Bulletin N° 801
Subject : Palestinian Freedom Fighters against Imperialist Hand Puppets.
19 May 2018
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
On the same literary and political level as Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's famous insightful fiction, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus (1818, revised 1831) - the morbid story of unrequited love - we find Etienne de La Boétie's essay, The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude (1552-53) which also exposes the causes of violence in a new and decisive manner. Both of these works expose the dilemma of uninhibited violence and reintroduce it into the realm of social relationships, where the stunning complexity of cause and effect begins to surface and the mystery of overachievement and hubris starts to unravel.
[I]t has always happened that tyrants, in order to strengthen their power, have made every effort to train their people not only in obedience and servility toward themselves, but also in adoration. Therefore all that I have said up to the present concerning the means by which a more willing submission has been obtained applies to dictators in their relationship with the inferior and common classes.
I come now to a point which is, in my opinion, the mainspring and the secret of domination, the support and foundation of tyranny. Whoever thinks that halberds, sentries, the placing of the watch, serve to protect and shield tyrants is, in my judgment, completely mistaken. These are used, it seems to me, more for ceremony and show of force than for any reliance placed in them. The archers forbid the entrance to the palace to the poorly dressed who have no weapons, not to the well armed who carry out some plot. Certainly it is easy to say of the Roman emperors that fewer escaped from danger by aid of their guards than were killed by their own archers. [Almost a third of the Roman Emperors were killed by their own soldiers.] It is not the troops on horseback, it is not the companies afoot, it is not arms that defend the tyrant. This does not seem credible on first thought, but it is nevertheless true that there are only four or five who maintain the dictator, four or five who keep the country in bondage to him. Five or six have always had access to his ear, and have either gone to him of their own accord, or else have been summoned by him, to be accomplices in his cruelties, companions in his pleasures, panders to his lusts, and sharers in his plunders. These six manage their chief so successfully that he comes to be held accountable not only for his own misdeeds but even for theirs. The six have six hundred who profit under them, and with the six hundred they do what they have accomplished with their tyrant. The six hundred maintain under them six thousand, whom they promote in rank, upon whom they confer the government of provinces or the direction of finances, in order that they may serve as instruments of avarice and cruelty, executing orders at the proper time and working much havoc all around that they could not last except under the shadow of the six hundred, nor be exempt from law and punishment except through their influence.
The consequence of all this is fatal indeed. And whoever is pleased to unwind the skein will observe that not the six thousand but a hundred thousand, and even millions, cling to the tyrant by this cord to which they are tied. According to Homer, Jupiter boasts of being able to draw to himself all the gods when he pulls a chain. Such a scheme caused the increase in the senate under Julius, the formation of new ranks, the creation of offices; not really, if properly considered, to reform justice, but to provide new supporters of despotism. In short, when the point is reached, through big favors or little ones, that large profits or small are obtained under a tyrant, there are found almost as many people to whom tyranny seems advantageous as those to whom liberty would seem desirable. Doctors declare that if, when some part of the body has gangrene a disturbance arises in another spot, it immediately flows to the troubled part. Even so, whenever a ruler makes himself a dictator, all the wicked dregs of the nation – I do not mean the pack of petty thieves and earless ruffians who in a republic, are unimportant in evil or good [Cutting off of ears as a punishment for thievery is very ancient. In the middle ages it was still practiced under ST. Louis. Men so mutilated were dishonored and could not enter the clergy or the magistracy.] – but all those who are corrupted by burning ambition or extraordinary avarice, these gather around him and support him in order to have a share in the booty and to constitute themselves petty chiefs under the big tyrant. This the practice among notorious robbers and famous pirates: some scour the country, others pursue voyagers; some lie in ambush, others keep a lookout; some commit murder, others robbery; and although there are among them differences in rank, some being only underlings while others are chieftains of gangs, yet is there not a single one among them who does not feel himself to be a sharer, if not of the main booty, at least in the pursuit of it. It is dependably related that Sicilian pirates gathered in such great numbers that it became necessary to send against them Pompey the Great, and that they drew into their alliance fine towns and great cities in whose harbors they took refuge on returning from their expeditions, paying handsomely for the haven given their stolen goods.
Thus the despot subdues his subjects, some of them by means of others, and thus is he protected by those from whom, if they were decent men, he would have to guard himself; jus as, in order to split wood, one has to use a wedge of the wood itself; Such are the archers, his guards, his halberdiers; not that they themselves do not suffer occasionally at his hands, but this riff-raff, abandoned alike by God and man, can be led to endure evil if permitted to commit it, not against him who exploits them; but against those who like themselves submit, but are helpless. Nevertheless, observing those men who painfully serve the tyrant in order to win some profit from his tyranny and from the subjection of the populace, I am often overcome with amazement at their wickedness and sometimes by pity for their folly. For, in all honesty, can it be in any way except in folly that you approach a tyrant, withdrawing further from your liberty and, so to speak, embracing with both hand your servitude? Let such men lay aside briefly their ambition, or let them forget for a moment their avarice, and look at themselves as they really are. Then they will realize clearly that the townspeople, the peasants whom they trample under foot and treat worse than convicts or slaves, they will realize, I say, that these people; mistreated as they may be, are nevertheless, in comparison with themselves, better off and fairly free. The tiller of the soil and the artisan, no matter how enslaved, discharge their obligation when they do what they are told to do; but the dictator sees men about him wooing and begging his favor, and doing much more than he tells them to do. Such men must not only obey orders; they must anticipate his wishes; to satisfy him they must foresee his desires; they must wear themselves out, torment themselves, kill themselves with work in his interest, and accept his pleasure as their own, neglecting their preference for his, distorting their character and corrupting their nature; they must pay heed to his words, to his intonation, to his gestures, and to his glance. Let them have no eye, nor foot, nor hand that is not alert to respond to his wishes or to seek out his thoughts.
Can that be called a happy life? Can that be called living? Is there anything more intolerable than that situation, I won’t say for a man of mettle nor even for a man of high birth, but simply for a man of common sense or, to go even further, for anyone having a face of a man? What condition is more wretched than to live thus, with nothing to call one’s own, receiving from someone else one’s sustenance, one’s power to act, one’s body, one’s very life?
Still men accept servility in order to acquire wealth; as if they could acquire anything of their own when they cannot even assert that they belong to themselves, or as if anyone could possess under a tyrant a single thing in his own name. Yet they act as if their wealth really belonged to them, and forget that it is they themselves who give the ruler that power to deprive everybody of everything, leaving nothing that anyone can identify as belonging to somebody. They notice that nothing makes men so subservient to a tyrant’s cruelty as property; that to possession of wealth is the world of crimes against him, punishable even by death; that he loves nothing quite so much as money and ruins only the rich, who come before him as before a butcher, offering themselves so stuffed and budging that they make his mouth water.(pp.70-75)
The lesson here is that the key to servitude is collaboration, that we have more power than we think, and we misuse it to our own detriment because of a trap that has been carefully laid for us in advance, preparing us to serve our masters as no more than useful idiots.
The 28 items below reflect the deep crisis capitalism has entered and the cusp of general catastrophe upon which we are now balanced. As the ruling class has earned the much deserved reputation of being cynically criminal and irresponsibly homicidal, the rest of us are approaching a free fall into chaos and worse. For those of us who seek no comfort in the dogma of life-after-death this is of much concern.
Professor emeritus of American Studies
Director of Research
University of Paris-Nanterre
Center for the Advanced Study of American Institutions and Social Movements
The University of California-San Diego
Iranian Media Speculates About Possible
Death of Saudi Crown Prince
The apparent disappearance of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman from the public eye has led several Iranian media outlets to wonder if one of the most powerful men in the kingdom might’ve been killed during an attempted coup last month.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was allegedly hit by two bullets during the April 21 attack on the royal palace in Riyadh and may actually be dead as he has not appeared in public since the incident, Kayhan newspaper reports citing "a secret service report sent to the senior officials of an unnamed Arab state."
How long after this week's Gaza massacre are we going to continue pretending that the Palestinians are non-people?
Remember how they were to blame for their own exodus seven decades ago, because they followed the instructions of radio stations to leave their homes until the Jews of Israel were ‘driven into the sea’. Only, of course, the radio broadcasts never existed
Monstrous. Frightful. Wicked. It’s strange how the words just run out in the Middle East today. Sixty Palestinians dead. In one day. Two-thousand-four-hundred wounded, more than half by live fire. In one day. The figures are an outrage, a turning away from morality, a disgrace for any army to create.
And we are supposed to believe that the Israeli army is one of “purity of arms”? And we have to ask another question. If it’s 60 Palestinians dead in a day this week, what if it’s 600 next week? Or 6,000 next month? Israel’s bleak excuses – and America’s crude response – raise this very question. If we can now accept a massacre on this scale, how far can our immune system go in the days and weeks and months to come?
US Embassy Baptized With Blood
by Finian Cunningham
On the very hour of
the US opening its embassy in Jerusalem, hundreds of unarmed Palestinian
civilians, including children, were being slaughtered by Israeli snipers.
Nearly 60 people, including eight children, were brutally murdered in cold blood by Israeli sharpshooters. At least a thousand others were injured from bullet wounds, many of whom will be maimed for life. More bloodshed is expected in coming days.
What kind of criminal world are we living in? When news channels can report this carnage as if it's somehow normal. Where is the outrage of Western pundits who foam at the mouth over alleged atrocities elsewhere?
While American and Israeli dignitaries were regaling themselves with hosannas about their "shared values" of "democracy" and "peace", only a few miles away thousands of Palestinians in Gaza were being shot at for daring to demand respect for their human rights.
Julian Assange is in immense danger
Ecuador Hints it May Hand Over Julian Assange to Britain and the US
by James Cogan
Julian Assange is in immense danger. Remarks made this week by Ecuador’s foreign minister suggest that her government may be preparing to renege on the political asylum it granted to the WikiLeaks editor in 2012 and hand him over to British and then American authorities. On March 28, under immense pressure from the governments in the US, Britain and other powers, Ecuador imposed a complete ban on Assange having any Internet or phone contact with the outside world, and blocked his friends and supporters from physically visiting him. For 45 days, he has not been heard from. Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa stated in a Spanish-language interview on Wednesday that her government and Britain “have the intention and the interest that this be resolved.” Moves were underway, she said, to reach a “definite agreement” on Assange.
Ecuador’s Ex-President Rafael Correa Denounces Treatment of Julian Assange as “Torture”
Ecuador's Talks With UK Over Assange
'Defame Country's Good Name'
Journalist John Pilger Interviewed By Sputnik News
Sputnik: Julian Assange has been cut off from communications for a month and a half now. What is known about his physical condition?
John Pilger: His physical condition is not good at all. He hasn't had natural light for almost six years. He has a persistent cough. He is suffering physically [much the same as] anyone who is imprisoned, effectively, [and] without even the opportunity to go outside and exercise.
He's been denied even the right of passage to hospital. They say 'yes you can go, but we're not going to allow you back.' So the examinations that he needs he hasn't been able to get.
Sputnik: Ecuador's foreign minister has said that the country is in talks with Britain about Assange's fate. What can you tell us about this?
John Pilger: I can say that the new government in Ecuador led by Lenin Moreno is a disgrace. They have defamed the good name of Ecuador which under the previous president, [Rafael] Correa, had elevated itself to an extraordinarily moral position in granting Julian Assange political refuge.
Politically refuge is something that is internationally recognized. It's not something you can then water down. Well that's what Moreno's government has done. He's negotiated with the British government over the head of Julian, at times not even involving him and his lawyers.
US Ambassador to Israel Gave Money to Jewish Terror Group: Reports
David Friedman was president of American Friends of Beit El Yeshiva Center when a donation was made to Qomemiyut Movement, reports say
by MEE staff
The US ambassador to Israel was president of an American charity that donated money to a Jewish group designated a "terrorist organisation" by the United States, Israeli media has reported just days before he was due to open a new embassy in Jerusalem.
David Friedman was the president of American Friends of Beit El Yeshiva Center between 2011 and 2017, which raises about $2m a year for settler-linked programmes, particularly in Beit El and its Beit El Yeshiva religious school Friedman attended as a young man.
IDF Prepares to Kill More Peaceful Protesters in Gaza on Friday
Travel Bans, Restrictions And
Do You Want to Travel Around The Middle East? Think Twice!
by Andre Vltchek
Do you think it is that simple to travel around the Middle East? Think twice!
Ask Palestinians, about trying to get from a point A to a point B in their own nation.
Some time ago, sitting in an old Ottoman hotel in Bethlehem, I asked a waiter what it takes to travel from there to Gaza, where he said, several of his relatives were living. He looked at me as if I had fallen from the Moon:
“There is no way I could travel there. If my relatives get very sick or die, then, in theory, I could apply for an Israeli travel permit to go there, but there is absolutely no guarantee that they would approve, or that I could get to Gaza on time…”
I tried to appear naïve: “And what if someone from an Arab country which does not recognize Israel, wants to come here, to Bethlehem? Like, a Lebanese pilgrim or just a tourist? Could he or she enter from Jordan?”
The waiter weighed for a while whether to reply at all, but then had mercy on me:
“West Bank… You know, it only appears on the maps as some sort of autonomous or independent territory. In reality, the borders and movement of the people have been fully controlled by the Israelis.”
I Helped Start the Gaza Protests. I Don’t Regret It.
by Ahmed Abu Ratima
(Mr. Abu Ratima helped organize the Great Return March.)
May 14, 2018
Palestinian demonstrators flee Israeli fire and tear gas during a protest on the Israel-Gaza border on Monday.CreditIbraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters
by Ahmed Abu Ratima
RAFAH, Gaza — The seed that grew into Gaza’s Great Return March was planted Dec. 9, just a few days after President Trump announced he would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Palestinians long have held onto the dream of Jerusalem as our own capital, or at least as a shared capital in a country that offers equal rights to everyone. The feeling of betrayal and distress in Gaza was palpable. To clear my head, my friend Hasan and I took a walk along the border, which we do every now and again.
“There lies our land,” I said to Hasan, as I looked at the trees on the other side of the barbed-wire fence that confines us. “It’s just a few kilometers away from here.” And yet, because of that fence and the soldiers who guard it, it is so far away. Most people my age have never been permitted to leave Gaza, since Egypt controls the southern land exit and Israel restricts access to the north — as well as forbids use of our sea and airport (or at least what’s left of it after three wars).
That thought led to a wish expressed on Facebook. And it struck such a chord with people in Gaza that it set off a movement that culminated in the historic protests that have taken place over the last month. Tragically, Israel reacted even more brutally than I expected — and I’ve lived through three of its wars. The latest estimate of the number of protesters killed is 104; more than 50 died just on Monday. Thousands more have been injured. But our voices needed to be heard, and they have been.
My hatred of borders is both universal — in the sense that all Palestinians suffer from them — and very personal. My grandparents and their grandparents were born and raised in the town of Ramla, in the center of what is now Israel. On my walks, I imagined my family’s ancestral land.
But I also have experienced the destructive impact of borders more personally. I was born in 1984, two years after Israel withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula, dividing my city, Rafah, between Gaza and Egypt. The core of the city was razed by Israel and Egypt to create a buffer zone, separating families, including mine, with barbed wire. My mother’s family lived on the Egyptian side and Rafah’s division ended in the separation of my parents. Although my mother lived a stone’s throw away, it was 19 years before I saw her again.
On that day in December, as I watched the birds fly over the border I could not cross, I found myself thinking how much smarter birds and animals are than people; they harmonize with nature instead of erecting walls. Later that day, I wondered on Facebook what would happen if a man acted like a bird and crossed that fence. “Why would Israeli soldiers shoot at him as if he is committing a crime?” I wrote. My only thought was to reach the trees, sit there and then come back.
I couldn’t let go of that thought. A month later, I wrote another post. “Thank you, Israel, for opening our eyes. If the occupation opened the crossing points, and allowed people to live a normal life and created jobs for young people, we could wait for a few generations,” I wrote. “We are forced to choose between confrontations or between life.” I ended the post with the hashtag GreatReturnMarch.
Young people in Gaza reacted to my post immediately, sharing it and adding their own ideas. Just a week later, it seemed as if hundreds of people were talking about it. We established a youth committee and met with local agencies and institutions. We also met with the national political parties: We wanted to offer all sectors of society in Gaza the opportunity to be involved.
What has happened since we started the Great Return March is both what I hoped and expected — and not. It was not a surprise that Israel responded to our march with deadly violence. But I had not expected this level of cruelty. On the other hand, I was heartened by the commitment to nonviolence among most of my own people.
A couple of years ago, people here would have dismissed the idea that peaceful demonstrations could achieve anything significant. After all, every other form of resistance has produced nothing concrete. What amazes me is the transformation we are seeing in the way we resist. Our struggle previously was between armed Palestinian fighters and Israeli snipers, tanks and F-16s. Now, it is a struggle between the occupation and peaceful protesters — men and women, young and old.
The Great Return March reminds the world about the origin of the conflict — our uprooting from our lands and our lives, beginning in 1948 and sustained since then. We have chosen May 15 as the culmination of our protests because that is the day that Palestinians mark the “nakba,” the Arabic word for catastrophe, which is what we call the expulsions from our homes 70 years ago. Whatever solution we negotiate in the future to allow our two peoples to live together peacefully and equally must start with a recognition of this wrong.
Still, despite the response from Israeli snipers, I continue to be committed to nonviolence, as are all of the other people “coordinating” this march. I use quotation marks because when a movement becomes this large — attracting what we estimate to be as many as 200,000 people on Fridays — it cannot be completely controlled. We discouraged the burning of Israeli flags and the attachment of Molotov cocktails to kites. We want peaceful, equal coexistence to be our message.
We have also tried to discourage protesters from attempting to cross into Israel. However, we can’t stop them. It is the action of an imprisoned people yearning for freedom, one of the strongest motivations in human nature. Likewise, the people won’t go away on May 15. We are intent on continuing our struggle until Israel recognizes our right to return to our homes and land from which we were expelled.
Desperation fuels this new generation. We are not going back to our subhuman existence. We will keep knocking at the doors of international organizations and our Israeli jailers until we see concrete steps to end the blockade of Gaza.
Snipers Shooting Unarmed People at 100 Meters Isn’t a ‘Clash’
Seventy years after the Nakba, Israel has not succeeded in erasing Palestine—or the Palestinians.
In its place, it is time for a new paradigm based on full national and civil equality for all.
“Everyone is targeted. Even if you’re a journalist.… As long as you are Palestinian and there, you are targeted.”
Meet Tarek Loubani, the Canadian Doctor
Shot by Israeli Forces Monday While
Treating Gaza’s Wounded
(@15 min. into this program)
The Dark Side of Israeli Independence
by Brett Wilkins
On May 14, 1948, Israel declared its independence. Each May 15, Palestinians solemnly commemorate Nakba Day. Nakba means catastrophe, and that’s precisely what Israel’s independence has been for the more than 700,000 Arabs and their five million refugee descendants forced from their homes and into exile, often by horrific violence, to make way for the Jewish state.
Land Without a People?
In the late 19th century, Zionism emerged as a movement for the reestablishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, then part of the Ottoman Empire. Although Jews ruled over kingdoms there more than 2,000 years ago, they never numbered more than around 10 percent of the population from antiquity through the early 1900s. A key premise of Zionism is what literary theorist Edward Said called the “excluded presence” of Palestine’s indigenous population; a central myth of early Zionists was that Palestine was a “land without a people for a people without a land.”
John Pilger: Palestine Is Still the Issue
FROM THE NATION MAGAZINE
May 16, 2018
Palestinians Engaged in Nonviolent Protest. Israel Responded With a Massacre.
The targeting of unarmed demonstrators by snipers using high-velocity weapons was methodical, precise, and lethal.
Gaza City—The sniper bullets don’t come in quick succession. It’s not a barrage of fire. It is methodical, patient, precise. A single shot rings out and someone falls. You wait a few minutes. The crosshairs settle on the next target. Another shot, another body drops. Again and again and again. It goes on for hours.
This is how the Israeli military shot more than 1,350 Palestinians in Gaza on a single day, on May 14. Slowly.
As at least 60 people were being killed and over 2,700 wounded, White House officials clinked champagne glasses with their Israeli counterparts 50 miles away in Jerusalem to celebrate the transfer of the US embassy from Tel Aviv. Most people in Gaza have never been to Jerusalem. They can’t go. They can’t really go anywhere. Many have spent their lives trapped inside the 25-mile-long enclave, forbidden from crossing its borders. So they decided to march to the borders, to protest the US decision on Jerusalem, to demand their right of return, to push their bodies up against the limits of their confinement.
The grassroots movement, dubbed the Great Return March, began on March 30, which marks Land Day in Palestine (an annual commemoration for six Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in demonstrations in 1976 over land confiscations). The plan had been brewing for months. Activists, writers, and civil-society groups all began to organize around the idea of a protest at Gaza’s borders. The tactic of confronting the border is not a new one in Palestine; there have been numerous actions in the past. But this was the first time that it would coalesce into a broad-based, mass movement.
“The idea of the return marches was to do something collectively—that everyone together approaches the lands occupied in 1948,” said Mohamed Sherafi, a member of the Progressive Student Work Front, known as Taqadomi. “After a span of time, there was an agreement on the shape and form that we now have.”
Fourteen organizing committees were formed, comprising a broad swath of Palestinian society, including youth groups, women’s groups, nongovernmental organizations, legal-rights bodies, worker syndicates, and cultural associations. Their groundwork led to the formation of a Higher National Committee for the Return Marches, which included all the main political factions, with parties like Hamas, Fatah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Islamic Jihad, and others joining forces.
While Hamas’s participation was key in mobilization and funding efforts, the concept for the marches originated outside the group and was driven and led by all sectors of society.
In the Western media, Gaza is usually equated with Hamas, relegating all of the Strip’s diversity and political richness, all of its civil society and grassroots agency, to the background. And so it was with the return marches: The protests were widely characterized as being a Hamas operation. While Hamas is the ruling power in Gaza, and its participation was key in mobilization and funding efforts, the concept originated outside of the group and was driven and led by all sectors of society.
“Hamas unfortunately is viewed by a number of sides as a terrorist organization, so Israel is trying to tie the marches to Hamas to demonize this movement because it is peaceful and grassroots and popular,” said Hamas media spokesperson Hazem Kassem. “Everyone is taking part. Hamas participates, supports, mobilizes.”
After much debate, the organizers of the return marches settled on a number of key guidelines regarding tactics: no arms, no military uniforms, no party flags—just the Palestinian flag. People could try to cross the border fence if they wished.
“We want to break out of this prison. This is our right, this is our land.” —Salah Abdel Aaty, march organizer
“The goal of this is not an invasion. We want to break out of this prison. This is our right, this is our land,” said Salah Abdel Aaty, a rights lawyer and member of the Higher National Committee.
And yet, while the demands of the return marches include the lifting of the siege, at its heart is something higher: the right of return, the right of Palestinians to reclaim the homes they were forcibly displaced from in 1948, the very essence of the Palestinian liberation struggle.
President Trump’s decision last December to formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to transfer the US embassy there seemed like a first step in the so-called “deal of the century” to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict. Different versions of the plan have been leaked, but all indications point to an abandonment of the right of return and the creation of a kind of quasi-state, without sovereignty for the Palestinians and without Jerusalem as their capital. “If you remove Jerusalem and the refugees, what do you have? There’s nothing left. That’s it, the entire national project has ended,” said Monzer al-Hayak, the Fatah information commissioner for western Gaza.
Similar proposals have been floated in years past, but this time the domestic and regional context has been in an unprecedented state of political decline. The Palestinian leadership remains fiercely divided, with the latest reconciliation efforts between Fatah and Hamas falling apart; and neighboring Arab countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt—once supporters of the Palestinian struggle—are now more closely aligned with Israel than ever before.
The Great Return March:
by Ahmad Abu Rtemah
by Rashid Khalidi
by Mustafa Barghouti
by Hamza Saftawi and Miriam Berger
by John Nichols
This political convergence threatened the core of the Palestinian cause and gave rise to the return march movement in Gaza. “Gaza has historically been responsible for the national project,” said Akram Attalah, a columnist at the Ramallah-based newspaper Al-Ayam. “Gaza gave birth to Yasser Arafat; Gaza created Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the first intifada. This is the role of Gaza.”
The first return march took place on March 30, and the mass mobilizations continued on each succeeding Friday, culminating after nearly seven weeks on May 14, to mark the transfer of the US embassy to Jerusalem, and May 15, to mark the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, or catastrophe, which is how Palestinians refer to the forced expulsion from their homeland and the founding of the state of Israel.
The turnout on the first day was massive. “When we went down on March 30, we didn’t expect those numbers,” said Iktimal Hamad, the head of the women’s committee. “We didn’t expect it, then we built on it.”
Tens of thousands descended on five designated protest sites along the border, one in each of Gaza’s governorates, spanning the length of the Strip, from north to south: Beit Hanoun, Gaza City, al-Bureij, Khan Younis, and Rafah. Camps were set up with food carts, and held celebrations of Palestinian art, music, and cultural heritage. There was a festive atmosphere.
For years, Israel has imposed a buffer zone hundreds of yards wide along Gaza’s borders, regularly shooting at farmers and residents in the area and eating into the Strip’s already cramped territory. Thus the presence of the camps inside the buffer zone, in addition to being a protest, was also a reclamation of land.
Closer to the front lines, men and women approached the border fence, some armed with slingshots and rocks, some with Molotov cocktails, some with nothing more than displays of defiance. There were no guns, no grenades, no rockets.
Holes were dug in the ground for cover and to store caches of used tires. Young men and boys would set them alight and sprint to the front dragging the burning rubber behind them; once in place, the huge plumes of black smoke helped to block the snipers’ view. Paper kites fashioned with burning rags and bottles filled with gasoline were precariously flown over the border, occasionally setting Israeli crops on fire. Protesters hooked bent rods of rebar onto the barbed wire laid near the fence and hauled it away in repeated attempts to chip away at the barriers that penned them in. They confronted different areas of the fence, to divide Israeli troops. They planted the Palestinian flag on the mesh.
Some managed to cut through and briefly walk on the other side, saying they were implementing the right of return themselves before being forced back. Others did it out of sheer despair. The majority of people just stood and faced the border; thousands gathered side by side, all looking in the same direction.
The response was bullets. Slow and steady, yet incessant.
Israeli snipers positioned on sand dunes several yards away from the fence picked people off at will. Dozens were shot, then hundreds, then thousands—nearly 6,500 since March 30.
People were shot everywhere. I saw a woman hit as she walked up close to the barbed wire. I saw a teenager struck in the knee as he whirred a rock-filled sling. I saw a man shot in the foot while standing far back—some 200 yards—from the fence, away from the smoke and the chaos. People who did cross the fence were often shot at point-blank range. Methodical, patient, precise.
There was a constant stream of bloodied bodies being carried on stretchers to ambulances parked farther back, the wail of their sirens unending. On May 14, the Palestinian Red Crescent deployed 58 ambulances in Gaza. It was not enough, so they began using their administrative cars to ferry the wounded away.
Israeli soldiers used high-velocity weapons designed to cause maximum harm. In addition, multiple doctors in Gaza said the bullets were exploding upon impact. Amnesty International found that some wounds “bear the hallmarks of US-manufactured M24 Remington sniper rifles shooting 7.62mm hunting ammunition, which expand and mushroom inside the body.”
The vast majority of the gunshot wounds were to the legs. In the orthopedic ward of Shifa hospital, wails of anguish filled the hallway. Young men everywhere hobbled on crutches, wincing in pain. Most lay on cots, their shattered legs held together with rods and pins protruding at awkward angles. There have been nearly 30 amputations.
“The bullets leave fist-sized holes. We are seeing exposed bones, lacerations of soft tissue, severe damage to arteries, muscles, and tendons.” —Dr. Mohammed Abu Mughaiseeb, Doctors Without Borders
“The bullets leave fist-sized holes. We are seeing exposed bones, lacerations of soft tissue, severe damage to arteries, muscles, and tendons. It is common to see pulverized bones,” Dr. Mohammed Abu Mughaiseeb, the medical referent for Doctors Without Borders in Gaza, said. “A significant percentage of those wounded will suffer all their life from some form of disability.”
In the first intifada, which lasted from December 1987 to the early 1990s, soldiers broke the arms of stone-throwing youth. Three decades later, they are taking out the legs of Palestinians walking toward the border.
“You’re basically creating a new generation of cripples,” said Dr. Ghassan Abu-Sitta, of the UK-based charity Medical Aid for Palestinians.
People shot in the torso rarely survived. The ones shot in the head were killed instantly.
In addition to the bullets there was the tear gas. It came in three ways. The most frequent was multiple rounds of five or six canisters at a time, fired from launchers mounted atop army jeeps stationed near the snipers. Their range was short and the wind was mostly blowing east, typically sending the waves of gas away from the protesters and back across the border. The second was the more traditional hand-held rifle launcher, which has a much longer range but shoots only one canister at a time. The third method of delivery was new: a small drone that is able to fly over the crowds and drop seven or eight canisters at once, directly on the people below. The Israeli military had first experimented with the technology in Gaza in March, two weeks before the return marches began. The occupied territories have long been a laboratory for “live-testing” of Israeli weapons on the bodies of Palestinians.
On May 14, the bloodiest day in Gaza since the 2014 war, Shifa hospital was on the verge of collapse, unable to cope with the influx of hundreds upon hundreds of gunshot wounds. A janitor was kept busy mopping the blood off the floor. “I’ve worked here for 17 years, and I have never seen a day like this,” said Dr. Ali Ouda, a surgeon.
The wounded were being discharged too soon, in order to make room for those still awaiting treatment. There was a list of up to 30 patients waiting for surgery. After 11 years of siege, the hospital is woefully undersupplied, with shortages of antibiotics, IV fluids, bandages, beds, and wheelchairs.
On May 15, the anniversary of the Nakba, the gatherings at the border were much smaller. Funerals were being held across Gaza and the wounded were being tended to.
The youngest victim was 8-month-old Laila al-Ghandour. Her uncle was carrying her a hundred yards away from the fence when a drone dropped tear gas all around them, according to two family members. Laila turned blue and died of suffocation shortly after being rushed to the hospital. The next day screams of grief filled the family home as her father carried her tiny body wrapped in a Palestinian flag. “Why is the world silent? What are they waiting for?” her aunt, Wafaa al-Ghandour, said through tears.
In a nearby neighborhood, a few dozen gathered in a mourning tent on the street with the family of Yazan al-Tobasi. A 24-year-old father of one, Yazan had been going to the protests every Friday. His family says he was standing back, away from the fence, when a sniper shot him in the eye, killing him instantly. “He just went to express himself. He wasn’t even throwing stones,” his father said. “He just wanted to send a message to the world that we have rights.”
Overall, 112 Palestinians have been killed and more than 13,000 injured since the protests began on March 30.
A New Embassy in Jerusalem, an Old Struggle in Gaza
Amy Wilentz on the American embassy in Israel, Rachel Kushner on The Mars Room, and Patricia J. Williams on the legacy of lynching.
A Palestinian demonstrator shouts during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border on May 14, 2018. (Reuters / Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)
Every day, Trump makes the world less safe; Monday was a big one. Amy Wilentz comments on Ivanka and Jared—and Sheldon Adelson—dedicating the new American embassy in Jerusalem while the Israeli military killed 60 Palestinians during a mass nonviolent protest at the Gaza border. Amy was Jerusalem correspondent for The New Yorker and wrote the novel Martyrs’ Crossing about Palestinians and Israelis.
Also: There are 219,000 women in prison in the United States—Rachel Kushner’s new novel, The Mars Room, is a story about one of them. She explains the mix of fact and imagination that went into the book.
Plus: More than 4,400 African Americans were murdered by white mobs between 1877 and 1950—that’s the conclusion of the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit legal center. The new National Memorial for Peace and Justice, in Montgomery, Alabama, is dedicated to the victims; it opened last month. Patricia J. Williams, a longtime columnist for The Nation, comments.
On Thursday 10th May 2018, an unprecedented exchange of strikes happened between Israel and Syria. The mainstream media, as well as some “alternative” media like Russia Today, were quick to relay the Israeli army version, according to which the Zionist entity “retaliated” to an “Iranian attack by Revolutionary Guards’ Al-Quds Force” consisting of “twenty rockets” fired at Israeli positions in the occupied
This narrative takes for granted the postulates, data and myths of the Zionist entity’s propaganda – which imposes permanent military censorship on the Israeli media, exposing any offender to a prison sentence; and reading the international media, one might get the idea that, like American economic sanctions, this censorship is extraterritorial – but none of them can withstand scrutiny
An apology to the people of Iran
Open Letter to the People of Iran from the American People
These are indeed terrifying times. Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement is reckless, baseless and dangerous. We cannot allow him to take us down the path towards war with Iran.
Join Jane Fonda, Oliver Stone, Danny Glover, Noam Chomsky, Vijay Prashad, Eve Ensler, Mike Farrell, Frances Fisher, Shiva Rose, Matthew Modine, UPPJ, IPS, World Beyond War, Voices for Non Violence and more in reaching out to the Iranian people with an apology for our president’s unscrupulous behavior and a pledge to try to reverse this decision. We will publicize this “Apology to the Iranian People” via social media and publications inside Iran.
You can sign anonymously or publicly.
Ray McGovern: Haspel Hearing Is A Charade
79-year-old CIA veteran Ray McGovern who was violently escorted out of a U.S. Senate hearing and detained on Wednesday, has now been released and speaks with RT.
Empire of Nothing at All?
The U.S. Military Takes Us Through the Gates of Hell
by Tom Engelhardt
[This essay is the introduction to Tom Engelhardt’s new book, A Nation Unmade by War, a Dispatch Book published by Haymarket Books.]
As I was putting the finishing touches on my new book, the Costs of War Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute published an estimate of the taxpayer dollars that will have gone into America’s war on terror from September 12, 2001, through fiscal year 2018. That figure: a cool $5.6 trillion (including the future costs of caring for our war vets). On average, that’s at least $23,386 per taxpayer.
Keep in mind that such figures, however eye-popping, are only the dollar costs of our wars. They don’t, for instance, include the psychic costs to the Americans mangled in one way or another in those never-ending conflicts. They don’t include the costs to this country’s infrastructure, which has been crumbling while taxpayer dollars flow copiously and in a remarkably -- in these years, almost uniquely -- bipartisan fashion into what’s still laughably called “national security.” That’s not, of course, what would make most of us more secure, but what would make them -- the denizens of the national security state -- ever more secure in Washington and elsewhere. We’re talking about the Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. nuclear complex, and the rest of that state-within-a-state, including its many intelligence agencies and the warrior corporations that have, by now, been fused into that vast and vastly profitable interlocking structure.
In reality, the costs of America’s wars, still spreading in the Trump era, are incalculable. Just look at photos of the cities of Ramadi or Mosul in Iraq, Raqqa or Aleppo in Syria, Sirte in Libya, or Marawi in the southern Philippines, all in ruins in the wake of the conflicts Washington set off in the post–9/11 years, and try to put a price on them. Those views of mile upon mile of rubble, often without a building still standing untouched, should take anyone’s breath away. Some of those cities may never be fully rebuilt.
And how could you even begin to put a dollars-and-cents value on the larger human costs of those wars: the hundreds of thousands of dead? The tens of millions of people displaced in their own countries or sent as refugees fleeing across any border in sight? How could you factor in the way those masses of uprooted peoples of the Greater Middle East and Africa are unsettling other parts of the planet? Their presence (or more accurately a growing fear of it) has, for instance, helped fuel an expanding set of right-wing “populist” movements that threaten to tear Europe apart. And who could forget the role that those refugees -- or at least fantasy versions of them -- played in Donald Trump’s full-throated, successful pitch for the presidency? What, in the end, might be the cost of that?
Opening the Gates of Hell
America’s never-ending twenty-first-century conflicts were triggered by the decision of George W. Bush and his top officials to instantly define their response to attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center by a tiny group of jihadis as a “war”; then to proclaim it nothing short of a “Global War on Terror”; and finally to invade and occupy first Afghanistan and then Iraq, with dreams of dominating the Greater Middle East -- and ultimately the planet -- as no other imperial power had ever done.
Reasons Trump Breaks Nuclear-Sanction Agreement with Iran, Declares Trade War with China
Meets with North Korea
by James Petras
For some time, critics of President Trump’s policies have attributed them to a mental disorder; uncontrolled manic-depression, narcissus bullying and other pathologies.
The question of Trump’s mental health raises a deeper question: why does his pathologies take a specific political direction?
Moreover, Trump’s decisions have a political history and background, and follow from a logic and belief in the reason and logic of imperial power.
We will examine the reason why Trump has embraced three strategic decisions which have world-historic consequences, namely: Trump’s reneging the nuclear accord with Iran; Trump’s declaration of a trade war with China; and Trump’s meeting with North Korea.
In brief we will explore the political reasons for his decisions; what he expects to gain; and what is his game plan if he fails to secure his expected outcome and his adversaries take reprisals.
Trump’s Withdrawal From Iran Nuclear Deal Gives Europe a Choice: Become Vassals or be Independent
by Finian Cunningham
Donald Trump’s trashing of the Iran nuclear deal this week was not just an attack on Iranian sovereign interests. The US president was also poking European allies in the eye.
In abruptly withdrawing the US from the international nuclear treaty, Trump warned that his administration was preparing to re-impose harsh sanctions on Tehran, and that those sanctions would also hit European commercial interests in Iran.
The American president’s high-handed manner was to be expected towards Iran. He has constantly denigrated the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed in July 2015 by his predecessor Barack Obama, along with other members of the UN Security Council, Britain, France, Russia, China plus Germany. Trump’s contempt for Iran as an alleged state terrorism sponsor has also been relentless.
But what stood out more in his dismissal of the nuclear deal this week was Trump’s brazen disregard for European allies.
Trump Basically Threatened Iran with Annihilation
Deep State First – Madness On Both Ends of the Acela Corridor
by David Stockman
At his so-called Cabinet meeting this morning, the Donald basically threatened Iran with annihilation if it does what 15 other signatories to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) do every day: Namely, increase production of industrial grade nuclear fuel (3.5%-5.0% purity) at its enrichment plant at Natanz – which, in any event, is crawling with IAEA inspectors.
Moreover, it really doesn’t matter whether Trump was play-acting in the style of Art of the Deal or that the JPAOC could be improved.
The mere threat of a military attack from the White House is madness because it arises from blatant lies that have absolutely nothing to do with US national security. Nor, for that matter, the security of any other country in the region, including Saudi Arabia and Israel.
The real purpose of the Donald’s missile-rattling is nothing more than helping Bibi Netanyahu keep his coalition of right wing religious and settler parties (Likud, United Torah Judaism, Shas, Kulanu and the Jewish Home) together, thereby maintaining his slim 61-vote majority in the 120-seat Kneset.
Putin’s Strategy Finally Beginning To Work?
by Paul Craig Roberts
I have explained Russian President Valdimir Putin’s Christian practice of turning the other cheek to Western provocations as a strategy to convey to Europe that Russia is reasonable but Washington is not and that Russia is not a threat to European interests and sovereignty but Washington is. By accommodating Israel and withdrawing from the multi-nation Iran nuclear-nonprolifertion agreement, US President Donald Trump might have brought success to Putin’s strategy.
Washington’s three main European vassal states, Britain, France, and Germany have objected to Trump’s unilateral action. Trump is of the opinion that the multi-nation agreement depends only on Washington. If Washington renounces the agreement, that is the end of the agreement. It doesn’t matter what the other parties to the agreement want. Consequently, Trump intends to reimpose the previous sanctions against doing business with Iran and to impose additional new sanctions. If Britain, France, and Germany continue with the business contracts that have been made with Iran, Washington will sanction its vassal states as well and prohibit activities of British, French, and German countries in the US. Clearly, Washington thinks that Europe’s profits in the US exceed what can be made in Iran and will fall in line with Washington’s decision, as the vassal states have done in the past.
Merkel heads to Sochi: Russia-Germany détente on the horizon?
Merkel has been to Russia only once since 2014, which marked the rapid deterioration of relations between Russia and Europe. The German chancellor visited Sochi in early May 2017. Now, she is trekking out to Sochi once again – about a week after the US President Donald Trump announced that he would be withdrawing his country from the Iran nuclear deal, of which Russia and Germany are both signatories. Washington’s Iran sanctions bite: Germany trying to ‘minimize’ damage, France wants exemptions The US leader’s decision has infuriated Europe, with Merkel going so far as to suggest that Europe can no longer rely upon the US to ensure its security and maintain international norms. With Merkel heading to Sochi, it appears that Europe, increasingly disillusioned Washington, will seek closer cooperation with Moscow in hopes of salvaging the Iran deal and making headway on a number of other critical international issues.
Hypersonic glider: US intelligence in panic mode over Russia getting invincible weapon ‘by 2020’
Russia’s state-of-the-art hypersonic glide vehicle, which analysts say is capable of easily cutting through the existing US missile shield, will become operational by 2020, reports citing US intelligence have warned.
Speaking to CNBC on the condition of anonymity, sources aware of US intelligence reports, said the Russian military successfully tested the weapon twice in 2016. The third known test of the weapon was allegedly carried out in October 2017, and allegedly failed when the device crashed seconds before hitting its target.
The sources believe the device would be a significant breakthrough which could enable Russian military to surpass US counterparts. The intelligence sources claimed that the hypersonic gliders will get onboard countermeasures to enable them to defeat even the most advanced missile-defense systems.
Presence in Syria is Far From Over
by Robert Fisk
In the Middle East right now, all sides in this complex battle are staring at each other with increasing concern
An Israeli statement that the Iranians had missiles in Syria was surely made in concert with the Trump administration – it came within hours, and coincidences don’t run that close in the Middle East.
In the West, it’s easy to concentrate on each daily drama about the Middle East and forget the world in which the real people of the region live. The latest ravings of the American president on the Iran nuclear agreement – mercifully, at last, firmly opposed by the EU – obscure the lands of mass graves and tunnels in which the Muslim Middle East now exists. Even inside the area, there has now arisen an almost macabre disinterest in the suffering that has been inflicted here over the past six years. It’s Israel’s air strikes in Syria that now takes away the attention span.
How U.S. Taxpayers Fund The World's
Most Profitable Corporations
by David DeGraw
We were trying to think of an issue that could possibly be more significant than $21 Trillion in taxpayer money disappearing from the Pentagon. While it is very hard to fathom something more significant than $21 Trillion, the only thing we could come up with is the lack of Return on Public Investment that American taxpayers get…
As American taxpayers, did you know that we have been major investors in many of the world’s most profitable corporations?
Yes, significant Research & Development of technology, done by the Pentagon through our public investment via taxpayer funding, has been handed over to global private corporations and foreign countries, for their profit.
Global weapons manufactures, foreign countries and most of Silicon Valley’s largest companies have been gifted trillions of dollars worth of technology, at our expense, for their profit.
Meanwhile, instead of having state of the art infrastructure and paying significantly less in taxes, our taxes increase, our infrastructure is collapsing and social services are getting cut, as our National Debt skyrockets to an all-time high.
Gearing Up for a Third Gulf War
by Michael T. Klare / TomDispatch
With Donald Trump’s decision to shred the Iran nuclear agreement, announced last Tuesday, it’s time for the rest of us to start thinking about what a Third Gulf War would mean. The answer, based on the last 16 years of American experience in the Greater Middle East, is that it won’t be pretty.
The New York Times recently reported that U.S. Army Special Forces were secretly aiding the Saudi Arabian military against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. It was only the latest sign preceding President Trump’s Iran announcement that Washington was gearing up for the possibility of another interstate war in the Persian Gulf region. The first two Gulf wars — Operation Desert Storm (the 1990 campaign to drive Iraqi forces out of Kuwait) and the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq — ended in American “victories” that unleashed virulent strains of terrorism like ISIS, uprooted millions, and unsettled the Greater Middle East in disastrous ways. The Third Gulf War — not against Iraq but Iran and its allies — will undoubtedly result in another American “victory” that could loose even more horrific forces of chaos and bloodshed.
Like the first two Gulf wars, the third could involve high-intensity clashes between an array of American forces and those of Iran, another well-armed state. While the United States has been fighting ISIS and other terrorist entities in the Middle East and elsewhere in recent years, such warfare bears little relation to engaging a modern state determined to defend its sovereign territory with professional armed forces that have the will, if not necessarily the wherewithal, to counter major U.S. weapons systems.
Bomb Putin’s bridge, US commentator bizarrely
North Korea Threatens To Call Off Pyongyang-Washington Summit, Slams U.S Approach
North Korea would reconsider its participation in the historical Pyongyang-Washington summit in Singapore planned for June 12, the country’s state-run news agency KCNA reported on May 16.
According to a press statement of North Korean First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Kim Kye-gwan, North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un stated that its country isn’t interested in any negotiations that envisage only unilateral denuclearization without guarantees.
Kim Jong Un criticized the “so-called Libya mode of nuclear abandonment” as this move hadn’t been an “expression of intention to address the issue through dialogue.”
It’s the End of the World, and I Feel Terrible
by Norman Solomon | May 17, 2018
Switzerland - A Once-in-a-Lifetime Chance
It’s called “Vollgeld Initiative” – in German, meaning more or less “Referendum for Sovereign Money”. What is “Sovereign Money”? – Its money produced only by the Central Bank, by the “Sovereign”, the government, represented by its central bank. Money created in accordance with the needs of the economy, as contrasted to the profit and greed motives of the banking oligarchy – wat it is today; money creation at will, by private banking.
The people of Switzerland are called to vote on 10 June 2018 whether they want to stop the unlimited, unrestrained money-making by the Swiss private banking system, and to return to the “olden days”, when money was made and controlled only by the Central Bank; and this not just in Switzerland, but in most countries around the globe. Switzerland is one of the few sovereign countries within the OECD, and possibly worldwide, that has the Right of Referendum written into her Constitution. With 100,000 valid signatures anybody can raise a referendum to amend or abolish a law, or to create a new one. – This is a huge privilege to Right a Wrong.