FROM THE NAZI OVENS OF SACHSENHAUSEN TO THE RUBBLE OF JENIN
Thoughts on the conflict in the Middle East
By T A DILLON
When the president of the United States calls the current prime minister of Israel "a man of peace" then there is something surely amiss in the Bush White House. Forgive me for asking who the "tailor" is, and who the "emperor" in this modern farce, as Bush and Powell would have us believe, contrary to the evidence before our eyes, that Sharon the wolf, now disguised in sheep's clothing, has miraculously metamorphosed into "a man of peace"? The ongoing bloodbath throughout Palestine, as Sharon's bulldozing "peace" juggernaut ploughs its way through the region, sowing hate, death and humiliation in the rubble, hardly seem the actions of a man even remotely interested in peace. It doesn't require much intelligence or imagination to know what will be harvested out of such brutal, vengeful policies. The president of the United States only stuck his finger deeper in the bleeding wound of the Palestinian people with his sarcasm and conspiratorial wink of approval to the butcher of Tel Aviv. Empowered by the White House gaffe, and adding insult to injury, now comes the brazen effrontery of the Israeli government to deny the right of the civilized world, under the auspices of the UN, to investigate the carnage caused by Israeli troops rampaging across the West Bank, briefly satiating the IDF's blood thirst for revenge against the civil population trapped in refugee slums. Still weeks after the murder of uncounted innocent civilians, the dying and the elderly left for days under dust and Israeli cordite in the ruins of their ghetto concentration camps, the illegal imprisonment of thousands, the firing of tank shells at ambulances, the throwing of stun grenades and shooting at the international press for daring to try to document this reign of terror; still the criminal cabinet of Sharon continues to stall and disguise the reality of the barbaric IDF actions in the West Bank. Sharon and the Israelis, chronic procrastinators and bullies, angling for time like the wily Hussein or Milosovitch or Botha, surreptitiously erasing the evidence of their heinous state crimes from the stinking mound of death and bitterness that their macabre named operation "Defensive Shield" has left in its wake.
Sharon, old desert wolf that he is, has skillfully hijacked Bush's "war on terror" as surely as Mohammed Ata hijacked North America's peace of mind on the 11th of September. Throughout his career of terror, Sharon has helped tear apart the Middle East again and again, and we shouldn't forget that this indicted war criminal has his trigger finger on the Israeli nuclear button, like several other unstable US allies around the planet. You can bet with that embittered Israeli mentality of his that when it eventually boils down to a "Nagasaki solution", he won't hesitate to plant "mushrooms" in his neighbors' back yard. Why else do the Israelis have weapons of mass destruction? Why is it in fact blindly accepted by the people of the United States, the skewered dictate of the powers in Washington, that Sharon should have weapons of mass destruction, and that the Palestinians should be denied the right by the US, to import small arms to defend themselves against the billions of dollars worth of modern weapons systems paid for by North American taxes? Isn't it patently obvious on the other side of the Atlantic who the aggressor is, and who illegally occupies its neighbors' land? The gangrene of Jewish settlements eats deeper into the butchered carcass of the Palestinians' homeland, and Sharon's regime makes no bones about their determination to resist a Palestinian state, whatever Bush says or not. Yet, the greatest threat to world peace, the genuises in Washington tell us daily, is the sulking and isolated bogey man in Bagdad, who according to all unemotional and rational assessments, possesses no more weapons of mass destruction now than he did in the past. What's the logic there, folks? I wouldn't want either of them over for dinner. Maybe Colin Powell could run that "man of peace" deal by us again? Could it be the Bush family still has unfinished personal business with the Iraqui dictator, and seeks to draw the rest of the world into their feud? But leaving Saddam and Iraq out of the picture for two minutes, what is this parasitic and symbiotic relationship between weapons dealer US, and weapons junkie Israel? Why must this David and Goliath perversity threaten the rest of the world, with the sword of Damocles permanently hanging over us? Is Israel simply a weapons laboratory, a willing testing ground for the latest murderous products of the US military-industrial complex? Democratic and peace loving people around the world could definitely be forgiven for interpreting all the signs as such.
WHO HAS BEEN KILLING WHOM
Sharon has got Bush's game plan on the "terror industry" down to a T, and even stole his thunder before George could get out of the stables in the sweepstakes against his dad's arch enemy Saddam Hussein. According to the folksy presenters at "Friends At Fox", ( a North American breakfast "talk-terror-show" ) who banter and rail on, inciting murder and "taking out" their perceived enemies, displaying the same callous disrespect for human life as the cosa- nostra taking out the garbage, the Bush options apparently are to carpet bomb, and if necessary employ some tactical nuclear weapons in the Iraqi theater causing high collateral damage among the civilian population. Without batting an eye these "friends" snear at the US's less militaristic regional and European allies who mightn't have the stomach for that, allies thankfully whose people see the disgusting Pentagon euphemism "collateral damage" for what it is. Plan B, the likes of these informed experts wisely opine, is to paratroop hundreds of thousands of American soldiers down to fight and die on the ground, something that the US public definitely has no stomach for, eventhough the flag waving back home is at an all time high right now.
The American "terror show" slowly got on the road to Afghanistan after the vicious and unjustifiable Sept. 11th attack, and then permanently bogged down in Saudi Arabia. Sharon, seizing his chance, immediately went berserk in Palestine. He wasted no time in firing up his divisions of panzers and ‘dozers. "Commander" Sharon since election day was gung-ho and ready to roll across the desert in his psychotic version of the latest Israeli "final solution". Bellowing from the tank turret like some Temple Mount Jehovah of old, brandishing the plagiarized Washington "terror-speak"script, he ruthlessly promised the Israeli extremists that had put his ragtail band in power, to "crush", "root out", "liquidate" and "destroy" all the "terrorists" etc etc etc "where ever they might be". The Hollywood special effects meisters couldn't have rendered it more gruesomely as Sharon, and the pride of the IDF, victoriously bulldozed aside the villages and olive groves, on through to "Satan's" compound in Ramallah.
"Is that anything new?" non-biased observors outside of the United States might be forgiven for asking. From a Pan-European perspective, it can easily be interpreted that the Jewish-American lobby for years has had a wedge in the door of the White House lobby, a little less threatening perhaps in its stance, than the Israeli tanks and IDF looters in Mr Arafat's Ramallah Presidential sitting-room. Some European observors would go so far as to suggest that the entire US bipartisan political system has been shamelessly prostituting itself for those special interest groups that throw most campaign dollars into either of the political coffers on election day, usurping the idea of democracy and making a joke of the principle of one man one vote. The debate about what those campaign funds buy, in the Republican or Democratic Party's convenience-store, is the business of the US electorate at home, but when the shopping basket of politcal favors overflows, and effects the rest of the world, then it behoves the North American people to listen to their friends and put their house in order. If democracy has degenerated into just another product in the market place of special interests, to be leased to the highest bidder as with the Enron affair, then it is indeed high time that the store owners, the citizens of North America, take stock as to what their political employees have been peddling behind their back.
The propaganda footsoldiers of Sharon, ( Netanyahou, Pinkus, Barak, Gold and Fleischer to name but a few), are constantly to be seen and heard in the lop-sided coverage given by the US media. These seeming permanent residents of CNN, FOX, NBC and other such media at home and abroad, are invariably made to feel welcome and at ease before the cameras. In the typical fawning atmosphere, no pointed or remotely embarrassing questions are ever posited, by the Larry Kings and the O' Reillys and Friends at Fox and such, to the Jewish-Israeli victims. But despite the kid gloves approach of the US media barons, these high financed Israeli spin-doctors can only spew venom and hate towards the Arab world in general, and the Palestinian people in particular; they have absolutely nothing constructive to offer. They are so enflamed by their own bile and arrogance that they never seem to be able to concoct the right balance of propaganda for the delicate American palate. In typical Israeli overkill, still unperfected after years of practise in the US limelight, they vehemently seek to justify the latest military barbarism gleefully used against innocent civilians in occupied Palestine. They waffle endlessly on about the prejudicial nature of the UN, insulting the entire international community as they so tactlessly do so, sounding curiously like Saddam Hussein or Tarik Aziz in the process. There seems to be no understanding whatsoever on their part, of the undeniable moral imperative of unconditionally accepting the right of the Palestinian people to live in peace in their own independent land, without the constant Israeli threat of harassment, invasion, occupation, imprisonment and summary execution. To the contrary, instead of wanting to come to a solution, these professional propagandists harp on about some mythological Jewish past and the injustices done to God's chosen people, and the God given right of that people to strike back again and again at any and everybody who dares to oppose them. With the orthodox radicals and fundamentalist fanatics in power, it doesn't appear to be the moment where the extremists of Israel can be brought to reason, and made to understand their role and obligation in redressing the evils and injustices, that they too are responsible for having created in the region.
If the past is anything to go by, it is a sure bet that the waves of young suicide bombers will continue to blast innocent Israelis inside Israel proper, and the "incursions" into the ever expanding illegal Jewish settlements, by armed Intifada revenge seekers, will be more common than they ever were in the past. The reaction of the Palestinians, as history demonstrates, is exactly the reaction of every subjugated people in the world struggling to survive under a brutal military occupation. ( The Irish-American population in the US might easily see the paralell in their funding and thus justification of the IRA bombing campaign against the British military occupation of Northern Ireland, and North American politicians, always pandering to the voting blocs at home, could perhaps look deep in their souls and ponder the semantic differences between "guerilla warfare", "counter-revolution" and "terrorist", after last week's senate hearing on the IRA Colombia connection, where a blind eye was once again turned to the tropical activities of the Irish "freedom fighters". ) In the eyes of the US government, ( as well as every other government in the world, ) not all terrorists apparently are equal. Expect more of the same from all sides, at least until the "international community" finally gives the Israeli state an ultimatum. ( i.e. US miliary funding and weapons supplies are finally and completely choked off, and UN soldiers are permitted by the US to separate both communities in their own independent, divided and sovereign states, where both parties will be held equally responsible for their actions. ) Go on Bush, just do it! You know, as well as the rest of the world, that the only way out of this swamp of blood and gore, is to defang all sides involved. If you don't have the courage or the political vision to speak out and tell the truth about Sharon, then the blood of the next generation will nurture the poison fruits of hate and anarchy, that are being so lovingly planted and cared for by the extremists on all sides in this damned olive grove of misery and bigotry.
Sharon is not an intelligent man, obviously. He has beeen killing and maiming Palestinians all of his adult life. He has learned nothing, unfortunately. It seems that the State of Israel has learned precious little since its own bloody birth with the Hagannah terrorist campaign against the one time British colonial masters of the region. Former prime minister Menachim Begin is revered as a freedom fighter by the people of Israel. Among his statesman like activities, for the cause of Israeli freedom, is the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1948, killing more than 90 innocent people; to mention but one terrorist act of one of the most illustrious sons of Israel. The only difference that I can see between that type of terrorism, and a teenage Palestinian suicide bomber, is that the suicide bomber has at least the conviction and courage to sacrifice his or her own life, as well as taking the lives of those innocent and unfortunate victims. These modern day suicide bombers like the Kamikaze fighters of the second World War, simply show the absolute hopelessness and desperation of the Palestinian people, who are left with no other option in this guerilla war. Though the Japanese Kamikaze attacks were directed primarily against military targets, in all-out-war, innocent civilians have never been spared, as the cases of Dresden, Nagasaki, Hiroshima, Sabra, Shatila, El Arish and the carpet bombing, napalming and chemical poisoning of Vietnam with Agent Orange dioxin amply testify. The Mister Begins and Sharons of our world, the politicians and professional hate-mongers and propagandists, as well as the Israeli military who participate in the daily slaughter of innocent Palestinians, do their despicable deeds, then go home and wash their hands before lunch, with the added benefit of picking up a paycheck for their heroic deeds.
It should serve the real interests of the North American people to know of an incident that has come to light from recently declassifed NSA documents. The National Security Agency which is the US "spook agency" responsible for eavesdropping on the rest of the world, supposedly in the North American interest, has made documentation available that shows how Israel launched a war against Egypt on June the 5th 1967, neutralizing most of its air-force in less than two hours, then sending hundreds of tanks into the Sinai to grab the Suez Canal. Israeli officials then cranked up their propaganda machine saying that Egypt had, without provocation, attacked Israel and that Israel was just defending itself. As the Israelis "defended" themselves from this "Arab aggression", an NSA spy surveillance ship, the "Liberty" was in international waters off the Israeli coast collecting "signal intelligence", eavesdropping on electronic communications from all parties involved in the conflict.
The writer James Bamford, in his recently published book "Body of Secrets" ( Arrow Books 2002 ), irrefutably proves this incident, supplying graphic detail from transcripts and tapes made available to him by the NSA. The Israelis then went on to bomb 25 Arab air-bases stretching from Damascus to Egypt as well as sweeping into and taking over Jerusalem. It is calculated that up to 10,000 Egyptians alone were killed, compared to 275 Israelis, in this unwarrented aggression against their neighbors. Then, as now in the case of Jenin, the Israelis had no time for such niceties as the taking of prisoners of war. Their paradoxically named Defence Forces is the much vaunted killing-machine, admired by dictators the world over, a finely honed lethal weapon that prides itself on quick, decisive no holds barred action, free from the constraints of the Geneva Convention. Israeli knee-jerk reaction to all UN comment sets off a preemptive barrage of diatribe against outside meddling, while seeking to smear all dissenters with the standard cliché of anti-Semitism. It is as if the Israelis must be forgiven for every atrocity they commit, for every government authorized murder and bombing they carry out, because as all the world knows and must constantly be reminded of, "the Germans gassed 6 million Jews". Therefore, runs the flawed logic, if you dare criticize the Jewish state then you too must be anti-Semitic, a Nazi, or in this Bush-Sharon newspeak a Terrorist.
In the same Israeli Blitzkrieg of 1967, the Israeli army massacred a convoy of Indian peacekeepers, clearly flying the United Nations flag, on its way to Gaza to monitor the Israeli attacks. As the unsuspecting UN convoy pulled off the road to let the invading horde through, they were crushed and blown to bits where they parked by the advancing Israeli column of tanks. For a description of the full horror see Mr Bamford's book page 201.( Is it a surprise, Mr. Anan, that your whispering, pleading tones to Sharon and his permanently at war-cabinet, provoke only insult and derision, as this "man of peace" and his band of radicals thumb their noses at the civilized world? )
Mr Bamford goes on to describe the situation of Egyptian prisoners near the town of El Arish on the 8th of June 1967. The Israelis had no place to lock up the captured soldiers and civilians, and insufficient IDF units to guard them. Meanwhile, the Liberty, in international waters, was monotoring local communications, while the Israeli military leaders discussed the "problem". According to all the evidence collected by the NSA, and according to the Israeli military historian Aryeh Yitzhaki who interviewed IDF officers, and soldiers alike after the war, the Israelis proceeded to kill in cold-blood as many as 1000 Egyptian prisoners, including 400 or so they executed and buried in the sands around El Arish. It should come as no surprise that Mr Sharon conspired in this military crime and cover-up, after he and his death squads overran the region south of El Arish on that day. There are multiple claims made by Israeli military personnel as to the blood lust of this tyrant who now heads the Israeli state. I urge those of you not blinded by hate and bigotry, those of you who have no vested interest, political, financial or otherwise, to look for the facts and then take a stand on this issue. Mr Bamford goes on to recount the responsibility of Sharon for the slaughter of at least 900 men, women and children in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps following Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982. The well documented facts are available to all and unequivocally rebutt Mr Bush's lie about "the man of peace" or perhaps Mr Bush is still woefully uninformed about the real cut of the emperor's new clothes. Is that still possible, I ask you the people of North America and your president? One can understand, though not condone, the pathological hatred and fanaticism of a man like Ariel Sharon, he is simply the bitter, poisoned fruit of his land, and the tragedy that has befallen the Jews. However, there can be no understanding and no tolerance for those hypocrites who hold the key out of this morass, and yet procrastinate and resist the inevitable, in a sick effort to capitalize politically. That is perhaps the greatest crime of all in this tragedy and latest US peace-brokering debacle.
If you are not interested in the lives that I have mentioned, in the human rights violations that I have reiterated, if you think that the Middle East is not your problem, the WTC showed otherwise. When the Liberty, that documented the massacre at El Arish, posed a threat to the interests of the Israeli state, the Israeli military decided that it had to be destroyed. Their air-force, ( with the Star Of David painted out, ) in wave after wave, attacked the ship to disable it, and then several unmarked torpedo boats "lined up like a firing squad" for the coup de grace. Mr Bamford's blow by blow description, from first-hand accounts of the participants and survivors, makes chilling reading. As a result of this unjustifiable and criminal attack on the NSA ship, flying the US flag, clearly bearing the markings of a civilian vessel, 34 North American personnel were wantonly murdered and 171 were torn with shrapnel and burned with napalm. Witnesses were under no doubt that the Israelis, their "allies", deliberately targetted the liferafts and tried desperately with massive force to sink the ship and leave no survivors. The Israrelis were only chased off when US planes were finally contacted and flew to the region to help the survivors. Of course the Israelis sought to deflect the blame, "it was the Egyptians, the Russians", they lyingly explained, hoping then as now to draw the United States into a massive regional war, to serve Sharon's own insane ambition perhaps for the creation and consolidation of the infamous "Greater Israel"? Too bizarre? When that lie was exposed, the Israelis pleaded that they had thought it to be "a Russian vessel, an Egyptian vessel" and thus had attacked in self-defence. The Israeli lies and subterfuge continued until they were faced with the undeniable proof. After more than a decade of protest and haggling, the state of Israel finally and grudingly paid compesation to the victims of the Liberty, to the tune of a paltry 20,000 dollars per head. Lyndon Johnson hushed up the brutal murders by threatening all Americans involved with life-imprisonment, if they dared to reveal what had transpired. As he explained, it was "to spare any embarrassment to our allies, the Israelis". It was also of course just some months before the all important US presidential election, Vietnam was a mess and Johnson couldn't afford to look any worse. It would appear that business is business, and the business of myopic politicians is to hold on to power at all costs, even when that jeopardizes the national interest and tramples all over the rights of the individual. Is that not still the case, Mr. Bush? Is that not why you expect the Palestinians to cow down and halt all kinds of legitimate resistance to the endless occupation of their land, and the deliberate IDF sniper policy of killing their children? The fate of the doomed Liberty was sealed by Israeli deception and connivance, a crime carried out unhesitatingly by the Israeli military, and abetted by state and civil powers. Along with an unending list of Israeli state orchestrated murders, no one was ever brought to justice for ordering or carrying out this dastardly attack. Israel bit the hand of the one that feeds it, coldly premeditated and then murdered with impunity, leaving dozens of Americans dead and hundreds more wounded. The Liberty's deck awash in innocent US sailors' blood, just because there was a chance that their allies had found out about their bestial war crimes in the dunes of El Arish not more than 12 kilometers away. Johnson, many believe, would have been impeached for that disgraceful cover-up in a more democratic climate.
However, almost 40 years later and more than a $100 billion dollars in US taxpayers' money down the tubes to Israel, the Holy Land has never looked so godforsaken and evil. Stranded at the crossroads of history, humanity is still wandering in the proverbial desert of these cursed jewish christian muslim traditions, no nearer the basic message of that trinity of seemingly incompatible religions than we ever were. When we only use our religion to justify slaughtering each other, then without doubt, we would be better off without that religion. Alternatively, we could accept our own responsibility for our actions, and those of our elected leaders. We could then drop all references to heavenly powers, satanic empires, dark forces or chosen races, and the pretence that "we" are the good, and that "they" are the evil. Be it Belfast or Bosnia, Jenin or Jerusalem, people have stockpiled enough grudges for justifying destroying each other as to require a major miracle to overcome that fear and loathing. Sadly, the only tracks in the desert are tank tracks; there is no prophet in sight to lead any of the lost tribes down to the oasis of peace any time soon. Aside from all the name calling and the Biblical, Koranic and Talmudic mud slinging, Sharon is not Solomon and Bush is not God; Arafat is neither Mephistopheles nor Moses, and Hussein couldn't hold a candle up to the real Satan. They are only men and unfortunately for all of us, it would seem for now, the best that their countries have to offer.
Where I sit here in a quiet suburb of East Berlin, far from the slums and death camps where the Palestinians are forced to live and die by a world that doesn't appear to give a damn about them, I am within 30 kilometers of the infamous Nazi concentration camp Sachsenhausen. Here the enemies ( Jewish and non Jewish ) of one of the most brutal regimes, that has ever existed on this tortured planet, were put to death because they didn't fit the Nazi master plan. As an Irish citizen with a German born son, I must again say that I see no moral distinction between what some of the survivors of that camp, and others like it, are now advocating and practising against another race of people that doesn't fit their blueprint, in yet another insane master plan. I refuse to allow those master planners, and those of you that condone and sponsor their despicable policies of "Lebensraum", "ethnic cleansing" and " forced resettlement", the right to pin on me that ready-made label of anti-Semite, because you dislike my interpretation of the facts. I just as vociferously refuse to burden my son with that disgusting and unjust concept of "inherited collective German guilt" for what the Nazis did to the innocent Jews a generation ago. I will simply not allow Israelis or anybody else the right to pin the guilt to my shoulder, the same way that the Nazis pinned the Star Of David on the Jews. The Jewish community of the world should not make the mistake of the Germans in the time of Hitler, by condoning with their silence, what is obviously wrong in the eyes of the rest of the world. Future generations hopefully won't burden those innocent Jews and Israelis, who dare to speak out against the genocidal ambitions of the present governing cabal in Tel Aviv, with the guilt of Sharon and his IDF stormtroopers. To the harborers and propagandists of Sharon I say, how dare you insult the honest, dissenting voices, who are prepared to stand up and be counted, by resorting to that tacky, threadbare cliche of anti-Semitism. Just because I refuse to accept the expedient White House white-washed approved explanation, the conventional US media wrapped sound-bite, that all Palestinians who dare to resist Israel are terrorists, and must either be destroyed or learn to tolerate their place in the region under US-Israeli hegemony. For the rest of the unbiased world, I am sure, that makes me neither a terrorist nor an anti-Semite. If I don't speak out now against this unjustice and naked posturing on the part of the emperor and his tailor in Washington, then I run the far greater risk of becoming a smug hypocrite, a crime much more shameful in my eyes and those of my son.
To expect future generations of Germans to willingly be yoked under the collective guilt harness, because of the actions of the Third Reich, ( See "The Holocaust Industry" by R. Finkelstein, Piper Verlag 2001 ) or for the civilized world to blindly tolerate the ongoing Israeli occupation and incessant brutality in the Palestinian territories, is as ridiculous as to expect all North Americans to shoulder the guilt and responsibility for the genocide perpetrated against the native American Indians, or for the enslavement of the African people shipped in chains like animals to the shores of the US. It just doesn't wash anymore. Israel must accept the mandate of the civilized world, and withdraw immediately, without delay, at once, now, to within its originally established borders, as defined by the civilized world through its UN mandate. Israel must desist in its aggression, and return the lands it annexed in its spate of wars against its neighbors. Israel must learn to live in peace and accept its place as a rather small and unimportant land, foregoing its megalomaniac pretensions of becoming a world or even regional military power. Unfortunately, for any of this to happen, Israel must be seen by the United States exactly for what it is, a land born out of terror, living in teror and too quick to react with the methods of terror. Whether some Israelis or some members of the world Jewish community like it or not, the bleeding miscarried state of Palestine and all her people have the same right to a dignified life as they do. Like Israel, Palestine will refuse to be driven into the sea or exterminated in dehumanizing concentration camps and ghettos. It is simply and unquestionably their right.
Both peoples have used more than their fair share of bombs and bullets; isn't it already long past the time for taking those weapons out of the equation, Mr Bush?
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