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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 9/11/14

Breaking the last taboo -- Gaza and the threat of world war

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As for the myth that "vulnerable" and "isolated" Israel is surrounded by enemies, Israel is actually surrounded by strategic allies. The Palestinian Authority, bankrolled, armed and directed by the US, has long colluded with Tel Aviv. Standing shoulder to shoulder with Netanyahu are the tyrannies in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar -- if the World Cup ever gets to Qatar, count on Mossad to run the security.

Resistance is humanity at its bravest and most noble. The resistance in Gaza is rightly compared with the 1943 Jewish uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto -- which also dug tunnels and deployed tactics of subterfuge and surprise against an overpowering military machine. The last surviving leader of the Warsaw uprising, Marek Edelman, wrote a letter of solidarity to the Palestinian resistance, comparing it with the ZOB, his ghetto fighters. The letter began: "Commanders of the Palestine military, paramilitary and partisan operations -- and to all soldiers [of Palestine]."

Dr. Mads Gilbert is a Norwegian doctor renowned for his heroic work in Gaza. On 8 August, Dr. Gilbert returned to his hometown, Tromso in Norway which, as he pointed out, the Nazis had occupied for seven years. He said...

"Imagine being back in 1945 and we in Norway did not win the liberation struggle, did not throw out the occupier. Imagine the occupier remaining in our country, taking it piece by piece, for decades upon decades, and banishing us to the leanest areas, and taking the fish in the sea and the water beneath us, then bombing our hospitals, our ambulance workers, our schools, our homes.

"Would we have given up and waved the white flag? No, we would not! And this is the situation in Gaza. This is not a battle between terrorism and democracy. Hamas is not the enemy Israel is fighting. Israel is waging a war against the Palestinian people's will to resist. It is the Palestinian people's dignity that they will not accept this.

"In 1938, the Nazis called the Jews Untermenschen -- subhuman. Today, Palestinians are treated as a subhuman people who can be slaughtered without any in power reacting.

"So I have returned to Norway, a free country, and this country is free because we had a resistance movement, because occupied nations have the right to resist, even with weapons -- it's stated in international law. And the Palestinian people's resistance in Gaza is admirable: a struggle for us all."

There are dangers in telling this truth, in breaching what Edward Said called "the last taboo." My documentary, Palestine Is Still the Issue, was nominated for a Bafta, a British academy award, and praised by the Independent Television Commission for its "journalistic integrity" and the "care and thoroughness with which it was researched." Yet, within minutes of the film's broadcast on Britain's ITV Network, a shock wave struck -- a deluge of emails described me as a "demonic psychopath," "a purveyor of hate and evil," "an anti-Semite of the most dangerous kind." Much of this was orchestrated by Zionists in the US who could not possibly have seen the film. Death threats arrived at a rate of one a day.

Something similar happened to the Australian commentator Mike Carlton last month. In his regular column in the Sydney Morning Herald, Carlton produced a rare piece of journalism about Israel and the Palestinians; he identified the oppressors and their victims. He was careful to limit his attack to "a new and brutal Israel dominated by the hard-line, right-wing Likud party of Netanyahu." Those who had previously run the Zionist state, he implied, belonged to "a proud liberal tradition."

On cue, the deluge struck. He was called "a bag of Nazi slime, a Jew-hating racist." He was threatened repeatedly, and he emailed his attackers to "get fucked." The Herald demanded he apologize. When he refused, he was suspended, then he resigned. According to the Herald's publisher, Sean Aylmer, the company "expects much higher standards from its columnists."

The "problem" of Carlton's acerbic, often solitary liberal voice in a country in which Rupert Murdoch controls 70 percent of the capital city press -- Australia is the world's first murdocracy -- would be solved twice over. The Australian Human Rights Commission is to investigate complaints against Carlton under the Racial Discrimination Act, which outlaws any public act or utterance that is "reasonably likely... to offend, insult, humiliate another person or a group of people" on the basic of their race, color or national or ethnic origin.

In contrast to safe, silent Australia -- where the Carltons are made extinct -- real journalism is alive in Gaza. I often speak on the phone with Mohammed Omer, an extraordinary young Palestinian journalist, to whom I presented, in 2008, the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism. Whenever I called him during the assault on Gaza, I could hear the whine of drones, the explosion of missiles. He interrupted one call to attend to children huddled outside waiting for transport amidst the explosions. When I spoke to him on 30 July, a single Israeli F-19 fighter had just slaughtered 19 children. On 20 August, he described how Israeli drones had effectively "rounded up" a village so that they could savagely gunned down.

Every day, at sunrise, Mohammed looks for families who have been bombed. He records their stories, standing in the rubble of their homes; he takes their pictures. He goes to the hospital. He goes to the morgue. He goes to the cemetery. He queues for hours for bread for his own family. And he watches the sky. He sends two, three, four dispatches a day. This is real journalism.

"They are trying to annihilate us," he told me. "But the more they bomb us, the stronger we are. They will never win."

The great crime committed in Gaza is a reminder of something wider and menacing to us all.

Since 2001, the United States and its allies have been on a rampage. In Iraq, at least 700,000 men, woman and children are dead as a result. The rise of jihadists -- in a country where there was none -- is the result. Known as al-Qaeda and now the Islamic State, modern jihadism was invented by US and Britain, assisted by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. The original aim was to use and develop an Islamic fundamentalism that had barely existed in much of the Arab world in order to undermine pan-Arab movements and secular governments.

By the 1980s, this had become a weapon to destroy the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. The CIA called it Operation Cyclone; and a cyclone it turned out to be, with its unleashed fury blowing back in the faces of its creators. The attacks of 9/11 and in London in July, 2005 were the result of this blowback, as were the recent, gruesome murders of the American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff. For more than a year, the Obama administration armed the killers of these two young men -- then known as ISIS in Syria -- in order to destroy the secular government in Damascus.

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John Pilger grew up in Sydney, Australia. He has been a war correspondent, author and documentary film-maker. He is one of only two to win British journalism's highest award twice, for his work all over the world. On 1 November, he was awarded (more...)
 
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