Saturday, July 22, 2006

Peace, Propaganda & The Promised Land

Peace, Propaganda & the Promised Land provides a striking comparison of U.S. and international media coverage of the crisis in the Middle East, zeroing in on how structural distortions in U.S. coverage have reinforced false perceptions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

This pivotal documentary exposes how the foreign policy interests of American political elites--oil, and a need to have a secure military base in the region, among others--work in combination with Israeli public relations strategies to exercise a powerful influence over how news from the region is reported.

Through the voices of scholars, media critics, peace activists, religious figures, and Middle East experts, Peace, Propaganda & the Promised Land carefully analyzes and explains how--through the use of language, framing and context--the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza remains hidden in the news media, and Israeli colonization of the occupied terrorities appears to be a defensive move rather than an offensive one.

The documentary also explores the ways that U.S. journalists, for reasons ranging from intimidation to a lack of thorough investigation, have become complicit in carrying out Israel's PR campaign. At its core, the documentary raises questions about the ethics and role of journalism, and the relationship between media and politics.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

When retribution comes, don't cry for Israel

Raffique Shah writes:

HARDLY a voice is raised in protest. Not a tear is shed by those who would otherwise howl "bloody murder" when one Israeli is killed by a Palestinian. Those who wanted to crucify Iran's President Ahmadinejad for his statement that the state of Israel should not be allowed to exist are silent as the Zionist warmongers inflict terror and wanton destruction in the Gaza, on the West Bank, and now in sovereign Lebanon. But when retribution comes, as it must, we are sure to hear them scream from every which country about "those sub-human terrorists".

This has never been a just world, and I imagine it never will be. One American life has always been worth 1,000 or more of lesser mortals. In days of old, one British life had similar, disproportionate value: if African slaves so much as hurt one "massa", scores of their brethren would pay with their lives, but not before they were tortured in the most horrible manner. Today, what we are witnessing as Israel wields the Zionist hammer on its hapless neighbours is apartheid with full fury, military might that is always right, and a world, including Arab and Islamic countries, that will heartlessly turn their eyes in another direction, not to add, in the case of Muslims, their cheeks to be slapped and bludgeoned repeatedly.

For those who may not have noticed the carnage, ever since Ehud Olmert succeeded the ailing Ariel Sharon, and Hamas won the elections in Palestine, Israel has become ten times as murderous as it has ever been. To dwell a little on Hamas, bear in mind that it was George Bush who called for democracy across the world (as I write, he has gone off to visit Russia with the same message to President Putin).

When free elections were held in Palestine and Hamas defeated the PLO to take power, Israel immediately withheld huge sums of money it collects on behalf of the Palestinian government. As if that was not bad enough, it proceeded to bomb at will wherever it pleased in the tiny, impoverished state. Its air force killed an entire family that was picnicking on a beach off the Red Sea. It repeatedly murdered civilians across the Gaza and the West Bank under the guise that it was targeting "terrorists".

Lashing back the only way they know, some elements among the Palestinians burrowed under the border, attacked a military outpost, killed a few Israeli soldiers, and captured one. Well, as Trinis would say, who tell them to do that? Olmert immediately massed tanks on the border and started shelling "terrorist" targets in Palestine. His forces then invaded and besides killing an untold number of civilians, children included, proceeded to arrest half of Hamas's Cabinet. Israel arrogated unto itself the right to dismember another country's government. A parallel would- be Hugo Chavez sending his forces into Port of Spain and besides flattening most of the city, making off with Prime Minister Manning and half of his Cabinet.

To add jet fuel to a fire that is sure to engulf the entire Mid-East, this rogue state deployed its forces to isolate Lebanon, bomb the country's only airport, lay siege to its main harbour.

As I write, the carnage in Lebanon continues: scores of civilians, including entire families, are being murdered at will, and Olmert tells the visiting Japanese Prime Minister: "Those responsible for the attack (three Israeli soldiers captured thus far) will pay a high and painful price." The EU issues a feeble statement, criticising (not condemning) the "disproportionate use of force". Bush says: "Israel has a right to defend its territory against terrorists." The Arab world is silent. Even Iran stays quiet, although I suspect in the latter instance, this is deliberate.

Of course Israel, heavily funded by the US, has the most powerful military in the Mid-East, nuclear arsenal included. But its terrorist leaders (and I write with authority here) seem to have learnt little from their own history, their scriptures. Remember the story of David and Goliath?

Ahhhh! Even superpowers have to account to a higher authority for their unbridled cruelty to human beings. And not even their military might will save them when retribution strikes. They don't know from which direction it will come. They are looking at Iran and Ahmadinejad. But the biblical David did not have the might of Goliath: he did not need it. When his people were threatened by an inordinately stronger enemy, he took the giant out with a slingshot.

So while Bush and Olmert and all the warmongers look to Iran, they may well be surprised at the direction from which their demise comes, this Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse. History has shown that whenever power becomes a tool of repression, of absolute inhumanity, all-conquering empires implode. Israel-and America-may never learn from history, just as Rome didn't, or Hitler. Those who don't learn from history are doomed to being consumed by its lessons.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Israel Crosses The Line

By Justin Raimondo

The Israeli offensive against Iran – until now, purely polemical – morphed into military action the moment the IDF crossed the border into Lebanon and took on Hezbollah. As our regular readers know, this turn of events was predicted in this space two months ago:

"War with Iran will probably not begin with a frontal assault by the U.S. and/or Israel on Iran's alleged nuclear weapons facilities, or even a skirmish along the Iraq-Iran border. Look to Lebanon and Syria for the first battlegrounds of this developing regional war. The Israelis know perfectly well that Iran's nuclear ambitions, if they ever materialize, are not an immediate threat: their real concern is their volatile northern border, where their deadly enemies – Hezbollah – are an effective obstacle to Israeli influence. The Israelis are also looking to exploit growing opportunities to make trouble in Syria, where the restive Kurds are their reliable allies, and the brittleness of the Ba'athist dictatorship is an invitation to regime change."

The suggestion, by Professors John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, in their now famous "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," that the Iraq war was fought for Israel's sake, and against our own interests in the region, was received in many quarters with outright horror, and not only from the Amen Corner. Noam Chomsky and Stephen Zunes both objected to this thesis of an Israel-centric foreign policy: Israel, they insist, is the "junior partner" of the American hegemon, and is only acting at the behest and under the de facto control of its masters in Washington.

The war's aftermath, however, tells a different story. Examined in light of Israel's postwar actions – the unilateral "withdrawal" from Gaza, the absorption of more territory and the building of more settlements on the West Bank, the war against Hamas, and now the re-invasion of Lebanon – the chief (and only) beneficiary of the new regional balance of power is clear enough. The American invasion and occupation of the Mesopotamian heartland has empowered the Israelis as never before – and now they are on the offensive, carving out a greatly expanded sphere of influence extending into Kurdistan as well as Lebanon, bringing closer to fulfillment the old Zionist vision of an empire stretching "from the Nile to the Euphrates."

The U.S., on the other hand, has considerably reduced leverage in the region. Our troops in Iraq are exposed, vulnerable to the Iranians – and stalemated by the Iraqi insurgency, which shows troubling signs of extending into Shi'ite areas. As the Israelis advance, with American support, Sunni and Shi'ite factions in Iraq – including those in the governing Shi'ite coalition – are radicalized, and turn their fire on the Americans.

Yet the U.S. is still shilling for the Israelis, blaming Syria and Iran for acts that occurred well outside the purview of the mullahs and the increasingly isolated regime of Bashar al-Assad. Meanwhile, in the UN, we are bringing the issue of Iran's nuclear power program to the Security Council, pressing for a confrontation that can only end in $200-per-barrel oil.

In 1996, a group of pro-Israeli Americans – including Richard Perle, James Colbert, Charles Fairbanks Jr., Douglas Feith, Robert Loewenberg, David Wurmser, and Meyrav Wurmser – prepared a policy statement for then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that proposed a strategy of regime change as the only solution for Israel's growing encirclement and isolation. The main problem, they averred in "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm," was Syria, and the troublesome border with Lebanon:

"Syria challenges Israel on Lebanese soil. An effective approach, and one with which American can sympathize, would be if Israel seized the strategic initiative along its northern borders by engaging Hizballah, Syria, and Iran, as the principal agents of aggression in Lebanon."

But this could occur only if Iraq was taken out first:

"Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq — an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right — as a means of foiling Syria's regional ambitions."

With Saddam out of the way, the second phase of the "Clean Break" scenario is unfolding before our eyes. And the propaganda war is going just as well as the military aspect of the campaign: the Israelis are no fools. They realize they can't proceed without the tacit complicity of the U.S. and the Europeans, who must be made to look the other way as the IDF commits war crimes on the ground. Under the pretext of avenging the "kidnapping" of one of their soldiers – and, more recently, two more – they have unleashed a military assault planned well in advance of the allegedly precipitating incidents.

This is surely one of the most threadbare excuses for a war ever uttered. One wonders how Israel's spokesmen can say it with a straight face. Soldiers in wartime are captured, not "kidnapped." If Hezbollah has "kidnapped" those two Israeli soldiers, then how do we describe the jailing of thousands of Palestinians, including hundreds of women and children, on the basis of their alleged sympathy for Hamas – now the democratically elected government of Palestine? In any case, it appears, according to this report, that Hezbollah has some Israeli competition when it comes to the business of kidnapping.

The Bush administration is formally committed to the "road map," which entails the creation of a Palestinian state. Yet the Israelis have done everything possible to undermine Bush's plan, including obstructing elections. The American response has been appeasement: as Israeli gunboats make short work of Gaza beach-goers, Washington's response is to demand the unconditional release of captured Israeli soldiers. There is an undertone of disapproval, as Condoleezza Rice urges "restraint" by all parties and the president worries that the Lebanese government will be destabilized, yet none of this is allowed to deflect U.S. policymakers from their craven course of kowtowing to the Israelis while they spend our money and earn us plenty more enemies among the world's billion-plus Muslims.

Israel's fifth column in America has been enormously successful in "spinning" the latest news from the Middle East. Instead of reporting that Israel is invading Lebanon, the "mainstream" media avers that Israel has "entered" Lebanon – as casually as one would enter a room in one's own house. The first few paragraphs of many news stories describe the latest attacks on Israeli targets and accounts of the damage done, while, five paragraphs down, we finally get word that 55 civilians have been killed by the latest Israeli aerial bombardment of Lebanon.

The Mearsheimer-Walt thesis – that U.S. foreign policy has been hijacked (kidnapped, if you will) by what they refer to as "the Lobby" – has so far been confirmed by the events of the past few days. The United States is giving what appears to be unconditional support to phase two of the "Clean Break" plan, targeting Syria and Iran, albeit while cautioning the Israelis on Lebanon.

The Israelis, outraged by what they regard as foot-dragging in Washington, are forcing Uncle Sam's hand. If we won't fire the first shots of World War IV, then they are perfectly willing to do so – confident that we'll follow them blindly into the maelstrom.

Whether the Bush administration will go all the way with the Israelis on this one, is, however, in some doubt. The alleged triumph of the Republican "realists" over the neoconservatives, supposedly symbolized by the ascension of Condi Rice, is counteracted by the Democrats' complete subservience to the Lobby. Already Hillary Clinton is denouncing the administration for "appeasing" Iran, and the sudden reappearance of the neocons in Democratic Party circles is indicative of what is going on here. Foreign policy is merely a reflection of domestic political pressures – which, in this case, surely do not represent either the views or the interests of the American people.

Mearsheimer and Walt explain how we got into this mess, but they don't give us any answers about how to get out. How do we avoid getting dragged by our Israeli "allies" into World War IV?

The short answer: stop appeasing Israel – and start looking out for American interests. The Amen Corner makes no such distinction, but clearly there is one, the most obvious being that we (unlike the Israelis) have no interest fomenting a wider war – especially while our troops are stuck in the middle of it all, lined up like sitting ducks and increasingly on the defensive.

The U.S. must unequivocally condemn the invasion of Lebanon and call for the unconditional withdrawal of all Israeli forces from Lebanese soil. Furthermore, the naval and aerial blockade of Lebanon must end: thousands of tourists and others are pouring into Syria, where they may not be safe for very much longer. This is an intolerable act of war against the whole civilized community, and for the United States government to not only stand by but implicitly condone it is unforgivable. The "war on terrorism" apparently requires enabling Israeli state terrorism.

The regional conflict widely predicted as one of the more horrific consequences of the Iraq invasion is now breaking out. The only rational response is to get out of the way before we are drawn in. Like a summer fire in the American West, if it isn't contained, the flames of the rapidly spreading conflict will soon be licking at our door. And we are bound to be choking, sooner rather than later, on the economic fallout – another factor that could embolden the Democrats to keep up their effort to outflank the GOP on the war question from the right.

As both parties fall into lockstep behind the Lobby, and American power and prestige are once again harnessed to Israeli interests, there is little hope that Congress will step into the breach and stop our headlong plunge into World War IV. Nor do any of the likely presidential candidates seem willing to take on the War Party when the question of war and peace is put in terms of Israel's interests – or, as the Lobby would have it, the Jewish state's continued survival. Here is a war they can sell by confronting critics with a simple question: What are you, some kind of anti-Semite?

Years of relentless propaganda, countless smear campaigns, and a prodigious expenditure of money and human resources led us to this moment: the War Party is launching what amounts to its final offensive, an all-out attack on whatever bastions of human decency and common sense remain in this hideously war-crazed post-9/11 world. Come what may, we at will stand at our posts, pouring hot molten editorials down on the enemy – and giving you the best, most accurate reporting on events in the Middle East anywhere on the Internet, or anywhere else, for that matter.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

World War 3

In case you haven't followed the news in the past couple weeks, here's a quick rundown.

North Korea is firing off test missles, pissing everyone off. Japan is probably the most pissed off, since most of these were shot in their direction and they have considered a military strike on the country. "But Japan, you guys don't have any nuclear weapons...." says the mainstream media. Yeah and if you believe that I got a bridge to sell you. Japanese military generals have apparently talked here and there about the weapons they've quietly built back up over the last few decades. Just because they don't parade them down the street every week or threaten to use them every other month doesn't mean they don't exist.

Israel is on a rampage (again). Lets see if I get this straight. Israel unloads on a Gaza beach where Palestinians were having a picnic in Gaza last month. Naturally the mainstream media spins it as "a mistake". Palestinians got pissed off at what they perceve as a start of an impending invasion of Gaza by the Israeli military, so they capture an Israeli soldier. "Thank you", says Israel, who used that one incident to storm back into Gaza; something that apparently has been planned for weeks before this guy was captured according to an Israeli newspaper (oops). Lets not seriously negotiate, lets just do another quick one-sided set of demands that doesn't give the Palestinians anything, so the mainstream media can print "Well, the Israeli government tried to negotiate but those evil Palestinians are hard-headed".

The Agony of Gaza
"Without power, 700,000 people in Gaza are deprived of air conditioners, fans and refrigerators on stifling days and nights. Worse yet,Gaza's water affected. An already poor sewage system has ceased to function....They will be unable to refrigerate or cook what food they have been able to hoard for an emergency......they risk an outbreak of diseases, including cholera.....without electricity, hospitals and clinics cannot treat the sick.

"It is ethnically indefensible to impose such conditions....hundreds of thousands...should not be made hostage to obtain one Israeli soldier....Israeli Prime Minister Ehud making a political as well as a moral blunder."

Oh but it gets better, Hizbollah, an extremist group apparently based in Lebanon got into a scuffle with some Israeli soldiers on the border. Some were killed and 2 were captured. I wonder which side of the border they were on when this happened. Would not surprise me one bit if it comes out that these troops were outside of Israel doing who knows what, since it has happened a few times before. Naturally, Israel authorizes 'severe' response to abductions according to CNN.

Retaliation in Lebanon Hits Roads, Bridges

Israel attacks Beirut's airport
It comes as 27 civilians, including 10 children, were killed in overnight Israeli raids on southern Lebanon.
It doesn't end there. US blames Iran, Syria for Hizbollah capture is a headline out of Reuters. Looks like the hawks in DC are trying a different method to get their war on with Iran and maybe Syria, too (who are in the process of dumping the dollar as the currency for their oil in favor of more valuable Euros). They support this group! How evil! Well, technically it can be, but if they use it as a reason to attack Iran and kill a few hundred thousand people (like they've done in Iraq). People who could care less about "Hizbollah" and just want to make their peaceful place in the world just like everyone else.

Despite what the mainstream media likes to portray, people in Iran (and these other places) aren't all religious zealots and scary boogymen. Sure they have a group of nuts, but it doesn't include everyone. Not much different than the group of "Christians" in this country, who (gasp) can also be tagged as "extremists" after looking at some of the fucked up shit they're up to (and have done) in the name of Jesus Christ.

So Israel's attempt to kick off a regional war on two fronts goes on, bombing all sorts of buildings, highways, bridges, murdering Lord knows how many civilians in the process. The connecting of the dots and grasping of straws to try to get other countries like Iran and Syria involved is seen all over the mainstream media. For example, CNN says Iranian Made Missiles Hit Israel. Well you know what? The missles that destroyed the Beriut airport were made in the USA. Does that mean Lebanon can come after us now? I'm sure the neocons would secretly love it if they did. Iran warns Israel not to attack Syria is another headline. Don't be surprised if Syria (whom Iran has a security pact with) does get attacked, and then it's on. Meanwhile Dubya has basically said that the US will "defend Israel no matter what". So there it is. Israel will start WWIII and drag everyone into it if all this keeps escalating.

I leave you with: Bush won't pressure Israel for cease-fire; "The president is not going to make military decisions for Israel," White House spokesman Tony Snow said.
....but the president will make military decisions for every other country. Bush demands that Russia not support Iran. He demands that China not dupport Iran. He demands that North Korea not do any nuclear testing. He demands that Iran stop all nuclear production. He demands that the Palestinians stop attacking Israel. He demands that no one has the right to boycott Israel or say anything negative about Israel.

But he will allow Israel to do (and say) whatever it pleases.

This is probably the most obvious sign that Bush is nothing more than a PUPPET.
Israel vows to destroy Hizbullah; Israeli jets continued to bomb Lebanon on Friday, hitting the airport and 18 other targets as Jerusalem threatened to escalate its attack on the besieged country even further.
Imagine for a moment that Great Britain announced that they intended to destroy organized crime. Does that make it okay for them to bomb the United States into rubble, destroy our bridges, hospitals, schools, and airports?

Oh and one more thing. Apparently the elitist scum of the world that profit off all of this consider and openly refer to the Cold War as #3, which would actually make this World War 4.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Her Face

The United States now officially admits what we already knew: Abir Hamza, the victim of that vicious assault, was born in 1991. She was only 14 when a squad of all-American "Christian" good-old-boys killed her family, raped her, and burned her body. Not a single member of the unit shirked from this task. None of them felt guilty about what they had done to her (although they did regret the retaliatory measures against Americans).

"Our boys," raised within our suposedly enlightened "Christian" culture, considered this girl a sub-human -- a thing to be used. After all, she was Muslim.

The photo above, taken when Abir was but a toddler, is the only one we have at present. I don't mind admitting that when I enlarged the image and smoothed over the jpg artifacts, I got a little choked up. And angry.

I hope every American sees this girl's face. Are our red-state Jesusmaniacs so blinded by their anti-Muslim bigotry -- so blinded by the lies told by our war-loving president and his propagandists -- that they cannot recognise the humanity and innocence in that little girl's eyes? This war has had many victims; let her face represent those we cannot see.

Source: Cannonfire

Monday, July 10, 2006

Arundhati Roy speaks about the Palestinian / Israeli Conflict

In case you haven't heard, all hell is breaking loose again in Israel/Palestine. Apparently an Israeli soldier was allegedly captured by the Palestinians, so Israel's response is to go into Gaza and pretty much take it out on everyone with some more collective punishment. They also apparently have captured some of the Palestinian's democratically elected government officials. A few headlines:

Draft Resolution Demands Israel Quit Gaza
Guess which country (who talks so much about peace and justice) blocked it.

The Cruelest "Apartheid Wall" of All: U.S. Media :: Protecting Israel, Intimidating Congress, Lying to the American People

A reminder what started the current crisis in the Mideast...
... because the US mainstream media sure as hell won't bother to tell you.

Below is a great clip from We... Unauthroized Arundhati Roy, where she talks about the history of the Israeli / Palestinian conflict.

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