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Who are the real terrorists?
When the word "terrorists" is heard, most people in the west think of relatively the same thing. Long-bearded men with long dresses called "thawb" that dangle to just above the ankle, or veiled women with nothing visible to the public but their eyes –if they were shown at all, or young men and children dressed in t-shirts and blue jeans, their face and head wrapped with a checkered red and white "shmaagh," throwing rocks. This is the typical image formed when "terrorists" are mentioned. Am I surprised? Hardly. Can I blame them? Only partially. The reason that I can't completely blame them is because what they see, they believe, and this is what the media is feeding them. Why I can blame them partially, however, is for believing the media submissively without further investigation. Not only has the media made us believe their distortions of reality as if they were concrete facts, TV has also made us insensitive to what we see. Maybe this insensitivity is the reason why most people couldn't care less about what is going on with the people on the other side of the world; especially those whom they consider "terrorists." In fact, these alleged terrorists are victims of terror. To see this, we must probe beyond the US and allies' double standard's of "terrorism," and the media's biased attempt for cover-up.
"It is fashionable to denounce Palestinians for encouraging their children to confront the Israeli army. Yet, as one Israeli commentor has pointed out, the Jewish 14-year-old who destroyed a Syrian tank in 1948 is still venerated as a hero," says Gabor Mate, a Jewish writer in the Globe and Mail (1/11/2000). These young rock-throwers are called "terrorists," yet the reasons behind them throwing these rocks in the first place are completely ignored. The Jews in Palestine have caused genocide of the Palestinian people, yet the world stands and watches with folded arms –if they are not approving and supporting them, that is! Not a single Western country has condemned Israel for its disproportionate use of force against civilians. Using helicopters and tanks against unarmed civilians breaks all international laws and customs yet not a single Western country has criticized Israel for using these means against the Muslims. The US abstained from a UN Security Council resolution convicting Israel indirectly for its actions against the Muslims of Palestine!
The media has done more than its share of distorting the reality of the situation to the general public. They use terms like "fighting," "violence," and "clashes," whereas these are terms used between two adversaries that have some comparable strength against each other. What is happening in Palestine is the extermination of Muslims. They also report that a number of Palestinians "died," whereas a number of Zionists were "killed." Over a hundred young, healthy Palestinians don't just suddenly "die" as they are walking down the streets: the term is used so as not to implicate that the Israeli's are murderers. Not only that, but they talk about "violence that has killed over 100 people," giving the impression that equal numbers of Zionists and Muslims have been killed. They fail to mention that over 95% of them are Palestinian's and it's not "violence" that killed them: it is armed Israeli soldiers that have murdered them! Palestinians are being killed by the dozens and they are just mentioned as a statistic, yet when one Jew is killed, it becomes headline news. When two Israeli soldiers where killed by a group of Palestinians for coming into "Arab territory," it made first page news. Even Clinton condemned it in a statement. It was called "cold blooded murder." Again, the double standard surfaces.
It is well known that the West condemns and looks down upon crimes done against children by adults. As an example, the whole of Britain wept at the massacre of the sixteen school children in Dunblane by Thomas Hamilton in 1996. They shed tears at the murder of 8-year-old Sarah Payne a year ago. Yet this same public remains silent at the continued massacre of Palestinian children by armed, trained, Israeli adult soldiers. Does the fact that the Jews suffered during the Holocaust permit them, under international law, to open fire at innocent, unarmed civilians?
But the truth will continue to shine for those who want to, and can, see beyond the barriers trying to block it. Jews themselves have seen, and spoken up, about the cruelty behind it all. Judith Stone, in an article she wrote that was published in the Kansas City Jewish Chronical (the publisher –Debbie Ducro- was fired the next day for publishing it), admitted that "taking the blinders off for a moment, I see a second atrocity perpetuated by the people who should be exquisitely sensitive to the suffering of others." She also reminds the Jews that they "must not forget that being a survivor or a co-religionist of the victims of the European Holocaust does not grant dispention from abiding to the rules of humanity." Gabor Mate wrote in the Globe and Mail (1/11/2000) that "there is no symmetry here, no parity of killings and loss and torment or even of the mutual atrocities from which both parties have suffered. One side has had all the power all along, has imposed its conditions on the other, and continues to wield overwhelming force –'excessive use of lethal force,' reports Amnesty International, 'in circumstances in which neither the lives of security forces nor others were in imminent danger.' That side has a greater responsibility not to persist in seeing itself as victimized." Stone concludes with what I began with, "the press has fostered the portrait of the Palestinian terrorist. But, the victims who rose up against human indignity in the Warsaw Ghetto are called heroes. Those who lost their lives are called martyrs. The Palestinian who tosses a rock in desperation is a terrorist." "I'd go a step further perhaps," she says, "rather than throwing little stones in desperation, I'd hurtle a boulder."
This situation in Palestine is ongoing as I write, as is the situation in Chechnya. The situation there has been going on for close to two years, yet until now, no one has even attempted to stop it. The American government claims that one country simply invading the other is unacceptable and will be stopped by force, as they did during the Gulf War. Does Chechnya not qualify as a "country?" Do Chechen's not qualify for human rights? When the Chechen women were raped, the world watched. When Chechen men were sexually abused, elders mutilated, and children became insomniac because of the atrocities their little eyes witnessed, the world watched. When pregnant bellies were slashed open, and the babies thrown to their death while the mother lay there bleeding and motionless, the world watched. When infants were trampled and beheaded in front of their screaming mothers, the world watched. When grown men were tied to tanks and dragged across the rugged terrain, the world watched. Maybe we shed a few tears, but they are shedding blood; and still, two years later the world still watches.
One Chechen woman tells her story of how the barbarous Russians treated her and two other ladies. She and two other women returned to Grozny (the capital of Chechnya) from one of the refugee camps in order to inspect their homes once the fighting there was over. The Russians detained the three women, blindfolded them and forced them to stand against a wall. The three ladies tearfully pleaded with the Russians that their lives be spared, but to no avail. All three women were shot without mercy. The other two women were killed; this woman miraculously survived –only to endure another horrible ordeal. Not realizing she was alive, the Russian soldiers began stealing the womens' valuables. One Russian soldier pulled at the earring of the surviving woman so hard that her ear was ripped out! Despite the extreme pain, she remained silent so as not to endanger herself any further. Unfortunately, the Russian soldier didn't stop there. He attempted to cut off her fingers while trying to steal her ring. Frustrated by not finding a knife, he gave up effort. Instead, he covered the three bodies with a mattress and ignited it in a failed attempt to cover up for the crime committed. The badly wounded woman then crawled away until she was discovered by other civilians, and taken to the hospital.
Do these women not quality for article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? It states, "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person." Where is the security of person here? Or does this woman, and many others who have been through similar situations, not qualify for the basic Human Rights standards?
Many people who miraculously escaped from the Chernokozovo concentration camps reported things no ordinary human brain can imagine! The Russian guards there have lost all human nature, and are committing "satanic ritual murders" on the prisoners, as eyewitnesses have said. Ibrahim Vakhayov from Urus-Martin, an eyewitness to the bestial crimes of the Kremlin regime, reports that raping the corpses of victims who were tortured to death is a common and regular practice in Chernokozovo! The rape of the corpses, he says, is practiced in full view of the other prisoners, and the next victim is announced right there! He says he saw the murder of a 10-year-old boy, whom his name he didn't know. Five guards with black masks raped the boy's corpse; cut it into pieces then put into a plastic sack.
Do these people not qualify for human rights? Article 6 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that "no one shall be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." Now is the time for the sp-called "World Policeman" (US Government) to prove itself!
Just as is the case in Palestine and Chechnya, the situation is Iraq is ongoing as well –as it has been for little over ten years. The situation is Iraq is the worst yet, since most of the damage is on the Iraqi children. As Kathy Kelly, a member of Voices in the Wilderness relates, "when you destroy a nation's infrastructure and then cripple further with punishing sanctions, the victims are always the society's most vulnerable people –the poor, the elderly, the sick, and most of all, the children." In just five years after the Gulf War, "as many as 576,000 children have died as a result of sanctions imposed against Iraq by the United Nations Security Council, according to a report by the UN Food and agriculture organization (FAO)" (New York Times, 12/1/95).
One million, two hundred thousand people have died in Iraq as a direct result of the economic embargo. The average death toll reaches six thousand per month! The consequences of the economic embargo have been devastating on the health of the Iraqi people –not the government. Malnutrition has been prevalent, especially among the children. Sanitary water decreased by 300%, while polluted water increased by 600% since the economic sanctions were imposed.
John Pilger tells us about the suspected dual use equipment that was kept on hold during his stay in Iraq –heart and lung machines, water pumps and other agricultural supplies, safety and fire fighting equipment, wheel barrows, and detergent. In fact, hospital floors, and other building areas, are cleaned with gasoline because detergent is on hold. When Iraq asked for five hundred ambulances, which were approved by the WHO as a minimal requirement, they were at first completely blocked, but then released slowly in a period of six to nine months. According to Foreign Affairs, by 1999, the war against the people of Iraq has resulted in "hundreds of thousands of deaths," depriving it of over 140 billion in much needed oil revenue, saddling Iraq with hyperinflation, mass poverty, unemployment and epidemics of diseases including cancers (from the use of depleted Uranium shells during the Gulf War), cholera and typhoid (from the dumping of raw sewage in waterways).
Dennis Halliday was in charge of the UN Oil-For-Food Program, until he resigned in September 1998 because he saw what the sanctions were doing to the Iraqi people. He was asked about using the term "genocide" to refer to the sanctions. In his reply, he said, "…It is certainly a valid word in my view. You have a situation where we see thousands of deaths per month, a possible total of 1 million to 1.5 million over the last nine years. If that is not genocide, then I don't quite know what it is." What I mentioned is merely a fraction of what the Iraqi people are going through. The UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs reports that "public health services are near total collapse –basic medicines, lifesaving drugs and essential medical supplies are lacking throughout the country. Fifty percent of rural people have no access to potable water and wastewater treatment facilities have stopped functioning in most urban areas." The sanctions are an insidious form of warfare that have claimed hundreds of thousands of civilian lives. Yet what you commonly hear as a cover up for the US barbarous acts is that the sanctions only produce a "temporary" hardship for the people, but are an effective, non-violent way to pressure the Iraqi Government –the contrary is true.
Another common myth regarding the sanctions is that the US government wants to enforce UN resolutions and uphold the rule of law. The US, however, has consistently employed a double standard when it comes to UN resolutions and international law. For decades, the US has vetoed UN resolutions condemning Israel's occupation of Arab territories. It is also relevant to the current situation that the US is in technical violation of a global treaty to dismantle chemical weapons (AP, 2/27/98). UN sanctions against Iraq, which continue to be imposed at the insistence of the US (with the UK following suit), are a gross violation of the Geneva Protocol 1, Article 54; "Starvation of civilians as a method of warfare is prohibited."
When the US and Allied forces decided to take on Saddam Hussein in the first place, it was under the pretext of saving Kuwait, and also to punish the Iraqi regime that was committing brutal humanitarian crimes against the Kurdish population in the North of Iraq (like the Halabja Massacre). But Washington's real "humanitarian" concern came out when the then Secretary of State James Baker said that it was over "jobs," and Bush said that it was about "access to energy sources" and "our way of life." Defense Secretary William Perry felt no shame in admitting that the issue had dimension beyond Kuwait and the Kurds: "The issue is not simply the Iraqi attack on the Kurds in Ibril [Aug. 31], it is the clear and present danger Saddam Hussein poses to Iraq's neighbors, to the security and stability of the region, and to the flow of oil in the world." Yes, the flow of oil in the world.
Leslie Stahl went to Iraq for the TV program 60 Minutes. On the program that was aired on May 12, 1996, she asked Madeline Albright, the then US ambassador to the UN, to explain the US policy in the context of the devastation she had seen among the children of Iraq and the five hundred thousand deaths of Iraqi children. Mrs. Albright explained, "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price, we think the price is worth it." The death of over five hundred thousand children is worth it? Are they not human beings? Are they not children? Apparently, to them all of this is insignificant. When asked about the number of Iraqi's who died in the war, US general Colin Powell replied, "It's really not a number I'm terribly interested in."
Thomas Friedman, a New York Times columnist, advocates "bombing Iraq, over and over and over again." In an article entitled "Craziness Pays," he explains that "the US has to make clear to Iraq that … America will use force without negotiation, hesitation, or UN approval." He even offers ideas in his column "Rattling the Rattler" on how to get rid of Saddam Hussein, "Blow up a different power station in Iraq every week, so no-one knows when the light's will go off or whose in charge." Every power station that is targeted means more food and medicine that will not be refrigerated, hospitals that will be without electricity, water that will remain contaminated, and people who will die as a result.
"From previous trips, we know exactly where to find overwhelming evidence of weapons of mass destruction. Inspectors have only to enter the wards of any hospital in Iraq to see that the sanctions themselves are a lethal weapon, destroying the lives of Iraq's most vulnerable people. In children's wards, tiny victims writhe in pain, on blood-stained mats, bereft of anesthetics and antibiotics. Thousands of children, poisoned by contaminated water, die from dysentery, cholera, and diarrhea. Others succumb to respiratory infections that become fatal full body infections. Five thousand children, under age five, perish each month"
–Kathy Kelly, 9/3/1998.
Ramsey Clark, former Attorney General, said,
"There is one crime against humanity in this last decade of the millennium that exceeds all others in its magnitude, cruelty, and potent. It is the US-forced sanctions against the 20 million people of Iraq … If the UN participates in such genocidal sanctions backed by the threat of military violence –and if the people of the world fail to prevent such conduct –the violence, terror, and human misery of the new millennium will exceed anything we have known."
Despite all the terror and torture they are causing the people of Iraq, the US has no plans for lifting the sanctions. Madeline Albright declared in 1997: "we do not agree with the nations who argue that if Iraq complies with its obligations concerning weapons of mass destruction, sanctions should be lifted." Clinton himself went one step further when he said "sanctions will be there until the end if time, or as long as he [Hussein] lasts."
This is the so-called "World Policeman." These are the so-called American "humanitarian" morals. This is the country known for its grudge against "terrorists." Yet now we know who the real terrorists are, and who are the victims of this terror. But, as we so often hear Bill Clinton say, "Justice will prevail" –and it will, sooner or later; with the aid of God, not with the aid of the US.