My 82 year old mother can’t take it anymore. She comes upstairs to ask me what she can do. She asked me to watch TV with her because she is to depressed to see it alone. We flip through the few channels that are not bought and paid for by racists. We watch as victims form the latest Israeli massacre in Gaza piled into one hospital. Hundreds of people are around the hospital grounds in shock at the scene. I ask her not to watch TV too much and I reassure her that we are doing things. We donated, we had demonstrations here in Bethlehem, we speak out, we encourage boycotts, divestment, and sanctions. She said “but Israel continues its massacres and they have been doing it for decades”. (my mother’s friend in school in Jerusalem was murdered in Deir Yassin).
Thousands of human rights activists have gathered every November for the demonstration since the first anniversary of the 1989 SOA graduate-led massacre of 16-year-old Celina Ramos, her mother Elba Ramos and six Jesuit priests at the University of Central America in El Salvador. The November Vigil commemorates those who have been killed by SOA/WHINSEC graduates, and calls for the closure of the institute, which perpetuates coups, torture, extrajudicial killings, and human rights abuses in the face of social and political problems. The SOA/WHINSEC made headlines in 1996 when the Pentagon released SOA training manuals that advocated torture, extortion and execution. Among its graduates are at least 11 dictators as well as leaders of infamous Central American death squads. Currently, SOA graduates are linked to the Honduran military coup and the repression campaign against social movements there, among other humanitarian crises.
Eight Atlantic Life Community activists joined with Upstate Drone Action at the main gate of Hancock Air Base, in Syracuse, New York. Hancock is the home of the 174th Attack Wing of the New York State Air National Guard. The 174th Attack Wing pilots weaponized MQ9 Reaper drones over Afghanistan – killing and terrorizing an uncountable number of civilians. The eight delivered a People’s War Crimes Indictment to the Hancock chain of command by affixing it to the fence after being refused by the base personnel. Also delivered was an Order of Protection on behalf of the children of the world who are subject to U.S. drone surveillance and attack.
We were soldiers in a wide variety of units and positions in the Israeli military—a fact we now regret, because, in our service, we found that troops who operate in the occupied territories aren’t the only ones enforcing the mechanisms of control over Palestinian lives. In truth, the entire military is implicated. For that reason, we now refuse to participate in our reserve duties, and we support all those who resist being called to service. The Israeli Army, a fundamental part of Israelis’ lives, is also the power that rules over the Palestinians living in the territories occupied in 1967. As long as it exists in its current structure, its language and mindset control us: We divide the world into good and evil according to the military’s categories; the military serves as the leading authority on who is valued more and who less in society — who is more responsible for the occupation, who is allowed to vocalize their resistance to it and who isn’t, and how they are allowed to do it. The military plays a central role in every action plan and proposal discussed in the national conversation, which explains the absence of any real argument about non-military solutions to the conflicts Israel has been locked in with its neighbors.
On Monday, August 4th at 7:00 PM, the Bellingham City Council will vote on a resolution introduced by members of Bellingham’s Veterans For Peace (VFP) opposing the ongoing violence in Gaza and the targeting of innocent civilian. Last Tuesday City Councilman Terry Bornemann confirmed that the controversial Resolution Opposing the Violence in Gaza and the Targeting of Civilians will be on the agenda of the Council meeting scheduled for August 4. Veterans and associates of the CPL Jonathan Santos Memorial Chapter 111 introduced the resolution to the city council, and a visibly moved, standing room only crowd on Monday, July 21.
It’s happening: we are at last seeing significant American mainstream dissent from the Israeli line during this conflict. There is growing space to voice criticism of our closest friend in the Middle East because of what is widely perceived to be a “disaster” unfolding in Gaza (to quote Ali Abunimah). Friends and commenters call me optimistic/naive (as Michael Ratner does on Law and Disorder radio today) but in my list below is everything from John Kerry’s hot-mic moment expressing anger at the Israeli brutality– a moment Kerry has survived– to The New Yorker accusing Israel of a “war crime,” to TV reporters Richard Engel and Karl Penhaul describing the inhumane conditions in Gaza, to Anne Barnard of the New York Times explaining to Americans that Gaza is an open-air prison, to Lawrence Weschler’s outburst, that Israel has “rabies” and Gaza is “a concentration camp.”
As veterans who have witnessed the horror of war, we are deeply outraged by the state of Israel’s slaughter of many innocent civilians in Gaza. The military assault against children, women and men, by air, by sea and now by land, is a clear violation of international laws of war and of human rights. More than 300 Palestinians have been murdered, almost all of them civilians, nearly a quarter of them children. Thousands are wounded, including nearly 1,000 children. Veterans For Peace joins millions of people all around the globe who are shocked by this vicious, one-sided slaughter. We understand the huge injustice of the Israeli occupation. Palestinians have been ethnically cleansed from their homes and forced to live in the Occupied West Bank or in the open-air prison that is Gaza.
Regarding the shoot-down of the Malaysian jetliner on Thursday, I’m told that some CIA analysts cite U.S. satellite reconnaissance photos suggesting that the anti-aircraft missile that brought down Flight 17 was fired by Ukrainian troops from a government battery, not by ethnic Russian rebels who have been resisting the regime in Kiev since elected President Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown on Feb. 22. According to a source briefed on the tentative findings, the soldiers manning the battery appeared to be wearing Ukrainian uniforms and may have been drinking, since what looked like beer bottles were scattered around the site. But the source added that the information was still incomplete and the analysts did not rule out the possibility of rebel responsibility. . . . The Post also reported that “Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said defense officials could not point to specific evidence that an SA-11 surface-to-air missile system had been transported from Russia into eastern Ukraine.” In other words, the mystery is still not solved.
Russia has released military monitoring data, which shows Kiev military jets tracking the MH17 plane shortly before the crash – and posed yet another set of questions to Ukraine and the US over the circumstances of the tragedy. Military officials – chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces Lt. Gen. Andrey Kartopolov and chief of the Air Force Main Staff Lt. Gen. Igor Makushev – posed a number of questions to Kiev and Washington concerning the possible causes of the catastrophe in Eastern Ukraine that killed almost 300 people last Thursday. This is not the first time Russia brings up questions on the plane crash. No explanations have followed with Kiev insisting they have full evidence of Russia being behind the attack, but so far only releasingtapes. The USA, putting the blame on the self-defense forces, has yet refused to release any intelligence material. On Monday State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf described Russia’s statements as “propaganda and misinformation” – but when reporters asked her whether Washington would be releasing their intelligence and satellite data, Harf only replied “may be.”
Join us this Thursday, July 24, in this urgent call to stop the Israeli offensive in Gaza and end the 7-year siege that has made life in Gaza so miserable. In this latest round of violence, over 500 Palestinians have been killed and thousands are injured. Seventy-two percent of those are civilians, including over 80 children. One hundred thousand are displaced and living in makeshift shelters; electricity has been reduced to four hours a day for 80% of the population; water has been cut off to hundreds of thousands; sewage is flowing into the sea; hospitals have been bombed and there are shortages of everything from food to medicines. We must act now! We encourage you, both organizations and individuals, to hold actions and events in your communities this Thursday, July 24.
Flight MH17 was hundreds of kilometers north of its normal course. Why did flight controllers in Ukraine direct the plane there, across a war zone over which many warplanes have been shot down by self-defense forces (at much lower altitudes) in the past several months and which airlines have been avoiding? Way back in April, for example, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration prohibited U.S. airlines from flying where Flight 17 went down. Its directive said, “Due to the potential for conflicting air traffic control instructions from Ukrainian and Russian authorities and for the related potential misidentification of civil aircraft, United States flight operations are prohibited until further notice in the airspace over Crimea, the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov”. Answers are needed as to who in the chaotic command structure of the Ukraine armed forces possesses the authority to fire missiles and how tightly this is controlled. What role and access to missiles might commanders of fascist and rightist militias have?
The entire Western media spoke as one: Russia did it. And the presstitutes are still speaking the same way. Possibly, this uniform opinion merely reflects the pavlovian training of the Western media to automatically line up with Washington. No media source wants to be subject to criticism for being unamerican or to find itself isolated by majority opinion, which carries the day, and earn black marks for being wrong. As a former journalist for, and contributor to, America’s most important news publications, I know how this works. On the other hand, if we discount the pavlovian conditioning, the only conclusion is that the entire news cycle pertaining to the downing of the Malaysian airliner is orchestrated in order to lay the blame on Putin.
Parts of central London were brought to a standstill on Saturday as thousands of pro-Palestinians marched in protest against Israel’s offensive in Gaza, while in Paris a banned demonstration descended into violence. Organisers of the London rally claimed that “tens of thousands” of people joined the march from Prime Minister David Cameron’s office to the Israeli embassy, many of them chanting “Israel is a terror state”. Police refused to give an estimate for the number present but several roads through the centre of the capital were closed during the three-mile (4.8-kilometre) march, which passed off peacefully. In Paris, by contrast, clashes broke out after hundreds gathered in defiance of a ban on their demonstration, with crowds throwing stones and bottles at riot police, who responded with tear gas.
Last night Mary Anne Grady Flores was released on $5,000 bail from the Syracuse Justice Center after appearing before County Court Judge Thomas J. Miller who granted a stay of execution of her one year sentence, pending appeal of the Order of Protection granted to Col. Earl A. Evans by the DeWitt Town Court judges requiring drone protesters to stay away from the Hancock Airbase. Grady Flores, grandmother of three, was the first alleged violator of the 50 drone activists who have been given the Order of Protection in 2012. She was tried and sentenced for a year in jail. Despite being out on bail, she still faces returning to jail. Her appeals process will take months. “There are 30 upcoming trials over the next year. DeWitt Town judges threaten to sentence activists to a year in jail, many of them in their 60’s and 70’s,” said Judy Bello of Rochester.
The US is involved in military disputes around the globe, conflicts which could lead to a much broader war. The US role seems to encourage violence, rather than minimize it; to intervene, rather than allow people in the country or region resolve disputes. The breadth of Empire is costly in financial and human terms as well as to the respect of the United States and its people. Is the US Empire spread so thin at a time of a struggling economy that this is a moment where people can come together and build a movement to end Empire? There are multiple hot spots where US Empire is participating, supporting and approving of escalating violence.