`What we expect from President Obama on Palestine' (+COSATU solidarity message to the people of Gaza)

Joint statement by the Palestine Solidarity Committee (South Africa) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions

January 20, 2009 -- In a few hours, Barack Hussein Obama will be sworn in as president of the United States of America, the largest and most powerful empire in recorded history. His inauguration comes at the end of a long and hard election campaign which rode on his campaign promise of ``Change'', a promise which captured the imagination of his voters and of people across the world. The change that Obama promised -- for the people of the United States and for the rest of the world -- is welcomed for the break that it suggests with the depraved capital-centred and imperialist policies of the George Bush administration.

We are confident that Obama will make some changes. We welcome his commitment to closing down Guantanamo Bay prison, an institution which makes a mockery of international law and human rights, and his commitment to eliminate torture techniques as a form of interrogation. We welcome his commitment to withdrawing troops from Iraq. We welcome his commitment to ensuring that the state, in the US, improves the health care provisions to its people. Our concern, however, is about those things that Obama is determined not to change.

What won't change?

Obama's intention to increase military personnel in Afghanistan and continue the military occupation of the country reflects both a commitment to sustaining an imperial agenda and a disrespect for the lives and choices of people in the Global South.

Obama also owes capitalism big-time for his election victory. During the US elections, the military-industrial complex donated huge sums of money to the various campaigns. Lockheed-Martin, for example, contributed US$10 billion to the campaigns. The largest recipient was Obama. His campaign received 30 per cent of Lockheed-Martin's contribution, $300,000 for his campaign personal use. Such donations have, in the past, ensured that US politicians are continually beholden to the capitalists and warmongers of the US.

Lockheed-Martin is also the manufacturer of the F15 and F16 fighter jets and the Apache helicopters which are supplied to Israel, all of which were used extensively in the past three weeks in the massacre of civilians, the attacks on schools, hospitals, mosques, universities and homes in Gaza. Obama's shocking silence during the savage genocide and his firm support for Israel pointed not to change but to more of the same and is morally reprehensible. Earlier last year, in an unguarded moment, Obama said, ``Nobody's suffering more than the Palestinian people''. Why has he now changed his mind? Why does he now think the suffering Palestinian masses do not deserve his attention?

`Constructive engagement' immoral

We note that in 1981, as South Africans entered a decade of fierce repression by apartheid and brave resistance by our people, Obama was part of a courageous group of students who called for divestment from the apartheid South Africa. He knew that it was imperative to place pressure on a racist regime which shamefully oppressed people. The liberation movements were proscribed as terrorist movements, its leaders were imprisoned, tortured or killed, its guerrillas faced the overwhelming power of the South African army, much like the resistance movements of the Palestinian people. The sanctions movement in which he participated understood that the US policy of so-called "constructive engagement" was immoral and that isolation of the apartheid state was necessary to end the racist oppression.

Many of our leaders, from COSATU, the South African Communist Party (SACP), the African National Congress (ANC0, and others such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, have stressed that occupation, colonialism and apartheid that Israel practices is worse than what we experienced in South Africa.

South Africa was a white state for white people; Israel is a Jewish state for Jewish people. Its non-Jewish, mostly Palestinian, citizens are discriminated against economically and civilly. The dispossessed and ethnically cleansed Palestinian populations, dispersed in the refugee camps of Gaza, the West Bank and other Arab countries, are denied the internationally recognised right of return. Palestinians have their lands and homes taken from them by armed force, are subject to collective punishment, prolonged states of siege, the absolute and deliberately destructive control of their daily movements. Illegal settlements, in contravention of international law, have proliferated across the West Bank, and have divided Palestinian territory into besieged Bantustans, intended to preventing a contiguous Palestinian state.

The Apartheid wall has cut Palestinian farmers from their lands and turned prosperous villages into isolated prisons. Regular Israeli military incursions into Palestinian cities and refugee camps, and bombings from the air, have killed innumerable civilians, many of them children. Since the election of Hamas, in fair and open elections, Israel has subjected the civilian population of Gaza to a prolonged state of siege, designed to suffocate them into submission, depriving them of water and power, medical supplies and food, and access to the outside world. The recent assault on Gaza is a dramatic extension of an insidious policy of extermination of a people that refuses to disappear.

US support

All these acts are crimes against humanity. They constitute one of the most massive, ethnocidal atrocities of modern times. Almost alone among nations, Israel acts in flagrant violation of international law and UN resolutions and does so with impunity, mainly because of uncritical support from successive US administrations. Without the military and economic aid of the United States, which amounts to more than a third of all US foreign aid, Israel could not have mounted its violent offensives against the Palestinians or Lebanon, could not maintain its security apparatus, could not afford the illegal settlements that expand Israel into what remains of Palestinian territory. The United States continues to support Israel to the tune of billions of dollars every year at the expense of US taxpayers and at the expense of its moral standing in the world.

According to his statements and his web page, Obama will continue to do so because "our first and incontrovertible commitment in the Middle East must be to the security of Israel, America's strongest ally in the region". He and his vice-president, Joe Biden, "defend and support the annual foreign aid package that involves both military and economic assistance to Israel", and have advocated increased foreign aid budgets. In doing so, Obama lends his support to a regime no less criminal in its acts and in its policies towards its own minority population and its dispossessed Palestinian neighbours than South Africa was in the 1980s.

Then, it was argued, South Africa was the United States' strongest ally in the region, a bulwark in the war against communism, a prosperous Western-style democracy, if not the only democracy on the continent. It was argued that to destabilise the South African apartheid regime would be to create chaos in southern Africa, unleash a bloodbath, and pave the way for a communist regime. The divestment movement challenged those assumptions, changed the direction of US foreign policy, and placed pressure on the apartheid regime to begin serious negotiations.

No road to peace through injustice

Our message to Obama is that it is time for the US to place similar pressure on Israel. That Israel has been the United States' beneficiary, unchallenged in its war crimes and in its acts of terror, uncontested for its racist laws and illegal occupations, has been unjust and not been in the United States' interests. Change should mean taking the side of justice and of international law.

There is no road to peace through injustice. No solution for the Palestinian and Israeli people is possible until the world and the US hold Israel accountable for its criminal violence and its illegal acts, until the US ceases to supply it with the means to pursue domination and expansion, with arms and warplanes, with finance and diplomatic support. In wake of the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, Obama's recent expression of "deep concern" is not enough. It is time for constructive disengagement from Israel, financial, diplomatic, military. What worked in the case of South Africa, divestment and pressure, may finally work in the Middle East.

Without such justice, there will be no peace.

Solidarity message to the people of Gaza

Presented by COSATU second deputy president Comrade Violet Seboni

January 21, 2009 -- On the occasion of the consignment of humanitarian supplies to the people of Gaza, assembled by the Gift of the Givers, we are delighted to take this opportunity to send a solidarity message to our comrades and friends in Gaza.

First, we would like to express our deepest condolences to the people of Gaza, and especially those who have lost relatives and loved ones in the recent bombardment unleashed on Gaza by the Israeli State. While we join others in condemning these indiscriminate attacks as a crime against humanity, we know that the heartache that must be felt in thousands of households must be immense, and our thoughts are with you
all at this most difficult of times.

However, we also know that the Palestinian people are characterised by resilience. Your fortitude in the face of such savage attacks has inspired many of us over the years. In South Africa we understand the
magnitude of the struggle before you. Our own struggle against apartheid at times seemed insurmountable, but by mobilising the mass of our people in the struggle for democracy, and by building international solidarity links with our friends across the world, the mighty apartheid regime eventually had to give way.

Many of the conditions that you experience today are identical in character to what we experienced under apartheid, and that is why we are proclaiming to the world that Israel is an apartheid state. We are in no doubt that your just struggle will eventually be won, and urge you all to take heart as you continue the

You will be pleased to know that in addition to humanitarian aid, we are also currently mobilising for two national demonstrations of support, on February 6, 2009, to coincide with the opening of our parliament, and
then on March 21 which is Human Rights Day here. In addition we are currently planning to extend a boycott of Israeli goods and all commercial and public linkages, and to persuade our own government to take decisive action. We are also extending our solidarity work to other parts of Africa, in order to build a continental movement in solidarity with the just struggle of the Palestinian people.

We have noted with interest the introduction of ceasefire arrangements, but also realise that it does not, unfortunately change the fact that your land remains occupied by Israel, hence our pledge to continue the
solidarity campaign until the historic demands of the Palestinian peoples have been met and justice is done.

With these few words, we send you our warm and fraternal greetings, and our very best wishes for the future.

In solidarity,

Issued by the Ad Hoc Coalition on Palestine convened by the Congress of
South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the Palestine Solidarity
Campaign (PSC).

Patrick Craven, COSATU national spokesperson.

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Sun, 01/25/2009 - 17:36


January 23, 2009

Noam Chomsky: Obama’s Stance on Gaza Crisis “Approximately the Bush Position”

In a visit to the State Department Thursday, President Obama made his first substantive comments on the Middle East conflict since Israel’s attack on Gaza. Obama first mentioned his commitment to Israel’s security, without affirming his commitment to Palestinian security. He condemned Palestinian rocket attacks on southern Israeli towns, but didn’t criticize the US-backed Israeli bombings of densely populated Gaza. But in a departure from the Bush administration, Obama acknowledged Palestinian suffering and said Gaza’s borders should be opened to aid. We speak with MIT professor, Noam Chomsky. [includes rush transcript]



Noam Chomsky, a professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for over a half-century and written over a hundred books.

JUAN GONZALEZ: President Obama has made his first substantive remarks on the crisis in Gaza since being elected. Obama was speaking at the State Department, flanked by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as he named two key envoys. Retired Senate majority leader George Mitchell, who negotiated a lasting agreement in Northern Ireland, will be Middle East envoy. And Richard Holbrooke, who brokered a deal in the Balkans in the mid-1990s, will be envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In his remarks, Obama backed Israel’s three-week attack on Gaza as a defensive move against Hamas rocket fire but also said he was deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation for Palestinians in Gaza. The twenty-two-day assault killed more than 1,400 Palestinians, most of them civilians, at least a third children. More than 5,500 were injured. Thirteen Israelis were killed over the same period, ten of them soldiers, and four by friendly fire.

This is some of what President Obama had to say.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Let me be clear: America is committed to Israel’s security. And we will always support Israel’s right to defend itself against legitimate threats.

    For years, Hamas has launched thousands of rockets at innocent Israeli citizens. No democracy can tolerate such danger to its people, nor should the international community, and neither should the Palestinian people themselves, whose interests are only set back by acts of terror.

    To be a genuine party to peace, the Quartet has made it clear that Hamas must meet clear conditions: recognize Israel’s right to exist, renounce violence, and abide by past agreements. Going forward, the outline for a durable ceasefire is clear: Hamas must end its rocket fire; Israel will complete the withdrawal of its forces from Gaza; the United States and our partners will support a credible anti-smuggling and interdiction regime, so that Hamas cannot rearm.

    Yesterday I spoke to President Mubarak and expressed my appreciation for the important role that Egypt played in achieving a ceasefire. And we look forward to Egypt’s continued leadership and partnership in laying a foundation for a broader peace through a commitment to end smuggling from within its borders.

    Now, just as the terror of rocket fire aimed at innocent Israelis is intolerable, so, too, is a future without hope for the Palestinians. I was deeply concerned by the loss of Palestinian and Israeli life in recent days and by the substantial suffering and humanitarian needs in Gaza. Our hearts go out to Palestinian civilians who are in need of immediate food, clean water and basic medical care, and who’ve faced suffocating poverty for far too long.

    Now we must extend a hand of opportunity to those who seek peace. As part of a lasting ceasefire, Gaza’s border crossings should be open to allow the flow of aid and commerce, with an appropriate monitoring regime, with the international and Palestinian Authority participating. Relief efforts must be able to reach innocent Palestinians who depend on them. The United States will fully support an international donor’s conference to seek short-term humanitarian assistance and long-term reconstruction for the Palestinian economy. This assistance will be provided to and guided by the Palestinian Authority.

    Lasting peace requires more than a long ceasefire, and that’s why I will sustain an active commitment to seek two states living side by side in peace and security. Senator Mitchell will carry forward this commitment, as well as the effort to help Israel reach a broader peace with the Arab world that recognizes its rightful place in the community of nations.

    I should add that the Arab peace initiative contains constructive elements that could help advance these efforts. Now is the time for
    Arab states to act on the initiative’s promise by supporting the
    Palestinian government under President Abbas and Prime Minister
    Fayyad, taking steps towards normalizing relations with Israel, and by standing up to extremism that threatens us all. Jordan’s constructive role in training Palestinian security forces and nurturing its relations with Israel provide a model for these efforts. And going forward, we must make it clear to all countries in the region that external support for terrorist organizations must stop.

AMY GOODMAN: President Obama, speaking at the State Department yesterday. A Hamas spokesperson told Al Jazeera television Obama’s position toward the Palestinians doesn’t represent a change. Osama Hamdan said, “I think this is an unfortunate start for President Obama in the region and the Middle East issue. And it looks like the next four years, if it continues with the same tone, will be a total failure.”

Well, for more on this, we are joined by Noam Chomsky, professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for over half-a-century. He has written over a hundred books, including Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Noam.

NOAM CHOMSKY: Glad to be with you again.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s good to have you with us. Well, let’s start off by your response to President Obama’s statement and whether you think it represents a change.

NOAM CHOMSKY: It’s approximately the Bush position. He began by saying that Israel, like any democracy, has a right to defend itself. That’s true, but there’s a gap in the reasoning. It has a right to defend itself. It doesn’t follow that it has a right to defend itself by force. So we might agree, say, that, you know, the British army in the United States in the colonies in 1776 had a right to defend itself from the terror of George Washington’s armies, which was quite real, but it didn’t follow they had a right to defend themselves by force, because they had no right to be here. So, yes, they had a right to defend themselves, and they had a way to do it—namely, leave. Same with the Nazis defending themselves against the terror of the partisans. They have no right to do it by force. In the case of Israel, it’s exactly the same. They have a right to defend themselves, and they can easily do it. One, in a narrow sense, they could have done it by accepting the ceasefire that Hamas proposed right before the invasion—I won’t go through the details—a ceasefire that had been in place and that Israel violated and broke.

But in a broader sense—and this is a crucial omission in everything Obama said, and if you know who his advisers are, you understand why—Israel can defend itself by stopping its crimes. Gaza and the West Bank are a unit. Israel, with US backing, is carrying out constant crimes, not only in Gaza, but also in the West Bank, where it is moving systematically with US support to take over the parts of the West Bank that it wants and to leave Palestinians isolated in unviable cantons, Bantustans, as Sharon called them. Well, stop those crimes, and resistance to them will stop.

Now, Israel has been able pretty much to stop resistance in the Occupied Territories, thanks in large part to the training that Obama praised by Jordan, of course with US funding and monitoring control. So, yes, they’ve managed to. They, in fact, have been suppressing demonstrations, even demonstrations, peaceful demonstrations, that called for support for the people of Gaza. They have carried out lots of arrests. In fact, they’re a collaborationist force, which supports the US and Israel in their effort to take over the West Bank.

Now, that’s what Obama—if Israel—there’s no question that all of these acts are in total violation of the foundations of international humanitarian law. Israel knows it. Their own advisers have told each other—legal advisers have explained that to them back in ’67. The World Court ruled on it. So it’s all total criminality. But they want to be able to persist without any objection. And that’s the thrust of Obama’s remarks. Not a single word about US-backed Israeli crimes, settlement development, cantonization, a takeover in the West Bank. Rather, everyone should be quiet and let the United States and Israel continue with it.

He spoke about the constructive steps of the peace—of the Arab peace agreement very selectively. He said they should move forward towards normalization of relations with Israel. But that wasn’t the main theme of the Arab League peace proposal. It was that there should be a two-state settlement, which the US blocks. I mean, he said some words about a two-state settlement, but not where or when or how or anything else. He said nothing about the core of the problem: the US-backed criminal activities both in Gaza, which they attacked at will, and crucially in the West Bank. That’s the core of the problem.

And you can understand it when you look at his advisers. So, say, Dennis Ross wrote an 800-page book about—in which he blamed Arafat for everything that’s happening—barely mentions the word “settlement” over—which was increasing steadily during the period when he was Clinton’s adviser, in fact peaked, a sharp increase in Clinton’s last year, not a word about it.

So the thrust of his remarks, Obama’s remarks, is that Israel has a right to defend itself by force, even though it has peaceful means to defend itself, that the Arabs must—states must move constructively to normalize relations with Israel, but very carefully omitting the main part of their proposal was that Israel, which is Israel and the United States, should join the overwhelming international consensus for a two-state settlement. That’s missing.

AMY GOODMAN: Noam, we have to break, but we’re going to come back to this discussion. Noam Chomsky, joining us from Massachusetts, a professor of linguistics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has written many books on the Middle East. We’ll be back with him in a moment.


AMY GOODMAN: Our guest is Professor Noam Chomsky, author of many books on the Middle East. Among his books are Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy, also Hegemony or Survival. Juan?

JUAN GONZALEZ: Noam Chomsky, I’d like to ask you about the enormous civilian casualties that have shocked the entire world in this last Israeli offensive. The Israelis claim, on the one hand, that it’s the unfortunate result of Hamas hiding among the civilian population, but you’ve said in a recent analysis that this has been Israeli policy almost from the founding of the state, the attack on civilian populations. Could you explain?

NOAM CHOMSKY: They say so. I was just quoting the chief of staff—this is thirty years ago, virtually no Palestinian terrorism in Israel, virtually. He said, “Our policy has been to attack civilians.” And the reason was explained—you know, villages, towns, so on. And it was explained by Abba Eban, the distinguished statesman, who said, “Yes, that’s what we’ve done, and we did it for a good reason. There was a rational prospect that if we attack the civilian population and cause it enough pain, they will press for a,” what he called, “a cessation of hostilities.” That’s a euphemism meaning cessation of resistance against Israel’s takeover of the—moves which were going on at the time to take over the Occupied Territories. So, sure, if they—“We’ll kill enough of them, so that they’ll press for quiet to permit us to continue what we’re doing.”

Actually, you know, Obama today didn’t put it in those words, but the meaning is approximately the same. That’s the meaning of his silence over the core issue of settling and takeover of the Occupied Territories and eliminating the possibility for any Palestinian meaningful independence, omission of this. But Eban [inaudible], who I was quoting, chief of staff, would have also said, you know, “And my heart bleeds for the civilians who are suffering. But what can we do? We have to pursue the rational prospect that if we cause them enough pain, they’ll call off any opposition to our takeover of their lands and resources.” But it was—I mean, I was just quoting it. They said it very frankly. That was thirty years ago, and there’s plenty more beside that.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And Obama’s call to open up Gaza, to end the blockade of Gaza on the Israelis, do you see that as any kind of a meaningful turn?

NOAM CHOMSKY: It would—those are nice words. And if he did it, that would be fine. But there isn’t any indication that he means it. In fact, this morning on the—Israel has already made it clear, stated explicitly, its foreign minister Tzipi Livni, that they’re not going to live up to the ceasefire until Gaza returns to them a captured soldier. Well, that avoids the fact that Israel is far in the lead, not in capturing soldiers, but in kidnapping civilians, hijacking ships, bringing them to Israel as hostages. In fact, one day before this Israeli soldier was captured at the border, Israeli forces entered Gaza and kidnapped two civilians and took them to Israel, where they were hidden away in the prison system sometime. So, and in fact, according to reports I just received from Israel—I can’t give you a source—they say that the radio news this morning has been reporting steadily that Amos Gilad, who’s the go-between between Israel and Egypt, notified the Egyptians that Israel is not interested in a ceasefire agreement, but rather an arrangement to stop the missiles and to free Gilad Shalit. OK, I presume that will be in the newspapers later. So, yes, it’s nice to say, “Let’s open the borders,” but not avoiding the conditions that are imposed, in fact, not even mentioning the fact that the borders have been closed for years because the United States has backed Israeli closure of them.

And again, his main point, which he started with, Israel, like any democracy, has a right to defend itself. That is true, but deceitful, because it has a right to defend itself, but not by force, especially when there are peaceful options that are completely open, the narrow one being a ceasefire, which the US and Israel would observe for the first time, and the second and the deeper one, by ending the crimes in the Occupied Territories.

AMY GOODMAN: Noam Chomsky, the timing of all of this—can you talk about Election Day here in the United States, November 4th, what exactly happened there, and then the fact that it went from Election Day to three days before the inauguration of Barack Obama, Israel’s announcement of the unilateral ceasefire?

NOAM CHOMSKY: On Election Day, November 4th, Israel violated—violently violated a ceasefire that had held, free will, in fact, a sharp reduction in rockets, probably not even from Hamas. It had been established in June or July. On November 4th, Election Day, presumably because the attention was shifted elsewhere, Israeli forces entered Gaza, killed half a dozen, what they call, militants, and the pretext was they found a tunnel in Gaza. Well, you know, from a military point of view, that’s an absurdity. If there was a tunnel and if it ever reached the Israeli border, they’d stop it right there. So this was obviously just a way to break the ceasefire, kill a couple of Hamas militants and ensure that the conflict would go on.

As for the bombing, it was very carefully timed. And, in fact, they’ve told us this. They’ve told us it was meticulously timed for months before the invasion, a very target-selected timing, everything. It began on a Saturday, timed at right before noon, when children were leaving schools, people milling in the streets of the densely populated city, perhaps the most densely in the world. That’s when it began. They killed a couple hundred people in the first few minutes.

And it ended—it was timed to end right before the inauguration. Now, presumably the reason was—Obama had kept silent about the atrocities and the killings, a horrible, horrible story, which you can see on Al Jazeera and little bits of it here. He had kept silent on the pretext that there’s only one president. Well, on Inauguration Day, that goes. There’s two—there’s a new president. And Israel surely wanted to make it—to ensure that he would not be in a position where he would have to say something about the ongoing atrocities. So they terminated it, probably temporarily, right before the inauguration. And then he could go on with what we heard today.

AMY GOODMAN: Noam Chomsky, I want to turn for a second to George Mitchell, who President Obama has tapped as the special envoy to the Middle East. Mitchell is the retired Senate majority leader, best known for helping to broker Northern Ireland’s landmark Good Friday Agreement in 1998, which ended decades of bloody conflict. In 2000, Mitchell was appointed by former president Bill Clinton to head a committee investigating ongoing Israeli-Palestinian violence. Sallai Meridor, Israel’s ambassador to Washington, welcomed Obama’s appointment of Mitchell, saying Israel holds him in, quote, "high regard.” This is some of what George Mitchell had to say yesterday.

    GEORGE MITCHELL: The Secretary of State has just talked about our long-term objective, and the President himself has said that his administration—and I quote—“will make a sustained push, working with Israelis and Palestinians to achieve the goal of two states: a Jewish state in Israel and a Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security.”

    This effort must be determined, persevering and patient. It must be backed up by political capital, economic resources, and focused attention at the highest levels of our government. And it must be firmly rooted in a shared vision of a peaceful future by the people who live in the region. At the direction of the President and the Secretary of State, and in pursuit of the President’s policies, I pledge my full effort in the search for peace and stability in the Middle East.

AMY GOODMAN: Obama’s new Middle East envoy, former senator George Mitchell. Noam Chomsky, your response?

NOAM CHOMSKY: In Ireland, Mitchell did quite a commendable job. But notice that in Ireland, there was an objective, and he helped realize that objective: peaceful reconciliation. Britain took into account for the first time the grievances of the population, and the terror stopped. OK? And the terror was quite real.

In Israel, again, you have to look at what he avoided. He says, “Yes, we want to have a Palestinian state.” Where? OK? He said not a word about—lots of pleasantries about everyone should live in peace, and so on, but where is the Palestinian state? Nothing said about the US-backed actions continuing every day, which are undermining any possibility for a viable Palestinian state: the takeover of the territory; the annexation wall, which is what it is; the takeover of the Jordan Valley; the salients that cut through the West Bank and effectively trisect it; the hundreds of mostly arbitrary checkpoints designed to make Palestinian life impossible—all going on, not a word about them.

So, OK, we can have—in fact, you know, the first Israeli government to talk about a Palestinian state, to even mention the words, was the ultra right-wing Netanyahu government that came in 1996. They were asked, “Could Palestinians have a state?” Peres, who had preceded them, said, “No, never.” And Netanyahu’s spokesman said, “Yeah, the fragments of territory that we leave to them, they can call it a state if they want. Or they can call it fried chicken.” Well, that’s basically the attitude.

And Mitchell had nothing to say about it. He carefully avoided what he knows for certain is the core problem: the illegal, totally illegal, the criminal US-backed actions, which are systematically taking over the West Bank, just as they did under Clinton, and are undermining the possibility for a viable state.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Noam Chomsky, for Americans who want to figure out how to move now with the new Obama administration to end these atrocities that are occurring in the Middle East, what do you suggest? And also, what’s your viewpoint of the divestment movement? Many young people are urging something similar to South Africa, to begin pressing increasingly for divestment from Israel.

NOAM CHOMSKY: The position that people who are interested in peace ought to take is very straightforward. I mean, a majority of the American population, considerable majority, already agree with the full Arab League peace plan, not the little sliver of it that Obama mentioned. The peace plan calls for a two-state settlement on the international border, maybe with minor modifications. That’s an overwhelming national consensus. The Hamas supports it. Iran has said, you know, they’ll go along with it.

AMY GOODMAN: Noam, we only have thirty seconds.

NOAM CHOMSKY: OK, so we should push for that.

Is divestment a proper tactic? Well, you know, if you look back at South Africa, divestment became a proper tactic after years, decades of education and organizing, to the point where Congress was legislating against trade, corporations were pulling out, and so on. That’s what’s missing: the education and organizing which makes it an understandable move. And, in fact, if we ever got to that point, you wouldn’t even need it, because the US could be brought in line with international opinion.

AMY GOODMAN: Noam Chomsky, we want to thank you very much for being with us. And from all of us at Democracy Now!, condolences on the death of Carol, your wife of more than half a century.

NOAM CHOMSKY: Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: Thanks, Noam. Noam Chomsky, professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Submitted by Gazza4Gaza (not verified) on Sun, 01/25/2009 - 17:50


Robert Fisk: So far, Obama's missed the point on Gaza...

Thursday, 22 January 2009

It would have helped if Obama had the courage to talk about what everyone in the Middle East was talking about. No, it wasn't the US withdrawal from Iraq. They knew about that. They expected the beginning of the end of Guantanamo and the probable appointment of George Mitchell as a Middle East envoy was the least that was expected. Of course, Obama did refer to "slaughtered innocents", but these were not quite the "slaughtered innocents" the Arabs had in mind.

There was the phone call yesterday to Mahmoud Abbas. Maybe Obama thinks he's the leader of the Palestinians, but as every Arab knows, except perhaps Mr Abbas, he is the leader of a ghost government, a near-corpse only kept alive with the blood transfusion of international support and the "full partnership" Obama has apparently offered him, whatever "full" means. And it was no surprise to anyone that Obama also made the obligatory call to the Israelis.

But for the people of the Middle East, the absence of the word "Gaza" - indeed, the word "Israel" as well - was the dark shadow over Obama's inaugural address. Didn't he care? Was he frightened? Did Obama's young speech-writer not realise that talking about black rights - why a black man's father might not have been served in a restaurant 60 years ago - would concentrate Arab minds on the fate of a people who gained the vote only three years ago but were then punished because they voted for the wrong people? It wasn't a question of the elephant in the china shop. It was the sheer amount of corpses heaped up on the floor of the china shop.

Sure, it's easy to be cynical. Arab rhetoric has something in common with Obama's clichés: "hard work and honesty, courage and fair play ... loyalty and patriotism". But however much distance the new President put between himself and the vicious regime he was replacing, 9/11 still hung like a cloud over New York. We had to remember "the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke". Indeed, for Arabs, the "our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred" was pure Bush; the one reference to "terror", the old Bush and Israeli fear word, was a worrying sign that the new White House still hasn't got the message. Hence we had Obama, apparently talking about Islamist groups such as the Taliban who were "slaughtering innocents" but who "cannot outlast us". As for those in the speech who are corrupt and who "silence dissent", presumably intended to be the Iranian government, most Arabs would associate this habit with President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt (who also, of course, received a phone call from Obama yesterday), King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and a host of other autocrats and head-choppers who are supposed to be America's friends in the Middle East.

Hanan Ashrawi got it right. The changes in the Middle East - justice for the Palestinians, security for the Palestinians as well as for the Israelis, an end to the illegal building of settlements for Jews and Jews only on Arab land, an end to all violence, not just the Arab variety - had to be "immediate" she said, at once. But if the gentle George Mitchell's appointment was meant to answer this demand, the inaugural speech, a real "B-minus" in the Middle East, did not.

The friendly message to Muslims, "a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect", simply did not address the pictures of the Gaza bloodbath at which the world has been staring in outrage. Yes, the Arabs and many other Muslim nations, and, of course, most of the world, can rejoice that the awful Bush has gone. So, too, Guantanamo. But will Bush's torturers and Rumsfeld's torturers be punished? Or quietly promoted to a job where they don't have to use water and cloths, and listen to men screaming?

Sure, give the man a chance. Maybe George Mitchell will talk to Hamas - he's just the man to try - but what will the old failures such as Denis Ross have to say, and Rahm Emanuel and, indeed, Robert Gates and Hillary Clinton? More a sermon than an Obama inaugural, even the Palestinians in Damascus spotted the absence of those two words: Palestine and Israel. So hot to touch they were, and on a freezing Washington day, Obama wasn't even wearing gloves.

Submitted by TheAZCowBoy (not verified) on Fri, 01/30/2009 - 20:31


As the foreign media continues to tell their American readers (what the US media hides from us) and shows the photos of America's wholesale massacres that are very disturbing. In Afghanistan USAF B-1B's are dropping their 50,000 lb. bombloads on sleepy little mud hut villages massacuring innocent men, women and children alike in their search for Taliban terrorists. The US military spoksmen lie and lie and then they lie some more regarding the murder of thousands of innocent civilians who are merely farmers, herders and cultivators of crops.

And, why all this murder and mayhem? To bring democracy to these countries? Yeaah right! We heard these same lies in Iraq and America's genocide machine didn't cease the killing until the US had gotten control of the billions of barrels of oil that lay under the Iraqi sands of the Middle East.

In Afghanistan its all about UNOCAL and its long (and longer) anticipated oil/gas line bringing Azerbaijani/Caspian sea oil and gas to the EU. In Georgia, with increasingly authoritarian madman and CIA 'puppet' Mikail Saakashvilli, its the same story - gas and oil lines and in Kosovo, the story repeats itself. The US/UK has helped to 'rape 'Kosovo' from Serbia to meet the demands of yet one more oil/gas line to the EU.

In Palestine, the story is about Palestinian land and its aquifer resources that the ZioNAZI's covet and an undersea gas deposit laying within Palestines legal discription that the crooks of BP (British) and Israel are trying to exploit (reads: steal) for the benefit of the 'energy short' Jewish bandits - and of course Egypt who would liquify the gas and ship it to the EU and Israel - with Palestine (again) getting screwed by the Jews with a 10% share of the net/net profits.

Obama will rue the day he sent 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan because the casualties will make Iraq look like the traffic deaths we see on the LA freeway - misiscule compared to what awaits us in Afghanistan. And, well we should lose many soldiers. The Afghan's have had to deal with invaders and oppressors since the 13th century and they are genetically predisposed to fight and fight and then fight some more. While the US/NATO killers with their B-1B bombers, remote predators and Apache helicopters seem to have a distinct advantage we must remember - them people are fighting for 'their' country and we are the aggressors. Never forget, 'It's not the size of the dog in the fight - It's the size of the fight in the dog,' and America has just about had it with those coffins coming into Dover AFB at 3:00am to avoid the negative publicity.

So, the prediction is that the Palestinains will find the doorway to freedon now that we have Obama in the Whitehouse, and by the end of 2009, the American people will be clamoring for a withdrawal from Afghanistan as the blood bath begins to favor the Taliban.

I worry about you Obama (Like the Bushwacker, you have too many Israel 1ster ZioNAZI Jews in your cabal) but, I believe that you are your own man and no 'idiot savant' like the last jerk that 'played, commander-in-grief in the oval office,' to the detrement of America 'and the world.'

Good luck, Great Satan!
(You're gonna need it, hehehe)

Tombstone, AZ.

'Kill 'em all Hezbollah - Let their G-d sort them out!'