Deja Vu – Death, Gaza, and The BBC.

I am struck by a horrible feeling of deja vu as I watch, once again, Israel’s ultra-modern war machine pound the besieged civilian population in Gaza.  Yet again the death and suffering falls mostly on the Palestinian side – Israel killed more Palestinians in one day this week than Hamas have killed Israelis in 3 years – and once again the mainstream media, exemplified by the not-quite-impartial BBC, take great pains to obfuscate and lie by omission about the causes of the conflict.

The story, as provided by the BBC etc, acting as a mouthpiece for Israel, is that Israel is defending itself from rocket attacks.  Because only Israel is allowed to defend it’s citizens.  Palestine is not allowed that right.  It is noteworthy that the BBC and others say that “relative calm” prevailed before the recent upsurge in violence.  This “relative calm” is when Palestinians die quietly.  For Palestinians, every day is oppression, with shortages of water, food, medicines, the freedom to move, to travel, and just about every other thing you and I take for granted.  Gaza has been described as the world’s largest prison, as a refugee camp, and as an open-air concentration camp.  “Relative calm” for Palestinians is daily humiliation and death.  We, in the West, only notice when they dare to resist.  And that is only to tell them to stop, to, in effect, die quietly.

But the context is nearly always missing from media reports.  The history of the Israel/Palestine conflict did not start last week, or even last month.  It didn’t even start last year, or the year before.  Neither did it begin the last time Israel blitzed Gaza in 2008,  killing thousands, and nor did it start when the people of Gaza elected Hamas to be their government.

The occupation of Palestinian land by Israel has been going on for decades.  And they are taking more and more every year.  This ongoing criminal and immoral theft of land is the context that is regularly missing from media reports.  For example, when was the last time you saw this map on the BBC?

See how much land has been taken from the Palestinians?  They are being squeezed continuously into a smaller and smaller patch of land.  Their ever diminishing borders  and skies are controlled by Israel.  Israel controls how much food etc goes into the Palestinian territories.  Much is spoken about Israel’s ‘right to exist’, but rarely, if ever, will you hear about Palestine’s right to exist.  Palestine is slowly but surely being ‘wiped from the map’.  It is not going over the top, I think, to call it ethnic cleansing.  What else would you call what you see on the above map?

Israel occupies, blockades, settles, evicts, invades, destroys, brutalizes, bombs and kills.  Yet somehow our media always seem to pain it as the victim.  It is perverse, and an absolute travesty of the truth.

The incursion and bombardment of Gaza is not about destroying Hamas.  It is not about stopping rocket fire into Israel, it is not about achieving peace.

“The Israeli decision to rain death and destruction on Gaza, to use lethal weapons of the modern battlefield on a largely defenseless civilian population, is the final phase in a decades-long campaign to ethnically-cleanse Palestinians.

“Israel uses sophisticated attack jets and naval vessels to bomb densely-crowded refugee camps, schools, apartment blocks, mosques, and slums to attack a population that has no air force, no air defense, no navy, no heavy weapons, no artillery units, no mechanized armor, no command in control, no army… and calls it a war.  It is not a war, it is murder.

“When Israelis in the occupied territories now claim that they have to defend themselves, they are defending themselves in the sense that any military occupier has to defend itself against the population they are crushing.  You can’t defend yourself when you’re militarily occupying someone else’s land.  That’s not defense.  Call it what you like, it’s not defense.
Chris Hedges/Noam Chomsky.   Quote widely attributed to Chomsky, but turns out to be splice of Hedges and Chomsky.  The point remains.

Further reading –

Dissecting IDF Propaganda – The Numbers Behind The Rocket Attacks.

Analysis/Background from Jews For Justice.

Who is Jonathon Sacerdoti, the BBC’s ‘neutral’ expert on the Middle East?

Gaza Blitz – Turmoil and Tragicomedy at the BBC.

Latest Israeli Offensive Aimed at Destroying Chance of Peace.

Siding With the Powerful – UK Media Coverage of Assault on Gaza.

TIMELINE – Israel’s Latest Assault on Gaza.

Chomsky on Gaza.

The Right Way To Burn A Poppy.

A picture can be worth a thousand words.

“I Am Ready To Go To Prison”    :   Information Clearing House: ICH

“I Am Ready To Go To Prison”    :   Information Clearing House: ICH.

“I Am Ready To Go To Prison”

By Will Potter

Note: Leah Lynn Plante was sentenced to prison yesterday afternoon after refusing to answer questions to a grand jury in Seattle.  The following article was posted yesterday before Leah went to court.  This witch-hunt style grand jury is unacceptable.  Leah and her comrades are tremendously brave for standing up to state repression  of anarchists by refusing to cooperate.

October 11, 2012 “Information Clearing House” –  Today (October 10, 2012) – Leah Plante will again appear before a federal grand jury in Seattle, Washington, for the third time, and refuse to testify about her political beliefs and political associations. It is likely that she will be imprisoned for her principled stance against what she calls a witch hunt against local anarchists.

The grand jury is investigating anarchists in the Northwest, following FBI and Joint Terrorism Task Force raids in search of “anarchist literature.” Two other anarchists, Matthew Kyle Duran and Katherine Olejnik,have already been imprisoned for refusing to cooperate.

Plante wrote a powerful statement to her friends and supporters in preparation for today’s hearing. Here is an excerpt:

On the morning of July 25th, 2012, my life was turned upside down in a matter of hours. FBI agents from around Washington and Oregon and Joint Terrorism Task Force agents from Washington busted down the front door of my house with a battering ram, handcuffed my house mates and me at gunpoint, and held us hostage in our backyard while they read us a search warrant and ransacked our home. They said it was in connection to May Day vandalism that occurred in Seattle, Washington earlier this year.

However, we suspected that this was not really about broken windows. As if they had taken pointers from Orwell’s 1984, they took books, artwork and other various literature as “evidence” as well as many other personal belongings even though they seemed to know that nobody there was even in Seattle on May Day. While we know that knowledge is powerful, we suspected that nobody used rolled up copies of the Stumptown Wobbly to commit property damage. We saw this for what it was. They are trying to investigate anarchists and persecute them for their beliefs. This is a fishing expedition. This is a witch hunt. Since then, thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request, we have learned that this Grand jury was convened on March 2nd, 2012, two months before the May Day vandalism even took place…

I do not look forward to what inevitably awaits me today, but I accept it. I ask that people continue to support us throughout this process by writing us letters, sending us books, donating and spreading awareness.I cannot express in words how grateful I am to all those who have shown us support and solidarity, especially our friends, partners and loved ones. We will all get through this together. I know I am a broken record with the following sentiment, but I feel like it’s worth repeating. They want us to feel isolated, alone and scared. I know that even though Kteeo has been held in what is essentially solitary confinement, she does not feel alone. I know that Matt does not feel alone. I know that I will not feel alone. When they try to mercilessly gut communities, we do not scatter, we grow stronger, we thrive. I view this State repression like this: The State thinks it is a black hole that can destroy whatever it wants. In reality, it is much more like a stellar nursery, wherein it unintentionally creates new, strong anarchist stars.

My convictions are unwavering and will not be shaken by their harassment. Today is October 10th, 2012 and I am ready to go to prison.”

article – http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article32721.htm

Modern Heroes – Sister Megan Rice and Friends.

I make no apologies for reproducing this article from the New York Times in full.  It’s about Sister Megan Rice and her friends.  Looks like I’ve found more heroes…   😀

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/11/science/behind-nuclear-breach-a-nuns-bold-fervor.html?_r=1&hpw

By
Published: August 10, 2010.  She has been arrested 40 or 50 times for acts of civil disobedience and once served six months in prison.  In the Nevada desert, she and other peace activists knelt down to block a truck rumbling across the government’s nuclear test site, prompting the authorities to take her into custody.
National Nuclear Security Administration/Department of Energy

Sister Rice is one of three people arrested in a break-in at a the Oak Ridge nuclear reservation.

She gained so much attention that the Energy Department, which maintains the nation’s nuclear arsenal, helped pay for an oral history in which she described her upbringing and the development of her antinuclear views.

Now, Sister Megan Rice, 82, a Roman Catholic nun of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, and two male accomplices have carried out what nuclear experts call the biggest security breach in the history of the nation’s atomic complex, making their way to the inner sanctum of the site where the United States keeps crucial nuclear bomb parts and fuel.

“Deadly force is authorized,” signs there read. “Halt!” Images of skulls emphasize the lethal danger.

With flashlights and bolt cutters, the three pacifists defied barbed wire as well as armed guards, video cameras and motion sensors at the Oak Ridge nuclear reservation in Tennessee early on July 28, a Saturday. They splashed blood on the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility — a new windowless, half-billion-dollar plant encircled by enormous guard towers — and hung banners outside its walls.

“Swords into plowshares,” read one, quoting the Book of Isaiah. “Spears into pruning hooks.” The plant holds the nation’s main supply of highly enriched uranium, enough for thousands of nuclear weapons.

The actions of Sister Rice, a New York native who grew up on a prosperous block in Morningside Heights, and her companions, ages 57 and 63, are a huge embarrassment for President Obama. Since 2010, he has led a campaign to eliminate or lock down nuclear materials as a way to fight atomic terrorism. Now, the three — two of whom, including Sister Rice, are free and are awaiting trial in October — have made nuclear theft seem only a little more challenging than a romp in the Tennessee woods.

In interviews this week, Sister Rice discussed her life — somewhat reluctantly at times — and kept emphasizing what she called “the issue.”

“It’s the criminality of this 70-year industry,” she said. “We spend more on nuclear arms than on the departments of education, health, transportation, disaster relief and a number of other government agencies that I can’t remember.”

Federal prosecutors, needless to say, take a different view. “This is a matter of national security,” William C. Killian, a United States attorney, told reporters outside a Knoxville courtroom. “It is a significant case.”

Sister Rice is no geopolitical strategist. But her bold acts and articulate fervor highlight how the antinuclear movement has evolved since the end of the cold war. They also illustrate the fierce independence of Catholic nuns, who met this week in St. Louis to decide how to respond to a Vatican appraisal that cast them as rebellious dissenters.

“We’re free as larks,” Sister Rice said of herself and her older religious friends. “We have no responsibilities — no children, no grandchildren, no jobs.”

“So the lot fell on us,” she said of fighting nuclear arms. “We can do it. But we all do share the responsibility equally.”

Megan Gillespie Rice was born in Manhattan on Jan. 31, 1930, the youngest of three girls in a Catholic family. Her father was an obstetrician who taught at New York University and treated patients at Bellevue Hospital. Her mother received a doctorate from Columbia University in history, writing her dissertation on Catholic views about slavery.

In the oral history, by the University of Nevada, Sister Rice portrayed her mother as strongly in favor of interracial marriage. “I just can’t wait,” she quoted her mother as saying, “until everybody in the world is tan!”

Sister Rice went to Catholic schools in Manhattan, became a nun at 18 and received degrees in biology from Villanova and Boston College, where her studies included class work at Harvard Medical School on how to use radioactive tracers. From 1962 to 2004, with occasional breaks, she served her order as a schoolteacher in Nigeria and Ghana.

“We slept in a classroom — no electricity, no water,” she said of her early days in rural Africa.

While visiting Manhattan in the early 1980s, she joined in antinuclear protests. She began visiting the Nevada test site for demonstrations and prayer vigils. Her mother accompanied her at times.

Around 1990, Sister Rice and other nuns set out on foot in the desert toward the site’s operational headquarters to distribute antinuclear leaflets. But guards, she recalled, “came up with their guns and treated us as though we were terrible criminals.”

In 1998, she was arrested in a protest at the School of the Americas, an Army school at Fort Benning, in Georgia.  It taught generations of Latin American soldiers to fight leftist insurgencies; some went on to commit human rights abuses.  The school has since been closed.

Sister Rice served six months in federal prison.  “It was a great eye-opener,” she said.  “When you’ve had a prison experience, it minimizes your needs very much.”

Malaria and typhoid fever began to impede her work in Africa and brought her back to the United States permanently.  Around 2005, her order gave her permission to join the Nevada Desert Experience, an activist group based in Las Vegas that organizes spiritual events near the atomic test site in support of nuclear abolition.

“She’s the kind of person who would risk her life to protect others,” Jim Haber, the group’s coordinator, said in an interview.

Late last month, Sister Rice set her sights on the Oak Ridge nuclear reservation, which covers more than 50 square miles, including wooded hills.  Her aim was to draw attention to its nuclear work.  After the break-in, the protesters released an “indictment” accusing the United States of crimes against humanity.

On Thursday in Knoxville, federal prosecutors shot back with an indictment of their own.  They charged Sister Rice, Michael R. Walli, 63, of Washington, and Gregory I. Boertje-Obed, 57, of Duluth, Minn., with trespassing on government property (a misdemeanor) as well as its destruction and depredation (both felonies).  The charges carry penalties of up to 16 years in prison and fines of up to $600,000.  All pleaded not guilty.

A trial in Federal District Court in Knoxville is set for Oct. 10.  If found guilty, the three defendants might be allowed to serve their sentences for the various charges concurrently, shortening their imprisonments to five years.

“She’s a pretty sympathetic character,” Ralph Hutchison, coordinator of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, said of the nun.  “Sixteen years would be signing her death warrant.”

Sister Rice plans to leave Knoxville on Saturday for the Catholic Worker residence in Washington and commute to the trial from there.

She called her life privileged.  “I’ve sort of fallen heir to it,” she told the interviewer from the University of Nevada.  “I’m grateful.”