A global justice gap is being made worse by power politics despite a landmark year for international justice, said Amnesty International today in its annual assessment of human rights worldwide. Launching Amnesty International Report 2010: State of the World’s Human Rights, which documents abuses in 159 countries, the organization said that powerful governments are blocking advances in international justice by standing above the law on human rights, shielding allies from criticism and acting only when politically convenient.
Ali Abunimah - In recent weeks, the US- and Israeli-backed Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA) has made a show of calling on Palestinians to boycott goods manufactured in Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Despite the rhetoric of defiance and resistance, and exaggerated screams of anguish from Israeli settler groups, the PA effort actually appears designed to co-opt, undermine and abort the much broader Palestinian civil society campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), and to reassure Israel of the continued docility and collaboration of its puppet regime in Ramallah.
Ramzy Baroud - Bad days are awaiting Afghanistan. True, it is hard to imagine how Afghanistan’s misfortunes could possibly get any worse. But they will, particularly for those living in Kandahar in the south. Seated next to Karzai during his Washington visit, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised that her country will “not destroy Kandahar in order to save Kandahar”. Although Clinton wanted us to believe that the Bush era is over, she used almost the exact same language that the Bush administration used prior to its major military assaults in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Raymond Whitaker and Donald Macintyre - By the time the shooting stopped, more than 100 Palestinians had been killed for every Israeli who died. Was every death lawful? And, if not, where does the fault lie? Did Israel – or its enemy, Hamas – commit war crimes during 22 days and nights of aerial assault, rocket launches and ground fighting in Gaza? In one sense the question is academic, because Israel will not recognise the conflict as an international one, and has not signed the 1977 Geneva protocol designed to apply to the victims of internal conflicts. But international lawyers say general principles can be drawn from the laws of war, which may have been violated in several ways. This article covers the main issues.
Noam Chomsky - Literally, the crimes that the US and Israel have been committing in Gaza in the past weeks fall under the official US government definition of “terrorism,” but that designation does not capture their enormity. They cannot be called “aggression,” because they are being conducted in occupied territory. In their comprehensive history of Israeli settlement in the occupied territories, Idit Zertal and Akiva Eldar point out that after Israel withdrew its forces from Gaza in 2005, the ruined territory was not released “for even a single day from Israel’s military grip or from the price of the occupation that the inhabitants pay every day … Israel left behind scorched earth, devastated services, and people with neither a present nor a future.” The US-Israeli assault escalated in January 2006, when Palestinians committed a truly heinous crime: they voted “the wrong way” in a free election. Since the terms “aggression” and “terrorism” are inadequate, some new term is needed for the sadistic and cowardly torture of people caged with no possibility of escape, while they are being pounded to dust by the most sophisticated products of US military technology.
Ali Abunimah - What Israel perpetrated in Gaza, will remain forever engraved in history. Once again, Israel demonstrated that it possesses the power and the lack of moral restraint necessary to commit atrocities against those it has caged and starved. Yet it is Israel as a Zionist state, not Palestine or the Palestinian people, that cannot survive this attempted genocide. Israel’s “war” was not about rockets, but to destroy any Palestinian resistance to total Israeli-Jewish control over historic Palestine from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. To win, Israel had to break Palestinian resistance. It failed. On the contrary, it galvanized and unified Palestinians like never before. All factions united and fought heroically for 23 days. Israel did little harm to the modest but determined military capacity of the resistance. So instead Israel did what it does best: it massacred civilians in the hope that the population would turn against those fighting the occupier.
John Pilger - The bombardment and reinvasion of the Gaza Strip has little to do with Hamas or “Israel’s right to exist”. Palestine’s right to exist was cancelled 61 years ago and the expulsion and, if necessary, extinction of the indigenous people was planned and executed by the founders of Israel. The lie of David and Goliath, of perennial victim, reached its apogee in 1967, and since then, mostly Jewish truth-tellers have dispatched this and other myths and revealed a state shorn of the humane traditions of Judaism, whose unrelenting militarism is the sum of an expansionist, lawless and racist ideology called zionism. In Gaza, the enforced starvation and denial of humanitarian aid, the piracy of life-giving resources such as fuel and water, the denial of medicines and treatment, the systematic destruction of infrastructure and the killing and maiming of the civilian population, 50 per cent of whom are children, meet the international standard of the Genocide Convention.
Jay Bahadur - The last of the Ethiopian soldiers left Mogadishu yesterday, concluding their long-awaited evacuation of the capital city. Their departure was feted in the streets by euphoric throngs of cheering residents, and with Islamist militias sweeping in to fill the vacuum, the political complexion of the city appears much the same as it did when the Ethiopians found it, leaving observers to wonder why exactly they were sent in the first place. The 29-month US-backed Ethiopian mission to southern Somalia must be judged as an unmitigated foreign policy, not to mention humanitarian, disaster, and the departing troops will have ample opportunity to consider their failure (and the senseless deaths of the unreported hundreds of their colleagues) during the 500km trek back to their nation’s border. But the deeper contemplation should occur in Addis Ababa and Washington, where the ill-conceived Ethiopian intervention was first envisaged.
Chris Floyd - Comment on Israel’s savage attack on the people of Gaza seems superfluous. The speak loudly, with horrifying clarity, for themselves. We are witnessing monstrous crimes, committed with cold deliberation: a bloodthirsty spectacle of unbridled terrorism, openly celebrated by the political and media elites of Israel and America. This is, of course, the same kind of moral insanity that guides the actions of power in many lands, in increasingly brazen and unapologetic ways, with less and less of the shamefaced furtiveness that once surrounded such abominations as military aggression, torture, “ethnic cleansing” and other crimes of power down through the centuries. This furtiveness was hypocrisy, of course - but in hypocrisy there remains some vestige of the morality it falsely purports to uphold, some awareness that an evil thing is being done which must be hidden or disguised. But now the masks are falling away - or rather, they are being flung aside with gleeful abandon.
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