Happiness chemicals

Muso extraordinaire Darren Hanlon, bringing in 2009 on the Fringe!

Imagine there’s no heaven, I wonder if you can …

“A man who takes away another man’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred, he is locked behind the bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness. I am not truly free if I am taking away someone else’s freedom, just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken from me. The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity.” – Nelson Mandela

Ghazza bombed againmilitary might against the occupied and oppressed in a blockaded prison camp, Israel getting away with murder for the past 60 years. As Shalom Rav says:

How on earth will squeezing the life out of Gaza, not to mention bombing the living hell out of it, ensure the safety of Israeli citizens?

We good liberal Jews are ready to protest oppression and human-rights abuse anywhere in the world, but are all too willing to give Israel a pass. It’s a fascinating double-standard, and one I understand all too well. I understand it because I’ve been just as responsible as anyone else for perpetrating it.

So no more rationalizations. What Israel has been doing to the people of Gaza is an outrage. It has has brought neither safety nor security to the people of Israel and it has wrought nothing but misery and tragedy upon the people of Gaza.

Jewish Voice for Peace pleads for an end to the insanity:

Jewish Voice for Peace joins millions around the world, including the 1,000 Israelis who protested in the streets of Tel Aviv this weekend, in condemning ongoing Israeli attacks on Gaza. We call for an immediate end to attacks on all civilians, whether Palestinian or Israeli.

Israel’s slow strangulation of Gaza through blockade has caused widespread suffering to the 1.5 million people of Gaza due to lack of food, electricity, water treatment supplies and medical equipment. It is a violation of humanitarian law and has been widely condemned around the world.

In resisting these humiliations, Hamas resumed launching rockets and mortars from Gaza into southern Israel, directly targeting civilians, which is also a war crime. Over the years, these poorly made rockets have been responsible for the deaths of 15 Israelis since 2004.

Every country, Israel included, has the right and obligation to protect its citizens. The recent ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza shows that diplomatic agreements are the best protection for civilian life.

Moreover, massive Israeli air strikes have proven an indiscriminate and brutal weapon. In just two days, the known death toll is close to 300, and the attacks are continuing. By targeting the infrastructure of a poor and densely populated area, Israel has ensured widespread civilian casualties among this already suffering and vulnerable population.

This massive destruction of Palestinian life will not protect the citizens of Israel. It is illegal and immoral and should be condemned in the strongest possible terms. And it threatens to ignite the West Bank and add flames to the other fires burning in the Middle East and beyond for years to come.

The timing of this attack, during the waning days of a US administration that has undertaken a catastrophic policy toward the Middle East and during the run-up to an Israeli election, suggests an opportunistic agenda for short-term political gain at an immense cost in Palestinian lives. In the long run this policy will benefit no-one except those who always profit from war and exploitation. Only a just and lasting peace, achieved through a negotiated agreement, can provide both Palestinians and Israelis the security they want and deserve.

While the eve of destruction incorporating stock market crashes exhaled in the last panicky gasps of the print media is ever-present, over in the corner governments are getting busy with plans clamp down on our internet access as if our connections weren’t slow enough already. And now there’s shallow pontifications from UK “Culture” Secretaries … the pestilent, sanctimonious drive for control spreads fast.

The only thing worse than filthy web sites, are the filthy politicians who assure you that they are not launching their campaign to restrict free speech as a campaign to restrict free speech.

The Fringe is preparing a list of the best of the lists of whatever it was about 2008 that got you going. Meanwhile, we’re listening to our collection of live-streaming Darren Hanlon gems.

Ugly words, ugly responses

Olmert TorahAs we predicted, Israel’s recent aggression against the blockaded and deprived people of Gaza and threats of escalated collective punishment have been logically followed as in the past by more radicalisation, with a murderous attack by an unidentified gunman within a religious school in Jerusalem.

Merkaz HaRav yeshiva is described by one comment in Haaretz as ‘a heart of religious Zionism’, in other words, a bastion of the land thieving settler movement.

“This attack … came in reaction to the crimes of the Israeli occupation and the massacres against civilians in the Gaza Strip,” said Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman.

The gunman is reported as being a Palestinian living in East Jerusalem, and his actual identity is still unclear.

8 students were slaughtered, making the results of Israel’s aggression against the neighbours it ethnically cleansed 60 years ago consistent with the existing death ratio. A comparative 10 Palestinians are slaughtered due to the illegal occupation, blockades and oppression by the Zionist enterprise for every 1 Israeli.

And so the cycle of violence, orchestrated and cheerled by those who benefit and glory in it the most – religious zealots, rightwing fanatics, power-mad politicians and of course the shills of the weapons industry – continues.

Meanwhile, Israel is condemned for its 40 years of occupation and oppression by aid groups –

GAZA is experiencing “a humanitarian implosion” and life for its embattled citizens is at its worst since the beginning of Israeli occupation in 1967, a coalition of British human rights groups and charities said yesterday.
Poverty and unemployment are rising, hospitals are suffering power cuts for 12 hours a day and the water and sewage systems are close to collapse, according to a report by groups including Amnesty International, Care International UK, Oxfam and Save the Children UK.

It called on the UK government and the European Union to urgently redress this by pressuring Israel to lift its blockade on the impoverished coastal enclave and talk to Hamas.

The UK groups’ report on Gaza said the severity of the humanitarian situation had “increased exponentially since Israel imposed extreme restrictions on the movement of people and goods in response to the Hamas takeover (last June] and to indiscriminate rocket attacks against Israel”.

It added: “The Gaza economy is no longer on the brink of collapse; it has collapsed.”

During the past six months, the majority of private businesses in Gaza have shut down and 95 per cent of its industrial operations have been suspended due to an Israeli ban on imported raw materials and the blockage of exports. The report said poverty and unemployment had deepened dramatically and that 1.1 million people out of a population of 1.5 million were dependent on food aid.

Israeli restrictions had also hit patients in need of medical treatment unavailable in Gaza. Israel granted only 64 per cent of applications for care outside Gaza in December, compared with 89.3 per cent in January 2007.

An Israeli spokesman for Olmert effused in support of ongoing collective punishment of Palestinians, whilst taking the opportunity to delegitimise the democratically elected Hamas government yet again.

“In Gaza, a hostile regime took power that is shooting rockets into Israel on a daily basis. You don’t have to have normal economic relations with a country that is shooting at you.”

It doesn’t appear to occur to these arrogant monsters that Israel, possessing the 5th most powerful military in the world, continuously commits war crimes which have been declared war crimes internationally for very good reason, as they inevitably cause terrible repercussions to be visited upon their perpetrators, irregardless of whether Israel wishes to lay the blame, as it always does, on its victims rather than taking responsibility for its own criminal, deliberately chosen policies.

There is no happiness for him who oppresses and persecutes; no, there can be no repose for him. For the sighs of the unfortunate cry for vengeance to heaven. – Johann Pestalozzi

When a shoah is not a holocaust

The Zionist media strongarmers rush to insist on retractions by the media whom they claim misinterpreted Israhelli Deputy Defence Minister Vilnai’s use of the term ‘shoah’ in his repulsive collective bullying threat against the beleaguered Palestinian people. Guardian editor Alan Rushbridger apologises profusely for using the word holocaust as a translation – still, the Palestinian people and the world have heard Vilnai’s allusion, intended or not, loud and clear.

Will apologies now gush from multiple newspaper editors to Iranian leader Ahmadinejad for their definite misinterpretation of his speech where they and the Zionist propaganda machine claimed he said Israhell would be ‘wiped off the map’ when he actually said the Zionist regime would be metaphorically ‘wiped from the page of history’? Yeah, right, sure they will.

Wikipedia, flawed though it may be at times, has this to say:

Shoah is the Hebrew term meaning “disaster” or “conflagration”. With addition of “Ha” (meaning ‘The’ In Hebrew) – Ha Shoah is commonly used to refer to the Holocaust.

A quick google for ‘shoah’ finds the common result in English at least is the Holocaust, whereas HaShoah appears to be associated with Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Palestinian boyThe Paligate plot thickens with this Vanity Fair report where the US is revealed to have secretly conspired to give arms to Fatah strongman villain Dahlan in order to provoke a civil war to remove the democratically elected Hamas government. The elections, perpetrated at too short notice for Fatah to win, were encouraged by the US. Folowing the Hamas electoral win, the US wailed and gnashed teeth in consternation:

“Everyone blamed everyone else,” says an official with the Department of Defense. “We sat there in the Pentagon and said, ˜Who the fuck recommended this?””

….

Some analysts argued that Hamas had a substantial moderate wing that could be strengthened if America coaxed it into the peace process. Notable Israelis such as Ephraim Halevy, the former head of the Mossad intelligence agency shared this view. But if America paused to consider giving Hamas the benefit of the doubt, the moment was “milliseconds long,” says a senior State Department official. “The administration spoke with one voice: ˜We have to squeeze these guys. With Hamas’s election victory, the freedom agenda was dead.”

One would think after numerous utter failures and countless lives lost through cossetting of a lengthy list of previous dictators/strongmen, including Saddam, the Stupids would have learnt by now. In the current debacle according to the report, the US UN ex-representative John Bolton blames Miss Prim, Condisleezer, clumsily seeking to make her mark on history and demonstrating she has not learnt from it.

Bush to visit apartheid state

Bush’s upcoming visit to Israel is unlikely to stimulate any relief for the collectively punished, long-suffering Palestinians, despite vague waffle by Olmert on illegal settlement evacuations. Israel has a political half nelson on the US, who are blinkered by pro-Israeli propaganda, who do not realise or do not care that they are co-conspirators in war crimes and heinous human rights abuses. For the uneducated, the Israelis are always the good guys and the Palestinians the bad. Nor do any of the Democrat presidential candidates offer any hope for change. The Israel First Zionist lobby is too strong – to speak of justice for Palestine would be electoral suicide. Why the presidential hopefuls speak of Israel as a democracy is mystifying – perhaps it is a reflection of the lack of real democracy in a country primarily driven and controlled by big money lobbies and corporations.

Jonathan Cook analyses the Barak Oslo offers and makes some chilling conclusions about Olmert’s present political plans toward those hapless people the apartheid State of Israel currently occupies and from whom it blithely and cynically continues to steal land:

In truth, Israel’s need for recognition as a Jewish state is proof that it is not a democratic state, but rather an ethnic state that needs to defend racist privilege through the gerrymandering of borders and population. But in practice Olmert may yet use the recognition test to back Abbas, a weak and unrepresentative Palestinian leader, into the very corner that Arafat avoided.

Before Annapolis, Livni declared: “It must be clear to everyone that the State of Israel is a national homeland for the Jewish people,” adding that Israel’s Palestinian citizens would have to abandon their claim for equality the moment the Palestinian leadership agreed to statehood on Israel’s terms.

Olmert framed the Annapolis negotiations in much the same way. It was about creating two nations, he said: “the State of Israel — the nation of the Jewish people; and the Palestinian state — the nation of the Palestinian people.”

The great fear, Olmert has repeatedly pointed out, is that the Palestinians may wake up one day and realize that, after the disappointments of Oslo and Camp David, Israel will never concede to them viable statehood. The better course, they may decide, is a South African-style struggle for one-person, one-vote in a single democratic state.

Olmert warned of this threat on another recent occasion: “The choice … is between a Jewish state on part of the Land of Israel, and a binational state on all of the Land of Israel.”

Faced with this danger, Olmert, like Sharon and Barak before him, has come to appreciate that Israel urgently needs to persuade Abbas to sign up to the two-state option. Not, of course, for two democratic, or even viable, states, but for a racist Jewish state alongside a Palestinian ghetto-state.

With Bush also wanting a two state solution by the end of his disastrous term of office, the future of Palestinians looks as usual, bleak.

Israel’s water theft

Mohammad Ghamlush, “the engineer heading the Wazzani river pumping systems, told Agence France Presse the Israeli army sabotaged the water pumps on the river last week and installed a pipe to pump hundreds of cubic meters to Israel.”

He said the Israeli army has installed two water pumps to transport water from the Wazzani river through two pipes, which run toward villages in Israel.

Ghamlush said the Israelis were pumping every day between 200 and 300 cubic meters of water from the Wazzani to Ghajar and to Israeli villages.

As for water stolen from the West Bank, there’s plenty of evidence for that. It is illegal under international law to retain land captured by warfare. Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Shebaa Farms and Golan Heights is illegal whilst resisting the Israeli occupation is legal.

Of course, Israel doesn’t give two hoots about international law.

“However, soon afterward, the Israelis launched an unrelated attack on a West Bank Jordanian village, killing 53 people which came to be known as the Kibya massacre. As a result of the ensuing furor, on October 18, 1953, the Eisenhower administration made public its cutoff of aid to Israel. Eleven days later, under the pressure from the U.S. Zionist lobby and a pledge by Israel to suspend work on the diversion project, U.S. aid was resumed. (Taking Sides: America’s Secret Relations with a Militant Israel, by Stephen Green, William Morrow and Co., N.Y. 1984. “The 1953 Aid Cutoff: A Parable for Our Times,” pp. 76- 93.)

Israeli work on diverting the water of the Jordan River was only temporarily suspended — perhaps for as long as two years. By 1960, however, the diversion project — which came to be known as the National Water Carrier — was complete and in fact was the target of the PLO’s first (and unsuccessful) attack in 1964.

Jordan and Syria strongly protested Israel’s unilateral appropriation of their water because Israel’s diversion made local agricultural activity impossible.

Before the Israeli diversion, the U.S. plan apportioned 33% of Jordan River water for Israel’s use. As Stephen Green points out, the significance of this figure is that only 23% of the flow of the Jordan River originates in Israel. The Israelis, however, wanted more than 33%. Today, Israel takes virtually all of the Jordan River flow leaving only brackish, unusable water for the Syrians and Jordanians. Moreover, Israel’s diversion of the Jordan River water to the Mediterranean littoral and to the Negev, defies an important principle of international law regarding water use; namely that water should not be diverted from its catchment basin.”

“When Israel conquered the Golan Heights, they captured the headwaters of the Jordan and thus secured for themselves the greatest part of the flow of the Jordan River. Israel captured the final portion of the Jordan River flow in their 1982 invasion of Lebanon when they included as part of their self-declared “security zone” the Hasbani and Wazzani Rivers which arise in Lebanon and flow into the Jordan.”

“West Bank water not only makes up 30% of the water in Tel Aviv households but also is critical to preserving the pressure balance which keeps the salt water of the Mediterranean from invading the coastal aquifers.

Israel has permitted no new drilling of agricultural wells for water for the Palestinians in the territories and has permitted fewer than a dozen for domestic use. Moreover, the Israelis charge the Palestinians fees that are three times higher than they charge Israelis for water for domestic use (with even higher relative charges in Gaza).

As Sharif Elmusa points out: “[I]n terms of relative GNP per capita, Palestinians pay a minimum of fifteen times more than Israeli consumers — a phenomenal difference for water systems managed by the same company.” (“Dividing the Common Palestinian-Israeli Waters: An International Water Law Approach” in Journal of Palestine Studies, Spring 1993, No. 87, p. 63. See also note 11, p. 74.) ”

Here’s more history of Israel’s theft of water from the Jordan and the disastrous consequences.

“The main flow of the Jordan River has now been all but totally preempted by Israel’s diversions. All the headwaters’ flow is now collected by Israel and pumped out of the Jordan Basin, across the mountains, for use in irrigation or municipal water along the Mediterranean littoral of Israel.

The planning for diverting the Jordan River water by the Israelis started as early as the 1940s, but the very idea of capturing it is even more ancient. Much of the design of the civil works for capturing the Jordan River was completed in the 1950s, and they succeeded in diverting the entire volume of sweet water from the Upper Jordan by the late 1960s, when construction of the National Water Carrier system was completed. Pumps lift Jordan River water out of Lake Tiberias, also known as the Sea of Galilee, and convey it across the watershed. The diverted flow is then pumped to Israeli consumers on the Mediterranean coast and down into the northern Negev.”

“To make things even more difficult, there is another source of extra-boundary water that Israel diverts for its own use, albeit less obviously. The amount of water that Israel take from the underground of the West Bank is almost as important as the water diverted from the Upper Jordan Valley. This could surprise as the West Bank appears to be quite dry much of the year. In fact it receives more rain than the coastal plain, mostly in wintertime. As the soil is extremely porous much goes into the ground and thus into the aquifers underneath which is now pumped by the Israelis. This subsurface flow of water is a major contributor to Israel’s water balance, representing with its 400 mcm/y of water just over 20% of total Israeli consumption. This explains why Palestinians have not been allowed to dig new wells since 1967 and why their water consumption was constantly restricted by the occupier: the hegemony over the West Bank is critical for Israel’s water supply.”

The Wazzani River is in Lebanon.

Not Israel. Israel may think it owns all the water in the region, but it doesn’t.

“Withdrawing from some villages, the Israeli forces redeployed to other areas leaving behind them a trail of destruction, such as in Labbouneh, whose trees and horticulture have been totally destroyed by bulldozers. In addition, convoys of Israeli trucks are transporting Lebanese agricultural soil over the border to Israeli settlements and Israeli soldiers are building a water duct to carry water from the Wazzani river to Israel. The deployment of Lebanese and UNIFIL forces is being hampered by Israel’s refusal to hand over the maps indicating the land mines they planted prior to their withdrawal in 2000 and the cluster bombs they dropped on Lebanese sites during the last three days of the recent war. Moreover, reports about Israeli commando operations shifting the border away from the Blue Line into Lebanese territory have prompted the Lebanese government to file a complaint with the United Nations under the new regulations set up by Resolution 1701 which is supposed to safeguard Lebanon against violations of its territory.”

And more:

There are no bilateral water agreements between Lebanon and Israel, but both states are bound by the UN Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses, which has NOT been formally ratified. It must be noted that even this convention does NOT give Israel the right to actually draw water from within Lebanese territory. It merely puts a loose restriction on Lebanon in its usage of international watercourses that have downflow across the boundary. The Convention merely says that the state from which the watercourse flows should make sure to use the water source on its territory in a reasonable manner. This does NOT mean that Israel has the right to extend pipes across its boundary and pump water into Israel!!! Such a thing would fall under a bilateral agreement, which does NOT exist between Lebanon and Israel. Water diversion from the territory of one country by a foreign country is illegal under international law.

In fact, Israel’s occupation of Al-Ghajar and theft of water is merely a measure of revenge at a Lebanese project that dates a few years back, in which the Wazzani waters were to be put into use as part of a project to provide water to south Lebanese villages with no water access (a perfectly legitimate, legal project), and over which Israel was throwing a tantrum. It also explains why Israel has been pressuring Lebanon for the past 3 decades to initiate economic ties with it. This would basically mean the beginning of bilateral agreements, of which water is deemed to be an inseparable part. Direct access to these water sources would ensure that Israel would cover at least 40% of its water needs, not taking into account the Litani.

Between 1982 and 2000 Israel was pumping water OUT of Lebanon. Actually there is a very interesting study on this, I think done by the Lebanese ministry of energy & water, in the form of a booklet, but I think it’s only available in Arabic (a colleague once showed it to me, but I have not been able to get my hands on it). Throughout the occupation, the government in Beirut was prevented from having access to the water in the occupied south, while Israel pumped millions of cubic meters of water into Israel. From 1978 (Operation Litani) onwards, Israel stopped publishing full water and cultivation figures. Instead, only loose estimates were made available. As a counter-proposal to the Johnston plan for an agreement on the allocation of water sources to Arab countries and Israel, Israel proposed the diversion of the waters of the Litani (which does not feed any of the water sources inside Israel). Of course, the Johnston proposal was in itself inherently racist, and though its aspirations were high on resolving water conflict in the M.E as a precedent to political settlement, it nevertheless was a big failure not merely technically but also theoretically, in that it did not look at the core sources of the conflict (dispossession and colonization), but rather focused entirely on arriving to an artificial solution (settling the Palestinians in the Sinai desert). If you can, you should check out an article by John K. Cooley titled ‘The War over Water’, in the journal Foreign Policy, No. 54. (Spring, 1984), pp. 3-26.

For example, the article points out that when they captured the dam and lake at Qirawn in June 1982 the Israelis immediately seized all the hydrographic charts and technical documents relating to the Litani and its installations. The Israelis were openly augmenting the flow of the Hasbani across the frontier into Israel by laying surface pipes to catch the run-off and other waters from the mountains and nearby springs. Moreover, a watchful American military observer claims to have seen Israelis burying pipes deep in a hillside near Marjâuyn [Marjaâayoun] after the Israeli incursion of 1978, indicating that the Israelis might be secretly siphoning water underground from the Marj Plain in southern Lebanon into Israel, without affecting the measured flow of the Litani. Such a diversion would trap the extensive underground aquifer, which is fed by seepage from both the Litani and the Hasbani rivers and by underground streams from the Mount Hermon region. [S]eismic soundings and surveys had been conducted at a spot on the Litani gorges called Deir Mimas – soundings that Lebanese Litani River Authority officials were certain had been undertaken to find the optimum place for the inlet of a diversion tunnel to be dug about three miles into Israel (p. 22-23).

Another interesting read is an article titled ‘Israel’s Water Policies’, by Uri Davis, Antonia E. L. Maks, and John Richardson, which appeared in the Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 9, No. 2. (Winter, 1980), pp. 3-31.”

And yet more:

According to a United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, Israel was using water from the Lebanese Litani River, by means of an 11 mile tunnel it had drilled, as well as from Lebanons Wazzani springs (source: UPI). Note that no journalists can get to the area to confirm information about the siphoning of water and, indeed, such claims are contested (Aaron Wolf, in a U.N. publication, says there’s no way Israel would dream of stealing from the Litani).

But even whilst President Clinton and the Israeli government refused to negotiate over the right of return for Palestinian refugees, Israel imported over 100,000 Jews into the occupied West Bank. Those 100,000 use around the same amount of water that one million Palestinians do (something to do with swimming pools, say partisan analysts). As the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs says:

“Israel’s water economy is on the brink of a crisis.”

Related Links

“No Peace Without Water” – The Role of Hydropolitics in the Israel-Palestine Conflict