Finally some humanitarian aid and relief for Gaza

The Obama administration will provide an additional $20.3 million in humanitarian aid for Palestinians in Gaza, the State Department said Friday.

The new aid is in addition to $85 million in U.S. assistance to U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNWRA) and $9.7 million to the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) for Palestinians in the region. The United States has also given $3.7 million in emergency assistance to Palestinians in Gaza since the violence began.

A tentative cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, began on January 21 after the three-week military operation in which more than 1,300 Palestinians died and about 5,400 others were wounded. Thirteen Israelis, including 10 soldiers, were killed.

Obama called for Gaza's border crossings to be reopened as soon as possible. "I was deeply concerned by the loss of Palestinian and Israeli life in recent days and by the substantial suffering and humanitarian needs in Gaza," Obama said. "Our hearts go out to Palestinian civilians who are in need of immediate food, clean water, and basic medical care, and who've faced suffocating poverty for far too long."


Astonishing incongruities in sending more troops to Afghanistan

How can President Obama even think about fighting wars half way around the world while California cannot pay its bills, while Americans are being turned out of their homes, while, as Business Week reports, retirees will work throughout their retirement (which assumes that there will be jobs), while careers are being destroyed and stores and factories shuttered.

Americans are facing tremendous unemployment and hardship. Obama doesn’t have another dollar to spend on Bush’s wars.

Taxpayers are busted. They cannot stand another day of being milked by the military-security complex. The US government is paying private mercenaries more by the day than the monthly checks it is providing to Social Security retirees.

Before Obama gets in any deeper, he must ask his economic team where the money is coming from. When he finds out, he needs to tell the rest of us.



Record U.S. Foundation International Giving

Foundation Center President Bradford K. Smith reports, "More U.S. foundations are spending more resources on international problems, challenges, and opportunities than at any time in history."

Among the major findings detailed in a new report prepared by the Foundation Center in cooperation with the Council on Foundations, "International Grantmaking IV":

* International giving grew faster than overall giving between 2002 and 2007 after inflation, international support rose by more than 50 percent. (compared to a 22.3 percent rise in total giving).

* The Gates Foundation accounted for more than half of the increase in funding between 2002 and 2006.

* Excluding the Gates Foundation, international giving still grew faster than overall giving.

* Region-specific grants to U.S.-based recipients mainly targeted programs focused on Sub-Saharan Africa.

* Giving related to health issues captured the largest share of international grant dollars, while funding for international development showed the most growth from 2002 to 2006.

* Excluding Gates, the greatest share of international grant dollars went for international development, followed by the environment and health.

[International Business Times]


Bad news: it’s like 1931. Good news: it's not 1933 yet

Barack Obama inherits an economy much like the mid-Depression year of 1931. The US is losing 500,000 jobs a month. Citigroup and Bank of America have more or less disintegrated. JP Morgan's health is failing fast. General Motors and Chrysler survive only on life-support from the US taxpayer.

But it is not yet like 1933. That second leg down was the result of "liquidation" policies by a Dickensian leadership blind to the dangers of debt deflation.

Three days after Franklin Roosevelt moved into the White House, FDR had closed the US banking system – invoking the Trading with Enemies Act – and ordered the confiscation of private gold. The New York Stock Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade had closed. Thirty-two states had shut their banks. Texas had restricted withdrawals to $10 a day. Few states could borrow on the bond markets. Illinois and much of the South had stopped paying teachers. Schools closed for months.

An army of 25,000 famished war veterans squatting in view of Congress had been charged by troopers of the 3rd US cavalry with naked sabres – led by a Major George Patton. Armed farmers threatening revolution had laid siege to a string of Prairie cities. We forget how close America came to open revolt. Eleanor Roosevelt feared the country was beyond saving.

The wash of money should ensure that the next 18 months will not mimic the cascade of disasters from late 1931 to early 1933. It buys time. But it does not solve the deeper problem.

[The Telegraph]


Ron Paul: No Such Thing as an Independent Israel

Excerpted from a Press TV interview with US congressman Ron Paul, House representative of the 14th district of Texas:

Press TV: Do you think with the incoming administration we will see a difference in policies toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Do you think Hamas could be part of the solution?

Paul: I don't expect any significant changes there. I think [President Obama’s] not going to be more sympathetic toward the Palestinians. He may pay lip service to it, but if it's something that Israel doesn't endorse, it's not going to happen.

... I don't think there is such a thing as an independent Israel doing anything, because I think no matter what they do it’s our money, it’s our weapons, and they’re not going to do it without us approving it and if they get into trouble we're going to bail them out, so there is no separation between the two. …

[Press TV]


The war business is the world’s ultimate criminal activity

“A tragic indicator of the values of our civilization is that there's no business like war business," says Douglas Mattern of the War and Peace Foundation.

One writer describes it as a "charmed circle of American capitalism, where Tomahawk and cruise missiles will destroy Iraq, while Bechtel Corporation [which once employed U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney] will rebuild the country. And stolen Iraqi oil will pay for it."

U.S. weapons contractors gain significant profits because of weapons produced to wage war. They then are paid to replace the weapons that are used or destroyed in the war. Besides the human casualties, the Iraqi war has already seen the destruction of billions of dollars' worth of military equipment on both sides of the battlefield. One U.S. Apache Longbow helicopter alone, such as the ones brought down by Iraqi forces outside Baghdad, costs about $22 million.

But the really big money for U.S. military contractors, says Mattern, is in the annual Pentagon budget, which is expected to hit $500 billion by 2010. "The U.S. armament industry is the second most subsidized industry, after agriculture," he added.

Back in 2004, global annual military spending had already topped $1 trillion, the equivalent of $162 per person alive on Earth. Military spending by the United States accounted for 47% of that total, up sharply as a result of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

One-half of the world's governments spend more on the military than on health care, Mattern added. "The war business is the world's ultimate criminal activity."

Major General Smedley Darlington Butler: "War is a racket"

"War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in its scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small 'inside' group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes."

--Marine Major General Smedley Darlington Butler, one of only two Marines in history to have received two Medals of Honor.

UN May Prosecute Bush Administration

The UN's special torture rapporteur called on the US Tuesday to pursue former president George W. Bush and defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld for torture and bad treatment of Guantanamo prisoners.

"Judicially speaking, the United States has a clear obligation" to bring proceedings against Bush and Rumsfeld, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak said, in remarks to be broadcast on Germany's ZDF television Tuesday evening.

"We have all these documents that are now publicly available that prove that these methods of interrogation were intentionally ordered by Rumsfeld," against detainees at the US prison facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Nowak said.

"But obviously the highest authorities in the United States were aware of this," added Nowak, who authored a UN investigation report on the Guantanamo prison.

Asked about chances to bring legal action against Bush and Rumsfeld, Nowak said: "In principle yes. I think the evidence is on the table." At issue, however, is whether "American law will recognise these forms of torture."


BBC refuses TV fundraising for Gaza victims

A nationwide appeal for money to help the Gaza relief effort has been denied free television airtime because the BBC fears that it would damage confidence in the corporation’s impartiality.

A 46-year-old agreement with overseas aid charities guarantees them a two-minute prime-time slot to broadcast appeals. But the BBC decided not to go ahead with this one.

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) announced its national appeal for Gaza yesterday, saying that the devastation after Israel’s three-week offensive was so great that the leading aid charities felt “compelled to act”. The committee, which is made up of the 12 biggest aid charities, including the British Red Cross and Save the Children, co-ordinates fundraising during international emergencies to maximise the impact of their efforts.

The broadcast would have have highlighted the plight of thousands of victims, including many children, who are homeless and without food, power and water. A national appeal from the DEC would normally raise about £10 million, but without the broadcasts the total is certain to be lower.

[The Times]


International outcry over civilian destruction in Gaza

More than 1,300 Palestinians have been killed in the 22-day offensive, many of them woman and children, and 5,340 injured. Thirteen Israelis, including 10 soldiers and three civilians, have been killed in the same period.

The UN says more than 50,000 have been left homeless in Gaza following Israeli attacks, and 400,000 have no water. Entire neighborhoods have been leveled by Israeli airstrikes and bodies are still being recovered.

Meanwhile Human rights group Amnesty International has accused Israel of war crimes, saying its use of white phosphorus in Gaza was indiscriminate and illegal.

Medics working in the Gaza Strip have condemned Israel's use of suspected "new weapons" that inflict horrific injuries they say most surgeons will not have seen before.


Farewell Dubya Bush

Saudi Arabia pledges $ 1 billion to rebuild Gaza

The Saudi king said his country will donate $1 billion to help rebuild the Gaza Strip after the devastating Israeli offensive and told Israel that an Arab initiative offering peace will not remain on the table forever.

The initiative, which was first proposed by Saudi Arabia in 2002 and relaunched in March 2007, offers Israel collective Arab recognition in exchange for Israeli withdrawal from territory it occupied in the 1967 war, the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital and a just solution for the problem of Palestinian refugees.

The Arab world has struggled to come up with a unified response to the Gaza crisis — with strong Hamas supporters like Iran and Syria facing off against U.S. allies like Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Abdullah criticized the Israelis for using excessive force in Gaza, saying the Jewish holy book called for "an eye for an eye and did not say an eye for the eyes of a whole city."

The king said his country's $1 billion donation for Gaza would go to a proposed fund Arabs are setting up to rebuild the seaside territory. But it remains to be seen whether Arab expressions of sympathy for the citizens of Gaza translate into actual funds to rebuild the city. Arabs have often criticized Israel for the plight of Palestinians, but pledges of financial support have not always materialized.


George W. Bush's presidency cost the country $11.5 trillion

In early October of 2008, Congress appropriated $700 billion to rescue Wall Street's financial institutions. Once that was done, the sky was the limit, and the numbers became dizzying.

In hopes of "breaking the momentum" of the current recession, President-elect Barack Obama is reportedly drafting a stimulus package that would cost the government as much $850 billion.

The new administration is already expected to inherit a $1.2 trillion deficit from Bush. The stimulus package would add to that record-breaking number.

Where has all the money gone? Here are five areas where Bush has approved massive outlays of taxpayer money.

Wall Street bailouts: $6 trillion [for details]

Iraq and Afghanistan wars: $3 trillion

Tax cuts and deficit spending: $2 trillion

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita: $270 billion

9/11: $260 billion



A brief commentary of U.S. TV News

Unfair comment: The analysis of what someone has said is clearly bent by the reporters themselves along ideological lines. Unrelated facts and events are attached and then attacked, and the original news point ends up as little more than a launching pad for the experts' own political perspectives.

Tail-chasing and navel gazing: The media reports constantly on itself. And that really does mean constantly. Anything reported on the TV news instantly becomes something to be reported on. For an entire day the lead on most TV networks was whether the media was giving Obama too much coverage. The second day comprised of whether the coverage given to Obama was too uncritical. By the third day, much of the coverage was about the previous two days' coverage.

Never let the story get in the way: The focus is entirely on the back story, and the actual news is given lip-service. So you'll hear more about how a decision was arrived at than what the actual decision was, or what impact it might have.

The Jerry Springer school of journalism: There is never a neutral statement - it is always an extreme perspective. If someone attempts to point out logical inconsistencies, they are almost always faced with personal mockery by the other commentators.

The gold(fish) rush: There is absolutely no effort to provide historical context. The news is paced so frenetically that anything beyond soundbites is not tolerated.

When did you stop beating your wife? Coverage is deeply cynical in the sense that people are assumed to have a hidden and planned agenda.

Fight! Fight! Fight! There is no effort to reach a greater understanding. Instead, the sole intent is to provoke disagreement.

[Excerpt of an article by Kieren McCarthy,The Guardian]


The case of the missing 3.4 Trillion dollars

In fiscal 1999, the Department of Defense was “missing” $2.3 trillion dollars. To put that amount of money in perspective, it is approximately 3 times what President-elect Obama is proposing to spend to revitalize America.

In fiscal 2000, the Department of Defense was “missing” a further $1.1 trillion.

From 1997 to March 2001, the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) who served as the chief financial officer for the Department of Defense was William J. Lynn III. He was the person responsible to make sure no money went missing.

This is the same fellow, William J. Lynn III, that just days ago President Elect Obama nominated as the Deputy Secretary of Defense! The press release said, “Lynn brings decades of experience and expertise in reforming government spending and making the tough choices necessary to ensure that American tax dollars are spent wisely.”


Iraq's little-known humanitarian crisis

It is said that Iraq is the world's best-known conflict but the least well-known humanitarian crisis.

Since the 2003 U.S. invasion, between 75,000 and 1.2 million Iraqis have been killed (depending on who's counting). This is in addition to the 1 million Iraqis, half of them children under 5, who died slow deaths during the 1991-2003 U.S.-led United Nations economic sanctions (a UNESCO estimate).

More than 4 million Iraqis have been displaced. Half have fled to Syria, Jordan, Egypt and elsewhere. This is the largest forced migration of people in the Middle East since 1948, according to UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency.

Nearly 8 million Iraqis – one in three – are in need of humanitarian aid. Nearly half the internally displaced people do not have access to the Public Distribution System of ration cards and permits.

Only a third of Iraqis can access safe drinking water. The health system is collapsing. The drug distribution system has broken down. The sewage system has collapsed and only a fifth of Iraqis have access to a functional sanitary system.

UNICEF estimates that 4.5 million children are under-nourished. One child in 10 is under-weight. One in five is short for their age. In some areas, up to 90 per cent of children are not in school.

[Toronto Star]


Economic expert calls it “a Depression”

The U.S. economy is in a depression, a University of Maryland economics professor contends. Professor Peter Morici, a former chief economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission, said the American economy is officially in a Depession.

"The economy contracted at about a 5 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter. This looks worse than a recession to me," he said.

Among other factors, Morici noted 2.6 million payroll jobs have been lost since December 2007, the dollar is falling value and the nation has a big trade deficit with China.

"The economy is in a depression, not a recession."



Adjusting our distorted image of Hamas

[When last] in Gaza, I met a group of 20 or so police officers who were undergoing a course in conflict management. They were eager to know whether foreigners felt safer since Hamas had taken over the Government? Indeed we did, we told them. Without doubt the past 18 months had seen a comparative calm on the streets of Gaza; no gunmen on the streets, no more kidnappings. They smiled with great pride and waved us goodbye.

Less than a week later all of these men were dead, killed by an Israeli rocket at a graduation ceremony. Were they “dangerous Hamas militant gunmen”? No, they were unarmed police officers, public servants killed not in a “militant training camp” but in their police station.

Why did it win the Palestinian elections with 42 per cent of the vote, and why does it allow rockets to be fired into Israel? Palestinians did not vote for Hamas because it was dedicated to the destruction of the state of Israel. They voted for Hamas because they thought that Fatah, the party of the rejected Government, had failed them.

In the five years that I have been visiting Gaza and the West Bank, I have met hundreds of Hamas politicians and supporters. None of them has professed the goal of Islamising Palestinian society, Taleban-style. Hamas relies on secular voters too much to do that. People still listen to pop music, watch television and women still choose whether to wear the veil or not.

The political leadership of Hamas is probably the most highly qualified in the world. Boasting more than 500 PhDs in its ranks, the majority are middle-class professionals - doctors, dentists, scientists and engineers. Most of its leadership have been educated in our universities and harbor no ideological hatred towards the West.

It has consistently offered a ten-year ceasefire to give breathing space to resolve a conflict that has continued for more than 60 years.

[The Times]


U.S. National Debt to soar in 2009

The national debt stood at nearly $10.7 trillion, of which about $4.3 trillion is owed to other government institutions, such as the Social Security trust fund. Debt held by private investors totals nearly $6.4 trillion, or a little over 40 percent of gross domestic product.

With President-elect Barack Obama considering a massive spending package aimed at pulling the nation out of recession, the national debt is projected to jump by as much as $2 trillion this year, an unprecedented increase that could test the world's appetite for financing U.S. government spending.

"When you accumulate this amount of debt that we're moving into, it's not a given that our foreign friends are going to continue on the path they've been on," said G. William Hoagland, a longtime Republican budget analyst who now serves as vice president for public policy at the health insurer Cigna. "There's going to come a time when we can't even pay the interest on the money we've borrowed. That's default."

[Washington Post]


Insights into the distorted Israeli mindset

[An excerpt of an article by Gilad Atzmon, an Israeli activist:]

Even now as [Israel] is practicing murder in broad daylight of hundreds of civilians, elderly persons, women and children, the Israeli people manage to convince themselves that they are the real victims in this violent saga.

[The Israeli thinking] goes as follows: “Those Palestinians, why do they insist upon living on our land (Israel), why can’t they just settle in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon or any other Arab country?” Another Hebraic pearl of wisdom sounds like this: “What is wrong with these Palestinians? We gave them water, electricity, education and all they do is try to throw us to the sea”.

They fail to grasp that for the Palestinians, Palestine is home. They fail to grasp that Israel had been erected at the expense of the Palestinian people, on Palestinian land, on Palestinian villages, towns, fields and orchards. The Israelis do not realize that Palestinians in Gaza and in refugee camps in the region are actually dispossessed people from towns and villages [within present day Israel].

Those who are familiar intimately with Israeli people realize that they are completely uninformed about the roots of the conflict that dominates their lives. Within the Israeli Judeo-centric solipsistic universe, the Israeli is an innocent victim and the Palestinian is no less than a savage murderer.

If you wonder how come the Israelis don’t know their history, the answer is pretty simple, they have never been told.


Israel living on borrowed time?

[Insights into the Israeli mindset by Gilad Atzmon, an Israeli activist, born in Tel Aviv, whose service in the Israeli military convinced him that Israel had become a militarized state controlled by religious extremists.]

“Palestinian right of return” sounds to [to the average Israeli] like an amusing idea. This doesn’t leave the Palestinians with many options but to liberate themselves against all odds.

It occurred to me that the barrages of Qassam rockets that have been landing sporadically were actually nothing but a message from the imprisoned Palestinians. First it was a message to the stolen land, homes fields and orchards: "Our beloved soil, we didn’t forget, we are still here fighting for you, sooner rather than later, we will come back.”

But it was also a clear message to the Israelis. “You out there, whether you realize it or not, you are actually living on our stolen land. You better start to pack because your time is running out, you have exhausted our patience. We, the Palestinian people, have nothing to lose anymore”.

Two years ago it was Hezbollah rockets that pounded northern Israel. [Now] Hamas proved beyond doubt that it is capable of serving the South of Israel with some cocktail of ballistic vengeance. Both in the case of the Hezbollah and in the case of the Hamas, Israel was left with no military answer.

Every Middle East expert knows that Hamas can seize control of the West Bank within hours. In fact, PA and Fatah control in the West Bank is maintained by the IDF. Once Hamas takes the West Bank, the biggest Israeli population centre will be left to the mercy of Hamas.

The IDF generals know it, the Israeli leaders know it. This is why they stepped up the war against the Palestinian into extermination.


Mega American Embassy complex opens in Baghdad

Just days after the U.S. military formally handed authority of Baghdad's "Green Zone" over to the Iraqis, the new American Embassy opened in Baghdad.

The new U.S. Embassy covers 104 acres and is the largest in the world, housing 1,200 U.S. diplomats, soldiers, and government staff from 14 federal agencies, according to a U.S. State Department news release.

"As our military presence ramps down, many other aspects of our relationship are going to ramp up," U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker told CNN.

The original price tag on the 27-building complex was $592 million, but a congressional report from 2007 -- citing State Department documents -- indicated the cost could end up $144 million higher.


Israeli Violation of International Humanitarian Law

[An excerpt of an article by the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, Prof. Richard Falk]

The Israeli [invasion of] the Gaza Strip represent severe and massive violations of international humanitarian law as defined in the Geneva Conventions, both in regard to the obligations of an Occupying Power and in the requirements of the laws of war.
Those violations include:

Collective punishment - the entire 1.5 million people who live in the crowded Gaza Strip are being punished for the actions of a few militants.

Targeting civilians - the airstrikes were aimed at civilian areas in one of the most crowded stretches of land in the world, certainly the most densely populated area of the Middle East.

Disproportionate military response - the airstrikes have not only destroyed every police and security office of Gaza's elected government, but have killed and injured hundreds of civilians.

Earlier Israeli actions, specifically the complete sealing off of entry and exit to and from the Gaza Strip, have led to severe shortages of medicine and fuel (as well as food), resulting in the inability of ambulances to respond to the injured, the inability of hospitals to adequately provide medicine or necessary equipment for the injured, and the inability of Gaza's besieged doctors and other medical workers to sufficiently treat the victims.

Israel has also ignored recent Hamas' diplomatic initiatives to reestablish the truce or ceasefire since its expiration on 26 December.

The Israeli [invasion] and the catastrophic human toll that they caused, challenge those countries that have been and remain complicit, either directly or indirectly, in Israel's violations of international law. That complicity includes those countries knowingly providing the military equipment including warplanes and missiles used in these illegal attacks, as well as those countries who have supported and participated in the siege of Gaza that itself has caused a humanitarian catastrophe.

[Source: United Nations Human Rights Council]


Civilians Take Brunt of 7th Day of Gaza Attacks

The civilian death toll climbed in Israel's air offensive against the Gaza Strip.

At least 425 Palestinians have been killed and 2,000 wounded.

Meanwhile, 4 Israeli civilians have been killed by Palestinian rockets fired from Gaza, which strike southern cities at random.

A United Nations agency said the civilian death toll in Gaza was over 25 percent of the total killed in the violence. A leading Palestinian human rights group put it at 40 percent.

"These injuries are not survivable injuries," said Madth Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor at Gaza's Shifa hospital who could not save a boy who had both feet blown off. "This is a murder. This is a child," he said."

Nine mosques have been hit since last Saturday. "I will pray at home." said one man buying humus from a street stand. Another was defiant: "What better than to die while kneeling before God?" he said.



Cynthia McKinney to US Congress: “Stop sending weapons of mass destruction” to Israel

Former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney has called upon President-Elect Barack Obama to "please, say something about the humanitarian crisis that is being experienced by the Palestinian people, by the people of Gaza." McKinney spoke to CNN news from the Lebanese city of Tyre, where she had debarked from the relief vessel Dignity after it was rammed on the high seas by an Israeli patrol boat. Passengers also report the Israelis fired machine guns into the water near their ship.

McKinney was among the passengers on an attempted voyage from the island of Cyprus to Gaza. The Dignity carried three tons of medical supplies and a number of doctors prepared to treat the more than 1,000 Gazans wounded in the Israeli attacks. Israel has blocked food, medicines and other essentials from entering Gaza in a campaign of collective punishment against the 1.5 million Palestinians that live there under a Hamas Party administration.

"I would like to ask my former colleagues in the United States Congress to stop sending weapons of mass destruction around the world," said McKinney, who was the Green Party's presidential candidate in November. "As we are about to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's birthday, let us remember what he said. He said that the United States is the greatest purveyor of violence on the planet. And guess what: we experienced a little bit of that violence, because the weapons that are being used by Israel are weapons that were supplied by the United States government."

A CNN reporter who accompanied the passengers and crew of the Dignity confirmed that the boat "was sailing with full lights" when "one of the Israeli patrol boats, with no lights on, rammed the Dignity, hard."

Said McKinney: "Our boat was rammed three times, twice in the front, once on the side."



A New Year’s Prayer: May We No Longer Be Silent

The eyes of Episcopal Bishop of Washington DC, John Bryson Chane, were opened to Israel’s persecution of Palestinians by his recent trip to Palestine. In a recent sermon he called on “politicians seeking the highest office in [our] land” to find the courage to “speak out and condemn violations of human rights and religious freedom denied to Palestinian Christians and Muslims” by the state of Israel.

In 2006, the US insisted that the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank hold free elections. When free elections were held, Hamas won. This was unacceptable to the Americans and Israelis. After unheeded warnings to the Gazans to rid themselves of Hamas and accept a puppet government, Israel has decided to destroy the freely elected government with violence.

For the US and UK governments, Israel can do no wrong. Israel doesn’t have to stop withholding food, medicine, water, and energy, but Hamas must stop firing off rockets, rockets that are mainly a protest for the ghetto life that Israel imposes on Gazans, and which for the most part are ineffectual as far as claiming Israeli casualties. In violation of international law, Israel can continue to drive West Bank Palestinians off their lands and out of their villages and give the stolen properties to “settlers.”

In his 2005 Nobel Lecture, British playwright Harold Pinter held the United States and [Britain] accountable for “the systematic brutality, the widespread atrocities, the ruthless suppression of independent thought. … How many people do you have to kill before you qualify to be described as a mass murderer and a war criminal?”

Pinter’s question can also be asked of Israel.

[Excerpt of an article by Paul Craig Roberts, former Secretary of the U.S. Treasury]