Ken Loach, the acclaimed British director and winner of this year's Palme d'Or at Cannes Film Festival, an artist who is known for his politically and
socially engaged films, has declared in a personal statement his support of " the call by Palestinian film-makers, artists and others  to boycott state sponsored Israeli cultural institutions and urge[s] others to join
their campaign". He anounced that he would not take part in the " Haifa Film Festival or any other such occasions," a clear statement of his intent to boycott Israeli film festivals, and an acknowledgment of the fact that
"Palestinians are driven to call for this boycott after forty years of the occupation of their land, destruction of their homes and the kidnapping and murder of their civilians".
For more information on the cultural boycott:
Greece pulls out of Israeli Film Festival:
Locarno Film Festival drops Israeli Government Sponsorship:
I support the call by Palestinian film-makers, artists and others to boycott
state sponsored Israeli cultural institutions and urge others to join their campaign.
Palestinians are driven to call for this boycott after forty years of the occupation
of their land, destruction of their homes and the kidnapping and murder of their civilians.
They have no immediate hope that this oppression will end.
As British citizens we have to acknowledge our own responsibility. We must condemn
the British and US governments for supporting and arming Israel. We must also oppose
the terrorist activities of the British and US governments in pursuing their illegal wars
However, it is impossible to ignore the appeals of Palestinian comrades. Consequently,
I would decline any invitation to the Haifa Film Festival or other such occasions. 
There is increasing evidence that Israel instigated a disastrous war on Lebanon largely at the behest of the United States. The Bush administration was set on crippling Hezbollah, the radical Shiite political movement that maintains a sizable block of seats in the Lebanese parliament. Taking advantage of the country's democratic opening after the forced departure of Syrian troops last year, Hezbollah defied U.S. efforts to democratize the region on American terms. The populist party's unwillingness to disarm its militia as required by UN resolution -- and the inability of the pro-Western Lebanese government to force them to do so -- led the Bush administration to push Israel to take military action.
In his May 23 summit with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, President George W. Bush offered full U.S. support for Israel to attack Lebanon as soon as possible. Seymour Hersh, in the August 21 New Yorker, quotes a Pentagon consultant on the Bush administration's longstanding desire to strike "a preemptive blow against Hezbollah." The consultant added, "It was our intent to have Hezbollah diminished, and now we have someone else doing it."
Israel was a willing partner. Although numerous Israeli press reports indicate that some Israeli officials, including top military officials, are furious at Bush for pushing Olmert into war, the Israeli government had been planning the attack since 2004. According to a July 21 article in the San Francisco Chronicle, Israel had briefed U.S. officials with details of the plans, including PowerPoint presentations, in what the newspaper described as "revealing detail." Political science professor Gerald Steinberg of Bar-Ilan University told the Chronicle that "[O]f all of Israel's wars since 1948, this was the one for which Israel was most prepared. In a sense, the preparation began in May 2000, immediately after the Israeli withdrawal ..."
Despite these preparations, the Bush administration and congressional leaders of both parties tried to present the devastating attacks, which took as many as 800 civilian lives, as a spontaneous reaction to Hezbollah's provocative July 12 attack on an Israeli border post and its seizure of two soldiers.
Some reports have indicated that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was less sanguine than Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, or President Bush about the proposed Israeli military offensive. Rumsfeld apparently believed that Israel should focus less on bombing and more on ground operations, despite the dramatically higher Israeli casualties that would result. Still, Hersh quotes a former senior intelligence official as saying that Rumsfeld was "delighted that Israel is our stalking horse."
The recent announcement of a shaky ceasefire may represent only a minor speed bump in U.S. plans. After all, the attack on Hezbollah was only the first stage of what the Bush administration apparently hopes will be a joint redrawing of the Middle East map.
On July 30, the Jerusalem Post reported that President Bush pushed Israel to expand the war beyond Lebanon and attack Syria. Israeli officials apparently found the idea "nuts."
This idea was not exactly secret. In support of the Israeli offensive, the office of the White House Press Secretary released a list of talking points that included reference to a Los Angeles Times op-ed by Max Boot, senior fellow for national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. The article, "It's Time to Let the Israelis Take Off the Gloves," urges an Israeli attack against Syria. "Israel needs to hit the Assad regime. Hard," argues Boot. "If it does, it will be doing Washington's dirty work."
Iran, too, was in the administration's sights. T he Israeli attack on Lebanon, according to Seymour Hersh, was to "serve as a prelude to a potential American preemptive attack to destroy Iran's nuclear installations." But first, the Bush administration needed to get rid of Hezbollah's capacity to retaliate against Israel in the event of a U.S. strike on Iran, which apparently prompted Hezbollah's buildup of Iranian-supplied missiles in the first place.
Starting this spring, according to Hersh, the White House ordered top planners from the U.S. air force to consult with their Israeli counterparts on a war plan against Iran that incorporated an Israeli pre-emptive strike against Hezbollah. Lieutenant General Dan Halutz, the chief of staff of the Israeli military and principal architect of the war on Lebanon, worked with U.S. officials on contingency planning for an air war with Iran.
The Bush administration's larger goal apparently has been to form an alliance of pro-Western Sunni Arab dictatorships -- primarily Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan -- against a growing Shiite militancy exemplified by Hezbollah and Iran and, to a lesser extent, post-Saddam Iraq. Though these Sunni regimes initially spoke out against Hezbollah's provocative capture of the two Israeli soldiers that prompted the Israeli attacks, popular opposition within these countries to the ferocity of the Israeli assault led them to rally solidly against the U.S.-backed war on Lebanon.
In the years prior to Israel's July 12 bombing of Lebanese cities, Hezbollah had become less and less of a threat. It had not killed any Israeli civilians for more than a decade (with the exception of one accidental fatality in 2003 caused by an anti-aircraft missile fired at an Israeli plane that violated Lebanese airspace). Investigations by the Congressional Research Service, the State Department, and independent think tanks failed to identify any major act of terrorism by Hezbollah for over a dozen years.
Prior to the attack, Hezbollah's militia had dwindled to about 1000 men under arms -- this number tripled after July 12 when reserves were called up -- and a national dialogue was going on between Hezbollah and the government of pro-Western prime minister Fuad Siniora regarding disarmament. The majority of Lebanese opposed Hezbollah, both its reactionary fundamentalist social agenda as well as its insistence on maintaining an armed presence independent of the country's elected government. Thanks to the U.S.-backed Israeli attacks on Lebanon's civilian infrastructure, however, support for Hezbollah, according to polls, has grown to more than 80%, even within the Sunni Muslim and Christian communities.
Even Richard Armitage, a leading hawk and deputy secretary of state under President Bush during his first term, noted that "[T]he only thing that the bombing has achieved so far is to unite the population against the Israelis."
Despite U.S. encouragement that Israel continue the war, Israel's right-wing prime minister has come under increasing criticism at home, with polls from the Haaretz newspaper indicating that only 39% of Israelis would support the planned expansion of the ground offensive. Meretz Party Knesset member Ran Cohen, writing in the Jerusalem Post, called earlier moves to expand the ground offensive "a wretched decision." Yariv Oppenheimer, general director of Peace Now, which had earlier muted its criticism of the attacks on Lebanon, noted that "[T]he war has spiraled out of control and the government is ignoring the political options available."
Not only have a growing number of Israelis acknowledged that the war has been a disaster for Israel, there is growing recognition of U.S. responsibility for getting them into that mess. A July 23 article in Haaretz about an anti-war demonstration in Tel Aviv noted that "this was a distinctly anti-American protest" that included "chants of 'We will not die and kill in the service of the United States,' and slogans condemning President George W. Bush."
Members of Congress who have unconditionally backed Israel's attacks on Lebanon have responded to constituent outrage by claiming they were simply defending Israel's legitimate interests. In supporting the Bush administration, however, they have defended policies that cynically use Israel to advance the administration's militarist agenda.
One of the more unsettling aspects of the broad support in Washington for the use of Israel as U.S. proxy in the Middle East is how closely it corresponds to historic anti-Semitism. In past centuries, the ruling elite of European countries would, in return for granting limited religious and cultural autonomy, established certain individuals in the Jewish community as the visible agents of the oppressive social order, such as tax collectors and moneylenders. When the population threatened to rise up against the ruling elite, the rulers could then blame the Jews, channeling the wrath of an exploited people against convenient scapegoats. The resulting pogroms and waves of repression took place throughout the Jewish Diaspora.
Zionists hoped to break this cycle by creating a Jewish nation-state where Jews would no longer be dependent on the ruling elite of a given country. The tragic irony is that, by using Israel to wage proxy war to promote U.S. hegemony in the region, this cycle is being perpetuated on a global scale. This latest orgy of American-inspired Israeli violence has led to a dangerous upsurge in anti-Semitism in the Middle East and throughout the world. In the United States, many critics of U.S. policy are blaming "the Zionist lobby" for U.S. support for Israel's attacks on Lebanon rather than the Bush administration and its bipartisan congressional allies who encouraged Israel to wage war on Lebanon in the first place.
Unfortunately, most anti-war protests in major U.S. cities have targeted the Israeli consulate rather than U.S. government buildings. By contrast, during the 1980s, protests against the U.S.-backed violence in El Salvador rarely targeted Salvadoran consulates, but instead more appropriately took place outside federal offices and arms depots, recognizing that the violence would not be taking place without U.S. weapons and support.
Israel is no banana republic. Even those like Hersh who recognize the key role of the Bush administration in goading Israel to attack Lebanon emphasize that rightist elements within Israel had their own reasons, independent of Washington, to pursue the conflict.
Still, given Israel's enormous military, economic, and political dependence on the United States, this latest war on Lebanon could not have taken place without a green light from Washington. President Jimmy Carter, for example, was able to put a halt to Israel's 1978 invasion of Lebanon within days and force the Israeli army to withdraw from the south bank of the Litani River to a narrow strip just north of the Israeli border. By contrast, the Bush administration and an overwhelming bipartisan majority of Congress clearly believed it was in the U.S. interest for Israel to pursue Washington's "dirty work" for an indefinite period, regardless of its negative implications for Israel's legitimate security interests.
Given the lack of success of the Israeli military campaign, U.S. planners are likely having second thoughts about the ease with which a U.S.-led bombing campaign could achieve victory over Iran. However, the propensity of the Bush administration to ignore historical lessons should not be underestimated. A former senior intelligence official told Hersh that "[T]here is no way that Rumsfeld and Cheney will draw the right conclusion about this. When the smoke clears, they'll say it was a success, and they'll draw reinforcement for their plan to attack Iran." Indeed, on August 14, President Bush declared that Israel had achieved "victory" in its fight against Hezbollah.
The outspoken support of congressional Democrats for Bush's policies and Israel's war on Lebanon portends similar support should the United States ignore history and common sense and attack Iran anyway. Both the Senate and House, in backing administration policy, claimed that, contrary to the broad consensus of international opinion, Israel's military actions were consistent with international law and the UN Charter. By this logic, if Israel's wanton destruction of a small democratic country's civilian infrastructure because of a minor border incident instigated by members of a 3000-man militia of a minority party is a legitimate act of self-defense, surely a similar U.S. attack against Iran -- a much larger country with a sizable armed force whose hard-line government might be developing nuclear weapons -- could also be seen as a legitimate act of self-defense.
Ironically, political action committees sponsored by liberal groups such as MoveOn.org, Peace Action, and Act for Change continue to support the election or re-election of Congressional candidates who have voiced support for Washington's proxy war against Lebanon despite massive Israeli violations of international humanitarian law, its serving as a trial run for a U.S. war against Iran, and its being against Israel's legitimate self-interests. And, unfortunately, on the other extreme, some of the more outspoken elements that have opposed America's proxy war against Lebanon frankly do not have Israel's best interest in mind.
As a result, without a dramatic increase in protests by those who see Washington's cynical use of Israel as bad for virtually everyone, there is little chance this dangerous and immoral policy can be reversed.
Stephen Zunes is Middle East editor for the Foreign Policy In Focus Project. He is a professor of Politics and the author of Tinderbox: U.S. Middle East Policy and the Roots of Terrorism (Common Courage Press, 2003).
by Edward S. Herman
Michael Ignatieff, now a Canadian MP and contender for a top leadership position in the Liberal Party, was slow in responding to the Israeli war on Lebanon. He told the Canadian media on August 1st that “I’ve been following it minutely from the beginning and watching it unfold and figuring out when was the time when a statement would be important and relevant.” (Linda Diebel, “Rae criticizes liberal rival for delay,” Toronto Star, August 2, 2006). He considered it necessary to give Israel enough time “to send Hezbollah a very clear message” that kidnapping soldiers and firing rockets on Israel will not be tolerated. Of course, Israel was killing mainly civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure while sending this message, and there was the question of whether the world shouldn’t be sending Israel the message that aggression and the commission of war crimes under the pretense of “self defense” is not permissible, but like George Bush and Condoleezza Rice, for Ignatieff the Israeli message was crucial, not any Lebanese civilian casualties or Israeli law violations.
Michael Ignatieff is a skilled trimmer, who has adjusted his principles and thoughts to the demands of the U.S. and Canadian power elite, and advanced accordingly—from academia to preferred commentator on human rights and other political issues in the U.S. mainstream media, and on to becoming a member of the Canadian parliament. He was for some years Carr Professor of Human Rights at Harvard University, and for several years was a regular contributor to the New York Times Magazine. He has always found that what the United States has been doing in the international arena is good—well-intentioned, necessary for international well-being, and inevitable, though occasionally flawed in execution. He was a strong supporter of the U.S. wars in Yugoslavia, objecting mainly to the sluggishness in the application of force. He approved the invasion-occupation of Iraq and has supported the use of torture in the abstract as well as specifically in the Bush administration’s so-called “war on terror,” and as noted he has recently been very understanding of Israel’s need to defend itself against the threats of Hezbollah and its other enemies.
One would have thought it might be problematical for a professor of human rights to vigorously support two wars (Kosovo, Iraq) carried out in violation of the UN Charter and hence “supreme crimes” in the view of the judges at Nuremberg. These two wars of aggression also resulted in serial war crimes, such as the regular bombing of civilian sites and the use of illegal weapons such as cluster bombs, napalm, phosphorus and depleted uranium, that should have been anathema to a devotee of human rights. But these matters didn’t bother Ignatieff, who was troubled only by the lag in initiation of NATO violence in the Balkans and the ineffectiveness and mismanagement of the occupation of Iraq. Similarly, Israel’s long-term ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in the occupied territories, and massive human rights violations in the process, have not troubled him in the least, although he is bothered by the failure to bring “stability” and the absence of a quiet occupation and dispossession process.
He gets away with this support for supreme crimes and systematic violations of human rights because he does this only as regards crimes and abuses carried out by the United States and its allies and clients. He is quite passionate about the crimes or alleged crimes of target states such as Yugoslavia and Saddam’s Iraq. As this bias parallels and therefore supports official positions, he is treated well by the Western elite and their instruments such as Harvard University and the New York Times. He can make egregious errors and unverifiable and dubious claims, accept official claims as unquestionably true, and apply double standards across the board, without cost. Treating him well means not only giving him support and access, it also means letting him get away with intellectual murder.
Ignatieff came into prominence during the Balkan wars, where he joined forces with a number of other liberal intellectuals and journalists who took on the cause of Alija Izetbegovic--author of the Islamic Declaration and close ally of Osama bin Laden--and the Bosnian Muslims, and pressed strongly for military intervention on their behalf.1 Ignatieff’s position also aligned him with the Clinton administration, and he established “close relations” with Richard Holbrooke, General Wesley Clark and former Yugoslav Tribunal chief prosecutor Louise Arbour.2 These close links with officials with an axe to grind might be thought to compromise a journalist and human rights activist, but it doesn’t work that way in the United States—as with “embedded” journalists, such links enhance a reporter’s authority. It is only in enemy states that official connections and embedding compromise journalistic integrity, as by assumption our officials don’t lie and manipulate, and/or the linkages do not cause journalists to lose their critical capacity, whereas elsewhere governments lie and embedded journalists become propaganda agents of the state.3
One revealing illustration of Ignatieff’s integration into the propaganda apparatus of the war-making establishment was his November 2, 1999 op-ed column in the New York Times on “Counting Bodies in Kosovo.” By the time Ignatieff wrote this piece, the wilder claims of the State Department that 100,000 or even 500,000 Kosovo Albanians had been killed by the Serbs had collapsed in the wake of the very modest results of the intense forensic searches that followed the NATO takeover of Kosovo after June 10, 1999. The new claim made by Carla Del Ponte, the Yugoslav Tribunal’s prosecutor (who had succeeded Louise Arbour), was that 11,334 Kosovo Albanians had been killed. According to Ignatieff, whether all the 11,334 bodies will be found “depends on whether the Serb military and police removed them.” Possible error or inflation by the Tribunal and its sources was ruled out for no reason but deep bias.
Del Ponte had been vetted by Madeleine Albright before taking her position, the Tribunal had been organized and largely staffed and funded by the NATO powers, and it consistently served as a PR-judicial arm of NATO.4 The Tribunal’s investigator, who recommended dismissing any charges of war crimes against NATO without a formal investigation, stated that he had been satisfied with NATO press releases as an information source on the motivations and results of NATO actions.5 Del Ponte followed his recommendation, implicitly accepting this use of evidence, and expressing satisfation that there was “no deliberate targeting of civilians or unlawful military targets by NATO” (presumably the targeting of the Chinese Embassy and the Serb broadcasting facility, among hundreds of other non-military targets, was lawful). Only an unscholarly partisan would take her number as definitive (and only a partisan newspaper would invite Ignatieff to write on the subject and subsequently bring him on board as a regular). Eventually only some 4,000 bodies were recovered in Kosovo after the NATO takeover, by no means all or even a majority Bosnian Muslim civilians, and 2,398 remain listed by the Red Cross as missing, yielding a total—6,398—substantially below the 11,334, a difference never commented on by Ignatieff or the New York Times.6
During the Kosovo conflict Ignatieff offered a stream of claims and interpretations that make an enlightening contrast with his apologetics for Israeli aggression, ethnic cleansing and structured racism. Commenting on an incident in which the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) murdered six Serb teenagers, Ignatieff wrote that this was “doubtless a KLA provocation, intended to goad the Serbs into overreaction and then to trigger international intervention. Yet it is worth asking why the KLA strategists could be absolutely certain the Serbs would react as they did [he is referring to the “Racak massacre” of January 15, 1999]. The reason is simple…only in Serbia is racial contempt an official ideology.”7
We may note first that for Ignatieff the KLA killings were only a "provocation," not a murderous act to be severely condemned. Note also that although there is compelling evidence that the Racak incident was arranged into a "massacre" following a furious battle, and is therefore of extremely dubious authenticity, Ignatieff takes it as unquestionably valid.8 On the certainty of the Serb reaction, killings such as those carried out by the KLA produce similar responses in civil conflicts everywhere, so that Ignatieff's blaming it on Serb racism is nonsensical for that reason alone. But it also flies in the face of Serb tolerance of Albanians in Belgrade, along with Roma--in contrast with Kosovo Albanian intolerance of both in NATO-occupied Kosovo.
The contrast with Ignatieff’s treatment of Israel in Gaza and Lebanon is also dramatic and revealing. With the June 25 capture of an Israeli soldier in Gaza and at least two other Israeli soldiers in still-disputed circumstances around the Israel-Lebanon border on July 12, minimal consistency with his treatment of the Serbs should cause him to regard these as “provocations” that induced an Israeli “overreaction,” and he should condemn this overreaction, which in Gaza and Lebanon has been far more deadly and murderous than the Serbs’ alleged overreaction at Racak. He might explain this overreaction and this willingness to kill large numbers of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians on the “simple” ground that “only in Israel is racial contempt an official ideology.” Of course he does not do this, although the case that can be made for racial contempt as an official ideology in Israel is vastly greater than the evidence for Serbian racism.9
For Ignatieff, Israel’s legitimate “security needs” justify the Lebanon response (and he evades discussing the reinvasion and attack on civilians and humanitarian crisis in Gaza). Didn’t Yugoslavia’s legitimate security needs justify Racak and other actions of the Serbs, with NATO threatening an attack--that soon materialized--and working in coordination with the KLA? There is of course no hint at this in Ignatieff—his frame of reference is always that of his side (NATO), and the enemy is always wrong and has no right of self defense.
Ignatieff was enraged at the Serb expulsions in Kosovo during the bombing war, claiming that “Milosevic decided to solve an ‘internal problem’ by exporting an entire nation to his impoverished neighbors,” and he also described it as a “most meticulous deportation of a civilian population” and “a final solution of the Kosovo problem.”10 One would hardly realize from these effusions that Yugoslavia was under military attack by NATO, forced to defend itself in a situation where the KLA and NATO were working in close coordination; that proportionately more [ethnic] Serbs fled the bombing war in Kosovo than [ethnic] Albanians; that there was nothing “meticulous” about the flight, induced by the KLA and bombing as well as Serb actions, and that there is no reason whatever to think that Milosevic viewed this as a “final solution,” another dishonest piece of rhetoric that conflates Nazi industrial murder with a war-induced flight of civilians.
Again, the contrast with Ignatieff’s treatment of the forced exit of a million Lebanese by the Israelis is dramatic. Here Israel is justified in “sending a message” to Hezbollah reflecting Israel’s right to defend itself. Yugoslavia had no right to send a message to the KLA and NATO powers in the process of defending itself, although NATO’s war threatened its survival, whereas Israel had only suffered minor losses in a border skirmish with a force that did not threaten its existence. Ignatieff has not even expressed sympathy with the million Lebanese displaced to “send a message” to Hezbollah; and he will clearly not speak of this as a “meticulous” ethnic cleansing and “final solution” via an “export” of Lebanese civilians. Human Rights Watch and the Red Cross (among others) have repeatedly declared the Israeli attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure to be war crimes,11 but Ignatieff has not said a word about anything wrong with Israel’s attacks on civilians or the use of illegal and anti-civilian weaponry like cluster bombs and depleted uranium, and he has never hinted that these frequent and ruthless attacks on Arab civilians could be because of Israel’s racist ideology, although the evidence for such attitudes in Israel is massive (which it is not in Belgrade).
In short, we are dealing here with gross political bias and gross apologetics for aggression, ethnic cleansing and war crimes. Add to this the fact that Ignatieff has swallowed Bush’s claim to be striving to “bring freedom everywhere,” an ideological premise that allows him to rationalize anything the Bush administration does externally because it is in a noble cause—based solely on the fact that Bush says that that is his aim (see his “Who Are Americans To Think That Freedom Is Theirs To Spread?,” New York Times Magazine, June 26, 2005; and my analysis of this apologetics landmark: Herman, “Michael Ignatieff’s Pseudo-Hegelian Apologetics for Imperialism,” October, 2005).
no longer matter for Ignatieff; they are trumped by proclaimed aims and
values, but only for the side he favors and that produce benefits—to
Ignatieff and some of the elites that underwrite his work. Clearly this
is a man worthy of a human rights chair at Harvard, a special place in
the Paper of Record, and a bright political future in our close and
reliable ally Canada.
S. Herman is Professor Emeritus of Finance at the Wharton School,
University of Pennsylvania, and has written extensively on economics,
political economy and the media. Among his books are The Real Terror
Network, Triumph of the Market, and Manufacturing Consent (with Noam
For a general account, Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, “Morality’s
Avenging Angels: The New Humanitarian Crusaders,” in David Chandler,
Ed., Rethinking Human Rights: Critical Approaches to International
Politics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2002), pp. 196-216 (as posted to ZNet,
August 30, 2005). The New Humanitarians have been members of a network
of like-minded people, often friends, who have worked in coordination
with government officials and government-linked thinktanks, bonding and
hobnobbing among themselves in Sarajevo or at international conferences
and being fed information by U.S. and, in the 1990s, Bosnian Muslim
officials. Sometimes, they worked together in establishment operations
such as the Independent International Commission on Kosovo (Richard
Falk, Richard Goldstone, Michael Ignatieff, Mary Kaldor, Martha Minow),
the International Crisis Group (William Shawcross), the American
Academy in Berlin (Paul Hockenos), George Soros' Open Society Institute
(Aryeh Neier), and offshoots of these and similar institutions. The
first three groups have been heavily funded by NATO governments, and
have had on their boards numerous NATO government officials, past and
In a nice illustration of what C. Wright Mills might have called the "social composition of the higher circles" of New Humanitarianism, Timothy Garton Ash wrote back in 1999: "When I arrive in the late evening…[at Hotel Tuzla,]…I step into the lift, press the button for the second floor, and at once subside, powerless, into the cellar. The reception committee in the bar consists of Christopher Hitchens, Susan Sontag, and David Rieff. When I join them, Sontag is just saying to Michael Ignatieff, 'I can't believe that this is your first time here." And he adds that on the very next day, after arriving at an event hosted by the Bosnian Muslim leadership of Tuzla, Mary Kaldor welcomed the group, and the British actress Julie Christie read a poem in homage to Sarajevo, "glowing white…as a translucent china cup." Ash, History of the Present: Essays, Sketches, and Dispatches from Europe in the 1990s (New York: Random House, 1999), p.147.
2. The quoted words were used by David Rieff to describe and laud his ally Ignatieff’s connections with the West’s political and military leadership, in “Virtual War: Kosovo and Beyond,” Los Angeles Times, Sept. 3, 2000.
3. Back at the time of the controversy that followed the May 1981 shooting of Pope Paul II by a Turkish fascist, the mainstream U.S. media relied heavily on the expert Paul Henze, rarely pointing out--and never suggesting any problem based on--lhis 30-year employment as a CIA propaganda specialist and his having been head of the CIA station in Turkey.
4. For a compelling analysis, see Michael Mandel, How America Gets Away With Murder (London: Pluto, 2004), pp. 132-46.
5. Ibid., pp. 188-191.
6. "Statement to the Press by Carla del Ponte" (FH/P.I.S./550-e), Carla del Ponte, ICTY, December 20, 2000, par. 16; "Kosovo: ICRC deplores slow progress of working group on missing persons," ICRC News, March 9, 2006.
7. Michael Ignatieff, “Only in truth can Serbia find peace: There is racism everywhere in Europe, but only in Serbia is racial contempt an official ideology,” Calgary Herald, June 26, 1999.
8. On questions about Racak, see Mandel, pp. 72-80, 170-73; see also the devastating testimonies of Judge Danica Marenkovic, forensic expert Professor Slavisa Dobricain, Col. Bogoljub Janicevic, and Col. Milan Kotur, during the Milosevic defense period, March 23-24, April 8, 13, and 26, and January 27, 2006. None of this testimony was reported on in the New York Times.
9. Under the subheading “Root Causes,” Israeli analyst Reuven Kaminer says “It is impossible to oppress an entire people for 40 years and not to succumb to the ultimate rationalization for such action. Anti-Arab racism is endemic to Israeli society. This racism is so pervasive that it covers the political landscape like a cloud and infects all the thinking and the attitudes of the overwhelming majority of Israelis.” (“Who Won and Who Lost and Why,” Portside, August 17, 2006). See also Edward S. Herman, "Ethnic Cleansing: Constructive, Benign, and Nefarious," ZNet, August 9, 2006.
10. Michael Ignatieff, Virtual War: Kosovo and Beyond (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2000), pp. 86-87, 78-79, 84.
11. See, e.g., Peter Bouckaert and Nadim Houry, Fatal Strikes: Israel’s Indiscriminate Attacks Against Civilians in Lebanon (Human Rights Watch, August 3, 2006; and Peter Bouckaert, “For Israel, innocent civilians are fair game,” International Herald Tribune, August 4, 2006.
Who's to Blame?
By ALEXANDER COCKBURN
In the aftermath of the Lebanon disaster you can open up the Israeli press, particularly the Hebrew language editions, and find fierce assaults on the country's elites from left, right and center.
The overall panorama is one of chickens of all ages coming home to roost. Small pustules highlight larger rot. Chief of staff Dan Halutz, a narcissistic bully like a mini-Patton, though without the latter's tactical talents, took time off the morning he ordered the terror bombing of south Beirut to tell the Bank Leumi to sell his stock portfolio before the market plunged--which it soon did by nearly 10 per cent.
The capacity of the US armed forces to fight intelligently and effectively has been eroded--not necessarily a bad thing of course -- by a system of graft-ridden procurement that favors expensive weapons systems validated by bogus tests. Israel's supposed military requirements have been a particularly ripe sector of that racket and the consequences are plain to see. Israel's receipt of batteries of Patriot missiles were no doubt hugely profitable for the parties involved in the transaction, but in defensive function entirely useless. The Patriot missile batteries stationed near Haifa and Safed, much trumpeted by the IDF played no significant role in the recent conflict.
Israel's generals paraded on tv in resplendent uniforms even as those in northern Israel too poor to flee, found either no shelters at all (particularly in sectors inhabited by Israeli Arabs) or, in the words of Reuven Pedatzur in Ha'aretz, "sat for more than one month in stinking shelters, some of them without food or minimal conditions."
Disfigured by its "special relationship" with the US arms industry, of which the US Congress is an integral component, the IDF has been morally corrupted by years of risk-free brutalization of unarmed Palestinians, many of them children. It's one thing to level an apartment building with a missile from a plane or crush a protester with a bulldozer or lob shells at a Palestinian family having a picnic on a beach or kidnap middle-aged and democratically elected Palestinian politicians. It's another confront a foe, with modest but effectively deployed weaponry, prepared to fight back.
Years of racism have taken their toll too. Think of Arabs as subhuman "terrorists" and you end up making a lot of misjudgments, tactical and strategic.
Amid the first days of the "ceasefire" the Israeli press has been carrying reports not only about Halutz's secret stock sale, but also that prime minister Ehud Olmert may have accepted a $500,000 bribe as part of a conspiracy with a building contractor; also that Justice minister Haim Ramon has resigned to battle charges of indecent assault on a female employee at a Defense ministry party; also that Israel's President, Moshe Katsav, may face charges of rape of a female employee.
On that first pre-ceasefire weekend USA Today carried a story datelined Nabatiye by Rick Jervis headlined "Hezbollah workers rush to help victims rebuild", beginning "Two days after agreeing to a cease-fire to end 34 days of fighting with Israeli forces, Hezbollah deployed its army of social workers and engineers throughout this southern Lebanese city. They visited wrecked homes and businesses, surveyed damage, gave compensation estimates and coordinated relief efforts with city officials. 'Hezbollah workers were here even before the bombing stopped,'said Mustafa Badreddine, 50, the mayor. 'They have offices here. They have municipal resources. And the people trust them.'"
As corrupted as the Israeli military who shove them around, Israeli politicians have grown accustomed to thinking that any outrage on morality and reason will get a lusty cheer from the US political establishment, press and entertainment industry.
They're right. They did get material encouragement from the Bush administration, and lusty cheers from Capitol Hill and Hollywood as congress people and some movie industry bigwigs stampeded to cheer on Israel's onslaughts on Lebanon and Gaza while the press echoed all the nonsense about the kidnapping of the Israeli soldiers being a legitimate casus belli.
Israel has been kidnapping Lebanese for years, a hefty chunk of the 10,000 or so rotting in horrifying Israeli prisons, like the secret Facility 1391 in central Israel, worse than Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo. On June 25 Corporal Gilad Shalit was kidnapped in Gaza, prompting an escalation in Israel's already barbaric assaults on the civilian population there. Since June 25, says the Palestinian Ministry of Detainees, Israel has kidnapped over 35 Palestinian Parliament Members and 10 cabinet Ministers. It was certainly hard to find in any US paper or newscast any reference to the fact that one day before, on 24 June, Israeli forces kidnapped two civilians in Gaza, a doctor and his brother, and sent them off to some Israeli dungeon. As Noam Chomsky remarked to an interviewer from al-Ahram, "The timing alone reveals with vivid clarity that the show of outrage over the capture of Israeli soldiers is cynical fraud, and undermines any shreds of moral legitimacy for the ensuing actions."
You can read plenty of commentary round the world, most particularly Israel, saying this recent war was a benchmark event, which could conceivably teach Israel that security is not won by unending land grabs, by spouting hokum for US consumption about the "peace process", and by terror bombing of Lebanon and Gaza. But not in the United States. Open up the Washington Post and the strategic vision on display was an utterly mad piece co-written by one of the big boosters for war on Iraq, Kenneth Pollack, a hack thinker at the Brookings Institution, now an integral part of Israeli territory with its "Saban Center for Middle East Policy" named for the fanatic Zionist billionaire Haim Saban, majority owner of Paramount Pictures, a man who handed the Democratic Party a total of $12.3 million in 2002, a $7 million component of which was the biggest single contribution ever recorded up to that time.
Silent about his own role as war promoter (his speciality was Saddam's imaginary nuclear threat), oblivious to the lessons of disaster in Iraq, reduplicated in the war in Lebanon, Pollack and Georgetown U's Daniel Byman called for more US troops to be sent to Iraq, to help set up "refugee collection points"--ie concentration camps--on Iraq's eastern border and for tripwires--no doubt ultimately nuclear--to be established in expectation of war with Iran. You think Republican neocons are the only crazy ones? Not one word of mature reflection about the significance of the war temporarily suspended, against Lebanon and Hezbollah.
Thirty years ago I used to be told
that liberal American Jews were aghast at the rise of the ur-neocon
fanatics like Norman Podhoretz, at Commentary, whose parent outfit was
and is the American Jewish Committee. Soon, such liberals used to say
to me off the record, there would be a counter-attack by the forces of
reason, as embodied in liberal American Jewry. There never was, at
least on any effective scale. The liberal Jewish intelligentsia here
has, politically, speaking, sat on its hands for decades, mouths zipped
shut, when it comes to criticizing Israel. Even more effectively than
America's defense contractors they have contributed to, and indeed
cheered on Israel's corrupt rejectionism. Will this war make them
change their minds? I doubt it.
from Aaron Glantz :
26 August 2006
A chief prosecutor of Nazi war crimes at Nuremberg has said George W. Bush should be tried for war crimes along with Saddam Hussein. Benjamin Ferenccz, who secured
convictions for 22 Nazi officers for their work in orchestrating the death squads that killed more than 1 million people, told OneWorld both Bush and Saddam should be
tried for starting "aggressive" wars--Saddam for his 1990 attack on Kuwait and Bush for his 2003 invasion of Iraq.
from Robert Fisk :
26 August 2006
The Americans and the British want no part of this mess. After Iraq and Afghanistan, they have no stomach to defend Israel, let alone Lebanon. Their job is to push the
European masses into the bog they have created by their injustice and cowardice in the Middle East.