The images have become commonplace. Pick-up trucks laden with rocket launchers and machine guns. Dusty men with their rifles, poised as so many Rambo’s. Billows of smoke that linger after the bomber has flown on to its next target. These are the images of contemporary conflict. Differences of socio-political opinion are settled by bloody confrontation.
True, violent conflict is as old as mankind itself. True, self-defence is a necessity, even a responsibility. But the business of war has become the norm rather than the exception. The significance of this development lies not merely in the multitude of violent and unnecessary deaths—but more so in our readily viewing this reality with a novel brand of bold nonchalance.
In business-speak for international arms dealing, DSEi—Defence & Security Equipment International—boasts that its biennial exhibition ‘provides a time-effective opportunity to meet the whole defence and security supply chain’. DSEi further promises that this year’s event will exceed attendance figures from 2009: 25,170 attendees; 1280 exhibitors; 98 countries; 70 official delegations; 27 national pavilions. Just have a look at its slick website offering ‘infinite opportunities’ to those who would jump on the weapons carousel.
The DSEi exhibit organiser, Clarion Events, offers a patronising disclaimer:
While we would all wish to see a world in which no nation has any need of equipment for defence or peacekeeping, it is not the world we live in now.
The Zionists are prisoners of a bad dream: they must first free themselves, break free from the prison in which they can only play the part of tormentors, if they and especially their Palestinian victims are to live normal lives.
M. Shahid Alam
On January 12, the New York Times carried an article by David Brooks on Jews and Israel. It so caught my eye, I decided to bring its conservative author to my class on the economic history of the Middle East. I sent my students the link to this article, asked them to read it carefully, and come to the next class prepared to discuss and dissect its contents.
My students recalled various parts of the NYT article but no one could explain its substance. They recalled David Brooks’ focus on the singular intellectual achievements of American Jews, the enviable record of Israeli Jews as innovators and entrepreneurs, the mobility of Israel’s innovators, etc. One student even spoke of what was not in the article or in the history of Jews – centuries of Jewish struggle to create a Jewish state in Palestine.
But they offered no comments about Brooks’ motivation. Why had he decided to brag about Jewish achievements, a temptation normally eschewed by urbane Jews. In my previous class, while discussing Edward Said’s critique of Orientalism, I had discussed how knowledge is suborned by power, how it is perverted by tribalism, and how Western writers had crafted their writings about the Middle East to serve the interests of colonial powers. Not surprisingly, this critique had not yet sunk in.
I coaxed my students, asking them directly to explore if David Brooks had an axe (or more than one) to grind. Was there an elephant in the room they had missed? What was the subtext of the op-ed?
IPS’ David Cronin reports on French arms sales to Israel, which are “in total contradiction” to European Union rules on the defence industry according to a new study.
Between 2003 and 2007 France issued licences worth more than 446 million euros (623 million dollars) for arms exports to Israel. This made France by far the largest supplier of weapons to Israel in the EU.
Patrice Bouveret from the French Centre for Research on Peace and Conflicts (CRDPC) in Lyon says that these sales are at variance with the Union’s decade-old code of conduct on weapons exports. Formally declared legally binding by EU governments last year, the code forbids weapons sales in cases where they may exacerbate regional tensions or where there is a strong likelihood they will be used in violation of human rights.
Speaking at the launch Thursday of his new report on Israel’s involvement in the arms trade, titled ‘Who Arms Israel and Hamas?’, Bouveret dismissed repeated assurances from the French government that the exports in question are generally only components of military goods rather than complete weapons systems. “Even if they are only components, they are used directly by the Israeli army,” he added.
Amnesty International today revealed that the United States has sent a massive new shipment of arms to Israel — about 14,000 tons worth — despite evidence that U.S. weapons were misused against civilians in the Gaza attacks. The unloading of the shipment in Israel was confirmed by the Pentagon. The human rights organization called on President Obama to suspend future arms shipments to Israel until there is no longer substantial risk of human rights violations.
Nora Barrows-Friedman, Senior Producer and co-host of the excellent Flashpoints Radio, on direct action across the international spectrum (I am one of the people mentioned in this article). This article first published in Arabic in al-Haq al-Awda.
Linking arms through metal tubes and jamming the doorways with steel bicycle locks, dozens of pro-justice activists blocked the entrance to the Israeli consulate in downtown San Francisco on January 15th — Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday — at the height of Israel’s siege on Gaza, on a day when its military killed at least forty Palestinian men, women and children in a series of attacks that also decimated several mosques, schools and an UNRWA building. 24 hours before, in Los Angeles, protesters chained themselves to their local Israeli consulate and unfurled a banner reading “The Israeli consulate has been closed for war crimes.”
As Israel’s destruction of Gaza raged on, carried out by the Middle East’s only nuclear superpower against an entrapped, occupied and virtually defenseless population, so did countless actions across the world. Protests, marches and demonstrations were called by the usual peace and justice organizations — hundreds of thousands came to express their dissent in major international cities — but smaller, more direct actions were being taken with little to no media fanfare. And some of these quieter operations, activists say, have begun to make an impact.
Al-Haq, a Palestinian NGO with the help of the Gaza Legal Aid Fund (facebook), is to take UK Government officials to court over policy that assists Israel in its illegal activities in Gaza.
Al-Haq, an independent Palestinian non-governmental organisation will tomorrow, Tuesday 24 February 2009 begin historical legal proceedings against the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, David Milliband, Defence Secretary, John Hutton and Trade & Industry (now the Secretary of State for Business Enterprise, and Regulatory Reform), Peter Mandelson.
Al Haq are making an application for judicial review of a policy decision by the three Secretaries of State that they will not change their position with respect to the UK’s relations with Israel so that the UK Government is fully compliant with international law. Continue reading “Palestinian NGO seeks UK human rights justice”
Amnesty International released a report today detailing the indiscriminate use of weapons by Israel in the latest war on Gaza. Having found undeniable evidence of the IDF’s use of US-made weapons against civilians – hence war crimes – it is calling on the new Obama administration and the UN Security Council to impose “an immediate and comprehensive arms embargo” on Israel and Hamas. Here is The Guardian‘s brief summary of the report.
Detailed evidence has emerged of Israel’s extensive use of US-made weaponry during its war in Gaza last month, including white phosphorus artillery shells, 500lb bombs and Hellfire missiles.
In a report released today, Amnesty International detailed the weapons used and called for an immediate arms embargo on Israel and all Palestinian armed groups. It called on the Obama administration to suspend military aid to Israel.
A vibrant and wonderful student movement has flowered a the Strathclyde University which has scored two major victories for peace and justice within this month. We at PULSE salute all the students, in particular Strathclyde Stop the War, Action Palestine, and the Strathclyde University Muslim Students Association (SUMSA) for their indispensable work. In today’s excellent guest editorial, Kim Bizzarri, who has himself lead from the front, reports on these successes and the prospects for future.
The vote, which took place in relation to a motion submitted by a group of students to their Union’s General Meeting (AGM) – the student’s highest decision-making body – won with an overwhelming majority of the over 200 students who queued in the union’s corridors and stairs to participate in the event. Such a high student attendance had been unprecedented in any previous AGM, most of which failed in the past 10 years to even reach quorum.
Despite attempts by the Union’s administration to dilute the substance of the motion and have it voted upon by the conservative Student Representative Council (SRC) – who had already rejected a similar popular motion two years earlier given the uncomfortable position it placed the University vis-à-vis its corporate funders – the fervent group of passionate students were successful in galvanising sufficient support amongst their fellows to turn the motion into student policy.
Within weeks of occupying the McCance Building – heart of the University’s administration – the original 60 students involved in the occupation have already gained the support of a sizable number of their fellow students.
They are the iPod generation of students: politically apathetic, absorbed by selfish consumerism, dedicated to a few years of hedonism before they land a lucrative job in the City. Not any more. A seismic change is taking place in British universities.
Around the UK, thousands of students have occupied lecture theatres, offices and other buildings at more than 20 universities in sit-down protests. It seems that the spirit of 1968 has returned to the campus.
While it was the situation in Gaza that triggered this mass protest, the beginnings of political enthusiasm have already spread to other issues.