July 17, 2014

Israel: In 1967 Blockades Were Acts of War, in 2014 They’re Totally Awesome

You probably assume there’s nothing funny about the Israeli attack on Gaza, with the death toll among Palestinians currently at 230. (One Israeli has also been killed.) But that’s where you’re wrong, if you just ignore the human suffering and enjoy the hilariously sanctimonious hypocrisy of nation states.

Two days after Israel and Hamas first started shooting on July 7th, Hamas proposed a ceasefire agreement. Gaza has been under an Israeli blockade since 2007, and Hamas wanted it lifted in return for a cessation of hostilities. Israel ignored this ceasefire proposal, and instead proposed a ceasefire with no lifting of the siege.

Hamas rejected this, which – according to U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki – apparently makes every death on either side from now on their fault. (When asked about the killing of four Palestinian children on the beach yesterday, Psaki emphasized that Hamas was "putting their own people at risk” by not accepting the ceasefire.)

But how did Israel come to occupy Gaza in the first place? Well, in the Six Day War in June, 1967 Israel conquered Gaza (along with the West Bank, the Golan Heights and the Sinai).

Israel shot first in the Six Day War, and, as Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin later explained, it was a “war of choice” and there was "no proof" that Arab countries were going to attack them.

So what justification did Israel give at the time for shooting first? They said that in fact they hadn’t started the war, because Egypt had already started it by blockading an Israeli port several weeks before. Here's what Abba Eban, then the Israeli Foreign Minister and later the recipient of the Israel Prize, said to the UN General Assembly on June 19, 1967:

The blockade is by definition an act of war, imposed and enforced through armed violence. Never in history have blockade and peace existed side by side. From May 24 onward, the question who started the war or who fired the first shot became momentously irrelevant. There is no difference in civil law between murdering a man by slow strangulation or killing him by a shot in the bead. From the moment at which the blockade was imposed, active hostilities had commenced and Israel owed Egypt nothing of her Charter rights. If a foreign power sought to close Odessa or Copenhagen or Marseilles or New York harbour by the use of force, what would happen? Would there be any discussion about who had fired the first shot? Would anyone ask whether aggression had begun?

So that's the funny part:

By Israel’s standards, Hamas has been entitled (since the start of the blockade in 2007) to invade Israel and then occupy it for forty years.

Maybe Hamas officials should start pointing this out. They can direct curious reporters to the only place I can find Eban's speech online, the website of the Israel Defense Forces:


—Jon Schwarz

Posted at 05:46 PM | Comments (13)

The Birdman of ATR

By: John Caruso

I don't believe I've seen Jon mention here that he spends much more of his time on Twitter than ATR these days (and his ATR postings are often elaborations of things he's already tweeted about). I suspect he's just too modest and self-effacing and tugs his forelock in fretful dismay at the very notion of putting this information out there, but I'd also guess that some of ATR's readers aren't aware of his moonlighting and are missing out on the fun, so I'm doing it for him.

You can follow him at @tinyrevolution (aka https://twitter.com/tinyrevolution/).

— John Caruso

Posted at 01:55 PM | Comments (4)

July 16, 2014

Israel Creates Stupidest Propaganda in Human History

Since 2000 and the beginning of the second intifada, Israel has killed 6.5 Palestinians for every Israeli killed by Palestinians, and it’s starting to be a problem for them. (The ratio was more lopsided before 2000, but it wasn’t a problem because back then nobody cared.) And it’s a particular problem right this second, since the ratio in Operation Protective Edge now stands at 178 Palestinians killed to one Israeli.

After all, has there ever in history been a conflict with such a lopsided death tally where the barely-dying side has been the good guys? No. So Israel needed some propaganda to deal with this, stat.

Here’s what they’ve come up with. (This is from a CNN interview yesterday with Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S., but it’s a talking point used by lots of people.)

TAPPER: Is it the official position of the Israeli government that it is worth 17 people who you're not trying to target being killed if that one person is in the house?

DERMER: ...Some say Israel is being disproportionate because more Palestinians have been killed than Israelis, 200 versus one….It has nothing to do with a body count on both sides. Twenty times as many Germans died in World War II than Americans. It didn't make the American response disproportionate and didn't make the Nazis right.


Just for comparison’s sake, let’s say you had 70 trillion male cane toads – an animal notorious for being so stupid it will have sex with anything that will stay still long enough to hump, including dead cane toads, dead lizards, dead snakes and (probably) dead people.

Then let’s say you extracted the essence of the 70 trillion cane toads’ stupidity and turned it into several sentences of Israeli propaganda. That would still be just one-half as stupid as what Ron Dermer said!

I assume I don’t have to spell this out for human beings reading this, but for any confused cane toads, Germany didn’t just kill Americans in World War II. In fact, they're kind of famous for this. They killed about eleven million people in the Holocaust, probably 20 million Russians, plus maybe another 10 million on top of that. That's why they were the bad guys.

Let’s imagine a World War II where Germany only killed 300,000 Americans, i.e., no one from any other country, and yet America killed seven million Germans. In this weird, hypothetical version of “World” War II, America would have been the bad guys.

Congratulations to Ambassador Dermer and all the Israeli propagandists who’ve worked so hard to reach this milestone in human stupidity.

—Jon Schwarz

Posted at 05:00 PM | Comments (14)

July 08, 2014

Jesus Fucking Christ Jeffrey Goldberg Is an Idiot (No, ISIS Hasn't Captured Saddam’s Hidden WMD)

Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic, one of the biggest promoters of the Iraq war in American journalism, was anxious to share this news today:

The link goes to an AP story with this news:

Iraq has informed the United Nations that the Islamic State extremist group has taken control of a vast former chemical weapons facility northwest of Baghdad where 2,500 chemical rockets filled with the deadly nerve agent sarin or their remnants were stored along with other chemical warfare agents.

Iraq's U.N. Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim...singled out the capture of bunkers 13 and 41 in the sprawling complex, which according to a 2004 U.N. report also contained the toxic agent sodium cyanide, which is a precursor for the chemical warfare agent tabun, and artillery shells contaminated with mustard gas.

It was unclear from Goldberg's tweet alone whether this was simply a stupid joke — or whether Goldberg genuinely believed this shows we've discovered Saddam's hidden stockpile of chemical weapons, thus proving George W. Bush (and Jeffrey Goldberg) right at long last.

However, Goldberg then retweeted three other people (this, this and this) who seem to believe it was the latter; i.e., that we've now learned Iraq did have WMD. So apparently Goldberg believes this as well.

Here's what's actually going on:

Al Muthanna was a large Iraqi production facility for chemical weapons in the 1980s, and was heavily bombed during the 1991 Gulf War. After the Gulf War Iraq was required to declare all its chemical weapons to the UN and hand them over for destruction, and al Muthanna became the main collection and destruction site. According to the CIA's 2004 Iraq Survey Group report, "30,000 pieces of ordnance, 480,000 liters of chemical agents, and more than 2 million liters of chemical precursors" were incinerated or neutralized there.

So why were there any materials left in bunkers 13 and 41 (the ones mentioned today by Iraq)? First, because bunker 13 was damaged by the Gulf War bombing, making it too dangerous to remove the chemical weapons inside; and second, because the UN needed a place to put various kinds of contaminated materials (drained shells, equipment from the incinerator, etc.) that was difficult to destroy, and bunker 41 had not been bombed, so they stuck it all in there.

Then the UN did this:

Bunker #13 and # 41 were closed by sealing all entrances before the end of CDG [Chemical Destruction Group] mission. Each seal consisted of two brick walls with a 5cm layer of tar between them. Then a third brick wall at a distance of one metre from the second wall was built and the space between them was filled with reinforced concrete. Altogether, such a seal was over 1.5 m thick. The hole in the roof of the bunker #13 was also sealed with reinforced concrete.

So yes, there were still chemical weapons in Iraq when we invaded in 2003. But no, today's news doesn't prove "Iraq had WMD." Everyone on earth had known what was in these bunkers for 20 years, and Saddam had no way of accessing it.

Moreover, even if Saddam had gotten his hands on it everything had likely decayed so quickly that by the mid-nineties or earlier it would have been useless. By now it's certainly more of a danger to ISIS than anyone else, and then probably only if they drink it.

All of this information is available to anyone with an internet connection and the slightest interest in this subject. That apparently does not include Jeffrey "I've Had My Entire Cerebrum Removed" Goldberg.

P.S. Here's a UN diagram of bunker 13 and how it was sealed:


—Jon Schwarz

Posted at 07:42 PM | Comments (6)