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Thursday, January 11, 2018

What's missing in NPR's Jerusalem discussion? Palestinians and International Law

NPR Morning Edition commentator Cokie Roberts offered no surprises in her 4:30 min Q&A over Trump’s decision to declare Jerusalem Israel’s capital. The context-free segment was aligned with MSM talking points featuring unquestioned support for Israeli

Roberts was accurate about one thing. International legitimacy is still important to Israel. Despite all the UN hand-wringing, Israel is quite comfortable at the table. Hence, Roberts goes to that infamous Partition Plan as a means to nudging the ensuing conversation toward legitimacy.

ROBERTS: Well, the U.N. had a huge role (in Israel’s creation). As the post World War I British control over Palestine was scheduled to end in 1948, the U.N. debated the future of the region and eventually did adopt what was called the Partition Resolution in 1947, which divided Palestine into Jewish and Palestinian states and put Jerusalem under international control to be administered by the U.N. But that didn't last long.


Did the UN resolution “divide Palestine into Jewish and Palestinian states” and “put Jerusalem under international control”?

Though UN General Assembly 181 (The Partition Resolution) was approved by the  UN General Assembly - minus input from the existing residents and over the  objection of the surrounding Arab states – it remains the fictional bedrock of Israel’s legitimacy.

Unfortunately, the UN does not have state making powers and UN 181 conferred no legal authority to Israel’s founders for their unilateral declaration of the existence of the state of Israel on May 14, 1948.

In reality, UN 181 merely recommended that the partition plan be implemented and requested the Security Council take up the matter from there as UN General Assembly Resolutions are non-binding.

Importantly, it called upon the inhabitants of Palestine to accept the plan, but they were certainly under no obligation to do so. This is important to keep in mind when considering what followed.

Given that Arab Muslims and Christians not only outnumbered Jews 2 to 1, owning the vast majority of the land, the Arab rejection of the plan that sought to convey 55% of mandate Palestine to the Jewish minority was to be expected.

In 1945, Jewish land ownership hovered just under 6%.


INSKEEP: What happened?

ROBERTS: Well, as soon as the state of Israel was declared, five Arab armies attacked Jewish settlements in the region. Israel fought back and captured the western part of Jerusalem.

Israeli historians broadly concede that between 200,000 to 400,000 Palestinians were “transferred” from Palestine prior to Israel’s unilateral declaration of statehood May 14, 1948. This highly planned ethnic cleansing included expulsion and dozens of massacres and terror attacks on civilians.
The attack of the “5 Arab Armies” Roberts mentions is a common boilerplate statement that deserves unpacking. Given the ethnic cleansing, land grab and looting already underway, Arab States took up arms to prevent the Zionists from claiming all of Palestine for themselves.
The unilaterally declaration of the state of Israel by the Zionists over lands they had no rights to was the chief motivator for the invasion. 
There was considerably more involved in the Zionist taking of Palestine than simply “Israel fighting back” which implies self-defense and evokes empathy. In reality, Israeli terror squads like the Hagganah and Stern Gang  (precursors to the Israeli Defense Forces) had long been preparing, training and arming for Plan Dalet, the Zionist “population transfer” plan for the Arab inhabitants of Palestine.
The conflation of the “Arab invasion” with the “Zionist expulsion” was important to Israel’s founders for two reasons: It provided cover for old fashioned ethnic cleansing and it conferred a semblance of legitimacy to the newly declared state. Everybody loves and underdog. 
As there was no internationally recognized state of Israel when this invasion occurred, “Israel” was never invaded.


ROBERTS CONT: Then in a later war, the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel took all the city. And East Jerusalem is now considered occupied territory by the Arabs, who also claim the city as their capital.

“Considered occupied territory by the Arabs”? 
It is not just considered occupied territory by the Arabs, but by the rest of the world as well. 
Here, Roberts selective forgets UN Resolution 242, unanimously approved (15-0) by the Security Council (a legally binding resolution unlike UN 181) in the aftermath of the Six Day War in 1967. The that resulted in the unfortunate misunderstanding by the Arabs that Israel was occupying their lands. 
The resolution – reiterated through successive security council resolutions, the most recent passed last year with a US abstention - calls for the Israeli withdrawal of lands captured in that war including the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem in exchange for full recognition of Israel by surrounding Arab states. 
Operative Paragraph One "Affirms that the fulfillment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles:

(i)      Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;
(ii)     Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force."


INSKEEP: And the United States had not recognized it as Israel's capital up to now, which leads to our next question (When did the US recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital?)

ROBERTS: Well, the Jerusalem Embassy Act was passed in 1995 with overwhelming, overwhelming support in both houses.

Roberts adds not one but TWO “overwhelmings” to emphasize the “unshakable” pro-Israeli US position. However, there was another aspect to the Jerusalem conundrum. Again, it was “the rest of the world”. 
Had Roberts contrasted that vote in the US Congress to the vote on the issue in the UN Security Council 15 years prior, listeners might have been given a glimpse of just how “overwhelmingly” out of step the US is with the international community. 
When Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1980, the move was widely condemned and it reverberated straight to the Security Council which found the annexation was in contravention of international law and urged its rejection. UNSC 478 passed with overwhelming, overwhelming support 14-0. 
The US abstained 
 In particular, UNSC 478 notes Israel's non-compliance with UNSC res 476 and condemned Israel's 1980 Jerusalem Law…as a violation of international law. The resolution states that the Council will not recognize this law, and calls on member states to accept the decision of the council. This resolution also calls upon member states to withdraw their diplomatic missions from the city. 
Why would NPR not want its highly educated listener base aware of the fact that everything US politicians are doing with regard to Israel is consistently opposed to the agreements reached by the international community? Against international law?


ROBERTS: But let's be clear, Steve. This was a strictly political move. The bill was introduced by Bob Dole, who was running for president, and he wanted to woo the evangelical Christians who support Israel plus Jewish voters.

But President Clinton, who allowed the bill become law without signing it, convinced the Congress to insert the waiver which allows a six-month delay if there are security reasons to support that.

And for reasons of stability, each succeeding president has signed the waiver every six months. The Trump administration argues this president is making a bold move by saying he's going to move the embassy to Jerusalem.

Reasons of stability? Meaning if the US acts in violation of international law and the international consensus, there may be a reaction? 
While Israel hides behind International bodies for legitimacy, it undermines ignores and holds them in contempt when they challenge its regional designs and aggression.
Israel’s declaration of statehood in 1948, its acquisition of territory by war in 1967 and its illegal annexation of East Jerusalem in 1980, are but three examples. 
Setting aside the multi-lateral UN agreements in place recognizing the special status of Jerusalem – home to sites revered by the three major world religions and a majority of the world’s population – another consequence of Israeli unilateralism is completely absent in Roberts reporting - the 5 million Palestinian refugee living without rights under Israeli military occupation. 
Unlike the Jews, Muslim and Christians expelled from the “Promised Land” are not entitled to a “right of return” under Israel’s racist demographic formulation. 
Additionally, the impact of the announcement on the 300,000 Muslims and Christians living in East Jerusalem under apartheid “residency” laws under constant threat of expulsion, does not bear mention in the piece. 
Mentioning their plight, it appears, is but a nuisance to NPR programmers. As their existence has always been to the Zionist program. 
While unilateral action has defined the founding and expansion of the state of Israel, International consensus remains important. Just as Israel and its apologists harken back to UN 181 as a founding document, the multi-national efforts made on behalf of justice and human rights for Palestinians has not been for naught. 
With a two-state settlement, all but neutralized by a “peace process” that has institutionalized 30-years of illegal settlement expansion on stolen lands throughout the West Bank and E. Jerusalem, activists too are focusing on the “facts on the ground”.
If Israel insists on total control, the choice could not be more clear. 
It must either live up to its slogan as “the only democracy in the middle east” and obligations under international law by restoring full rights to the 5 million occupied Muslims and Christians under a binational state or continue down the racist path of S. Africa, international alienation and apartheid.


Palestine Remembered:

Palestine Remembered Village Statistics:

UNSC 181:

UNSC 242:

UNSC 478:

Plan Dalet:

Monday, November 27, 2017

Chicago Tribune fingers Houthi war crimes, overlooks US' cluster munitions, civilian targeting

The US lapdog media is doing its best to cover for US war crimes in Yemen, directing attention to the "Iranian Markings" on a defensive missile fired at Riyadh on Nov. 4.

Despite three years pummeling by the "Saudi Coalition partners" - principally the Saudis and the US - including unconstitutional US support for the campaign in mid-air refueling, targeting and munitions supply.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs declared last April that “Yemen is the largest humanitarian crisis in the world with the largest Cholera outbreak in history affecting some 100,000, some in Congress are taking notice.
Ro Khanna, a California Democrat, and Walter Jones, a North Carolina Republican, are members of the House Armed Services Committee. Mark Pocan, a Wisconsin Democrat in the House, is a co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus have introduced legislation to withdraw US support. 
With Trump bragging about record arms sales to the Saudi kingdom and it's increased concentration of power behind a 30-something Prince convinced allowing women to drive will cover sufficiently for regional terrorism, the article seems intent on laying blame squarely where it is due:
Yes, at the feet of the Saudis.
That's right. A better analogy for tail wagging dog would be scarce to find. 
And if the ulterior motive were not evident enough, the Chicago Tribune puts a finer point on it:
"U.S. officials say they are convinced that Iran can be linked to the Nov. 4 missile strike, which Saudi Arabia claims it intercepted on approach to the King Khalid International Airport near the Saudi capital of Riyadh. Less than a week after the November airport attack, the U.S. Air Force's top officer at Central Command, Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, said the missile bore "Iranian markings."
Never mind that missile - and a previous attack on an oil refinery - are clearly targeted at civilians and hence, war crimes, no mention of who is supplying munitions, intelligence and bombs themselves to the Saudis. No mention of the world's remaining superpower with the most powerful military the world has ever known.

That would be the one supplying the requisite diplomatic cover and the bombs with clear "Made in the USA" markings. Including on internationally banned cluster munitions (see above photo) which have killed and maimed tens of thousands, the majority of whom are civilians.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Under the microscope: Why was a US military drone flying over Crimea and Donbas?

Monday, September 19, 2016

Sam Power: Silence in the face of Atrocity

"It is clear that the United States must come up with some very serious actions. What actions, I can not say now, but what I saw today, unfortunately, was very concerning, as my American colleague Samantha Power behaved very strange at the least," - said Russia's permanent representative to the UN Churkin on the results of the consultations of Security Council in connection with Western coalition air strike on Syrian government forces in Deir ez-Zor, which broke the ceasefire and emboldened ISIL forces.

The move was in keeping with the State Department's obsession with ousting Bashar Assad, despite administration comments to the contrary.

According to Churkin, when he began to share with the audience his concerns over Syria (a US strike in Deir ez-Zor on SAR troops), Samantha Power did not listen. Instead, she walked out to talk to the press, where she began to spit out nonsense about Russian-bombed hospitals and a breach of agreements - saying the moderates are bombed. Clearly, the woman had a hangover, had nothing to say, but did not have the energy to listen to criticism. So she exploded."

Power: War crimes okay in Yemen, Gaza, not Syria

Supreme arrogance.

These are some of the descriptors social media used to describe US Ambassador Samantha Power's breathtaking performance at the UN Saturday evening in a Russian-called emergency session of the UN Security Council to mull a US airstrike on Syrian Army positions killing 80 near Deir Ezzor airport Saturday.

The strike shattered a 'cessation of hostilities' agreement struck up by the US, Russia and Syria last week and violated another key component of ongoing cooperation, that is, the US would abandon it's regime change strategy and refrain from targeting the Syrian Army, instead focusing on the shared objective of destroying ISIS.

"The United States promised the Syrian government that the airstrikes would not affect the position of the Syrian armed forces," said Russian Federation Envoy Vitaly Churkin in a tense presser after the special called session adjourned.

Calling the strikes highly suspicious, both in timing and tactics, Churkin adding, "That did not put the US fully in line with international law because the Syrian government did not grant permission...but the fact the US committed not to strike the position of the Syrian government created certain conditions for cooperation."

Conditions allowing the US, Syria and Russia to focus on a shared enemy: Daesh, or ISIS.

While lamenting a lack of transparency and resistance to fully cooperating with Russia, Churkin noted the US failure to delineate between "moderate" forces it alleges to support and those associated with terrorism such as Jabhat al nusra.

The inability of the US to control these numerous"moderate" militia forces was also a point of concern for Churkin, who noted at least 20 of these groups had declared they would not honor the ceasefire.
"The big question is, who is in charge? Is it the White House or the Pentagon? Because we have heard statements from the Pentagon that simply fly in the face statements we've heard from President Obama and Sec. Kerry.  This is not accidental...the genie is out of the bottle, it appears they (Americans) have lost control of the situation."
Particularly noteworthy was Sam Power's chastisement of Russia, which dominated all but the first 60 seconds of her 13 minutes of comments.

Absolutely non-plussed and flippant at the Russian temerity to call attention to the US' unilateral ceasefire violation and return to attacking Syria - which emboldened ISIS to seize back the territory - Power was incorrigible, coming off as more of an inconvenienced mall rat than a global dignitary.

"Seriously? And they're calling this emergency meeting. Really?" Powers flung her hair back in disdain at the very thought of Russia's "stunt".

Powers was convinced the press conference was called as a distraction to what she termed "what's really going on", in other words, the press conference, not the "errant" bombing, was the item most worthy of  outrage.

A notorious neocon - she supported Hillary Clinton's interest in regime change in Libya - Power went on to embarrass herself further, chastising the Russian Federation for being overly-concerned with US war crimes and insufficiently concerned with those of the Syrian regime, wading into a mire of hypocrisy Ambassador Churkin said he had not seen in his 40 years of dealing with the Americans.

"Some of the most systematic atrocities we have seen in a generation yet, in the face of none of these atrocities has Russia expressed outrage, much less called for an emergency Saturday night consultation in the security council on any of these practices."

Power elucidated: "Not only are they not interested in seeing these crimes investigated, they have used their veto on the security council to block meaningful action...have self-adopted some of the regimes worst practices. Hitting hospitals, hitting refuge camps, hitting markets. Seriously…they’re calling this emergency meeting?"

Curious to mention the UNSC veto, a favorite tool of the US to shield investigation and sanction of Israeli war crimes in the West Bank and Gaza.

But Power would not be deterred Indicating Russia would do better looking after its barbaric proxy in Syria, rather than calling attention to US breaking agreements and bombing the wrong side.

But her next quip did her in.
Imagine how often this council would be meeting if we were to gather every time the regime or Russia struck a hospital or a school or a bread line...
Goodness, lets see, if we include the US and the Saudi regimes' bloodbath in Yemen, the council had better clear its calendar.

Perhaps inconveniently for Power, the Guardian detailed the ongoing US-backed Saudi assault quite thoroughly just the day before the US bombed the Syrian Army, blanketing deaf ears with what may soon rival Syria for scale of civilian targeting and displacement.

  • More than one-third of all Saudi-led air raids on Yemen have hit civilian sites, such as school buildings, hospitals, markets, mosques and economic infrastructure, according to the most comprehensive survey of the conflict.
  • The independent and non-partisan survey, based on open-source data, including research on the ground, records more than 8,600 air attacks between March 2015, when the Saudi-led campaign began, and the end of August this year. 
  • Over the course of the war, the survey lists 942 attacks on residential areas, 114 on markets, 34 on mosques, 147 on school buildings, 26 on universities and 378 on transport.
  • Saudi Arabia intervened in March 2015 to support the Yemeni government against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in control of the capital, Sana’a. The UN has put the death toll of the 18-month war at more than 10,000, with 3,799 of them being civilians.
And the commensurate outrage and influence Power proposes Russia exert over Syria is wholly missing from the US/Saudi joint effort in Yemen. Indeed, nothing much has changed since Obama blew off a Saudi strike that took out a wedding party of 70 civilians last year.
In almost every case (of civilian targeting), the Saudi coalition has either denied responsibility for the killings or blamed Houthi militants. Saudi Arabia has also sought to head off a mission to Yemen by human rights investigators with the United Nations who would look into violations by all the warring parties.”
The Obama administration, which has supported the Saudi war effort by providing intelligence and logistical support, has avoided any direct public rebuke of the Saudis, while calling on coalition planners to investigate reports of civilian casualties.

As much as Power rightly cast shade Assad's way, it appears the US made a habit of breaking the promise of "precision strikes" massacring at least eight wedding parties from 2001 through 2013, according to this Nation piece reporting on what was believed to be the first wedding attack in Yemen.
...this is at least the eighth wedding party reported wiped out, totally or in part, since the Afghan War began, and it extends the extermination of wedding celebrants from the air to a third country—six destroyed in Afghanistan, one in Iraq, and now the first in Yemen. And in all those years, reporters covering these “incidents” never seem to notice that similar events had occurred previously.  
Sometimes whole wedding parties were slaughtered, sometimes just the bride or groom’s parties were hit. Estimated total dead from the eight incidents: almost 300 Afghans, Iraqis and Yemenis. And keep in mind that, in these years, weddings haven’t been the only rites hit. US air power has struck gatherings ranging from funerals to a baby-naming ceremony.
Power is no stranger to getting bloody herself. This April her speeding motorcade made quick work of a 7-Year old child in Mokolo, Camaroon. Power offered the equivalent of $1,700, flour, soap, and two cows as compensation: a show of  "deep regret" that had many of us echoing the ambassador's refrain,  "Really?"

While the good Ambassador Power may delight in her juvenile disdain for the Russian's and their proxy slaughters, she seems to have a gift for pulling it off with remarkable hubris in keeping with the State's broad reliance on the "memory hole" of history.

The rest of us may resist the urge to weep. Or vomit.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

KSA and Israel; US Client States Have Their Priveleges

"The Saudi-led campaign in Yemen has launched the country into a humanitarian crisis. In March 2015, Saudi Arabia has imposed a strict blockade on Yemen, which previously imported 90 percent of its food and medicine. According to UNICEF in May, the conflict has left 21 million people in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, and more than 300,000 children under 5 at risk of severe malnutrition."

Amid continuous bipartisan hand-wringing regurgitation of Putin's international sin of annexing Crimea in 2014 and increased presence in Ukraine, increased bombing runs in Syria. All for the heinous act of supporting an ally who the US is actively trying to overthrow.

Still, few care to contrast the infinitely more brutal US supported civilian massacre in Yemen. 

The primary reason of course is to fight terrorism though ISIS and Al Queda of the Arabian Peninsula were non existent in the region in any real sense prior to US drone strikes beginning in earnest 2009-2010.

A New York Times Editorial lamenting America's 'complicity' in the Saudi onslaught of civilians in Yemen, and calling for suspension of weapons sales to the House of Saud, has got the pundits yapping and that's good. But where was this sane rational chorus call for 'control via withdrawal of support', during the 2014 Gaza invasion and civilian slaughter by Israel?

In that conflict, the NYT preferred to manufacture consent for Israel; Effectively, supporting and justifying the regime dropping the bombs. On a people under military occupation. Imagine the Nazis opening an air campaign on the Polish Resistance. 

When it comes to Israel's transgressions, zero shits are typically given about Palestinian civilian casualties.

Through this lens we can begin to see both the hypocrisy of the US media regarding "necessary wars" in Gaza and Yemen as two accounts of regional aggression by US allies and how this type of aggression wether Israeli or Saudi, is treated differently than Russian or Iranian "aggression".

In Yemen, the Saudis are our "imperfect" Arab allies. They are good because, with the help of American indifference (HRC weapons deals, UN Veto power, unified against a rising Iran), the Saudis  are probably the most obvious representation of  those "Muslim partners" politicians like to invoke as the solution to fighting ISIS.

Saudis get more opportunities to advance regional hegemony (see Yemen), the US gets a foothold in the radical Wahabee


 rest of the crazy and unpredictable (desiring self-determination); In Gaza, the Israelis. What makes the difference is the luxury to which we grant allowances for crimes against humanity to our 'western' allies, of which the House of Saud, is not. We are tight with the Saudis, but not so close as to have the US Congress cheering them on. 

Though similar in many ways, Gaza and Yemen are not alike. 

But the real reason, beyond even concerns of alleged Iranian influence via the Houthis is to thwart and undermine any authentic moves toward Arab Nationalism.

It is instructive to note the concern over Arab Nationalism is equally opposed by Saudi Arabia as it is by Israel.

Neither the House of Saud nor Likud Israeli regime is interested in neighboring with a regime dedicated the rights and concerns of its Arab non-Jewish population, but rather, the sublimation of those interests to Western concerns and business interests.

It is here then, that an overlapping of interests occurs between the three: Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States with the US continuing to tighten its grip over the Middle East.

Israel and KSI provide convenient sledgehammers on either end of the "Arab Israeli" ideological spectrum.

Military dictatorships have been the preferred option in the post-coup environment. In Argentina and Chile and Guatemala and most of Latin America, US backed death squads and authoritarian governments were the "go to" setup after the overthrow of the legitimate democratically elected government.

Turkey has reverted to this, as has Egypt. Client state governments can exist in any form so long as they perform their useful function to punish Arab resistance before it becomes another 'Arab Spring' and thereby "threatening" it's stability for the US and Western domination abroad.

KSI's slaughter of the Yemeni civilian population - an struggle pitting the region's most wealthy nation against its most vulnerable and impoverished - reminded me of another, another blockade, another humanitarian crisis, another chance for the United States to take a different road.

Gaza is to Israel what Yemen is to the Saudis - an isolated poor population carrying out violence in direct response to the violence carried out against them.

Recall Gaza the summer of 2014 during Israel's assault on the strip. The difference being Hama' mostly symbolic and strategically useless rocket attacks into Israel, adding another empty "threat" to which Israel could respond with disproportionate force behind the charade of self-defense.

With Israel demonstrating record levels of impunity across the two Obama terms, especially in Gaza - Operation/s Caste Lead, Pillar of Defense, the Mavri Mamara Flotilla Massacre, Netanyahu's public opposition to Iran nuclear deal, bicameral address of US Congress, efforts to sabotage deal behind the scenes. 

Caping it all off will likely be a $4-5 bn 10 year guaranteed weapons aid package for Israel, a state with free health care. This will put this aid beyond reach, a move Israel will not misinterpret.

Yet we must look to our ever more brazen "ally" to the west to see where all this impunity is likely to go. 

It is becoming clear, specifically with the latest Saudi Bombing of a Doctors Without Borders Hospital yesterday, a bombing, the Saudi Arabia is not left behind in regional brutality. The Doctors without borders strike killed 15 civilians. The shells, Made in the USA.

The fourth Doctors without Borders Hospital to be hit in 17-month conflict. Yet the US remains silent.

The Saudis recently elbowed their way onto the UN Human Rights Commission, instantly rendering it irrelevant. KSI also blatantly coerced the UN into removing Saudi Arabia - a move similar to what the US Congress did when Israel was threatened inclusion on the same report.

And with a looming Clinton presidency - HRC saw through historic arms sales to the Saudis and accepted 10's of millions from the House of Saud on behalf of The Clinton Foundation - it does' t take the mind of Seuss to imagine even more "special treatment" for our Saudi friend.

We are likely to see a newly emboldened KSI, patterned on Israeli impunity that has characterized the region for decades.

All with a stern condemnation followed by a wink and a nod from the State Department.

Monday, July 18, 2016



The state as a person of international law should possess the following qualifications: a ) a permanent population; b ) a defined territory; c ) government; and d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states. 
Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States

In the months that followed, Israel continued to reject the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland. Speaking to the Assembly on February 7, 1949, Moshe Shertok was adamant in reiterating Israel's position that the subject of Arab refugees must be excluded from any discussions on a peace agreement. The refugees should forget about returning to their homes, he suggested, and just resettle elsewhere.[xiii]The Chairman of the Conciliation Commission, Claude de Boisanger of France, adopted the Zionists' position, urging a solution requiring the refugees to give up the hope of ever returning home. He favored a solution that could be "worked out practically and not by adhering to rigid law and principle."[xiv]