Sunday, 20 July 2014

All You Need Is Kill: From Pre-Emptive Warfare in Iraq to 'PreCrime' in Gaza

I. The Inception of 'Precrime'

In a widely discussed and disseminated eyewitness account of a recent strike on Gaza by a Guardian journalist present at the scene, four Palestinian children are murdered by Israeli artillery fire. The first shell hits near where several children are playing on a beach. Four of them are seen running away. As they reach a group of tents used by bathers during peacetime, a second shell hits and kills them, the gunner having apparently adjusted aim to target the fleeing survivors. "Even from a distance of 200 metres, it was obvious that three of them were children," the reporter states.

Incidents like this are by no means isolated, as reported widely by a range of media outlets, from the liberal Israeli paper Ha'aretz to Newsweek and CNN. They might not all agree about the motives, but I think that anyone would be hard pressed to deny that, at least in the incident reported by the Guardian, the targeting appears to be deliberate. As Jon Snow suggested in a BBC interview of Israeli defence minister Mark Regev, it is indeed hard to believe in a lot of these cases that, with all this sophisticated technology the Israelis supposedly have, they would not know they were shooting at children.

Why would Israel be deliberately targeting children? One might ask. The answer may well be in an excellent, well-researched, and suprisingly Oscar-nominated documentary by investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill, entitled Dirty Wars. (There is also a book by the same title.)

Scahill investigates, among other things, a 2011 US drone strike in Yemen - far from any war zone - ordered (naturally) by President Obama, and apparently targeting a group of teenagers sitting in a restaurant. Their only crime - one of them was apparently the son of Anwar al-Awlaki, a prominent Muslim cleric (and US citizen) whose only crime, in turn, was apparently that his views were repugnant to the US administration, and that he had urged Muslims to fight against the USA. (Not a crime under any US law or constitution that I'm aware of, by the way, especially given how much Americans pride themselves on their constitutional tradition of 'free speech', even as compared to Europeans.)

Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, once future terrorist as deemed by US Presidential decree, aged 16, killed by US drone along with several teenage friends while sitting in a restaurant

By the time this happened, the father - Anwar - had already been killed by another US drone strike and confirmed dead, two weeks earlier. Now they were after the son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, a 16-year-old posing no apparent threat to anyone, and himself also a US citizen, born in Denver, Colorado, with aspirations of going to college in the USA. He, along with several teenage friends and scores of other people from his ancestral village, was apparently extrajudicially executed by a drone strike while sitting in a restaurant, on the direct orders of the President of the United States - without trial or charge - not for anything he'd done, or even said for that matter; but for what he might one day become, as Scahill puts it. There is more than a whiff of self-fulfilling prophecy to this, I might add, given that the cycle of revenge is perpetuated precisely through acts of indiscriminate slaughter such as this.

According to an Esquire article, "it was initially reported that an Al Qaeda leader named Ibrahim al-Banna was among those killed, but then it was reported that al-Banna is still alive to this day. It was also reported that Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was a twenty-one-year-old militant, until his grandfather released his birth certificate." To muddy things even more, Scahill reports that US Attorney General Eric Holder claimed Abdulrahman was "not specifically targeted." Multiple inconsistent excuses, proffered by the White House - suggesting what in Freudian psychoanalysis is known as the informal fallacy of the 'borrowed kettle' or 'kettle logic' - indicate precisely the very truth of what they attempt to deny.

Think Minority Report. Precrime. You thought that was just science fiction? Well, it's already here and in full swing - foreign policy aspiring to global authoritarian police control at its purest and most perfect, coming at you straight from the home of 'freedom' and 'democracy'. And all the more perfect for the fact that most people have no idea any of this is happening.

This is indeed the stuff of science fiction. And it is the general drift of US foreign policy under President Barack Obama. Once you have designated your enemy as evil incarnate, even their offspring are a legitimate target. This is a rationale typical of any genocidal army, from the German Nazis to the Serbs in Bosnia.

So if you find yourself incredulous at the suggestion that Israel may be deliberately targeting Palestinian children with impunity, think again. If you think this is somehow "too crazy" to believe - read here about recent public statements made by Ayelet Shaked, a prominent member of the Israeli Parliament, who advocates the view that all Palestinians are enemies, including and especially Palestinian mothers, who should be seen as legitimate military targets for breeding "little snakes" as she put it. In the lead-up to the ground invasion, none other than the Deputy Speaker of the Knesset urged the military to cut power to Gaza before going in - regardless of the threat to the lives of, among others, kidney dialysis patients in Gaza hospitals - this in order to minimize the risk to the invading Israeli soldiers.

Back in colonial times, these were the kinds of approaches and policies that openly racist European colonists and intellectuals applied to colonized populations. According to an international law scholar named Joseph Hornung (quoted in Sven Lindqvist's excellent 'History of Bombing', p. 48): “Among civilized states, warfare is limited to states and their armies. But the civilized states deem such considerations unnecessary in warfare against the so-called inferior nations. In those cases the entire nation must be punished.”

In the last few days there have been reports of Israel using flechette shells in Gaza - artillery rounds that spray out thousands of tiny pointed steel projectiles, designed to maximize casualties. So much for 'pinpoint strikes' and limiting damage to the civilian population. And according to Mondoweiss, a progressive Jewish publication, Israeli forces have also apparently destroyed el-Wafa hospital despite knowing there were no weapons inside. The latest reports suggest that today Gaza saw the bloodiest assault by Israeli forces yet (in this conflict), with close to 100 Palestinians killed in scenes of utter devastation.

Those who accuse the Hamas of using civilians as 'human shields' are clearly not only clueless about Israeli tactics, but have no conception of what it means to fight a war in a densely populated urban area - an area that is moreover densely populated, at least in part, because its population lives under an occupation which has over decades squeezed it onto a smaller and smaller parcel of land.

But even more to the point, there is no independent investigation by any credible authority on the subject that ever provided any evidence for this. The only sources of these allegations are the Israeli Defence Forces and the Israeli Government. As a matter of fact, a report by Amnesty International following the 2008-09 Gaza conflict specifically said that, although Hamas committed some human rights violations, Amnesty "found no evidence Palestinian fighters directed civilians to shield military objectives from attacks, forced them to stay in buildings used by militants, or prevented them from leaving commandeered buildings".

On the contrary - a whole range of independent investigations over the years by major human rights organizations and media have found that Israeli forces were in fact using Palestinians - and Palestinian children - as human shields. This includes reports by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch (also here), The Guardian (also see this), the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the UN Human Rights Council, the BBC, Associated Press, and even the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem. Most if not all of these reports are based in part on video footage, as well as testimony from former IDF soldiers. According to the testimonies of Israeli soldiers documented in the Amnesty report on the 2008-09 Gaza conflict, for instance, "Israeli forces used unarmed Palestinians including children to protect military positions, walk in front of armed soldiers; go into buildings to check for booby traps or gunmen; and inspect suspicious objects for explosives."

Flechette projectiles

Going back to the current conflict, Human Rights Watch has investigated 8 Israeli air strikes, including the one that killed four Palestinian boys on a beach as initially reported by the Guardian, and found no evidence of a military target in many cases. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, for its part, said on Sunday that 43% of Gaza's territory has been affected by Israeli evacuation warnings or declaration of "no-go zones". The implication that almost half of Gaza is somehow a legitimate target beggars belief.

View of Gaza from space, photo by Alexander Gerst, 'my saddest photo yet'

In this context, I can't help agreeing with Hamas's contention that Israeli forces are using the evacuation warnings as psychological warfare, as Gazans flee from one neighbourhood and into the path of more bombs. Is this what the Israelis mean by 'pinpoint precision' - destroying an entire half of a 10 or 11-story building, which housed refugees from another part of Gaza, previously bombarded by Israeli forces?

“Where do we go to?" Asks a Palestinian refugee interviewed by the Independent. "Some people moved from the outer edge of Khan Younis to Khan Younis centre after Israelis told them to, then the centre got bombed. People have moved from this area to Gaza City, and Gaza City has been bombed. It’s not Hamas who is ordering us in this, it’s the Israelis.”

So yes, it would appear that the Israelis are deliberately targeting Palestinian civilians, and in particular children - not for anything they've done, but for what they might, perhaps, one day become. They are gathering on hillsides to watch and cheer on the bombardment, to boot. They are taking their cues from US foreign policy, and taking it to the next level. In case anyone thought that there is something particularly or uniquely repugnant about, say, the Boko Haram in Nigeria abducting 200 schoolgirls - the military tactics and aims of the USA or Israel are not much different. So who are the extremists now?

All this shouldn't, in the end, be all that surprising - didn't the US military emerge from the Vietnam War, after all, with the phrase 'baby killer' as a common epithet for the American soldier? The key difference being, of course, that there is no question or suggestion here of the US or Israeli military's experimentation with hallucinogenic drugs, or of individual soldiers going berserk on the battlefield. It is now a matter of policy at the highest level.

Do you feel safer, my American and Israeli friends? If I were you, I wouldn't.

II. From Occupation to Concentration Camp

In this context it is no wonder that Ilan Pappe, a prominent Israeli historian (and former Zionist himself, author of The Idea of Israel: A History of Power and Knowledge), stated in a recent interview on BBC Hardtalk that in his view Israel is "founded on a deliberate programme of ethnic cleansing." “This is about human suffering," Pappe claims, "created by people who are immune from international condemnation." Indeed, just the other day the Deputy Speaker of the Knesset was reported as saying that Israel should expel the Palestinians, and populate the Gaza strip with Jews.

Given that the current round of escalation and assault on Gaza began with Israel's military response to what should have been a homicide investigation (for the murder of three Israeli teens), it would not be far-fetched to suppose that the whole thing was a pretext for a campaign of ethnic cleansing. As Mouin Rabbani put it in a recent article for the London Review of Books, "The current round of escalation is generally dated from the moment three Israeli youths went missing on 12 June. Two Palestinian boys were shot dead in Ramallah on 15 May, but that – like any number of incidents in the intervening month when Israel exercised its right to colonise and dispossess – is considered insignificant."

Much is made of the fact that Hamas refused an Egyptian ceasefire proposal. And yet, demanding an end to the long-standing blockade of Gaza - not to mention the occupation, although they are not even demanding that at this stage - as a pre-condition for any ceasefire, is hardly unreasonable on their part. It's not as if the killing stops when there is a ceasefire - the killing goes on, but it is usually only Palestinians who get killed, in incidents such as this. It's just that most of the time we don't hear about it in the news, and most of the time it's not caught on CCTV. Whenever the Palestinians attempt to retaliate, any time a single Israeli is killed, Israel escalates the conflict to full intensity warfare, the world's attention is back on the region, and the genealogy of the conflict is traced only to the latest Israeli killed - in retaliation. And another few hundred Palestinians are murdered, in retaliation for the retaliation.

As one might expect, the Israeli army claims the CCTV footage - of Israaeli soldiers killing two unarmed Palestinian boys - was faked or edited, despite an Israeli human rights organization vouching for its authenticity. In other words - nothing, no evidence will suffice. Even if the whole world stood and watched - nothing will cause even a chink in the armor of Israel's vaunted moral superiority, guaranteed absolutely and for all time, and indemnified against any loss, no matter what the State of Israel does.

And again, the Israeli occupation, and the blockade of Gaza (from both Israel and Egypt) continues with any unconditional ceasefire (which is what the Egyptian proposal amounts to).

"Life inside the Gaza Strip is hellish even when there is no war," according to a Newsweek report. "Aside from immobility — no way out and no way in — there is, on average, 12 hours of power cuts a day...Even before the current fighting began, over 57 percent of the Gaza population was suffering from 'food insecurity' — UN-speak for not having enough to eat. Gaza has 41 percent unemployment and 80 percent of the population are refugees. Nearly 95 percent of the water is not fit for human consumption. Sewage spills into the sea."

Jewish-American writer Lawrence Weschler is among many who compare Gaza to a concentration camp. Even British Conservative PM David Cameron has stated that since the beginning of the Israeli blockade in 2006, conditions in Gaza had come to resemble a "prison camp", according to a National Geographic story on the tunnels of Gaza. The tunnels - far from being solely of military significance - have for years been Gaza's only lifeline, used for importing everything from essential medicines and food, to construction materials for rebuilding.

The Israeli blockade, for that matter, was introduced in response to Hamas's 2006 election win - immediately following the election Israel simply "closed ports of entry and banned the importation of nearly everything that would have allowed Gazans to live above a subsistence level. Egypt cooperated." In addition, Israel responded to the electoral result by arresting scores of Palestinian legislators, many of them moderates, some even from within Hamas, and many of whom, according to the Carter Center (which monitored the election) "were guilty of nothing more than winning a parliamentary seat in an open and honest election."

Making the situation even more sinister, it was the Israeli leadership itself, along with US allies, who deliberately undermined Yassir Arafat's moderate and secular Fatah and helped spawn Hamas back in the day - only to later impose a punitive economic blockade that turned Gaza into a veritable concentration camp when Gazans voted for Hamas.

So much for democracy. This blockade, not to mention Israel's current military assault, clearly has the aim of bludgeoning the citizens of Gaza into voting the way the Israeli leadership would prefer them to vote. This is how USA and Israel are bringing democracy to the Middle East. Even the UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian Territories, Richard Falk, declared earlier this year that Israeli policies bore "unacceptable characteristics of colonialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing."

So I have to ask, in what kind of demented moral universe do Israel supporters get all up in arms when someone suggests boycotting Israel? In what way does the above not suggest Nazi tactics? Only inasmuch as Israel has not yet gone for the all-out Final Solution - so far they are content to keep the Palestinians ghettoized, and only exterminate them little by little (relatively speaking), whenever they rebel against their imprisonment.

In sum, the Israeli approach to the conflict seems to be - tighten the long-standing blockade of Gaza that has already brought its citizens to their knees for years, destroy tunnels and escape routes, order all Palestinians to evacuate - with nowhere to evacuate - bomb the fuck out of Gaza with heavy artillery, including so-called flèchette shells that spray thousands of tiny steel projectiles in all directions, and then blame Hamas for using civilians as 'human shields' when they are hit by Israeli fire.

By the way, this might seem like stating the obvious but, I can tell you from personal experience, dear reader, that the natural human instinct under bombardment and under siege, when you find yourself between four walls, is to stay put, duck, lay low, seek cover - not run outside and evacuate, and risk getting killed out in the open. So all this Israeli propaganda about how they are trying to avoid civilian casualties reflects nothing more than the legalistic mindset of a 21st century army trying to evade liability. What they are saying is - hey, if you sign your own Death Warrant when we put a gun to your head, it's OK for us to murder you.

There has also been increasing hostility towards journalists from Israelis and Israel supporters (such as virtually every media outlet in the US). A CNN reporter was removed from Gaza following an incident in which Israelis cheering strikes on Gaza from a hilltop threatened to destroy her car if she 'said a word wrong'. An NBC reporter whose reporting was praised for its even-handedness (in contrast to the usual pro-Israel propaganda in US media which is mistaken for impartiality), was nonetheless inexplicably removed, only to be reinstated the next day. The IDF fired warning shots into Al Jazeera offices, following statements by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman which suggest that the targeting may have been intentional. And a BBC reporter was apparently attacked on air by an angry Israeli. Even before Israel's military campaign was in full swing, the IDF apparently launched a series of attacks on Palestinian journalists, confiscating equipment worth millions of dollars, according to Reporters Without Borders.

As George Orwell put it, "the further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it."

Another groundbreaking and informative work by an Israeli academic is Eyal Weizman's Hollow Land: Israel’s Architecture of Occupation. Weizman, a London-trained Israeli architect, provides a multi-faceted exploration of all the sinister methods used by Israel in its militarization of the Israel-Palestine landscape in order to encroach ever further on Palestinian land, destroy homes and economic infrastructure, and make life in Palestine generally unbearable, laying bare "the political system at the heart of this complex and terrifying project of late-modern colonial occupation." From the tunnels of Gaza to the militarized airspace of the Occupied Territories, Weizman "unravels Israel's mechanisms of control and its transformation of Palestinian towns, villages and roads into an artifice where all natural and built features serve military ends. Weizman traces the development of this strategy, from the influence of archaeology on urban planning, Ariel Sharon's reconceptualization of military defence during the 1973 war, through the planning and architecture of the settlements, to the contemporary Israeli discourse and practice of urban warfare and airborne targeted assassinations."

Yet another thing that occurs to me in light of Hamas's refusal to accept Egypt's unconditional ceasefire - we recently saw the anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica. A Dutch court also recently decided that Dutch UN troops were partly responsible. Srebrenica is a good reminder of the potential dangers for occupied/besieged populations of putting too much faith in institutions of international law and order, agreeing to internationally-brokered ceasefires, and giving up weapons without having demands met first.

Once once accepts the moral equivalence of occupier/occupied, one also accepts the occupying colonising force's higher valuing of its own human losses. If the genealogy of a conflict doesn't matter - if the background of occupation and blockade is irrelevant - then there's no problem in killing 200 Palestinians in retaliation for 1 Israeli. You ignore the history, and then it appears as if, well, Hamas started with their rockets. But the whole point is that one side kills more people precisely because they are in control from the outset, because they are the occupying force, because they are far superior militarily, and they can afford to prolong the situation indefinitely causing untold damage and loss of life while suffering minimal losses themselves, despite all the drama. In fact it is in their interest to prolong the status quo as long as they are in control.

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For the record, I once refused to sign a petition supporting Palestinian statehood, even though I support it in principle. Why? Because I read through the comments by petition signers, and noted some openly racist, anti-semitic comments expressing blatantly neo-Nazi sentiments, anachronistic quotes attributed to Adolf Hitler, etc. And I know they were for real because I have encountered people with similar viewpoints in this world. So I did not and could not sign the petition because I am after all the grandson of Yugoslav Partisans, anti-fascists, members of a generation who gave their lives fighting for freedom and against fascism, nationalism, and Nazism. I could not in good conscience have my name associated in any way with such people, and such statements. So yes, the Palestinians need to get their shit together and dissociate themselves from such people, but murder is murder. And even every attempt at non-violent resistance by Palestinians is continually thwarted by Israel and its supporters - the example in the Guardian story I posted earlier is a case in point. The two Palestinian boys shot by Israeli troops last month (as captured on CCTV, before the current escalation) were at a protest against the occupation, posing no threat to the Israeli soldiers - for one of them, it was his first time. And that is one incident among many.

Not to mention the BDSM movement, which advocates worldwide for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel - they are continually under heavy criticism, and there is a messianic uproar from Israel supporters at any proposed boycott, such as the one implemented a few years ago by the co-op food store in Olympia, WA, where I lived at the time. Why? It worked against Apartheid South Africa. What gives Israel the special right to illegally occupy a territory for forty years, slowly kill, maim, and brutally harass its population, gradually encroach on its land by building walls and settlements and uprooting olive groves, drain the economic lifeblood out of it bit by bit, and then - get all indignant even when that population turns to non-violent means of protest? Again, what kind of moral bizarro world do these people live in?

For all that, Israel's Ambassador to the US believes that Israel should be given the Nobel Peace Prize, for their efforts to avoid civilian deaths. Well, Obama got one - despite specifically targeting and killing innocent children with drones - so why the hell not? I hope that this also means I can get a Nobel Prize for Chemistry, even though I haven't done any work in that area since I left high school about 16 years ago.

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III. Masters of War

"You know when you are fighting the enemy, any option is open. No mercy," says US-backed Somali warlord Mohamed Qanyare, interviewed in Dirty Wars. Aside from drone strikes and US ground troop deployments, one of the ways that JSOC or the Joint Special Operations Command - described by an insider as the 'paramilitary arm of the White House' - targets individuals and groups on its 'kill lists' in over 75 countries worldwide, is by outsourcing kills to local warlords.

"America knows war," Qanyare goes on. "They are war masters. They know better than me. So when they funding a war, they know how to fund it. They don't even need to touch to tell them. They know very well. They are teachers. Great teachers."

According to the New York Times and Huffington Post, the Obama administration's drone strike policy counts "all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent." Simple - just redefine the term 'combatant' and make any human being fair game, guilty unless proven innocent (posthumously) and liable to execution by drone, as long as they are the right age. In many countries, this would include 15 or 16-year-olds.

In effect, individuals at the highest level of the US government, including President Obama, are directly and without doubt responsible for ordering acts that unequivocally constitute not only war crimes, but crimes against humanity, extrajudicial executions, torture, intimidation of witnesses, silencing journalists (in one case the Obama administration explicitly asked the Yemeni government to keep journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye in jail for reporting on a US drone strike) - in the full knowledge of what was being done as it was being done, and full knowledge of the consequences.

Under President Obama, JSOC has taken the Bush administration's already repugnant doctrine of 'pre-emptive war' to the next level - 'precrime'. Murdering children who may one day become 'terrorists'. This puts a whole new spin on Kurt Vonnegut's description of war as 'a children's crusade'.

This takes even the idea of 'precrime' to a new level. 'Precrime' as originally conceived (in the Philip K. Dick story and Spielberg film) involves arresting (not killing) people when they are about to commit a crime, by a kind of 'thought police' guided by 'precogs' - mutated human beings with 'precognitive' abilities, who are able to see the future. However the precogs predictions do not overlap one hundred percent most of the time, and are usually combined into a 'majority report'; which suggests the existence of a 'minority report', predicting a different time path.

This raises some interesting ethical dilemmas, and it is on the existence of this 'minority report' that the drama hinges on. It could be argued that 'precrime' is in fact closer to the Bush-era policy of 'pre-emptive warfare' than to the Obama administration's drone/strike/raid/kill policy, perhaps falling somewhere in-between.

But for all its sinister implications, 'pre-emptive war' now seems almost a bit quaint in retrospect. In the nightmarish maze of a moral universe suggested by JSOC operational policy under President Obama, all this reaches a whole new level, a crescendo fever-pitch - we now have an absolute, total, fundamental disregard for things like innocence, guilt, due process, civil rights, and so forth. All these categories become irrelevant. Anyone deemed a future potential terrorist - for undisclosed reasons - is a legitimate target for extrajudicial execution by presidential decree.

In the post-Snowden era, I cannot help but wonder how exactly the byzantine surveillance apparatus amassed and operated by the NSA (which as we learned monitored the phone calls of no less than 20 million Germans, for instance) plays into these mysterious drone strikes and night raids where most or all of the victims turn out to be innocent civilians, as documented in Dirty Wars - innocent men, women, and children - although the strikes supposedly target suspected militants. And I can't help but wonder who is next, or by what depraved algorithms and morbid analyses people end up on these 'kill lists'.

There is a boundless, profound cynicism at the core of such policies. It suggests a complete and unwavering rejection of human agency and individual autonomy, of free will. I probably don't even need to explain why all this is a flagrant and fundamental violation of any and every moral and ethical principle or code that holds any validity in human history, of international law, of the US Constitution, of so many things that enlightened human beings hold sacred. This new foreign military policy practiced by Israel and the USA can appropriately be summed up by the title of a Japanese military sci-fi novel: All You Need is Kill.

Yet if there is a lesson to be learned from Minority Report, it is that this disturbed logic can easily turn against those who put it into practice. The hunter can become the hunted. By redefining innocent human beings as legitimate targets, you redefine yourself as a legitimate target.

The minority report - the alternate time-path that signifies free will and human agency - seems to be our only hope, the only chance of redeeming humanity. We can never lose sight of this lest we become sub-human - we always need the 'minority report'.


To make matters so much worse, the aforementioned crimes have been perpetrated by the wealthiest nations in the world against some of the poorest and most underprivileged citizens of some of the poorest and most underprivileged nations in the world - in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and now Gaza. This is what I would call the quintessence of criminal brutality. None of this would be terribly surprising if it came from the playbook of someone like Vladimir Putin - but given that it comes from the 'land of the free' and 'home of the brave', and a US President who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (!), this is some pretty demented shit. And this is the kind of world we live in.

Given the predominant reaction to the conflict in Gaza from world leaders across the political spectrum and especially those in the West (in support of Israel, or critical for all the wrong reasons), and the predominant reaction among the peoples of the world (opposing the occupation and Israeli assault), I think it's clear where the real divisions lie. Governments sympathize with other governments, generally speaking. They first and foremost recognize Israel's "right to defend itself." From what? I wonder. Given that most of Israel's casualties are soldiers involved in the assault on Gaza (the toll now stands at 12), this sounds like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

A good portion of the people who run the world, it seems, the people who run the governments of the most powerful nations in the world - are clearly out of their minds. In a murderous, racist mood and certifiably insane.

Masters of War, I just want you to know I can see through your masks.

I will end with a contribution from my friend Max Haiven, posted the other day on Facebook:

As Israelis cheer on Gaza's pulverization and watch it like theatre from hillsides, as far-right gangs hunt down and beat up the few tenacious Israeli peace activists who remain, as Western politicians and pundits line up to defend this berserk state, as my fellow Jews in the diaspora remain silent or (worse) force silence on others, I recall Aimé Césaire's words of 1955, in his famous indictment of the violently dying French colonial regime "Discours sur le Colonialisme":

"We must study how colonization works to decivilize the colonizer, to brutalize him in the true sense of the word, to degrade him, to awaken him to buried instincts, to covetousness, violence, race hatred, and moral relativism; and we must show that each time a head is cut off or an eye put out in Vietnam and in France they accept the fact, each time a little girl is raped and in France they accept the fact, each time a Madagascan is tortured and in France they accept the fact, civilization acquires another dead weight, a universal regression takes place, a gangrene sets in, a center of infection begins to spread; and that at the end of all these treaties that have been violated, all these lies that have been propagated, all these punitive expeditions that have been tolerated, all these prisoners who have been tied up and 'interrogated', all these patriots who have been tortured, at the end of all the racial pride that has been encouraged, all the boastfulness that has been displayed, a poison has been instilled into the veins of Europe and, slowly but surely, the continent proceeds toward savagery."

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