2011-01-27 Israel and ethnic cleansing

Earlier this week, Israel was accused of ethnic cleansing of Israeli Arabs based on material in the Palestine Papers (summarized here and here). In the Palestine Papers, documents show Israeli negotiators wanting to cut out Arab occupied parts of Israel and give them to Palestine as they were considered “Palestinian” parts of Israel. Other documents discuss the Palestinian diaspora and Israel’s refusal and Palestine’s inability to accept them as citizens. US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice suggested they should be transported to Chile and Argentina.

Yesterday, Nurit Kedar aired a report on Channel 4 News telling of a different kind of ethnic cleansing.

In a report first aired on Channel 4 News on Wednesday, 24-year-old tank commander Ohad remembers being told the night before the operation that the entry into Gaza was to be “disproportionate”.

Once into Gaza, he says his orders were unambiguous: “We needed to cleanse the neighbourhoods, the buildings, the area. It sounds really terrible to say “cleanse”, but those were the orders….I don’t want to make a mistake with the words.”

The IDF [Israel Defence Forces] has said its operational orders during the war emphasised “proportionality” and “humanity”.

The importance of minimising harm to civilians was made clear to soldiers, the IDF said at the time. By the end of the 22 day long operation some 1,400 Palestinians had been killed and large areas of Gaza razed. Ten Israeli soldiers and three Israeli civilians also died.

Since airing the report, the film maker has received death threats.

“I have had phone calls saying ‘you should be hanged’ and calling me a traitor.

“People have sent me messages calling for me to be expelled from Israel, saying I am a traitor to my mother and father.”

2010-12-21 Ekklesia: Why conscientious objector Michael Lyons deserves support

Ekklesia asks for support for twenty-four year old medic Michael Lyons. On 17 December he lost his appeal to be allowed to leave the Royal Navy on grounds of conscience.

When he heard reports about civilian casualties, including children, he made an effort to find out more about the situation. ”I was unable to find a real, just and noble cause to go out but I still had a sense of duty to my country,” he explained at his hearing.

Then WikiLeaks revelations alerted him to the fact that civilian casualties were far greater than had originally been reported. “’Examples included a convoy of marines tearing down a six-mile highway, firing at people with no discrimination.”

What is more, despite being a medic, he might not be allowed to treat everyone needing his help, and might even be called on to kill: “It seems from previous testimony and courses I’ve done that even going out as a medic with all good intention, if you’re at a patrol base or forward operating base, it’s likely you’ll have to use your weapon and will have to turn civilians away who are in need of medical aid.”

For those wondering why data previously in a system which allowed close to one million authorized users, currently in a world where the citizens of almost every country can view it, is being blocked only from the people serving in the military it concerns, this could be the reason. Please support Michael Lyons.

Look At What Just Happened

I just had to watch Fox News talking about how Wikileaks was promoting anarchy. It’s not my fault, I was looking for ghouls. Anyway, when I went back to twitter everyone I follow had linked the first video below. We had been talking a lot about how the behaviour of the MIC in the last year will radicalize a generation that has been widely regarded as being completely self absorbed, spoiled, etc., etc., all the things old people usually call young people who haven’t done anything yet. But look at this.

Nothing like this ever happened to me when I was growing up. Not even close. As I’m sure most of you can imagine, I was an idealistic child and not one that had a whole lot of innate respect for authority. There are a lot of people born like that. This generation has the added fuel of knowing their health has been destroyed by the pharmaceutical and food industries, their economy by the military-industry-government mafias, and their living environments by everyone. Their entertainment has been co-opted by industry to the point that youtube videos made by children are more popular and resonate more with their audiences than the professional entertainers. This is a generation that has watched everything get worse in their lifetimes. What happens when a generation like this sees a glimmer of light? When they see one person standing up to the people linked below? Who is promoting anarchy again?

I don’t think the great experiment has worked. No matter how you destroy the health of a population, no matter how you remove safety, dignity and self respect, no matter how much propaganda you produce and how many ways you feed it to them, people have never been permanently crushed by a dictatorship. They have never lost hope. And the more desperate they are, the more of them will follow the glimmer of light.

Another link I was sent today included this wonderful quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupery via Assange: “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the seas.” That is what Wikileaks has done. That is all. To a people this oppressed, it is enough.

From Wikileaks to Wikileaks World

Now that most of the mainstream media have finally figured out who Anonymous is and that Wikileaks is not “one lone hacker”, some seem to think it is an organization populated by 16 year old boys shouting “Pew! Pew! Pewpewpew!” at their computer screens. And by “Wikileaks” they mean this whole movement we are watching.

We had a look at the origins of Wikileaks. It is possible to follow a shadowy tale from there to last summer, and watch journalists, IT people of all sorts, activists and politicians get involved. But the last three weeks have seen an absolute explosion in the numbers of people in this movement, and solidly in the movement, not just watching.

All of the support from people like EFF, Anonymous, the Pirate Party, etc., was pretty predictable, there is a lot of idealistic crossover and most people were already quiet supporters. But this is so much bigger. Last summer, there were really only a scant handful of people who were vocal supporters of Wikileaks. So scant that media could talk about a “microcosmic organization” and commenters could say “It’s always the same three names.” or “They’re like a cult”. It was truly scary on November 28th when Peter King decided he wanted the organization declared a terrorist organization like Al Qaeda and all of its supporters hunted down. Just 11 days later, that seems a laughable idea. Since the release of the cables, the Wikileaks twitter went from less than 200,000 followers to almost 500,000 and Wikileaks facebook went from 147,015 on November 23 to almost 1.2 million right now.

Who are all these people? Besides the usual internet suspects, all of the best journalists in the world have figured out which side they want to be standing on. Idealistic young people who want a job so righteous that it deserves to be protected by constitutions and laws. Also, journalists who want to work for Wikileaks, the new coolest media outlet in the world. And journalists who are just afraid of being shown up for the hypocrites they have been so far. But these were also the people we expected to join, sooner or later. It is still so much bigger.

One of the most wonderful additions I have seen is the amount of people from the legal profession getting on board. Possibly the world’s most hated profession is actually populated by a lot of very intelligent people of deep integrity and high ideals. People who believe in the law and everything it stands for, and people who have been horrified by the attitudes of politicians who think if something they don’t like isn’t against the law, then they’ll just change the law. The law is supposed to be above politics, it is not a political tool. When Assange said “It’s very important to remember the law is not what … powerful people would want others to believe it is. The law is not what a general says it is. The law is not what Hillary Clinton says it is.” it seems to have struck a chord with many people in the legal profession who have been feeling that way for some time.

The other professionals that I have seen in overwhelming numbers are professors and others associated with academia. Again, this is probably something born of frustration, people who love knowledge and the transmission of knowledge who have had their profession, like the legal profession, curtailed and under attack. To suddenly be of use again, to find a movement that values truth and intelligence, is like finally coming home for a great many people who have been so frustrated with the anti-intellectual feeling of the last several decades. Academia has also been on the front lines of the attack from the US government, with students at Columbia University told by the US State Dept that discussing Wikileaks on Facebook or Twitter would hurt their chances of a job in the future. Joe McCarthy could not have said it better.

With the arrest of Assange, we are seeing human rights activists around the world, sympathetic and hopeful before, but genuinely concerned now. Today the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said “I am concerned about reports of pressure exerted on private companies including banks, credit card companies and Internet service providers to close down credit lines for donations to Wikileaks, as well as to stop hosting the website,” pointing out that this could be interpreted as an attempt to prevent Wikileaks from publishing, in violation of its right to freedom of expression.

We are at the point now where any petition in support of Wikileaks looks like a Who’s Who of intelligent thoughtful professionals the world over, while people of all ages around the world are engaged in any way they can. As the battle lines are being drawn, look around at who is standing where. It is a very interesting and telling thing to observe.

Speeches for Rallies

Written in response to a specific request but available for use by anyone. Feel free to use, in whole or in part, or publish them on a website, newsletter, store window, office cublicle, etc. If you are organizing a rally, please tell me the details and I’ll post them here and at WLCentral. Thank you all for your support.

Speech 1

On behalf of _____________, we are calling on the governments of the United Kingdom and Australia to ensure the safety of Julian Assange while in custody in London. We also strongly condemn his unnecessary arrest and ask that he not be extradited to Sweden, a country known to extradite people to the US without proper justification and due process. We stand for press freedom and democracy and strongly condemn actions taken and words spoken to incite harm to journalists and publishers, and deterrents placed to free speech. The blatantly illegal government and corporate action being taken against Wikileaks is against the rule of law and the will of the people and has no place in a democratic society. We call for the release of Julian Assange and the cessation of further harassment and illegal activity against a free press.

Speech 2

I am speaking for supporters of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, freedom of speech and democracy world wide.

Julian Assange was arrested in London this morning. His arrest comes after a farcical judicial process in Sweden and an unprecedented Interpol red notice for a matter that could have been handled by phone. His arrest is in breach of agreements between the Swedish and UK governments and the European Convention on Human Rights. Once Assange is extradited to Sweden, we have no faith that the Swedish government will not use that cooperative spirit with the US which we read about in the embassy cables to have him extradited to the US.

Julian Assange bravely volunteered to be the public face of a worldwide movement calling for democracy and press freedom. In doing so, he has exposed the supposedly democratic and open governments in the west for the fascist corporate dictatorships they are. Nothing we read in the Wikileaks releases is more telling than the abuses suffered by the first person in the western media who has stood up to tell the truth on a significant scale. If the world ever needed a more pure indication of how long and how much the world’s media has been lying, take a look at what happens when a media organization tells the truth.

We will no longer submit to a paternalistic and secret form of governance, where everyone in the world running political, industrial, financial, media and military organizations are privy to information that we, the governed, are denied. We will never again believe anything we are told by the servant media, unless we have supporting evidence and a forum for verifying their interpretations. We, the people, now have the ability to store and communicate massive amounts of data. We, the people, also have the ability to logically process that data and come to the best conclusions possible for society. Together our brains are much more capable than the brains currently running the world, and an open transparent system will ensure potential abuses are spotted and stopped.

The Wikileaks releases of this year have been our training period, a progressive course in getting the truth out and acting on it. We are now the strongest force the world has ever seen, a truly informed worldwide populace, the worst nightmare of a fascist world government. This is the moment we have been waiting for, for five or six decades, maybe since the beginning of time. This is our first, best and perhaps only chance for a worldwide democracy.

Wikileaks is not a lone vandal hacker. It is an idea. We all have the idea. And you can’t bomb an idea, or send drones after it, or put it in jail. Do you think that people who have had the secrets to the BP oil spill, the environmental disasters, the pharmaceutical lobbies, the political corruption, the military abuses and the financial crash dangled in front of them will just sit back and be content again while “investigative reporting” serves up breast implants discovered on reality TV stars? If you manage to dismantle Wikileaks, those secrets will still be ours, we know you have them and we will get them.

That is our idea. It is not anarchy, it is not vandalism, we call it democracy and transparent governance. It has never existed before. But now we have the ability and the idea, and you will not kill this revolution any more than the bullets that killed Martin Luther King and Malcolm X killed the civil rights movement.

Ok, The Internet Is Like An Ocean, All Right?

I have tried, I have really tried, to explain the internet to the US DoD. I have said it was a flock of birds, some starfish, even a samizdat movement (ok that was Wikileaks twitter). Let’s try again. Remember when people used to “surf the net”? Well, that’s because it’s kind of like an ocean.

Everything in the ocean is interconnected, no matter how far apart they may appear to be, even if they have never met. The ocean is full of happy little individuals and communities that may veer off and head to where you are if you attract attention. Blood in the ocean attracts attention. It could attract a battery of barracudas, or something big and dark that you have never heard of.

All of the happy activists, hacktivists, open source programmers etc., peacefully working away at what they do have all had their attention diverted by the explosions around that sparkly little fish Wikileaks. People who usually only come here to work on Tor, EFF, anti-ACTA, anti-censorship, human rights, free internet, darknet, Pirate Bay, or just to hang out at any of the chans, have all wandered over to take a look.

This ocean abhors a vacuum. And it is full of problem solvers, all watching the attacks on Wikileaks and figuring out how those attacks can be counteracted next time. Yes, there’s already a next time. See Napster. And like with Napster, next time will be a mutation that can defend against anything that worked against Wikileaks this time. Remember? Untraceable source? NewWikileaks doesn’t need an “editor in chief”, it doesn’t need to involve the mainstream media, and it certainly doesn’t need to redact.

The internet is free. It says what it thinks. It debates. It cooperates. It is obsessive. It doesn’t sleep. It mutates. It is everywhere. It is nowhere. It is the alternative if Wikileaks is destroyed.