US and Israeli Season’s Greetings
by Stephen Lendman
Both countries wage war on humanity. They do it no-holds-barred. They perpetuate wrong over right. They flaunt rule of law principles.
Their agenda reflects gross injustice, institutionalized persecution, racist hate, mass slaughter, destruction, and ruthless exploitation.
Harshness persists throughout the holiday season. Imperial lawlessness takes no time off to pause. It continues relentlessly. It does so viciously. It does it throughout the year.
It’s the America way. It’s the Israeli way. It’s their longstanding way. There’s no other way.
Obama’s direct and proxy wars rage. They do so while he takes time off. He’s relaxing. He’s vacationing in Hawaii.
Controversy accompanies him. Festering problems deepen. His trips cost plenty. He’s away for 17 days. One week away costs an estimated $100 million. It includes hundreds of secret service staff and others.
Travel, accommodations, security and other costs are enormous. Military cargo planes bring special vehicles and equipment.
They’re specially built for security. Bulletproof glass replaces hotel windows where Obama and his family stay. Entire floors are blocked off. They’re needed for security and staff traveling with him.
US fighter jets provide round-the-clock air cover. In 2011, estimated White House expenses were around $1.4 billion. Odds are they’ll top $2 billion this year.
They include staff, housing, travel, entertainment and perks.
Expenses rise annually. They’ve increased exponentially during Obama’s tenure. Exact amounts are classified.
Air Force One expense is secret. It’s estimated hourly rate is about $180,000. Washington to and from Hawaii flying time takes about 18 hours. It costs $3,240,000.
Security away from home is costly. Presidential aircraft domicile at Andrews Air Force base. It has its own security. It guards Air Force One when it’s not elsewhere. It makes certain it’s airworthy.
Many other security related categories are involved when Obama travels. Imagine how many gratuitous trips could be avoided. Imagine how much staying at home would save.
Imagine the good his travel budget could do. Imagine how many impoverished, unemployed, hungry and homeless people could be helped.
Americans pay plenty for rogue presidents. Most people on the ground where he visits deplore him. He exceeds the worst of his predecessors.
His agenda explains why. He’s the latest in a long line of warrior presidents. Imperial lawlessness rages. Humanity’s survival is threatened. So are diminishing chances to avoid the worst of all possible outcomes.
America’s wealth used constructively could change things for the better. It could ensure greater safety, security and equity.
It could improve chances for world peace. It could help make planet earth more fit to live in. It could prevent flora and fauna from dying. Current policies are polar opposite.
US spending for militarism, global wars, homeland security, state terrorism, its gulag prison system, mass surveillance, intelligence over and above what’s needed, and trillions of dollars of waste, fraud and grand theft go all out to destroy what’s too precious to lose.
Israel operates the same way. It conducted multiple holiday season attacks on Gaza. A three-year old girl were killed. Hala Abu Sbeikha was murdered in cold blood. Others were wounded.
Hundreds of Palestinians mourned. Hala’s father laid her to rest. Her mother said:
“I was busy teaching my children while (she) was playing in the courtyard, and suddenly a missile came and I couldn’t rescue her.”
“The area was quiet before the missile landed.” Israel’s attack injured Hala’s mother and brother. It breached international law. It demands accountability.
Under Fourth Geneva’s Article 147, grave breaches include “willful killing, torture or inhumane treatment,” great suffering, serious injury to body or health, and other acts of extreme harshness.
On Christmas eve, Israeli forces conducted multiple community incursions. Bethlehem, Nablus and Ramallah were targeted.
Homes were ransacked. At least 10 Palestinian civilians were kidnapped. Israel’s Christmas message is the same one Palestinians get year-round.
Multiple Palestinian West Bank homes were demolished. Doing so displaced 68 people. Nearly half were children. A five-year old girl paralyzed from the waist down was affected.
UN Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA) representative Chris Gunnes “condemn(ed) the latest demolitions.” Imagine doing it on Christmas eve. Imagine it any time.
The livelihoods of affected families are “severely threatened,” said Gunnes.”
“These are Bedouin communities who managed to weather the recent snow storms. Tents have been distributed by the Palestinian Red Crescent in coordination with the ICRC but this is hardly adequate considering night-time temperatures plunge to around zero.”
“In addition, some 750 head of sheep and goats are without shelter at this crucial lambing season.”
Displaced families are dependent on international aid at a time of “pitiless seasonal weather in inadequate housing.”
UNWRA data show Israel displaced at least 1,100 Palestinians. It did so throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem alone. Over one-third are refugees.
Israel’s Civil Administration demolished “663 structures, including 259 (homes)” this year, said UNWRA.
According to Gunnes:
“These demolitions are a common trigger of forced displacement and may amount to a forcible transfer and forced eviction under international humanitarian law and human rights law.”
“We call on Israel to abide by its obligations under international law, most particularly to ensure the humane treatment and protection of the civilian Palestinian population at all times, including through an immediate halt to administrative demolitions.”
An Israeli Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) spokesman confirmed UNWRA numbers.
He lied claiming targeted structures were built illegally. Palestinians build on their own land. They have every right to do so.
Israel’s High Court most often sides with the worst of government policies. Palestinians are on their own out of luck. Their fundamental rights are systematically violated.
Since June 1967, Israel demolished at least 27,000 Palestinian homes and structures. It did so lawlessly. It destroyed private Palestinian property.
It claims a divine right to do it. International law prohibits it. Rogue states operate this way. Israel is one of the world’s worst. State terror is official policy.
Jeff Halper is a US-born anthropologist. He’s an academic, author and political activist. He’s lived in Israel since 1973.
He heads the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (IDAHD). In 2006, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
It was for ICAHD’s work “to liberate both the Palestinian and the Israeli people from the yoke of structural violence (and) to build equality between their people by recognizing and celebrating their common humanity.”
On December 4, Halper asked “What comes next? He discussed efforts “towards a bi-national end-game in Palestine/Israel.”
“(W)e find ourselves at a precarious crossroads,” he said. Two-state solution advocacy is “dead and gone.”
Continued Israeli land theft and settlement construction killed it. Halper cited the urgency to “formulate a just and workable end game.”
Israel is like other terror states. They look “overwhelmingly strong until the very end,” said Halper. Eventually they weaken and fall. So may Israel. It can’t come a moment too soon.
Sham peace talks may “trigger a chain of events, sooner rather than later, that will open up political possibilities not available (at) this time,” Halper believes.
Now is the time for Palestinians and Israelis committed for justice to take full advantage. They should ally with international partners. They should go all out for change.
Don’t expect Israel to act responsibly. Don’t expect corrupt/collaborationist PA officials. Don’t expect world community leaders. They turn a blind eye to Israel’s worst crimes. Ordinary people are on their own for change.
“If we, the people concerned, want to be actors in determining our own future, we need to begin formulating immediately an end-game to the conflict,” said Halper.
“(W)e need to envision a just and inclusive Middle East if we are to have a hand in fashioning it.”
Change is up to us. It’s up to civil society demanding it. There’s no other way. Fundamental universal rights must be recognized.
Palestine/Israel must be one state for all its people. Separate and unequal must end. Collective and individual rights must be balanced, said Halper.
He believes a dual political system may work best. He calls it “bi-nationalism combined with one person-one vote.”
International law must be respected. UN resolutions can’t be ignored. Human and civil rights are fundamental. So are other democratic values.
Diaspora Palestinians must be able to return. “Without a full and genuine resolution of the refugee issue, any plan of peace is still-born,” said Halper.
Just peace policy requires “equal access (to) basic resources and economic institutions.” Security concerns of all must be addressed. One side against the other assures continued conflict.
Equitable power sharing is the best chance for peace. “A bi-national state would address the most urgent need at hand: resolving the (longstanding) Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Halper believes.
Establishing Palestine-Israel is step one. Much more must follow. Civil society must act. Constructing a viable political system isn’t hard. Workable models exist.
Most crucial is which way to go, said Halper. He listed three choices:
- an equitable bi-national system;
- an electorate of individual voters; or
- same old, same old: one people dominating another unjustly.
Halper believes Palestinians must choose. They have “great leverage.” They’re the “gatekeepers. Only they can signal an end to ‘conflict.’ “
“(O)nly they can legitimize the presence of Israeli Jews in the Arab and Muslim worlds, under conditions of transformative justice.”
They remain “key to articulating a vision of a new Middle East and mobilized regional civil society. We are truly at a cross-roads,” Halper stresses.
He believes sham peace talks will fail. He expects two developments to follow:
- “the end of the Palestinian Authority;” and
- Israel unilaterally annexing Area C.
It comprises about 60% of West Bank land. It includes its most valued parts. Annexation would isolate Palestinians more than ever.
It would deepen occupation, colonization and apartheid. It would eliminate any hope for self-determination. It would assure continued conflict. It would make peace impossible.
Now is the time to act against what’s too unjust to accept. It’s up to civil society. It’s up to us. There’s no other way.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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