Bulletin N°275


3 December 2006
Grenoble, France

Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
The recent history of political culture is a reminder of how blind we can be to real dangers. Just as Adolf Hitler was fairly explicit about his intentions in Mein Kampf, years before he tried to carry them out, so we can see that the political elite of the United States have been rather consistent in their behaviors and in their statements about their intentions.

Several years ago, back around 1999, it was of concern to many of us that a "serial killer" would be a candidate for President of the United States. For any humanist reading newspapers at the time, it was apparent that George W. Bush closely matched  the official psychological profile of a serial killer, which had been provided by the U.S. Department of Justice at the time. During his term as governor of Texas (1994-2000), he presided over the execution of one hundred fifty-two  prison inmates, far more than any other state governor in recent history, and he became famous for mocking in an interview on Texas television the desperate plea of Karla Faye Tucker : "Please don't kill me!" he laughingly imitated her intonation, just hours after he had refused to spare her life.

From micro to macro....

One  fundamental plank of Western policy in the Middle East has always been the idea, expressed by U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, that "Oil is much too important a commodity to be left in the hands of the Arabs". Although Bush and Blair have consistently denied that control of oil supplies were a factor in their wars against Afghanistan and Iraq, evidence is mounting not only that oil is a key factor in US decision making, but also that the real state of oil reserves is being kept quiet by those in the know.

Below is a list of 4 items recently received by CEIMSA.

A. is an article by Norman G. Finkelstein on massive war-crime collaboration in the U.S. media.
B. is an article from Common Dreams on President Bush's decision to bomb the Arab TV station, al-Jazeera, in Qatar.
C., an article by Dahr Jamal, describes how American capitalism is destroying the market economy in Iraq, threatening millions with destitution and even starvation.
And finally, item
D. is an essay from Democracy Now, in which we learn how the Zionist political elite of Israel are ready to subject their own people to destruction at the behest of American corporate interests. For an historical reminder of Zionist leadership's betrayal of the Jewish people during the Second World War, we strongly recommend Lenni Brenner's classic study of this subject, Zionism in the Age of Dictators (1984), particularly Chapter 5.

And for an update on the historical alliance between the United States and Israel today, we invite readers to visit the "Scholarly Publications - Essays 2006" section of the CEIMSA Internet site and read the 14 entries under item number 7 :
"On the Question of Zionism and World War III", which include descriptions of war resistance today within the international Jewish community --both in and outside of Israel. These essays were selected for CEIMSA by our research associates, Professors Edward S. Herman and Bertell Ollman :


Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Dircector of Research
Université Stendhal Grenoble 3

from Alexander Cockburn :
29 November 2006
Rush to Judgment
Human Rights Watch Must Retract Its Shameful Press Release
by Norman G. Finkelstein

E ven by the grim standards of Gaza, the past five months have been cruel ones.

Some four hundred Palestinians, mostly unarmed civilians, have been killed during Israeli attacks. (Four Israeli soldiers and two civilians have been killed.) Israel has sealed off Gaza from the outside world while the international community has imposed brutal sanctions, ravaging Gaza's already impoverished economy.

"Gaza is dying," Patrick Cockburn reported in CounterPunch, "its people are on the edge of starvation.A whole society is being destroyed.The sound that Palestinians most dread is an unknown voice on their cell phone saying they have half an hour to leave their home before it is hit by bombs or missiles. There is no appeal. "

"Gaza is in its worst condition ever," Gideon Levy wrote in Haaretz, "The Israeli army has been rampaging through Gaza--there's no other word to describe it--killing and demolishing, bombing and shelling indiscriminately....This is disgraceful and shocking collective punishment."

Predictably Gaza teetered on the precipice of fratricidal civil war. "The experiment was a success: The Palestinians are killing each other," Amira Hass wryly observed in Ha'aretz, "They are behaving as expected at the end of the extended experiment called 'what happens when you imprison 1.3 million human beings in an enclosed space like battery hens.'"

It is at times like this that we expect human rights organizations to speak out.

How has Human Rights Watch responded to the challenge? It criticized Israel for destroying Gaza's only electrical plant, and also called on Israel to "investigate" why its forces were targeting Palestinian medical personnel in Gaza and to "investigate" the Beit Hanoun massacre.

On the other hand, it accused Palestinians of committing a "war crime" after they captured an Israeli soldier and offered to exchange him for Palestinian women and children held in Israeli jails. (Israel was holding 10,000 Palestinians prisoner.) It demanded that Palestinians "bring an immediate end to the lawlessness and vigilante violence" in Gaza. (Compare Amira Hass's words.) It issued a 101-page report chastising the Palestinian Authority for failing to protect women and girls. It called on the Palestinian Authority to take "immediate steps to halt" Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel.

Were this record not shameful enough, HRW crossed a new threshold at the end of November.

After Palestinians spontaneously responded to that "unknown voice on a cell phone" by putting their own bare bodies in harm's way, HRW rushed to issue a press release warning that Palestinians might be committing a "war crime" and might be guilty of "human shielding." ("Civilians Must Not Be Used to Shield Homes Against Military Attacks")

In what must surely be the most shocking statement ever issued by a human rights organization, HRW indicted Palestinian leaders for supporting this nonviolent civil disobedience:

Prime Minister Haniyeh and other Palestinian leaders should be renouncing, not embracing, the tactic of encouraging civilians to place themselves at risk.

The international community has for decades implored Palestinian leaders to forsake armed struggle in favor of nonviolent civil disobedience. Why is a human rights organization now attacking them for adopting this tactic?

Is it a war crime to protect one's home from collective punishment?

Is it human shielding if a desperate and forsaken populace chooses to put itself at deadly risk in order to preserve the last shred of its existence?

Indeed, although Israeli soldiers have frequently used Palestinians as human shields in life-threatening situations, and although HRW has itself documented this egregious Israeli practice, HRW has never once called it a war crime.

It took weeks before HRW finally issued a report condemning Israeli war crimes in Lebanon. Although many reliable journalists were daily documenting these crimes, HRW said it first had to conduct an independent investigation of its own.

But HRW hastened to deplore the nonviolent protests in Gaza based on anonymous press reports which apparently got crucial facts wrong.

Why this headlong rush to judgment?

Was HRW seeking to appease pro-Israel critics after taking the heat for its report documenting Israeli war crimes in Lebanon?

After Martin Luther King delivered his famous speech in 1967 denouncing the war in Vietnam, mainstream Black leaders rebuked him for jeopardizing the financial support of liberal whites. "You might get yourself a foundation grant," King retorted, "but you won't get yourself into the Kingdom of Truth."

HRW now also stands poised at a crossroads: foundation grants or the Kingdom of Truth?

A first step in the right direction would be for it to issue a retraction of its press release and an apology.

HRW executive director Kenneth Roth "commended" Israel during its last invasion for warning people in south Lebanon to flee--before turning it into a moonscape, slaughtering the old, infirm and poor left behind. It would seem that Palestinian leaders and people, too, merit some recognition for embracing the tactics of Gandhi and King in a last desperate bid to save themselves from annihilation.

Email HRW Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson--whitsos@hrw.org - and HRW executive director Kenneth Roth--RothK@hrw.org.

Norman Finkelstein's
most recent book is Beyond Chutzpah: On the misuse of anti-Semitism and the abuse of history (University of California Press). His web site is www.NormanFinkelstein.com .

from CommonDreams :
3 December 2006

PRESIDENT Bush planned to bomb Arab TV station al-Jazeera in friendly Qatar, a "Top Secret" No 10 memo reveals.

Bush Plot To Bomb His Arab Ally

from Dahr Jamal :
29 November 2006
Subject: MidEast Dispatches: Business Becomes a Big Casualty

Business Becomes a Big Casualty
by Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily

* BAGHDAD, Nov 29 (IPS)
- "Iraq got the foreign investment rules long sought by U.S. corporations," Antonia Juhasz, a visiting scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, and author of 'The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time' told IPS earlier.*

Juhasz said the new laws, which were a part of the 100 'Bremer Orders' instituted by former U.S. administrator Paul Bremer when he headed the Coalition Provisional Authority during the first year of the occupation, provided a flood of benefits for U.S. companies.

These included "100 percent repatriation of profits earned in Iraq by foreign companies; 100 percent foreign ownership of Iraqi businesses, including banks; privatisation of Iraq's state owned enterprises; 100 percent immunity for U.S. contractors and soldiers from Iraq's laws; and 'national treatment' which allowed for Iraqis to be all but excluded from the reconstruction for years while the U.S. government paid 50 billion dollars to some 150 U.S. corporations for work in Iraq."

What followed was "a U.S. corporate invasion of Iraq," Juhasz said. "Many companies had their sights set on privatisation in Iraq, also made possible by Bremer, which helps explain their interest in 'major overhauls' rather than getting the systems up and running."

In contrast, there was much state support for businesses under the previous regime, which followed a socialist system under which the government allowed Iraqis to establish their own factories and workshops, and supported them in many ways.

Businesses were granted low interest loans and permission to transfer foreign currency. They could get state-owned land to build on. Administrative laws facilitated enterprise, and so small industry business bloomed during the 1970s and 1980s.

Major industries in Iraq for oil products, phosphates and cement, along with the military industry, were mostly state-run under the previous regime. Foreign companies were allowed, under state supervision, to build factories as Iraq moved towards increasing industrialisation.

This growth was reversed during the 1990's under the U.S-backed UN economic sanctions. The sanctions crippled the Iraqi dinar and people's ability to purchase goods and services.

The business situation worsened further during the U.S.-led invasion when most factories ceased to function. Many were bombed, and for other factories employees stayed at home. Following the invasion several were looted, and were never able to start again.

Some private businesses held out, but eventually security problems, lack of electricity and fuel, a staggering inflation rate (70 percent) and lack of safe transportation led many of these too to close down. Unemployment now stands at more than 50 percent û but most people believe the real situation is far worse.

Thousands of business and factory owners sold what they could and fled to neighbouring countries. Those who did not now wish they had.

"I used to employ more than 30 workers in my plastic products factory, and business was good before the occupation," Abbas Ali told IPS in Baghdad. "It is impossible to work now, and I had to go back to my old job as school teacher. I was offered 200,000 dollars for the business, but now it is not worth anything. I blame myself for not selling it to flee, like some of my colleagues who live safely in Syria now."

And still, there are steel, textile, and other factories that continue to produce what they can.

Kais al-Nazzal built a set of steel factories about 60km west of Baghdad near Fallujah, and is fighting to keep them going. "We imported the best quality steel manufacturing equipment and spent millions of dollars on modern buildings to meet international standards," Kais al-Nazzal told IPS.

"We have been able to work through the occupation period, but we must admit there are hardships under the recent domestic disturbances that are causing us considerable losses."

Local studies have found 85 percent unemployment in the industry sector. Many of the 15 percent who remain employed are registered at a few state factories that pay their employees even if they produce nothing.

"We are trying to do some work here, but the whole situation is not encouraging, so it seems that we will wait until a miracle takes place," a manager at a state-owned cement factory on the outskirts of Baghdad told IPS.

The business and economic morass Iraq finds itself in today is evident in the market places across the capital city.

About 80 percent of domestically manufactured goods were distributed prior to the invasion and occupation through the Shorja market in the centre of Baghdad. The wholesale market is a bazaar along narrow roads where hundreds of small shop-owners display their merchandise.

"There is no Iraqi brand any more," plastic products distributor Johar Aziz told IPS. "Iraqi products flourished during the quarter century before occupation, but now we only sell imported products of the lowest quality, and people have to buy them because there is no alternative."

Other markets in Baghdad are suffering a similar crisis, like the Samarraii compound where tyres are sold, the Jamila market for fruits and vegetables, and the Sinaa market for computers.

The main shopping centres like Saadoon Street and Rasheed Street, and the once upmarket Mansour area and the Karrada district are now like ghosts of what they once were.

"We used to open our shops for at least 16 hours a day, but now we only open for a few hours because of the security threats," Duraid Abdullah, an electrical appliances shop owner in Karrada told IPS. "We are facing all kinds of threats starting from being abducted for money or sectarian reasons, as well as being evicted from our shops by gangs supported by government forces."

A businessman who once owned a small textile factory that has gone bankrupt said he had not expected the coming in of a U.S. administration to be bad for business.

"The picture of Japan after World War II dominated the minds of businessmen in Iraq after occupation," he said. "Most of us thought the American invasion of Iraq was bad for many things, but it must be good for business in general and industry in particular. We were terribly wrong. The Iraqi economy was meant to be destroyed for political reasons."

from Democracy Now :
1 December 2006

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter is accusing Israel of creating an apartheid system in the West Bank and Gaza. The charge comes in his new book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid." We play an address by Carter talking about the Palestine-Israel conflict, the role of the United States and much more.
Carter says, "Palestinians are deprived of basic human rights, their land has been occupied, then confiscated, then colonized by the Israeli settlers."

Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid: Jimmy Carter In His Own Words