Friday 24th of May 2024

a sordid tradition of a hypocrite sociopath.......

As the Israeli military’s ground attacks against Gaza intensify and the civilian death toll spirals under the cover of the information blackout effected by air strikes knocking out Gaza’s internet and communication systems, the Biden administration is becoming increasingly isolated within the international community for its stubborn backing of Israel’s acts of collective punishment against the population of Gaza.

On October 27, the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly voted for a resolution sponsored by Jordan, a U.S. ally, calling for a ceasefire. The United States was one of only 14 countries in the 193-member body to vote against the resolution.

Even conservative pro-Western Arab governments that have normalized relations with Israel have expressed their anger with Israel for its attacks on Gaza, which have displaced over 1 million people, and with the U.S. for its support of Israel’s “ethnic cleansing.” A joint statement by European Union leaders has called for “corridors and pauses” in the U.S.-backed war efforts in order to get badly needed humanitarian aid into Gaza.





The president of the United States, Joe Biden, has recently published an op-ed. Appropriately released through the Washington Post, it is, of course, really the equivalent of a regime policy declaration – a laying down of the party line, if you wish. As such, the text deserves attention, never mind that it is impossible that America’s leader, clearly challenged by worsening senescence, has written it himself. This is, to borrow a phrase from the Russia-watching crowd, America’s “collective Biden” speaking.

Translated from official jargon and scrubbed of empty rhetoric and euphemisms, the long proclamation makes only two substantial points about what the US and its “allies” (really clients and vassals) must do: Continue waging a proxy war against Russia in Ukraine and continue backing Israel in its genocidal war against the Palestinians (no, it is not a “war against Hamas,” that’s a side effect).

In that sense, there is nothing surprising, or hopeful, in collective Biden’s announcement: It took them more words this time, but this Democratic administration of neocons is simply repeating the equally tone-deaf slogan of a former Republican president representing a past gaggle of neocons: Stay the course, as George W. Bush put it succinctly during the Iraq disaster. Deja Vue all over again, in the words of America’s greatest philosopher.

But the details of the text still merit scrutiny. Let’s pick out a few highlights: 

Hamas is repeatedly denounced as carrying out “pure, unadulterated evil” and such. Every fair observer would reserve such terms by now for what the Israeli are doing in Gaza. But let’s set that aside for now and let’s also set aside that we now know that substantial numbers of Israelis were killed by Israeli forces. Let’s instead focus on Hamas. Is such language factual? The rational answer to that question is not a matter of opinion, and it has to be “no”: In reality, the empirical record shows that Hamas is a resistance organization engaged in a legally and ethically justified struggle against massive national oppression. It has attacked military targets, which is legitimate, as well as committed terrorist crimes. But if any political and armed organization that does both engage in legitimate violence and terrorist crimes is carrying out “pure evil,” then almost every halfway powerful state in this world has done just that or is doing it even now. Clearly, we are dealing with an absurd statement here.

Usually, the cause of such absurdities is strategic dishonesty. That holds here as well. For the Biden administration is transparently pursuing two aims with this Orwellian abuse of terminology: First, make Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians appear, if not justified, then at least so “understandable” or “inevitable” that we stop objecting to them (and, if we are Americans, vote for Democrats, even while they support these perfectly avoidable crimes).

Secondly, prepare the ground for the proposal, following further down in the proclamation, to entirely eliminate Hamas from any post-assault settlement and, instead, “ultimately” make a “revived Palestinian Authority” rule both the West Bank and Gaza, while work on some lasting settlement continues.

This proposal is wrapped in deceptive and revoltingly cynical rhetoric: If Joe Biden has a broken heart over the slaughtered children of Gaza, then Andrew Jackson must have cried while signing the Indian Removal Act. If Biden wants a two-state solution, then why is he allowing and helping one of the “two states” to wipe out the other? If he has “counselled” Israeli leaders to refrain from excessive violence, then why has he not backed up his kind words with using his massive leverage and stopping the flow of arms, money, information, and diplomatic cover to help their genocidal attack? If Biden is worried about antisemitism spreading, why does he allow far-right Zionists to claim that their policies, which lead to deaths of thousands upon thousands of Palestinian children, are somehow “Jewish”?

Hypocrisy like that may still fool some Americans, namely those who really believe that the adequate answer to the umpteenth mass shooting at home is “thoughts and prayers.” But a US president and those writing and thinking for him would be well-advised not to embarrass themselves further before everyone else, at home and abroad.

The real policy proposal, meanwhile, is nothing else but an attempt to return to the post-Oslo Accords system on even worse terms. That means, creating a situation in which urgent, vital Palestinian needs and crystal-clear Palestinian rights will, once again, be de facto suspended in an endless dishonest “process,” which really only serves as a screen and stalling device for Israel, while the latter settles occupied land, practices the internationally recognized crime of apartheid, and conducts the occasional massacre.

But the proclamation addresses more than the Middle East. Turning on Russia, the collective Biden personalizes the issue, in bad old neocon style. Instead of any attempt at a rational – albeit critical, even hostile – approach to Moscow’s actions and interests, we find the usual daft insults: Russian President Vladimir Putin is juxtaposed with Hamas, as if he were a one-man “terrorist organization.” (Never mind that Hamas is not, actually, a terrorist organization, although it also engages in terrorist acts; see above.)

The war in Ukraine is reduced to Putin’s personal “drive for conquest,” as if there has been no history of two decades of American provocations by reckless over-expansion, bad faith, and refusal to negotiate serious issues of international security in earnest and constructively. In that regard, Russia is receiving the same rhetorical treatment as the Palestinians: When it fights, we are forbidden to notice all the very real reasons it was given to do so. 

And finally, both “Putin” – read: Russia – and Hamas stand accused of two things: Wanting to “wipe a neighboring democracy off the map” and taking us to a new, vile international order, where the strong abuse the weak and might makes right.

Newsflash: Actually, neither Israel nor Ukraine are democracies. In Israel’s case, the claim is vitiated by the simple fact that its government exerts de facto control over millions of Palestinians, all of whom face discrimination and the vast majority of whom do not have a vote, or, for that matter any ordinary civil and human rights. Ukraine, meanwhile, has Vladimir Zelensky, Washington’s darling in decline, who started dismantling the country’s brittle democratic structures – for what they were worth – in 2021, well before the war, and clings to power by cooperating with a violent far-right, eliminating the political opposition, streamlining the media, and delaying elections. Again, these are not matters of opinion but facts.

Secondly, Hamas is not trying to wipe out Israel, despite endless claims to the contrary. In the past, it has repeatedly signaled a willingness to compromise and accept a two-state solution. Claiming Hamas wants the total destruction of Israel is akin to using one idiotic quote from former US President Ronald Reagan to “prove” that he wanted to erase the whole Soviet Union. Hamas also simply does not have the capacity – not by a very far stretch – to do so.

Likewise, Russia is not trying to abolish Ukraine. As its compromise proposals of late 2021 clearly showed, its key aim is a neutral Ukraine that is not used as a proxy by the West. It is true that Russia, by now, claims some Ukrainian territory. Depending on how long the war continues, it may end up claiming and taking even more. You may very well object to that. Yet it is not the same as a will to exterminate a whole state or, for that matter, its population.

Finally, regarding the warning that Hamas, Russia, and who knows who else (China? India? Brazil? Simply everyone who won’t do as told by Washington?) are hellbent on dragging us all into new dark ages of ultra-cynical realpolitik and brute force, guess what: That is precisely where we are now. And have been for the last quarter of a century, under the benevolent aegis of the USA. Don’t believe it? Ask Gaza. 

In sum, all we can really learn from this letter from on-high is that the Biden administration has understood nothing and is determined to learn even less. If, in the words of the declaration, the world is ever supposed to have even a slight chance of seeing “more hope, more freedom, less rage, less grievance, and less war,” then we first need to see much less of Joe Biden and everything and everyone he stands for.







le truth....

Peak Palestinian advocacy organisations condemn allegations against visiting UN human rights expert.

The Australian Friends of Palestine Association (AFOPA) and the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN) condemn the statement circulated by the Australia Israel and Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) in response to the National Press Club address by the visiting UN Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, Francesca Albanese. The UN Human Rights Council appointed Ms Albanese to this function in April 2022 for a six-year term.

The 15 November statement by AIJAC’s Executive Director, Colin Rubenstein, is “clearly defamatory of Ms Albanese and must be challenged,” says AFOPA Chairperson Ms Christa Christaki.

AFOPA and APAN reject the outrageous assertions against Ms Albanese, including that ‘she is a liar’, and that everything she said at the National Press Club on 14 November consisted of ‘absolute falsehoods’.

This egregious attack on a highly respected human rights lawyer and well published scholar, and now Special Rapporteur of the United Nations, seriously misrepresents and distorts key arguments made by Ms Albanese in her Press Club presentation.

To claim that Ms Albanese ‘repeatedly justified terrorism against Israeli civilians while arguing Israel has no right to self-defence against Palestinian violence’ is an extraordinary distortion of her argument which is easily disproved by looking at the video of the Press Club event.

Firstly, Ms Albanese has never justified terrorism and this serious allegation should be retracted immediately.

Secondly, in relation to Israel’s claim to the right to self-defence, Ms. Albanese referred to international law as reaffirmed by the International Court of Justice saying that self-defence – the right to use military force, and therefore the right to wage a war – cannot be invoked against threats emanating from the territory which the state, in this case Israel, occupies. International humanitarian law recognises that Israel has the right to protect itself and its citizens through law enforcement measures to restore law and order and pursue accountability.

Ms Albanese stands by her claim that Israel is an apartheid state, and notes that in doing so she is supported by the findings of her predecessor, Professor Michael Lynk, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem and others. Amnesty’s report, published in February 2022, extends to 280 pages of documented evidence.

In August 2023, over 2,800 academics, clergy and other public figures, mostly from Israel denounced the “apartheid system in the occupied Palestinian territory as the “elephant in the room”. Instead of accusing the UN Special Rapporteur, it would be more honest to engage with the substance of her claims.

Ms Albanese did not call for the “dismantling and the complete removal of Israel.“ She simply noted the need for the end of the apartheid practices by the State of Israel, which could be done by a constitution establishing the equality of all citizens inside Israel and the end of the settler-colonial occupation of the 1967 Palestinian territory, as preconditions to any political solution.

The suggestion in AIJAC’s statement that Gaza has been ‘exclusively under Palestinian and Hamas control over the last 16 years’ is specious. As Ms Albanese has amply clarified, Gaza remains occupied as defined by Article 42 of the Hague Regulations of 1907.

In fact, Israel retains effective control over Gaza’s airspace and territorial sea; with the exception of Gaza’s border with Egypt, Israel has unilaterally declared (not internationally recognised) ‘borders’, the so-called Access Restricted Areas (ARAs) on the land near the Green Line (‘exclusion zone’, ‘no-go zone’, or ‘buffer zone’). Israel also controls Gaza’s monetary system (based on the Israeli currency), customs, and construction industry (requiring Israel’s approval).

Israel also maintains the Palestinian population registry in the Gaza Strip, collects Palestinian taxes, and controls access in and out of Gaza, including any goods entering or exiting the Strip, such as food items and medical supplies. Israel also retains the right to carry out ‘preventive strikes’ within Gaza. The full blockade enforced in 2007 has only tightened Israel’s control. There can be no doubt that Israel has totally restricted the freedoms of residents and controlled all entry and exit of goods and services into Gaza over that period.

The suggestion that Ms Albanese is an anti-Semite, or spouts anti-Semitic tropes is slanderous and completely rejected. Criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitic. Her lifelong efforts for human rights and justice have been endorsed by numerous members of the global Jewish community, both overseas and in Israel. As Professor Avi Shlaim remarked, “The three main pillars of Judaism are truth, justice, and peace. Ms. Albanese personifies these values to a remarkably high degree. And there will be many Jews worldwide, disturbed by Israel’s departure from these core Jewish values, who may have reason to thank her for upholding them.”

Many other prominent Jewish scholars have vehemently defended the Special Rapporteur against these unfounded accusations.

AFOPA understands that the overall thrust of AIJAC’s statement is to discredit Ms Albanese and her integrity and to cast doubt on her ability to fulfil her UN role as a Special Rapporteur.

AFOPA and APAN will recommend Ms Albanese seek legal advice to protect herself from this manifest and grave incidence of defamation as soon as possible.







the fires that burn....


From Gaza With Rage
What is happening now in Gaza is genocide. I mourn for my friends, neighbors, and family with the deepest sadness, but it is not only sadness that I feel.


BY Mona El Farra


The repeating Israeli airstrikes on the Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza are beyond my own comprehension. For at least 10 of the last 40 days, missiles have rained down on the most densely populated refugee camp in all of Gaza. 

And it is not just the days; it is also the nights. The bombing is done in the dark, when the power is off and the only light is from the fires that burn. It is done when the internet is cut, when the journalists are shot dead, to hide their crimes, the burning of children.

I have a long history and strong connection to the people in this camp. My friends, former coworkers, patients, and people I have known for decades through my work as a doctor at Gaza’s Al-Awda hospital are living in this camp. There are the children who grew up coming to the library I founded in Jabalia, who are now young men and women, who have their own children, their own families. There are my beautiful neighbors and friends and patients, who are not my relatives but are my family. They are generation after generation of refugee families living in one of the most crowded places on earth.

After the latest massacre, I cannot reach any of them. 

I am so very sad. But it is not only sadness that I feel. It is also rage.

I see these same families in the video sent to me of my neighbors pulling children from the rubble. I see them in my memories as we lived and struggled under dual occupations, and Israeli bombings and apartheid. I hear what it sounds like in the aftermath when women and children, the overwhelming majority of those living in, injured, and killed in Jabalia, scream and mourn in anguish and wake up to do it again. I can taste the chemicals, the poisons that linger in the air for hours and days after these indiscriminate explosions. I can smell the acrid odor of white phosphorus, used by Israel in Gaza and caked on the walls of burning buildings and bodies. I can feel the collective hunger: for food and for justice and for all of it to stop.

But now I am in Cairo and it is so difficult and distressing to hear more terrible news each day, news of my loved ones killed by this criminal occupation, by these crimes of war bragged about by Israeli officials who say that there will be no buildings left in Gaza, that we will be a “city of tents.”

I had always been home in Gaza during previous Israeli bombings that so often use U.S. planes and U.S. missiles, gifted and given as “aid.” Such “help” is the opposite of the aid I am buying now. The food, medicine, and more, even toys for children who have lost so, so much. The Middle East Children’s Alliance is raising money so we can buy these supplies to deliver to children and families in Gaza as soon as we can.

I am so very sad. But it is not only sadness that I feel. It is also rage.

How do I feed a child that will not eat because of fear? How do you give a toy to a child who will not play, who searches the skies for what they know will come? 

I am enraged at Israel’s constant, ruthless bombardment, killing thousands of people from newborn babies to grandfathers. What is happening now in Gaza is genocide. Those who are not killed by Israeli bombs are dying slowly from the lack of medicine, food, and water.

How do I feed a child that will not eat because of fear? How do you give a toy to a child who will not play, who searches the skies for what they know will come?

I mourn more of my beloveds, both family and friends, every day and I ask myself who is next. Last week it was one of my dear friends killed in Jabalia. We were friends for over 35 years, since we worked together during the first intifada in 1987.

Before that, it was my own family. My own brother speaks in the video about our own family members that were killed a few weeks ago. 

This is our story and it is the tragedy of every family in Gaza. More than one out of every two hundred Palestinians in Gaza has been killed in the last 40 days. 

I have always signed my letters to supporters and friends from around the world with these words, “From Gaza with Love.” But today I’m writing with a rage that no mother should know, a rage of desperation and disbelief about what is being allowed to happen. I still feel love for everyone in Palestine, and people who have stood in support and solidarity of our shared struggle. But please, take action. And then do more. 

We must stop this genocide.






US President Joe Biden has offered a theory on what might have triggered the surprise Hamas attacks that ignited the Palestinian militant group’s latest war with Israel: himself.

Speaking to reporters in Nantucket, Massachusetts on Friday, Biden speculated that Hamas was motivated to launch its October 7 assault on villages in southern Israel by US progress in negotiating a peace agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia. The president claimed that the talks were heating up after a massive railway project, including a link between Riyadh and Israel, was announced at the G20 summit in September – a deal for which he took credit.

“I cannot prove what I’m about to say,” Biden said“But I believe one of the reasons why Hamas struck when they did was they knew that I was working very closely with the Saudis and others in the region to bring peace to the region by having recognition of Israel and Israel’s right to exist.”

Biden made his comments after a four-day ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict began on Friday morning. He credited “extensive US diplomacy,” including telephone calls that he placed from the Oval Office, with bringing about the temporary halt to fighting in Gaza. Hamas agreed to release 50 hostages in exchange for 150 Palestinian civilians held in Israeli jails.

“Today has been a product of a lot of hard work and weeks of personal engagement,” Biden said. “From the moment Hamas kidnapped these people, I along with my team have worked around the clock to secure their release.”

The October 7 raids killed an estimated 1,200 people in Israel, and the Islamist militants took around 240 hostages back to Gaza. The attacks triggered a war that has left more than 14,000 people dead in the Palestinian enclave, according to local health officials.

Saudi Arabia, which was reportedly nearing an agreement to normalize relations with Israel, put the deal on ice after the latest conflict in Gaza began.

Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump had brokered the Abraham Accords, under which Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates established diplomatic ties with Israel. Sudan and Morocco later signed the accords.