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John Pilger on Israel's Gaza Rampage: It's Not Just War

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DB:  One gets the feeling, John Pilger, the Israelis now, in conjunction with the United States, are using the Gaza strip as a testing ground for the latest kind of weaponry, technology, jamming equipment. The drones are covering the Gaza strip now, they are flying low.  One has the sense that they are testing weapons here and equipment for larger wars.

JP:  Yes, well, that has always been the case, of course. These kind of aggressive wars, going right back, have always been laboratories. The infamous example is Vietnam, or even before that Korea when napalm was tested. And phosphorous bombs were tested later on. And now we have these high-tech weapons exemplified by the drones. What better to test them on a people you wish to extinguish? And you are quite right to describe it that way. It is as much experimental as anything else. It certainly has no, absolutely nothing to do with a few tin pop rockets fired out of the prison, the open air prison, into Israel.

So, yes, it is an experiment, but it is an American experiment. It is an American/Israeli experiment. And those who voted in President Obama, recently, might reflect on that. No president has been more enthusiastic in his support for this project than Obama. From the time after he was voted in, in 2008, before he was inaugurated, when he gave his approval for what was known as Operation Cast Lead, which killed 1,400 people in Gaza, to the present day.

So there lies the political problem. This is not happening, as far as the United States is concerned, as a consequence of some dictator-looking figure in the White House. If anything, we've had to put up with the very benign images of Obama and his family and entourage for quite a long time. It is happening under a so-called liberal president. Netanyahu is a fascist, there is no question about that, but he is America's fascist.  And I cannot emphasize that enough.

All this would be resolved if there was an honest broker in the form of a great power, that helped to broker a regional peace or at least gave its support to regional peace, or at the very least did nothing. Certainly did not give...supply the weaponry, and the logistics, and all the rest of it for one side to do what it is doing. All this would be resolved if that honest broker in the form of the United States existed. But that is a fantasy.

DB:  Now you used a word "genocide"...some have used ethnic cleansing, apartheid.  The Israelis, many in the U.S. call that hyperbole.  But when you say that, the things that I think about is that this is perhaps the most environmentally devastated piece of land in the world.  Ninety percent of the drinking water has been poisoned.  There is structural damage that make it impossible for children to grow up healthy.  Are those the things -- I assume it's not hyperbole for you -- are those the things that you think about when you think about genocide and ethnic cleansing?  It's not just war.

JP:  It's not. I've reported genocide. I've reported genocide in Cambodia and I've reported it in East Timor. It is a fact.  And I think all those Americans, Jewish Americans in whose name Israel claims to act must consider this. There is a responsibility there. They must consider this. I think it's gone so far beyond the situation where any of us can stand back anymore. We've had a great deal of energy expended over what's to be done about Syria. Well, that's a very nasty regime in Syria and it's a very nasty civil war in Syria. But really the issue here is what to be done about a state that is propped up -- and I mean propped up because its economy is in shambles -- by the United States.  That is an extension of the United States. That's something I would have thought that American citizens ought to reflect on, especially those in whose name Israel claims to speak.

DB:  Now, we've both talked a lot about the nature of western and U.S. journalism.  I've been watching it non-stop for the last couple of days, and I've seen them be biased before, in this context, but I have never seen it so bad.  Where they cannot...you, it seems like western journalists, U.S. journalists know better than to mention the names of children, or of a child or a family, that was wiped out by the Israeli military.  We hear tears on the Israeli side from the fear of being hurt, but the slaughter and the suffering of Palestinians and the children...half the people in the Gaza strip, if not more, are under 18, are children.  We don't hear about it.

JP:  Yeah. These are very barbaric times, Dennis. And the media accurately reflects that. It's because it is part of the barbarism. In a way we should probably stop the historical parallels there, because these are almost uniquely barbaric times. We have facades of democracies, circuses claiming to be elections. We have people who are very nice to their children, and who are journalists and who write and broadcast this propaganda. These are barbaric times and the media is, and has always been, an extension of established power.

Established power in the United States and Europe is siding with the most lawless state on earth. I mean, that's again, a fact. You total up the number of international, security council resolutions, general assembly resolutions that this state has willfully ignored; it is an utterly lawless state. It is a colonial anachronism. And it is causing great suffering to the people of a particular part of the middle east, the Palestinians. Now, if we contort our intellect and moral sensibility enough, I suppose you could come around to seeing it in a sort of a strange way. But the truth of it is this is a barbaric situation. The media that as you describe, ignores the suffering of Palestinians, Palestinian children, is itself barbaric.

DB:  You know, you mentioned Richard Falk, Princeton emeritus professor, the investigator for the United Nations on human rights violations in the occupied territories as it is put, in terms of his mandate; when I interviewed him four years ago about the bloody slaughter then, he began to refer to this kind of attack, on what many people called the largest open air prison in the world, it becomes a new kind of war crime.  Because people who have already been refugees, one, two, three and four times over don't even have the right to flee, or not the right but the possibility.  So it is sort of a hammer and an anvil operation.

JP:  Yes. Yes. Having been in Gaza I can assure you that it is a very small place, it's a long sliver of land, it's so congested, so densely populated, that there is nowhere to go. There is the sea, but you're not allowed to go beyond a certain limit. The Israelis will attack you if you do that. The other way, you can't go the other way. You can't go and join your compatriots in the rest of Palestine, that's not allowed.

I'm astonished that Palestinians have retained their humanity, in the way they have. They're...I won't say resilience because I don't know how you can keep on being resilient, frankly. But they certainly...they care for each other. And their anger is what is being done to the children. And most of the children in Palestine now are traumatized, most of them. As you rightly mentioned half of them are under seventeen or eighteen, or something. I think it's lower than that actually, half the population.

I've been in clinics run by some very fine Palestinian organizations that try to treat these traumatized children and looked at all these kids draw pictures of war and horror, and people being killed, and bodies being dismembered. When the Israelis are not bombing them, blowing them up with their American weaponry they are forever flying over them making aerial sounds that drive people crazy, that prevent people from sleeping, that cause children to bed wet night after night. A kind of imposed traumas that none of us living elsewhere would regard as anything -- if it happened to our own families -- but barbaric. And that's why Richard Falk's likening of the situation in Gaza, and that's not exact of course, with the Warsaw ghetto, it's appropriate.

DB:  And, of course, the Warsaw ghetto fighters all fought hard, most died.  But they died with some dignity.  And one has the sense, that these bottle rockets that are being sent over to Israel are an expression of that dignity and that unwillingness to, after all these years, take it. Give up. They won't give up.

JP:  Well, yeah. If you are going to defend yourself...I mean the fighters in the Warsaw ghetto were amazing in what they achieved. Simply amazing. I wouldn't want to draw exact parallels there because apart from these shoddy rockets, all the Palestinians have is small arms and they know they can't win militarily. And they know that any attempt to try and force a confrontation, a direct confrontation with Israel would lead to huge bloodshed amongst their own people.

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Dennis J Bernstein is the host and executive producer of Flashpoints, a daily news magazine broadcast on Pacifica Radio. He is an award-winning investigative reporter, essayist and poet. His articles and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Nation, and (more...)
 
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Satan peered out from underneath his dark hooded c... by Ned Lud on Friday, Nov 23, 2012 at 7:01:29 AM
Don't you mean God? Specifically the God of Abraha... by Mrt Baggins on Friday, Nov 23, 2012 at 9:09:35 AM
meant only to stick your thumb in the eye of peopl... by Matthew Jacobs on Friday, Nov 23, 2012 at 5:15:03 PM
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... by Matthew Jacobs on Sunday, Nov 25, 2012 at 10:51:41 AM
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reply to Mrt Baggins:   Up is down, down is... by Ned Lud on Friday, Nov 23, 2012 at 9:42:47 AM
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... by Matthew Jacobs on Saturday, Nov 24, 2012 at 12:11:03 AM
The Word Genocide is being wrongly used on these p... by Matthew Jacobs on Friday, Nov 23, 2012 at 4:18:13 PM
Heeeeeeheeeeehaaaahaaaa... by Kim Cassidy on Friday, Nov 23, 2012 at 7:02:18 PM
therefore the dilution of the word Genocide. It is... by Matthew Jacobs on Saturday, Nov 24, 2012 at 12:21:34 PM
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Try "ethnic cleansing"... by Jim Miles on Friday, Nov 23, 2012 at 7:04:59 PM
... by Matthew Jacobs on Friday, Nov 23, 2012 at 7:30:11 PM
Try "ethnic cleansing"... by Jim Miles on Friday, Nov 23, 2012 at 7:05:29 PM
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... by intotheabyss on Saturday, Nov 24, 2012 at 6:48:03 AM
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