I Am Just A Kid

Do shared values include slaughtering civilians, torturing children, and holding people in custody indefinitely without charges?

Last summer, Tariq Khdeir, a 15-year-old American citizen from Baltimore, accompanied his parents to the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat for a six-week visit with relatives. The first friend Tariq made when he arrived was his cousin, Muhammad Abu Khdeir, whom Tariq had not seen since he was four years old.

“We had so much fun,” Tariq told a gathering at the national conference of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation in San Diego on September 19, 2014.

One night while he was in Jerusalem, Tariq saw some police with Muhammad. Tariq thought they had kidnapped Muhammad. Tariq wondered, “Is he gonna come back? Is he gonna come back alive”? But Muhammad did not come back alive. In retaliation for the deaths of three Israeli teenagers, Muhammad was beaten and burnt alive by three Jewish extremists.

After Muhammad’s murder, people took to the streets in protest. Israeli Defense Force soldiers began firing rubber bullets at them. Incredulous, Tariq thought, “Is this really happening in front of me”? Then Israeli soldiers began to run after Tariq. Panicked, Tariq ran.

“There was a 10-foot drop in front of me. Everyone jumped, but they tackled me, zip-tied me, and punched me in the face,” Tariq said. “I was like a punching bag until I became unconscious.” The image of Tariq’s badly swollen, deformed face appeared on media reports throughout the world last July.

When Tariq awoke, his face felt “like a bubble, it hurt so much.” He wondered, “Are they gonna kill me”? After six hours in jail, Tariq was finally taken to the hospital. His father and his uncle told him he might come home or go to jail. Tariq thought, “How could I go to jail? They beat me up.” Tariq told the group, “I’m just a kid.”

Tariq was taken back to jail after he left the hospital. He had to remove the hospital gown and put on his bloody clothes. There were nine people in a tiny cell; it was impossible to sit down. Two days later, Tariq was released. He thought, “I’m finally going home.” But he was placed on house arrest. No charges were ever filed against him. “That’s what they do to all the Palestinians,” Tariq said.

“They took my cousins, and they’re still in jail, because they’re not American and they didn’t have a video that showed the brutality of the Israelis,” Tariq reported. “It’s inhumane.”

Keynote speaker Ali Abunimah followed Tariq and Suha at the conference. He mentioned that of the more than 2,100 Palestinians the Israelis killed in Gaza last summer, 521 were children. Most of the fatalities were civilians. More than one of every 1,000 Gazans were killed, and one percent of the entire population of Gaza were killed or injured.

Most of the weapons the Israelis employed in Gaza were artillery shells, which were used in unprecedented quantities. They are very inaccurate.

In response to Israeli demands that the Palestinians surrender their weapons, Abunimah asked, “Why talk about demilitarising the oppressed? Let’s talk about demilitarising the oppressor.”

After Mummahad was killed, the Israelis called it an “honour killing.” Muhammad’s father said, “they’ve killed my son twice.”

Two hundred Palestinian children are still in jail. Abunimah cited the “racist mentality” of many Israelis who chant, “Death to the Arabs.” Abunimah recalled President Barack Obama’s remark about “the shared values of the United States and Israel.”

Do those shared values include slaughtering civilians, torturing children, and holding people in custody indefinitely without charges?

Tariq did come back alive – but only because his beating was caught on tape and because he was a US citizen.

By: Marjorie Cohn

The Prelude to War

Isis, WMD of our time. To light a fire: White House, gathering within itself the military and intelligence communities, sends out Gen Dempsey and Sec Hagel to testify before Senate Armed Services – feeler about war while Obama mouths peace.

The old trick, a trial balloon, while POTUS sits pretty and has deniability. The important thing, build war sentiment, feed the public a steady diet of war propaganda. It is working.

A ‘war-weary public’, as is often contended? Nonsense. America hungers for war, needs war to feel muscular; ‘shock-and-awe’ air campaigns, whomever directed against, testifies to US greatness. War is thought essential to a prosperous economy. Peace, ever since TR, is thought ignoble—also perhaps tilting capitalism toward stagnation.

Why deny American superiority? Obama rides the crest of the ethnocentric/xenophobic wave, ideological crosscurrents that spell e-x-c-e-p-t-i-o-n-a-l-i-s-m. Bingo. The corporate state subsumes its militarisation. Obama has transformed himself from POTUS to Commander-in-Chief: vacillation, the Hamlet-like façade, is for the purpose of concealing a seething underneath.

The White House thinks ahead. It is more ambitious in its war planning than previous administrations. Obama surrounds himself with the best, would-be Clausewitzs with a geopolitical vision of US unilateral control over the global system. Everything is possible through air power. Before, he leaned on Special Ops and the CIA, drone assassination his method of choice. Now, his General Staff is getting itchy, eager to display their wares, show their stuff.

Assassination is too slow. Bomb everywhere, “friends and allies” a reliable cheering section (so long as ground troops are not their own). They, the sweet EU-Nato nexus, also help to neutralise international organisation. Today, then, Isis, and if possible, Assad; tomorrow, what remains of a resistant world. Who cannot see Russia and China in the American cross-hairs?

Whomever cannot is not a fit candidate for office, either party, and certainly not, Obama’s national-security team. Isis is a mere stepping stone. To what?

First, stabilization of the Middle East around an Israel-centred formula of non-compromise on Palestine, an accommodative peace with Egypt, Jordan, and the Saudis, as the domestication of the Arab Spring to crush Iran. Second, Europe’s solidification into an anti-Russian coalition of power, aimed at further dismemberment. Third, a more drastic version of the same with respect to China.

Obama’s Pacific-first strategy, embodied in the Pentagon’s 60-40 split in the allocation of “assets” to that region, signals confrontation at its highest. And the prize, the greatest: undisputed global power on a permanent basis. And with it, the superimposition of American values – unrestrained capitalism in all its wish-fulfilment forms – on the world system. Look for an international division of labour, outsourcing to the third decimal point in the search for cheap labour, preferably near the source of raw materials for production.

Look also for stability, i.e., counterrevolution in advance of anything happening. A world without socialism; equally, one without obstacles to American commercial-financial penetration. Ditto, opposition forces and/or politics questioning US (moral) leadership. Bring Kipling up-to-date: the world never sets on American military bases.

That already accomplished, it will be necessary to supplement with more, always more, as US controls tighten, the propaganda of domination begins to wear thin, and the “natives” (including formerly top-ranked states) become restive.

Norman Pollack

Friendship of 7 decades couldn’t help

We became friends when we were little kids.
He (Saeed uz Zaffar) was 10 months older than me.
He had started living with us after death of his mother (sister of my father).
We used to play together.

I go in to the past as far as I can recall but fail to reach the date when our friendship started, should be 1946 or 1945.
Our friendship remained fast during all weathers and all environments.
During past 7 decades we didn’t quarrel or were angry with each other even once.
I have been praying for his good health nearly daily.

Friendship of about 7 decades couldn’t help and he left this world alone without even informing me a day before our festival, Eid ul Azha (yearly festival of Muslims related to sacrifice offered to God by Prophet Abraham which according to Lunar calendar fell on 05th October, 2014 in Pakistan).

Any way I still stand a good friend and will go on praying for his well-being wherever he is.

No Future in War

There is no future in war. In 2003 US politicians orchestrated the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq based on blatant lies – lies that have cost the American people over $3 trillion.

Imagine what we could have done with this money:

With $3 trillion dollars, we could have guaranteed free higher education for all interested Americans. Instead, we are wallowing in over $1 trillion in outstanding college loan debt.

With $3 trillion, we could have created a system of universal health care. Instead, affordable health care is still out of reach for many Americans and we have no idea if there will even be a Medicare system when we are old enough to retire.

With $3 trillion we could have renovated our decrepit public schools and crumbling public infrastructure, giving us the kind of foundation we need for a thriving nation in the decades to come.

With $3 trillion we could have created a national energy grid based not upon environmentally destructive fossil fuels, but upon renewable energy sources–something that our generation cares passionately about.

Our true foes – those endlessly gunning for war – have been waging an economic war against us. Our foes are the ones who say we must increase Pentagon spending while we cut food stamps, unemployment assistance, public transportation, and low-income housing. They are the ones who want to destroy the social safety net that past generations have worked so hard to build. They are the ones who underfund our public schools – which are more segregated today than they were under Jim Crow – and then privatise them. They are the ones who throw hundreds of thousands of young people in prison, thanks to the racist and classist war on drugs, and then privatize the prisons to exploit and profit off of incarcerated citizens who make close-to-zero wages.

Throwing money at war does nothing to address the real issues we face. We, the youth of our country, are the ones who will feel this pain. The cost of war is sucking us dry; it is burdening us with debts we will never be able to pay back.

And war doesn’t even work to create jobs. Politicians say they can’t cut the Pentagon budget because the weapons manufacturers create much-needed jobs. Yes, our generation need jobs. But if members of Congress really wants to use federal spending to help us find employment, the military is the worst investment.

A $1 billion investment in military spending nets 11,600 jobs. The same investment in education reaps 29,100 jobs. Whether it’s education, healthcare or clean energy, investments in those sectors create many more job opportunities than the military. The military-industrial complex does a great job lining the pockets of politicians; it does a lousy job creating an economy that works for all.

War does not work from a national security and defense perspective.

The war apologists claim war makes our future “safer” and “freer.” But since the tragic 9/11 attack, the US military response has made the world a more dangerous place. The invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the Nato bombing of Libya, the use of predator drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, and countless other examples of military operations have only increased violence and hatred. Iraqis and Afghans are certainly no safer and freer; we are certainly no safer and freer.

We refuse to let our brothers and sisters, both here and abroad, die for access to cheap Persian Gulf oil. The Iraqis, the Afghans, the Iranians, the Libyans, the Somalis, and the people of any other country our military circles like vultures, are not our enemies. We must oppose US intervention not because we don’t care about them, but because we do.

By: Ben Norton