authority in
Ramallah has acceded to all of Israel’s demands, even
assembling “security forces” to fight the resistance on
Israel’s behalf. None of that has spared a single
Palestinian or her property or livelihood from Israel’s
relentless violent colonization. It did not save, for
instance, the al-Kurd family from seeing their home of 50
years in occupied East Jerusalem demolished on 9 November,
so the land it sits on could be taken by settlers.
Once again we are watching massacres in Gaza, as we did
last March when 110 Palestinians, including dozens of
children, were killed by Israel in just a few days. Once
again people everywhere feel rage, anger and despair that
this outlaw state carries out such crimes with impunity.
But all over the Arab media and internet today the rage
being expressed is not directed solely at Israel. Notably,
it is directed more sharply than ever at Arab states. The
images that stick are of Israel’s foreign minister Tzipi
Livni in Cairo on Christmas day. There she sat smiling
with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Then there are the
pictures of Livni and Egypt’s foreign minister smiling and
slapping their palms together.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported today that last
wednesday the Israeli “cabinet authorized the prime
minister, the defense minister, and the foreign minister
to determine the timing and the method” of Israel’s
attacks on Gaza. Everywhere people ask, what did Livni
tell the Egyptians and more importantly what did they tell
her? Did Israel get a green light to turn Gaza’s streets
red once again? Few are ready to give Egypt the benefit of
the doubt after it has helped Israel besiege Gaza by
keeping the Rafah border crossing closed for more than a
On top of the intense anger and sadness so many people
feel at Israel’s renewed mass killings in Gaza is a sense
of frustration that there seem to be so few ways to
channel it into a political response that can change the
course of events, end the suffering, and bring justice.
But there are ways, and this is a moment to focus on them.
Already I have received notices of demonstrations and
solidarity actions being planned in cities all over the
world. That is important. But what will happen after the
demonstrations disperse and the anger dies down? Will we
continue to let Palestinians in Gaza die in silence?
Palestinians everywhere are asking for solidarity, real
solidarity, in the form of sustained, determined political
action. The Gaza-based One Democratic State Group
reaffirmed this today as it “called upon all civil society
organizations and freedom loving people to act immediately
in any possible way to put pressure on their governments
to end diplomatic ties with Apartheid Israel and institute
sanctions against it.”
The global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement for
Palestine (http://www.bdsmovement.net/) provides the
framework for this. Now is the time to channel our raw
emotions into a long-term commitment to make sure we do
not wake up to “another Gaza” ever again.
Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah is
author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the
Israeli-Palestinian Impasse (Metropolitan Books, 2006).
ABOUT US: The Electronic Intifada (EI) is a
not-for-profit, independent publication committed to
comprehensive public education on the question of
Palestine, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the
economic, political, legal, and human dimensions of
Israel’s 39-year occupation of Palestinian territories.
EI, found at http://electronicIntifada.net provides a
needed supplement to mainstream commercial media
representations of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
More information about our work can be found at
To find out about other EI/eIraq lists available, see:
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Please support these actions by our colleagues at Just Foreign Policy
As of this writing, our modest proposal, “Take Concrete Steps to
Engage Iran,” now has 136 votes at change.org. The website says, “This
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The link is here:
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In our proposal, we call for opening a U.S. interests section in
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Just Foreign Policy
Those who died in Iraq from Dec 14 to 20:
Sgt Jonathan Dean 25 Henagar AL
Pvt Coleman Hinkefent 19 Coweta OK
9 wounded were returned to occupation.
118 Iraqi brothers and sisters were killed.
In Afghanistan were killed:
Ltn Aaron Lewis 26 England
Pvt Coleman Meadows III 19 Senoia GA
Cpl Stuart Nash 21 Australia
Sgt Jacob Jensen 23 Denmark
Pvt Benjamin Rasmussen Denmark
Pvt Sebastian Holm Denmark
Sgt Mark Weijdt 24 Holland
Mid-morning Saturday, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) launched a series of deadly air strikes on the occupied Gaza Strip. As we write this, an estimated 275 people have been killed. Hundreds of innocent people have been wounded. According to news reports today, Israel plans to keep these attacks going and has brought scores of tanks to the border with Gaza.
These Israeli attacks come on top of a brutal siege of the Gaza Strip which has been going on for years and has created a humanitarian catastrophe of dire proportions for Gaza’s 1.5 million Palestinian residents by restricting the provision of food, fuel, medicine, electricity, and other necessities of life. All of this is happening in the most densely populated and one of the poorest areas of the world.
Israel is carrying out these attacks with F-16 fighter jets and missiles provided by U.S. taxpayers. From 2001-2006, the United States transferred to Israel more than $200 million worth of spare parts to fly its fleet of F-16’s. In July 2008, the United States gave Israel 186 million gallons of JP-8 aviation jet fuel. Last year, the United States signed a $1.3 billion contract with Raytheon to transfer to Israel thousands of TOW, Hellfire, and ‘bunker buster’ missiles.
Israel’s lethal attack on the Gaza Strip could not have happened without the active military and political support of the United States. We need to take action now to protest this attack and demand an immediate cease-fire.
Peace Action is a proud member of United for Peace and Justice along with The U.S. Campaign to End the Israel Occupation. They have issued an action alert with these suggestions — we urge you to take action today!
* Contact the White House to protest the attacks and demand an immediate cease-fire. Call 202-456-1111 or send an email to email@example.com.
* Contact the State Department at 202-647-6575.
* Contact your Representative and Senators in Congress at 202-224-3121.
* Contact your local media by phoning into a talk show or writing a letter to the editor.
* Organize a local protest or vigil and tell us about it by clicking here.
Below are three articles you may want to read for background information and reports on the Gaza crisis.
‘If Gaza Falls…‘, Sara Roy, Professor at Harvard’s Center For Middle Eastern Studies and author of ‘Failing Peace: Gaza and the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict’.
‘Gaza Massacres Must Spur Us To Action‘, Ali Abunimah, Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of ‘One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse’ (Metropolitan Books, 2006).
‘Report on Gaza‘, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, Update December 22, 2008.
The Shministim are Israeli high school students who have been imprisoned for refusing to serve in an army that occupies the Palestinian Territories. Join Ronnie Gilbert, Adrienne Rich, Robert Meeropol, Adam Hochschild, Rabbi Lynn Gottleib, Howard Zinn, Rela Mazali, Debra Chasnoff, Ed Asner and Aurora Levins-Morales and show your support by contacting the Israeli Minister of Defense using the form below. Israeli peace activists will hand-deliver your message on December 18th, the Shministim Day of Action. 18,000 LETTERS AND COUNTING!
Will you join us? It’s simple. Sign a letter. Click here: http://www.december18th.org/
CONTENT OF THE LETTER:
I support the Shministim and their right to peacefully object to military service. I call for the release of those teenagers who have been jailed for their principled refusal to serve in an army which occupies the Palestinian Territories. The imprisonment of these conscientious objectors is a violation of their human rights and contrary to International Law.
I am inspired by these caring students and their counterparts in Palestine, whose nonviolent resistance to the Occupation points the way to a just peace and security for all people in the region. They are our best hope for the future. I urge you to heed them, and not punish them.
An Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at U.S. President George W. Bush during a press conference in Iraq on Dec. 14.
Bush was on a secret to Iraq and speaking before a roomful of reporters when a man abruptly hurled two shoes at him. “This is a farewell kiss, you dog!” the protester shouted in Arabic.
The man hurling the shoes was Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi, a reporter with Cairo-based network Al Baghdadia Television.
Colleagues say Zaidi was furious because he had been kidnapped by Shiite militiamen last year and was later released. In an eyewitness account of the shoe-throwing incident, reporter Adam Ashton said Bush had just finished his speech and was preparing to take questions from the Iraqi media, who previously have never had a chance to ask a question to the American president when “the shoes started flying.”
Bush, who was not hit, later joked, “It was a size 10.” The U.S. president visited the Iraqi capital a month before he hands the widely unpopular Iraq War off to his successor, Barack Obama, who has vowed to end it.
During his speech, Bush wanted to celebrate a recent U.S.-Iraq security agreement, which calls for U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq by the end of 2011. “The war is not over,” Bush said, adding that “it is decisively on it’s way to being won.” And that’s when the shoes went flying.