Friday, August 22, 2014

State-enabled terrorism

Pots have a habit of calling kettles black. The Punjab police killing of unarmed PAT workers in Model Town is just as egregious and criminal as American police killing a minimum of two unarmed black men every week. America has no room to anoint itself as the champion of human rights when a significant portion of its population suffers under the “driving while black” and “flying while Muslim” syndromes.  

For more than a decade, Pakistanis have taken to murdering physicians or citizens if they are Ahmadi, Shia or Christian. Entire families have been gunned down or victims have been killed in front of their children. The murderers invariably ride away on their motorbikes, and no one has been apprehended or charged with these murders. This is classic enabling behavior. The state is to have tenderness and affection for each citizen; what of the one that does absolutely nothing about these episodes? It might as well have been holding the gun.  

The PML (N) government has been on the path of self-aggrandizement and minimal achievement in this round of governance and now it is badly besieged. The previous PPP government similarly did nothing; in fact one of its own members Governor Salman Taseer was gunned down by a fanatical bodyguard. And the shameful elation of members of the lawyer community, the pro bono defense of the killer and showering him with rose petals is evidence of a society gone mad.  

And even more unspeakably heartbreaking is the murder of Ahmadi children a few weeks ago with no condemnation or action by the government.  

Pakistan is young yet at 65 and democracy in Pakistan younger still. America is 238 years old and has been blessed with democracy for its entire life. Democracy is a noisy, evolutionary process. The slave trade, the Tuskegee syphilis experiment by the US Public Health Service on African-American men, and the continued harassment and murder of blacks in the United States are a smear on its democracy and its vaunted claims of pluralism, diversity and tolerance.  

It is well established statistically that a young black male is a lot more likely to be pulled over by police than any other race. It’s a shame that black families in the United States train their children on how to behave if they are stopped by police: keep hands on the steering wheel, move only when instructed and address the police officer with “sir”. These families know that the deeply entrenched racial hatred in America boils over within its police force, and instead of dealing with their sons the way the sons of white families are treated, they are liable to be recipients of that terrible knock on their door that bears the news of death.  

According to the FBI’s most recent accounts of “justifiable homicide,” in the seven years between 2005 and 2012, a white officer used deadly force against a black person almost two times every week. Of those black persons killed, nearly one in every five was under 21 years of age. These are probably severe underestimates as they are based on self-report by police departments and only 750 of the 17,000 law enforcement agencies participated. In 2007, a joint effort by ColorLines and the Chicago Reporter examined police shootings in the 10 largest cities in the U.S., and in every city, African Americans comprised a disproportionately large percentage of those killed. Nationally, African Americans are arrested three times more frequently than their white counterparts, although African Americans make up only 12 percent of the population.

19-year old African-American Renisha McBride was killed by Theodore Wafer, a white middle aged man, for simply knocking on his door at 4:30 a.m. He thought a home invasion was about to occur and instead of calling the police he chose to shoot her in the face. Wafer was found guilty of second-degree murder but Renisha is gone, as is the fate of so many Trayvon Martins and Renishas all over the country on an ongoing basis.  

Whether a police officer pulls the trigger or the state simply looks away when citizens murder on the basis of race, ethnicity or religion, comes essentially to the same thing. Citizens are targeted in Pakistan because of their belief system and Americans are killed in their own country because they are not white.  

The other commonality in the murder of innocents in the two countries is the easy availability of guns. The NRA, National Rifle Association, is the most powerful lobby in the US. The right to be armed is enshrined in the US constitution. Despite wholescale massacres like the Connecticut school shootings Americans want to hold onto their assault rifles for dear life. Presidential candidates and even elected presidents try to stay away from the gun control issue for fear of their popularity plummeting.  

The influx of weapons into Pakistan after the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, particularly the Kalashnikov, seems to have permanently changed society. Citizens have no protection from the police and there is an absence of due process. Armed bodyguards are as common as cars. No law exists though, that affirms a citizen’s right to carry a weapon. Yet why would governments in recent memory care about the death wreaked by guns in Pakistan when political and governmental leaders travel with bullet-proof vests, bullet proof cars and armed cars front, back and sideways.  

APPNA, Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America, in its annual convention last week did an awesome job of focusing attention on the killing of minorities in Pakistan. Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia was the keynote speaker addressing a crowd of 3000. Just the day before, Ferguson Missouri had been placed under curfew to control protestors after the police shooting of unarmed 18-year old Michael Brown. Addressing the issue of sectarian killing in Pakistan, Sen. Kaine advised Pakistani-American physicians to take American pluralism, diversity and tolerance to Pakistan to help deal with the sectarian violence there. Really Senator? Care to look at your trigger-happy police force and the fires of racism in your own backyard? But individual and governmental American hubris only makes those blinders bigger.  

Discussions of the killing of Michael Brown reveal how deeply embedded racial hatred is in American society. “He was 6 foot 4 inches”, “he had just robbed a store” are some inane statements. The fact that he was unarmed and had his hands raised saying “my hands are up” make no difference. Religious and sectarian hatred has putrefied Pakistan. People are friendly until they find out that the other person is Ahmadi, Shia or Christian; and then just because of that they deserve to die.  

In both the US and Pakistan, generations have been bathed in racial or religious hatred. It seems the only controllable thing in this equation is the availability of guns. And funnily, if the government puts its mind to it, de-weaponization is possible in Pakistan. Not so in the US, courtesy the NRA. And with the fact that American police guns down black youth on a regular basis, the prognosis in the US is a lot grimmer than it is in Pakistan. And makes the Missouri protestors’ placard “stop killing us” even more poignant.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Israel's international trial

Pictures of dead children don’t lie. News and photos of the massive destruction and massacre in Gaza are reaching all corners of the world and the tide of public opinion is changing.  
Jewish fortunes have changed dramatically over the last 100 years. Jews were marginalized before the Second World War, and flouting the letter and spirit of the United Nations resolution and with the collusion of Britain, Israel was created in 1948 on Palestinian land, converting Palestinians suddenly to refugees in their own homes.  

Peter Beinert in his book "The Crisis of Zionism" details how Jews control the British Labor and Conservative Parties, the Times of London and have headed Oxford and Cambridge Universities. Their hold on American government, treasury and media is much greater than their influence in Britain.  

AIPAC, the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee has a complete hold on US Congress. It funds Democrats and Republicans, the winner dare not whisper a word against Israel and the loser doesn’t want to taint future chances or challenge the status quo. Australian writer Evan Jones says it well: “Israel owns the U.S., lock stock and barrel. On 17 July, all 100 Senators voted for a resolution supporting Israel ‘as it defends itself against unprovoked (sic) rocket attacks’. Beyond abject servility, it is a treasonous and criminal act. Beyond the armaments flowing from the U.S. for the continuation of the slaughter, mendicant Israel continues to enjoy billions of dollars each year courtesy of the hapless U.S. taxpayer. Vocal Congressional critics of Israel (Cynthia McKinney, Paul Findley, etc.) lose office with the Lobby funding their opponents.” 

In the current Palestinian genocide when US citizens write to their legislators for mercy and balm, they get a parroted boiler-plate letter: “I support the right of Israel to self-defense from Hamas rocket attacks”. Amazingly the tenor of the letters does not change, whether it is Sen. Sherrod Brown and Congressman Bob Latta in my district or any others in the US. Sen. Sherrod Brown writes: “While most of these rockets either landed in unpopulated areas or were intercepted by the “Iron Dome” defensive system, civilian casualties did occur.” He completely leaves out the fact the “civilian casualties” were all of two in number and the civilian Palestinian deaths in the Israeli offensive are over 1800!
From the inception of Israel, the systematic extermination of the Palestinians is important to understand and is well detailed by Evan Jones in his article The Pariah State: ‘The conquest [of Deir Yassin by Irgun and Stern Gang forces, supported by Haganah operatives, in April 1948] was carried out with great cruelty. Whole families – women, old people, children – were killed … Some of the prisoners moved to places of detention, including women and children, were murdered viciously by their captors.’

David Hirst in The Gun and Olive Branch, 1977 wrote ‘“We take the land first and the law comes after” [claimed Yehoshafat Palmon, Arab affairs adviser to the Mayor of Jerusalem to the author]. ‘The law comes after …’. In fact, for most Arabs it did not come at all.’
Horror of horrors the method of the Holocaust is discussed and accepted as a modus operandi among Zionists. Renowned Israeli academic Yeshaayahu Leibowitz said in 1982 “we are Judeo-Nazis, and why not? Even today I am willing to do the dirty work for Israel, to kill as many Arabs as necessary, to deport them, to expel and burn them … Hang me if you want as a war criminal … What you lot don’t understand is that the dirty work of Zionism is not finished yet, far from it”. Israel Shahak echoes Liebowitz: ‘If we must rule over another people, then it is impossible to avoid the existence of Nazi methods.’
The airwaves and print media in the West are discussing Israel’s shelling of UN shelters and schools in Palestine as war crimes and the Goldstone report is being brought up as well. In the 2008 Israeli invasion of Gaza South African judge Goldstone’s report found “that the following grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention were committed by Israeli forces in Gaza: willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, and extensive destruction of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly.” The report was so incriminating that the Israeli machine went on overdrive and pressured Goldstone to retract it.
In the current massacre we have another South African, UNHCR’s Navi Pillay who repeatedly speaks of attacks on civilians by Hamas and Israel as war crimes and that Israel is more gravely implicated due to its gargantuan military machine.
Soon after its creation, Israel formed the Hasbara, a propaganda machine that would put Goebbels, Hitler’s information minister, to shame. The 2002 Hasbara Handbook conflates the criticism of Israel with the de-legitimization of ‘Jews everywhere’ and of Judaism. It denies the Occupation; rather Gaza and the West Bank are ‘disputed territories’. The Golan Heights and East Jerusalem have already been silently appropriated. The Handbook provides two Communication Styles – point scoring and genuine debate.
For 30 years or so the Hasbara method has reaped Israel major rewards and combined with the buying out of the US Congress by AIPAC, genocide has become self-defense, and economic blockade and starvation have been clothed as survival necessities for Israel.
This streak of brainwashing minds may be coming to a stop. The older generation of American Jews latched onto and propagated the victimhood myth to permeate and control the halls of power. But young American Jews are not buying this victimhood premise. The world is not beholden to the mainstream press and even Americans are not getting all their news from Jewish controlled media. This is illustrated by a young Jewish-American girl holding the placard “Not in my name, another Jew saying, end the occupation, end the bombing of Gaza” during a protest in Fort Lauderdale Florida. Cities in North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia have erupted in protest. “End Israeli War Crimes” says a large placard in Edinburgh Scotland. “Stop the massacre in Gaza” says a placard in a Vienna protest. “We don’t buy it. The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel” says one in New York. The protest in Chicago is so large that though filmed aerially, it cannot encompass its beginning or end. Washington D.C. saw 60,000 protestors converge from all over the nation last week. “Stop the genocide” and “Free Gaza” were seen in many of the protests. Auckland, New Zealand wrote “Israel=Terrorist”. The Washington DC protest had placards of the Israeli flag with the Star of David replaced by the swastika. “End Israeli Apartheid” screamed Seattle Washington. Frankfurt Germany was funny: “Free Palestine and f… Israel”
Baroness Sayeeda Warsi resigned from David Cameron’s cabinet in protest of Britain’s Gaza policy and stands as a beacon for justice and courage. Her brave action serves to shake consciences of legislators worldwide. South American countries are paring down relations with Israel.
Israel is not a signatory to the International Criminal Court which is tasked with the prosecution of war crimes. The UN Security Council would have to ask the ICC to investigate Israel for war crimes and that is not happening, courtesy the solid support of the US, Britain and France.
But Israel is being tried in the international court of public opinion by billions of people who are now screaming in protest but will soon vote with their feet and boycott all things Israeli. And Israel’s reign of terror on the world will come to a screeching halt.