Sunday, September 14, 2014

Cowspiracy

There is one single industry destroying the planet more than any other. But the world's leading environmental organizations are too afraid to talk about it. Clips:


Global Warming

Richard Oppenlander, author, Comfortably Unaware: “My calculations are that without using any gas or oil or fuel every again from this day forward, we would still exceed our maximum carbon-equivalent greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2030 ... all simply by raising and eating livestock.”

Kirk Smith, Professor of Global Environmental Health, University of California, Berkeley: “If you reduce the amount of methane emissions, the level in the atmosphere goes down fairly quickly, within decades, as opposed to CO₂ if you reduce the emissions to the atmosphere, you don't really see a signal in the atmosphere for 100 years or so.”

Demosthenes Moratos, Sustainability Institute, Molloy College: “The single largest contributor to every known environmental ill known to humankind – deforestation, land use, water scarcity, the destabilization of communities, world hunger – the list doesn’t stop – it’s an environmental disaster that’s being ignored by the very people who should be championing it.”

Will Tuttle, author: “Free-living animals made up, 10,000 years ago, 99% of the biomass and human beings, we made up only 1% of the biomass. Today, only 10,000 years later ... we human beings and the animals that we own as property make up 98% of the biomass and wild free-living animals make up only 2%. We’ve basically completely stolen the world, the earth, from free-living animals to use for ourselves and our cows and pigs and chickens and factory-farmed fish, and the oceans are being even more devastated.”

Oppenlander: “Concerned researchers of the loss of species agree that the primary cause of loss of species on our earth ... is due to overgrazing and habitat loss through livestock production on land and by overfishing, which I call fishing, in our oceans.”

Tuttle: “We’re in the middle of the largest mass extinction of species in 65 million years, the rainforest is being cut down at the rate of an acre per second, and the driving force behind all of this is animal agriculture: cutting down the forest to graze animals and to grow soybeans, genetically engineered soybeans to feed the cows and pigs and chickens and factory-farmed fish.”

Oppenlander: “Ninety-one percent of the loss of the rainforest in the Amazon area thus far to date, 91% of what has been destroyed is due to raising livestock.”


Ocean


Water
“One quarter-pound hamburger requires over 660 gallons of water to produce. Here I've been taking short showers trying to save water, to find out eating just one hamburger is the equivalent of showering 2 entire months. So much attention is given to lowering our home water use, yet domestic water use is only 5% of what is consumed in the U.S., versus 55% for animal agriculture. That’s because it take upwards of 2500 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef.”


Rainforest
“Our global rainforests are essentially the planet’s lungs. They breathe in CO₂ and exhale oxygen. An acre of rainforest is cleared every second, and the leading cause is to graze animals and grow their food crops. ... And it is estimated that every day, close to a hundred plant, animal, and insect species are lost through the rainforest’s destruction.”


Wildlife
Deniz Bolbol, American Wild Horses Preservation Campaign: “The government has been rounding up horses en masse, and we now have more wild horses and burros in government holding facilities – 50,000 – than we have free on the range. Basically you have ranchers who get to graze on our public land for ... about one-fifteenth of the going rate, and what the Bureau of Land Management has to do is say how much forage and water is on the land and then they divvy it up. They give so much to cows, so much to ‘wildlife’, and so much to the wild horses and burros, and what we see is the lion’s share of the forage and water’s going to the livestock industry. And then they scapegoat the horses and burros and say, ‘Oh there’s too many horses and burros, let’s move them.’ I always tell people that wild horses and burros are just one of the victims of the management of our public lands for livestock, because we also see the predator killing going on: wolves are now being targeted by ranchers. USDA has aircraft and all they do is aerial gunning of predators. All a rancher does is call and say, ‘I’ve got a coyote here’, and they’ll come over and they’ll shoot the coyote, or they’ll shoot the mountain lion, or shoot the bobcat. And this is all for ranchers.”


Population
“Some people would say the problem isn’t really animal agriculture, but actually human overpopulation. In 1812, there were 1 billion on the planet. In 1912, there were 1.5 billion. Then just 100 years later, our population exploded to 7 billion humans. This number is rightly given a great deal of attention, but an even more important figure when determining world population is the world’s 70 billion farm animals humans raise. The human population drinks 5.2 billion gallons of water every day and eats 21 billion pounds of food. But just the world’s 1.5 billion cows alone drink 45 billion gallons of water every day and eat 135 billion pounds of food. This isn’t so much a human population issue – it’s a humans eating animals population issue. Environmental organizations not addressing this is like health organizations trying to stop lung cancer without addressing cigarette smoking, but instead of second-hand smoking it’s second-hand eating, that affects the entire planet.”

Howard Lyman, former cattle rancher, author, Mad Cowboy:

“You can’t be an environmentalist and eat animal products. Period.”

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Sunday, September 07, 2014

Anti-Russian Ukrainians resent complexity

First up is the Orwellian warning by Chrystia Freeland, Canadian MP and long-time armchair anti-Russia agitator on behalf of Ukraine, against nuanced or neutral (let alone objective) language in describing the rebellion in Donetsk and Luhansk and particularly Russia’s involvement (Sept. 5, New York Times). Instead, she praises the popular success of the Twitter hashtag ”#RussiaInvadedUkraine” as perfectly conveying the truth of the matter. Needless to say, she does not mention the EU’s and USA’s, as well as her own, role in overthrowing a democratically elected government because it was not favoring “The West” enough — or likely even more simply because it was ready to renew the lease on Russia’s Black Sea naval base in Sevastopol, Crimea. The swift (and peaceful) action by Putin to secure Crimea in response to the coup must have been what sent Nato’s Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen round the bend, much as Putin’s protection of Edward Snowden and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s deft thwarting of American bombing of Syria left Obama seething — Putin is a devil because he sees through these hypocritical machinations of “The West”, especially those of the U.S. military empire.

What could be more Orwellian than reducing this complex situation to the nonsensical “#RussiaInvadedUkraine”?

Then today’s local newspaper featured an article about local Ukrainians (no Russians!), including Victoria Somoff, assistant professor of Russian at Dartmouth College, who grew up in Donetsk:
Somoff said she is used to sorting out problems rationally, but the conflict has put that approach to the test.

“It’s becoming this full-scale anger. It almost scares me because I’m not a confrontational person,” she said. “I feel it’s so unjust and unfair for Russia to take over my town and my country.”

Somoff said national tensions have led to sharp disagreements between her and colleagues, many of whom live in Russia, where local support for Russia’s action runs high. ...

That point was underscored to Somoff on Wednesday, when a conversation with a professor in Russia turned sour. “We were supposed to talk about scholarly matters, a completely unrelated topic,” she said. But the international conflict looms so large that it’s almost impossible to ignore, she said, and soon the discussion became heated.

While her colleague wasn’t defending Russia, he said some blame also was due to the Ukrainian government for its poor treatment of Russian-speaking Ukrainian citizens.

But Somoff said she can no longer afford to see the picture in shades of gray.

“I am a scholar. I see complexity,” she said. “But there is a point where the boundaries are drawn and arguments for complexity play to Putin. I am kind of losing any ability to be objective here.”
Acknowledgement of complexity plays to Putin, so Somoff must deny that complexity and join Rasmussen and Obama in seething rage against Putin for denying them their “win” (and for making them act like simpletons?). They would rather start World War III than admit their own contributions to fomenting and perpetuating the crisis, simply because it did not go as they planned.

It is, after all, “The West” that has left a trail of death, chaos, and destruction throughout Africa and southwest Asia, and sought to add Ukraine to that list.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Wind Health Impacts Dismissed in Court?

At the pro–renewable energy industry Energy & Policy Institute, dead-ender Mike Barnard claims that whenever concerns of health impacts from industrial wind turbine noise are raised at law, they are rejected. In the 49 cases from English-speaking countries that he presents, however, only 2 involved an operating wind energy facility. And in both, the facility was found to be in violation of the law. The rest involve only the existing legal framework for approving industrial wind facilities, which involves the weighing of often competing interests — and the evidence shows most clearly that national, state, or provincial interests generally trump local concerns in the matter of energy development.

Almost all of the remaining 47 (or 44, since 2 of them are duplicates and 1 is the transcript of the hearing for one of the listed cases) involve appeals of project approvals, and the issue concerns only the possibility of health impacts despite the government’s judgement and the developer’s reassurances. Oddly, 11 of them do not even consider health effects or they consider them only very narrowly (eg, shadow flicker, autism). And several of them recognize that should health effects occur, they should indeed be taken seriously. One of the rulings (Heritage Wind Farm Development Inc., Decision on Preliminary Question, Decision 2011-239, Alberta, 2012) dismisses the developer’s wish to operate the turbines at night, in violation of the conditions of the project approval. Another ruling (Hulme v. Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government & Anor, 2011) upholds amplitude modulation (“whooshing”) noise conditions that have prevented the developer from proceeding despite project approval.

As stated in Fata v. Director, Ministry of the Environment (Ontario, 2014), “Tribunals are creatures of statute.” The laws guiding the permitting of large wind energy facilities are narrow and virtually arbitrary regarding setbacks and noise limits. Until the facility is actually operating, the developer’s word is golden and the regulations are generous. After construction, the resulting impacts are weighed against the burden on the developer to mitigate them. Nonetheless, as noted above, in both post-construction cases presented by Barnard, the courts ruled in favor of the plaintiffs.

Furthermore, Barnard completely ignores the many cases that have been settled out of court, the energy company buying the plaintiff’s property rather than defending the charges of adverse health effects in public. Such settlements also typically impose gag orders on the sellers. Two examples are the purchase of several homes in Ontario and the home of Jane and Julian Davis in England.

Then there is the non–English-speaking world. One pertinent example is from Portugal, where the Supreme Court in 2013 ordered the shutting down and removal of 4 turbines near a farm because of sleep disturbance and other health effects. In late 2011, Denmark added limits of indoor low-frequency noise to its regulations, recognizing one of the unique characteristics of wind turbine noise and its health impacts.

Far from exhaustive, Barnard’s list is also not representative of legal opinion, ignoring planning decisions and regulations that consider the adverse health effects of wind turbine noise. Just one example is a North Lincolnshire project that was “rejected because of the ‘serious effect’ it would have on eight-year-old autistic twin boys living nearby”, based on the evidence from an existing project behind their home.

In the tables below, only the last columns have been added to the originals.

Australia

Case Project Location Year Type Decision comments
Cherry Tree Farm Pty Ltd. v. Mitchell Shire Council Cherry Tree Victoria 2013 Civil In favor of developer [bad link in original] permit application (allowed, with conditions, including noise limits) – “The Tribunal has no doubt that some people who live close to a wind turbine experience adverse health effects … there is not sufficient evidence to establish that the proportion of the population residing in proximity to a wind farm which experiences adverse health effects is large enough to warrant refusal of a land use that is positively encouraged by planning policy. … This view is strengthened when the
proximity is required to be no less than 2 kilometres.
” [emphasis added]
Paltridge and Ors v. District Council of Grant and Anor Allendale East South Australia 2011 Environment Against developer (visual amenity) appeal of planning consent (upheld)
Cherry Tree Farm Pty Ltd v. Mitchell Shire Council Cherry Tree Victoria 2013 Civil In favor of developer [bad link in original; apparently duplicate entry of Cherry Tree Farm Pty Ltd. v. Mitchell Shire Council (2013), above]
Quinn & Ors v. Regional Council of Goyder & Anor Hallett South Australia 2010 Environment In favor of developer appeal of planning consent – ‘[T]he framers of the Development Plan must have known that, even in a sparsely populated rural area such as the locality of the proposed wind farm, there will be residents who will be able to hear the turbines, and a small percentage of those residents are likely to be annoyed.’ (ie, tough)
King & Anor v. Minister for Planning; Parkesbourne-Mummel Landscape Guardians Inc v. Minister for Planning; Gullen Range Wind Farm Pty Limited v. Minister for Planning Gullen Range New South Wales 2010 Environment In favor of developer 3 appeals of project approval, none regarding health
The Sisters Wind Farm Pty Ltd v. Moyne SC Sisters Wind Farm Victoria 2010 Civil Against developer (exceeds updated noise standards) appeal of permit refusal (dismissed) – ‘It is our view that actual adverse health effects aside from the annoyance aspects of noise impact remain unproven. We do however accept that certain individuals have a much higher sensitivity to noise than others, but the impact of noise from the turbines, which is a fluctuating rather than a steady noise, does cause significant distress even at a low noise level.’
Acciona Energy Oceania Pty Ltd v. Corangamite SC Newfield Victoria 2008 Civil In favor of developer appeal of permit refusal (upheld) – ‘There is no evidence of health impacts that persuades us that rejection of the permit application is warranted given the proposal’s compliance with the applicable standards. [emphasis added] If there are significant issues arising then there needs to be some independent assessment and documentation leading, if required, to variations in the standards applied in Victoria.’
Perry v. Hepburn SC Hepburn Wind Victoria 2007 Civil In favor of developer appeal of permit approval (dismissed) – ‘There is no evidence of health impacts that persuades us that rejection of the permit application is warranted given the proposal’s compliance with the applicable standards.’ [emphasis added]
Synergy Wind Pty Ltd v. Wellington SC Yarram Victoria 2007 Civil In favor of developer appeal of permit refusal (dismissed), health concerns raised only in reference to shadow flicker
Thackeray v. Shire of South Gippsland Toora Victoria 2001 Civil In favor of developer appeal of permit approval (dismissed), health concerns not raised
Hislop & Ors v. Glenelg SC Cape Bridgewater Victoria 1998 Civil In favor of developer permit application (approved), health concerns not raised


Canada

Case Project Location Year Type Decision comments
Fata v. Director, Ministry of the Environment Bow Lake Ontario 2014 Environment In favor of developer appeals of project approval (dismissed) – ‘Tribunals are creatures of statute.’
13-124 Kroeplin v. MOE Armow Ontario 2014 Environment In favor of developer [bad link in original] appeals of project approval (dismissed)
13-096 Platinum Produce Company v. MOE South Kent Ontario 2014 Environment In favor of developer appeal of project approval (dismissed)
Drennan v. Director, Ministry of the Environment K2 Wind Huron County Ontario 2014 Environment In favor of developer appeals of project approval (dismissed)
Ostrander Point GP Inc. and another v. Prince Edward County Field Naturalists and another Ostrander Point Ontario 2014 Higher In favor of developer [bad link in original] appeal of revocation of project approval (upheld), appeal of dismissal of appeal regarding harm to birds and alvar (dismissed), and appeal of dismissal of appeal regarding harm to human health (dismissed)
1646658 Alberta Ltd., Bull Creek Wind Project Bull Creek Alberta 2014 Utility In favor of developer [bad link in original] application for project approval (approved)
Wrightman v. Director, Ministry of the Environment Adelaide Ontario 2014 Environment In favor of developer appeals of project approval (dismissed)
Bain v. Director, Ministry of the Environment Ernestown Wind Farm Ontario 2014 Environment In favor of developer [no link in original] appeals of project approval (dismissed)
Bovaird v. Director, Ministry of the Environment Melancthon Extension Ontario 2013 Environment In favor of developer appeal of project approval (dismissed)
Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County v. Director, Ministry of the Environment Ostrander Point Ontario 2013 Environment Against developer due to endangered turtle appeals of project approval (dismissed regarding human health; allowed regarding plant life, animal life or natural environment) – overturned in Ostrander Point GP Inc. and another v. Prince Edward County Field Naturalists and another (2014), above
Monture v. Director, Ministry of the Environment Haldimand Summerhaven project Ontario 2012 Environment In favor of developer appeals of project approval (dismissed)
Monture v. Director, Ministry of the Environment (Monture 2) Haldimand Grand Renewable Wind Ontario 2012 Environment In favor of developer appeals of project approval (dismissed)
Chatham-Kent Wind Action Inc. v. Director, Ministry of the Environment South Kent Ontario 2012 Environment In favor of developer appeal of project approval (dismissed)
Heritage Wind Farm Development Inc., Decision on Preliminary Question, Decision 2011-239 Heritage Wind Farm Alberta 2012 Utility Against developer application for variance of approval condition to shut down turbines at night (dismissed)
Erickson v. Director, Ministry of the Environment Chatham Kent Suncor Ontario 2011 Environment In favor of developer appeals of project approval (dismissed) – ‘While the Appellants were not successful in their appeals, the Tribunal notes that their involvement and that of the Respondents, has served to advance the state of the debate about wind turbines and human health. This case has successfully shown that the debate should not be simplified to one about whether wind turbines can cause harm to humans. The evidence presented to the Tribunal demonstrates that they can, if facilities are placed too close to residents. The debate has now evolved to one of degree. The question that should be asked is: What protections, such as permissible noise levels or setback distances, are appropriate to protect human health? … Just because the Appellants have not succeeded in their appeals, that is no excuse to close the book on further research. On the contrary, further research should help resolve some of the significant questions that the Appellants have raised.’
Hanna v. Ontario (Attorney General) Wind farm enabling legislation Ontario 2011 Higher In favor of industry challenge of provincial setback requirements (dismissed) – ‘[U]nder s. 11 of the EBR, the minister must take every reasonable step to consider all ten principles, a process which involves a policy-laden weighing and balancing of competing principles. … The health concerns for persons living in proximity to wind turbines cannot be denigrated, but they do not trump all other considerations. … It is not the court's function to question the wisdom of the minister's decision, or even whether it was reasonable. If the minister followed the process mandated by s. 11 of the EBR, his decision is unassailable on a judicial review application.’
McKinnon v. RMs Martin and Moosomin, Red Lily Wind Red Lily Saskatchewan 2010 Civil In favor of developer motion for injunction (dismissed)


New Zealand

Case Project Location Year Type Decision comments
New Zealand Wind Farms Limited v. Palmerston North City Council Te Rere Hau Palmerston North 2013 Higher In favor of developer [link same as Palmerston North City Council v. New Zealand Windfarms Limited (2012), below]
Meridian Energy Limited v. Hurunui Bistrict and Canterbury Regional Councils Hurunui North Canterbury 2013 Environment In favor of developer application for project consent (granted)
Palmerston North City Council v. New Zealand Windfarms Limited Te Rere Hau New Zealand 2012 Environment Against developer challenge of noise compliance (granted)
Mainpower NZ Limited v. Hurunui District Council Mt. Cass Canterbury 2011 Environment In favor of developer appeal of consent refusal (upheld) – ‘we accept that there can be no guarantee of absolute protection for the health and wellbeing of their child [with autism]’ (only health concern raised)
Rangitikei Guardians Society Inc v. Manawatu-Wanganui Regional Council Project Central Wind Taihape 2010 Environment In favor of developer [no link in original] appeal of project consent (dismissed)


United Kingdom

Case Project Location Year Type Decision comments
South Northamptonshire Council & Anor v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government & Anor Spring Farm Ridge Northamptonshire 2013 Higher Against developer appeal of upheld appeal of planning refusal (upheld), health concerns not raised
Hulme v. Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government & Anor Den Brook Devon 2011 Higher In favor of developer appeal of conditions of redetermined planning approval (upheld appeal of dismissed appeal of upheld appeal of planning refusal (dismissed) – upheld amplitude modulation noise condition, health concerns not raised
Barnes & Anor v. Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Crosslands Farm Cumbria 2010 Higher In favor of developer appeal of upheld appeal of planning refusal (rejected), health concerns not raised
Tegni Cymru Cyf v. The Welsh Ministers & Anor Gorsedd Bran Denbighshire 2010 Higher In favor of developer appeal of rejected appeal of planning refusal (upheld), health concerns not raised
Hulme, R (on the application of) v. Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government Den Brook Devon 2010 Higher In favor of developer [hearing of Hulme v. Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government & Anor (2011), above]
Tegni Cymru Cyf v. The Welsh Ministers & Anor Gorsedd Bran Denbighshire 2010 Higher Against developer appeal of Tegni Cymru Cyf v. The Welsh Ministers & Anor (2010), above, health concerns not raised
The Friends of Hethel Ltd, R (on the application of) v. Ecotricity Lotus Cars Norfolk 2009 Higher In favor of developer appeal of planning permission, health concerns not raised
North Devon District Council, R (on the application of) v. Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform & Anor Fullabrook Down Devon 2008 Higher In favor of developer appeal and application for judicial review of planning permission (appeal dismissed, permission to apply for judicial review granted), health concerns not raised
CRE Energy Ltd Re: A Decision Of The Scottish Ministers [2006] ScotCS CSOH_131 (29 August 2006) Borrowston Scotland 2006 Higher Against developer appeal of pleanning refusal, health concerns not raised


United States

Case Project Location Year Type Decision comments
Town of Falmouth v. Town of Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals & others Falmouth Massachusetts 2013 Higher Against developer motion for injunction (allowed) – turbines off 7pm-7am Mon-Sat, Sun, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's
Lawrence J. Frigault et al., Respondents-Appellants, v. Town of Richfield Planning Board et al., Apellants-Respondents, et al., Respondent. Monticello Winds New York 2013 Higher In favor of developer appeal of upheld appeal of permit approval (upheld), health concerns not raised
The Blue Mountain Alliance; Norm Kralman; Richard Jolly; Dave Price; Robin Severe; and Cindy Severe, Petitioners, v. Energy Facility Siting Council; and Site Certificate Holder Helix Windpower Facility, LLC. Respondents. Helix Wind Power Facility Oregon 2013 Higher In favor of developer appeal of certificate approval ignoring country setback ordinance, health concerns not specifically raised
Friends of Maine Mountains v. Board of Environmental Protection Saddleback Ridge Maine 2012 Higher Against developer appeal of permit approval (upheld) – ‘Because the Board is responsible for regulating sound levels in order to minimize health impacts—and because when doing so it determined that the appropriate nighttime sound level limit to minimize health impacts is 42 dBA—the Board abused its discretion by approving Saddleback's permit applications.’
Concerned Citizens to Save Roxbury et al. v. Board of Environmental Protection et al. Record Hill Maine 2011 Higher In favor of developer appeal of permit approval (dismissed)
Application of Buckeye Wind, LLC., for a Certificate to Construct Wind–Powered Electric Generation Facilities in Champaign County, Ohio; Union Neighbors United et al., Appellants; Power Siting Board et al., Appellees Champaign County Ohio 2010 Higher In favor of developer appeal of project approval (dismissed), health concerns not raised – ‘the board acted in accordance with all pertinent statutes and regulations’
Arthur and Elke Plaxton, Appellants v. Lycoming County Zoning Hearing Board and Laurel Hill Wind Energy, LLC. Laurel Ridge Pennsylvania 2009 Higher In favor of developer challenge of county zoning amendments (dismissed), health concerns not specifically raised
Aroberts v. Manitowoc County Board of Adjustment Twin Creeks Wind Park Wisconsin 2006 Higher In favor of developer appeal of permit approval (dismissed), health concerns not specifically raised

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Coins of Palestine

Why was Palestine divided? Jews, Muslims, and Christians lived there together for centuries. The only time it was bad for Jews was when Christian crusaders made it bad for Muslims too. Here are some photos of coins from the post-Ottoman (post–World War I) era, before it was divided.

One people …

A sign has been often seen at recent rallies in defense of Israel’s attacks on non-Jewish Palestinians, as seen in this example from a counter-demonstration to a protest in Tel Aviv, August 9, 2014, photographed by Oren Ziv and posted at activestills.org:


The Hebrew is: OM AChD - MDYNH AChTh - MNHYG AChd

In English: One people. One state. One leader.

Which might sound familiar as one of Nazi Germany’s rallying cries: Ein Volk. Ein Reich. Ein Führer.


This is kinda scary.

Update: Ultra-Zionists protest Muslim-Jewish wedding saying miscegenation is ‘gravest threat to the Jewish people’

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Thursday, August 07, 2014

Noam Chomsky on the Israeli assault on Gaza

AMY GOODMAN [Democracy Now]: Your comments on what has just taken place?

NOAM CHOMSKY: It’s a hideous atrocity, sadistic, vicious, murderous, totally without any credible pretext. It’s another one of the periodic Israeli exercises in what they delicately call "mowing the lawn." That means shooting fish in the pond, to make sure that the animals stay quiet in the cage that you’ve constructed for them, after which you go to a period of what’s called "ceasefire," which means that Hamas observes the ceasefire, as Israel concedes, while Israel continues to violate it. Then it’s broken by an Israeli escalation, Hamas reaction. Then you have a period of "mowing the lawn." This one is, in many ways, more sadistic and vicious even than the earlier ones.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And what of the pretext that Israel used to launch these attacks? Could you talk about that and to what degree you feel it had any validity?

NOAM CHOMSKY: As high Israeli officials concede, Hamas had observed the previous ceasefire for 19 months. The previous episode of "mowing the lawn" was in November 2012. There was a ceasefire. The ceasefire terms were that Hamas would not fire rockets — what they call rockets — and Israel would move to end the blockade and stop attacking what they call militants in Gaza. Hamas lived up to it. Israel concedes that.

In April of this year, an event took place which horrified the Israeli government: A unity agreement was formed between Gaza and the West Bank, between Hamas and Fatah. Israel has been desperately trying to prevent that for a long time. … Israel was furious. They got even more upset when the U.S. more or less endorsed it, which is a big blow to them. They launched a rampage in the West Bank.

What was used as a pretext was the brutal murder of three settler teenagers. There was a pretense that they were alive, though they knew they were dead. [A]nd, of course, they blamed it right away on Hamas. They have yet to produce a particle of evidence, and in fact their own highest leading authorities pointed out right away that the killers were probably from a kind of a rogue clan in Hebron, the Qawasmeh clan, which turns out apparently to be true. They’ve been a thorn in the sides of Hamas for years. They don’t follow their orders.

But anyway, that gave the opportunity for a rampage in the West Bank, arresting hundreds of people, re-arresting many who had been released, mostly targeted on Hamas. Killings increased. Finally, there was a Hamas response: the so-called rocket attacks. And that gave the opportunity for "mowing the lawn" again.

AMY GOODMAN: You said that Israel does this periodically, Noam Chomsky. Why do they do this periodically?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Because they want to maintain a certain situation. There’s a background. For over 20 years, Israel has been dedicated, with U.S. support, to separating Gaza from the West Bank. That’s in direct violation of the terms of the Oslo Accord 20 years ago, which declared that the West Bank and Gaza are a single territorial entity whose integrity must be preserved. But for rogue states, solemn agreements are just an invitation to do whatever you want. So Israel, with U.S. backing, has been committed to keeping them separate.

And there’s a good reason for that. Just look at the map. If Gaza is the only outlet to the outside world for any eventual Palestinian entity, whatever it might be, the West Bank, if separated from Gaza, the West Bank is essentially imprisoned: Israel on one side, the Jordanian dictatorship on the other. Furthermore, Israel is systematically driving Palestinians out of the Jordan Valley, sinking wells, building settlements. They first call them military zones, then put in settlements — the usual story. That would mean that whatever cantons are left for Palestinians in the West Bank, after Israel takes what it wants and integrates it into Israel, they would be completely imprisoned. Gaza would be an outlet to the outside world, so therefore keeping them separate from one another is a high goal of policy, U.S. and Israeli policy.

And the unity agreement threatened that. Threatened something else Israel has been claiming for years. One of its arguments for kind of evading negotiations is: How can they negotiate with the Palestinians when they’re divided? Well, OK, so if they’re not divided, you lose that argument. …

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Noam, what do you make of the … continued refusal of one administration after another here in the United States, which officially is opposed to the settlement expansion, to refuse to call Israel to the table on this attempt to create its own reality on the ground?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, your phrase "officially opposed" is quite correct. But we can look at — you know, you have to distinguish the rhetoric of a government from its actions, and the rhetoric of political leaders from their actions. That should be obvious. So we can see how committed the U.S. is to this policy, easily. For example, in February 2011, the U.N. Security Council considered a resolution which called for — which called on — Israel to terminate its expansion of settlements. Notice that the expansion of settlements is not really the issue. It’s the settlements. The settlements, the infrastructure development, all of this is in gross violation of international law. That’s been determined by the Security Council, the International Court of Justice. Practically every country in the world, outside of Israel, recognizes this. But this was a resolution calling for an end to expansion of settlements — official U.S. policy. What happened? Obama vetoed the resolution. That tells you something.

Furthermore, the official statement to Israel about the settlement expansion is accompanied by what in diplomatic language is called a wink — a quiet indication that we don’t really mean it. So, for example, Obama’s latest condemnation of the recent, as he puts it, violence on all sides was accompanied by sending more military aid to Israel. Well, they can understand that. …

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who spoke to foreign journalists yesterday.
PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: Israel accepted and Hamas rejected the Egyptian ceasefire proposal of July 15th. And I want you to know that at that time the conflict had claimed some 185 lives. Only on Monday night did Hamas finally agree to that very same proposal, which went into effect yesterday morning. That means that 90 percent, a full 90 percent, of the fatalities in this conflict could have been avoided had Hamas not rejected then the ceasefire that it accepts now. Hamas must be held accountable for the tragic loss of life.
NOAM CHOMSKY: … The narrow response is that, of course, as Netanyahu knows, that ceasefire proposal was arranged between the Egyptian military dictatorship and Israel, both of them very hostile to Hamas. It was not even communicated to Hamas. They learned about it through social media, and they were angered by that, naturally. They said they won’t accept it on those terms. Now, that’s the narrow response.

The broad response is that 100 percent of the casualties and the destruction and the devastation and so on could have been avoided if Israel had lived up to the ceasefire agreement … from November 2012, instead of violating it constantly and then escalating the violation in the manner that I described, in order to block the unity government and to persist in … the policies of taking over what they want in the West Bank and … separating it from Gaza, and keeping Gaza on what they’ve called a "diet," Dov Weissglas’s famous comment. The man who negotiated the so-called withdrawal in 2005 pointed out that the purpose of the withdrawal is to end the discussion of any political settlement and to block any possibility of a Palestinian state, and meanwhile the Gazans will be kept on a diet, meaning just enough calories allowed so they don’t all die — because that wouldn’t look good for Israel’s fading reputation — but nothing more than that. … Fishermen can’t go out to fish. The naval vessels drive them back to shore. A large part, probably over a third and maybe more, of Gaza’s arable land is barred from entry to Palestinians. …

When you pursue a policy of repression and expansion over security, there are things that are going to happen. There will be moral degeneration within the country. There will be increasing opposition and anger and hostility among populations outside the country. You may continue to get support from dictatorships and from, you know, the U.S. administration, but you’re going to lose the populations. And that has a consequence. You could predict — in fact, I and others did predict back in the ’70s — that, just to quote myself, "those who call themselves supporters of Israel are actually supporters of its moral degeneration, international isolation, and very possibly ultimate destruction." That's what’s — that’s the course that’s happening. …

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Talking about separating rhetoric from actions, Israel has always claimed that it no longer occupies Gaza. Democracy Now! recently spoke to Joshua Hantman, who’s a senior adviser to the Israeli ambassador to the United States and a former spokesperson for the Israeli Defense Ministry. And Hantman said, quote, "Israel actually left the Gaza Strip in 2005. We removed all of our settlements. We removed the IDF forces. We took out 10,000 Jews from their houses as a step for peace, because Israel wants peace and it extended its hand for peace." Your response?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, several points. First of all, the United Nations, every country in the world, even the United States, regards Israel as the occupying power in Gaza — for a very simple reason: They control everything there. They control the borders, the land, sea, air. They determine what goes into Gaza, what comes out. They determine how many calories Gazan children need to stay alive, but not to flourish. That’s occupation, under international law, and no one questions it, outside of Israel. Even the U.S. agrees, their usual backer. …

As for wanting peace, look back at that so-called withdrawal. Notice that it left Israel as the occupying power. By 2005, Israeli hawks, led by Ariel Sharon, pragmatic hawk, recognized that it just makes no sense for Israel to keep a few thousand settlers in devastated Gaza and devote a large part of the IDF, the Israeli military, to protecting them, and many expenses breaking up Gaza into separate parts and so on. It made no sense to do that. It made a lot more sense to take those settlers from their subsidized settlements in Gaza, where they were illegally residing, and send them off to subsidized settlements in the West Bank, in areas that Israel intends to keep — illegally, of course. That just made pragmatic sense.

And there was a very easy way to do it. They could have simply informed the settlers in Gaza that on August 1st the IDF is going to withdrawal, and at that point they would have climbed into the lorries that are provided to them and gone off to their illegal settlements in the West Bank and, incidentally, the Golan Heights. But it was decided to construct what’s sometimes called a "national trauma." So a trauma was constructed, a theater. It was just ridiculed by leading specialists in Israel, like the leading sociologist — Baruch Kimmerling just made fun of it. And trauma was created so you could have little boys, pictures of them pleading with the Israeli soldiers, "Don’t destroy my home!" and then background calls of "Never again." That means "Never again make us leave anything," referring to the West Bank primarily. And a staged national trauma. What made it particularly farcical was that it was a repetition of what even the Israeli press called "National Trauma ’82," when they staged a trauma when they had to withdraw from Yamit, the city they illegally built in the Sinai. But they kept the occupation. They moved on.

And I’ll repeat what Weissglas said. Recall, he was the negotiator with the United States, Sharon’s confidant. He said the purpose of the withdrawal is to end negotiations on a Palestinian state and Palestinian rights. This will end it. This will freeze it, with U.S. support. And then comes imposition of the diet on Gaza to keep them barely alive, but not flourishing, and the siege. Within weeks after the so-called withdrawal, Israel escalated the attacks on Gaza and imposed very harsh sanctions, backed by the United States. The reason was that a free election took place in Palestine, and it came out the wrong way. Well, Israel and the United States, of course, love democracy, but only if it comes out the way they want. So, the U.S. and Israel instantly imposed harsh sanctions. Israeli attacks, which really never ended, escalated. Europe, to its shame, went along. Then Israel and the United States immediately began planning for a military coup to overthrow the government. When Hamas pre-empted that coup, there was fury in both countries. The sanctions and military attacks increased. And then we’re on to what we discussed before: periodic episodes of "mowing the lawn."

AMY GOODMAN: … What needs to happen right now? The ceasefire will end in a matter of hours, if it isn’t extended. What kind of truce needs to be accomplished here?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, for Israel, with U.S. backing, the current situation is a kind of a win-win situation. If Hamas agrees to extend the ceasefire, Israel can continue with its regular policies, which I described before: taking over what they want in the West Bank, separating it from Gaza, keeping the diet, and so on. If Hamas doesn’t accept the ceasefire, Netanyahu can make another speech like the one you — the cynical speech you quoted earlier. The only thing that can break this is if the U.S. changes its policies, as has happened in other cases. I mentioned two: South Africa, Timor. There’s others. And that’s decisive. If there’s going to be a change, it will crucially depend on a change in U.S. policy here. …

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Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Elie Wiesel’s blood libel

“Jews rejected child sacrifice 3,500 years ago. Now it’s Hamas’ turn.”

Elie Wiesel long ago lost the moral compass that led him to write and speak about the destruction of European Jews by Nazi Germany (and the acquiescence of the world), but this ad, dutifully printed in major American newspapers, is more than pathetic and solipsistic. It is repellent.

It revives the blood libel that was wielded for centuries against Jews in Europe (whereas Jews had lived fairly peacefully in Muslim lands for those same centuries), now to cover for a pogrom of non-Jewish Palestinians — by Jews in the name of Judaism.

As if that will stop hatred of and violence against Jews?!

Israel is a threat not only to the people whose land the country has taken and continues to take more of, but also to Jews around the world.

In the past month, it has been the insistently “Jewish” state of Israel killing children. By the hundreds. Along with their mothers and the rest of their families. Along with destroying their homes, their playgrounds, schools, hospitals, and farmland.

What are people to make of this?

Israel must be stopped. It seems to be deliberately fomenting antisemitism to justify its own aggressive land grab and ethnic cleansing: Act violently and nationalistically in the name of Judaism, which inspires violence against Jews, which proves the necessity of an ethnically pure Jewish state for refuge. This is not only self-rationalizing circular reasoning, it embraces a ridiculous cycle of violence. It can not end well, neither for Israel nor for Jews around the world.

Nor, of course, for the people whose land Israel claims for itself.

“Never again” does not mean that anything is excused in the name of defending Jews. “Never again” means for all.

It can no longer be denied that Israel has become what it most invokes to justify its founding as a Jewish state: a perpetrator of ethnic cleansing, the destroyer of a people.

One state: Palestine, with equal rights for all, not just for racists.

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