“I learned an infinite amount of things in Israel, and to that country I owe part of my essence, my human and military achievements” said Colombian paramilitary leader and indicted drug trafficker Carlos Castao in his ghostwritten autobiography, Mi Confesin.
The book’s argument that “[t]he war on drugs and terror in Colombia is in fact a war for the control of the cocaine trade — in a system of imperial domination — by means of state-sponsored terror” is summarized in the conclusion as follows: “This war as decreed by successive Washington administrations was, is, and remains its opposites: a war for drugs and a war of terror.”
Of course, such assessments are not easily grafted onto the consciousness of a populace conditioned to impute noble — or at least sincere and non-paradoxical — motives to US projects abroad.
If the US is to attain the minimum amount of self-awareness necessary for any society that considers itself free, the proliferation of studies like Villar and Cottle’s is a prerequisite.
The scholars explain that, starting in the late 1980s, “the Colombian state commenced efforts to manufacture its image as a defender of democracy at war with narco-terrorists,” enlisting the talents of US public relations firm the Sawyer/Miller Group.
The firm earned nearly a million dollars in the first six months of 1991 for its efforts, which included “us[ing] the American press to disseminate Colombian government propaganda, with the routine production of pamphlets, letters to editors signed by Colombian officials, and advertisements placed in the New York Times and Washington Post.”
As tends to happen with even the most diligently manufactured threats, however, the traitorous truth has consistently failed to rise to the occasion, and “in 2001 Colombian intelligence estimated that [the] FARC controlled less than 2.5 percent of Colombia’s cocaine exports, while the AUC controlled 40 percent, not counting the narco-bourgeoisie [the updated incarnation of the Colombian oligarchy] as a whole.”
The exclusive assignment of the “terrorist” label to the FARC is meanwhile not entirely congruent with the fact that it was the Colombian military and not the guerrillas that resuscitated the Vietnam-era collective punishment method of “draining the sea to kill the fish.”
According to Villar and Cottle, “[h]uman rights groups contend that the AUC and Colombian armed forces have been responsible for approximately 90–95 percent of all politically-motivated killings, which have included massacres by chainsaw and other methods designed to terrorize the campesinos in rural areas under FARC control.”
As for the US request in the 1980s for the extradition of Medellín cartel kingpin Pablo Escobar for “conspiring to introduce cocaine into the United States via Nicaragua,” this allegation might have just as aptly been levied against other characters such as US Marine Lt Col. Oliver North, whose activity did not result in a collaborative assassination effort by the CIA, AUC, Cali Cartel, and Colombian police.
You Cannot Mention Monsanto!
When Amelia and I met Milber in 2009, his parents had just acquired a coca plot after failing to make ends meet with less lucrative crops.
Other farming families in the area described additional obstacles to diversifying away from coca, such as repeated US-sponsored aerial fumigation of sugar cane, banana, and corn crops.
Fumigated children, livestock, and water supplies were also reported.
Journalist Jeremy Bigwood has investigated the toxic effects of fumigation for CorpWatch, drawing attention to a revealing episode in 2001 in which a recalcitrant US senator — who had criticized military aid to Colombia and the dangerous inaccuracy of fumigation — was hauled down to the South American nation for an honorary cropduster flyover that was intended to negate his concerns.
Bigwood quotes the senator’s spokesman on the resulting spectacle: “On the very first flyover by the cropduster, the US Senator, the US Ambassador to Colombia, the Lieutenant Colonel of the Colombian National Police, and other Embassy and congressional staffers were fully doused — drenched, in fact” — with the herbicide Roundup, a product of the US-based biotech giant Monsanto, former manufacturer of the infamous defoliant Agent Orange.
Remarking on the relevance of the Agent Orange legacy given the deforestation of large sections of Vietnam, the “over 50,000 birth defects and hundreds of thousands of cancers both in Vietnamese civilians and soldiers, as well as in former US troops serving in South East Asia”, and the similarity in post-contact symptoms between victims of Agent Orange and Roundup, Bigwood notes that the lack of transparency with regard to Monsanto’s machinations in Colombia is entirely logical: “[D]uring a meeting with US Embassy staff in Bogotá, the top officer at the State Department’s Narcotics Affairs Section was emphatic and his tone threatening: ‘You cannot mention Monsanto!’ he boomed, spit flying from his mouth.”
Villar and Cottle meanwhile allude to the helpfulness of fumigation policies in “draining the sea”, and emphasize — with regard to fusarium oxysporum, a fungus whose appeal to proponents of Washington’s multibillion-dollar Plan Colombia presumably had something to do with its success in wiping out a coca plantation in Hawaii in the 1970s — that “the mono-crop drug fincas of the narco-bourgeoisie in Colombia were not sprayed. The fungal spraying was proposed only for the rebel-held areas.”
Addicted to Narco-Imperialism
As Peter Dale Scott asserts in his excellent foreword to Cocaine, Death Squads, and the War on Terror, the book “shows how in the last half-century the United States has helped to centralize and militarize the class conflict [in Colombia], and above all how cocaine has come to play a central role in financing this oppression.”
Villar and Cottle write:
The cocaine decade saw the consolidation of the Colombian drug trade as a source of profit for U.S. capital via banks that were established to launder and invest drug money in legitimate U.S. corporations.
The United States contended it was at war with drugs and terrorists in Colombia, but, in reality, the economic relations between U.S. imperialism and the Colombian narco-bourgeoisie permitted cocaine production to flourish in Colombia, and the cocaine market to expand within the United States and Western Europe.
The authors stress that, though Colombian paramilitary death squads may not constitute a “proxy army for the United States,” they do “function… as a vanguard force of the counterinsurgency strategy” in eliminating obstacles to foreign investment, corporate exploitation of resources, and the continuing economic preponderance of the Colombian elite.
These obstacles come in a variety of forms, among them campesinos, human rights workers, journalists, trade unionists, and indigenous citizens maliciously inhabiting resource-rich land.
Colombian paramilitaries were
trained by Tel Aviv
The Colombian AUC paramilitaries are always in need of arms, and it should come as no surprise that some of their major suppliers are Israeli. Israeli arms dealers have long had a presence in next-door Panama and especially in Guatemala.
The AUC, for its part, happens to inhabit the same list of US State Department-designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations as Al Qaeda, but one suspects that a more substantive uproar would have been made over the discovery that Chiquita Brands International was funneling millions of dollars to the latter group.
As for even more direct US contributions to violence and oppression in Colombia, Villar and Cottle note that, when the administration of former President Álvaro Uribe Vélez “stepped up its civil war preparations in 2002, the US government demanded cooperation in shielding US forces stationed in-country from prosecution for war crimes.”
Cocaine, Death Squads, and the War on Terror is a vital antidote to the fatuous propaganda that functions as mainstream news on Colombia.
In tracing the history of the relationship between imperial America and “its most important client state on the continent,” Villar and Cottle demonstrate that the emergence of the FARC was a direct result of social inequality and CIA-backed class repression.
Prospects for conflict resolution thus appear dim given the authors’ note that “Colombia is the only major country in Latin America where the gap between the rich and poor has markedly widened in recent years, according to the UN Commission on Latin America.”
Colombian President Alberto Lleras Camargo (1958–1962) may have put it best himself when he commented — in reference to the devastating US-assisted counterinsurgency campaign that followed the assassination of Liberal presidential candidate Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, who had “promised to end the rule of the landed oligarchy and eliminate mass poverty” — that “blood and capital accumulation went together.”
It’s the perfect deceit. These wars, in an endless loop, sustain and strengthen the very menaces which, in turn, justify their continuous escalation. These wars manufacture the very dangers they are ostensibly designed to combat. Meanwhile, the industries which fight them become richer and richer.
The political officials those industries own become more and more powerful. Brutal drug cartels monopolize an unimaginably profitable, no-competition industry, while Terrorists are continuously supplied the perfect rationale for persuading huge numbers of otherwise unsympathetic people to join them or support them. Everyone wins — except for ordinary citizens, who become poorer and poorer, more and more imprisoned, meeker and meeker, and less and less free.
“It’s okay to celebrate, writes Ari Shavit in Yedioth. “You can lift your head up from the coronavirus, from politics and shame and see how history is starting to flow in a new, secure channel. The Israeli-Arab conflict starts to end today. Peace.”
“Anyone who really ever wants peace with the Palestinians should also be pleased. Because that will happen only when the Palestinian leaders recognize that their tactics have failed.
Peace will arrive when the Palestinians acknowledge the limits of their identity, as well as the legitimacy of the Jewish state,” he writes.
“The peace deal with the Emirates brings us closer to the Palestinians recognizing that.”
79 percent of the Sudanese people oppose normalization. The weeks ahead and the outcome of US elections will decide whether Palestinians and the Sudanese will have any chance of confronting this forced normalization avalanche.
It happened a few days after the flamboyant signing ceremony at the White House of ‘peace deals’ between the UAE, Bahrain, and Israel.
White House National Security Council’s senior Director for Gulf Affairs, Brig. Gen. Miguel Correa and UAE’s National Security Advisor Tahnoun Bin Zayed boxed in Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok and his justice minister, who also happens to be a US citizen, in the UAE for trilateral talks.
The focus was Sudan’s coveted goal: getting delisted from the US list of State Sponsors of Terrorism in exchange for normalisation with Israel.
Already, the US secretary of state had informed rulers in Sudan during his August visit to Khartoum that they had until the end of October to reach this deal; conspicuously timed to benefit Trump’s re-election chances.
The extortion was clear and public. Sudan must pay $335 million in compensation to the United States and make friends with Israel in order to receive up to $2 billion in urgently needed food and oil assistance as well as help repaying its crushing $62 billion foreign debt.
The UAE and Saudi Arabia had pledged to assist Sudan with $3 billion after the overthrow of Omar Al-Bashir, but such unconditional support was no longer in play.
Interestingly, Omar Al-Bashir had warmed up to both states towards the end of his rein.
He had even sent a military contingent to fight alongside Saudi Arabia and the UAE in Yemen, led by none other than Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan.
But this was not enough to sustain his grip on power.
When the protests in Sudan started, the UAE and Saudi Arabia moved in to secure that a post-Bashir regime would strictly gravitate in their orbit.
By 2020, it was time to collect on the political debt Al-Burhan and the rest of the military figures owed.
Dizzy with normalization fever, the UAE pressured Al-Burhan towards acquiescence in exchange for financial assistance.
This approach served two purposes. On the one hand, the UAE does not want to be alone on the normalisation train.
Bahrain, being a satellite Saudi state, is not exactly company that carries enough regional weight.
On the other hand, the UAE rulers understand that extending this service would gain them more of Trump’s favour.
After all, the US president is packaging these ‘peace’ deals as grand achievements that his Evangelical base and right-wing donors are overly eager to support during the increasingly tight race for the White House, especially with more such deals promised ‘soon.’
After the Trump announcement about the ‘deal’, the acting Foreign Minister Omar Gamareldin, a technocrat, was quick to admit that the military and civilian rulers of Sudan lack the legitimacy and mandate to make this decision.
Under the transition to civilian rule agreement in Sudan, the yet unformed legislative council would have to endorse the normalization deal before it becomes formal.
But a critical look at the happenings in Sudan clearly shows that the balance of power is now tipping in the direction of the generals, not civilians.
After all, it is the generals who are signing peace deals to end civil wars inside Sudan, sharing a stage with the international and regional big guns, and securing what Sudan needs most: economic relief.
Sudan’s economy is in tatters. In addition to crippling debt and civil strife, the African Union projects that GDP will contract by 1.6 percent in 2020 and 0.8 percent in 2021, with inflation now at 61.5 percent and expected to go higher next year.
Meanwhile, the IMF forecasts economic stagnation for Sudan.
The announced deal with Israel and the United States, along with funding and political support from the UAE and Saudi Arabia will only strengthen Al-Burhan and his military allies in Sudan, possibly setting the stage for a new form of military rule in the country only this time with international blessings.
It is a covert political overthrow of the fragile new social contract Sudanese civil society and political parties were hoping to forge following the overthrow of Al-Bashir.
In this grand play for power, the popular sentiment and political opposition in Sudan have been disregarded.
According to the Arab Opinion Index, 79 percent of the Sudanese people oppose normalization.
Not surprisingly, political parties and professional associations represented, including those in the governing coalition have decried the deal as illegitimate.
In response to the overwhelming opposition, the deputy head of State and feared general, Mohammed Hamdan “Hemeti” Dagalo said “Sudan needs Israel.”
No surprise given that Hemeti, who made his fame by being the pro-Bashir military man in Darfur, is also interested in cleansing his political credentials from any Western objections.
Upcoming US elections could complicate things for the generals in Sudan and the Gulf rulers eager to further advance their military, political, and economic partnership with Israel.
A Biden administration will support normalization with Israel but not at any cost.
Particularly, the UAE and Saudi Arabia could face significant pressure from a Democratic administration to end their brutal war in Yemen and their military exploits elsewhere in the region.
Such a change could alter the political calculus and dynamics in Sudan.
In Palestine, the sentiments towards the Sudan announcement are more nuanced than the unequivocal anger regarding the deals signed between the UAE and Bahrain with Israel.
Palestinian intellectuals and politicians are aware of the punishing circumstances in Sudan and the bullying it faced to make this move.
Many described the deal as a confession extracted under torture. Despite decades of autocratic rule, Sudan boasts a vibrant political and civil society scene that has longstanding relations with Palestinian partners.
Between Jerusalem and Khartoum, there is shared concern that this deal only entrenches the hegemony of Israel, bankrolled by Gulf dollars.
The weeks ahead and the outcome of US elections will decide whether Palestinians and the Sudanese will have any chance of confronting this forced normalization avalanche.
Nour Odeh is a political analyst and public diplomacy consultant. A former award-winning journalist, Odeh was also Palestine’s first female government spokesperson
Playing Deus ex machina, President Macron came to distribute the good and bad points to the Lebanese leaders.
Sure of his superiority, he said he was ashamed of the behavior of this political class.
But all this is just a bad play. Underhandedly, he is trying to destroy the Resistance and to transform the country into a tax haven.
Completing the implementation of Resolution 1559  today means disarming Hezbollah and transforming it into a simple political party, as corrupt by Westerners as the others.
Let us recall, moreover, that when France established secular institutions, it immediately deprived all its colonies of them, considering that religion was the only way to pacify the peoples it controlled.
Lebanon is the only country in the world where a Shiite mullah, a Sunni mufti and a Christian patriarch can impose their views on political parties.
President Macron’s repeated attacks against Hezbollah are precisely in line with my hypothesis: the ultimate goal of the West is to destroy the Resistance and transform Hezbollah into a party as corrupt as the others.
Indeed, according to Emmanuel Macron, the current Hezbollah is at the same time a “militia”, a “terrorist organization” and a political party.
Yet, as we have seen, it is in reality both the first non-governmental army dedicated to the struggle against imperialism and a political party representing the Shiite community.
It has never been responsible for terrorist actions abroad. According to Macron, it has created “a climate of terror”, inhibiting other political formations.
However, Hezbollah has never used its gigantic arsenal against its Lebanese rivals.
The brief war of 2008 did not pit it against the Sunnis and Druze, but against those who housed spy centers of foreign powers (notably in the archive premises of FuturTV).
For those who observe precisely what is happening, France is not honest in its concern for Lebanon.
Thus, President Macron’s trips had been preceded by the circulation of a petition calling on France to restore its mandate over Lebanon, that is to say, to recolonize it.
It was quickly established that this spontaneous petition was an initiative of the French secret service.
Or that the French president’s second trip was the centennial of the proclamation of Greater Lebanon by General Henri Gouraud, leader of the French Colonial Party.
It is not very difficult to understand what France hopes to get in return for its action against the Resistance.
International unity based on popular struggles for emancipation will be the objective to be realized by the Simón Bolívar Institute for Peace and Solidarity, inaugurated this Sunday in connection with the 205th anniversary of the Jamaica Charter.
LATIN AMERICA. U.S. FREE TRADE IMPERIALISM. The natural resources of the Latin American republics made them targets for a form of economic dependence called free-trade imperialism.
In a videoconference that summoned the presence of 106 international leaders, he stressed that this solidarity platform will allow the dissemination of the truth of Venezuela in the face of discrediting campaigns that threaten peace and national stability.
“I ask for all the support of the solidarity movements to bring the truth of Venezuela and with the truth win peace, sovereignty, independence and respect for our peoples,” he emphasized.
From the “Antonio José de Sucre” Yellow House, located in Caracas, the Foreign Minister of the Republic, Jorge Arreaza, indicated that the Simón Bolívar Institute will also promote “the solidarity of the peoples with all the struggles”.
He explained that the first day of debate addressed the validity of the thought of the Liberator Simón Bolívar “at this time of recomposition of the struggles” and of the attempts of capitalism to restore itself in the face of the structural failures that it evidenced in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic .
Colombian paramilitaries were trained by Tel Aviv
In this sense, the vice minister for North America, Carlos Ron, pointed out that “in a world where the capitalist model is exhausted, what remains for us is to go back to our roots of struggle for the peoples and emancipation.”
Israeli forces’ involvement in El Salvador runs deep
“We are making a call for solidarity to all the peoples of the world and, at the same time, receiving solidarity in turn because together we will be able to advance and create a new model whose base is solidarity and its most important principle is the construction of peace. ”, He stressed. / Presidential Press.
What do Panama’s Manuel Noriega, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and the UAE’s Mohamad Bin Zayed (MBZ) all have in common?
They dreamed that their collaboration with the imperial power would allow them the freedom to pursue their own ambitions.
Very wrong. Once Noriega was employed by the CIA to betray compatriot nationalists and to be used as a tool against independent Cuba and Nicaragua, imperialism owned him.
Once Saddam was armed (including with poison gas) by NATO countries to attack Revolutionary Iran and slaughter dissident Iraqis, imperialism owned him
. And once MBZ collaborated with Mossad against the Palestinian resistance and armed terrorist groups against Syria, imperialism owned him.
After Noriega sought to play a more independent role in Central America the US, under Bush the First, invaded Panama killing thousands (see ‘The Panama Deception’), just to kidnap Noriega and jail him on drug trafficking charges.
Saddam was not allowed to pursue his own interests in Kuwait. Instead his ambitions were used as a pretext to starve and then destroy Iraq.
Saddam himself was eventually lynched, under US military occupation.
The Libyan leader said America’s Arab allies could end up like Saddam Hussein….before US and western allies murdered him and destroyed his country.
MBZ, for his supposed crime of resuming relations with Syria in 2018, was forced to recognise Israel, thus becoming the new disgrace of the Arab and Muslim world. Once a collaborator is owned he is owned.
The UAE gained nothing by openly recognising the zionist regime. There was no political or economic benefit.
The UAE was already collaborating deeply with Israel, as evidenced by the open access enjoyed by the Mossad team which murdered Palestinian militant Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai in February 2010 (Lewis, Borger and McCarthy 2010), and later kidnapped Australian-Israeli whistle-blower Ben Zygier, after he had provided Dubai authorities with “names and pictures and accurate details” of the team, supposedly in exchange for UAE protection. However Israel kidnapped Zygier in the UAE and he later died from ‘suicide’ in an Israeli jail (Rudoran 2013).
There was no independent motive behind the disgraceful UAE move, other than fear and obedience.
The Trump regime pressured and threatened MBZ into recognising Israel, just to help with its 2020 election campaign.
How do we know this? Two months before the UAE officially recognised Israel, Trump envoy James Jeffrey threatened the UAE regime for its renewed relations with Syria, which went against Trump’s subsequent ‘Caesar Act’ (MEMO 2020), a piece of legislation primarily aimed at imposing discipline on third party ‘allies’ which sought to normalise relations with Damascus.
Washington’s ‘Caesar’ law (part of an omnibus NDAA Act) pretends to authorise the US President to impose fines and confiscate the assets of those, anywhere in the world, who “support or engage in a significant transaction” with the Syrian government (SJAC 2020).
It aimed at Persian Gulf allies, principally the UAE, and perhaps some Europeans who were considering renewed relations with Damascus (Anderson 2020)
As it happened, in late December 2018, the UAE resumed relations with the Syrian Government and resumed investment in the besieged country.
This was despite the anti-Syrian role of the UAE in the early days of the conflict and, in particular, their backing of ISIS terrorism.
That role was acknowledged by senior US officials in late 2014.
Head of the US Army General Martin Dempsey in September 2014 admitted that “major Arab allies” of the US funded ISIS (Rothman 2014).
The following month US Vice President Joe Biden specified that US allies “Turkey, Qatar and the UAE had extended “billions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of weapons” to all manner of fanatical Islamist fighters, including ISIS, in efforts to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al Assad (Maskanian 2014).
Biden later offered a hollow apology to the UAE for his remarks (Al Jazeera 2014). A sanitised Atlantic Council version of this history was that the UAE had backed “armed opposition groups – such as the Free Syrian Army” (Santucci 2020).
In any case, with Washington’s regime change war lost – certainly after the expanded role of Russia in Syria from September 2015 onwards – the UAE began to change tack.
In November 2015 UAE Foreign Affairs Minister Anwar Gargash expressed cautious support for Russia’s role and in April 2018 he characterised the conflict as one between the Syrian Government and Islamic extremism.
On 27 December the UAE reopened its embassy in Damascus (Ramani 2020). Bahrain followed suit the next day.
The MBZ regime claims to have provided over $530 million “to alleviate the suffering” of Syria since 2012 (Santucci 2020), though how much of this went into armed Islamist groups is unclear.
But there certainly have been some UAE-funded construction projects in Syria in recent times.
No doubt wealthy UAE investors saw some opportunities in post-war reconstruction.
The Emirates hosted a Syrian trade delegation in January 2019 and in August 2019 some private Emirati companies participated in the Damascus International Trade Fair (Cafiero 2020).
But in early 2020 the Trump regime passed its Caesar law, aimed at reining in its wandering ‘allies’.
In June envoy James Jeffrey pointed his finger at the UAE, saying: “the UAE knows that we absolutely refuse that countries take such steps [in Syria] … we have clearly stressed that we consider this a bad idea … anyone who engages in economic activities … may be targeted by these sanctions” (MEMO 2020).
That could mean big trouble for the UAE.
The Obama regime (through the US Treasury’s ‘Office of Foreign Assets Control’) had already ‘fined’ European banks more than 12 billion dollars for their business with Iran and Cuba, in breach of Washington’s unilateral coercive measures (Anderson 2019: 42).
Two months later in August the UAE’s open recognition of Israel presented the semblance of some sort of change in the region.
An Atlantic Council paper hoped that might be to derail the UAE’s ‘normalization policy with Syria’ (Santucci 2020).
That indeed was one part of the project: tighten the siege on the independent region: from Palestine through Lebanon, Syria and Iraq to Iran.
In the process 80% of the besieged Syrian population was living in poverty, and on the brink of starvation (Cafiero 2020).
This was a determined if failing strategy, set in place by Bush the Second and carried through faithfully by Obama and Trump, despite the latter’s pragmatic misgivings.
The other part of the project was to strong-arm the little petro-monarchy into boosting the Trump election campaign.
The UAE’s recognition of Israel did nothing to help MBZ, but was well received in Tel Aviv (though it did not change the constellation of Resistance forces) and was skilfully presented in the USA as some sort of concession to Palestine.
Yet Trump’s flimsy pretext (a ‘freeze’ on further annexations) was quickly discredited. Israeli Finance Minister Yisrael Katz said that a ‘freeze’ was in place before the UAE deal (Khalil 2020).
Netanyahu maintained that further annexations were still ‘on the table’ (Al Jazeera 2020). Indeed he had announced such ‘freezes’ before (Ravid 2009).
In any case, Trump was clearly no advocate for Palestinian or Arab rights.
He had broken with previous US regimes by giving his blessing to Tel Aviv’s annexation of both East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan, disregarding international law (BBC 2019).
Disgraced in the region, the UAE was simply acting as Washington’s puppet. That is the collaborator’s reward.
Ho Che Minh wrote President Harry S. Truman on Feb. 15, 1946, to request the U.S. support for Vietnam’s independence:
“Our Vietnam people, as early as 1941, stood by the Allies’ side and fought against the Japanese and their associates, the French colonialists…. But the French Colonialists… have come back and are waging on us a murderous and pitiless war….we request of the United States as guardians and champions of World Justice to take a decisive step in support of our independence.”
Truman did not respond.
It was not just ideological because the Dulles Brothers, prior to becoming parts of the government, had pretty high positions in one of the giant, probably the predominant corporate law firm in the United States called Sullivan & Cromwell.
In fact, John Foster Dulles was actually the managing partner there and he brought his younger brother Allen in as a senior partner. It’s not completely correct to say that this was all ideological because it wasn’t.
A large part of this was for commercial reasons in the sense that a lot of the clients that the Sullivan & Cromwell law firm represented had these large business interests in all different parts of the globe and sometimes this included Third World countries.
That’s another reason of course the Dulles Brothers were so intent upon putting down this rebellion against the French attempt to recolonize the area.
Because to them, it was an example of an industrial or already commercialized western power going ahead and exploiting cheap labor and cheap materials in the Third World.
In large part, that’s what that law firm represented. So that’s absolutely correct. It was not just ideological.
It was also a commercial view of the world and what the Dulles Brothers stood for in relation to the use of the natural resources in the Third World.
Now, what happened at Dien Bien Phu, and I don’t think the Burns-Novick film really explained this as well as it should have, is that the French under Henri Navarre decided that they were losing the guerrilla war.
NARMIC’s top 100 defense contractors list, which continued after the war. Here is a 1977 edition.
“In our opinion, and from our experience, there is nothing in South Vietnam, nothing which could happen that realistically threatens the United States of America. And to attempt to justify the loss of one American life in Vietnam, Cambodia or Laos by linking such loss to the preservation of freedom, which those misfits supposedly abuse, is to use the height of criminal hypocrisy, and it is that kind of hypocrisy which we feel has torn this country apart.”
So they decided to try and pull out the North Vietnamese forces, led by General Giap, into a more open air kind of a battle ground.
They took over this low-lying valley in the northern part of Vietnam, not very far from the western border.
The strategic idea was to get involved in a large scale battle where they would be able to use their air power and overpowering artillery to smash Giap’s forces.
Well, it didn’t work out that way for a number of reasons. But one of them was that the Russians went ahead and transported these huge siege cannons to Giap, and Giap used literally tens of thousands of civilian supporters to transport these huge siege guns up this incline overlooking Dien Bien Phu.
They began to bombard the airfield there, which negated a lot of the military advantage that the French thought they were going to be able to use.
When that started happening, John Foster Dulles began to arrange direct American aid. And I’m talking about military aid.
He actually began to go ahead and give them fighter planes, which he had repainted and drawn with French insignia run by CIA pilots.
I think there were about 24 of them that he let them use. Then when that didn’t work, then he went ahead and started giving them large imports of other weapons to try and see if they could hold off the siege that was going to come.
Finally, when that didn’t work, he arranged for Operation Vulture. Operation Vulture was the arrangement of a giant air armada.
It was originally planned as something like, if I recall correctly: 60 small bombers, 150 jet fighters in case the Chinese intervened and also, three, I think there were B-36 Convair planes to carry three atomic bombs.
Dulles could not get this through Eisenhower. Eisenhower refused to agree to it because the British had turned him down.
He didn’t want to do this by himself. Even though Dulles tried to convince the British to help, they turned them down twice.
Then Dulles, in a very strange move, he actually offered the atomic bombs to the French Foreign Secretary Bidault, Georges Bidault, in a separate private exchange which is a really remarkable thing to do because I’ve never been able to find any evidence that Eisenhower knew about that.
That’s how desperate he was not to see Dien Bien Phu fall. But the French refused, the guy said straight to Foster Dulles, “If I use those, I’m going to kill as many of my troops as I will General Giap’s.”
Dien Bien Phu fell, and at this point, two things happened that will more or less ensure American involvement in Vietnam.
At the subsequent peace conference in Geneva, Switzerland, it’s very clear that the United States is calling the shots.
Secondly, when the Chinese and Russians see that, they advised Ho Chi Minh to go along with whatever the western powers leaned towards.
If not, they feared that the Americans would intervene immediately. In fact, Richard Nixon in a private talk with American newspaper editors, actually floated the idea of using American ground troops to intervene at Dien Bien Phu.
What happens now is that, John Forster Dulles goes ahead and orally agrees that there will be general elections held in two years in 1956, and whoever wins, will then unify Vietnam.
He didn’t sign it because the lawyer that he was understood that that would expose him later, but he did advise his representative at the conference to go ahead and say they will abide by that decision.
This begins, for all intents and purposes, the American intervention in Vietnam and it begins – and this is really incredible to me that the Burns-Novick series never mentioned – Ed Lansdale, and how you can
make a series, an 18-hour series about Vietnam and American involvement there and not mention Lansdale is mind-boggling.
They did show his picture but they didn’t say his name. The reason it’s so mind-boggling is that Allan Dulles now made Lansdale more or less the action officer for the whole Vietnam enterprise.
In other words, the objective was, number one to create an American state in South Vietnam, and number two, to prop up an American chosen leader to be the American president of this new state.
Lansdale did it and I’ll tell you, it’s an incredible achievement what he did. Because he set up this giant psychological propaganda campaign, that scared the heck out of all the Catholics because the French had occupied the country.
We found some letters, John Newman and myself, up at Hoover Institute near Stanford in which he essentially admitted that he was really working for the CIA the whole time.
He had done a lot of covert operations, most famously in the Philippines before he was chosen by Allen Dulles to lead this giant – which I’m pretty sure at that time – was the biggest CIA operation in their history.
What he was doing here with this pure psychological warfare to get all these people to come south.
And if you expose who Lansdale is, there isn’t any way that you can say that this was not a CIA-run operation.
This whole idea is to thwart the whole Geneva agreement, and number two to thwart the will of the people of Vietnam.
Because the reason this was done of course, and Eisenhower admitted this later, was that there was no way in the world that the CIA could find any kind of a candidate that was going to beat Ho Chi Minh in a national election.
The CIA did these polls and they found out that Ho Chi Minh would win with probably 75 to 80% of the vote if there was an honest, real election.
That’s why the CIA under Lansdale decided first to get all these new people into the south and then prop up this new government in the south to separate it from what they then called Ho Chi Minh’s area in the north.
Now, understand: that didn’t exist before. France had colonized the whole country.
So now you had the beginning of this entirely new country created by the CIA. There’s no other way around that statement and I really think that the Burns-Novick film to be mild, really underplayed that.
There would have been no South Vietnam if it had not been for Lansdale.
He’s the guy who created the whole country. Now, they picked a leader, a guy named Ngo Dinh Diem who was going to be their opposition to Ho Chi Minh.
Well, the problem with picking Ngo Dinh Diem was number one, he spoke perfect fluent English; number two, he dressed like a westerner that is, he wore sport coats and suits and white shirts and ties and number three, he even had his hair cut like an American.
His family was the same thing: his brother Nhu and Nhu’s wife Madame Nhu.
How on earth anybody could think that somehow Diem and his family was going to win the allegiance of all the people in Vietnam and win elections… well, that wasn’t going to happen.
What Lansdale did is and … You got to admire the way these guys think even if you don’t like the goals they achieve, the way they do it is very clever.
Lansdale, number one, wanted to get rid of Bao Dai because he did not want to have anymore – him and John Foster Dulles had agreed – they had to get rid of the stigma of French colonialism.
They sponsored a phony plebiscite, an up or down plebiscite on bringing Bao Dai back in 1955.
Now, anybody who analyzes that election in 1955 will be able to tell you very clearly that it was rigged.
To give you one example, Bao Dai was not allowed to campaign. It was pretty easy to beat somebody if the other guy cannot campaign, and Lansdale, for all practical purposes, there’s no other way to say this, he was Diem’s campaign manager.
It was CIA money going in and running his campaign and there’s a famous conversation where Lansdale, because he has all this money and because they’ve already built up a police force in South Vietnam, he essentially tells Diem that, “I don’t think that we should make this very blatant. I don’t think you should win with over 65% of the vote.”
Well, Lansdale decided he should be out of the country during the actual election so it wouldn’t look too obvious.
So Diem then went ahead and decided he wanted to win with over 90% of the vote and that’s what it was rigged for. And as everybody who analyzed that election knows it was so bad that you actually had more people voting for Diem in certain provinces than actually lived there.
That’s how bad the ballots were rigged. But it did what they wanted to do. It got rid of Bao Dai, so now in a famous quote by John Foster Dulles, he said words to the effect that: Good, we have a clean face there now. Without any kind of hint of colonialism.
Now, you can believe he said that, it’s actually true. And it shows you the disconnect between the Dulles Brothers and Eisenhower with the reality that’s on the ground there because Diem is going to be nothing but a losing cause.
Now that Diem is in power, Lansdale then goes ahead and advises him to negate the 1956 election and that’s what happens. The agreements that were made in Geneva were now cancelled, and this is the beginning of two separate countries.
You get the north part of Vietnam led by Ho Chi Minh and with its capital at Hanoi and you get South Vietnam which is a complete American creation with its capital at Saigon led by Diem.
By the end of 1957, and this is another problem I had with the Burns-Novick series – they try and say and imply that the war began under Kennedy. Simply not true.
And by the way, this is something that Richard Nixon liked to say. He liked to say that, “Well, when I became President I was given this problem by my two predecessors.” No no, not at all.
In the latter part of 1957, I think in either November or December, the leadership in the North, that is Ho Chi Minh and Le Duan and General Giap, they had decided they were now going to have to go to war with the United States.
They began to make war plans at that early date and those war plans were then approved by the Russian Politburo.
And both Russia and China, because in some ways it had been their fault that this happened by advising Ho Chi Minh to be meek and mild at the Geneva conference; they agreed to go ahead and supply Ho Chi Minh with weaponry, supplies and money.
The war now begins. In the first Indochina War, France against the Vietnamese, the rebels in the south were called the Viet Minh.
While now the Viet Minh are converted into the Viet Cong. This rebel force in the south now begins to materialize again except their enemy is Diem.
Now begins the construction of the Ho Chi Minh Trail which crosses down through Laos and Cambodia and this is going to be a supply route to supply these rebels in the south and actually infiltrate troops into the south.
The other way they’re going to do it is through a place called Sihanoukville in Southern Cambodia, there they’re going to bring in supplies by sea.
Now, for all intents and purposes, the war now begins in around 1958.
There begins to be hit and run raids against the Diem regime in the south.
The United States now begins to really build up, not just a police force, which they had done before, but they now begin to build up a military attaché in the south.
By the end of the Eisenhower regime, there’s something like about, if I recall, about 650 military advisers there with the police force that is trained at Michigan State University under a secret program.
The battle in the countryside now begins in earnest: 1958, 1959, 1960. Diem, as he begins to be attacked, now gets more and more tyrannical.
He begins to imprison tens of thousands of suspects in his famous tiger cages.
These bamboo like 2′ by 4′ cages which people are rolled up like cinnamon rolls and kept prisoner, there were literally tens of thousand of those kinds of prisoners by 1960. He actually began to guillotine suspects in the countryside.
As more and more of this militarized situation takes place, it begins to show that the idea that the United States is supporting a democracy is a farcical idea: because it’s not a democracy in the South because the police force is run by his brother Nhu and Diem is very much pro-Catholic and anti-Buddhist and unfortunately, for the United States, about 70% of the population in South Vietnam was Buddhist, even with the hundreds of thousands of people who fled south.
The situation, and by the way, Lansdale was still there. He’s still supervising Diem, trying to hold on to this thing because he had so much invested there.
As time goes on and the situation becomes more militarized, there actually comes to be a coup attempt against Diem in 1960, and the American ambassador in Saigon, I think his name was Elbridge Durbrow, he even lectures Diem that you’ve got to democratize this country, or else you’re going to be the symbol of this whole militaristic situation and you’re going to be under a state of siege, and this won’t work.
That’s the situation that occurs during the election of 1960 with Kennedy versus Nixon. That’s the situation that whoever wins that election is going to be presented with.
Israel has a long history of actions against its Christian minority. Israeli forces have desecrated churches, rabbis have endorsed killing non-Jewish civilians (including children), New Testaments have been burned. While there are many Israelis who have opposed these actions and respect Christians, the fact is that discrimination against Christians is endemic in the Israeli system. Like Muslims, Christians have been persecuted by Israel ever since it was established in 1948…
‘It is permitted to kill non-Jews, rape women, burn down churches’
The Holy Land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea contains some of the most sacred spaces for Muslims, Jews, and Christians alike. Jerusalem is the holiest site in Judaism, the home of Jewish patriarchs and prophets since the 10th century BCE.
On the same land, Muhammad both received revelation and ascended into heaven at the Dome of the Rock. For Christians, it is the birthplace of Jesus and the site of his crucifixion and ascension into heaven.
The Christian population in this area has long thrived among its Jewish and Muslim neighbors. However, the increasingly destructive Israeli occupation, endorsed by the current U.S. administration, has made the area essentially uninhabitable.
The result is a noticeable exodus of Christians from this territory. Before 1948, Palestinian Christians made up about 18 percent of the region’s population. Today they make up less than one percent.
If the current trend persists, pilgrims and tourists will likely be the only Christian representatives in the region in years to come.
Causes of Exodus
A dhimmi kneels before Muslim leaders
Christian Zionist media, including the Christian Friends of Israel, presents the Palestinian Christian population as a recently-formed community of Arab migrants.
In reality, Palestinian Christians are some of the most deeply-connected members of the faith, tracing their ancestry in the region back to Biblical times.
Pro-Israel sources report that the exodus of Palestinian Christians is caused by two factors.
Firstly, they suggest that many Christians convert and intermarry with Muslims as a result of declining Christian birthrates. Secondly, they argue that Palestinian migration is part of a larger, historical exodus of Christians from the Holy Land.
They believe that migration dates back to the Ottoman Empire when Christians sought jobs in North and Latin America. This exodus is largely blamed on Islamic Fundamentalism and the discord between Islam and Christianity. After the 2003 Iraq War, one theory posits, destabilization allowed extremist groups to gain power. The violence of ISIS in the region is frequently cited as evidence of this religious discord.
This historical distinction, meaning “protection” or “protected person,” was used to distinguish and ensure the legal rights of non-Muslims living in an Islamic state. Its use today, however, is an outdated scapegoat for the real cause of the exodus.
While the claims of the religious-discord argument are not entirely false, the larger flaw of this position is its problematic revisionist narrative that erases the struggles of Palestinian people.
The exodus of Christians actually betrays the oppressive ethnic cleansing inflicted upon the people of Palestine by the Israeli government.
As the U.S. continues to extend a hand to the Israeli regime, Palestinians are increasingly more opposed to the U.S. than to their Muslim neighbors.
While some point to the religious tension between Muslims and Christians, most Palestinian Christians report that it is Israeli oppression that pushes them from their native land. Rabie cites discrimination against Palestinians as the primary cause of the exodus.
A 2017 study by the Dar al-Kalima University in the West Bank has found that “the pressure of Israeli occupation, ongoing constraints, discriminatory policies, arbitrary arrests, confiscation of lands” has contributed to “the general sense of hopelessness among Palestinian Christians.” Only a two percent minority of Palestinian Christians cite Muslim violence and extremism as the reason for their departure.
While it is true that Christians face persecution and are not guaranteed the same rights as their Muslim counterparts, at its heart the conflict is political, not religious. It is a “landed conflict,” Rabie says, stemming from the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. “We are Palestinian first before we are Christian,” Rabie states.
The conflict (and subsequent exodus) is a question of identity and ownership above religious belief.
Aside from their minority status, the relative ease with which the Christian population is able to assimilate into the culture of Western host countries also accounts for their particular population decrease.
Rabie suggests that “Muslims would leave if possible,” or if the process of cultural assimilation was less draining and demeaning.
The discrimination and Islamophobia that many Muslims face is a major deterrent to immigration. Because of their shared faith, Western societies are more accepting of Palestinian Christians than Palestinian Muslims.
While the population of historical Palestinian (including Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel) today has increased to six million, Christians make up less than 1.7 percent. The majority of Palestinian Christians are Greek Orthodox.
Christianity itself began in Jerusalem, and the Palestinians living there were the original followers of Jesus. As Rateb Rabie says, Palestinians have been “saving the face” of the Christain faith for over 2,000 years. In spite of oppression and discrimination, they have nobly upheld their practice and traditions.
Today, the plight of Palestinians is intertwined with Islamophobia. Western Christian organizations are eager to offer charitable support, especially when their donation is inspired by a deep-seated Islamophobia that encourages them to selectively help Christian populations in Muslim-majority countries.
Other Christians in countries like Syria, Rabie points out, avoid getting directly involved to distance themselves from the Islamophobia of Western Christian donors.
Restrictions on Faith and Livelihood
On a fundamental level, the Israeli occupation has made it very difficult for Palestinian Christians to practice their faith.
“Strict closures and curfews imposed by the Israeli government negatively affected residents’ ability to practice their religion at holy sites, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, as well as the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.”
“The separation barrier significantly impeded Bethlehem-area Christians from reaching the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and made visits to Christian sites in Bethany and Bethlehem difficult for Palestinian Christians who live on the Jerusalem side of the barrier.”
Physical barriers and other limitations prevent a complete celebration of faith. In addition, non-Christian settlers in Israel take out their anger toward the Israeli government on the Palestinian population. These attacks often involve the desecration and vandalism of Christian and Muslim holy sites and the targeting of religious leaders.
The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem has even admitted to this brand of ethnic cleansing, stating that:
“The government has been taking actions to increase the number of Jews, and reduce the number of Palestinians, living in the city”
Denied access to ancient holy sites, Palestinian Christians struggle to prove that their “center of life” rests in Jerusalem.
Without this confirmation, they are liable to have their residency rights and social benefits revoked. While the illegally-housed Jewish population has the right to move freely throughout the region, native Christian Palestinians are bombarded by arbitrary borders and restrictive permits.
It is very difficult for Palestinians to find jobs under the occupation. There is currently a 22 percent unemployment rate in the region, and many families struggle to support themselves financially.
Furthermore, the Israeli government protects Jewish extremists in their brutal, physically violent attacks on Palestinian Christians.
In March of this year, Israeli forces carried out attacks on Christian worshippers during a Palm Sunday procession in Jerusalem.
Bombs, guns, and knives have all been used against Palestinians, who may also be subject to arbitrary arrests.
Extremists burn farmland and destroy crops, making livelihood and sustenance impossible.
These attacks on Christian territory, as on the entire Palestinian population, are justified using religion. Zionists claim that the Jewish people have an inherent religious connection to the land.
This is a complete oversight of the religious ties of both Christians and Muslims. The brutality of the attacks contrast the sanctity and divinity of a religious appeal, and many wonder how faith can be used to so blatantly defend massacre.
False Narratives in Tourism
Even in tourism, an economic staple in the region, the narrative and perception of Palestinians, and Palestinian Christians is highly distortedby Israeli tour guides.
This false, damaging narrative reached nearly 3.5 million tourists in 2013. Christians taken to the Holy Land on educational tours are given a skewed version of the region’s history, one in which the role of Christianity is highly downplayed, if not entirely neglected.
Palestinians are painted in a very negative light, and their persecution is glossed over entirely.
Israeli tour guides often completely avoid Christian holy sites on their tours, largely to prevent showcasing the abuses and destruction these areas have endured under the occupation.
Tourists have reported on the crude insensitivities of Isreali tour guides, describing how they were made to participate in role-playing simulations of Israeli soldiers attacking Palestinian “terrorists.”
U.S. Involvement: “Trump Handed Israel Policy to Evangelicals”
Vice President Mike Pence has been at the center of the controversy since Trump’s Jerusalem declaration last December. Pence’s Evangelical Christian faith aligns him with the Jewish Zionists. In his speech at the beginning of this year to the Knesset, the Israeli legislature, Pence stated:
“We stand with Israel because your cause is our cause, your values are our values, and your fight is our fight…we stand with Israel because we believe in right over wrong, in good over evil, and in liberty over tyranny.”
In an interview with Vox, American politics professor Elizabeth Oldmixon explains the American Christian Evangelical support of Israel. Evangelicals see the “gathering of Jews in exile” in the Holy Land as an indication of the highly awaited “end of times,” or Christ’s reign on Earth.
As strict followers of the Bible, Christian Zionists strictly abide by the passage in which God grants the Holy Land to the Jewish people.
Religious faith translates directly into political belief. Fifty-three percent of Trump’s evangelical demographic supported the Jerusalem move.
Palestinian Christian is not evangelical, so they do not possess the same religious vision.
Israeli control, coupled with Mike Pence’s faith-based declaration of American support, has wreaked havoc on the Palestinian population and ostracized their faith.
Understandably, Palestinians are broadly opposed to the current administration.
With America’s damaging influence exacted through the Israeli government, many have chosen to flee their native land altogether, escaping oppression both locally and from the West.
Pence had originally planned a pilgrimage to the Holy Lands, including meetings with many regional Christian leaders, but travel plans were canceled following uproar and protest about the Jerusalem move. Many church leaders felt the move would increase hatred and violence in the region. Although the protests were more muted than expected, the oppression continues for the Palestinian population.
“To declare Jerusalem as the capital based on some biblical argument is a dangerous thing,” said Father Jamal Khader, the Catholic parish priest of Ramallah.
“He’s wanting to separate Christians from the rest of the community. But we are part of the community.”
This sentiment resonates in the hearts of many Christians in the region for whom removal from their native land is an absolute last resort.
Iskander El Hinn, a Christian Palestinian who fled to Ramallah with his family in 1948, is emboldened by his Palestinian identity and connection to the land:
“As a Palestinian, I am living where I belong, everywhere I go here is Palestine to me and Jerusalem is its capital…we have been living here for thousands of years; no one can take us away from here.”
In spite of the exodus and the immense suffering of the Palestinian people, Rabie is encouraged by the dramatic increase in media coverage of the conflict in the past 30 years. He sees the increased exposure of the human rights violations as indicative of the “beginning of the end of Zionist Israel.”
The public has come a long way in terms of its perception of Israel and support for Palestine, thanks to organizations like Rabie’s.
He says that Palestinians at home and abroad are hopeful for peace, but he emphasizes the need for continued education of American Christians on the severity of the conflict.
He recognizes that, even within Israel, much of the Jewish population and social media influencers are pro-peace. These incentives for peace, he argues, must be implemented.
Above all, Palestinians need justice. American Christians must commit themselves to this cause. Rabie discourages them from picking a side-Palestinian or Israeli.
Instead, he encourages Christians, Americans, and global activists to focus their energies and intentions on delivering justice where it is most needed to the long-suffering people of Palestine.
Perhaps then their land will become a home once more.
My name is Yaakov Sharett. I am 92 years old. I happen to be my father’s son for which I am not responsible. So this is how it is.”
From Ukraine to Palestine
His grandfather, Jacob Shertok – the original family name – was one of the first Zionists to set foot in Palestine, leaving his home in Kherson, Ukraine, in 1882 after Russian pogroms.
“He had this dream of tilling the land. The big Zionist idea was going back to the land and leaving the superficial activities of Jews who had become remote from land,” he says.
“They thought that, little by little, more Jews would immigrate until they became a majority, and could demand a state, which they then called a ‘homeland’ to avoid controversy.”
I wonder what Yaakov’s grandfather thought would happen to the Arabs, who then comprised about 97 percent of the population, with Jews around 2 to 3 percent.
“I think he thought the more Jews that came, the more they’d bring prosperity and the Arabs would be happy. They didn’t realize people don’t live only on money. We would have to be the dominant power, but the Arabs would get used to it,” he says.
In case the Arabs didn’t bend the knee
Adding with a wistful smile: “Well, either they believed it or they wanted to believe it. My grandfather’s generation were dreamers. If they had been realists, they would not have come to Palestine in the first place.
It was never possible for a minority to replace a majority that had lived on this land for hundreds of years. It could never work,” he says.
Four years later, Jacob wished he hadn’t come, returning to Russia, not because of Palestinian hostility – Jewish numbers were still tiny – but because he couldn’t make a living here.
Many of the very early settlers in Palestine found working on the land far harder than they had ever imagined, often returning to Russia in despair.
But in 1902, after more pogroms, Jacob Sharett returned, this time with a family including Moshe, aged eight.
Palestinians were still – for the most part – welcoming to Jews as the threat of Zionism remained unclear. A member of the prosperous Husseini family, who was headed abroad, even offered Yaakov’s grandfather his house to rent in the village of Ein Siniya, now in the occupied West Bank.
For two years, grandfather Shertok lived there like an Arab grandee while his children attended a Palestinian kindergarten. “My father herded sheep, learned Arabic and generally lived like an Arab,” says Yaakov.
Psychology of the minority
But the Zionist plan was to live like Jews so before long, the family had moved to the fast-growing Jewish hub of Tel Aviv and Moshe was soon honing every skill – including studying Ottoman law in Istanbul – in order to further the Zionist project.
Thanks to the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which promised a Jewish homeland in Palestine and ushered in British colonial rule, plans for a full-blown Jewish state now seemed possible, and over the next two decades, Moshe Sharett helped design it, becoming a key figure in the Jewish Agency, the state’s government-in-waiting.
Central to the project was the creation of a Jewish majority and ownership of as much of the land as possible, to which end Sharett worked closely with his ally David Ben-Gurion. Immigration rose fast, and land was bought, usually from absentee Arab landlords.
‘My father and the rest still thought that most Arabs would sell their national honour for the food we would give them’
– Yaakov Sharett
The pace of change provoked the Palestinian revolt of 1936, brutally crushed by the British. In the light of that revolt, did the future prime minister ever question whether the Jewish state could work?
“No,” says Yaakov. The leadership were “still full of justifying their ideas of Zionism. You must remember that they all thought in terms of being Jewish and how they had been subjugated by majorities in the countries in which they had lived.
“My father said this: ‘Wherever there is a minority, every member has a stick and rucksack in his cupboard’. Psychologically, he realizes a bad day will come and he will have to leave.
So the priority was always to create a majority and shake off the psychology of the minority for ever.
“My father and the rest still thought that most Arabs would sell their national honour for the food we would give them. It was a nice dream, but at the cost of others.
And anyone who did not agree was a traitor.”
As a young teenager, in the early 1940s, Yaakov didn’t question his father’s outlook. Quite the contrary.
“I must say,” he continues, “when I was in the Zionist Youth Movement, we went around the Arab villages on foot and you saw an Arab village and learned its Hebrew name as in the Bible and you felt the time has not divided between you and it. I have never been religious, but this is what you felt.”
By 1939, World War Two had broken out and many young Israelis had joined the Jewish Brigade of the British Army, serving in Europe. The Jewish Brigade was an idea of Yaakov’s father, and as soon as he was old enough, Yaakov volunteered, joining up in 1944, aged 17. But a few months later – in April 1945 – the war was over and Yaakov was too late to see any service.
Back in Palestine, those young Jewish soldiers who had served in Europe were amongst those now being recruited to fight in what many knew was coming next: a new war in Palestine to establish a state of Israel.
Yaakov – who had clearly not yet started to see that Zionism “was at the cost of others” – readily agreed to play his part.
Now aged 19, Yaakov was picked to play the role of a Jewish mukhtar, or village head, at a quasi-military outpost in the Negev, a barren terrain barely settled by Jews.
“I didn’t think a lot about politics back then. To build this settlement was literally our dream,” he says.
His wife, Rena, has joined us, perching on a stool, and nods in agreement. Rena Sharett was another eager Zionist who claimed the Negev in 1946.
Before 1948, the Negev constituted the British administrative district of Beersheva and the district of Gaza, which together made up half the land of Palestine. Touching the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba, the terrain had vital access to water.
So not surprisingly, the Zionists, who had to date succeeded in purchasing just 6 percent of Palestinian land, were determined to seize it.
However, given that about 250,000 Arabs lived in the Negev, in 247 villages, compared to about 500 Jews in three small outposts, a recent Anglo-American partition plan had divided mandate Palestine between Jews and Arabs, apportioning the Negev region as part of a future Palestinian state.
A British ban on new settlement had also hindered Zionist attempts to alter the status quo. Arabs had always opposed any plan that envisaged the Palestinians as “an indigenous majority living on their ancestral soil, being converted overnight into a minority under alien rule,” as the Palestinian historian, Walid Khalidi, summarised it.
In late 1946, however, with a new United Nations partition plan in the making, the Zionist leaders saw it was now or never for the Negev.
Now or never
So the “11 points” plan was launched. Not only would the new settlements boost the Jewish presence there, they would serve as military bases when war broke out, as it inevitably would.
Everything had to be done in secret due to the British ban and it was decided to erect the outposts on the night of 5 October, just after Yom Kippur. “The British would never expect the Jews to do such a thing the night after Yom Kippur,” says Yaakov.
“I remember when we found our piece of land on the top of a barren hill. It was still dark, but we managed to bang in the posts and soon, we were inside our fence. At first light, trucks came with pre-fabricated barracks.
It was quite a feat. We worked like devils. Ha! I will never forget it.”
‘I remember when we found our piece of land on the top of a barren hill. It was still dark, but we managed to bang in the posts and soon, we were inside our fence’
– Yaakov Sharett
Looking out from inside their fence, the settlers at first didn’t see any Arabs, but then made out the tents of Abu Yahiya’s village, and a few “dirty huts”, as Yaakov described them.
Soon, they were asking the Arabs for water. “I collected our water for our settlement from that well every day in my truck, that’s how I became friends with Abu Yahiya,” he says.
With his smattering of Arabic, he chatted to others too: “They loved to talk. On it went when I had work to do,” he laughs. “I don’t think they were happy with us there exactly, but they were at peace with us. There was no enmity.”
Another local Arab chief watched out for their security in return for a small payment. “It was a kind of agreement we had with him.
He’d act as guard and every month, he’d come up to our fence and sit there quite still – he looked like just a small bundle of clothes,” Yaakov says, smiling broadly.
“He was waiting for payment and I shook his hand and got him to sign some sort of receipt with his thumb which I gave to the authorities in Tel Aviv and they gave me money for the next time.
That was my only real responsibility as mukhtar,” says Yaakov, adding that everyone knew he only got this role as chief because he was his father’s son.
Moshe Sharett, by now a leading political figure, was known as a moderate, and as such was viewed with suspicion by some military hardliners.
The new Negev desert outposts were planned in large part as centres for gathering intelligence about the Arabs, and Yaakov believes it was probably because of his father he too was distrusted and excluded by those sent to the outpost to lay military plans
“Instead I was really used just as a jack of all trades” – driving, collecting water, buying fuel in Gaza or Beersheba. He sounds nostalgic for the freedom of that arid landscape, though the settlers were always back inside their fence at night.
He came to know other Arab villages, too, like Burayr “which was always hostile, I don’t know why,” but most were friendly, particularly a village called Huj. “I used to drive through Huj often and knew it well.”
During the 1948 war, the residents of Huj reached an agreement in writing with Jewish authorities that they be allowed to stay, but they were driven out like all the other 247 villages of this area, mostly to Gaza. The Palestinians called the expulsions their Nakba – or catastrophe.
I asked Yaacov what he recalled of the Arab exodus in May 1948, but he was absent at the time as Rena’s brother was killed in fighting further east so the couple had left to join her family.
I told Yaacov I’d met survivors of the Abu Yahiya clan, who recounted being driven by Jewish soldiers into Wadi Beersheba where the men were separated from the women and some were shot, then the rest were expelled.
“Somehow I don’t remember that,” says Yaakov. But plumbing his memory, he suddenly recalls other atrocities including events at Burayr, the hostile village, where in May 1948 there was a massacre, with between 70 to 100 villagers killed, according to survivors and Palestinian historians.
“One of our boys helped take Burayr. I remember he said when he got there the Arabs had already mostly fled and he opened the door of a house and saw an old man there so he shot him. He enjoyed shooting him,” he says.
By the time Beersheba was taken in October 1948, Yaakov had returned to his nearby outpost, now given the Hebrew name, Hatzerim.
“I learned our boys had led the army to the town,” he says. “We knew the area very well and could guide them through the wadis [riverbeds]”.
After Beersheba fell, Yaakov drove his comrades down in a truck to take a look: “It was empty, totally empty.” The entire population of about 5,000 had been expelled and driven in trucks to Gaza.
I had heard there was a lot of looting. “Yes,” he says. “We took things from several empty houses. We took what we could – furniture, radios, utensils. Not for ourselves, but to help the kibbutz. After all, Beersheva was empty and belonged to nobody now.”
What did he think of that? “Again, I must confess I didn’t think much at all at the time. We were proud of occupying Beersheva. Although I must say, we’d had so many friends there before.”
Yaakov says he couldn’t remember if he had looted himself: “I probably did. I was one of them. We were very happy. If you don’t take it, someone else will. You don’t feel you have to give it back. They were not coming back.”
What did you think about that? He pauses. “We didn’t think about it then. My father, in fact, said they will not come back. My father was a moral man. I don’t think he was a party to the orders to expel the Arabs. Ben-Gurion was. Sharett no. But he accepted it as a fact. I think he knew something was going wrong, but he didn’t fight it,” he says.
“After the war my father gave a lecture and said I don’t know why a man should live two years secluded in a village [a reference to his time growing up in Ein Siniya] to realise that Arabs are human beings. This kind of saying you won’t get from any other Jewish leader…this was my father.”
Then, as if confessing on behalf of his father too, Yaakov adds: “But I have to be frank, my father had some cruel things to say about the refugees. He was against their return; he agreed with Ben-Gurion on that.”
Far more cruel than Sharett was Moshe Dayan. Appointed after the war as chief of staff by David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, Dayan had the task of keeping back the Negev refugees and many others “fenced in” behind the Gaza armistice lines.
In 1956, a Gaza refugee killed an Israeli settler, Roi Rotberg, and at his funeral, Dayan gave a famous eulogy urging Israelis to accept, once and for all, that the Arabs would never live in peace beside them, and he spelled out why: the Arabs had been expelled from their homes which were now lived in by Jews.
But Dayan urged the Jews to respond not by seeking compromise but by “looking squarely at the hatred that consumes and fills the lives of Arabs who live around us and be forever ready and armed, tough and hard”.
This speech made a profound impression on Yaakov Sharrett. “I said this was a fascist speech. He was telling people to live by the sword,” he says. Moshe Sharett, who was foreign minister at the time, had been urging compromise through diplomacy for which he was called “weak”.
But it wasn’t until 1967, when he started working as a journalist for the centrist Israeli paper, Maariv, that Yaakov lost his faith in Zionism.
‘They were the majority’
In the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, Israel seized more land, this time in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip, where military occupation was imposed on the Palestinians who hadn’t fled this time.
Touring the West Bank, Sharett stared at the stunned but defiant Arab faces and felt “uneasy” once again, particularly when he visited his old family village of Ein Siniya, which his father, now dead, had spoken of so affectionately.
It was here that as a child, Moshe had herded sheep and “learned that Arabs were humans”, as Moshe Sharett would say in a later speech.
“The villagers were under the first shock of occupation. They knew the Jews were now the dominating power, but they showed no feelings of hatred. They were simple people.
And I remember that several residents came and surrounded us and smiled and told me they remembered my family and the house in which our family lived.
So we smiled at each other and I left. I didn’t go back. I didn’t like this occupation and I didn’t want to go there as a master,” he says.
“Have you heard of shooting and weeping?” he asks, with another wistful smile, explaining this was an expression to describe Israelis who, after fighting in the West Bank in 1967 showed shame, but accepted the results.
‘We smiled at each other and I left. I didn’t go back. I didn’t like this occupation and I didn’t want to go there as a master’
– Yaakov Sharett
“But I wanted nothing more to do with this occupation. It was my way of non-identification with it. I was depressed by it, and ashamed.”
The faces of the Ein Sinya villagers revealed something else: “I saw in this defiance that they still had the psychology of the majority. My father used to say war always makes waves of refugees. But he didn’t see that usually those who flee are the minority. In 1948, they were the majority so they will never give up. This is our problem.
“But it took me years to realise what the Nakba was and that the Nakba didn’t start in 1967 but in 1948. We have to realise that.”
Rena chips in. “In 1948, it was a matter of them or us. Life and death. That was the difference,” she says.
“We two disagree on this,” says Yaakov. “My wife lost her brother in 1948. She views it differently.”
‘I would leave tomorrow’
In older age, Yaakov has gone back even further in time, looking into the problems with Zionism since the very beginning.
“Now at -years-old, I realise that the story started with the very idea of Zionism which was a utopian idea. It was meant to save Jewish lives but at the cost of a nation of occupants who inhabited Palestine at this time. The conflict was unavoidable from the beginning.”
I ask if he describes himself as an anti-Zionist. “I am not an anti-Zionist, but I am not a Zionist,” he says, turning to look at Rena, perhaps in case she disapproves – his wife holds less radical views.
On the wall beside the picture of his father are photographs of their children and grandchildren; two of Yaakov’s granddaughters have emigrated to the United States. “I am not afraid to say I am happy they are there and not here,” he says.
I ask if he has “a rucksack and stick” packed ready to go and join them? After all, with his views, Yaakov himself is now in a minority – a small minority – living amid a majority of right-wing Jews here in Israel.
And not only is he ideologically “fenced in” but also physically too. He talks of how he can barely move around Israel nowadays. He refuses to go to Jerusalem which he says has been taken over by ultra-orthodox religious Jews.
“This is one of the most terrible disasters. When we were young, we thought religion was going to vanish.” He says he never wishes to return to his beloved Negev because it was long ago settled by new generations of Jews “who have no empathy with Arabs”.
He can still “breathe” in Tel Aviv, and enjoys speeding around on a scooter, but even here, feels that he lives inside a “bubble”. He chuckles again.
“I call it the Haaretz bubble,” and he explains he is referring to a group of left-wingers who read the liberal Haaretz newspaper. “But this clan has no connection with each other except this daily paper that more or less expresses our opinion.
It is the last stronghold. And I feel very bad about it…. It’s true I do not feel at home here.”
‘Look. When you make me think about it, I would leave tomorrow. Thousands are already leaving’
– Yaakov Sharett
Yaakov says he is always thinking about leaving. If other members of his family would join him, he would.
“Look. When you make me think about it, I would leave tomorrow. Thousands are already leaving, most have two passports. We have the worst government we have ever had with Bibi Netanyahu,” he says.
“We are living by the sword, as Dayan said we should…as if we must be forced to make Israel into a kind of citadel against the invaders, but I don’t think it is possible to live by the sword for ever.”
I ask how he sees the future for the Palestinians?
“What can I say? I feel very bad about it. And I am not afraid to say that the treatment of the Palestinians today is Nazi treatment. We don’t have gas chambers, of course, but the mentality is the same. It is racial hatred. They are treated as subhuman,” he says.
Yaakov is well-aware that he – a Jew – will be accused of “antisemitism” for saying such things, but says he believes Israel is “a criminal state”.
“I know they will call me a self-hating Jew for saying that. But I cannot automatically support my country, right or wrong. And Israel must not be immune from criticism. Seeing the difference between antisemitism and criticism of Israel is crucial.
To be honest, I am amazed how in 2019 the world outside accepts Israeli propaganda. I really don’t know why they do,” he says.
“And remember that the very aim of Zionism was to release Jews from the curse of antisemitism by giving them their own state. But today, the Jewish state by its own criminal behaviour is one of the most serious causes for this curse.”
What is his prediction for the Jewish state? “I will tell you what my prediction is. I am not afraid to say it. When the time comes, it might come tomorrow, there will be a conflagration, maybe with Hezbollah … a big catastrophe of some sort that will destroy thousands of Jewish homes.
“And we will bomb Beirut but having Lebanese lose their homes won’t help the Jew who loses his home and family, so people will see no reason to stay here anymore. All rational Israelis will then have to leave.
“It doesn’t have to be Hezbollah. The catastrophe might be the strong domination of our own rightists. All the laws enacted by the Knesset now are fascist laws. I have no solution. Israel will become a pariah state,” he says.
‘To be honest, I am amazed how in 2019 the world outside accepts Israeli propaganda. I really don’t know why they do’
– Yaakov Sharett
Surely, America and the Europeans would never treat Israel as pariah state, I suggest, but Yaakov doesn’t agree: “Their support is mostly shame over the Holocaust. But these feelings of guilt will dwindle in the next generations,” he says.
I ask Yaakov what his father would say if he had heard all this? Rena says she hadn’t even heard Yaakov speak like this before. His eyes dart under his woolly hat.
“I think my father would have to agree with me somewhat. He remained a Zionist to the end, but I think he realised something was wrong. Sometimes, I say he was too moral to be at peace with what is going on here,” he says.
“But he is disappointing because he didn’t arrive at the conclusion his son did. I don’t blame him for that. He absorbed Zionism in his mother’s milk. If he had lived to my age – I am 92, he died at 71 – perhaps he would have seen things like me. I don’t know.”
I get up to leave and pick up my laptop, thereby lighting up the picture of Abu Yahiya’s well again. Our interview has been haunted not only by Moshe Sharett but also by the image of that “tall lean Bedouin with the sympathetic face” last seen by Yaakov, stricken and alone.
“I must say, the picture of that nice man does sometimes come into my mind,” says Yaakov, who then takes me down to the street. Grabbing his scooter, he waves goodbye cheerily and kicks off into the traffic of Tel Aviv.
My Struggle for Peace, the Diary of Moshe Sharett 1953-1956 is published by Indiana University Press. Sarah Helm is a former Middle East correspondent and diplomatic editor of The Independent. Her books include A Life in Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Lost Agents of SOE, and If This Is a Woman, Inside Ravensbrück: Hitler’s Concentration Camp for Women.
Lead photo: Yaakov Sharett, 18, serving as a soldier in the Jewish Brigade (Courtesy Yaakov Sharett)
Israel constitutes the largest undeclared military base in the world.
The illegal and deceitful Balfour Declaration will soon be 100 years old. This imperial agreement made by the British government cbecome a Jewish national homeland with total disregard to the will of the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians living there.
The colonization process of Palestine was not characterized by military occupation of an imperialist country as the French did in Algeria. It was also not the European model used to colonize the U.S. and Australia that committed genocide against indigenous people in the nation building process.
Palestine, which was colonized by the Zionist project, was a model more like what happened in Latin America where national independence struggles fought back against racist regimes and did not accept the colonial nature of the conquering nations.
These struggles have taken on different forms but continue to this day. Cuba for example fought 2 wars of independence against Spain and then went on to defeat the United States in the great victory of the Cuban Socialist Revolution.
Under the most severe form of apartheid oppression the Palestinian people have never given up or accepted the conditions of the Balfour Declaration.
What makes the Palestinian struggle even more complex is that it is fighting against a regime that is supported and operates on the behalf of the U.S. in the Middle East and visa versa.
The essence of the Balfour Declaration in all its arrogant content contradicted and violated the Charter of the League of Nations, making it false and illegal for the following reasons.
The declaration was issued in 1917 when Great Britain had no legal international link to Palestine. The British occupation mandate was not declared until after the end of the First World War on July 24, 1922.
The Balfour statement was issued by an elite English Zionist of Jewish origin who had no right nor any legitimacy to declare anything on a territory that did not belong to them. And it did not have the right to surrender the Palestinian territory to a select group of Zionists alien to the Arab world as it did not belong to them either.
The statement was not considered as a pact or treaty between States and recognized Nations, consequently the Zionist claim has neither legitimacy nor obligatory character from the point of view of International Law.
The statement ignores and violates the historical rights of the national permanence of the Palestinian population in their native territory for more than 7 thousand years.
The Balfour Statement contradicts and violated article 20 of the Charter of the League of Nations. In there the obligation of all members of the League was to maintain respect while applying the principles and objectives of the Charter “to help in the advancement of peoples and facilitate the freedom of their homelands, while respecting the cultures, religions and socio-economic development, in order to establish a national and independent Government”.
The history of foreign military bases has always been a direct form of intervention of foreign powers into the internal affairs of other States and the usurpation of sovereignty and national independence, as well as the dignity of the people.
It is a way of enforcing colonization and occupation to maintain a military and or economic condition favorable to the imperial powers. In other cases military bases occur at the request of governments who for reasons of military and economic dependence submit to this condition.
However there is an extremely serious form of installation of foreign military bases, with catastrophic consequences for the geography, demography, history and the very existence of the people of the region and that is the case of the Zionist State of Israel, artificially created in 1948 in the historic land of Palestine.
In the period of 1917 – 1947 there was a process of gradual multiplication of the installations of settlers that went from 50 thousand to 650 thousand. It was an invading army aided by mercenaries from 37 countries occupying 78% or the greater part of the territory of Palestine.
What followed was a reign of terror of Nazi-Zio style ethnic cleansing. Tens of thousands of Palestinians were massacred, another 850 thousand were expelled from their homeland, 532 cities and villages were either burned or bulldozed.
The holocaust was designed to distribute European Jews to Palestine as a labor force and to falsely legitimize a state before the world.
The same forces that created the holocaust now conducts it’s business in Palestine.
Later in the war of expansion that began on June 5, 1967 Israel seized the rest of historic Palestine and Arab territories in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.
In 1948, the Zionist entity was formed primarily by Ashkenazi ( non-Semitic) Jews from various European groups, primarily Polish and Russian. But the project has never been about religion but rather culture and geographic location.
Since the beginning Israel has been a political, economic, ideological project, complex and globalized, inseparably organic and functional to imperialism and capitalism in its different phases that has gone from mercantilism to neoliberal globalization.
The militarization of the Israeli state with the help of regional powers created a country that in itself is essentially an occupying military base that has served the interest of U.S. Imperialism by participating in endless wars in the region with the most modern of weaponry.
Gaza: A Cruel Testing Ground for Israel’s Weapons-Marketing Campaign
War, or rather maintaining an ongoing conflict, is for Israel a lucrative business. The label “combat proven” translates directly into “healthy global sales” of firearms, drones and rockets.
This reality has been the decisive factor in the destabilization of peace and security in the area. In nearly seven decades of its spurious and illegal existence Israel has waged at least 11 wars against Palestinians and Arabs.
From its position of quantitative and qualitative military supremacy, backed by U.S. imperialism, this rogue state has become a nuclear power without declaring it.
Israel has been a conventional and nuclear military base of the U.S. without any control or supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (AIEA) since it has refused to sign their Protocols, alleging lacking foreign policy, according to Henry Kissinger, “Israel has no foreign policy; only domestic politics”.
The racist mindset of the founders of Israel can be seen in David Ben Gurion when he said, “We can only become Arabs as much as the Americans became Redskins..
Our war against the Arabs is to be or not to be; it is not for borders; Israel lives with war and dies with peace.”
Paul Findley took it further when he said, “The doctrine of Christian fundamentalists stipulates that the existence of a strong Israel is a necessity for the designs of God in Palestine. The United States has the duty to make Israel very strong until the last day of the judgment.”
Prisoner support and human rights organizations claim that approximately 700 Palestinian children under the age of 18 from the occupied West Bank are being prosecuted each year in Israeli military courts following their arrest, interrogation, torture and detention by the Israeli army.
More recent Zionist leaders are no less fanatical. On 13 March 1992, the Israeli newspaper Haartz, echoed a statement from the former NATO Secretary, Joseph Linz when he said, “Israel is the least expensive mercenary in our era”.
Meanwhile, Simón Pérez said that “Israel could not survive without the help of the United States”. Since 1973 the U.S. has been the real guarantor of the existence and technology-military superiority of Israel.”
Currently there are no tensions in bilateral diplomatic and political relations and the Presidents of the United States and Israel, at the economic-military level have grown and has experienced improvement especially since the W. Bush administration.
The U.S. has command has posts and military warehouses, including nuclear weapons in Israel – there are at least 150 nuclear weapons according to former President Carter – at the service of the war fighting needs of both powers in the Middle East.
Billions of U.S. tax dollars has propped up the Israeli infrastructure and build up the largest military force in the Middle East. Each consecutive president since 1950 has followed suit including Obama who, on his way out the door, signed an agreement with Israeli that would include $38 billion in military aid over the next decade.
The current situation in the Palestinian territories occupied in the West Bank continues to deteriorate. The Jewish settlements continue to escalate and push Palestinians off their land to the point that they only control 15% of it and movement is extremely restricted.
In the West Bank there are some 700,000 settlers in more than 600 Zionist colonies. These are militarized areas controlled by state sanctioned paramilitary groups.
There are also more than 1000 military check points along the 720 km. wall.
The Zionist entity of the State of Israel with its racist colonial role against the Palestinian people and all Arab people is a major threat to global peace. It constitutes the largest undeclared military base in the world. Israel is a constant violator of all human rights agreements and continues to mock all UN resolutions.
Today the 1975 UN resolution declaring Zionism as form of racism and racial discrimination is truer than ever before.
To do any justice for the cause of the Palestinian people this artificial entity has to be dismantled. Today there are 7 million Palestinians who are either refugees or exiled.
We demand the right of return for all Palestinians to their homeland and an end to occupation, looting, prison, torture and death.
While preparing this presentation I thought of the seven thousand Palestinian prisoners who remain in Israeli jails under administrative detention without any legal protection.
Many of them are children, young people and women.
On April 17 over 1,500 of these political prisoners began an open ended collective hunger strike. The demands are basic; an end to administrative detentions, solitary confinement and torture, the right to receive medicines and medical care and to install public telephones for maintaining contact with their families.
The Zionist response to the strike is alarming. Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz, urged on his Twitter account the “necessity” that the Parliament of Israel, as soon as possible, pass a bill authorizing the death penalty of Palestinian prisoners being held.
This is the same Israeli Parliament, which adopted a resolution to legalize all the colonies that they occupy and currently usurp the land of Palestine.
The question for all justice loving people is how can we build peace with an occupant of this nature?
* Bassel Ismail Salem, is a Palestinian journalist and member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) living in Cuba
The Shadow Empire has successfully replaced Empire. In secret. Away from the eyes of most of humanity. The transition is now complete. For all intents and purposes, Pax Americana will now take the blame for Pax Judaica’s crimes.
The Archbishop was gassed by an Nazi-Israeli army gas canister, lobbed at Hanna’s Church in Jerusalem December 18 .
Hanna is particularly troubling for Israel because his political language demolishes Israeli hasbara at its very foundations.
Atallah Hanna has reiterated his belief that Jerusalem and the Holy Land belong to people of all religious beliefs, stressing the need to recognize the rights of Christians, Muslims, and the Jewish people to reside and visit the area freely without a permit requirement.
“They will run and not grow weary,” is a quote from the Bible (Isaiah, 40:41) that adorns the homepage of Kairos Palestine. This important document, which parallels a similar initiative emanating from South Africa during the anti-apartheid struggle years, has come to represent the unified voice of the Palestinian Christian community everywhere. One of the main advocates of Kairos Palestine is Archbishop Atallah Hanna.
Hanna has served as the Head of the Sebastia Diocese of the Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem since 2005. Since then, he has used his leadership position to advocate for Palestinian unity in all of its manifestations.
Expectedly, Hanna has been on Israel’s radar for many years, as this kind of leadership is problematic from the viewpoint of a hegemonic political and military power that requires utter and absolute submission.
So when Archbishop Hanna was hospitalized on December 18 as a result of what was reported to be Israeli “poisoning,” Palestinians were very concerned.
A few days later, Hanna was found to be at a Jordanian hospital receiving urgent medical treatment for what was described, by Hanna himself, as “poisoning by chemical substance.”
Whatever that substance may have been, it was reportedly discharged from an Israeli army gas canister, lobbed at Hanna’s Church in Jerusalem.
“The Christians of Palestine are one family of Jordanians and Palestinians,” he told journalists from his hospital bed, where he also said that “Israeli occupation may have attempted to assassinate him or keep him sick all his life, indicating that the substance has very serious effects, especially on the nervous system.”
Zionist criminals from the beginning.
Those familiar with Hanna’s discourse would know precisely what the rebellious Christian leader was aiming at when he spoke about the oneness of Palestinian Christians in Jordan and Palestine: unity which, sadly, has eluded Palestinians for a long time.
Indeed, wherever the man may be, standing tall at a rally in Jerusalem in defense of Palestinian rights or from a hospital bed, he advocates unity among Palestinians and for the sake of Palestine.
The Kairos document is itself an act of unity among Palestinian Christian churches and organizations. “This means for us, here and now, in this land in particular, that God created us not so that we might engage in strife and conflict but rather that we might come and know and love one another, and together build up the land in love and mutual respect,” the document, championed by Hanna and many others, states.
Even before claiming his current leadership position, Hanna was a target of Israel. During the Second Intifada, the uprising of 2005, Hanna emerged on the scene as an advocate, not of Palestinian Christian rights but the rights of all Palestinians.
He actively pursued the World Council of Churches to use its credibility and outreach to speak out against the Israeli occupation of Palestine and for an independent Palestinian state.
In August 2002, Hanna was detained by the Israeli police in front of his home in Jerusalem’s Old City.
On the orders of the Israeli Attorney General, he was charged with ‘suspicion of relations with terrorist organizations’, a concocted charge that allowed the Israeli government to confiscate the Palestinian leader’s Israeli and Vatican passports.
Despite the fact that Palestinian Christians undergo the same experience of military occupation, oppression, and ethnic cleansing as their Muslim brethren, Israel has labored to propagate an erroneous narrative that presents the “conflict” as one between Israel and Muslim fundamentalists.
Hanna is particularly troubling for Israel because his political language demolishes Israeli hasbara at its very foundations.
“We intend to conduct special prayers inside the Church of the Nativity for the sake of our martyrs,” he declared on October 10, 2001, when he joined Christian and Muslim leaders in their march from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, to challenge Israel’s targeting of Palestinian religious sites.
In an interview with ‘Russia Today’ on January 30, 2015, Hanna refused to even concede the language battle to those who ignorantly – or purposely – ascribe Muslim terminology to terrorism. “Allahu Akbar” – God is great in Arabic – is as much Christian as it is a Muslim phrase, he argued.
“We Christians also say Allahu Akbar. This is an expression of our understanding that the Creator is great. We don’t want this phrase to be related to terrorism and crimes,” he said.
“We speak against using this phrase in this context. Those who do, they insult our religion and our religious values,” he added, again, thoughtfully linking all religious values through faith, not politics.
Israel illustrates daily it’s control over Muslim holy sites
Tirelessly and consistently, the Archbishop announced that “Christian and Muslim Palestinians living in Jerusalem suffer from the occupation, suffer from repression, tyranny, and oppression.”
Although born in Ramah in Palestine’s upper Galilee region, Hanna’s true love was, and remains, Jerusalem.
It was there that his spirituality deepened and his political ideas formulated. His advocacy for the Palestinian Arab Muslim and Christian identity of the city stands at the core of all of his activities.
“Everything Palestinian in Jerusalem is targeted by Israeli occupation,” Hanna said last January during a meeting with a Doctors without Borders delegation.
“The Islamic and Christian holy sites and endowments are targeted in order to change our city, hide its identity and marginalize our Arabic and Palestinian existence,” the Archbishop lamented.
In fact, Israel has been doing exactly that, efforts that have accelerated since Donald Trump’s advent to the White House, and the US’ subsequent recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Archbishop Hanna is one of the strongest and most articulate Palestinian Christian voices in Jerusalem. His relentless work and leadership have irked Israeli authorities for many years.
Now that Israel is finalizing its takeover of the illegally occupied city, Hanna, and like-minded Christian and Muslim leaders, are becoming more than mere irritants but real hurdles in the face of the Israeli military machine.
I met Abouna—Father—Hanna at a California Conference a few years ago. I heard him speak, his thunderous voice is that of a proud Palestinian Arab.
He urged unity, as he always does. I chatted with him later, in the hotel lobby, as he was ready to go out for a walk with his close friend, the Mufti of Jerusalem. He was gentle and polite, and extremely funny.
As I watched them both walk outside, I felt hopeful that unity for the sake of Palestine is very much possible.
the U.S. and British governments exiled the Chagossian people from their homeland in the Indian Ocean’s Chagos Archipelago to create a secretive military base on Chagos’ largest island, Diego Garcia. the base on British-controlled Diego Garcia helped launch the Afghanistan and Iraq wars and was part of the CIA’s secret “rendition” program for captured terrorist suspects.
As each intervention was being planned, planners focused on building new U.S. military installations, or securing basing rights at foreign facilities, in order to support the coming war.
But after the war ended, the U.S. forces did not withdraw, but stayed behind, often creating suspicion and resentment among local populations, much as the Soviet forces faced after liberating Eastern Europe in World War II.
The new U.S. military bases were not merely built to aid the interventions, but the interventions also conveniently afforded an opportunity to station the bases.
Indeed, the establishment of new bases may in the long run be more critical to U.S. war planners than the wars themselves, as well as to enemies of the U.S.
The massacre of September 11 were not directly tied to the Gulf War; Osama bin Laden had backed the Saudi fundamentalist dictatorship against the Iraqi secular dictatorship in the war. The attacks mainly had their roots in the U.S. decision to leave behind bases in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.
The permanent stationing of new U.S. forces in and around the Balkans and Afghanistan could easily generate a similar terrorist “blowback” years from now.
This is not to say that all U.S. wars of the past decade have been the result of some coordinated conspiracy to make Americans the overlords of the belt between Bosnia and Pakistan.
But it is to recast the interventions as opportunistic responses to events, which have enabled Washington to gain a foothold in the “middle ground” between Europe to the west, Russia to the north, and China to the east, and turn this region increasingly into an American “sphere of influence.”
The series of interventions have also virtually secured U.S. corporate control over the oil supplies for both Europe and East Asia. It’s not a conspiracy; it’s just business as usual.
Contrary to original U.S. promises to its Arab allies, the 1991 Gulf War left behind large military bases in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and basing rights in the other Gulf states of Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. The war also heightened the profile of existing U.S. air bases in Turkey.
The war completed the American inheritance of the oil region from which the British had withdrawn in the early 1970s. Yet the U.S. itself only imports about 5 percent of its oil from the Gulf; the rest is exported mainly to Europe and Japan.
French President Jacques Chirac correctly viewed the U.S. role in the Persian Gulf as securing control over oil sources for the European and East Asian economic powers. The U.S. decided to permanently station bases around the Gulf after 1991 not only to counter Saddam Hussein, and to support the continued bombing against Iraq, but to quell potential internal dissent in the oil-rich monarchies.
The intervention in Somalia in 1992-93 ended in defeat for the U.S., but it is important to understand why the so-called “humanitarian” intervention took place. In the 1970s-80s, the U.S. had backed Somali dictator Siad Barre in his wars against Soviet-backed Ethiopia.
In return, Barre had granted the U.S. Navy the rights to use Somali naval ports, which were strategically situated at the southern end of the Red Sea, linking the Suez Canal to the Indian Ocean.
After Barre was overthrown, the U.S. used the ensuing chaos and famine as its excuse to move back in, but made the mistake of siding with one group of warlords against the Mogadishu warlord Mohamed Aidid.
In the battle of Mogadishu, romanticized in the movie “Black Hawk Down,” 18 U.S. troops and many hundreds of Somalis were killed. The U.S. withdrew, and eventually gained naval basing rights in the port of Aden, just across the Red Sea in Yemen.
The U.S. interventions in Bosnia in 1995, and Kosovo in 1999, were ostensibly reactions to Serbian “ethnic cleansing,” yet the U.S. had not intervened to prevent similar “ethnic cleansing” by its Croatian or Albanian allies in the Balkans.
The U.S. military interventions in former Yugoslavia resulted in new U.S. military bases in five countries: Hungary, Albania, Bosnia, Macedonia, and the sprawling Camp Bondsteel complex in southeastern Kosovo. NATO allies have also participated in the interventions, though not always with the same political priorities.
As in the Gulf and Afghan conflicts, European Union allies may be joining the U.S. wars not simply out of solidarity, but out of fear of being completely excluded from carving out the postwar order in the region
. The Kosovo intervention, in particular, was followed by stepped-up European efforts to form an independent military force outside of the U.S.-commanded NATO.
The U.S. stationing of huge bases along the eastern edge of the E.U., which can be used to project forces into the Middle East, was carried out partly in anticipation of European militaries one day going their own way.
The U.S. intervention in Afghanistan was ostensibly a reaction to the September 11 attacks, and to some extent was aimed at toppling the Taliban. But Afghanistan has historically been in an extremely strategic location straddling South Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East.
The country also conveniently lies along a proposed Unocal oil pipeline route from the Caspian Sea oil fields to the Indian Ocean. The U.S. had already been situating forces in the neighboring ex-Soviet republic of Uzbekistan before September 11.
During the war, it has used its new bases and basing rights in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, and to a lesser extent Tajikistan.
It is using the continued instability in Afghanistan (like in Somalia, largely a result of setting warlords against warlords) as an excuse to station a permanent military presence throughout the region, and it even plans to institute the dollar as the new Afghan currency.
The new string of U.S. military bases are becoming permanent outposts guarding a new Caspian Sea oil infrastructure.
Geopolitical priorities may help explain why Washington went to war in all these countries, even as paths to peace remained open. President George Bush launched the February 1991 ground war against Iraq, even though Saddam was already withdrawing from Kuwait under Soviet disengagement plan.
He also sent forces into Somalia in 1992, even though the famine he used as a justification had already lessened. President Clinton launched a war on Serbia in 1999 to force a withdraw from Kosovo, even though Yugoslavia had already met many of his withdrawal terms at the Rambouillet conference.
President George W. Bush attacked Afghanistan in 2001 without having put much diplomatic pressure on the Taliban to surrender Bin Laden, or letting anti-Taliban forces (such as Pashtun commander Abdul Haq) win over Taliban forces on their own.
Washington went to war not as a last resort, but because it saw war as a convenient opportunity to further larger goals.
Geopolitical priorities may also help explain the reluctance of the U.S. to declare victory in these wars. If the U.S. had ousted Saddam from power in 1991, his Gulf allies would have demanded the withdrawal of U.S. bases, but his continued hold onto power justifies intensive U.S. bombing of Iraq and a continued hold over the Gulf oil region.
The fact that Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar have not been captured in four months of war also provides convenient justification for the permanent stationing of U.S. bases in Central and South Asia. All three men are more useful to U.S. plans if they are alive and free, at least for the time being.
Wars in the Making.
Iraq is certainly the primary target for a new U.S. war, for President Bush to “finish the job” that his daddy left unfinished.
Now that the American sphere of influence is taking hold in the “middle ground” between Europe and East Asia, the attention may be turned on both Iraq and its former enemy Iran as the only remaining regional powers to stand in the way.
Bush may be under the illusion that Iraqi opposition forces can be refashioned into a pro-U.S. force like the Northern Alliance or Kosovo Liberation Army.
He may also be under the illusion that his threats against Iran will help Iranian “moderate” reformers, even though it is already dangerously strengthening the hand of Islamist hard-liners.
A U.S. war against either Iraq or Iran will destroy any bridges recently built to Islamic states, especially as Bush also abandons even the pretense of even-handedness between Israelis and Palestinians.
U.S. war planners are also openly targeting Somalia and Yemen, and are patrolling their shores with Navy ships, though they may decide to intervene indirectly to avoid the disasters of Mogadishu in 1993 and Aden in 2000.
Why Osama Bin-Laden?
Bin Laden had backed Aidid to prevent new U.S. bases in Somalia, and his father is from the historically rebellious Hadhramaut region of southeastern Yemen. Yet Washington’s priority would not be to eliminate Bin Laden’s influence, leaving that role mainly to local forces.
Rather the priority would be to regain naval access to strategic Somali and Yemeni ports.
The most direct U.S. intervention since the Afghan invasion has been in the southern Philippines, against the Moro (Muslim) guerrilla militia Abu Sayyaf.
The U.S. sees the tiny Abu Sayyaf group as inspired by Bin Laden, rather than a thuggish outgrowth of decades of Moro insurgency in Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago. U.S. special forces “trainers” are carrying out joint “exercises” with Philippine troops in the active combat zone.
Their goal may be to achieve an easy Grenada-style victory over the 200 rebels, for the global propaganda effect against Bin Laden. But once in place, the counterinsurgency campaign could easily be redirected against other
Moro or even Communist rebel groups in Mindanao. It could also help achieve the other major U.S. goal in the Philippines: to fully reestablish U.S. military basing rights, which ended when the Philippine Senate terminated U.S. control of Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base, after the Cold War ended and a volcanic eruption damaged both bases.
Such a move back into the country would be strongly resisted, however, by both leftist and rightist Filipino nationalists.
The U.S. return to the Philippines, like Bush’s newest threats against North Korea, may also be an effort to assert U.S. influence in East Asia, as China rises as a global power and other Asian economies recover from financial crises.
A growing U.S. military role throughout Asia could counteract increasing criticism of U.S. bases in Japan. The moves could also raise fears in China of a U.S. sphere of influence intruding on its borders.
The new U.S. air base in the ex-Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan is too close to China for comfort. (Russian fears of U.S. encirclement may also be rekindled, though Russia may instead join the U.S. in using its oil to lessen the power of OPEC. )
Meanwhile, other regions of the world are also being targeted in the U.S. “war on terror,” notably South America. Just as Cold War propaganda recast leftist rebels in South Vietnam and El Salvador as puppets of North Vietnam or Cuba, U.S. “war on terror” propaganda is casting Colombian rebels as the allies of neighboring oil-rich Venezuela.
The beret-clad Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, is described loosely as sympathetic to Bin Laden and Fidel Castro, and as possibly turning OPEC against the U.S. Chavez could serve as an ideal new enemy if Bin Laden is eliminated.
“Hello Mr. President,” he told off Bush in English, saying: “You are a donkey.” Noam Chomsky is not.
The crisis in South America, though it cannot be tied to Islamic militancy, may be the most dangerous new war in the making.
Whether we look at the U.S. wars of the past decade in the Persian Gulf, Somalia, the Balkans, or Afghanistan, or at the possible new wars in Yemen, the Philippines, or Colombia/Venezuela, or even at Bush’s new “axis of evil” of Iraq, Iran, and North Korea, the same common themes arise.
The U.S. military interventions cannot all be tied to the insatiable U.S. thirst for oil (or rather for oil profits), even though many of the recent wars do have their roots in oil politics.
They can nearly all be tied to the U.S. desire to build or rebuild military bases.
The new U.S. military bases, and increasing control over oil supplies, can in turn be tied to the historical shift taking place since the 1980s: the rise of European and East Asian blocs that have the potential to replace the United States and Soviet Union as the world’s economic superpowers.
Much as the Roman Empire tried to use its military power to buttress its weakening economic and political hold over its colonies, the United States is aggressively inserting itself into new regions of the world to prevent its competitors from doing the same.
The goal is not to end “terror” or encourage “democracy,” and Bush will not accomplish either of these claimed goals. The short-term goal is to station U.S. military forces in regions where local nationalists had evicted them.
The long-term goal is to increase U.S. corporate control over the oil needed by Europe and East Asia, whether the oil is in around the Caspian or the Caribbean seas.
The ultimate goal is to establish new American spheres of influence, and eliminate any obstacles– religious militants, secular nationalists, enemy governments, or even allies–who stand in the way.
U.S. citizens may welcome the interventions to defend the “homeland” from attack, or even to build new bases or oil pipelines to preserve U.S. economic power.
But as the dangers of this strategy become more apparent, Americans may begin to realize that they are being led down a risky path that will turn even more of the world against them, and lead inevitably to future September 11s (false flags)