HOW DARE THEY DEFEND THEMSELVES!

A state of war that has existed between Israel and Syria since Israel declared itself a nation in 1948 has, over the years, eased into an uneasy armistice, even after Israel illegally occupied the Syrian Golan Heights during the 1967 war, and later “officially” annexed it. Through international mediators, Syria has repeatedly demanded Israel withdraw to the pre-June ’67 borders, to no avail. Any such motion brought by Syria before the U.N. Security Council has been vetoed by the U.S., essentially giving Israel carte blanche to continue its illegal activities.

Fast forward to 2011.

Complicit in U.S. war crimes in Syria, including support, both financial and logistical to ISIS and other terrorist organizations, Israel has carried out multiple cross-border attacks, including illegally using Lebanese airspace. In response to such threats, Russia has recently begun supplying Syria with sophisticated S-300 air defense systems in order to deter further US and Israeli aggression.

 

In response to such actions, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned Syriathat if anyone dares to fire on Israeli planes, Israel will destroy them. “No defense systems should be used against us,” he said.

 

According to international law, aggressors have no rights, and that includes Israel, and by extension the U.S. When any nation is attacked by a hostile power, international law affirms that country’s right to self-defense. All nations have the legal right to defend their territory and protect their citizens. In the case of Syria, it wants Russia’s S-300s for defensive, not offense purposes.

A vulnerable country such as Syria needs all means of self-defense at its disposal.

Lieberman lied when he said Israel was not interfering in Syria’s internal affairs. The evidence proves otherwise. What Lieberman really meant was that Israel wanted a clear shot, whenever it wanted, at anything it didn’t like in Syria, without fear of losing one of its planes to an air-defense system.

 

No nation threatens Israel—not Russia, Syria, Iran or any other country. No weapons on Syrian territory are purposely aimed at Israel. Should it continue to be attacked, Damascus will, however, have every right to protect itself against aggression be it by Israel or Washington or any of its other regional allies.

The lead-up to the Syrian war and the perverse reasoning behind such aggression is discussed in great detail in both The Syrian and Damascus Street, just published.

These books are available for purchase here. Amazon

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WHO IS SHELDON ADELSON?

Sheldon Adelson is the casino magnate whose net wealth is estimated at well over $43 billion. He is also the elephant in the room no one dares talk about because he and his Israeli-born wife, Miriam Adelson, have one issue—Israel.

In the last election cycle, Adelson was the biggest single donor to both the Congressional Leadership Fund and the Senate Leadership Fund to the tune of $55 million. However, the loyalty of Republican congressional leaders to the Las Vegas-based multi-billionaire came at an unspeakable cost. In exchange for helping to scuttle the Iran Nuclear Deal, Adelson gave the Republican super PACS $30 million. Adelson’s willingness to help the GOP stay in power comes as no surprise. The U.S. leadership, both sides of the isle, is for sale to special interests even if it comes with dire consequences to our national interest.

What are some of Sheldon Adelson’s successes to date? His belief that Donald Trump would be “good for Israel” was the main driver behind his decision to spend more than $90 million to help him win the last election. (We continue to blame Russia for influencing the last election but not the elephant in the room.) During his campaign, Trump pledged to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He fulfilled his promise, an action Adelson aggressively promoted and helped to finance. The appointment of David Friedman as the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, the man who insisted the State Department refrain from using the terms “occupation” and “Israeli-occupied territories,” was also Adelson’s choice to head the U.S. diplomatic mission in Israel.

At Adelson’s insistence, President Trump removed the U.S. from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), better known as the Iran nuclear deal. Already back in 2015, Adelson was advocating for a U.S. nuclear attack on Iran without provocation, so the U.S. “could impose its demands on Iran from a position of strength.” According to Adelson’s plan, the U.S. would drop a nuclear bomb in the middle of the Iranian desert and then threaten that the next one would be dropped in the middle of Tehran, home to 9 million people with 15 million more in the suburbs.

On the eve of Trump’s recent address to the UN, the war-monger John Bolton suddenly resurfaced, insisting that Trump insert into his remarks that “Washington would cancel its participation in the nuclear deal if Congress and the U.S. allies did not renegotiate the deal.” Those words were not in the original speech. In fact, Chief of Staff John Kelly had tried to restrict Bolton’s access to Trump, aware of the possible consequences, but Sheldon Adelson would have none of it and used Bolton to exert once again his power over U.S. foreign policy. He also insisted John Bolton be named Trump’s National Security Advisor.

It was Sheldon Adelson who asserted his influence yet again and had Nikki Haley named the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.  He, along with the Koch brothers, have given Haley’s political advocacy group a major infusion of cash, most recently some $250,000 to remove four Republican state senate rivals in recent primaries.

Adelson also supported Mike Pompeo, former CIA director and an advocate for bombing Iran, as Trump’s new Secretary of State, ousting Rex Tillerson and H.R. McMaster, his National Security Advisor from their respective posts, because of their support of the Iran deal.

Like many government officials who are beholding to Adelson because he put them in power, he is an advocate for a U.S/Israel war with Iran.  With the US out of the Iran Nuclear Deal and set to promote regime change as part of its official Iran policy, the foundation is quickly being laid for a military confrontation with Iran. Israel, whose leadership is also heavily funded by Adelson, is busy preparing for such a conflict.

The Republican Jewish Coalition, whose foreign-policy positions are remarkably consistent with those of Netanyahu’s Likud Party, has enjoyed a series of major victories over the past year thanks to the Trump administration. The president broke with decades of U.S. policy in the region by, among other things, recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, dropping the phrase “Occupied Territories” to describe the West Bank and East Jerusalem, nominating a staunch settlement advocate and funder as ambassador to Israel, withdrawing from UNESCO due to alleged anti-Israel bias, and slashing aid to the Palestinian Authority and the UN organization (UNRWA) that provides assistance to Palestinian refugees and their families. Under Trump, Washington has dropped any pretense of acting as an “honest broker” between Israel and the Palestinians.

It would be a mistake to think this largesse from a staunch Israeli backer like Adelson is only a Republican issue. Far from it. Had Hilary Clinton won the last election, and the Democrats had re-gained control of both houses of Congress, we would have seen the same kind of largesse from the Israeli-American entertainment mogul, Haim Saban.

So, what does this say about us as Americans? Unless we are willing to admit that our leaders are a bunch of corrupt, immoral, money-driven scoundrels who willing sell their souls to the highest bidder, in this case the pro-Israeli hawks, nothing honorable. A democracy only changes when its collective citizenry stands up and shouts “Enough! We demand change,” and drives the self-serving, traitorous detestables from office.

I discuss a possible Iran/US proxy war in The SyrianThe book is available for purchase here: Amazon

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WHO’S WAR AND WHO WILL FIGHT IT?

Patrick Buchanan recently asked why the same people who promoted and pushed for our war with Iraq—the Podhoretz, the Perelman’s and the Krauthammer’s, the Kristol’s and Kagan’s, the Brooks and the Boot’s—are now urging an all-out assault on Syria, Iran and nuclear superpower Russia simply because Moscow dares to support Assad while maintaining a diplomatic/working relationship with Tehran.

The same country that keeps surfacing as a central player in the lead-up to America’s regime change wars is none other than the Israeli government whose fingerprints are all over American interventionism. And they are at it again, using their afore-mentioned minions to promote their newest war.

In a recent article Whose War? Philip Giraldi wrote, “Israel is not shy about what it wants to happen, namely a war in Syria targeting both Damascus and Tehran, leading to a much bigger war with the Iranians. Fought by Uncle Sam, to be sure, as Israeli lives are far too precious to waste. Tel Aviv has long been feeding the propaganda line relating to why war with Syria and Iran are desirable.

 

And it has set the stage for this by claiming the Iranians have been lying when they say they have never had a covert nuclear weapons program. The Obama administration fell for the same false narrative about a secret Iranian nuclear weapons program allegedly in operation from 2001 to 2003, yet bravely pursued a ground-breaking agreement with Iran. A far more effective counter-argument, of course, would have been the truth—that the long-accepted accusations about Iran’s covert program are the product of an elaborate disinformation operation based on documents forged by Mossad, Israel’s foreign intelligence agency. The impact of the Israelis getting US national security, political, and media elites to accept that these fabrications represented genuine evidence of Iran’s guilt can hardly be understated.

As I wrote in The Syrian, while the target all along had been Syria, it was never only about regime change. It was a proxy war, set up by Israel, and played out by the US and Iran. A potential Israeli attack on Hezbollah, alas, an inevitability given Israel’s desire to re-establish its military deterrence which it lost in the 2006 war, would serve as an indirect attack on Iran since they are the ones who back Hezbollah. That said, all roads eventually lead to Syria which is the conduit between Iran and Hezbollah. In order to weaken both entities, the US and Israel must first destroy Syria. As in all things Middle Eastern, there is also a religious component. Syria is ruled by Alawites, an offshoot of Shiite Islam. Iran and Hezbollah are also Shiites. Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf nations, mostly Sunni, support the US and Israel’s attempt to destroy the three Shiite entities. They fear a Shiite revival and want to maintain their Sunni dominance over the Islamic world.

There is yet another reason for the US/Israeli involvement in Syria. The Golan Heights, illegally occupied by Israel since 1967, has a huge oil and gas reserve which Israel intends to claim as its own. Meanwhile, the US has between 2,000 and 4,000 troops stationed in northeast Syria, an important region owing to its rich natural resources in the form of gas and oil. In fact, this region contains 95% of all Syrian oil and gas potential, including al-Omar, the country’s largest oil field. As is the case with American occupations, it is an effort born out of two goals: resource acquisition for U.S. corporations and the destabilization of a government targeted for U.S.-backed regime change. Shortly before the foreign-funded proxy war besieged its country, Syria had turned down a U.S.-backed proposal that would have taken natural gas from Qatar to Europe in favor of a Russian-backed proposal that would have taken natural gas originating in Iran to Europe.

In addition to its abundant water resources, northeastern Syria is also home to nearly 60% of Syria’s cropland, a key resource in terms of Syria’s sustainability and food independence.  By controlling much of the country’s water and agricultural land, not to mention its fossil fuel resources, the U.S. occupation will not only accomplish its goal of destabilizing Syria’s government, it will also invite a broader conflict with Syria’s allies, Iran and Russia, both eager to prevent another long-term U.S. occupation in the Middle East.

And so, it continues. Blame the Russians, the Iranians and the poor Syrians but never the real culprits, those unsavory characters who exercise their malignant influence over America’s political class and media elites.

The Syrian is available for purchase here amazon

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OUR US POLICE EXCHANGE PROGRAM WITH ISRAEL

In many cities around the US the image of the friendly copy on the beat has been replaced by intimidating, fully armed military-style troops. Israel has played a part in this transition. From traffic stops that target Black drivers to checkpoints that target immigrant communities, to police murders of Black, Brown and disabled people, police officers cause daily harm across our nation.

The militarization of US law enforcement has been driven by the creation of various homeland security initiatives and billions of dollars of surplus military-grade equipment donated to local police departments since 9/11, but that is only part of the story.

At least 300 high-ranking sheriffs and police from agencies large and small, from New York to Orange County and Oakland California, have traveled to Israel for privately funded seminars in what is described as counter-terrorism techniques. Since 2002, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the American Jewish Committee’s Project Interchange and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs have sent police chiefs, assistant chiefs and captains on fully paid trips to Israel and the Palestinian Occupied Territories to observe the operations of the Israeli national police, the Israeli Defense Forces, the Israeli Border patrol and the country’s intelligence agencies.

The most tangible evidence that the training is having an impact on American policing is that both countries are using identical equipment against demonstrations, according to a recent report by Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem and photographs of such equipment taken at demonstrations in Ferguson and Oakland and Anaheim, California. Over 10,000 American officials have trained with Israeli police and military units. The St. Louis Police Department that killed Michael Brown and initially placed Ferguson under siege trained with the Israeli military. For more information see Israel’s Export of Occupation Police Tactics in the third edition of Israeli and Palestinian Voices: A Dialogue with Both Sides.

In a slap at Israel, the City Council of Durham, North Carolina, voted unanimously to bar its police department from taking part in “military-style training” programs abroad. The council “opposes international exchanges with any country in which Durham officers receive military-style training since such exchanges do not support the kind of policing we want here in the City of Durham,” read the resolution voted on April 18, 2018 in a 6-0 vote.

The coalition of groups that brought forth the petition included Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and various civil rights groups. JVP has a project named Deadly Exchange, aimed at ending such exchange programs. “Abolishing police exchanges between Durham and Israel is a step toward true community safety that cares for people’s needs and is not modeled after occupation and apartheid.”

Responding to this resolution, the ADL’s Washington, D.C. regional director, Doron Ezickson wrote that “Far from training that helps the police terrorize Black and Brown communities, ADL’s law enforcement programs, including those in Israel, are designed to equip officers with the knowledge, understanding, and sense of accountability necessary to help safeguard all of our communities and ensure that our civil rights and liberties are rigorously protected.”

Unless, of course, you are a Palestinian or a Person of Color.

The above mentioned book is available here: Amazon

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WHAT IS HAMAS?

As much as Israel and the United States claim that Hamas is a collective of unschooled terrorists intent on destroying Israel, nothing could be further from the truth. Hamas is a movement born of Palestine, composed of Palestinians who were raised on the very streets where the blood of their people and families has been lost to a crippling Israeli blockage, now more than a decade old.

Like all national liberation movements Hamas has had its problems and made its share of mistakes. That said, Israel’s attempt to reduce it to a selfish and reckless group willing to sacrifice the interests and safety of their fellow Palestinians is nothing more than a delusion.

It was Israel who encouraged the rise of Hamas as a counterweight to Fatah and the PLO, not unlike Sunni Lebanese politicians who covertly funded the al-Qaeda-linked Fatah al-Islam and allowed their them into the country as a counterweight to Hezbollah.

 

Hamas, which means Islamic Resistance Movement, was founded in 1987 by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, a man who spent years in Israeli prisons. It members include physicians, scholars, academics, lawyers, scientists, artists and farmers. It was then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin who assisted Yassin’s start-up of a “humanitarian” organization. Begin and his right-wing strategists devised the theory of creating Hamas as an alternative to Fatah because they believed such an organization would devote themselves to charity and religious study and passively accept the occupation.

When Hamas captured a majority of Parliament in the January 2006 elections, a victory described by former President Carter as the most transparent and successful electoral process he had observed as a monitor, the West imposed not only financial sanctions on the Hamas government and isolated it politically but pursued an aggressive policy of internal division thereby establishing the conditions for havoc in Gaza.

 

Gazans are keenly aware that in May 2007 Hamas offered a ten-year truce with Israel in exchange for Israel’s agreement to end the siege of Gaza and the West Bank. Israel did not respond to this offer, nor did it respond to Hamas’ offer to recognize the State of Israel on the ’67 border. Such arrogance, explicitly meant to punish Gazans for the temerity of its electoral will, through the imposition of a decade-long embargo that threatens the health, welfare and safety of its two million residents, has, invariably, toughened resolve and fomented at times reckless and desperate behavior. For more information on Hamas, please refer to my book “Tragedy in South Lebanon: The Israeli-Hezbollah War of 2006.

According to Stanley L. Cohen, in his article Broken Dreams and Lost Years: Israel, Gaza and the Hamas Card, “Israel, because of the Great Return March, seeks to reduce millions of Palestinians who have struggled for generations to little more than unthinking sheep awaiting instructions from Hamas on when or how to express their will or gain their independence. Those with any connection to Palestine, or its long-oppressed people, know all too well that the bars of its prison will never quiet its innate thirst for justice and freedom.”

With each Israeli incursion, Hamas has been the convenient foil for Israel, always claiming the role of victim, never the victimizer, and asserting, as in the case of the Great Return March, to have given a measured, proportionate answer to the menace posed by burning kites, waving flags, a dozen Molotov cocktails and teens with slingshot weapons.

This book is available for purchase here: Amazon

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PRESIDENT TRUMP, SHOW US THE EVIDENCE

With no evidence to back up their claim, the U.S. has decided to blame Syria and Moscow for the most recent chlorine gas attack near Damascus. Such accusations are a dangerous attempt to bring the world closer to another Great War, this one between the U.S. and Russia, the world’s two biggest nuclear weapons powers. Have we not yet learned the lessons of Iraq? Wasn’t it enough that our neoconservatives and war hawks like John Bolton drove the intervention and destruction of Iraq, destroying a nation, its people and its cultural heritage?  Are we not now looking at a bogus Weapons of Mass Destruction claim all over again with mass media led by the NY Times and the Washington Post broadcasting these accusations as fact without skepticism or any investigation of their own?

When will there be some accountability for our military industrial complex, their political lackeys and media enablers and promoters? Will we the people continue to be the complacent, uninformed public to whom our leaders can pitch yet another war while we yawn and agree even when that new war is being launched in our name?

Investigative journalist Rick Sterling, writing on April 10th in Consortium News, suggests we review some historical facts about the lies our leaders have perpetuated to get us into war.

“The invasion of Vietnam with over 500 thousand US soldiers was preceded by a phony Gulf of Tonkin incident where a US ship was supposedly attacked by a North Vietnamese vessel.

“The 1991 attack on Iraq and subsequent massacre of Iraqi soldiers and civilians was preceded by the fabricated testimony of the Kuwaiti Ambassador’s daughter pretending to be a nurse who had witnessed Iraqi soldiers stealing incubators and leaving Kuwaiti babies on the floor.

“In 2003 the US launched the invasion of Iraq leading to the death of over a million Iraqis based on the WMD lie and other fabricated evidence provided by the CIA and uncritically promoted by the mainstream media.

“In 2011 the US-led NATO attacks on Libya with the stated purpose to ‘protect civilians’ from massacre. Again, this campaign was based on lies and the real result was an explosion of extremism, a destroyed country and the killing of over 50,000 civilians.

“In August 2013, we were informed of a massive sarin gas attack on the outskirts of Damascus. The US asserted that Assad had crossed Obama’s ‘red line’ and the US needed to intervene directly. Subsequent investigations revealed the gas attack was perpetrated by a Turkish supported terrorist faction. Both Robert Parry of Consortium News and investigative journalist Seymour Hersh discovered the evidence and brought it to the public’s attention.

“In April 2017 it was the same accusations and despite strong evidence of fraud Trump ordered missile strikes on a Syrian air base which killed thirteen people including four children.”

As I wrote in The Syrian, “Wasn’t it true that the U.S. and its regional allies had decided that Syria should be dismantled, destroyed, and put in the hands of a puppet state amenable to U.S. dictates? Isn’t that what the U.S. had tried unsuccessfully to do in Iraq? Is it possible that such actions, if repeated often enough, eventually erode the global mechanism that strives to maintain stability and security through a balance of power based on legitimacy and responsible behavior? And if that is lost, what is left but a few powerful nations and wealthy individuals ruling and determining policy for their own greedy wants?”

 Isn’t this what we are seeing today? The neoconservatives and war mongers in concert with regional allies and jihadists trying to destroy Syria. In my forthcoming book Damascus Street, due to be published June 1 by Calumet Editions, I have a scene between the newly appointed U.S. Ambassador to Syria and a Lebanese intelligence agent.

“The goal here is to render Assad irrelevant,” said the Ambassador. “We deploy jihadists to capture and hold large sections of the country and make it impossible for the government to control the state. Our plan breaks the country into disconnected enclaves each ruled by an al-Qaeda affiliate.”

The Lebanese asks: “And you expect this to be done by a bunch of head-chopping jihadists?”

“No, they’re the fodder who will lead the charge. We’ll send in our Special Forces to do the heavy work and then initiate a country-wide no-fly zone.”

The Lebanese: “That’s still a tall order, especially if the army still supports Assad. And I don’t suppose Iran will sit idly by, or Hezbollah or the Russians for that matter.”

“Agreed, it’ll be a hell of a mess, but sometimes you need to do ugly things to make the right things happen.”

Again, the Lebanese: “But why turn Syria into another Iraq? Iraq had a highly educated successful middle class with good jobs, and now it’s a destroyed country.”

The U.S. Ambassador: “I guess it depends on what kind of world you want to have. The US wants to see a world where terrorists and their backers are defeated. We’re just trying to contribute to the greater good of the region.”

We now know that the U.S. has been working all along with ISIS, reincarnating them as yet another anti-Assad “rebel” force. And to succeed in their regime change agenda, the U.S. needed some measure of support from mass media Thus, the Weapons of Mass Destruction perpetuation all over again. It is the bad guys using chemical weapons on their own people while we the people are led to believe the Syrian government is so incredibly stupid that they keep using chemical weapons and giving the U.S. a justification to bomb their country.

This dangerous game continues to work because we the people are too busy and too overwhelmed by our own problems to see what our government is intent on doing—carrying out their long-term plan of regime change in Syria in an effort to weaken Iran and Hezbollah.

International lawyer Francis Boyle argues that the U.S. stands poised to strike Syria in yet another display of its unbridled militarism. “It is the unlimited imperialists like Alexander, Napoleon and Hitler who are now in charge. The serial imperial aggressions launched, waged and menaced by the neoconservative Republican Bush Junior administration, then the neoliberal Democrat Obama administration and now the reactionary Trump administration threaten to set off World War III Unless we the people stand up and insist on no more wars.

The Syrian is available for purchase here: Amazon

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GAZA, AN OPEN-AIR PRISON

The Gaza Strip, an area one-eighth the size of Rhode Island, represents one percent of historic Palestine. The strip is approximately twenty-five miles long and seven miles wide and is home to close to two million Palestinians making it the most densely populated place on earth. It is almost impossible to get into Gaza. To its north is the Eretz Crossing, a literal military/bunker-style installation controlled by Israel. Its eastern border, the site of the April 2018 demonstrations, is also controlled by Israel. To the west is the Mediterranean, patrolled by Israeli war ships and to the south is Rafah, a border Gaza shares with Egypt.

In 2012, myself and thirty-two other Americans were privileged to visit Gaza but to do so we had to first meet in Cairo. Against a demand made by the American ambassador to Egypt that for security reasons we cancel our planned visit to Gaza, we refused and instead turned to the Egyptian government for a military escort.  We left Cairo in the dead of night, our two small vans, accompanied by two white military tanks, and traversed the Sinai, a six-hour trek, before reaching Rafah, our entry point into the Gaza strip. This had been the first opportunity in over ten years for any group to visit Gaza and we were determined to make it happen.

The history of Gaza spans 4000 years. For centuries it served as a caravan hub of strategic importance linking southeast Asia to Europe. Pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves are but a few of the spices and goods that passed through Gaza and moved the world economy. Gaza has also weathered the region’s major empires-the Egyptians, Persians, Greeks, romans, Byzantines, Arabs and Ottomans

The founding of the state of Israel in 1948 changed Palestine’s map dramatically. Over 700,000 Palestinians were forced to flee their homes. Those in neighboring towns and villages were pushed into Gaza which had come under Egyptian administrative rule. During the June 1967 war Israel occupied Gaza and cut it off from Egypt. It was at that time that Israel also militarily occupied east Jerusalem, the west bank and Syria’s Golan heights.  See Israeli and Palestinian Voices: A Dialogue with Both Sides for more details.

Until ’67, the Gazan economy was primarily agriculture and fishing based. After their lands were confiscated to build Israeli settlements and their orchards uprooted, Palestinians were obliged to become day laborers inside Israel.

In 2000, then prime minister Ariel Sharon abruptly closed the border between Israel and Gaza and overnight 100,000 men lost their day jobs in Israel. Once the most skilled labor force in the middle east, these men were reduced to aid-dependent consumers with a production sector at almost zero.

In 2005 Ariel Sharon carried out what he called a “unilateral disengagement” from the Gaza strip, pulling some 7,000 Israeli settlers who had occupied Gaza for 38 years (and using up most of the water) and placing them in settlements in the west bank.  These settlers comprised ½ of 1% of the population in Gaza yet they occupied 20% of the land while an additional 10% was kept under Israeli military control.

After the settlers withdrew the Palestinian authority made plans to revitalize Gaza’s economy. However, in order to accomplish this, they needed Israel’s cooperation.  Instead, Israel surrounded Gaza with concrete walls and high fences and strictly controlled all access in and out of the strip, including the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt for both people and goods.

In 2006 Hamas won democratically held elections which were monitored by then president jimmy carter. Israel and the us expected Abbas’s Fatah party to win. Instead, the Palestinians in both the west bank and Gaza, fed up with the corruption within the Fatah ranks, voted Hamas into power. They won 76 out of the 132 seats in the Palestinian parliament. The first thing Hamas did when it won elections was to propose a long-term truce with Israel. It has since agreed to accept a peace treaty based on the ’67 borders which is an implicit recognition of the state of Israel, a constant demand both of Israel and the us government. The truce offer was ignored by both Israel and the us. Instead, reprisals for voting the wrong way quickly followed both from the us in the form of sanctions and Israel which cut off the Gaza strip from the rest of the world, creating an open-air prison with some 1.7 million inmates, 55% of whom were under the age of 18.

The Gaza Strip could have become a prosperous Mediterranean region with its rich agriculture and a flourishing fishing industry, a highly educated population, marvelous beaches and good financial prospects due to the recent discovery of extensive natural gas supplies found within its territorial waters. By coincidence or not, this was precisely when Israel intensified its naval blockade along Gaza’s coastline. Since then, Gaza has been subjected to numerous Israeli assaults not least of which was the 2014 51-day pounding of Gaza resulting in 2,217 dead, 11,000 wounded and 111,000 homes damaged or destroyed, the vast majority of which have yet to be rebuilt because Israel strictly rations the building material it allows into Gaza.

The Gaza of 2018 is a radically impoverished political powder keg where aid dependence went from 10% in 2000 to 80% with no autonomy and on the brink of ecological disaster through a combination of Israeli assaults and economic destabilization. While this also occurs in the west bank, Gaza is so tiny and its circumstances so extreme it serves as a sad illustration for understanding phenomena like aid- dependence, agricultural dumping and cash-crop farming. Gazans have essentially been discarded as an exploitable work force with Gaza being transformed into a cage full of consumers.

An Israel committee actually decides what to allow in on a weekly basis from a list which reflects their own market surplus. Economists estimate that for every dollar of aid which enters Gaza a portion ends up in Israeli pockets to the tune of a 120% profit. Gazan fruit trees, for example, are destroyed then Israeli fruit is sent in and sold at inflated prices serving as a profitable dumping ground for Israeli products. Since the borders are closed and since Gazan manufacturing and farming has been systematically destroyed either by Israeli bombs or by a ban on imports, Gazans are obliged to a large extent to depend on Israel to send in consumer goods which it does to the enormous benefit of its own export market. Ironically all of the millions of dollars poured into Gaza by the international community serves as an indirect subsidy for Israel.

Israel has worked hard to achieve its closure policy of reducing necessary imports and altogether banning the entry of things like factory equipment, machines and raw materials like cement as well as banning all exports. Gaza used to be famous for its strawberries and flowers. Not anymore. As for foods allowed into Gaza, according to Dov Weisglas, advisor to then prime minister Olmert, “the idea is to put Palestinians on a diet but not to make them die of hunger.” Israeli health officials actually calculate the number of calories Gazans need to avoid malnutrition. These figures are then translated into the number of truckloads Israel allows into Gaza each day.

Currently 90% of the water is unsafe for human consumption. In refugee camps water comes 15 minutes a day and is only fit for toilet use. The un estimates that by 2020 there will be no water in Gaza.

Israel has repeatedly claimed self-defense for its actions in Gaza, claiming it is only responding to rocket attacks from Hamas. Prior to the cast lead attack in December 2008, Hamas had maintained a 9-month truce. The goldstone report charged with reviewing the deadly assault on Gaza revealed that Hamas had indeed maintained its part of the truce agreement while Israel was the one who initiated aggressive behavior. Israel, therefore, cannot claim self-defense when it is the aggressor, nor can it claim self-defense when it is militarily occupying Palestinian land.

 

According to Israel’s defense minister, Avidor Lieberman “there are no innocent people in the Gaza Strip. Everyone is connected to Hamas, everyone gets a salary from Hamas, and all the activists trying to challenge us and breach the border are Hamas military wing activists.”

You are mistaken, Mr. Lieberman. The vast majority of Gazans are innocent people tired of living in an outdoor prison and cut off from the rest of the world. They are simply demanding their most basic human rights.

This book is available for purchase here: Amazon