Wednesday, September 29, 2010

International Flaw:
With New Iran Sanctions, POTUS Calls Tehran's Kettle Black

"The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do."

- Samuel P. Huntington

"By alleging Iran has some problems, America’s problems aren’t resolved. Just alleging that Iran has a problem is not going to resolve Mrs. Clinton’s problems for her."

- President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, speaking with Charlie Rose, May 3, 2010

On Wednesday afternoon, in a joint press conference, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner announced that the United States had imposed a new set of unilateral sanctions, including a travel ban and freezing of assets, against a number of top-ranking Iranian officials whom it accused of "serious and sustained human rights abuses" since the presidential election last year. The measure, which comes less than four months after the UN Security Council's latest illegal resolution and the Obama administration's last round of economic sanctions, was enacted via an Executive Order signed into effect last night by the President.

This marked, as Clinton pointed out, "the first time the United States has imposed sanctions against Iran based on human rights abuses." Every US administration since Carter's has issued unilateral sanctions against Iran due to its continued opposition to US imperialism and insufficient deference to American diktat. However, the sanctions have previously been justified using the pretense of Iran's alleged "active support of terrorism," its totally legal and fully monitored nuclear energy program, as well as the wholly fabricated notion that "the actions and policies of the Government of Iran constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States" and required "the declar[ation of] a national emergency to deal with that threat." This last hysterical claim was introduced by the Secretary of State's Presidential husband back in 1995.

This time around, Hillary Clinton stated, with regard to the eight government officials specifically targeted by the new order, "on [their] watch or under their command, Iranian citizens have been arbitrarily arrested, beaten, tortured, raped, blackmailed, and killed. Yet the Iranian Government has ignored repeated calls from the international community to end these abuses, to hold to account those responsible and respect the rights and fundamental freedoms of its citizens. And Iran has failed to meet its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights."

Apparently, the United States' own recent history regarding the invasion and occupation of two foreign countries, the kidnapping, indefinite detention without charge, and the physical and psychological torture of thousands of people, including at places like Guantanamo, Bagram, and Abu Ghraib (where prisoners were raped by their American captors) is irrelevant to the administration's finger-pointing charade and ongoing demonization campaign against Iran. Prisoners held by the United States in Afghanistan and Guantanamo, in addition to being "chained to the ceiling, shackled so tightly that the blood flow stops, kept naked and hooded and kicked to keep them awake for days on end," have also been beaten to death by their interrogators. Of the fifteen soldiers charged with detainee abuse ranging from "dereliction of duty to maiming and involuntary manslaughter," all but three have been acquitted. Those three received written reprimands and served, at most, 75 days in prison for their crimes.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Thin Green Line:
It's Not Just the Settlements (or the Occupation), Stupid!

"Before their eyes we turn into our homestead the land and villages in which they and their forefathers have lived...We are a generation of settlers, and without the steel helmet and gun barrel, we shall not be able to plant a tree or build a house."

- Moshe Dayan, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff, speaking at the funeral of an Israeli farmer killed by a Palestinian in April 1956

The public debate over the Israeli Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign was reignited recently with the news that the illegal West Bank colony of Ariel would soon be opening its newly-constructed, multi-million dollar cultural center and would host performances by several of Israel's leading theater companies in its auditorium, built - tragically - by the very Palestinian construction workers that Israel has occupied and dispossessed. The announcement marked the first time these notable Israeli drama groups would be performing outside of the 1949 Armistice Line in Israeli-occupied Palestine.

Within days of the report, over 50 Israeli actors, directors, playwrights, and producers had signed onto a letter addressed to the boards of Israel's repertory theaters declaring their refusal to perform in Ariel, which is the fourth largest settlement in the West Bank. The letter stated:
"We wish to express our disgust with the theater's board's plans to perform in the new auditorium in Ariel. The actors among us hereby declare that we will refuse to perform in Ariel, as well as in any other settlement. We urge the boards to hold their activity within the sovereign borders of the State of Israel within the Green Line."
Condemnation and outrage were quick to come from the Israeli government, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticizing what he called the "international delegitimization assault" on Israel through academic, cultural, and economic boycotts and stating, "The last thing we need now is an attempt of boycotts from within." Other ministers chimed in with their own often fascist statements, all implicitly (some explicitly) treating the militarized and messianic Jewish communities in the Palestinian West Bank as part of Israel, which they are not. (Though, this should hardly be surprising considering that Netanyahu himself referred - with a straight face and utter contempt for international law - to Ariel as the "capital of Samaria" and an "indisputable" part of Israel during a visit to the colony early this year. Additionally, Israel's racist, child-beating Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who openly calls for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, lives in the illegal West Bank settlement of Nokdim.)

Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz called the boycott letter "unthinkable" and "a case of unfounded hatred," before suggesting that the government withdraw funding from theater companies which refuse to perform in Ariel. He also expressed his desire for the dissenting performers to be fired. "I hope that those who fail to fulfill their contracts will be removed from the theater," he said, continuing, "There's a limit to everything." Everything, that is, according to Steinitz, except decades upon decades of land theft and apartheid.