Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Disposable People



In a recent Truthout piece, “The Political Economy of Israeli Apartheid and the Specter of Genocide,” UCSB Professor William Robinson laid out the conditions that are enabling more and more Israelis to contemplate what should have been unthinkable before: the final expulsion of all Palestinians from the land Israel considers Eretz Israel, either by ethnic cleansing, or genocide. That means, in the words of Israeli lawmaker Ayelet Shaked posted on Facebook recently that “the entire Palestinian people is the enemy, including its elderly and its women…They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.” He was seconded by an August 1 Times of Israel op-ed by Yochanan Gordon titled “When Genocide is Permissible,” and later comments by Moshe Feiglin, the deputy speaker of the Israeli parliament, urging the Israeli army to “kill Palestinians in Gaza and use any means possible to get them to leave.” Robinson caps his data with the observation that nearly 50% of Israel’s Jewish population supports a policy of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians with almost as many contemplating genocide. Though this has always been the unstated purpose of the Zionist project, Robinson notes that until recent years, it would not have been possible because the Israeli economy relied on Palestinians as a cheap labor force to exploit for the dirty work Israelis could not or would not do. After the 1990s, however, this classic colonial situation changed. Thanks to globalization and Israel’s shift to its role as the major arms and high-tech supplier in its region and beyond, classic Palestinian farm labor was no longer needed. In addition, Israel’s incentives to Jews worldwide, especially the Soviet Union, to immigrate, resulted in as many as 1 million Soviet Jews taking the place of the Palestinian labor force. So did globalization’s displacement of hungry laborers from Africa, Asia and elsewhere, which allowed hordes of cheap transnational labor to fill in for what the new immigrants would not do. The result has been the apartheid wall keeping Palestinians out of Israel, and their resulting marginalization and disposability as a labor force. As was noted during the most recent Israeli assault on Gaza, nearly three-quarters of all Gazans depend on UN and government support to even stay alive, since there are no jobs to be had.
            This leads to William Robinson’s major point: what makes genocide possible is the situation that Israel/Palestine now exemplifies—a powerful nation beset by the claims of a marginalized and helpless population that has outlived its usefulness. As Robinson puts it,
The rise of new systems of transnational labor mobility and recruitment have made it possible for dominant groups around the world to reorganize labor markets and recruit transient labor forces that are disenfranchised and easy to control.

Easier to control, that is, than those troublesome Palestinians who, now no longer needed, would be much better somewhere else—including in the grave.
            It is not hard to see how other such populations in other nations—such as the United States—can fit this same paradigm. As nations around the world become increasingly separated into haves and have-nots, high-tech and poor nations, racial minorities and sub-groups become increasingly marginalized and disposable. This is because with the rise of the indigent transnational labor force, the advanced industrial nations no longer need to rely on their minority groups for labor. In the United States, this was true early on with respect to Native Americans, and is now true even in the high-tech and information sectors such as Silicon Valley, where major corporations have lobbied hard to get work visas for cheaper and often better-educated tech workers. In the area of farm and other high-risk labor, it is the same: migrants from Mexico and other countries in Latin America both legally and illegally provide the labor force that American agriculture needs, and, further, that  cheap labor bastions like China increasingly provide for the secondary preparation and packaging once done in the U.S. The result is that African Americans, especially those in major cities like Detroit and Chicago and Newark, become more and more marginalized and disposable. Where once, especially during and shortly after WWII, they migrated to northern cities en masse where they could find good jobs in factories producing cars and other manufactured commodities, today most cannot find such work because most of the jobs have been shipped overseas. The unemployment rate for young African American men in major cities is nothing short of a national scandal, and leads directly to the equally high and equally scandalous incarceration rate of such young men, many of whom conclude that there is no future for them. They are right. Aside from work in minimum-wage fast-food restaurants, their use to the American economy as it is now developing, has evaporated. They are the new disposables.
            The only question that remains, if things are allowed to continue as they are, is what can possibly happen to whole populations of such disposable people? Clearly, automation and the globalized work force are on a path to increase. Clearly, fewer and fewer of the deprived will be able to afford to educate themselves for the few decent jobs that will remain. What is to become of them? Will they simply join the ranks of the homeless, chased off sidewalks by local police, or the incarcerated? Will they become part of the RV ‘workamper’ force of the aging indigent, migrating to places like Amazon’s warehouses where they can get temp work during the Christmas season? Will the United States, like Israel, finally decide that genocide—even the slow genocide of mass disposability and mass incarceration—is now acceptable? It is a daunting prospect, but one that conditions force into our consciousness. The world population is increasing. More and more of the haves feel more and more encroached upon by desperate have-nots, and more and more fearful of them, with the resulting increase in militarized borders to keep the hordes out, and more draconian “law and order” procedures to control those already inside. Will our accelerating disposition to dispose of mass-produced goods be succeeded by an equally accelerated disposition to dispose of our masses of disposable people as well? Ah Bartleby. Ah disposable humanity.

Lawrence DiStasi

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Merchants of Death


I wonder if you’ve noticed, as I have, a prominent, somewhat new corporate sponsor of the PBS News Hour. It calls itself BAE Systems and it seems to be a rather high-minded tech company with the appealing brand motto “inspired work.” Oh yeah, they’re inspired alright, inspired to produce some of the most deadly machinery on the planet. BAE Systems, that is, used to be British Aerospace and changed to the more mild-sounding BAE Systems in 1999. That would’ve been after 1985 when British Aerospace was involved in the biggest (and perhaps most scandalous) arms deal of all time, the Al Yamamah trade supplying Saudi Arabia with over £43 billion worth of aircraft, specialized naval vessels, missiles, shells, support services and infrastructure.  In return, the Saudis pledged to supply Britain with 400,000 barrels of oil a day. It was the deal that saved British Aerospace, and allowed it to thrive and establish subsidiary companies in the U.S. among other places, including no less than seven sites in the San Francisco Bay Area. This is the story that Andrew Feinstein tells in his 2011 book, The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade. It’s filled with gems like the story of the Al Yamamah deal, including luscious details about the scandal involving the Saudi Royal Family and a personal slush fund operated for them by BAE, and the massive commissions the dealers (including Maggie Thatcher’s son Mark, who received about £12 million as an agent, and Prince Bandar al Sultan of 9/11 fame) got for greasing the wheels of the deal. According to the story Feinstein cites from Britain’s Guardian newspaper, the principal beneficiary of the slush fund was Prince Turki Bin Nasser, head of the Saudi Royal Air Force, who in addition to about £17 million in personal benefits, (some of which took care of his mistress, Anouska Bolton-Lee), also got gifts for his family: “a $30,000 Mercedes for his daughter, a blue Rolls Royce for his wife (Rolls is one of BAE’s subcontractors), and a £175,000 Aston Martin Le Mans for himself.”  These cars were regularly shipped between Saudi Arabia and Los Angeles on privately chartered airplanes; in 1995, for example, one cargo plane cost $300,000 to carry cars and assorted shopping booty home to Saudi Arabia. So were the members of the royal family, all paid for by BAE’s slush fund—the total, by 2002 amounting to more than 1 million pounds a month and 7 million pounds a year. Gives you an idea of the kind of money involved in the arms trade.
            The shady characters involved are equally staggering. Feinstein begins by charting the origins of a company called Merex. It started with the Nazis, courtesy of U.S. intelligence’s decision to rescue a general named Reinhard Gehlen, who had been chief of Nazi intelligence on the Eastern Front and so knew a lot about the Russians and their industrial plants. So Gehlen and several colleagues were shipped to Washington in a private plane, and then, after supplying lots of intel, were within a year returned to Germany to head a huge German spy ring to monitor the Russians. That led to the ex-Nazi’s promotion to head the West German intelligence agency until his retirement in 1968, but that’s not all. In the 1950s, Gehlen asked one of his old SS associates, Gerhard Mertins, to “act as middleman for German arms sales to the Third World,” which is where the action was and still is. The idea was, Germany could remilitarize if it could sell its old surplus arms stock, and Mertins was to be the agent for the selling. In 1963, he established a new company that he called Merex based in Bonn and Switzerland. Some of Merex’s first deals, aided by one Sam Cummings of the CIA, were selling old Luftwaffe stock to Castro’s Cuba and to Venezuela. It was, and is, typical of such arms dealers to sell fighting equipment to both sides in a conflict, as they did to Pakistan and India. Like BAE, Merex established an American branch in Bethesda Maryland, a convenient location for working with the CIA, as when they managed to ship arms to the CIAs favorite “freedom fighters,” the Nicaraguan Contras. Of course, for the arms merchants in the shadow world, the pedigree of those who want to buy arms never enters the calculation. The motto seems to be, ‘If you got the money, honey, we got the guns, planes, bullets, rockets or whatever suits your fancy.’ Africa after colonialism thus became one of the great illegal arms markets. As Feinstein points out, lovely episodes like the Rwandan genocide could not have happened without the immense influx of arms from unscrupulous arms dealers. Between 1992 and 1994, Rwanda became one of Africa’s major arms importers, spending over $112 million on mainly hand grenades and AK-47s—much of it from former Soviet countries—which amounted to 20 times what it had spent in the entire 1980s. Grenades were so easy to come by “they could be bought from local vegetable markets for $3 apiece.” It was grenades and weapons, not machetes, that were necessary to kill masses of young men in Rwanda’s stadiums. Hence, the genocide.
            What Feinstein makes clear, though, is that unsavory as these foreign arms dealers were and are, it’s in the United States and its pitbull, Israel, where the big money lies (in 2008, over 2/3 of all new arms sales agreements worldwide went to US companies) especially since the bonanza for arms manufacturers known as the War on Terror. In 2003, the US Government issued 3,500 contracts to companies for security, and from then to the end of 2006, the Department of Homeland security issued 115,000 contracts, most on the no-bid basis made possible by the contract initiated by Dick Cheney when he was head of the Pentagon. It’s called LOGCAP (Logistics Civil Augmentation Program) and it invites bids from American companies to supply logistical support for the US military, with NO DOLLAR VALUE in the contract. It's cost-plus: all costs covered plus a guaranteed profit; in short, corporate welfare for the types who regularly inveigh against welfare to the poor—chump change by comparison. Thanks to this kind of largesse, the US Government regularly spends about $550 per household on homeland security alone. And that doesn’t even begin to consider the amount spent on keeping our redoubtable military up to date, as with the Boeing $26 billion contract of 2001 to lease 100 KC-767 in-air-refueling tankers from Boeing over a ten-year period (the CBO determined that buying the damn things outright would have cost $5 billion less!). So corrupt was this deal that the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Darleen Druyun, who oversaw the deal, was charged with ethics violations (she got her son-in-law a job with Boeing and then got herself one), and eventually accepted a plea deal of 9 months in prison and a $5000 fine—though she still collects her government pension. Boeing’s CFO and CEO both resigned, with the CFO sentenced to 4 months in prison, while the company paid a big fine for its chicanery. But probably the best example of ‘price creep’ under LOGCAP involves Lockheed Martin’s F-22 Raptor, the most expensive fighter jet in history and one that is considered basically useless in any foreseeable war. The original intent (contract is meaningless here) was to buy 750 planes for a projected cost of $25 billion. By 1999, the cost had ballooned and plans had shrunk to 339 planes at a projected cost of more than $62 billion—i.e. half as many planes for twice the cost! The practice here is known as “buying in”, where the company bids at what it knows is a low price and then jacks up the price later, using “gold plating” or setting ever higher performance requirements after the plane is in development. Moreover, to protect their contracts, companies like Lockheed don’t do what one would normally expect a company to do to minimize risk—that is, build several prototypes to test before starting production. No, they start production based on lies and then simply jack up costs to keep the money flowing.
            There’s more about Lockheed and other military contractors, especially those that made a killing in Iraq (the mother of all military-procurement boondoggles) like Dick Cheney’s company, Halliburton. Just to give a sense of the big bucks involved here, it should surprise no one that Cheney’s personal wealth rose from about $1 million before he became VP to $60 to $70 million when he left office. During his 7 years in office, “Halliburton was awarded with more than $20 billion in contracts,” most of them on the usual no-bid basis. So blatant was their cheating that in the end Halliburton was fined for overcharging the government and using misleading accounting practices. But Dick Cheney seems to have emerged scot-free, wealthy, and with the chutzpah to regularly criticize the current president for failing to live up to the standards set by the Bush administration. Feinstein’s comment provides the real picture: “In the Bush administration the war profiteers weren’t just clamouring to get access to government, they were the government” (209).
            As to Israel, Feinstein devotes an entire chapter to their arms dealing entitled “America’s Shop Window.” By that he means that “Israel is the ‘primary testing ground’ for American weapons…It is, in effect, a shop window for the American weapons industry.” Feinstein goes on to note that in 2008, Israel’s military contracts were worth over $6.3 billion, “the 7th highest of 32 countries for which information is available,” spending no less than 8% of its GDP on the military (the US spends 4.5% while most comparable countries spend only 1% of GDP).  It was also the 11th largest arms importer between 2005 and 2010, when its imports rose 102%. But the real story lies in its arms exports, ranking it as the 4th largest arms exporter to developing countries (always a great market), including “rogue states in Africa, Latin America, and even the Middle East.” One of the reasons Israel ranks so high here is that, given its long experience suppressing Palestinians, its arms industry specializes in “equipment designed to control civilians.” In this regard, the War on Terror was crucial in bolstering—even saving—Israel’s economy. Its sales pitch to arms purchasers highlights its experience in this regard: “We have been fighting a War on Terror since our birth, we’ll show you how it’s done.” When it comes to heavy equipment, of course, Israel 'buys' most of that from its chief sponsor and enabler, the United States: in 2007, the two countries signed a 10-year MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) calling for $30 billion in US military aid. In this, Israel is unique in that it is the only country permitted to use US military aid to build its own military industry, including the development of weapons systems based on US designs, and to fund joint military research and development with its donor, as with its “Iron Dome” anti-missile system. This has allowed Israel to amass an arsenal of 226 F-16 jet fighters, over 600 M-690 tanks, no less than 6,000 armoured personnel carriers, and countless transport planes, attack helicopters, cluster bombs and white phosphorus. Only Saudi Arabia buys more, but it pays for its equipment.
            The story of Israeli arms dealers and deals is too long, and in some ways too well-known to go into here. Suffice it to say that its former officers train security forces all around the world, boasting a

one-stop shop that includes all requirements for riot control, ground forces, homeland security, counter- and anti-terror, K9 dogs, and identification of and protection against nuclear, biological and chemical weapons (385).

Israeli arms dealers dominate the shadow world, according to Feinstein, helped by the citizenship, travel privileges and protection their government provides them. Yossi Melman, an Israeli investigative reporter, is quoted by Feinstein as wryly describing the two wings of the entire Israeli business community thusly: ‘Those who are arms dealers and those who don’t admit they’re arms dealers.’ Perhaps most important, Israel comprises the chief testing ground for weapons the US thinks it might some day need. Feinstein spoke to one army source who testified to using ammunition in recent battles that was not even approved for use in the US:

It came from the American company ALS, where it was still in the testing phase, and thus, not legally usable in the US. But it was being used against people in the occupied territories by the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) (393).

Of course, Israel is no laggard when it comes to developing its own high-tech equipment for dealing death to its enemies. It even sets up US subsidiaries so that it can utilize US aid money to buy the latest military equipment from its own companies. It is a leader in drone development, and its notorious separation barrier (some call it an apartheid wall) is similarly outfitted for long-distance monitoring:

The separation barrier is equipped with unmanned, armed observation points that, through personnel in a distant, secure location, identify and fire on anyone who comes too near to the barrier. (394)

Like drones, this amounts to “the creation of a robotic non-culpability for death…” Perhaps all the merchants of death, including the gun dealers and manufacturers in the US, would claim the same non-culpability for themselves: ‘We don’t kill anyone. We just sell them the equipment; what they do with it is not our affair.’

Lawrence DiStasi

             

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Miko Peled on Freeing Palestine


I have written extensively on the outrages that Israelis perpetrate daily upon Palestinians—in the occupied West Bank, in Gaza and in Israel proper. Nothing I could write, however, could approach what Israeli-born Miko Peled (he now lives in California) has to say about this matter. That’s because having been born and grown up in Israel, having had a father who was a leading general in the Israeli army, having had a niece who was killed by a Palestinian suicide bomber, Peled as a source of information is unimpeachable. He cannot be accused of anti-semitism; he cannot be accused of mushy liberalism; he cannot be accused of wanting to drive Israelis into the sea. He can only be accused of telling the truth.
            That is why I want you to watch this powerful video. To give you an idea of what’s inside, here are some of the things Peled has to say:

The Peace talks and all these so-called efforts are an attempt to bring the Palestinians to surrender. But, the Palestinians will not surrender. And Palestinians will not go away.

It is extremely important to realize:

Hamas is Not the problem.

Gaza is Not the problem. 

The Rockets are Not the problem.

Zionism & Israel are the problem.

Zionism is a racist, colonial, idea.

That’s why “Zionism has to go” is a true statement. 

Below is the link to the video. Please watch it, and send the link to your friends. Israel could not continue with its violence, with its outright murder of civilians, without the constant support and protection of the United States, of all the craven US Senators and Representatives who fall all over themselves voting to give Israel more and more weapons and more and more resolutions lauding them for their war crimes. We as US voters send these fools and cowards to represent us, and so are all responsible. Listen to Miko Peled. Zionism has to go.
P.S.: If the link doesn’t work, you can key in the URL for www.veteransnewsnow.com and find the link to the Peled video.

http://www.veteransnewsnow.com/2014/08/30/509617-miko-peled-zionism-must-go-free-palestine-end-the-occupation/


Lawrence DiStasi

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The En-Closure of Gaza


We hear constantly in the mainstream media, and in the hallowed halls of the U.S. government, the great rationale for bombing the hell out of Gaza: Israel has a right to defend itself. ‘If the Gazans would only stop firing those rockets, we Israelis would be glad to cease our fire.’ But Hamas, Gaza’s duly and democratically-elected government, keeps insisting that a ceasefire isn’t enough, because it will only put Gazans back in prison. What’s needed, says Hamas, is for Israel to lift the siege of Gaza and open the borders so that Gazans are no longer prisoners. That would constitute a permanent ceasefire worth partaking in.
            Rarely, however, do we hear anything about this notion other than ridicule of it. ‘Those terrorist Hamas leaders—they want Israel to reward them for their aggression. Have they no morals?’ But perhaps this notion deserves a bit of consideration. What does Hamas actually mean here? Why do they insist that the real aggressor is Israel, even aside from bombs and rockets, and that it is Hamas that has the right to defend itself?
            A recent article by Prof. Daniel C. Maguire, “Hiding War Crimes Behind a Question,” (July 24, 2014, Consortiumnews.com), provides some light here. That is, according to Maguire, “siege (or blockade) is itself an act of offensive warfare,” indeed, one of the most devastating forms of warfare and one that is condemned by ethical and religious and civic leaders from Maimonides to Just War theorists to humanitarian law. Therefore, since the Gazans have been under siege since at least 2007 (in 2006, explaining its “economic warfare” on Gaza, Dov Weisglass, adviser to then-PM Ehud Olmert, said the goal of the siege was to put the people of Gaza “on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.”), and since that siege or blockage of both entry and exit to and from the Gaza Strip has become even more devastating since the new Egyptian government closed the tunnels near Rafah that were the only lifeline for Gazans until then, the policies and military measures locking Gazans into their open-air prison have become even more suffocating. Their farmers cannot trade with other countries including their relatives in the West Bank and Israel, their fishermen cannot fish, their builders cannot build, even hospital supplies and food are rationed, their meager supplies of water and electricity have been cut off, they have no airport, and the few places where they can take refuge are themselves being bombed. In short, like the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto, Gazans have decided that they would rather “die on our feet than on our knees.” And that the continuous warfare against them, the never-ending siege, gives them, not the Israelis, the right to defend themselves.
            Once one decides to look into this notion, the plight of the Gazans and the violations of the Israelis take on ever darker tones. Numerous international organizations have condemned the siege as illegal. In 2010, a UN fact-finding mission into Israel's attack on the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla concluded:
'The Mission considers that one of the principal motives behind the imposition of the blockade was a desire to punish the people of the Gaza Strip for having elected Hamas. The combination of this motive and the effect of the restrictions on the Gaza Strip leave no doubt that Israel's actions and policies amount to collective punishment as defined by international law..” (cited on http://imeu.org/article/reference-sheet-israel-gaza-international-law1 ).

In 2011, a UN panel of experts similarly concluded that Israel’s blockade of Gaza (resulting in its deadly attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in May 2010) does violate international law, stating that it amounts to collective punishment  “in flagrant contravention of international human rights and humanitarian law.” This is because, according to a detailed position paper produced by the Israeli organization, GISHA (http://gisha.org/UserFiles/File/publications/GazaClosureDefinedEng.pdf,), the closure of Gaza is in fact collective punishment, authorized in September 2007 when “Israel’s Security Cabinet approved a decision that openly called for restricting the movement of people and goods into and out of Gaza.” The Gisha position paper explained, in fact, that the “restrictions on the movement of people and goods through Gaza’s borders” are neither ‘economic sanctions,’ as Israel argues, nor a siege or a blockade as they are commonly known. Rather, they “constitute a closure imposed for purposes of collective punishment - and are therefore illegal under international law.” Though this might appear to constitute a technical distinction, it is extremely important in this case because while both sieges and blockades are sometimes legal, the type of closure imposed on Gaza is not. It is, as noted, a closure (I prefer to call it an en-closure, like fences or walls that enclose farm animals) imposed for purposes of collective punishment, and therefore illegal.
            So why is the en-closure not a siege? Quite simply, because a siege is “the act of surrounding a particular area in order to induce surrender.” That is, the only reason the laws of war allow a siege is to bring about a surrender, after which the siege would be lifted. A siege is temporary, in other words; it happens only for a limited time, until the town or area opens itself to its besiegers. But in Gaza, there is no time limit. Gaza is closed indefinitely (except, of course, to the Israeli military). Israel controls everything about Gaza: its entrances and exits, its ability to trade or sell goods, its import of the most basic goods, the sea outside it, its air space, practically the air it breathes. Again, Israel’s en-closure of Gaza has no military objective. Rather, it is aimed at civilians,

with the goal of using them as a point of pressure on the Hamas regime - in blatant violation of the fundamental international law prohibition against collective punishment and deliberately harming civilians. (Gisha report)

In a similar way, and for similar reasons, the en-closure of Gaza cannot be considered a blockade. For Israel’s aim is not the blockade’s normal aim of depriving an enemy of needed military supplies, as can be seen from the obvious fact that what is kept out of Gaza is not just weapons but a broad range of civilian goods including hospital supplies, “most of which have absolutely no military use or potential for military use.” Neither can the closure be considered “sanctions,” which usually involve an agreement among nations to refuse to trade with the target nation. This doesn’t apply in Gaza’s case, because no other nation (with the possible exception of the U.S.) has joined these sanctions, and more, because numerous other nations have indicated that they want to trade with Gaza, but Israel is using military force to prevent anyone from trading with Gaza, or even, as in the case of the Flotilla—where nine Turkish nationals were killed—bringing it humanitarian supplies.
         The conclusion of the Gisha report, therefore, is simple and even more devastating to the en-closure than its simple illegality due to its purpose of collective punishment. This is because the report adds the fact that “the closure of Gaza is taking place in the context of an occupation.” That is,

Israel continues to control Gaza through substantial control of Gaza's land crossings, total control of Gaza's airspace and territorial waters, control of the Palestinian population registry (including the question, who is a "resident" of Gaza) and control of tax policy and transfer of tax revenues. That control rises to the level of "effective control", the test in international law for the existence of a state of occupation. Gisha's position is that Israel owes obligations to Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank commensurate with the level of control it exercises.

In short, it is not just that the imprisonment of the people of Gaza (a majority of them refugees from Israel’s original seizure of their homes/land in 1948) in a total enclosure is illegal collective punishment; it is also a violation of Israel’s obligations as an occupying power—obligations including “the right to life, the right to freedom of movement, the right to water, the right to health, the right to decent living conditions, protection from hunger and the special duties owed to protect children,” hundreds of whom her military has killed in the latest invasion and assault. These have been Israel’s obligations since 1967, when the occupation began, and they have been violated repeatedly for nearly fifty years. They have been violated even aside from the violations incurred during each of the last three invasions that have now killed nearly 5,000 people in Gaza and wounded thousands more, the vast majority of them civilians.
            So the next time you hear the rationalization about ‘self-defense’ from Israel or from United States officials up to and including the President, you might want to think about the right of the Gazans to defend themselves against their deadly en-closure. You might also want to think about whether, in the absence of United States support—vetoes in the UN Security Council; U.S.military aid amounting to $3 billion each year, plus a recent Congressional vote to send several hundred additional millions to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome defenses—the state of Israel could for so long get away with its blatant depradations against a helpless population, its gross violations of international and humanitarian law, its grim pursuit of its aims without regard for truth or justice or simple human decency.

Lawrence DiStasi