Saturday, 13 June 2009
11 June 2009
In his latest column for the New Statesman, John Pilger de-codes the "historic" speech President Obama made in Cairo "reaching out to the Muslim world", according to the BBC: in reality showing the seductive face of American power as it proceeds towards its unchanged goal.
At 7.30 in the morning on 3 June, a seven-month-old baby died in the intensive care unit of the European Gaza Hospital in the Gaza Strip. His name was Zein Ad-Din Mohammed Zu’rob, and he was suffering from a lung infection which was treatable.
Denied basic equipment, the doctors in Gaza could do nothing. For weeks, the child’s parents had sought a permit from the Israelis to allow them to take him to a hospital in Jerusalem, where he would have been saved. Like many desperately sick people who apply for these permits, the parents were told they had never applied. Even if they had arrived at the Erez Crossing with an Israeli document in their hands, the odds are that they would have been turned back for refusing the demands of officials to spy or collaborate in some way.
“Is it an irresponsible overstatement,” asked Richard Falk, the United Nations special rapporteur for human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories and emeritus professor of international law at Princeton University, who is Jewish, “to associate the treatment of Palestinians with [the] criminalised Nazi record of collective atrocity? I think not.”
Falk was describing Israel’s massacre in December and January of hundreds of helpless civilians in Gaza, many of them children. Reporters called this a “war”. Since then, normality has returned to Gaza. Most children are malnourished and sick, and almost all exhibit the symptoms of psychiatric disturbance, such as horrific nightmares, depression and incontinence. There is a long list of items that Israel bans from Gaza. This includes equipment to clean up the toxic detritus of Israel’s US munitions, which is the suspected cause of rising cancer rates. Toys and playground equipment, such as slides and swings, are also banned. I saw the ruins of a fun fair, riddled with bullet holes, which Israeli “settlers” had used as a sniping target.
The day after Baby Zu’rob died in Gaza, President Barack Obama made his “historic” speech in Cairo, “reaching out to the Muslim world”, reported the BBC. “Just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza,” said Obama, “does not serve Israel’s security.” That was all. The killing of 1,300 people in what is now a concentration camp merited 17 words, cast as concern for the “security” of the killers. This was understandable. During the January massacre, Seymour Hersh reported that “the Obama team let it be known that it would not object to the planned resupply of ‘smart bombs’ and other hi-tech ordnance that was already flowing to Israel” for use in Gaza.
Obama’s one criticism of Israel was that “the United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements... It is time for these settlements to stop.” These fortresses on Palestinian land, manned by religious fanatics from America and elsewhere, have been outlawed by the UN Security Council and the International Court of Justice. Pointedly, Obama made no mention of the settlements that already honeycomb the occupied territories and make an independent Palestinian state impossible, which is their purpose.
Obama demanded that the “cycle of suspicion and discord must end”. Every year, for more than a generation, the UN has called on Israel to end its illegal and violent occupation of post-1967 Palestine and has voted for “the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination”. Every year, those voting against these resolutions have been the governments of Israel and the United States and one or two of America’s Pacific dependencies; last year Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe joined them.
Such is the true “cycle” in the Middle East, which is rarely reported as the relentless rejection of the rule of law by Israel and the United States: a law in whose name the wrath of Washington came down on Saddam Hussein when he invaded Kuwait, a law which, if upheld and honoured, would bring peace and security to both Palestine and Israel.
Instead, Obama spoke in Cairo as if his and previous White House administrations were neutral, almost divine brokers of peace, instead of rapacious backers and suppliers of the invader (along with Britain). This Orwellian illogic remains the standard for what western journalists call the “Israel-Palestine conflict”, which is almost never reported in terms of the law, of right and wrong, of justice and injustice – Darfur, yes, Zimbabwe, yes, but never Palestine. Orwell’s ghost again stirred when Obama denounced “violent extremists in Afghanistan and now Pakistan [who are] determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can”. America’s invasion and slaughter in these countries went unmentioned. It, too, is divine.
Naturally, unlike George W Bush, Obama did not say that “you’re either with us or against us”. He smiled the smile and uttered “many eloquent mood-music paragraphs and a smattering of quotations from the Holy Quran”, noted the American international lawyer John Whitbeck. Beyond this, Obama offered no change, no plan, only a “tired, morally bankrupt American mantra [which] essentially argues that only the rich, the strong, the oppressors and the enforcers of injustice (notably the Americans and Israelis) have the right to use violence, while the poor, the weak, the oppressed and the victims of oppression must... submit to their fate and accept whatever crumbs their betters may magnanimously deign suitable to let fall from their table”. And he offered not the slightest recognition that the world’s most numerous victims of terrorism are people of Muslim faith – a terrorism of western origin that dares not speak its name.
In his “reaching out” in Cairo, as in his “anti-nuclear” speech in Berlin, as in the “hope” he spun at his inauguration, this clever young politician is playing the part for which he was drafted and promoted. This is to present a benign, seductive, even celebrity face to American power, which can then proceed towards its strategic goal of dominance, regardless of the wishes of the rest of humanity and the rights and lives of our children.
Posted from John Pilger's blog
The Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adatJune 11, 2009
Ahmad Sa'adat, the imprisoned General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, has entered the second week of his hunger strike to protest the policy of isolation and solitary confinement practiced by the Israeli prison administration against Palestinian prisoners.
This is an urgent situation and requires broad solidarity and public support for the Palestinian prisoners within the jails of the occupier and in solidarity with Ahmad Sa'adat. Palestinian prisoners are suffering, subject to isolation and constant movement from prison to prison in an attempt to undermine the prisoners' strength, solidarity and steadfastness. They are denied family visits and prisoner leaders are particularly subject to the policy of isolation. The escalation of Israeli attacks on prisoners' rights - secured through many years of struggle - took place immediately following the war crimes and assault on Gaza and has continued since.
Ahmad Sa'adat's own isolation - since March - was recently extended. Entering the second week of hunger strike, his health is at risk in order to shed light on the suffering of Palestinian prisoners and in rejection of these policies aimed at Palestinian prisoners and their steadfast commitment to the struggle to free Palestine, despite the torture, inhumanity and abuse of the prison administration.
Now is the time for Palestinian, Arab and international action and unity in support of Palestinian prisoners, who stand every day behind bars and on the front lines of struggle to liberate Palestine.
The Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat is calling for letters and statements in support of the freedom of Ahmad Sa'adat and all Palestinian prisoners from parties, groups and organizations around the world. It is critical that the broadest campaign of voices in solidarity with Ahmad Sa'adat be lifted up now!
Take action in your country or city. Contact your local Israeli embassy:
and express your outrage at this policy of isolation.
Also, contact the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), as this body is responsible for monitoring and visiting Palestinian prisoners. Call upon the ICRC to end its silence about Palestinian prisoners and to take action to defend their rights. Contact the Jerusalem office of the ICRC at email@example.com.
Please send your statements and letters to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat will publish and distribute these letters and statements. Act now for freedom for Ahmad Sa'adat and all Palestinian prisoners!