Memory Hole Material

I’m posting this because of the source, Israeli, of an accusation that hasn’t been admitted by them before, i.e. the issue of using human shields during the Gaza invasion.  Check out the spin that has already begun.

Breaking the Silence activist group presents report of testimonies from Gaza offensive in which soldiers say destruction, civilian casualties were direct result of IDF policy. Army: Testimonies are general, anonymous, and unreliable

A number of IDF soldiers who took part in Israel’s recent Gaza offensive say they were urged by commanders to shoot first and worry later about sorting out civilians from combatants. Accordingly, they say, the force went into Gaza with guns blazing.

In print and video testimony published on Wednesday by the activist group Breaking the Silence, the 30 soldiers say the army’s imperative was to minimize its own casualties to ensure Israeli public support for the operation.

“Better hit an innocent than hesitate to target an enemy,” is a typical description by one unidentified soldier of his understanding of instructions repeated at pre-invasion briefings and during the 22-day operation, from Dec. 27 to Jan. 18.

“If you’re not sure, kill. Fire power was insane. We went in and the booms were just mad,” says another. “The minute we got to our starting line, we simply began to fire at suspect places. In urban warfare, anyone is your enemy. No innocents.”

The 112-page report by Breaking the Silence includes testimonies of 30 soldiers “who served in all sectors of the operation”.

“The majority … are still serving in their regular military units and turned to us in deep distress at the moral deterioration of the IDF,” it says. Their narratives “are enough to bring into question the credibility of the official IDF versions”.

Except for a sergeant named Amir, the soldiers are anonymous and their faces digitally blurred. The group said it had funding from Israeli human rights groups and the governments of Britain, the Netherlands and Spain, and from the European Union.

“We believe that the existence of a moral society clearly requires a profound, honest discussion, of which the voice of soldiers on the ground is an inseparable part,” the group says.

Soldiers describe a “Neighbor Procedure” in which civilians were forced to enter suspect buildings ahead of troops. They cite cases of civilians advancing in front of a soldier resting his rifle on their shoulder.

The report repeats charges denied by Israel that white phosphorus was fired indiscriminately into Gaza streets. It cites “massive destruction was unrelated to any direct threat to Israeli forces” and “permissive” rules of engagement.

“We did not get instructions to shoot at anything that moved,” says one soldier. “But we were generally instructed: if you feel threatened, shoot. They kept repeating to us that this is war and in war opening fire is not restricted.”

The report also mentions armored bulldozers razing whole areas including gardens, and olive and orange groves. “We didn’t see a single house that was intact … that was not hit. The entire infrastructure, tracks, fields, roads, was in total ruin. The D-9 (bulldozer) had gone over everything,” the report quotes a soldier as saying.

“There was a clear feeling, and this was repeated whenever others spoke to us, that no humanitarian consideration played any role in the army at present. The goal was to carry out an operation with the least possible casualties for the army.”

IDF: Soldiers should come forth

The testimonies challenge assertions by Israeli officials and pro-Israel groups in the United States that “Israel did all it could to avoid civilian casualties”, as Kenneth Jacobson of the Anti-Defamation League wrote last week to the New York Times.

The League denounced Amnesty International for labeling Israel’s actions as “wanton” destruction and said it was “outrageously accusing the Israeli military of war crimes”.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak asserted after the war that Israel had the most moral army in the world. These critics say Israelis should not be asked simply to accept that their army’s conduct was “faultless and public accountability uncalled for”.

The IDF, Breaking the Silence said in the preamble to its evidence, went to great lengths to prove that if there were any excesses they were by the “delinquent soldier”.

The testimony suggests that “the massive and unprecedented blow to the infrastructure and civilians of the Gaza Strip was a direct result of IDF policy”.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Office stated in response that the army “regrets the fact that a human rights organization is presenting to Israel and the world, once again, a report containing general and anonymous testimonies without ascertaining their details or reliability and without allowing the IDF, with minimal fairness, a chance to probe the affairs and respond prior to their publication”.

The statement adds that the IDF “believes Breaking the Silence should encourage testifiers to break their silence and present specific claims in order for it to be possible to deal with the claims properly and investigate them, and not to hide behind anonymous testimonies”.

The army also stated that the Gaza offensive was a “no other choice operation” and that five different probes had already been authorized regarding the IDF’s conduct in Gaza. “The IDF is committed to investigating any complaint”, the statement says.

A Palestinian rights group has stated that 1,417 people were killed, 926 of them civilians, during Operation Cast Lead. But the army has put the death toll at 1,166 and estimated 295 dead were civilians. Ten IDF soldiers and three Israeli civilians were also killed.

Afghan Women: A Political Football for Western Feminists

AfghanIt all started back in 2001 with Laura Bush when she gave the rallying cry, “Afghan women know, through hard experience, what the rest of the world is discovering: The brutal oppression of women is a central goal of the terrorists”, which was one of the justifications for the US military invasion of Afghanistan.  Of course after the legitimacy of the invasion was accepted by the majority of Americans, Bush had little to say about the treatment of Afghani women under a newly installed and US backed government, even though it’s record of women’s rights was as deplorable as it was under the Taleban.  The lip service of the feminist movement given to the plight of Afghan women has been insulting to Afghani women who view with a certain disdain the paternalistic attitude some Western women bring to the discussion of women’s rights for people that are  as far removed from the West as can be.

Now comes word, Afghan women are again in the cross hairs of the feminist movement, with one group, the Feminist Majority Foundation, lending its moral support for the escalation of the war in Afghanistan, stating as one of its objectives: Increase security and safety for Afghan people, especially women and girls, by increasing the number of US combat troops in Afghanistan.

Addressing this point other more politically aware feminists had this to say:

First of all, coalition troops are combat forces and are there to fight a war, not to preserve peace. Not even the Pentagon uses that language to describe U.S. forces there. More importantly, the tired claim that one of the chief objectives of the military occupation of Afghanistan is to liberate Afghan women is not only absurd, it is offensive.

Waging war does not lead to the liberation of women anywhere. Women always disproportionately suffer the effects of war, and to think that women’s rights can be won with bullets and bloodshed is a position dangerous in its naïveté. The Feminist Majority should know this instinctively.

Here are the facts: After the invasion, Americans received reports that newly liberated women had cast off their burquas and gone back to work. Those reports were mythmaking and propaganda. Aside from a small number of women in Kabul, life for Afghan women since the fall of the Taliban has remained the same or become much worse.

Under the Taliban, women were confined to their homes. They were not allowed to work or attend school. They were poor and without rights. They had no access to clean water or medical care, and they were forced into marriages, often as children.

Today, women in the vast majority of Afghanistan live in precisely the same conditions, with one notable difference: they are surrounded by war. The conflict outside their doorsteps endangers their lives and those of their families. It does not bring them rights in the household or in public, and it confines them even further to the prison of their own homes. Military escalation is just going to bring more tragedy to the women of Afghanistan.

The U.S. military may have removed the Taliban, but it installed warlords who are as anti-woman and as criminal as the Taliban. Misogynistic, patriarchal views are now embodied by the Afghan cabinet, they are expressed in the courts, and they are embodied by President Hamid Karzai.

Paper gains for women’s rights mean nothing when, according to the chief justice of the Afghan Supreme Court, the only two rights women are guaranteed by the constitution are the right to obey their husbands and the right to pray, but not in a mosque.

These are the convictions of the government the U.S. has helped to create. The American presence in Afghanistan will do nothing to diminish them.

Sadly, as horrifying as the status of women in Afghanistan may sound to those of us who live in the West, the biggest problems faced by Afghan women are not related to patriarchy. Their biggest problem is war.

….in the eight years since the U.S. invasion, opium production has exploded by 4,400 percent, making Afghanistan the world capital of opium. The violence of the drug mafia now poses greater danger to Afghanistan and its women than the rule of the Taliban.

Some of the biggest drug-traffickers are part of the U.S. puppet regime. To make matters worse, corruption in the Afghan government has never been so prevalent — even under the Taliban. Now, even Western sources say that only pennies of every dollar spent on aid reach the people who need it.

If coalition forces are really concerned about women, these are the problems that must be addressed. The military establishment claims that it must win the military victory first, and then the U.S. will take care of humanitarian needs. But they have it backward.

Improve living conditions and security will improve. Focus on security at the expense of humanitarian goals, and coalition forces will accomplish neither. The first step toward improving people’s lives is a negotiated settlement to end the war.

The U.S. presence in Afghanistan is doing nothing to protect Afghan women. The level of self-immolation among women was never as high as it is now. When there is no justice for women, they find no other way out but suicide.

Columbia Professor Lila Abu-Lughod, a woman of Palestinian descent, writes: “We need to be suspicious when neat cultural icons are plastered over messier historical and political narratives; so we need to be wary when Lord Cromer in British-ruled Egypt, French ladies in Algeria, and Laura Bush, all with military troops behind them, claim to be saving or liberating Muslim women.”

It’s sad to see western feminists being used as tools for the military occupation of a country, but it shows how political affiliations of the left and the right converge when it comes to certain policies such as military expansion and imperialism over poor people who are far removed from the West’s reality.

What do White Supremacists and Israel have in common?

If you are Jewish it’s safe haven in Israel.  I found this interesting story of an American whose brush with American law enforcement included racist assault, setting fire to vehicles belonging to federal agents and a series of violent incidents.  How does a neo-Nazi supremacist find common ground with the Jewish state?  How does a “neo-Nazi” fall in love with and father a child by an Israeli Jew?  Mayon was given a one month tourist visa to stay in Israel back in ’07 and stayed on until caught a few days ago.  Needing a valid passport at least six months old to travel to Israel, how does a man on the FBI’s most wanted list enter the Jewish state undetected and then live there for 17 months while his parents send him money to “make ends meet”?  What led to Mayon’s downfall was the conscious of his pregnant girlfriend who upon learning he was a racist supremacist turned him in to authorities.  Word has it Mayon is fighting his extradiction to America based on his impregnating the young lady, and it will be interesting to see how far this appeal to Israeli courts gets.  If tribal justice applies, Mayon won’t be returned to the US.