It was NBC’s Cal Parry who summed up the obscenity of Donald Trump’s ignorant and igniting decision to move the US Embassy to West Jerusalem, then to celebrate the inauguration on Monday, 14th May: “Well dressed American and Israeli officials on one side of the screen: desperation, death and fires on the other.”
In 1948, 700,000 Palestinians began their flight from the city and the region trying to escape the massacres by Jewish militias on that date, seventy years ago. Commemorated ever since as the day of “Nakba” — disaster, catastrophe, cataclysm — following them to this day as land is stolen, families expelled and “settlements” encroach, and Palestinian history is bulldozed.
‘ “When the massacre started the (paramilitaries) took a kid and strapped him on an army jeep and drove him around different neighbourhoods of Jerusalem, saying ‘the same will happen to you if you don’t leave,’ ” Abu Kaya said, retelling his grandfather’s story to Middle East Eye.’
… not a single country currently has its embassy in Jerusalem because such a move is widely considered to violate international law.
Under United Nations Resolution 181, which in 1947 set out the conditions for the partition of Palestine into an “Arab State” and a “Jewish State”, Jerusalem was to be administered by the UN under a “special international regime.
The 1949 armistice agreement that formally ended the first Arab-Israeli war divided the city along the “Green Line” into Israeli-controlled western areas, and Jordanian-held East Jerusalem, which included the Old City.
Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war is widely recognised as illegal and violates further United Nations resolutions.
For Palestinians then, sovereignty over the city is not something for leaders of other countries to determine, as US President Donald Trump did when he announced the embassy move in December.
In the few minutes it took to jot down notes for this piece, the Palestinian death toll of those demonstrating rose from twenty-eight dead, shot by Israeli soldiers, to forty-three. The injured rose from 1,693 to “near two thousand.”
Fadi Abo Salah, 30, who lost both legs in a bombing by Israeli aircraft, was one who lost his life, in his wheel chair — targeted by an Israeli sniper — in front of his wife and three small children. (Palestine Live group.)
Israel, frequently declaring itself “the only democracy in the Middle East”, carried out a very democratic slaughter and target practice. Young, old, disabled, male, female, all were equally entitled to be shot, sniped at, tear gassed.
Tiny Laila al-Ghandour who died from tear gas inhalation was just eight months old.1
Journalist Sharif Kouddos recorded:
Wails of grief inside family home of Laila al-Ghandour, 8-month old who died of gas inhalation yesterday. Her aunt says the gas came from everywhere, including drones.
By Monday’s end he Tweeted:
Casualty toll from today in Gaza now stands at 55 dead, including 6 minors. 2,770 wounded, including 225 children. Of the wounded over 1,350 were hit with live ammunition, according to Ministry of Health.
“It is unbearable to witness such a massive number of unarmed people being shot in such a short time,” stated Médecins Sans Frontières.
As the Embassy partied and visitors “clapped and cheered”, Gaza’s hospitals, already teetering on collapse resulting from restrictions on all coming in to the besieged Strip — including electricity, with water contaminated — had surgeons operating day and night, with the injured being treated in the hospital car parks even, due to the overwhelming influx of those targeted.
In another world, just sixty miles away: ‘Washington’s Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, stood on a stage painted with the US flag and said:
Today’s historic event is attributed to the vision, courage and moral clarity of one person to whom we owe an enormous and eternal debt of gratitude: President Donald J Trump. The crowd cheered and gave a standing ovation.1
Deaths had risen to fifty nine.
Of the eighty six Ambassadors to Israel, only thirty two attended the ceremony, with fifty four boycotting and only four EU Member countries attending.
The Haaretz newspaper reported that most EU member States did not participate in the ceremony because they have a firm policy towards the transfer of the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It said that the ambassadors of Russia, Egypt, India, Japan and Mexico also did not attend the celebration.
Fallout has been swift. French President Emmanuel Macron in a telephone call to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and to Jordan’s King Abdullah condemned the “violence of the Israeli armed forces …” and again criticized the moving of the Embassy.
King Abdullah, of course, has custodianship of all Jerusalem’s Holy Sites and: ‘has the right to exert all legal efforts to safeguard them, especially Al Aqsa Mosque, which is defined as “The Entirety of Al Haram Al Sharif.” ‘ As far as can be ascertained thus far, it seems that this important, indeed unique, historic custodianship was neither discussed with the King or his representatives, nor even a consideration of the Trump Administration as they bulldozed their way through diplomacy, history and all norms in their Jerusalem settlement.
NATO ally President Erdogan of Turkey has recalled his Ambassadors to Israel and the US.
South Africa recalled their Ambassador to Israel, with immediate effect, as the Embassy celebrations were ongoing.
Ireland has summoned Israel’s Ambassador to protest Israeli violence.
Kuwait moved for an emergency meeting of the UN, which was blocked by the US. A ‘draft statement included language expressing “outrage and sorrow at the killing of Palestinian civilians exercising their right to peaceful protest.” ‘
‘It also reaffirmed UN resolutions on the status of Jerusalem, saying that recent events had “no legal effect” under international law. The statement was withdrawn once the US indicate that it would block it, a UN diplomat said.’ (CNN, 15th May 2018.)
Qatar condemned “a massacre” and “savage killings.”
Germany, somewhat weakly, expressed concern at the massacre saying: “The right to peaceful protest must also apply in Gaza”, via a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman
In the UK, the Labour Party’s Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry in an unusually unequivocal statement said:
We condemn unreservedly the Israeli government for their brutal, lethal and utterly unjustified actions on the Gaza border, and our thoughts are with all those Palestinians in Gaza whose loved ones have been lied or injured as a result.
These actions are made all the worse because they come not as the result of a disproportionate over-reaction to one day’s protests, but as the culmination of six weeks of an apparently systemic and deliberate policy of killing and maiming unarmed protestors and bystanders who pose no threat to the forces at the Gaza border, many of them shot in the back, many of them shot hundreds of metres from the border, and many of them children.
Throughout that six-week period, the UN’s Secretary General has been calling for an independent investigation into these incidents, one that should urgently determine whether international law has been broken, and hold the Netanyahu government to account for their actions. The UK should lead calls for the UN Security Council to order such an investigation today.
These incidents must also be the catalyst for urgent and concerted international pressure on the Netanyahu government to lift the blockade on Gaza, and end Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories. No longer can Netanyahu act as a law unto himself, under the protection of the Trump administration, whose decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem today has further inflamed the situation.
Chile, with the largest population of Palestinians outside the Arab world, raised Palestinian flags outside the main entrance of the Presidential Palace of La Moneda.
Sacha Sergio Llorenty Soliz, Bolivia’s UN Ambassador, read the names of the Gaza massacre victims at the UN session, wearing a Palestinian keffiyeh.
The mayor of Barcelona Ada Colau has demanded an arms embargo on Israel, demanding backing of Amnesty International’s call for a global arms embargo on Israel. Amnesty has condemned: “ … an abhorrent violation of International Law and human rights. “
Zeid bin Ra’ad al-Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stated: “Those responsible for outrageous human rights violations must be held to account.”
Writer, broadcaster and academic, Kenan Malik Tweeted:
Mark Regev, Israeli ambassador to the UK, considers the shooting dead of 58 Palestinians and the wounding of 2700 as “measured” and “surgical”. I’d hate to know what is his definition of “unmeasured” or “non-surgical.”
The death toll became sixty.
From the Trumposphere, Donald Trump input:
Donald J. Trump
Big day for Israel. Congratulations!
However, on this day of diplomatic thuggery — which the US State Department flagged as a “historic move” — the five times Draft Dodger in Chief it seems reverted to type. The man to whom limelight is seemingly indispensible, stayed in Washington and addressed the Embassy gathering by video, from a safe 5,897 miles away, dodging any potential conflict, demonstrations, dissent. Trump, of course, pulled out of a visit to London in February, to open the new US Embassy, which has also relocated, reportedly for fear of the massive protests planned at his stay.
The man who can menace Iran, threaten North Korea with: “ … fire and fury and frankly the power the likes of which like this world has never seen”, cowers from peaceful protesters with placards. No wonder he had no intention of showing up in Jerusalem, even as guest of honour, surrounded by steel rings of security, in a region destabilized by the US and “allies” for decades, with the unarmed, indigenous population simply demanding some justice sixty miles away.
Donald Trump, it seems, talks the talk but can’t walk the walk. Perhaps someone also told him Armageddon is in Israel (site now named Megiddo.)
- Guardian, 15th May 2018.
Do you think it is that simple to travel around the Middle East? Think twice!
Ask Palestinians, about trying to get from a point A to a point B in their own nation.
Some time ago, sitting in an old Ottoman hotel in Bethlehem, I asked a waiter what it takes to travel from there to Gaza, where he said, several of his relatives were living. He looked at me as if I had fallen from the Moon:
There is no way I could travel there. If my relatives get very sick or die, then, in theory, I could apply for an Israeli travel permit to go there, but there is absolutely no guarantee that they would approve, or that I could get to Gaza on time…
I tried to appear naïve: “And what if someone from an Arab country which does not recognize Israel, wants to come here, to Bethlehem? Like, a Lebanese pilgrim or just a tourist? Could he or she enter from Jordan?”
The waiter weighed for a while whether to reply at all, but then had mercy on me:
West Bank… You know, it only appears on the maps as some sort of autonomous or independent territory. In reality, the borders and movement of the people have been fully controlled by the Israelis.
My friend, a legendary left-wing Israeli human rights lawyer and a staunch Palestinian independence supporter, Linda Brayer, downed another cup of coffee and made several cynical remarks. She was actually illegally ‘smuggled’ by me into Bethlehem. As an Israeli citizen, she was not allowed to enter the West Bank at all, but since I was driving and she was with me, a foreigner, and on top of it she wore a headscarf (she converted to Islam several years earlier), the Israeli soldiers just let us pass without askin too many uncomfortable questions.
Bizarre, disgusting, and even mind-blowing? Not for us who live or operate in this part of the world! All this is by now considered as “business as usual”.
During the last Intifada, I hired a taxi in Jerusalem to the border with Gaza driven by a Russian-Israeli Jew, a student, who literally clashed with a border guard, demanding to be allowed to enter Gaza, in order to “see what my fxxxxing government is doing to the Palestinian people.”
They did not let him into Gaza. They detained him. As a foreigner, I entered. During my work in Gaza, an Israeli helicopter gunship fired at my hired car. It missed… But at least I was allowed to enter and work in Gaza. It is like Russian roulette: sometimes you get in, sometimes you don’t, and no explanations are given.
That was the time when the new Gaza International Airport had just opened. After few days of fighting, the runway was bombed by the Israelis, all flights cancelled, and I had to, eventually make my way out through Egyptian Sinai.
Later, I also witnessed how brutal the Israeli occupation of the Syrian Golan Heights has been; how it has divided countless families and communities. People are forced to shout at each other through the Israeli barbed-wire electric fences. The only way for the families to reunite, at least for a day or two, was to somehow get to Jordan.
The Syrian Golan Heights used to be famous for its delicious apples and ancient Druze community. It used to attract travelers from all over the world. Now it is occupied by Israel, and it is de-populated and monstrously militarized.
You want to travel there? You cannot; not anymore. It is off limits.
For years and decades, this insanity of travel bans and restrictions, as well as barbed wire and watch towers, has been applying mainly (although not exclusively) to the territories occupied by Israel. However, now almost the entire Middle East is divided by conflicts, insane regulations and travel prohibitions.
Unless you are a war correspondent, a Western ‘advisor’, an intelligence agent or a ‘development worker’, don’t even think about going to Iraq. Almost like Afghanistan and Libya, Iraq had been thoroughly wrecked by the Western coalition and its allies. On top of it, to get visa there is now close to impossible. In the recent past, the Westerners flooded Erbil and its surroundings; the main city of what was called, unofficially, ‘Iraqi Kurdistan’. The place used to be governed by the independence-seeking and shamelessly pro-Western ‘elites’, and it used to have its own visa regime. Now even this area is more or less off limits to foreigners.
Syria is still a war zone, although its government, which is supported by the majority of the Syrian people, is clearly winning the brutal conflict ignited and fueled by the West and its ‘client’ states.
Syria used to be one of the safest, the most educated and advanced countries in the region, built on solid socialist principles. It used to have an impressive scientific base, as well as dozens of world-class tourist attractions. Therefore, applying Western imperialist logic, it had to be first smeared, and then attacked and destroyed.
Logically, Syria is not issuing tourist visas to the citizens of the countries that are trying to destroy it.
Next door, Lebanon is still suffering from the flood of refugees, from geographical isolation and from the various dormant and semi-active terrorist cells.
Travelling from Lebanon to Syria is now almost impossible, or at least very dangerous and difficult. Lebanese citizens can still enter, but ‘at their own risk’.
In the not so distant past, people used to drive from Beirut to Europe and vice-versa, via Turkey and Syria. Now this option is just a sweet memory. But then again, in the very distant past, I am often reminded, it was not unusual for the Lebanese middle class to spend a weekend in Haifa, driving their own cars. Now the border between Lebanon and Israel is hermetically sealed. Both countries are technically at war. The U.N. patrols the so-called Blue Line. Apart from drones and Israeli war planes en-route to bombing Syria, nothing can cross.
All along the Turkish-Syrian border, both sides are suffering. Of course, the Syrian people are suffering much more, being victims of the direct Turkish military adventures. But also Turks are now paying a very high price for the war: they are suffering from terrorist attacks, as well as from the total collapse of trade between the two countries. Many villages around Hatay and Gaziantep are quickly turning into ghost towns.
For instance, cities like Adana in Turkey and Aleppo in Syria used to be connected by motorways, enjoying constant flows of people from both ends. There was bustling trade, as well as tourism, and social visits. Now, Ankara has been building an enormous concrete wall between the two countries. No traffic can pass through the border, except Turkish military convoys.
For years and decades, it has been impossible to enter Saudi Arabia as a tourist. This fundamentalist Wahabbi ‘client’ state of the West simply does not recognize the existence of tourism, or leisure travel. To enter the KSA, it has to be either for business or religious pilgrimage.
With its huge territory, the KSA effectively divides the entire Gulf region, when it comes to transportation and the movement of people. There are some loopholes, and ‘transit visas’ can be obtained (with some luck, difficulties and expense), for instance, for those people driving their own vehicles or taking a bus from Jordan to Bahrain, or to Oman.
Traveling to culturally the most exciting country in the Gulf – Yemen – is now absolutely impossible. Yemen used to be one of the jewels of historic architecture and civilization, counting such cities as Sanaa, Zabid and Shiban. Now the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is occupying the city of Aden and the coast, while Saudi forces are brutally bombing the rest of the country, which is controlled by the rebels.
Then, there is a bizarre conflict which is brewing between Qatar (the richest country in the Gulf with the substantial U.S. military presence as well as huge local business-controlled media conglomerate Al-Jazeera), and several other Arab allies of the West, including Saudi Arabia. Borders are presently closed and insults are flying. There is the growing possibility of a military confrontation. Qatar is being accused, cynically, of ‘supporting terrorism’, as if the KSA was not doing precisely the same.
Flying around the region has become a Kafkaesque experience.
All Middle Eastern and Gulf airlines are avoiding Israel. Some fly over Syria but most of them, don’t. The once mighty and now deteriorating Qatar Airways is clearly forbidden to enter the airspace of Saudi Arabia as well as of the United Arab Emirates.
Recently I travelled with Qatar from Beirut to Nairobi, Kenya. It used to be a simple, comfortable commute, which has recently turned into a terrible nightmare. Unable to fly over Syrian and Saudi airspace, a plane has to first fly in totally the opposite direction, northwest, over Turkish airspace, then over Iran, making a huge, almost 90 minutes detour. On the second leg, a trip of less than 4 hours now takes more than 5 hours and 30 minutes! The plane flies directly away from Africa, towards Iran, and then makes a huge loop, avoiding both the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
Lebanese MEA (Middle Eastern Airlines) is one of the few airlines that ignores all this, flying directly over Syria, and towards the Gulf states. Most of the others don’t dare. But MEA has to avoid Israeli airspace, making often interesting final approaches to Rafik Hariri Int’l Airport.
The exception is Turkish Airlines which basically flies over everything and into everywhere, including Israel itself.
This essay is not only about the politics and what has led to the present situation, although it is clear that we are talking here, above all, about the neo-colonialist arrangement of the world.
Political nightmare unleashed by the ‘traditional’ Western colonialist powers and their ‘client states’, has led to the geographical divisions; to a perverse state of affairs in this part of the world. Increasingly, the people are losing control over their own nations and the entire region. They have already lost the ability to move about freely through it.
Of course, something similar exists in many other places, including the South Pacific. There, I described the situation in my book Oceania. An entire huge part of the world has been literally cut to pieces by the neo-colonialist powers and their geo-political interests and designs: the U.S., France, Australia and New Zealand have plainly overrun and shackled Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia. A once proud and unique part of the world has been fragmented internally: people are brutally separated and forced to depend almost exclusively on the West.
In the Middle East, divisions, walls and barbed wire, are now everywhere; they are visible to the naked eye, but they are also ‘inside’ peoples’ minds, damaging the human psyche, making dreams of unity and a common future look very unlikely, and sometimes even impossible.
This used to be one of the cradles of our civilization – a deep, sane and stunningly beautiful part of the world. Now everything is fragmented. The West rules, mainly through its ‘client’ states, such as Israel, the KSA and Turkey. It controls everything. It governs almost the entire Middle East; nothing moves without its knowledge and permission.
Yes, nothing and no one moves here, unless it suits the West. We don’t read about it often. It is not discussed. But that is how it is. This bizarre concept of ‘freedom’ implanted from the outside. The rulers who were injected into the Gulf and various other occupied nations. The result is horrid: the electric wires, walls and travel restrictions everywhere; the old pathological British ‘divide and rule’ concept.
As I am working on this essay, my plane which is supposed to be flying south-west, is actually hovering north-east, in order to avoid the airspaces of the various so-called hostile states.
Local people may be getting used to the fact that their part of the world has already been ‘re-arranged’. Or perhaps they have already stopped noticing.
The computer, however, keeps showing the absurd flying path of the airliner. Computers can be programmed and re-programmed, but they cannot be indoctrinated. Without judging, they are simply demonstrating the absurdity that is unrolling around them, on their screens.
• First published in New Eastern Outlook
• All photos by Andre Vltchek
People in the Middle East are joking, cynically:
“From Incirlik, Turkey to Al-Azraq, Jordan with love.”
That is, if they pay any attention to the movement of NATO troops in this part of the world.
At least one substantial part of an incredibly deadly and aggressive force has been gradually relocated, from an ‘uncertain’ and according to the West suddenly ‘unreliable’ country (Turkey), to the impoverished but obedient Kingdom of Jordan.
It is now clear that NATO is not sure, metaphorically speaking, which direction Turkey is going to fly in, and where it may eventually land. It is panicking and searching, ‘just in case’, for an exit strategy; almost for an escape plan from the most important regional power.
Is the West really losing Turkey? Nobody knows. Most likely, nobody in Ankara is sure, either, including Mr. Erdogan.
But what if … What if Erdogan moves closer to Russia, even to China? What if Turkey’s relationship with Iran improves? What if Ankara has finally gotten tired of being humiliated, for years and decades, by the European Union? And what if it does not want to follow Washington’s diktat, anymore?
These ‘nightmarish’ scenarios are most likely turning many apparatchiks in Brussels, Washington and London, into insomniacs.
NATO does not want to leave anything to chance. If not Turkey, then where? Where should all those nukes, fighter jets, bombers and ‘Western military advisors’ go?
Incerlik, a giant air base located right on the outskirts of the Turkish city of Adana used to just be the perfect place. Incerlik has been, for many years, the most important and lethal air force base in the Middle East, from which the West has been intimidating and directly attacking various targets in the region, and where, as many Turkish experts believe, numerous extremist jihadi cadres operating in Syria and elsewhere, have been receiving their training.
Anything the West wants to bomb, be it in Syria, Iraq, or potentially Iran, Lebanon, Yemen or even Afghanistan, Incerlik is there, with perfect infrastructure and a ‘fantastic’ geographical location. For NATO, a dream-come-true place, really! But only until recently; until Mr. Erdogan’s era, until the 2016 failed coup, and the consequent, incomprehensible, but real ‘Turkish rebellion’.
Suddenly, Turkey is ‘not trusted anymore’; at least not in the Western capitals.
That is perhaps very good for Turkey and its future, but definitely not for NATO.
So where to move Incerlik, really?
The Kingdom of Jordan seems to be the best candidate. Conveniently, it is greatly impoverished, and it has been historically submissive to its Western handlers. It is essentially dependent on foreign, mainly Western, aid and would do just about anything to please the rulers in Washington, London or Berlin.
Most importantly for the West, Amman is sufficiently oppressive, lacking any substantial opposition. If dissent gets too vocal, its members get kidnapped and tortured.
Therefore, it is natural that both Europeans and North Americans feel safe and at home here. In 2017, the German Wermacht moved its soldiers, pilots and Tornados, more than 200 people and dozens of airplanes in total, to Al-Azraq base, which is located only some 30 kilometers from the border with Saudi Arabia, and a similar distance from Syria. Iraq is just 200 kilometers away.
It is obvious that Angela Merkel and Recep Erdogan feel a certain (some would say ‘great’) distaste for each other. It is also a well-known fact that NATO countries like to work closely with oppressive, market-oriented and obedient countries.
Even the official German television network, Deutsche Welle (DW), displayed clear cynicism towards the move, although it expressed, simultaneously, true understanding of the situation:
King Abdullah II is a leader very much to the West’s liking. In contrast to the princes in the Arabian Peninsula, he is usually dressed in a dark suit. He received a military education in Britain and studied in Oxford and Washington. Under his leadership, Jordan has reliably positioned itself in line with Western politics in all major Middle East conflicts.
And this won’t change, according to Udo Steinbach, who was in charge of the Hamburg-based German Orient Institute for many years.
“He was a man of the West, he is a man of the West, and he has no alternative whatsoever to being a man of the West,” Steinbach said. “Jordan is a poor country, and without Western aid, it wouldn’t be able to survive at all.””
NATO has been already using Muwaffaq Salti airbase near Al-Azraq, for years, mainly to illegally bomb numerous targets located on the Syrian soil.
In Brussels, Al-Azraq is truly a ‘household name’, as it has been used by both NATO and the EU air forces, concretely by the Belgians (2014-2015), and now both Dutch and Germans. The US air forces were operating from here already for several years.
The base is situated in yet another gloomy part of the Middle East; economically depressed, with countless small businesses and factories that have been closing down and now rusting and rotting, and with the almost totally drained-out Azraq Wetlands Reserve – an oasis once renowned as a ‘migratory birds’ sanctuary’.
The oasis used to extend almost all the way to the border with Saudi Arabia. Now most of the territory of the ‘reserve’ is dry. Not many birds would fly here, anyway, as they’d be confronted with the deafening roar of airplane engines and the engine-testing facilities, not unlike those that I witnessed in Okinawa.
The people who come to this corner of Jordan are mostly ‘adventurous’ Western tourists, ready to ‘explore’ the nearby castle which was once used as a base by the glorified sinister British intelligence agent, Thomas Edward Lawrence, otherwise known as “Lawrence of Arabia”. They also come to visit ‘wildlife reserves’ and several smaller archeological sites.
Ms. Alia, who works at the artisan center of Al-Azraq Lodge, confessed:
Sometimes we are very scared here… It is because our place is sitting right next to perimeter of the air force base, while it is also serving as a hotel for foreign tourists. There are many reasons why someone could consider attacking this place…
But is this really a ‘tourist’ inn, I ask, after observing numerous hangars and military planes from the parking lot, at the back of the structure. She hesitates for a few moments, but then replies:
Originally this used to be an eco-lodge, but now the bookings are mainly from the base. Both Americans and Germans are staying here; while couple of years ago it was Belgians. Officers sometimes live here for one entire month – you know: training, meetings… They work inside the base, but sleep at our place.
There is a “US Aid” sign screwed into the wall near the entrance to the inn. And there are countless black and white historical photos of the area, decorating the walls, as well as a figurine of a soldier wearing an old British colonial uniform.
Azraq town is dusty and half-empty. It is surrounded by the brutally dry desert. There are countless ruins of houses and services lining up along the main road. Some people live in misery, in torn up tents.
I stopped near a cluster of humble dwellings. An old woman wearing a black dress waved a cane at me, threateningly.
An old-looking man approached the car. He extended his hand towards me. It was wrinkled and hard. I shook it. I had no idea how old he was; most likely not too old, but he looked tired and dejected.
“Is this base,” I waved my hand, abstractly, towards the walls: “Is it helping the town, at least a little bit?”
The man stared at me for several seconds. Then he mumbled:
Helping? Yes, perhaps… Perhaps not… I don’t really know.
My driver and interpreter, who used to be a salesman only several years ago, before hitting hard times, commented, as we were slowly departing from Al-Azraq:
It is very bad here! The situation is tragic. West Amman and this – as if two different universes would exist on a territory of one single country. Such a contrast! Well, you can see it yourself.
I asked him, whether Jordanian people would mind having this deadly air force base expanding into their area, in their country? After all, the only purpose of it is to brutalize fellow Arab nations, while killing countless innocent human beings.
He shrugged his shoulders:
They don’t care. Most of the people here don’t think about such things. They want to be able to eat, to get by. Government convinced them that collaborating with the West could improve their standard of living. It’s all they think about. Our leaders, in the Gulf and here, are corrupt, and people are humiliated; they don’t see any bright future here, or any way out from the present situation…
Around 70 kilometers towards the capital, Amman, we slow down, as we are passing several checkpoints and a concrete fence, which looks similar to those built by the West in Afghanistan. The driver wants me to know:
Look, this is where they have been training the so-called Syrian opposition, for years.
Back in Amman, I met several friends, mainly foreigners, who have been working here.
“There are already numerous Western air force bases operating in Jordan,” one of them said. “This topic is not discussed here, openly. Right or wrong, it does not matter. Nobody cares. The spine of this part of the world has been already broken.”
Al-Azraq is not only a large air force base. It is also a place synonymous with one of the major refugee camps in the Middle East. It is a new camp, built in the middle of the desert, designed to accommodate mainly Syrian people fleeing the war.
In 2016 and 2017 I worked here, or more precisely, I tried to work, before being chased away by aggressive local security forces.
Refugee crises, the Western military bases, foreign aid and tourism, these are the main sources of income for the Kingdom of Jordan.
In a sinister, surreal way, everything here comes around in a big circle, ‘makes perverse sense’: ‘Entire countries are being flattened from the military bases, which Jordan is willing to host on its territory; of course, for a hefty fee. Consequently, hundreds of thousands of desperate refugees would continue to flood to this ‘island of stability in the Middle East’, bringing further tens, even hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid into the coffers of Amman.’ No industry, production, or hard work is really needed.
Could this arrangement be defined as ‘immoral’? ‘And does it really matter?’ I was told on several occasions, during this as well as during my previous visits to the Kingdom of Jordan, that ‘nobody cares’. Almost all ideology, together with the spirit of solidarity and internationalism, has already been destroyed by the Western-sponsored education and media indoctrination programs and campaigns, camouflaged as ‘help’ and ‘aid’.
I say ‘almost’, because now, a flicker of hope is once again emerging. Not everything is lost, yet. A neighboring country – Syria – is still standing. It has fought and lost hundreds of thousands of its people, but it has almost managed to defeat the brutal Western intervention. This could be the most important moment in modern Arab history.
The people of the Middle East are watching. The people of Jordan are watching. Turkish people are watching. Apparently, the imperialists can be defeated. Apparently, collaboration is not the only way how to survive.
The huge NATO air force base is slowly moving from Turkey to Jordan.
The West has already lost Syria. It may be also losing Turkey. Who knows: one day even Jordan might wake up. Some say: the ‘Domino effect has begun.’
• First published by New Eastern Outlook (NEO)
• All photos by Andre Vltchek
Prince William, second in line to the throne, is being sent to the Holy Land by the UK Government “to promote diplomatic and cultural ties”. In effect he’ll be helping to normalise 70 years of Israeli occupation and sanitise the unimaginable cruelty that has gone with it. His trip cuts across the Boycott Divestment & Sanctions movement’s efforts to bring pressure for justice.
Kensington Palace has announced in a tweet that “the Duke of Cambridge will visit Israel, Jordan and the Occupied Palestinian territories in the summer.”
The visit “is at the request of Her Majesty’s Government.”
The Jerusalem Post reports that the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately welcomed the news, saying: “It is a historic visit, the first of its kind, and he will be received here with great enthusiasm.” And President Reuven Rivlin wrote on his Twitter account that Prince William will be “a very special guest” and his visit will be “a very special present for our 70th year of independence.”
Royals are supposed to remain aloof from politics, at home and abroad. The Monarch, for good reason, has avoided any state visit to Israel since the entity established itself in treacherous circumstances back in 1948.
So why the sudden change in Palace policy?
Recruiting Prince William to shmooze the Zionists follows the warm welcome extended to Netanyahu by Theresa May to the infamous Balfour Declaration celebrations in London last November and her earlier speech oozing adoration for Israel. In that speech she attacked the successful BDS campaign calling it unacceptable and warning that her government would “have no truck with those who subscribe to it”. The Israel lobby meanwhile has agitated furiously for the UK to shut down BDS.
Mrs May was ticked off for her hostility to BDS by 200 legal scholars and practising lawyers from all over Europe who pointed out to her that BDS is a lawful exercise of freedom of expression and outlawing it undermines a basic human right protected by international convention. Any efforts to repress BDS amount to support for Israel’s violations of international law and a failure to honour the solemn pledge by States to ‘strictly respect the aims and principles of the Charter of the United Nations’.
So why is she so stiff-necked about it? After all, Netanyahu is on many a wanted list for crimes against humanity and should, in a sane world, be locked up. What’s more, he is under investigation for corruption in his own country. Israel, as everyone knows, is in flagrant breach of umpteen UN resolutions of the sort that would have brought crippling sanctions down on any other offender.
The international community’s failure to act has left civil society no option but to fill the vacuum with BDS.
All the same Mrs May and the Israel lobby are pressing ahead with their anti-BDS programme and it looks like they’re getting special help from the Royal Family. But if Prince William seeks to undo the efforts of civil society he sets himself against the people.
According to May’s Middle East minister Alistair Burt, the official reason for the royal trip is that it’s “an important and unique opportunity to promote diplomatic and cultural ties in the region”, which is shorthand for enriching big business post-Brexit. So that’s OK then. Don’t let the misery of decades-long military occupation get in the way of new riches, eh?
Prince William’s mission needs to be very different to the one intended by May and Netanyahu
Kensington Palace’s tweet received this reply from a certain Suzanne Levy, who describes herself as a full-time ‘kook’: “Fantastic news, but please correct your erroneous terminology. The Palestinian Territories are not occupied by Israel – they are under the rule of Hamas and the PA.” As if jumping to her kooky instruction the British embassy in Israel released a Hebrew-language version of the Kensington Palace announcement omitting the words “occupied territories” and replacing them with “Israel and the Palestinian Authority”.
In denying the Israeli occupation Ms Levy, like other hasbara trolls, is at odds with the United Nations, international law, world opinion and documented history. Even the UK Government officially refers to Palestine as the OPT (Occupied Palestinian Territories), so the edit by its own embassy is puzzling.
Unless, of course, it tells the truth and the plan is to prevent Prince William from actually experiencing the Occupied Territories by confining him to the witless ‘Palestinian Authority’. The PA has precious little legitimacy and is led by a ‘quisling tendency’ who have done next to nothing for the Palestinians. Their reward for wasting the nation’s time and wrecking its prospects is a life of comparative luxury, very different from that suffered by the unfortunate people they are supposed to serve. They can be relied upon to give the Prince a suitable skewed view of things.
Here’s acid test number 1. The Occupied Territories include Gaza. So will the Israelis and May allow Prince William to visit there, shoot the breeze with Hamas (whose political wing are not proscribed as terrorists in the UK and who struggle to run the devastated place after 10 years of vicious blockade, almost daily air strikes, repeated military ground incursions and occupation of its territorial waters and airspace by Israel) and to see for himself the true horror of the humanitarian crisis all this has caused? If the answer is no, the entire visit should be called off. But it won’t be.
Acid test number 2 is this. Prince William will likely succeed to the throne one day and become Defender of the [Christian] Faith, a 500 year old obligation. As a true Christian – if that is what he is – he’ll know all about the cry for help issued only months ago by the National Coalition of Christian Organizations in Palestine to the World Council of Churches and the entire ecumenical movement. It was signed by over 30 organisations in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.
We are still suffering from 100 years of injustice and oppression that were inflicted on the Palestinian people beginning with the unlawful Balfour declaration…. A hundred years later and there is still no justice! Discrimination and inequality, military occupation and systematic oppression are the rule…. Despite all the promises, endless summits, UN resolutions, religious and lay leader’s callings – Palestinians are still yearning for their freedom and independence, and seeking justice and equality.
The message ends with these ominous words:
Things are beyond urgent. We are on the verge of a catastrophic collapse…. This could be our last chance to achieve a just peace. As a Palestinian Christian community, this could be our last opportunity to save the Christian presence in this land.”
William must be allowed to hear direct the serious concerns of the Christian and Muslim communities and take a robust line that involves consequences for the occupier if those concerns are not properly dealt with.
Prince William’s wife Kate (Duchess of Cambridge) is expecting their third child towards the end of April so he’ll probably make the trip without her. But expect the visit to be accompanied by waves of media rapture over the new arrival, with Israel’s propaganda machine working flat-out to milk maximum PR benefits and subliminally stamp the Royal seal of approval on their apartheid regime.
If Prince William does set foot in the Holy Land his mission must obviously be very different to the one described by Alistair Burt or wished for by Netanyahu and May. If he is seen to lend legitimacy to a grasping, racist enterprise like the Israel Project, which shows no respect for human rights or international law, it will surely come to haunt him.
The NDP leadership’s naked suppression of debate on the “Palestine Resolution” is rooted in a long pro-Israeli nationalism history.
At last month’s convention the party machine blocked any debate of the Palestine Resolution, which mostly restated official Canadian policy, except that it called for “banning settlement products from Canadian markets, and using other forms of diplomatic and economic pressure to end the occupation.”
As I detailed previously, the Palestine Resolution was confusingly renamed, deprioritized and then blocked from being debated on the convention floor. The suppression of a resolution unanimously endorsed by the NDP youth convention, many outside groups and over 25 riding associations was the latest in a long line of leadership anti-Palestinian actions.
However, the first leader of Canada’s original social democratic party actually took a sensible humanist position, criticizing the colonialist/nationalist movement’s impact on the indigenous population. In 1938 CCF (the NDP’s predecessor) leader J. S. Woodsworth said, “it was easy for Canadians, Americans and the British to agree to a Jewish colony, as long as it was somewhere else. Why ‘pick on the Arabs’ other than for ‘strategic’ and ‘imperialistic’ consideration.”
After Woodsworth’s 1940 death the party’s stance shifted and by the end of World War II the CCF officially supported Zionism. Future CCF leader and premier of Saskatchewan Tommy Douglas and long-time federal MP Stanley Knowles were members of the Canadian Palestine Committee, a group of prominent non-Jewish Zionists formed in 1943 (future external minister Paul Martin Sr. and Alberta premier Ernest C. Manning were also members). In 1944 the Canadian Palestine Committee wrote Prime Minister Mackenzie King that it “looks forward to the day when Palestine shall ultimately become a Jewish commonwealth, and member of the British Commonwealth of Nations under the British Crown.”
Not long after 750,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from their homeland. In 1947/48 CCF officials said the refugees should not be allowed to return. CCF MP Alistair Stewart said that taking in anything more than a small proportion of the refugees might destroy Israel and would be “asking more than any modern state would be prepared to accede to.”
Despite general misgivings towards arms sales, the CCF backed Canada selling 24 F-86 Sabre jets to Israel in the lead-up to its 1956 invasion of Egypt. The party justified Israel’s invasion alongside declining Middle East colonial powers Britain and France. Party leader M.J. Coldwell said:
Israel had ample provocation for her action in marching into Sinai… Egypt’s insistence that Israel be made to obey United Nations resolutions [while it had] hampered Israel’s shipping without lawful excuse. Egypt’s insistence that Israel be made to obey United Nations resolution sounds no less than cynical coming as it does from a government which for years ignored and flouted the Security Council and United Nations when they ordered free passage for Israel’s ships through Suez.
The NDP also took up Israel’s justification for invading its neighbors in 1967. They criticized Egypt’s blockade of Israeli shipping while ignoring that country’s strategic objectives, which the CIA concluded were the: (1) “Destruction of the center of power of the radical Arab Socialist movement, i.e. the Nasser regime.” (2) “Destruction of the arms of the radical Arabs.” (3) “Destruction of both Syria and Jordan as modern states.”
Despite Ottawa’s strong pro-Israel alignment, NDP leader Tommy Douglas criticized Prime Minister Lester Pearson for not backing Israel more forthrightly in the 1967 war. Describing the NDP convention shortly after the Six-Day War Toronto Star reporter John Goddard wrote, “the delegates were solidly behind Israel. I remember David Lewis leading the discussion at the Royal York Hotel, the look of steely resolve on his face, and the sense of relief in the room over the defeat of the Arab armies.”
After Israel conquered East Jerusalem in 1967 the party came out in favor of a “united Jerusalem”. “The division of Jerusalem,” said David Lewis, a significant figure in the party for four decades, “did not make economic or social sense. As a united city under Israel’s aegis, Jerusalem would be a much more progressive and fruitful capital of the various religions.”
As Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza, Golan Heights and Egypt’s Sinai, Lewis made “impassioned warnings that Israel was in danger.” During his time as federal leader from 1971 to 1975 Lewis spoke to at least one Israel Bonds fundraiser, which raised money for that state.
Just after stepping down as federal leader Lewis was the “speaker of the year” at a B’nai B’rith breakfast. In the hilariously titled “NDP’s David Lewis urges care for disadvantaged”, the Canadian Jewish News reported that Lewis “attacked the UN for having admitted the PLO” and said “a Middle East peace would require ‘some recognition of the Palestinians in some way.’ He remarked that the creation of a Palestinian state might be necessary but refused to pinpoint its location. The Israelis must make that decision, he said, without interference from Diaspora Jewry.”
After a trip to that country Tommy Douglas said “Israel was like a light set upon a hill – the light of democracy in a night of darkness – and the main criticism of Israel has not been a desire for land. The main enmity against Israel is that she has been an affront to those nations who do not treat their people and their workers as well as Israel has treated hers.” (Douglas’ 1975 comment was made after Israel had driven out its indigenous population and repeatedly invaded its neighbours.)
The NDP labelled the Palestinian Liberation Organization, which was created in 1964, a danger and vociferously opposed the UN granting it observer status in 1974. Federal party leader Ed Broadbent called the PLO “terrorists and murderers whose aim is the destruction of the state of Israel.” (Apparently, multiple players within the NDP-aligned Broadbent Institute voted against allowing the full convention to debate the Palestine Resolution at an early morning session prior to the main plenary.) In the late 1970s the NDP called on the federal government to intervene to block Canadian companies from adhering to Arab countries’ boycott of Israel, which was designed to pressure that country to return land captured in the 1967 war.
Ontario NDP leader from 1970 to 1978, Stephen Lewis was stridently anti-Palestinian. He demanded the federal government cancel a major UN conference scheduled to be held in Toronto in 1975 because the PLO was granted observer status at the UN the previous year and their representatives might attend. In a 1977 speech to pro-Israel fundraiser United Jewish Appeal, which the Canadian Jewish News titled “Lewis praises [Conservative premier Bill] Davis for Stand on Israel”, Stephen Lewis denounced the UN’s “wantonly anti-social attitude to Israel.” He told the pro-Israel audience that “the anti-Semitism that lurks underneath the surface is diabolical. The only thing to rely on is Jew helping Jew.” (Stephen Lewis’ sister, Janet Solberg, was maybe the loudest anti-Palestinian at the NDP’s recent convention. Former president of the Ontario NDP and federal council member, Solberg was a long time backroom organizer for her brother and works at the Stephen Lewis Foundation.)
In the 1989 book The Domestic Battleground: Canada and the Arab-Israeli Conflict Irving Abella and John Sigler write, “historically, the New Democratic Party (NDP) has been the most supportive of the Israeli cause, largely because of its close relationship to Israel’s Labour party, and to the Histadrut, the Israeli trade union movement.”
Excluding non-Jewish workers for much of its history, the Histadrut was a key part of the Zionist movement. Former Prime Minister Golda Meir remarked: “Then  I was put on the Histadrut Executive Committee at a time when this big labor union wasn’t just a trade union organization. It was a great colonizing agency.” For its part, Israel’s Labor party (and predecessor Mapai) was largely responsible for the 1947/48 ethnic cleansing of Palestine, 1956 invasion of Egypt and post 1967 settlement construction in the West Bank.
Relations with Israel’s Labor party continue. Labor Knesset Member Michal Biran was photographed with NDP leader Jagmeet Singh at the recent convention. In the lead-up to that event Biran wrote:
Western progressives must not buy into the simplistic notion that peace is Israel’s gift to bestow upon the Palestinians… Palestinians must make peace with Israel as much as the converse. Here again, recognition [of a Palestinian state] achieves nothing: it will not cause Hamas to halt its missile attacks; it will not encourage the PA to cease payments to terrorists to incentivise murders of Israeli civilians; it will not convince Mahmoud Abbas to cease his antisemitic screeds and Holocaust revisionism. Unilateral recognition offers a free diplomatic gift whilst demanding no Palestinian concessions essential to peace.
When proponents of the Palestine Resolution tried to reprioritize their resolution so the convention could debate it, Singh mobilized his family and community to block it. Two dozen Sikh delegates, including members of Singh’s family, voted as a block against allowing the full convention to debate the Palestine Resolution, which failed 200 to 189. A Facebook meme by Aminah Mahmood captured the sentiment: “When they USE Brown people to vote down the Palestine Resolution.” (Later in the evening I asked Jagmeet Singh’s brother if he voted against the Palestine Resolution, but he refused to answer.)
The suppression of the Palestine Resolution should stir internationalist minded party members to finally confront the NDP’s anti-Palestinian legacy. A first step in breaking from this odious history could be ending all ties with the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, Israeli Labor Party, Canada–Israel Parliamentary Group and other Israel lobby organizations/forums. If the party believes in justice this is the least it should do.
One sentence summarizes the Zionist expansion from an incursion to ultimate takeover of Palestinian lands – the Zionists act aggressively and the world bodies re-react passively. Institutions that defend the world community and protect regional interests have failed to understand the Middle East crisis, failed to recognize the dangers posed by the Zionist expansion, and have subverted their constituencies. These failures prevent formulation of an acceptable plan and a concentrated effort to resolve the perilous situation. Those who argue that the Middle East crisis is beyond comprehension and resolution are deceiving the world; proper thought leads to basic actions that can turn an impending catastrophe into a manageable situation.
International Bodies fail to recognize motives
Ardent discussions and symbolic votes that demonstrate support for international law and the justified Palestinian cause are meritorious. However, Israel uses the symbolic methods to show their ineffectiveness and contemptuously challenges them by doing the opposite of what they intend to accomplish. Although United States President Donald Trump declared his nation’s recognition of Jerusalem (not West) as Israel’s capital and intention to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, the United Nations, European Union, and Arab League failed to digest the serious consequences of the intended move and responded with rhetoric rather than with a defined action plan that could definitely counter the egregious act. The U.S. president fulfilled a campaign pledge to his Religious Right constituency, which is determined to help move the huge granite stones that rest comfortably on the top of Midbar Sinai Street, in Givat Havatzim, Jerusalem’s northernmost district, to the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount. Cut to specification, the imposing stones represent one of several preparations by the Temple Mount and Land of Israel Faithful Movement to erect a Third Temple on the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount. Receiving approval that Jerusalem is its capital gives Israel an introduction to declare that to administer its capital it must have total legal control over all municipalities, including all neighborhoods of the Old City, which includes the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount.
International bodies fail to recognize why twisting reality poses risks
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu complemented President Trump’s ego-tripping prevarications, his attitude of attacking all those who contradict him, and his doing it in a manner that is associated with mania. In a remark to official institutions that “Jerusalem had been the capital of Israel for 3000 years and the present state of Israel for 70 years,” PM Netanyahu portrayed similar characteristics to those of President Trump.
Were Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arab Caliphates, Crusaders, Mamluks, and Ottomans aware of this “capital” during their combined rule of Jerusalem, which lasted almost three thousand years? More baffling is that the Prime Minister of a nation that calls itself the “Jewish State,” does not know that Jerusalem lay in an area called Judah and not Israel. Should not Netanyahu forfeit leadership for his inept statement?
Combine the psychological difficulties of the President of the United States with those of the leader of a nation that is closely allied with the United States and we have nations that have been culpable in immense crimes and killings in the last decades working together and determining the destiny for many of us.
International Bodies fail to recognize the ominous trajectories
The Zionist proposal at the 1919 Paris peace Conference defined intentions. Although, the proposal mentioned that “Palestine is not large enough to contain more than a proportion of the Jews of the world” and “The greater part of the fourteen millions or more scattered throughout all countries must remain in their present localities,” it has become obvious that the Zionists did not intend to follow their statements. Compound that deception with their description of the “General lines for the boundaries of Palestine,” shown as dotted lines on the map. Note their Greater Israel extends close to Beirut in Lebanon, Damascus in Syria, and Amman in Jordan. The boundary captures all the aquifers and facilitates use of the Hedjaz railway.
Continue to the 1948 war, when, contrary to the over-expressed statement that the Egyptians, together with other Arab armies, intended to “throw the Israelis into the sea,” the Arab forces did not have the military strength to accomplish the task. Egyptian troop movements indicate a defense of the new Palestinian state rather than intent to occupy the new Israeli state. The reality is that the Israelis figuratively threw the Palestinians “into the sea,” or at least into refugee camps, by being complicit in the leaving and expulsion of 750,000 of the 900,000 Palestinians who inhabited the British Mandate, and by barring them a return to the lands and homes their families had possessed for centuries. Already, in 1948, it had become obvious that the Zionists intended to achieve their objectives, and that two states were not included in their agenda.
It is no coincidence that Israel invaded and occupied the Sinai in 1956 before French and British coordinated attacks against Nasser’s Egypt. Rarely mentioned is a controversial meeting, known as the Protocol of Sèvres,1956, and reported in Anatomy of a War Plot1, which describes Israel Prime Minister David Ben Gurion’s proposed plan to Great Britain and France, and executes the Zionist proposals. Although the meeting records are not available in French and British government archives, the meeting occurrence and parts of Ben Gurion’s plan are confirmed in Shimon Peres: the Biography by Michael Bar-Zohar.
The session started at 4 p.m. on Monday, 22 October, in the conservatory of the villa and it was intended to enable the leaders of the two countries to get to know each other and to have a preliminary discussion. Ben-Gurion opened the discussion by listing his military, political and moral considerations against ‘the English plan’. His main objection was that Israel would be branded as the aggressor while Britain and France would pose as peace-makers but he was also exceedingly apprehensive about exposing Israeli cities to attack by the Egyptian Air Force. Instead he presented a comprehensive plan, which he himself called ‘fantastic’, for the reorganization of the Middle East. Jordan, he observed, was not viable as an independent state and should therefore be divided. Iraq would get the East Bank in return for a promise to settle the Palestinian refugees there and to make peace with Israel while the West Bank would be attached to Israel as a semi-autonomous region. Lebanon suffered from having a large Muslim population which was concentrated in the south. The problem could be solved by Israel’s expansion up to the Litani River, thereby helping to turn Lebanon into a more compact Christian state. The Suez Canal area should be given an international status while the Straits of Tiran in the Gulf of Aqaba should come under Israeli control to ensure freedom of navigation. A prior condition for realizing this plan was the elimination of Nasser and the replacement of his regime with a pro-Western government which would also be prepared to make peace with Israel.
At the start of the 1967 war, Israel claimed that Arab armies had prepared an attack, which forced the nation to initiate the offensive. After the war, Moishe Dayan has been quoted as saying, “at least 80 percent of two decades of border clashes were initiated by Israel. We would send a tractor to plow some (disputed) area…and we knew in advance that the Syrians would start to shoot. If they didn’t shoot, we would tell the tractor to advance further, until in the end the Syrians would get annoyed and shoot. And then we would use artillery and later the air force also, and that’s how it was.” Other disguised offensive actions.
As early as 1964, Israel diverted the headwaiters of the Jordan River from the Sea of Galilee to Israel’s South. Syria responded by building its own diversions in the Golan. The Israel forces attacked these facilities on several occasions.
On April 26, 1967, two months before the start of the 6-day war, Israeli jets shot down 6 Syrian planes over Syrian territory in the Golan Heights. Later that day Israeli jets flew over Damascus.
Israel bombed all Egyptian airfields and destroyed the Egyptian air force before any declaration of war.
Although Israel accused Egypt of preparing for an immediate attack, no Egyptian soldier set foot on Israeli territory.
Israel captured and occupied the entire Sinai.
Israel continued attacks in the Golan after a preliminary truce had been declared and did not stop the attacks until the entire Golan had been captured.
As in previous engagements, Israel fought a defensive war in an offensive manner and seized large amounts of territory. The war created another flood of Palestinian refugees, a total of 300,000 fled the West Bank and Gaza, of which 180,000 were first time refugees; the others were from previous actions. One clue to the reason for the war – Illegal settlements under direction of the Labor government quickly followed the occupation of the West Bank.
Several wars later, Israel occupies and has virtual control of much of British Mandate Palestine, including Jerusalem. Gaza remains a Palestinian territory but under constant surveillance, restriction in actions and movement, and subjected to intermittent attacks by Israel. Most of Israel’s adversaries have been subdued by war, internal strife, or agreements. Despite the violence, and after all the mayhem, Israel is not a defined state — no fully defined borders, no constitution, no Israeli nationality (based on ethnicity), sketchy laws, an unrecognized capital city (except for U.S.), failure to respect UN resolutions, severe human rights violations, chaotic political system, biased immigration policy, committing a great number of extra-judicial killings that violate sovereignty of other nations, and a large number of citizens living outside the country — and evidently, Israeli officials prefer the nation to remain that way.
The Zionists have temporarily compromised their original territorial demands but still remain in the position of wherever they go they will encounter a potential enemy, even at the Jordan River. Looking back in history at similar situations, more pronounced than Israel’s situation but still comparable, we find the following:
The United States could not expand without encountering antagonistic Native American tribes, Mexican landholders and Canadian nationalists. The former was virtually eliminated and the others subdued until the only contestants were the two oceans. No problem.
France, under Napoleon, met enemies at every doorstep until it ran out of soldiers and ammunition in Russia. Major problem.
Nazi Germany succeeded in vanquishing possible enemies in Germany’s northern and southern frontiers, succeeded in pushing France into the Atlantic Ocean, but still faced another enemy on the eastern front. As Napoleon, Hitler lost that war.
Similar to Napoleonic France and Nazi Germany, Israel has and will always face enemies, and the last to stand — Iran, Shia militias in a revitalized Iraq, Turkey, and Hezbollah — seem willing to fight aggressively, unlike those who previously contested Israel. These foes might be temporarily contained, but Israel cannot subdue them forever. Imagine all of these nations, together with the militias that emerged during the latest Iraq and Syrian conflicts, confronting Israel. Will the major powers enter the conflict in a manner that occurred in World War I? When faced with defeat, will Israel exercise the Sampson option? Assuredly, without any doubt, it will, and a nuclear holocaust will destroy the Middle East.
Unrestrained warfare is one of the ominous trajectories that International Bodies fail to recognize. There are others.
With continued seizure of Palestinian lands, expanded settlement activity, and purposed denial of the Palestinians to agriculture, water rights, fishing rights, livelihood, and employment, Israel’s actions forecast the destruction of the Palestinian people. Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and planned interference debilitates Palestinian communication, transportation, assembly and governance. Its willingness to intensify Palestinian pain and suffering, especially in Gaza, provides only one direction – more of the same – more generations who are denied basic rights, more generations who are subjected to subsistence living, and more generations who endure intense suffering. Israel has shown no sympathy with the Palestinian plight, and the international community has done nothing to reverse the negative trend. The severe Israeli repression assures that the Palestinians lack what they most need – ontological security – a stable mental state derived from a sense of continuity in regard to the events in one’s life. Because the absence of ontological security accelerates deterioration of the Palestinian community, the trajectory points to Israel propelling the destruction of Palestinian life to an eventual outcome, a genocide that few will notice; it is not a genocide until the vicious act is completed.
The ISIS Caliphate has been defeated and reduced, but what is not reduced are two causes of international terrorism — support for Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people and Israel’s conflict with the Muslim world in Jerusalem. Osama bin-Laden clarified those positions in an interview with CBS reporter Joel Arak, October 30, 2004, who related that bin-Laden said he was first inspired to attack the United States by the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon in which towers and buildings in Beirut were destroyed in the siege of the capital. “While I was looking at these destroyed towers in Lebanon, it sparked in my mind that the tyrant should be punished with the same and that we should destroy towers in America, so that it tastes what we taste and would be deterred from killing our children and women.” Actions that provoke extremists increase their motives for international terrorism, and more terrorism follows. Until these situations are satisfactorily resolved, one driver of international terrorism will remain and create innocent victims for decades.
The trajectories to war, community destruction, terrorism, and devastation are clearly marked. Nevertheless, the world and regional institutions that have the power to prevent the gloom and doom react with a combination of confusion and complacency, which hastens the ultimate to occur. Time has become essential; ponderous steps by the world community to redo fall behind Israel’s rapid measures of doing. Much can be done but not without consideration to the mechanisms that prevent complete understanding of the crisis, which is sadly lacking, and how these mechanisms thwart capable minds from engineering capable solutions. Israel’s deceptive practices that confuse the issues, dupe the public, and muzzle attempts to resolve the Middle East crisis are the principal ingredients that give it clout and voice much above its fighting weight. Never in history have so many been fooled by an extensive, calculated, and ingenious plan to subvert minds and rearrange positions. Exposing the deceptions, delivering the antidotes to render them harmless, and stifling them are the first and necessary steps before turning an impending catastrophe into a manageable situation.
- Avi Shlaim International Affairs, 73:3 (1997), pp.509-530.
On May 2, 2017, before becoming Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, as Minister of Defense, spoke about the Saudi-led coalition’s war in Yemen, a war he orchestrated since March of 2015. “A long war is in our interest,” he said, explaining that the Houthi rebels would eventually run out of cash, lack external supplies and break apart. Conversely, the Saudis could count on a steady flow of cash and weapons. “Time is on our side,” he concluded.
Powerful people in the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Sudan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Morocco, Senegal and Jordan have colluded with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince to prolong the war against Yemen. The Saudis have employed Sudanese fighters from the terrifying Janjaweed militias to fight in small cities along Yemen’s coast line. The seeming objective is to gain ground control leading to the vital Port of Hodeidah. UAE military are reported to operate a network of secret prisons where Yemenis disappear and are tortured, deterring people from speaking up about human rights violations lest they land in one of these dreaded prisons.
Among the most powerful warlords participating in the war are the U.S. and the UK.
Despite the recent publicity for stern words from Donald Trump and Theresa May, urging Saudi Arabia to lift its blockade of Yemen, both countries continue to pocket billions of dollars selling weapons to Saudi Arabia. President Trump swiftly condemned the Houthi fighters for firing several rockets at Saudi Arabia and the UAE. But the Houthis could claim to be using these weapons in self-defense after Saudi and UAE jets have dropped tons of bombs, purchased from the U.S. and the UK, on Yemeni cities and civilians. Observers say if the U.S. stopped its midair refueling of Saudi bomber planes, the war would end shortly thereafter. Yet, the U.S continues these military operations. The UK still supplies the Saudis with surveillance, and both countries work to maintain a comfortable relationship with the Saudi Ministry of Defense and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Just over 1,000 days of Saudi-led coalition war against the Houthi rebels in Yemen has been deadly and devastating for Yemeni civilians.
Mark Lowcock, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen, says that 7 – 8 million Yemenis are one step away from starvation. The BBC reports that more than 80% of Yemenis lack food, fuel, water and access to health care.
The number of suspected cholera cases in Yemen has reached one million, according to the International Commission of the Red Cross.
1.8 million children in Yemen are acutely malnourished, including 400,000 under the age of five who suffer from severe acute malnutrition. Malnourished children are also at increased risk of dying from infectious diseases.
Like the children of Iraq who perished by the hundreds of thousands during U.S. led economic war against Iraq, these little ones in Yemen mean harm to no one. They’ve done nothing to deserve punishment. Yet, they will pay the price for abysmally failed policies. The food and clean water they hunger and thirst for could reach them, but not if powerful elites decide it’s acceptable to blockade Yemen’s ports, bomb roadways, destroy sewage and sanitation systems, attack fishermen and farmers, and even kill participants at a wedding celebration.
After dancing in Saudi Arabia with Mohammed bin Salman and other Saudi princes, President Trump set in motion a $110 billion-dollar weapons deal.
Boeing, Raytheon, and other military contractors already benefiting from this deal will likely agree with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman: a long war is in their best interests.
But, ordinary people who prefer not to be represented by vicious warlords and who face no risk of torture, disappearance or other frightening punishments (people like me for instance) have a responsibility to speak up visibly and clearly. Time is running out for the children of Yemen. The Crown Prince is mistaken. Any war, long or short, may seem to favor the perpetrators, but in the long run wars sow seeds of revenge, retaliation, hatred and death. Real courage requires control over our fears and mutual agreements to protect the most vulnerable among us. Especially the children.
According to a report circulating unofficially in Arabic, the latest in a sixty-nine year history of proposals to resolve the western Zionist invasion of Palestine (AKA the Israeli-Palestinian “conflict”) is about to see the light of day. It claims Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu originated the proposal and that secret deliberations have been underway for more than five months.
Netanyahu has now presented the proposal to the US, which made some changes and agreed to promote it. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will carry the plan, called “the Agreement of the Century” to Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait for review and discussion.
The proposal has 21 points, but the main provisions are that the West Bank will be federated (or re-federated) with Jordan, and the Gaza Strip with Egypt. Together, they will be known as the Palestinian Confederation, ostensibly converting the Palestinian “Authority” into a national government, although it is already widely recognized as such and although it will not have any of the authority or sovereignty that nation states are deemed to have under international law.
Israel will govern Jewish settlements directly and Jerusalem is excluded from the proposal, for resolution at a later time. The primary function of Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority, therefore, will be to take over the security functions currently administered by the Israeli armed forces; i.e., to protect Israel and repress Palestinians. As they say in Israel, “When you have a dirty job, give it to an Arab.”
Other provisions concern development of infrastructure, international guarantees, and conversion of Hamas into a purely political party while integrating its military wing into the Palestinian security forces. The borders will be based on the armistice lines as of June 4th, 1967, with some territorial swaps. Refugees will be permitted to “return” to the West Bank and Gaza, even if it is not the home from which they were displaced. This is not going to be accepted by expatriate refugees in Lebanon, Syria and other countries, but they have always been disenfranchised in all proposals, and this one is no exception.
The biggest unanswered question is the status of Jerusalem. Will the Arab leaders accept an agreement that has no assurances at all with respect to Jerusalem? This is hard to imagine, and it was, in fact, the major stumbling block to an agreement at the Camp David Summit in 2000.
Another major unknown is what happens to the West Bank areas designated A, B and C in the Oslo agreement. Area A is the only one of the three where Oslo grants full administrative and security control to the Palestinian Authority, and it comprises less than 15% of the total area of the West Bank, itself only 18% of historic Palestine. Israel is unlikely to hand B and C over to Palestinian authority and limit the settlements to their current footprints, without prospect of outward expansion or new settlements. More likely, they will insist upon continuing the current arrangement, allowing Israel to continue expanding the settlements indefinitely. This is also unlikely to be acceptable to the Arabs and to the Palestinian people.
What do the parties to the agreement expect to gain from it?
Israel wants to rid itself of the Palestinians. It wants the land but not the people. It also wants to stop being considered an occupier of someone else’s land. In 1948 it achieved this by massive ethnic cleansing and genocide. In 1967 it used the same methods but was somewhat less successful except on the Golan Heights, where it expelled 94% of the population. Since then, expulsions have been gradual and slower, except for the 2006 expulsion of a million people in south Lebanon, which was subsequently reversed by the victory of the Hezbollah resistance.
If the above assumptions about areas A, B and C are correct, a signed agreement means that Israel concedes nothing at all and will be able to continue with its territorial ambitions. However, it will rid itself of the Palestinians by farming out the occupation to Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority. The agreement also removes the teeth (such as they are) of Hamas, and makes Israel appear to be a “peacemaker” with a “generous proposal”.
Mahmoud Abbas’s interest is to become the president of a “real” (though not sovereign) country, recognized universally, even by Israel. He also gets Gaza in the bargain, as well as some handsome development funds that will improve the economy, at least in the short run. The recently announced “unity government” between Hamas and Fatah can be seen as a prelude to such an agreement, and a means of strengthening Abbas’s hand in the negotiations (which is why Israel is not very happy about it).
Hamas gains the least of any of the parties, but Israel’s decade-long siege on Gaza is now so debilitating that they are possibly loathe to dash the hopes of their people for relieving their isolation. They are under tremendous pressure to improve the intolerable living conditions, and may not wish to be seen as spoilers.
The Arab monarchies and Egypt want to be rid of the problem and to get on with other concerns, chiefly their rivalry and potential conflict with Iran. In this case they would like to be able to collaborate and ally themselves more openly with a powerful Israel, which the agreement will legitimate. Iraq and Syria, who are friendly to Iran, are not currently on Abbas’s itinerary, which underscores that their views are not likely to be given consideration.
The US also gets a Middle East peace agreement that has eluded eleven administrations since 1948, and which Trump desperately needs to bolster his flagging image on the domestic front. The agreement would also strengthen the hand of both the US and Israel to undertake aggressive action against Iran and destroy it as a regional power, which is an ambition of both countries and the conservative Arab regimes.
All of this assumes that the agreement will be approved. That is still a very big “if”. But Israel is also prepared for failure, which also works to their advantage. In that case Israel will do what it has always done: blame the Palestinians for refusing to be complicit in their own demise. They will then give their military a free hand to commit another pogrom, known in Israel as “mowing the grass”.
In fact, Israel may pull another plan off the shelf, one using a more direct means of ridding themselves of the Palestinians. They learned in Lebanon that they could create a million refugees in ten days, and thereby clear the land of its inhabitants. Instead of “mowing the grass”, this would be more akin to “scorching the earth”, which is also a definition of the term “holocaust”.