Cutting through the bullshit.

Sunday, 26 November 2006

High on what?

According to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour in an interview with The Jerusalem Post Thursday,

"In one case you could have, for instance, a very objectionable intent - the intent to harm civilians, which is very bad - but effectively not a lot of harm is actually achieved," she said. "But how can you compare that with a case where you may not have an intent but you have recklessness [in which] civilian casualties are foreseeable? The culpability or the intent may not sound as severe, but the actual harm is catastrophic."

Believe it or not, she is attributing the objectionable intent to those firing Qassam rockets. I suppose it should be welcome that she at least recognizes that the IOF is culpable for the foreseeable, but of course unintentional, Palestinians who just happen to be accidentally killed and injured by Israeli artillery barrages, missiles, bullets and other obviously harmless projectiles.

On CounterPunch the other day, Kathleen Christisson issued a moral challenge,

…any Jew anywhere who allows Israel to commit these acts and pursue these policies in the name of all Jews -- for Israel does claim to act in the name of Jews everywhere -- without speaking out against Israel, without screaming protests, must be ashamed. Any American who allows the United States to support Israel -- to support it militarily with infusions of arms in the billions of dollars every year and to sustain it morally and psychologically -- without loud protest should be ashamed.

Further on the Gemayel assassination, Charles Glass writes,

So, what can the United States do? I can tell you what it has done. In 1976, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger approved the Syrian occupation of Lebanon. In 1982, his successor, Al Haig, encouraged Israel's invasion. Then, in 1990, another American secretary of state, James Baker, gave the go-ahead for the Syrian army to return to the parts of Lebanon from which it had been excluded in 1982. Neither Syria nor Israel entered Lebanon without an American okay. An American diktat could keep them both out, if the US cared as much about Lebanon as its politicians claim.

Jonathan Cook, as always worth a read, makes a convincing, if admittedly inconclusive, case that the Syrians are not necessarily the ones with most to gain from the assassination,

Gemayel's death, and Syria's blame for it, strengthens the case of the neoconservatives in Washington -- Israel's allies in the Administration -- whose star had begun to wane. They can now argue convincingly that Syria is unreformed and unreformable. Such an outcome helps to avert the danger, from Israel's point of view, that White House doves might win the argument for befriending Syria.

For all these reasons, we should be wary of assuming that Syria is the party behind Gemayel's death -- or the only regional actor meddling in Lebanon.

In much the same vein, Robert Fisk writes,

That little matter of the narrative - and who writes it - remained a problem yesterday, as the Western powers pointed their fingers at Syria. Yes, all five leading Lebanese men murdered in the past 20 months were anti-Syrian. And it's a bit like saying "the butler did it". Wouldn't a vengeful Syria strike at the independence of Lebanon by killing a minister? Yes. But then, what would be the best way of undermining the new and boastful power of the pro-Syrian Hizbollah, the Shia guerrilla army which has demanded the resignation of Siniora's cabinet? By killing a government minister, knowing that many Lebanese would blame the murder on Syria's Hizbollah allies?

For another take on the NYT coverage of the assassination, Chris Marsden writes in WSWS,

What the Times presents as an accidental result of Gemayel’s assassination provides a more convincing argument for anti-Syrian forces being responsible than its own efforts to blame Hezbollah or Syria.

As the Times predicted, Hezbollah has been forced to put the planned anti-government rallies announced earlier by its leader Sheik Hasan Nasrallah on hold. Instead, Gemayel’s funeral yesterday was the focus of a massive demonstration by anti-Syrian and pro-government forces.

In today’s Times, Steven Erlanger, always ready to cast a critical eye on events in Palestine, writes,

After another surge of violence in and around the Gaza Strip over the past month, Israel and the Palestinians moved gingerly on Friday toward reinstating an often-broken cease-fire between them.

Not worth mentioning in the newspaper of record is that the surge of violence has been perpetrated by the occupying military force. Not worth mentioning is that artillery and firearms are discharged with an intent to cause harm. And above all, it is not only not worth mentioning, but forbidden to mention, that the ‘often-broken cease-fire’ was unilateral, that Hamas refused to respond to Israeli provocation for over a year and a half.

True to form, history in the NYT’s view, began on 25 June,

Israel re-entered Gaza in late June in response to the capture of a soldier, Cpl. Gilad Shalit, by a group of Palestinian militants that included Hamas.

That the Israeli military kidnapped two Palestinian civilians the previous day, civilians, not coincidentally, whose names the NYT will not publish, couldn’t possibly have anything whatever to do with Shalit’s capture. Once again, small mercies. At least Mr Erlanger has managed to temper his language – usually, Shalit is ‘kidnapped’ or ‘abducted’, as if his tank crew were not a legitimate military target. As if it was some kind of crime. Which of course it was. By definition. What the occupied and oppressed do is criminal, what the occupiers and oppressors do is anticipatory retaliation, or the like.

Sometimes I feel like it must be tiresome reading about the cynical bullshit I see in the media. But people read the bullshit itself every day, day in day out – I know people who actually subscribe to the hard copy of the Times, so I guess I’ll just keep it up.

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