Donnerstag, 30. Mai 2013

„Europa ist ein Sanierungsfall“

Zum ersten Mal hat ein führendes Mitglied der europäisch-politischen Klasse ansatzweise realistisch den Zustand Europas als „Sanierungsfall“ beschrieben. Treffender wäre jedoch der Begriff „Euro-EU“ gewesen. Kein geringer als der deutsche EU-Kommissar Günther Oettinger hat es gewagt, gegen jedes EU-Dogma zu verstoßen. Laut „Bild-Zeitung“ sagte der Festredner auf einer Veranstaltung der Deutsch-Belgisch-Luxemburgischen Handelskammer in Brüssel. „Mir macht Sorge, dass derzeit zu viele in Europa noch immer glauben, alles werde gut.“ Oettinger bediente sich sogar der rechtspopulistischen Termini „Gutmenschentum“ und „Erziehungsanstalt für den Rest der Welt“! 

Darüber hinaus machte er Aussagen über Mitgliedstaaten, die in Teilen zwar richtig sind, aber gemäß politisch-korrektem Comment kein Mitglied eines demokratisch nicht legitimierten Gremiums der EU wie der Kommission machen sollte. Für kaum regierbar hält der EU-Kommissar Länder wie „Bulgarien, Rumänien, Italien“ (sic!), und in Großbritannien regiere Premier David Cameron mit der „unsäglichen Hinterbank, seiner englischen Tea-Party“! Auch Frankreich wird von einem deutschen EU-Kommissar (!) geschulmeistert. Es solle seine politischen Hausaufgaben machen, so Ottingers Message an den Elysee Palast. Bekommt Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel jetzt noch eine weitere politische Baustelle? 

Oettinger bestätigt in seiner Rede nur die katastrophalen Zustände eines Staatenverbundes, die auf außenpolitischem Gebiet ebenfalls für jeden, der ohne die üblichen ideologischen EU-Scheuklappen die Welt betrachtet, evident sind. In seiner letzten Syrien-Entscheidung haben die EU-Außenminister für alle sichtbar wieder einmal bestätigt, dass die EU außenpolitisch noch nicht einmal den Status einer brüllenden Maus erreicht hat. Fazit: Die EU ist außenpolitisch weitestgehend handlungsunfähig, weil nur die souveränen Nationalstaaten dazu in der Lage sind. 

Es war schon immer vermessen zu behaupten, dass ein Staatenverbund von 27 Mitgliedern eine einheitliche Außenpolitik verfolgen könne. Die einzig potenten Mitglieder, Frankreich und Großbritannien, sind Mitglieder des Sicherheitsrates der Vereinten Nationen, die immer noch souveräne Außenpolitik in ihrem nationalen Interesse betreiben, und sich von anderen EU-Mitgliedern nicht ihr Handeln vorschreiben lassen wollen. Ihre nationalen Interessen sind andere als die der übrigen EU-Mitglieder, die sich die Welt eher als globalen „Runden Tisch“ wünschen. Wie formulierte EU-Kommissar Oettinger dies so nett: Die EU solle keine „Erziehungsanstalt für den Rest der Welt“ sein. 

Politische Realisten haben immer die These vertreten, dass die EU seine Zeit und ihre politische Berechtigung hatte, aber die geopolitischen Zeichen der Zeitenwende von 1989 nicht erkannt habe. Dieser „Epochenbruch“ führte zu einem Revival der politischen Rolle des Nationalstaates, was durch die EU-Eliten ignoriert worden ist. Seither haben alle internationalen Ereignisse und Krisen bestätigt, dass nur Nationalstaaten international handlungsfähig und in ihren Entscheidungen souverän sind.

Der völkerrechtswidrige Bombenkrieg gegen Serbien, der so genannte Krieg gegen den Terror in Afghanistan, die Einrichtung der menschenverachten Flugverbotszone über Irak von 1991 bis zum Überfall auf dieses Land in 2003, der Krieg gegen Libyen, die Intervention der Franzosen in Mali, die mögliche bevorstehende Unterstützung von islamistischen Terrorgruppen in Syrien durch Frankreich und Großbritannien mit Waffen u. v. a. m. immer waren es die Entscheidungen souveräner Staaten und nicht „Entscheidungen“ der EU, die sich anmaßt, für die Außenpolitik von 27 souveränen Nationalstaaten entscheiden zu wollen. Alle existentiellen Entscheidungen werden weiterhin in London, Paris, Berlin oder in einer der anderen Hauptstädte der EU getroffen und nicht in Brüssel. Die einst von Henry Kissinger beklage fehlende „Telefonnummer“ gibt es bis dato immer noch nicht. Niemand glaubt im Ernst, US-Präsident Barack Obama oder David Cameron würden vor einer wichtigen außenpolitischen Entscheidung Catherine Ashton in Brüssel anrufen. 

Nicht nur diese Lebenslüge der EU muss öffentlich diskutiert werden, sondern auch die nur kleine Auswahl von Missständen, die EU-Kommissar Günther Oettinger in seiner Rede in Brüssel benannt hat. Franz Josef Strauß hat einmal gesagt, dass das Politbüro von Moskau nach Brüssel umgezogen sei. Dies könnte sich noch einmal als Menetekel erweisen, wenn nicht radikal zum Wohle der arbeitenden Menschen umgesteuert wird. Die "Vereinigten Staaten von Europa" werden jedenfalls eine Fata Morgana bleiben.

Montag, 27. Mai 2013

Torture and Human Rights violations in Israel and Palestine

Torture allegations against the treatment of Palestinians detainees in Israeli prisons make headlines again. Few days after his arrest, Arafat Jaradat died in Israeli custody. On 27 February 2013, the United Nations Special Rapporteur for human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Richard Falk, called for an international investigation on the death of Palestinian prisoner Jaradat while undergoing interrogation in an Israeli facility. Falk stressed that “the death of a prisoner during interrogation is always a cause for concern, but in this case, when Israel has shown a pattern and practice of prisoner abuse, the need for outside, credible investigation is more urgent than ever. The best approach might be the creation of an international forensic team under the auspices of the UN Human Rights Council.” 

The violations of the human rights of the Palestinians by the Israeli occupying forces have not decreased despite the peace process and there is no difference between the Labor Party and the Likud bloc. The list of the offenses is long: torture, arbitrary killings and arrests, the demolition of houses, the severe restrictions imposed on the freedom of movement by hundreds of check points, violence against Palestinians, land confiscation and the construction of illegal settlements, the “ethnic cleansing” of the Palestinians from East Jerusalem, collective punishments, such as the total closure of the territories like Gaza and curfews, and the bombardments of the people of the Gaza Strip.

The list of human rights violations involving Palestinian victims for which the Palestinian Authority (PA) is responsible is similarly long: torture and maltreatment, the denial of fair trials before military courts and the State Security Court, which has the power to issue the death sentence, the intimidation of undesirable persons, the restrictions on the freedom of speech and the press, and the hampering of the work of human rights organizations. Both the Fatah- and the Hamas-led governments use repressive measures in order to control and subdue the population under their reign. After Israel began its offensive in Gaza in 2008/09, Hamas took extraordinary steps to control, intimidate, punish, and at times eliminate its internal political rivals and those suspected of collaboration with Israel. The majority of Palestinians executed by other Palestinians during Israel’s military operations were men accused of collaboration with Israel. 

However, one should not forget that the prime cause of these massive violations is the illegal occupation of Palestinian land by the State of Israel. Since the start of the Zionist colonial enterprise, the Zionist movement and later Israeli governments strove to bring as much Palestinian land as possible under their control, but with the least possible people. 

Tradition of Torture in Israel 

Torture in Israel has a long tradition, dating back to the “Haifa Trials” in 1972. Western media outlets have only reported sporadically about this widespread phenomenon. The torturers are usually Shin Bet agents (Shin Bet=General Security Service GSS) who run special interrogation sections in some Israeli prisons. In June 1993, I attended the first conference on torture in Tel Aviv organized by “Physicians for Human Rights (PHR)” and the “Public Committee against Torture in Israel (PCATI)”. Neve Gordon, then general secretary of PHR and currently professor for Political Science at Ben-Gurion University in Beer-Sheva, declared at the final press conference that 25 to 30 per cent of the detainees were mistreated during interrogation. Stanley Cohen, then professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, said that a “society that tolerates such practices, requires self-immunization. Although torture has become routine, the public is not informed, and they do not even want to know.” The publication of the report “On Torture” shows that Cohen’s statement 20 years ago still holds true.

In April 2011, Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR-Israel) and Al Mezan Center for Human Rights in Gaza held a two day international expert workshop in Jerusalem on the subject of “Securing Accountability for Torture and Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CIDT) in Israel: New Trends and Comparative Lessons”. Israelis, Palestinians and international experts discussed whether existing domestic mechanisms of torture and ill-treatment prevention were sufficient and whether the perpetrators could be held accountable. This volume presents the results of this conference. Torture and ill-treatment inflicted by the Fatah- and Hamas-led governments were outside the scope of the joint work of these organizations and did in no way intend to undermine the gravity of such acts or suffering of the victims. There are several Palestinian human rights organizations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) that address these violations. 

In the aforementioned report, Lea Tsemel, a leading Israeli human rights lawyer, gives a rundown on the history of torture in Israel. The two main bodies that carry out torture are the GSS, which continues to do so up till now, and Military Intelligence. The latter is involved in the interrogation of detainees kidnapped abroad or had infiltrated the country. The vast majority of the interrogation takes place in GSS centers. According to advocate Tsemel, the Israeli public was first informed of torture practices in 1977, after the New York Times published an article containing testimonies by young and old Palestinians who were subject to torture. After the Nafso case in 1980 and the Bus 300 affair in 1984, the Israeli government established the Landau Commission, named after a former High Court Judge David Landau. It came up with a list of authorized and prohibited methods of coercion. Despite these recommendations, torture continued unabated till 1999, when the Israeli High Court found that torture was practiced, and stated that it was illegal. It suggested, however, that torture could be permitted in situations of “necessity”.

According to Lea Tsemel, torture was sub-contracted to Palestinian collaborators. These Palestinian “friends” are known as “birds” (Asafeer). The results of their violent interrogations are recorded and later taken to the GSS agents. The detainee is later confronted with this “evidence”. These “friends” have an advantage over GSS interrogators, because they remain secret and do not fall under the direct jurisdiction of Israeli law. 

Torture permission is required in cases of the “ticking bomb” doctrine of “necessity”, as envisaged by the High Court, writes Lea Tsemel. In so-called “military investigations” the definition has been broadened to justify torture of a person who merely “knows someone who may know something” about an upcoming danger. No permission is needed in cases that are not regarded as “soft” torture, like shouting, threats against the detainee and his or her family, or spitting at their faces. Another mechanism is the lie detector machine and the total isolation of the suspect. In this surreal world people are totally lost.

The founding member of PHR in Israel, Ruchama Marton, spoke of the involvement of Israeli physicians in the torture and ill-treatment of detainees. She mentioned that the involvement of medical personnel in such unethical behavior is not exclusive to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but represents rather a worldwide phenomenon. According to her opinion, the medical system functions as an agent of social oversight, regulation and control. “Israeli Prison Service physicians provide medical authorization for the solitary confinement and isolation of prisoners,” she said. Psychiatrists have brought about the continued incarceration of detainees in solitary confinement, causing unequivocal and sometimes irreversible harm to their health, writes the author. Instead of healing, they cause harm. 

Manfred Nowak, Professor of International Law and Human Rights at the University of Vienna, and a former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, gave an overview of the progress and the setbacks during his tenure. There is an urgent need “for hard international law to protect and promote the rights of detainees”. In Nowak’s opinion, the “most important preventive means are visits to places of detention”. And the international monitoring has to be strengthened. Nowak mentions the negative example the Bush administration gave by using torture in its detention facilities. Other governments asked: Why can’t we do the same? Unfortunately, the British authorities already used torture against IRA suspects in the 1970s. With their “ticking bomb”doctrine, the U. S. and their torture supporters have been trying “to make torture socially acceptable”, writes Nowak. 

According to the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, more than 700 Palestinian detainees have filed complaints against Shin Bet agents for mistreatment during interrogation over the last decade; however, not a single one has resulted in a criminal investigation being opened. In violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Israeli government transfers prisoners, including children, from the Occupied Palestinian Territories for interrogation and detention in Israeli prisons. Currently, there are 159 administrative detainees held without charge or trial in Israeli prisons; almost 4 600 Palestinians prisoners are currently held in Israeli custody. B’Tselem has reported that while incidents of physical abuse have decreased in recent years, they have not ended. 

Besides torture, a wide range of other human rights violations are committed by the Israeli occupying forces against Palestinians. Despite that, Israel remains officially a democracy in which law and order and the freedom of opinion are secured, though mainly for Jews There is a huge amount of information about the ill-treatment of non-Jews; that’s why no Israeli could claim that he or she would not have known about these human rights violations. 

Torture and Ill-Treatment under Fatah and Hamas

In the course of the so-called peace process in 1993 that led to the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Arafat and later Mahmoud Abbas have been forced by Israel and the United States to take on the role of what might be called despotic peace angels. Immediately after his arrival, PLO chief Arafat established a comprehensive security apparatus that was used to intimidate, threaten, arbitrarily arrest and mistreat any critics of the peace process and members of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. The political situation under the Abbas regime did not change fundamentally, especially, after the 2007 Fatah-instigated coup against Hamas failed. 

A repressive policy by the Palestinian Authority violated the most basic rights of the Palestinians – the right to life, freedom of assembly and speech, peaceful opposition, and personal security. Torture and arbitrary arrests are the most common methods. There have also been unsolved killings. In April 2009, Human Rights Watch released a report on Hamas political violence in Gaza. The report shows that human rights violations are manifold, including torture, extra-judicial killings, mistreatment, arbitrary detentions, and executions of alleged collaborators. 

After Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, internal violence in Gaza continued as manifested by 14 extra-judicial killings between January and March 2009. This violence has gone mostly unpunished. Only one killing by members of their security forces or armed wing was investigated. Hamas security forces have also used violence against Fatah members, especially those who had worked in the Fatah-run security services of the PA. 

In the West Bank, the Fatah-run authorities have also increased repressive measures against Hamas members and their supporters. In 2009, Palestinian human rights groups recorded 31 complaints of residents who said they had been tortured by Fatah-led security forces. They also recorded one known death in custody and the arbitrary detention of two journalists from a private television station considered pro-Hamas. Besides the Fatah-led security apparatus, Israel’s occupying forces have arrested and continue to arrest both democratically elected Hamas representatives’ and ordinary Hamas supporters.

In both Gaza and the West Bank, these abuses violate Palestinian law, although the Palestinian Basic Law, considered the interim constitution, prohibits torture and mistreatment. The situation in both Palestinian areas is depressing not only because of the exerted pressure from the outside but also due to the increasing brutality of the Israeli occupation regime. Under the prevailing circumstances in Palestine, there is little hope for democracy and the respect of human rights.

More generally, however, the Israeli occupation regime bears the primary legal responsibility for these massive violations of human rights. As a belligerent occupier, Israel has special responsibilities under international humanitarian law to deal humanely with all Palestinians including those held in detention. The international community bears responsibility under common Article 1 of the four Geneva Conventions to “respect and ensure respect” for those conventions “in all circumstances”. It is the duty of the State of Israel to respect these international conventions and that of the other states to “ensure” that Israel abide by these conventions.

First published here, herehere and here

Montag, 20. Mai 2013

"Israel - Monopoly ohne Grenzen"

Als ich von Dr. Viktoria Waltz um ein Vorwort zu dem vorliegenden Buch angefragt worden bin, habe ich nach Lektüre des Manuskripts sofort zugesagt. Die Autorin ist eine ausgewiesene Expertin in Sachen Raumplanung und hat über Jahrzehnte an der Universität Dortmund dieses Fach unterrichtet. Neben ihren zahlreichen Veröffentlichungen zur Raumplanung und deren enormen gesellschaftspolitischen Implikationen in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland ist Viktoria Waltz immer wieder auch ihrem internationalistischen Anspruch gerecht geworden. Seit Beginn ihrer wissenschaftlichen Tätigkeit galt ihr Interesse Palästina, weil sich dort eine geplante Landnahme durch Kolonisation scheinbar am deutlichsten manifestierte. 

Für die Expertin in Sachen Raumplanung geschieht nichts planlos. Dies trifft auch für das zionistische Kolonisierungsprojekt in Palästina zu. Dass die „Besiedelung“ der Westbank nicht planlos erfolgt ist, hat kein geringerer als der ehemalige israelische Ministerpräsident Ariel Sharon selber bestätigt. Keine Kolonie sei aus einer Laune heraus entstanden, sondern deren Lage sei von Beginn an minutiös geplant gewesen. Genau dies hat Waltz in ihrem Buch beschrieben, für das ich folgendes Vorwort im September 2011 verfasst habe:

„Die Entstehungsgeschichte Israels hat weder etwas mit den biblischen Legenden vom „auserwählten Volk“ noch mit den Versprechen Gottes an Abraham zu tun; dies sind religiöse Legenden, wissenschaftlicher Rationalität nicht zugänglich und bloße Glaubenspostulate. Auch wurde Israel nicht gegründet, weil der deutsche eliminatorische Antisemitismus unter der Nazi-Barbarei ein kolossales Menschheitsverbrechen am europäischen Judentum begangen hat. Viel wichtiger war jedoch die Diplomatie der zionistischen Bewegung, die sich auf dem Ersten Zionistischen Kongress 1897 in Basel eine politische Organisationsform gegeben hat.  

Wer das Buch der ehemaligen wissenschaftlichen Mitarbeiterin am Institut für Raumplanung an der Universität Dortmund, Viktoria Waltz, liest, erlebt eine völlig andere Entstehungsgeschichte des Staates Israel. Ihrer zentralen These folgend, ist das „Projekt Israel“ einem schlichten Planungsprozess geschuldet, der bis heute noch nicht abgeschlossen ist. Er konzentriert sich auf das Land eines anderen Volkes, des palästinensischen, dessen Existenz im Begriff ist, völlig zerstört zu werden. Es geht um die Schaffung eines „reinen jüdischen Staates“, in dem kein Platz für die indigene Bevölkerung ist, weil sie als „fünfte Kolonne“ und als „existentielle Bedrohung“ wahrgenommen wird.

Das „Expropriationswerk“, wie es einst der Gründungsvater des Zionismus, Theodor Herzl, genannt hat, läuft nicht im Geheimen, sondern vor den Augen der Weltöffentlichkeit ab. Jeder sieht es, aber niemand protestiert dagegen, obgleich dieser Vorgang nichts mit Demokratie, Rechtsstaatlichkeit oder Völkerrecht zu tun hat. Der Westen, der immer wieder eine gemeinsame Wertebasis zwischen ihm und Israel betont, sollte einmal hinter die Kulissen dieser rhetorisch-politischen Luftblasen schauen. Sollten es tatsächlich die gemeinsamen Werte sein, welche die westlichen Demokratien mit der selbstdefinierten „einzigen Demokratie des Nahen Ostens“ verbindet, sollte dann der Westen nicht seine Werte überdenken oder gegebenenfalls revidieren?

Die israelisch-politische Elite meint, Israel sei ein „jüdischer und demokratischer“ Staat. Dass dies ein Widerspruch in sich ist, scheint jedem Zoon Politikon evident zu sein. Tatsächlich ist Israel eine „Ethnokratie“ (Felicia Langer), bestenfalls eine „jüdische Demokratie“ oder eine „Demokratie sui generis“. Für alle nicht-jüdischen Staatsbürger gelten nicht die gleichen Rechte, bzw. sie können sie nicht in Anspruch nehmen, weil sie nicht-Juden sind. Hinzu kommt, dass Israel seit 44 Jahren eine brutales Besatzungs- und Unterdrückungssystem über das palästinensische Volk aufrechterhält, das ihnen ihr Land unter fadenscheinigen Rechtskonstruktionen ganz „legal“ unter den Füßen wegzieht; diese „rechtlichen“ Machenschaften sprechen allen westlichen Werten Hohn. In den von Israel besetzten palästinensischen Gebieten herrscht Besatzungsrecht, aber die in den besetzten Gebieten lebenden jüdischen Kolonisatoren unterliegen „selbstverständlich“ israelischem Recht, obgleich ihr Dasein wider das Völkerrecht ist.

Dies alles hat sich nicht einfach zufällig entwickelt, sondern scheint von Beginn der zionistischen Kolonisierung an geplant gewesen zu sein, wenn man das Buch von Viktoria Waltz gelesen hat. Die Autorin vertritt darin keine gängige Meinung. Sie wird dafür viel Widerspruch ernten. Auch ich könnte viele Einwände formulieren, und ich bin nicht mit allen Formulierungen und Schlussfolgerungen einverstanden. Aber es geht nicht um meine Meinung, sondern um das Recht auf Meinungsfreiheit nach Artikel 5 Grundgesetz generell. Deshalb habe ich mich bereit erklärt, dieses Vorwort zu schreiben, weil ich überzeugt bin, dass jede wohlbegründete wissenschaftliche Meinung legitim ist, obwohl wir in einer Zeit leben, in der Meinungen, die nicht der herrschenden politischen Auffassung entsprechen, der politischen Verleumdung anheimfallen. Bei diesen Verleumdungskampagnen spielt die „Israellobby“ (Mearsheimer/Walt) eine mehr als unrühmliche Rolle. 

In dieser Komposition ist das Buch ein absolutes Novum und ein „eye-opener“ für jeden Nahost-Interessierten. Eine überaus spannende Lektüre." 

Dass mehrere Verlage dieses Manuskript nicht veröffentlichen wollten, wie die Autorin gegenüber „Between the Lines“ bestätigt hat, spricht nicht gerade für die vielgepriesene „Zivilcourage“ in Deutschland. Diese oft eingeforderte politische Haltung scheint in Sachen Protest gegen die „Besatzungspolitik Israels in Palästina“ irgendwie nicht zu greifen. Bedenkt man das geistige Klima in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, verwundert dies nicht. Wenigstens sollten sich die User, die das Recht auf „freies geistiges Eigentum“ einfordern, ohne irgendetwas dazu beizutragen, diese Lektüre antun, auch wenn sie ihren „Überzeugungen“ widerspricht. Dafür kostet das Buch auch nichts, ist aber trotzdem überaus wertvoll und bewusstseinserweiternd, vorausgesetzt, man verfügt überhaupt noch über ein funktionierendes politisches Bewusstsein.

Durch die Globalisierung des Internets ist den Kontrolleuren der „Bewusstseinsindustrie“ ihre Meinungsführerschaft abhanden gekommen. Sie tun aber wieder alles dafür, dieser Welt ihre politischen Vorstellungen in Form von Verlangsamung des Internets, Löschung von unliebsamen politischen Inhalten und dubiosen politischen Vorgaben aufzuerlegen. Wie schrieb schon vor einigen Jahren ein Journalist: „Das Internet macht doof“. Man hört diese bizarre Message, aber allein es fehlt der Glaube.

Mittwoch, 15. Mai 2013

Destroying Libya and World Order

This book tells the story of what happened, why it happened and what went wrong between the United States and Libya from a perspective of a professor of international law. Among the U.S. Empire’s serving international law professors, Francis A. Boyle is an exception among American international law professors, because he offers his legal advice for government of states that are the victims of Western aggression. He has been opposing unlawful policies of states with his only available “weapon”: international law. He could be described as a defender of the downtrodden of the current international system such as the Palestinian people, Libya under Muammar al Gaddafi and others. Beyond that, he has contributed a great deal to the advancement of international law by, inter alia, drafting the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989.

Since the early 1980s, Boyle visited Libya numerous times and advised the government on international legal cases. He convinced Gaddafi to sue the United States and the United Kingdom at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over the Lockerbie bombing allegations. Before this lawsuit was filed, U. S. President Bush Sr. ordered the Sixth Fleet off the coast of Libya to carry out hostile maneuvers in preparation of another illegal attack as was done by his predecessor Ronald Reagan. After Boyle filed these two lawsuits at the ICJ, Bush ordered U. S. warships to stand down. Boyle also tried to support Gaddafi during the U.S./NATO war of 2011 but to no avail. Gaddafi fought and died for Libya, defending his country against the West like his hero Omar Mukthar had done against the Italian colonizers. 

Francis A. Boyle is a leading American expert in international law that he teaches at the University of Illinois, Campaign. He is also an author of numerous books on American foreign policy, international law and the foundations of the world order. He served on the Board of Director of Amnesty International and as an adviser to the Palestinian Delegation to the Middle East peace negotiations from 1991 to 1993. This delegation was headed by the highly respected Dr. Haidar Abdel-Shafi. Boyle was not responsible, however, for Yasser Arafat’s decision to secretly negotiate with Israel in Oslo behind the back of the Palestinian delegation. He bears thus no responsibility for the resulting “Declaration of Principles”, for which the Palestinian people have been paying since then a terrible price.

In his book, Francis A. Boyle relates the history of U. S. foreign policy towards Libya, starting with the Reagan administration in 1981 till the U.S./NATO war that led to the overthrow of Col. Gaddafi. Before going into nuts and bolts, Boyle criticizes the American political establishment and explains why U. S. domestic and international policies are in a malaise. The reason, as stated by him, lies in the mindset of the American political and intellectual establishment that according to him is strongly influenced by Thomas Hobbes. Although he admits to differences between the views of American lawyers and those of political scientists, the author submits “that both groups essentially endorse [a] Hobbist perspective on the world of international relations and domestic affairs”. This commonly shared Hobbism “has become responsible for many of the major crimes, blunders, and tragedies of contemporary American foreign policy decision-making”. (p.19) 

According to Boyle, Hobbesian power politics contradicts several of the most fundamental principles upon which the United States is apparently founded: the inalienable rights of the individual, peoples’ self-determination, the sovereign equality and independence of states, non-interventionism, respect of international law and organizations, and the peaceful settlement of international disputes. Although various U. S. administrations “tried to live up to these principles” the net result has been a “counterproductive creation of a series of unmitigated disasters” (p. 30) for the U. S. One of the greatest mistakes has been the subversion of the entire post-World War II international and legal order that the United States helped to construct in 1945. I think that the Bush warriors and the U. S. power elite do not think that their policy was a disaster. 

The author accuses in particular the Reagan and the Bush junior administrations’ policy of double standards. They often “resort to legalistic subterfuges by pleading principles of international law in order to disguise their realpolitik foreign policy decisions”. (p. 31) Although the rules of international law are not a blueprint for reaching all policy objectives, they can still serve as a guideline for decision-makers what they should avoid running into troubles, writes Boyle.

Boyle’s critic of the American foreign policy towards Libya is based on his functionalist, Fullerian, and anti-Hobbesian framework of analysis for international law and organizations. In two chapters, the author describes the series of conflicts between the U. S. and the Libyan leader over the Gulf of Sidra and the allegations of international terrorism made by the U. S. against Libya during the Reagan presidency. Chapter four contains a description of the Lockerbie bombing allegations and the legal dispute by the U. S. and the United Kingdom against Libya over it. The policies of the subsequent U. S. administrations, beginning with Bush senior, Clinton to Bush junior, which aimed at the control of the Libyan oil fields, writes Boyle. 

In 2011, according to Boyle, the neoliberal Obama administration took over Libya’s oil fields under the pretext of the so-called Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine, illustrating its fraudulent manipulation of international humanitarian law. He debunks not only R2P but also its predecessor “humanitarian intervention” (Serbia) with the standard criteria of international law as an excuse to overthrow unpopular governments in order to replace them with imported U. S. puppets like in Afghanistan or in Kosovo. He argues that all the wars started under a humanitarian pretext resulted in humanitarian catastrophes. 

The author doubts whether the U. S. and NATO will be able to establish a puppet regime in Libya because of “significant residual support for Gaddafi and his Green Revolution” and of the highly volatile political and military situation throughout the country as the killing of the U. S. ambassador in Benghazi has shown. “All the U. S./NATO really care about in Libya is its continued free flow of oil from Eastern Libya organized around Benghazi.” (p.155) The rest of the country can disintegrate into the Sahara as far as the U. S./NATO is concerned. According to Boyle, Obama uses the R2P doctrine in order to destabilize Syria and overthrow the Assad Family regime. 

Boyle even goes so far as claiming that R2P has been used by powerful Western countries to justify wanton military aggression and military occupation of weak countries in the South. This schema is based on racism because the aggression was carried out by “white” people from the North against “colored” people from the South. History teaches us indeed that great powers do not use military force for humanitarian reasons. The U. S. and its major allies have been behind most of the humanitarian atrocities in the modern world. (p. 156) Humanitarian interventionism is only used in a mere “propagandistic sense”. (p. 159) 

The World Court has already rejected R2P/Humanitarian Intervention twice and so did the UN General assembly. Western powers claimed “that there existed supposed principles of customary international law that permitted them to engage in the unilateral threat and use of military force against other states, peoples, and regions of the world. In particular, these alleged ‘principles’ included the so-called doctrines of intervention, protection, and self-help.” (p. 161) These supposed doctrines (R2P/Humanitarian Intervention) were unanimously rejected by the International Court of Justice. The author counters R2P with the rule of law. This doctrine is for him nothing more than “imperialist propaganda for wars of aggression in the name of human rights”. (p. 166) For Boyle, the U. S. and NATO form “the Axis of Genocide”. In this chapter, Boyle gave a damning indictment of the R2P doctrine. Some human rights organizations around the world should rethink their policy of being cheerleaders of a doctrine that serves not the people but only Western neo-imperialism. 

A detailed analysis on the 2011 U. S./NATO war on Libya is given in chapter six. Since 9/11 the U. S. and its allies in Europe and the Middle East have engaged in “unlimited imperialism” and a “global warfare” against Arab, Muslim and African states in order to steal their hydrocarbon resources. (p. 176) “Libya 2011 was a Nuremberg crime against peace perpetrated by the United States, France and Britain that was aided and abetted and facilitated by the NATO Alliance and its other member states.” (p. 185) Accomplice in this international crime was the Arab League. 

The book is a scathing critic of modern Western imperialist policy, especially in its islamophobic and racist version against the Muslim world that might constitute the only force that has the potential to defeat Western unlimited imperialism.

First published herehereherehere, here and here.

Donnerstag, 9. Mai 2013

"Zionism – The Real Enemy of the Jews"

Alan Hart’s trilogy on the devastating impact of Zionism not only on the Palestinian people but also on Judaism is the most comprehensive and best analysis that has ever been written on this subject. The author takes the readers on an epic journey through a cocoon of propaganda lies that kept the Westerners, especially the U. S. Americans in line with a movement, which has been violating every value Western democracies pretend to defend. The massage on the cover of the first volume is clear:

“Almost everything you have been conditioned to believe about the making and sustaining of conflict in the Middle East is not true. Israel’s existence has never – ever – been in danger from any combination of Arab military force. Zionism’s assertion that Israel’s Jews have lived in constant danger of being ‘driven into the sea’ was the propaganda cover that allowed Israel (a Zionist, not a Jewish state) to get away where it mattered most – in Europe and America – with presenting its aggression as self-defense and itself as the victim when, it was and remains the aggressor.” 

Alan Hart wrote a very personal, revealing, and truth-telling article on “dissident voice” that shocked me on the one hand; on the other hand, however, it backed up all my own experiences, which I had with “the Arabs” and with the destructive and wicked influence of the “Zionist Lobby”. This article was the key trigger to finally review the three books that have long rested on the pile of books, which I wanted to discuss. I totally agree with Hart’s statement: “I was naive to believe that Palestinian right could be assisted to triumph over Zionist might.” So far, I have not given up, although my support of the righteous cause of the Palestinian people has caused me nothing but problems. Perhaps, Alan Hart should reconsider his decision, if there is one Palestinian or Arab who thinks the fight for the right of the oppressed Palestinian people is worth some dollars. 

In Volume One, which carries the subtitle “The False Messiah”, Hart unfolds the “modern” history of the collaboration between Western imperial interest and the desire of Zionism to establish a state. The political perversity comes to the open in the chapter “Waiting for the Apocalypse” that shows the total support of U. S. American religious fundamentalist for an Armageddon in order to bring about the final coming of Christ. Their teachings show how dangerous religious fairytales can be when misused for political ends.

The chapter “The Honest Zionist” shows that, at least the revisionist Zionists, were very honest about their real political intentions. Vladimir “Zeev” Jabotinsky, their “spiritual” leader, wrote this very clearly in his “classical” political pamphlet “The Iron Wall”. “All colonization, even the most restricted, must continue in defiance of the will of the native population. Therefore, it can continue and develop only under the shield of force which comprises an Iran Wall which the local population can never break through. This is our Arab policy. To formulate it any other way would be hypocrisy.” Just recently, Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu referred to his father Benzion, who was, inter alia, also Jabotinsky’s personal secretary and who died a few months ago at the age of 102, as an authoritative source what Israel’s future is concerned! 

In Volume Two, Alan Hart discusses one of the most important propaganda slogans that justify Israel’s sway over the entire Middle East: “The Annihilation Myth”. The political rhetoric of “there is no partner” for negotiations or “peace”, like Ehud Barak said, when he returned from Camp David in July 2000, started in fact with David Ben-Gurion and has continued to the present. Second to none, however, is the “biblical” founded Zionist claim on the Land of Palestine (“Eretz Israel”). These “historical rights” are based on the “fact” that some 2000 years ago, Jews have lived there, which the Israeli historian Shlomo Sand exposed in his books as a myth

In this volume, the author discusses how U. S. President Eisenhower struggled internally to contain Zionism, and President John F. Kennedy failed to prevent Israel acquiring the atom bomb. Although everybody knows that Israel is armed to its teeth with atomic weapons, neither Israel nor the U. S. admits to it to this very day. In this respect, the book ”The Passionate Attachment” by George W. Ball and his son Douglas B. Ball serves to be mentioned. It was published in 1992 by W. W. Norton and demonstrated that this close and “unbreakable” relationship between Israel and the United States has been detrimental only for the U. S. What was already true 20 years ago is today evident for all. 

The authors argue that the economic costs have been enormous, but what is even more harmful to U. S. foreign policy has been the association with Israeli colonialism that has undermined America’s relations to the Third World. Already at that time, the Ball’s mentioned the double standard of U. S. policy. While the politicians in Washington condemned those responsible for “ethnic cleansing” in Bosnia as war criminals, were those welcomed inside the Belt Way who committed the same crime in Israel and Palestine. The book also shows the limitations of presidential power against, what John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt called “The Israel Lobby”. That is why; U. S. President Barack Hussein Obama is no exception from the rule. 

Even U. S. President Eisenhower who made Israel to withdraw from the occupied Sinai was already thwarted by a “pork-barrel” U. S. Congress, which was unwilling to give him the support he needed “to get really tough with Israel”, writes Hart. “From the Zionist perspective Eisenhower was the enemy and the end of the Eisenhower era could not come quickly enough.” The author discusses also the policy of Moshe Sharett who was one of the few reasonable Israeli politicians at the time who wanted to make peace with the Arabs, which Ben-Gurion successfully obstructed. During this period, “reason was defeated in Israel” and the policy of rejectionism became the norm. 

During the Kennedy administration the “Israel Lobby” was already present in the White House in the person of Myer (Mike) Feldman. JFK was fully aware of his work for Israel. Feldman tried to arrange a state visit for Ben-Gurion in the U. S. but Kennedy rejected. Finally the president met with Ben-Gurion at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. JFK also asked for IAEA inspections of Israel’s nuclear reactor at Dimona, which Israel has refused till this day. Kennedy wrote that the U. S. “would be compromised if a state regarded as being dependent on us, as Israel is, peruses an independent course”. Contrary to JFK, Lyndon B. Johnson “would put Israel’s interest first”.

In Volume Three, Hart demonstrates in nineteen chapters how Israel did not only pursue a policy of expansionism (Greater Israel), starting with the attack on June 6, 1967, but also a policy of “state terrorism” that became “the norm”. In this issue, the author states a central hypothesis that explains Israel’s policy since the Six-Day War: The compromising of Security Council integrity. By allowing Israel to violate international law and colonize the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the U. S. and its allies created two sets of rules for the behavior of nations – “one for all the nations of the world minus Israel and the other exclusively for it”. 

For the first time, the Johnson administration had opened the doors for the Israel Lobbyists. With the attack on the USS Liberty in June 1967, the U. S. government allowed Israel to get away with “pure murder”, writes Hart. Also for the wishy-washy language of UN Security Council Resolution 242, the Johnson administration bears the responsibility. This document did not mention the Palestinians by name, which would have implied that they were a people with rights, and the wording of SC 242 allowed Israel to interpret it as it pleases. 

Although Jimmy Carter had brokered a peace agreement between Israel and Egypt, Israel’s Prime Minister Menachem Begin demonstrated with a blitz on Lebanon that he was the one who determined the rules of the game. After five month, Carter could stop this arbitrary attack by threatening to cut off economic assistance to Israel, like the Bush senior government did in 1991 to hold back a 10 billion dollar loan guarantee for the settlement of immigrants from Russia, writes Hart. 

The author started its trilogy with a personal appeal to the American people reminding them of their government’s double standard in foreign policy and its unconditional support for Israel. He mentions the total difference between Zionism and Judaism and that Israel was and still is the aggressor. “A prime cause of the re-awakening of anti-Semitism is the behavior of the Zionist state of Israel.”

In the “Epilogue” of Volume Three he takes this thread again and pleads to the American people: “If, Dear Americans, you continue to allow your government to support Israel right or wrong, you’ll not only betraying your own most cherished values and ideals, you will be inviting more and more people of the world, not just 1,4 billion Muslims, to see you as complicit in the Zionist state’s crimes. And that could make protecting America’s own best interests a mission impossible.”

Hart’s trilogy reveals the difference between Zionist propaganda lies and the real facts of history. As long as this Zionist mist addles the political awareness of the people in the West, nothing will change. The three books contribute a great deal to thin the fog. Extraordinary work, Mr. Hart!

First published here, here and here.

Dienstag, 7. Mai 2013

Generation Palestine

„Generation Palestine“ is about the Palestinian BDS campaign that tries to motivate companies and people around the world to boycott Israeli goods and withdraw investments as long as the Israeli government does not change its occupation policy, ends its violations of human rights of the Palestinian people and its disdain for international law. The Palestinian BDS is insofar unique because it is rights-based. This peaceful political campaign enjoys ample international support among small segments of civil society, which the list of authors demonstrates: Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Ronnie Kasrils, Ken Loach, Iain Banks, Richard Falk, Ilan Pappe,  David Randell and many others. All authors have a common concern that they think they can change the course of the Israeli government to give in to Palestinian demands. 

The unique model of „Israeli Apartheid“, colonisation, and military occupation that Israel imposes on the Palestinians, has made Palestine the moral cause of a generation. Yet, many people ask why the Israeli government gets away with every aggression against its neighbors or the permanent punishment and disfranchisement of a whole people. „It is breathtaking how the Israeli government can thumb their noses at the international community with impunity“, writes South African Archbishop Desmond Tuto in his Foreword. 

The BDS movement aligns itself with the successful form of protest practiced against the Apartheid regime in South Africa. Although not identical, there are some “remarkable parallels” with the struggle of the Palestinian people for freedom and against injustice. The freedom fighters in South Africa were slandered as „communists“, whereas the Palestinian resistance fighters and critics of the brutality of the Israeli army are labeled „anti-Semites“. The Apartheid regime collapsed after it had become a huge financial and political burden for the West. Whether the Palestinian BDS will lead to a similar result remains to be seen. 

In the chapter „BDS in the historical context“ the editor of the „Palestine Chronicle“, Ramzy Baroud argues, that the Palestinians must win this battle because it is rooted in universally accepted values and principles and is grounded with the civil societies. For Raji Sourani, director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza, BDS is rooted in the decade-old struggle for self-determination, the rule of law, and accountability. Other successful protest forms were the South African case, the US Civil Rights movement and India's struggle for freedom. Although the liberation struggles against colonization were all based on the right of self-determination, the question has to be answered, why the Palestinian liberation movement failed so miserably to achieve this goal and became, at the end, a “partner in peace” in this Zionist colonial enterprise. 

The Palestinian civil society came finally to terms with the failure of a decades-long charade that was called „peace process“ and decided to take the future in their own hands. Relying on the help of Western heads of states to solve their conflict would mean, waiting the day until the cows come home. All activities, which expose the reality of the Israeli occupying regime, could help, like the establishment of the “Israeli Apartheid Week” (IAW) in Canada and the Zionist smear campaign against it, which Hazem Jamjoum describes so insightfully. It would be a great success, if the authors dream would come true, “to send Israeli Apartheid to a museum”. 

Omar Barghouti, a young Palestinian activist, co-founder of BDS and a PhD student at the University of Tel Aviv (!), argues that the Palestinian movement has finally arrived at its South African moment. It “presents a progressive, anti-racist, sophisticated, sustainable, moral and effective form of civil, non-violent resistance”. According to him, the BDS movement does not call for a lower or higher standard for Israel than for any other state committing similar crimes or violations of international law. Israel has to be taken off the “lofty pedestal” on which it has been placed by the same Western powers that sponsored its creation on the ruins of the Palestinian people. 

With all my sympathy for the enthusiasm of the political demands of the BDS movement, the activists should not forget that Zionism as a colonial settler movement is hardly compatible with peace and can only survive through the creation of an external enemy in order to keep its population together. Success, like in the South African case, is not a foregone conclusion. Israel is not South Africa! There are neither the massive political consciences that carried the anti-Apartheid movement nor are there any hints that the Western political elites are inclined to withdraw their support from Israel. 

The same realism is required, when it comes to the political demand of a “one-state solution” for Israel and Palestine. On this issue, there is a conference on May 10th coming up in Germany, which is organized by the „Palestine Committee Stuttgart“. Some of the contributors to „Generation Palestine“ will also give speeches. If this event and the book may reach a larger audience, it would promote the course of self-determination of the Palestinian people. Sadly enough, the visit of U. S. President Obama to Israel and the latest Israeli military aggression against Syria teach a totally different lesson. All signs point at war, not to reconciliation, not to speak of one state. The book shows to its readers how to assign the aggressor in the barriers through boycott, divestment and sanctions.

First published herehere, herehere and here.