Christian Fundamentalism, the Global Crusade and Muslims

Christian Fundamentalism, the Global Crusade and Muslims

10-06-2008

By Yoginder Sikand

 

 

If Christian fundamentalists are to be believed, America’s invasion of Iraq and the consequent brutal slaughter of thousands of innocent civilians in that country are all part of a grand divine plan that will finally culminate in the ‘second coming’ of Jesus Christ.

Establishing an empire that will extend all over the globe, Christ will rule like a powerful monarch, saving those who believe in him and dispatching non-believers, all non-Christians and non-conformist Christians, to everlasting perdition in hell.

This is no childish nonsense for millions of Christian fundamentalists, who sincerely believe this to be predicted in the Bible.

Not surprisingly, American Christian fundamentalists are today among the most fanatic supporters of Bush’s global imperialist wars, in Iraq and elsewhere, which they see as in keeping with the divine mandate.

They are no eccentric or lunatic fringe elements, for today Christian fundamentalists exercise a powerful influence in American politics. Among them is George Bush himself, who insists that the American invasion of Iraq has been sanctioned by God, with whom he claims to be in personal communication.

While the Western press is awash with stories, real and exaggerated, about ‘Islamic fundamentalists’ , rarely is mention made about Christian fundamentalists, who, with their vast resources and close links with the current American administration, are a potentially more menacing threat than their Muslim counterparts.

According to newspaper reports more than a third of Americans are associated with one or the other Christian fundamentalist outfit, most of which are fiercely anti-communist, anti-Muslim and are passionate advocates of free-market capitalism, global American hegemony and the myth of the civilizing mission of white America. In recent years, these fundamentalist groups have been engaged in aggressive missionary work in other countries as well, including in the so-called ‘Third World’.

Fired by a passionate hatred for other religions, which they dismiss as ‘false’ and even ‘Satanic’, they are today among the most well-funded missionary groups in large parts of Asia and Africa.

Crusading for Christ, these fundamentalist groups are not simply out fishing for souls. Rather, for them Christianity is only part of the agenda, which also includes aggressively promoting American and Zionist interests. Today, these groups preach not only Christ but also Pax Americana and even American-led imperialist wars, which they bless as holy causes to usher in the final arrival of Jesus.

Texas-based author and preacher Michael Evans is one of the most notorious American Christian fundamentalist preachers today, a passionate advocate of war in the name of Christ.

In a recently published book, titled Beyond Iraq: The Next Move-Ancient Prophecy and Modern-Day Conspiracy Collide (Whitestone Books, Florida, 2003), he spells out a grand design for American global hegemony, blessed in the guise of a holy global war. Key players in this ‘divine’ plot include the CIA, the American government and army, and Israel, besides various Christian fundamentalist outfits.

The book is dedicated, among others, to what Evans describes as ‘two old friends’, Ehud Olmert, former Israeli Vice President, and the former Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Equally revealingly, the book begins with a quotation which graces the lobby of the original headquarters of the CIA.

Evans is no petty crank who claims to be God-possessed, although his writings might seem to suggest that. The jacket of the book describes him as a ‘TIME magazine best-selling author’, who has appeared on the BBC and on American television channels and who has written for such papers as the Wall Street Journal and the Jerusalem Post.

He hobnobs with the highest of American and Israeli politicians and religious leaders, and is evidently taken very seriously in Christian fundamentalist circles. That Evans is also a passionate Bush-backer is amply evident in his clam that, ‘I know, from a first hand, personal interview with him that Bush is a man of faith who believes in the Bible’.

Evans is the founder of the ‘Jerusalem Prayer Team’, which, he says, he established after having been visited by God in a vision.

Among those who participated in the inauguration of his outfit were such names as Franklin Graham, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, all notorious American Christian fundamentalist leaders, Governor Dick Perry and Representative Dick Armey, and Benjamin Netanyahu, former Israeli Prime Minister.

Thousands of others in America and elsewhere, so he claims, have joined his movement in the aftermath of 11 September, 2001. His ultimate aim, he writes, is to have one million ‘intercessors praying daily for the peace of Jesus and God’s protection for Israel’ so that ‘demonic powers will be defeated by holy angels in a battle that cannot be seen with the natural eye’.

A fierce Christian Zionist, Evans has close links with the Israeli establishment. The book’s jacket states that he received the ‘Ambassador Award’ from the government of Israel and relates that he has been ‘a confidante to most of Israel’s prime ministers and to both of Jerusalem’s mayors’. The jacket quotes Benjamin Netanyahu as praising Evans for having ‘consistently demonstrated the moral clarity that is necessary to defend Israel from the lies and distortions of its enemies’.

This is no empty boast: the book contains pictures of Evans with Menachem Begin endorsing his first book, ‘Israel: America’s Key To Survival’, praying with Shimon Peres, comforting Jewish victims of a bomb blast in Israel, launching the ‘Jerusalem Prayer Team’ along with Jerusalem’s mayor, pledging support to Israel before Yitzhak Shamir along with half a million signatures of fellow Christians, championing Israel’s cause at the royal palace in Madrid and keeping company with American soldiers in Lebanon and Somalia. *

Christianity, War and the ‘Defence’ of Israel

For Evans, and numerous other rabid Christian fundamentalist preachers of hate like him, one of the most crucial purposes of America’s invasion of Iraq is the ‘defence’ of Israel, which he regards as a solemn Christian duty. If till recently Jews were routinely reviled by the Church as ‘Christ-killers’ , and, accordingly, hounded by Christian authorities, many of today’s Christian fundamentalists, like Evans, are passionate advocates of the state of Israel. This does not, however, represent any shift in their fervent belief, intrinsic to mainstream Christianity, that non-Christians, Jews included, are destined for Hell. Rather, it is part of a wider conversion agenda.

Jesus, they believe, will return to the world to rule only once the Jews have ‘returned’ to Palestine and have rebuilt the temple of David that was destroyed almost two thousand years ago.

After this momentous event, many Jews will convert to Christianity and those who refuse to will be sent to hell.

Till then, Christian fundamentalists argue, the Jews and their state must be passionately defended from their ‘enemies’, who are invariably identified as Arabs and Muslims.

The ‘defence’ of Israel, a central point in the Christian fundamentalist agenda, is typically argued in racist terms. Israel, Christian fundamentalists believe, are God’s ‘chosen people’, and they quote the Bible as making this claim, suggesting, therefore, that non-Jewish peoples are somehow lesser beings.

Evans, too, makes this point and argues that according to the Bible ‘God will bless those who bless Israel’ and will ‘curse those who curse it’. ‘History records’, he says, ‘that God deals with nations in accordance with how those nations deal with Israel’. Hence, in the ‘defence’ of Israel, Christians, Evans argues, have no choice. If they are true to their faith, he says, they must join hands with America in its war for ‘defending’ Israel, and must ‘support Israel in every possible way’.

‘We must either choose Mount Zion [Jerusalem] and be among those who obey the voice of the Spirit of the Lord’, he writes, ‘or we will be left to the passions of our flesh, drinking the wine of her [Bablyon’s or Iraq’s] fornication’ .

The invasion of Iraq, and the broader American ‘war on terror’, is, Evans says, is akin to ‘divine light [.] proclaiming like a trumpet a spiritual battle of monumental proportions’ , pitting Babylon, the Biblical Iraq, the ‘spiritual centre of darkness’, against Jerusalem or contemporary Israel, the ‘spiritual centre of light’.

But so that this ‘divine light’ should spread beyond the confines of Babylon, Evans pleads for America to extend its war all over the globe, to every country that dares to challenge American supremacy and the state of Israel. This war, he says, should aim at the elimination of all ‘terrorists’ , defined as those who refuse to support Israeli and American interests. In this, the invasion and occupation of Iraq is of vital importance, Evans says, because it will ‘become a US base’ to destroy ‘terrorist’ networks elsewhere in the Middle East and eventually to usher in what he calls ‘the apocalyptic battle’ of Armageddon, ‘the final battles of the ages’ as allegedly ‘prophesied in Daniel, Jeremiah and Revelations’ , chapters of the Bible.

America, as Evans sees it, must be ready to sacrifice itself to protect Israel, because that, he says, is precisely what the Christian God wants. Hence, Palestinians resisting the illegal occupation of their land and all those who opposed to Israel and its imperialist and expansionist policies must be crushed with the might of American arms, he insists.

The Christian God does not brook any peace with such people, he argues. The Bible, he announces, says that those who fight against Israel, God’s supposedly chosen people and recipients of His ‘special blessing’, would be destroyed by God Himself. He quotes the Bible as declaring: ‘And this shall be the plague with which the Lord will strike all the people who fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh shall dissolve while they stand on their feet. Their eyes shall dissolve in their sockets. And their tongues shall dissolve in their mouths’.

Given this supposed divine backing, Evans exhorts America to invade and subjugate all countries opposed to Israel, specifically naming Lebanon, Syria and Iran.

The ultimate agenda, he says, is to destroy these countries and establish what Zionists call Eretz or Greater Israel, extending to and including Iraq. This is because, Evans quotes the Bible as saying, God allegedly gave this vast stretch of land, from the Nile to the Euphrates, to Abraham and his son Isaac and his descendants, ancestors of the Jews, as a covenant and as their ‘everlasting possession’.

Echoing hardliner Zionists, Evans insists that there can be no peace with the Palestinians at any cost, because, he claims, the Christian God is opposed to this. If Israel and America are to faithfully abide by the Christian God’s will, he says, they must not let anything get in the way of the establishment of Eretz Israel. Thus, various peace proposals that involve any territorial concessions on the part of Israel are ruled out.

This is because, as Evans alleges, God has given the entire territory to the Jews till eternity.

Christianity and the New Anti-Muslim Crusade

As for the Arabs and Muslims more generally, Evans seems to suggest that the Christian God desires that they be humiliated, subjugated and crushed.

Thus, he quotes the Bible as saying that while God specially blessed Isaac and his descendants, the Jews, he had a different plan in mind for the Arabs, descendants of Ishmael, Abraham’s other son.

Referring to Ishmael Evans quotes the Bible as saying, ‘He will be a wild man; His hand shall be against every man and every man’s hand against him’.

This racist stereotype, so deeply rooted in traditional Christian discourse about Muslims, is held by Evans to be what he calls ‘a fitting description of the Arab terrorist’ and, presumably, as justifying the annihilation of the Arab people, as well as other Muslims.

Evans goes so far in vilifying Arabs and Muslims as to call Muhammad a proto-terrorist, alleging that he had banished and killed Jews for not believing in him.

‘Terrorism’, he claims, is a logical consequence of Islam, and he argues that ‘Muhammad set a sordid example for his present-day disciples, the Qadafis, Khomeinis, Arafats and bin Ladens and Husseins of this world’. Claiming knowledge of the unseen, he even announces that Islam is ‘a malevolent manifestation of a religion conceived in the pit of hell’.

Evans thus equates Islam with the forces of the ‘Anti-Christ’ , against whom he appeals to Christians to marshal all the resources at their command. Ironically, while spewing hatred and calling for a global war, he presents Christianity as peace-loving, contrasting it with Islam, which he equates with ‘terrorism’.

‘Christianity differs from Islam as day differs from night’, he claims, completely unmindful of the sordid and blood-soaked history of the faith he claims to champion. In the same breath as he issues a general summons to Christians to wage war in the name of their faith he refers to the Bible as instructing Christians to ‘turn the other cheek’ when slapped, in order to argue that, unlike Christianity, Islam is an inherently vile religion, equating it with what he terms ‘the law of the bullet, militancy, treachery, terrorism and violence’.

Christianity, America and Oil

Christian fundamentalists are ardent advocates of free-market capitalism, having played a key role in America’s war against communism during the Cold War. Christ, capitalism and American supremacy go together, Evans believes, and so, while announcing that an American-spearheade d global war is precisely what Christ mandates, he approvingly quotes Isser Harel, founder of the Israeli secret services’ organization Mossad, who speaks of the ‘terror’ threat to America’s ‘freedom’, ‘capitalism’ and ‘power’, and exhorts America to take appropriate defence measures.

Evans goes so far as to advise the America to capture all the oil wealth in Arab lands in order to prevent ‘terrorists’ from using oil wealth to target Israel, home to God’s supposedly ‘special people’. A more ingenuous excuse to justify American greed could hardly be devised!

Since Muslims, especially the Arabs, are branded virtually as agents of the Devil, Evans argues that America, as self-appointed agent of Christ, should have no qualms about invading oil-rich Arab lands. This would, he says, break America’s dependence on Muslim countries for oil which.

If America seizes all Arab oil-fields, it would, he says, sharply reduce oil prices, forcing Muslim countries ‘to their knees’, giving them only two options: ‘cooperate with the war on terror or go bankrupt’.

At the same time as he exhorts America to invade and occupy all the countries, no matter what the human cost, Evans warns that it should not be serious about its rhetoric of exporting ‘democracy’ to the Middle East, for, he argues, it would lead to anti-American and anti-Israeli Islamists taking over.

Invasion of Iraq and the Ushering in of Global Christendom and Pax-Americana

Evans sees America’s invasion and occupation of Iraq as the unfolding of a divine plan for the world. It is not nothing less than what he calls a grand ‘spiritual battle’, between Christianity and Satanic forces and ‘demons’, as represented by Muslims and other non-Christians.

Accordingly, he fervently welcomes America’s invasion of Iraq and pleads that America should expand the theatre of war by invading various other, mostly Muslim, countries.

The murder and destruction that America has wrought in Iraq is nothing to grieve about, Evans seems to suggest. It is a price, he argues, that God is supposedly exacting from Muslims for having been ‘coerced’
by Satan to ‘loathe’ the Jews, ‘God’s Chosen People’.

It is also a divine punishment, he says, for Iraq having allegedly possessing ‘deadly chemical, biological or nuclear weapons’, echoing the bogus claim made by Bush, Blair and their henchmen which they used to justify their invasion of that country.

Weak-hearted Christians who might disagree are advised to all in line, for, Evans says, this is precisely what the Bible predicts and what God mandates. ‘I will raise against Babylon an assembly of great nations from the north country, for she has sinned against God’, the Jewish prophet Jeremiah is said to have announced, and Evans takes this as evidence of his claim that the American invasion of Iraq is demanded by God and that all America is doing is to faithfully follow God’s will.

Iraq, the Biblical Babylon, Evans insists, represents the forces of Satan, and hence deserves to be crushed by America, God’s agent, through invasion and war. ‘Babylon is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication’ , he quotes the Bible as saying. ‘I will rise up against them [.] I will cut off from Babylon her name and survivors, her offspring and descendants [.] I will turn her into a place for owls and into swampland. I will sweep her with the broom of destruction’ , Evans quotes the Biblical God as having declared. He marshals other Biblical verses to press the argument about Iraq being allegedly inherently ‘evil’ and hence deserving harsh repression at American hands.

Eve and Adam are said to have committed the ‘first sin’ there; it was in Iraq that occult and astrology were invented; Nebuchadnezzar, ruler of Babylon, conquered Israel and enslaved the Jews; the Babylonians built the Tower of Babel, thereby defying God by trying to reach heaven without His permission; and the Bible describes Babylon as the ‘seat’ of the Anti-Christ and the ‘Beast’, the ‘seat of Satan’s evil’, in contrast to Jerusalem, the ‘seat of God’s righteousness’ , against whom it is destined to be pitted in the final battle that will usher in Jesus’ ‘second coming’.

In all, then, Evan argues, America is simply acting as the Christian God’s handmaiden in wreaking destruction and death in Iraq.

Instead of being blamed or castigated for this, he argues, it should be praised.

This destruction is Biblically mandated, he repeats, for the Bible has announced that, ‘Babylon, the great, has fallen and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird [.] Therefore, her plague will come in one day-death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire [.]

Thus with violence the great city Babylon shall be thrown down and shall not be found anymore’.

But this terrible destruction in Iraq is only the beginning of a bloody trail of events mandated by a supposedly blood-thirsty and vengeful God. According to Evans’ reading of the Bible, the American invasion of Iraq is what he calls ‘the dress-rehearsal’ for the grand global battle of Armageddon between the forces of Christ and Satan.

Prior to this battle, he quotes the Bible as saying, ‘demons and spirits’ bound up in the Euphrates in Iraq will be released, and, with an army of 200 million, will kill off a third of the world’s total inhabitants through nuclear war. This grand battle, Evans writes, is not far off.

Hence, he appeals to Christians to ‘put on the armour of God’ and ‘engage in spiritual battle’. Now, is the time, he says, to prepare for the impending return of Christ. Presumably, after Iraq is destroyed through the agency of the Americans, Christ will suddenly appear in Jerusalem and establish his global empire, ushering in the end of the world as we know it.

Horrendous as Evans’ views are, they do find a powerful echo in Christian fundamentalist circles today, more so given their growing influence in policy-making circles in the West, particularly in America.

If the world is to be saved from the Armageddon that Evans and his ilk are bent on calling down from the heavens it is imperative that Western imperialism and Christian fundamentalism be interrogated, challenged and opposed, particularly by sincere Christians themselves.


Sukhia Sab Sansar Khaye Aur Soye
Dukhia Das Kabir Jagey Aur Roye

The world is ‘happy’, eating and sleeping The forlorn Kabir Das is awake and weeping


Sukhia Sab Sansar Khaye Aur Soye
Dukhia Das Kabir Jagey Aur Roye

The world is ‘happy’, eating and sleeping The forlorn Kabir Das is awake and weeping


 

The Muslim News
http://www.muslimne ws.co.uk/ news/news. php?article= 14403

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Obama Is a Truly Democratic Expansionist

June 13, 2008
Obama Is a Truly Democratic Expansionist
by John Pilger

In 1941, the editor Edward Dowling wrote: “The two greatest obstacles to democracy in the United States are, first, the widespread delusion among the poor that we have a democracy, and second, the chronic terror among the rich, lest we get it.” What has changed? The terror of the rich is greater than ever, and the poor have passed on their delusion to those who believe that when George W Bush finally steps down next January, his numerous threats to the rest of humanity will diminish.

The nomination of Barack Obama, which, according to one breathless commentator, “marks a truly exciting and historic moment in US history”, is a product of the new delusion. Actually, it just seems new. Truly exciting and historic moments have been fabricated around US presidential campaigns for as long as I can recall, generating what can only be described as bullsh*t on a grand scale. Race, gender, appearance, body language, rictal spouses and offspring, even bursts of tragic grandeur, are all subsumed by marketing and “image-making” , now magnified by “virtual” technology. Thanks to an undemocratic electoral college system (or, in Bush’s case, tampered voting machines) only those who both control and obey the system can win. This has been the case since the truly historic and exciting victory of Harry Truman, the liberal Democrat said to be a humble man of the people, who went on to show how tough he was by obliterating two cities with the atomic bomb.

Understanding Obama as a likely president of the United States is not possible without understanding the demands of an essentially unchanged system of power: in effect a great media game. For example, since I compared Obama with Robert Kennedy in these pages, he has made two important statements, the implications of which have not been allowed to intrude on the celebrations. The first was at the conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Zionist lobby, which, as Ian Williams has pointed out, “will get you accused of anti-Semitism if you quote its own website about its power”. Obama had already offered his genuflection, but on 4 June went further. He promised to support an “undivided Jerusalem” as Israel’s capital. Not a single government on earth supports the Israeli annexation of all of Jerusalem, including the Bush regime, which recognises the UN resolution designating Jerusalem an international city.

His second statement, largely ignored, was made in Miami on 23 May. Speaking to the expatriate Cuban community – which over the years has faithfully produced terrorists, assassins and drug runners for US administrations – Obama promised to continue a 47-year crippling embargo on Cuba that has been declared illegal by the UN year after year.

Again, Obama went further than Bush. He said the United States had “lost Latin America”. He described the democratically elected governments in Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua as a “vacuum” to be filled. He raised the nonsense of Iranian influence in Latin America, and he endorsed Colombia’s “right to strike terrorists who seek safe-havens across its borders”. Translated, this means the “right” of a regime, whose president and leading politicians are linked to death squads, to invade its neighbours on behalf of Washington. He also endorsed the so-called Merida Initiative, which Amnesty International and others have condemned as the US bringing the “Colombian solution” to Mexico. He did not stop there. “We must press further south as well,” he said. Not even Bush has said that.

It is time the wishful-thinkers grew up politically and debated the world of great power as it is, not as they hope it will be. Like all serious presidential candidates, past and present, Obama is a hawk and an expansionist. He comes from an unbroken Democratic tradition, as the war-making of presidents Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter and Clinton demonstrates. Obama’s difference may be that he feels an even greater need to show how tough he is. However much the colour of his skin draws out both racists and supporters, it is otherwise irrelevant to the great power game. The “truly exciting and historic moment in US history” will only occur when the game itself is challenged

DEADLY ‘DIPLOMACY’

June 13, 2008
Deadly ‘Diplomacy’
by Norman Solomon

With 223 days left in his presidency, George W. Bush laid more flagstones along a path to war on Iran. There was the usual declaration that “all options are on the table” – and, just as ominously, much talk of diplomacy.

Three times on Wednesday, the Associated Press reports, Bush “called a diplomatic solution ‘my first choice,’ implying there are others. He said ‘we’ll give diplomacy a chance to work,’ meaning it might not.”

That’s how Bush talks when he’s grooving along in his Orwellian comfort zone, eager to order a military attack.

“We seek peace,” Bush said in the State of the Union address on January 28, 2003. “We strive for peace.”

In that speech, less than two months before the invasion of Iraq began, Bush foreshadowed the climax of his administration’ s diplomatic pantomime. “The United States will ask the U.N. Security Council to convene on February the 5th to consider the facts of Iraq’s ongoing defiance of the world,” the president said. “Secretary of State Powell will present information and intelligence about Iraqi’s legal – Iraq’s illegal weapons programs, its attempt to hide those weapons from inspectors, and its links to terrorist groups.”

A week after that drum roll, Colin Powell made his now-infamous presentation to the U.N. Security Council. At the time, it served as ideal “diplomacy” for war – filled with authoritative charges and riddled with deceptions.

We should never forget the raptures of media praise for Powell’s crucial mendacity. A key bellwether was the New York Times.

The front page of the Times had been plying administration lies about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction for a long time. Now the newspaper’s editorial stance, ostensibly antiwar, swooned into line – rejoicing that “Mr. Powell’s presentation was all the more convincing because he dispensed with apocalyptic invocations of a struggle of good and evil and focused on shaping a sober, factual case against Mr. Hussein’s regime.”

The Times editorialized that Powell “presented the United Nations and a global television audience yesterday with the most powerful case to date that Saddam Hussein stands in defiance of Security Council resolutions and has no intention of revealing or surrendering whatever unconventional weapons he may have.” By sending Powell to address the Security Council, the Times claimed, President Bush “showed a wise concern for international opinion.”

Bush had implemented the kind of “diplomacy” advocated by a wide range of war enthusiasts. For instance, Fareed Zakaria, a former managing editor of the elite-flavored journal Foreign Affairs, had recommended PR prudence in the quest for a confrontation that could facilitate an invasion of Iraq. “Even if the inspections do not produce the perfect crisis,” Zakaria wrote the previous summer, “Washington will still be better off for having tried because it would be seen to have made every effort to avoid war.”

A few months later, on November 13, 2002, Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote that “in the world of a single, dominant superpower, the U.N. Security Council becomes even more important, not less.” And he was pleased with the progress of groundwork for war, writing enthusiastically: “The Bush team discovered that the best way to legitimize its overwhelming might – in a war of choice – was not by simply imposing it, but by channeling it through the U.N.”

Its highly influential reporting, combined with an editorial position that wavered under pressure, made the New York Times extremely useful to the Bush administration’ s propaganda strategy for launching war on Iraq. The paper played along with the diplomatic ruse in much the same way that it promoted lies about weapons of mass destruction.

But to read the present-day revisionist history from the New York Times, the problem with the run-up to the Iraq invasion was simply misconduct by the Bush administration (ignobly assisted by pliable cable news networks).

Recently, when the Times came out with an editorial headlined “The Truth About the War” on June 6, the newspaper assessed the implications of a new report by the Senate Intelligence Committee. “The report shows clearly that President Bush should have known that important claims he made about Iraq did not conform with intelligence reports,” the Times editorialized. “In other cases, he could have learned the truth if he had asked better questions or encouraged more honest answers.”

Unfortunately, changing just a few words – substituting “the New York Times” for “President Bush” – renders an equally accurate assessment of what a factual report would clearly show: “The New York Times should have known that important claims it made about Iraq did not conform with intelligence reports. In other cases, the Times could have learned the truth if it had asked better questions or encouraged more honest answers.”

Now, as agenda-setting for an air attack on Iran moves into higher gear, the mainline U.S. news media – with the New York Times playing its influential part – are engaged in coverage that does little more than provide stenographic services for the Bush administration.

http://www.antiwar. com/solomon/ ?articleid= 12982

Suharto, the Model Killer, and His Friends in High Places

Suharto, the Model Killer, and His Friends in High Places

by John Pilger

In my film Death of a Nation, there is a sequence filmed on board an Australian aircraft flying over the island of Timor. A party is in progress, and two men in suits are toasting each other in champagne. “This is an historically unique moment,” says one of them, “that is truly uniquely historical.” This is Gareth Evans, Australia’s foreign minister. The other man is Ali Alatas, principal mouthpiece of the Indonesian dictator, Gen. Suharto. It is 1989, and the two are making a grotesquely symbolic flight to celebrate the signing of a treaty that allowed Australia and the international oil and gas companies to exploit the seabed off East Timor, then illegally and viciously occupied by Suharto. The prize, according to Evans, was “zillions of dollars.”

Beneath them lay a land of crosses: great black crosses etched against the sky, crosses on peaks, crosses in tiers on the hillsides. Filming clandestinely in East Timor, I would walk into the scrub and there were the crosses. They littered the earth and crowded the eye. In 1993, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Australian Parliament reported that “at least 200,000” had died under Indonesia’s occupation: almost a third of the population. And yet East Timor’s horror, which was foretold and nurtured by the U.S., Britain, and Australia, was actually a sequel. “No single American action in the period after 1945,” wrote the historian Gabriel Kolko, “was as bloodthirsty as its role in Indonesia, for it tried to initiate the massacre.” He was referring to Suharto’s seizure of power in 1965-1966, which caused the violent deaths of up to a million people.

To understand the significance of Suharto, who died on Sunday, is to look beneath the surface of the current world order: the so-called global economy and the ruthless cynicism of those who run it. Suharto was our model mass murderer – “our” is used here advisedly. “One of our very best and most valuable friends,” Thatcher called him, speaking for the West. For three decades, the Australian, U.S., and British governments worked tirelessly to minimize the crimes of Suharto’s Gestapo, known as Kopassus, who were trained by the Australian SAS and the British army and who gunned down people with British-supplied Heckler and Koch machine guns from British-supplied Tactica “riot control” vehicles. Prevented by Congress from supplying arms directly, U.S. administrations from Gerald Ford to Bill Clinton provided logistic support through the back door and commercial preferences. In one year, the British Department of Trade provided almost a billion pounds worth of so-called soft loans, which allowed Suharto to buy Hawk fighter-bombers. The British taxpayer paid the bill for aircraft that dive-bombed East Timorese villages, and the arms industry reaped the profits. However, the Australians distinguished themselves as the most obsequious. In an infamous cable to Canberra, Richard Woolcott, Australia’s ambassador to Jakarta, who had been forewarned about Suharto’s invasion of East Timor, wrote: “What Indonesia now looks to from Australia … is some understanding of their attitude and possible action to assist public understanding in Australia….” Covering up Suharto’s crimes became a career for those like Woolcott, while “understanding” the mass murderer came in buckets. This left an indelible stain on the reformist government of Gough Whitlam following the cold-blooded killing of two Australian TV crews by Suharto’s troops during the invasion of East Timor. “We know your people love you,” Bob Hawke told the dictator. His successor, Paul Keating, famously regarded the tyrant as a father figure. When Indonesian troops slaughtered at least 200 people in the Santa Cruz cemetery in Dili, East Timor, and Australian mourners planted crosses outside the Indonesian embassy in Canberra, foreign minister Gareth Evans ordered them destroyed. To Evans, ever-effusive in his support for the regime, the massacre was merely an “aberration. ” This was the view of much of the Australian press, especially that controlled by Rupert Murdoch, whose local retainer, Paul Kelly, led a group of leading newspaper editors to Jakarta, fawn before the dictator.

Here lies a clue as to why Suharto, unlike Saddam Hussein, died not on the gallows but surrounded by the finest medical team his secret billions could buy. Ralph McGehee, a senior CIA operations officer in the 1960s, describes the terror of Suharto’s takeover of Indonesia as “the model operation” for the American-backed coup that got rid of Salvador Allende in Chile seven years later. “The CIA forged a document purporting to reveal a leftist plot to murder Chilean military leaders,” he wrote, “[just like] what happened in Indonesia in 1965.” The U.S. embassy in Jakarta supplied Suharto with a “zap list” of Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) members and crossed off the names when they were killed or captured. Roland Challis, the BBC’s south east Asia correspondent at the time, told me how the British government was secretly involved in this slaughter. “British warships escorted a ship full of Indonesian troops down the Malacca Straits so they could take part in the terrible holocaust,” he said. “I and other correspondents were unaware of this at the time…. There was a deal, you see.”

The deal was that Indonesia under Suharto would offer up what Richard Nixon had called “the richest hoard of natural resources, the greatest prize in southeast Asia.” In November 1967, the greatest prize was handed out at a remarkable three-day conference sponsored by the Time-Life Corporation in Geneva. Led by David Rockefeller, all the corporate giants were represented: the major oil companies and banks, General Motors, Imperial Chemical Industries, British American Tobacco, Siemens, U.S. Steel, and many others. Across the table sat Suharto’s U.S.-trained economists who agreed to the corporate takeover of their country, sector by sector. The Freeport company got a mountain of copper in West Papua. A U.S./ European consortium got the nickel. The giant Alcoa company got the biggest slice of Indonesia’s bauxite. America, Japanese, and French companies got the tropical forests of Sumatra. When the plunder was complete, President Lyndon Johnson sent his congratulations on “a magnificent story of opportunity seen and promise awakened.” Thirty years later, with the genocide in East Timor also complete, the World Bank described the Suharto dictatorship as a “model pupil.”

Shortly before he died, I interviewed Alan Clark, who under Thatcher was Britain’s minister responsible for supplying Suharto with most of his weapons. I asked him, “Did it bother you personally that you were causing such mayhem and human suffering?”

“No, not in the slightest,” he replied. “It never entered my head.”

“I ask the question because I read you are a vegetarian and are seriously concerned with the way animals are killed.”

“Yeah?”

“Doesn’t that concern extend to humans?”

“Curiously not.”

Source: http://www.antiwar. com/pilger/ ?articleid= 12279 January 28, 2008

Australians advised to stop seeing Indonesia as “abnormal country”

05/27/08 21:05

Australians advised to stop seeing Indonesia as “abnormal country”


Brisbane (ANTARA News) – The Canberra-based Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) on Tuesday launched its latest research report urging the Australian public and policymakers to see democratic Indonesia as “a normal country”.

The report titled “Seeing Indonesia as a normal country: Implications for Australia ” contained the findings of research conducted by two noted Indonesian affairs analysts, Professor Andrew MacIntyre and Dr Douglas E Ramage.

MacIntyre and E.Ramage said Australia needs to understand the new stable landscape of Indonesia as a result of positive changes that it has made as a more democratic and pluralistic country.

“Thinking of Indonesia as a `normal` country allows us to see it through new eyes. It`s a useful analytical lens that lets us see some new opportunities and imperatives, ” they said.

Present-day Indonesia was a stable, competitive electoral democracy which was playing a constructive role in the regional and broader international community, they said.

In the 68-page report, they made a number of specific policy recommendations to Australia , such as a new approach to engagement with the military and a geographic shift within the country of its development assistance programs.

“We now know what Indonesia is probably going to look like over the next decade. In the absence of radical disjuncture, Indonesia will be a middle‑income developing country making slow headway in lifting living standards and consolidating democratic governance,” they said.

As citizens of a lively democracy, Indonesians shared important political values with Australians, MacIntyre and E.Ramage said.

“This is good news, but it`s also very probable that neither Indonesia`s circumstances nor its bilateral relationship with Australia will become dramatically better over the next five to ten years. Although it would be better if Indonesia`s economy grew faster than we see today, and its democratic consolidation and governance reform advanced more strongly, those things are unlikely to happen.”

The current trajectory was likely to be as good as it would get over the next decade or so, they said.

With regard to Indonesian leaders, MacIntyre and E.Ramage said incumbent President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono`s record of leadership remained the best and was “unlikely to be beaten” over the next decade though his achievements were under appreciated.

Despite the need for Australia to see Indonesia through new eyes, it would also remain important to recall old insights. One of the oldest remains that the Australian policymakers should grasp was “the fundamental pluralism of Indonesia “, they said.

The fundamental pluralism of Indonesia was even a very old truth whose age was much older than the Republic of Indonesia and even the Netherlands East Indies.

” Indonesia has always been a fundamentally pluralist society; its geography and history ensure this. There have been some terrible and deadly exceptions, but pluralism remains the bedrock fact of Indonesian society,” they said.

The argument of pluralistic Indonesia needs to be re-emphasized because of two main reasons. The first reason was that Australians have lost sight of it in recent years and suspected the emergence of militancy and zealotry in the archipelago and the second was the fact that the new democratic world of `normal Indonesia , its underlying social diversity would be “the foundation of pluralistic politics”, they said.

In response to the ASPI`s research report, spokesperson of the Indonesian Embassy in Canberra, Dino Kusnadi, said it did not only raise a new hope for Australia to have a new lens in seeing Indonesia but it was also a confirmation for what Ambassador Hamzah Thayeb had consistently and repeatedly conveyed about the New Indonesia to the Australian public since he was posted in Canberra.

Prof.Andrew MacIntyre`s and Dr.Douglas E Ramage`s research findings had confirmed the truth of Ambassador Hamzah Thayeb`s consistent statements on vibrant and democratic Indonesia, he said.

Thus, in facing the New Indonesia, Australians need to update their ways and change their old yardstick, Kusnadi said.

Andrew MacIntyre is professor of political science and director of the Australian National University`s Crawford School of Economics and Government, while Dr. Douglas E Ramage is the Asia Foundation`s Country Representative in Indonesia.

ASPI is an independent, non-partisan policy institute. The Canberra-based research center was founded by the Australian government to provide fresh ideas on the country`s defense and strategic policy choices. (*)

COPYRIGHT © 2008

http://www.antara. co.id/en/ arc/2008/ 5/27/australians -advised- to-stop-seeing- indonesia- as-abnormal- country/

 

 

It’s improving, but there’s a long way to go

 

YESTERDAY’S release of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s report Seeing Indonesia as a Normal Country is timely, coming 10 years after the overthrow of the Suharto regime and just ahead of Kevin Rudd’s visit to Jakarta next month. By mapping the progress made over the past decade, the authors lay to rest some of the alarmist reporting about Indonesia as a breeding ground for Islamic fundamentalism and a nation struggling to control multiple separatist movements. But the title of the report is misleading. Though Indonesia is in no danger of becoming a failed state, it doesn’t serve anyone’s policy objectives to pretend that Indonesia should be seen as “normal” – whatever “normal” means in the context of international relations.

Indonesia has made remarkable progress towards becoming a more open, democratic and economically advanced society. The stifling uniformity of Suharto’s New Order has gone, but the same old elite still controls many levers of political and economic power. As the report acknowledges, Indonesia suffers from “globally chart-topping levels of corruption”. Judicial reform has been “often piecemeal and highly uneven”. Bowing to political pressure, courts often fail to uphold convictions of senior officials. Human rights violators often go unpunished. Rampant corruption, the weak application of the rule of law and regulatory uncertainty have been deterrents to foreign direct investment. Though inflows have picked up, Southeast Asia ‘s largest economy attracted only $US10.3billion in FDI last year. By comparison, China approved $US35billion in FDI in the first four months of this year. Half of Indonesia ‘s population lives on less than $US2 a day, with as many Indonesians living in poverty as the rest of East Asia put together, excluding China . In a country of more than 220 million people the number of taxpayers stands at a paltry 3.3 million. Despite forecasts of economic growth reaching 7 per cent this year, Indonesia still lags well behind the other tiger economies of Asia such as Vietnam , China and India . Unemployment hovers around 10 per cent. Government spending on health and education relative to GDP is lower than in most other Asian countries.

The debate over whether Indonesia should be seen as a normal country masks more important policy issues for Australia . Our shared concerns for maintaining security and promoting economic prosperity require Australia to maintain a close and constructive relationship with all levels of the Indonesian Government. The Rudd Government’s foreign policy priorities, particularly the new emphasis being given to China at the expense of our traditional allies such as Japan and India , have yet to be fully understood in the region. Engaging with Indonesia requires appreciating its complexities, sensitivities and vulnerabilities. Pretending things are normal risks misreading the inner workings of our most important neighbour.

http://www.theaustr alian.news. com.au/story/ 0,25197,23769458 -25209,00. html

 

US Military’s Middle East Crusade for Christ

US Military’s Middle East Crusade for Christ

by Robert Weitzel

“They are proselytizing not on behalf of the Constitution of the United States . . . but rather on behalf of some sort of fanatical view of end times. And they are using our army to affect that.” -Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson

Last August the watchdog group Military Religious Freedom Foundation foiled a Pentagon plan that would have allowed the shipment of “freedom packages” to soldiers and Marines in Iraq. The parcels were put together by the fundamentalist Christian ministry, Straight Up, and contained Bibles, proselytizing tracts in English and Arabic, and the apocalyptic “Left Behind” computer game, in which Christian Tribulation forces convert or kill infidels-nonbelieve rs, Muslims and Jews.

On May 1 the Senate approved the promotion of Brigadier General Robert L. Caslen Jr. to Major General. Currently the commandant of cadets at West Point, he will become the commander of the 25th Infantry Division. He is also president of the stridently fundamentalist Officer’s Christian Fellowship, whose vision is a “spiritually transformed military, with ambassadors for Christ in uniform, empowered by the Holy Spirit.”

General Caslen was promoted despite the Defense Department’s recommended disciplinary action against him and several other senior military leaders because they had “improperly endorsed and participated with a nonfederal entity while in uniform” by participating in a promotional video for the Campus Crusade For Christ’s Christian Embassy, an evangelical organization that ministers to Beltway politicians and sponsors weekly Bible studies at the Pentagon.

According to the DoD Inspector General’s report, one of the generals involved “asserted that Christian Embassy was treated as an instrumentality of the Pentagon Chaplain’s office for over 25 years, and had effectively become a ‘quasi federal entity.’” Arguably, he believed his participation in the video was in the line of duty.

Considering both the Pentagon’s evangelical proclivity and a 2006 Pew survey which found that of the major religious groups in America, evangelicals have the most negative views of Islam and Muslims, the U.S. sniper who was recently caught using the Quran for target practice in the Baghdad neighborhood of Radhwaniya might be excused for thinking the book was a legitimate target upon which to perfect his craft . . . excused for thinking he was acting in the line duty.

And is it any wonder that with evangelicals and fundamentalists at the very top of the military’s officer corps — to say nothing of their Commander in Chief — that an enlisted Marine was passing out Christian “witnessing coins” inscribed in Arabic at a checkpoint in Fallujah? One side of the coin asked, “Where will you spend eternity?” An evangelical favorite, John 3:16, was on the flip side.

Sheik Adul-Rahman al-Zubaie, a tribal leader in Fallujah who was outraged by the Marine’s proselytizing said, “This event did not happen by chance, but it was planned and done intentionally.”

While the Marine’s proselytizing is not the official policy of the predominately Christian force occupying the predominately Islamic Iraq, it was done “in the line of duty” with a wink and a nod from his chain of command. Think Abu Ghraib!

From Fort Jackson, the Army’s largest basic training facility, where trainees are encouraged to attend Campus Crusade’s weekly “God’s Basic Training” programs, to the U.S. Air Force Academy where students are pressured to attend the Crusade’s weekly “cru” (short for crusade) Bible study, American military personnel are, as Campus Crusade’s Scot Blom gloats, “government paid missionaries” when they complete their training.

As the demands of fighting a perpetual war against “radical Islam” begins to strain both the military’s resources and the country’s resolve, the Pentagon has begun outsourcing larger chunks of the war to private contractors. Predictably, our “government paid missionaries” have become more expensive and much less controllable or accountable.

The Bush administration’s favorite contractor, Blackwater, is the most powerful private army in the world. It commands thousands of mercenaries in Iraq and Afghanistan, has over a billion dollars in government contracts, and enjoys complete immunity from prosecution for its theater of operations’ conduct.

Blackwater’s founder, Erik Prince, a staunchly conservative Catholic, has also served on the board of directors of Christian Freedom International, a crusading missionary organization operating in the overwhelmingly Islamic countries of Sudan, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq. Prince envisions an evangelical “end time” role for his warriors: “Everybody carries guns, just like Jeremiah rebuilding the temple in Israel — a sword in one hand and a trowel in the other.”

No one in the last decade has contributed more to end time, apocalyptic evangelism than John Hagee, a televangelist seen by millions of viewers weekly and pastor of the 19,000-member Cornerstone Church. Hagee preaches that in order to bring about the Second Coming of Christ and the Rapture of true believers, Islam first has to be destroyed.

In a 2006 interview with National Public Radio’s Terry Gross, Hagee told her, “Those who live by the Quran have a scriptural mandate to kill Christians and Jews.” He went on to claim that there are 200 million Muslims waiting for the chance to attack Israel and the United States. From his pulpit, Hagee makes it clear to his congregation and the radio and television audience what they can expect from American Muslims if such an attack ever took place: “While American Muslims live in America, 82 percent are not loyal to America and are not willing to fight and defend America.”

In his book, “Jerusalem Countdown – A Warning to the World,” Hagee warns that the war between Islam and the West “is a war that Islam cannot and must not win.”

John Hagee is not just a mad evangelizing prophet. He is the mad evangelizing prophet who is courted by a war president, a hawkish presidential candidate and members of Congress from both parties. His Islamophobic bilge has trickled down from Capital Hill, through the labyrinthine corridors of the Pentagon, and into the chamber of a sniper’s rifle and the hand of a Marine guarding a checkpoint in Fallujah.

Officers in the military are expected to lead by example. Enlisted personnel are expected to follow that example. If the recent incidents at Radhwaniya and Fallujah are not just the acts of renegades, then the chain of command seems to be working the way it was designed.

Robert Weitzel is a contributing editor to Media With a Conscience. His essays regularly appear in The Capital Times in Madison, WI. He can be contacted at: robertweitzel@ mac.com

 

http://www.commondr eams.org/ archive/2008/ 06/09/9510/

The Occupation Corrupts

June 3, 2008
The Occupation Corrupts
by Uri Avnery

I cannot say that I ever liked Ehud Olmert. But now I almost feel sorry for him.

It is not pleasant to see how they pounce on him, like jackals and hyenas fighting over a carcass.

And that also raises some questions.


Was Olmert the only fallible human being in this paradise? Not at all. The stories about the envelopes stuffed with cash, the cigars, and the luxury suites in posh hotels fire the imagination, but the hedonism of Olmert is no different from that of Benjamin Netanyahu or Ehud Barak. When Barak accuses Olmert it is like the kettle calling the pot black.

Netanyahu lived like a king in expensive hotels paid for by kind donors who, of course, ask for nothing in return, whose sole purpose in life is to allow him to revel in luxury. As for Barak, after decades of service as an army officer with a salary that did not reach the sky and some years as a cabinet minister with a similar income, he disappeared from public view for a short while and reappeared as a rich man. He bought a luxury apartment in one of the most expensive buildings in Tel Aviv, a structure that is a byword for ostentatious wealth. How does one get so rich in such a short time? Could it be by using connections acquired in the service of the state?

Olmert was a pioneer of this method. When still a very junior politician, just out of law school, he got rich through his connections with the heads of government departments which he made as a parliamentary aide.

The closer the connection between capital and power, and the more contact there is between local and foreign tycoons on the one hand and politicians and generals on the other, the more profusely corruption flowers. This is an almost automatic process.


What does that say about our politicians? Simply: that none of them is a leader.

A real leader is not just a person with an aim. A leader is a person with one aim and one aim alone.

In the best case, that is a positive aim, to which he devotes all his life. In the worst case it is power as such he craves. But in any case, a real leader is totally devoted to the aim he has adopted, and pursues no other – not money, not enjoyment, not a life of luxury.

Such a person was David Ben-Gurion, and such was Menachem Begin. They did not have to decide to live “modest lives” and dispense with luxury – they were just not interested in luxuries, money, or the easy life. For them, these things were quite unimportant. From the moment they opened their eyes in the morning until they closed them again at night, nothing interested them but their aim. One can add Yitzhak Rabin to the list.

The priorities of a mere politician are quite different: he wants power in order to enjoy the amenities it brings with it. Power as a means. The amenities of power – money, luxuries, high-class restaurants, prestigious hotels – are the aim.

According to this definition, the entire recent and current crop of politicians – Moshe Dayan, Ezer Weitzman, Shimon Peres, the two Ehuds, and Netanyahu – are all just ordinary politicians.


With Olmert the problem is specially severe, because of his personal background.

People ask themselves: What did he need it for? Did he not foresee that in the end everything would become public, that his friends and admirers would abandon him? Was it worthwhile to risk his whole future for a vacation in Italy, expensive cigars, luxury suites in hotels, and upgrading his flights?

The conditions in which he lived as a child probably had something to do with his behavior as an adult. He grew up in the ’50s in a neighborhood set up by the Herut Party for ex-Irgun members in the village of Binyamina near Haifa. It was a poor neighborhood, and the children of the old-established village, which belonged to the political mainstream, looked down upon its inhabitants. Children can be cruel. In those days the Herut Party (today’s Likud) was far from power and the national consensus, and their members were still considered “outsiders” who did not belong.

When a person with such a background ascends the political ladder, the possibilities that open up before him are liable to intoxicate him. A world of pampering and pandering is there for the taking. And when an American “exile Jew” – an utterly contemptuous term for Jews abroad – a professional schnorrer, who considers it a great honor to support him, comes and offers him all the goodies, the temptation is just too great.

There is a special angle to the Olmert story. Perhaps because of his childhood feeling of not belonging, he desperately craves Haverim. Haver is a typical Hebrew word denoting comrade, friend, pal, army buddy. (Bill Clinton famously ended his eulogy for Rabin with the Hebrew words “Shalom, Haver!”) Olmert needs many Haverim, Haverim all the time. Haverim who adore him, especially intellectuals and/or rich people, who admire and love him.

He loves to pamper his friends, to take them with him whenever he goes on journeys and vacations. He showers them with warmth and charm, slaps their shoulders, devotes time and attention to them. For him that was also one of the attractions of power.

One of these friends, the lawyer Uri Messer, is mortified. Not because Messer broke the law. Not because he violated the norms of morality and democracy. But because Messer “ratted” on Olmert to the police. (Messer himself used the word “stinker,” the Israeli equivalent of informer.) Like a schoolboy: one does not squeal to the teacher. He tortures himself. As Messer himself says, he is not a “psycho” but a self-tortured man who betrayed a Haver.


Another angle to the matter: the relationship between Olmert and Morris Talansky, who supplied him for many years with the stuffed envelopes.

Talansky treated him as a slave treats his master. After some time, Olmert started to treat him as a servant. I almost said as a colonial master treats an inferior native.

This is not unusual. Many Israelis treat the Jews of the Diaspora as if they were colonial subjects, who are obligated to serve and support the aristocrats of the “mother” country. Thinking and speaking about the American Jews, they inadvertently repeat anti-Semitic stereotypes. Talansky suits this stereotype perfectly. Olmert saw him like this, and that is how he saw himself. When Olmert came to America and honored him with his presence before his Jewish neighbors and acquaintances, it raised his status, and for this he was prepared to pay – and pay a lot.


A question presents itself: Why do these fatal scandals always break when a leader takes a step toward peace, or at least pretends to take a step toward peace?

I do not believe that there is a conspiracy. In general I don’t tend to believe in conspiracies, though there are these, too.

But we have here, I believe, a more profound phenomenon. The main thrust of the current establishment is toward occupation, expansion, and war. Therefore, when a corruption scandal concerns a leader moving in that direction, the scandal is smothered in its infancy. But when the scandal involves a leader who is making gestures in the direction of peace, the scandal reaches huge proportions.

That happened to Sharon on the eve of the dismantling of the Gaza Strip settlements. It is happening now to Olmert when he dares to speak about peace with Syria and the evacuation of the Golan settlements.


Lord Acton is famous for his dictum: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” In the same vein, we say that occupation corrupts, and total occupation corrupts totally.

Ehud Olmert is the typical product of the cynicism and lawlessness that have infected this country in the 41 years of occupation.

That does not mean that there was no corruption before. There certainly was.

In my view, the corruption was born together with the state, and not by accident. A lot has been said about the Nakba on the occasion of Israel’s 60th anniversary. But one phenomenon that accompanied the Nakba is consistently ignored: the massive theft of abandoned Arab property.

In the course of the 1948 flight and expulsion, some 100 to 150 thousand Arab families abandoned their homes. Many of them lived in simple dwellings, but not a few were living in elegant houses in Jaffa, Jerusalem, and Haifa. What happened to the interior of these homes? To the tens of thousands of expensive carpets, fauteuils, refrigerators, wardrobes, pianos? Where did the inventories of shops and stores go?

They disappeared.

Some of them did reach government storerooms and were distributed to new immigrants. I have never seen a report on this. The huge majority were just stolen.

Generally, not by the combat soldiers who captured these places. They fought and moved on. But after them came the rear echelon, the transport and quartermaster troops, the cronies of people in power, who came with lorries and trucks and loaded up everything they came across.

That was no secret. We knew and talked about this at the time. For years one could see the sofas and armchairs covered with velvet draping in private living rooms and offices. But the phenomenon was never investigated, and later on was smothered and suppressed.

I have spoken about this several times in the Knesset. I mentioned the Biblical story of Achan, the son of Carmi, who during the conquest of Jericho violated God’s command not to plunder. As punishment, the Israelites were routed at the next battle. “Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff.” (Joshua 7:11) Joshua executed Achan and his whole family by stoning. He was for genocide of the Canaanites but against plundering.

The theft in broad daylight of the property abandoned by individuals already violated the ethos that was accepted before the foundation of the state. The denial and suppression made it worse. But the large-scale corruption, whose bitter fruit we see now in all its ugliness, started indeed with the occupation in 1967.

The occupation is corrupt, and it corrupts by its very nature. It denies all human rights, including the right to property. It fills the occupied territories with an atmosphere of general lawlessness. It enriches the occupier and everybody connected with him. It creates a climate of wanton cynicism, an environment of “anything goes.” Such an atmosphere does not stop at the Green Line. It permeates the state of the conqueror.

That’s where the rot set in.

http://www.antiwar. com/avnery/ ?articleid= 12931