Adonis Diaries

Archive for December 3rd, 2015


U.N. voted to partition Palestine 68 years ago

 In an unfair plan made even worse by Israel’s ethnic cleansing

Palestinians were 2/3rds of the population but offered 43% of land. Then, Israel ethnically cleansed it and kept occupying more of the land

, Nov 30, 2015

U.N. voted to partition Palestine 68 years ago, in an unfair plan made even worse by Israel's ethnic cleansingEnlarge (Credit: United Nations)

68 years ago yesterday, the United Nations voted to partition Palestine, with General Assembly Resolution 181.

The front page of the November 29, 1947 edition of the New York Times read “[General] Assembly Votes Palestine Partition;

Margin Is 33 to 13; Arabs Walk Out; Aranha Hails Work as Session Ends.” (Not confuse with UN resolution to recognize Israel in 1948, but a single vote majority)

(Credit: New York Times)

(Credit: New York Times)

Why were the Arabs angry? Because, for the indigenous Palestinians, the deal was a thoroughly bad one. Palestinians comprised approximately two-thirds of the population, yet were offered just 43 percent of their land in the deal.

“Aranha” refers to Osvaldo Aranha, a Brazilian diplomat. As president of the U.N. General Assembly, Aranha lobbied strongly on behalf of the Zionist movement (a settler colonialist Jewish nationalist political movement that called for the creation of the state of Israel).

He delayed the vote on resolution 181 by two days in order to give the U.S. and other pro-Israel countries more time to pressure U.N. member states to vote for the plan.

Scholar Fred Khouri writes that, in these two days:

“The United States and Zionists led the lobbying efforts of the pro-partition forces. The delegates, as well as the home governments, of Haiti, Liberia, Ethiopia, China, the Philippines, and Greece were swamped with telegrams, telephone calls, letters, and visitations from many sources, including the White House, congressmen, business corporations, and other fields of endeavor. As a result of these tremendous official and nonofficial pressures, Haiti, Liberia, and the Philippines finally agreed to vote for partition.”

These last-minute changes ensured that resolution 181 would have the two-thirds majority vote needed to pass.

The following is the U.N.’s map of the proposed partition.

The blue areas comprising roughly 57 percent of the land were to be allotted to Jews; orange areas were to be allotted to Palestinians.

Jerusalem was to be left under the governance of the international community, because of its historical and religious importance for numerous religions and cultures.

religious importance for numerous religions and cultures.

(Credit: United Nations)

(Credit: United Nations)

The Partition Plan was never implemented, however. The very next day after it was voted on, the 1947-1948 war broke out.

In this war, Zionist militias systematically ethnically cleansed large portions of historic Palestine, sacking hundreds of Palestinian villages and expelling more than 750,000 people — around two-thirds of the indigenous Arab population.

Prominent Israeli historian Ilan Pappé notes that, in Israel’s Plan Dalet (also known simply as Plan D), “veteran Zionist leaders” created “a plan for the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.” They dispatched military orders in March 1948, Pappé explains:

“The orders came with a detailed description of the methods to be employed to forcibly evict the people: large-scale intimidation; laying siege to and bombarding villages and population centres; setting fire to homes, properties and goods; expulsion; demolition; and, finally, planting mines among the rubble to prevent any of the expelled inhabitants from returning.”

Plan D “spelled it out clearly and unambiguously: the Palestinians had to go,” writes Pappé.

“The aim of the plan was in fact the destruction of both the rural and urban areas of Palestine,” he adds, and it “contain[ed] a repertoire of cleansing methods that one by one fit the means the U.N. describes in its definition of ethnic cleansing.”

Winter is catching up on the fleeing refugees:

In November, 135,000 flocked to the borders and they were mostly children and women blocked on borders

They’re fleeing terror… running from violence just as vicious as the attacks that have shaken Paris, Beirut, and Bamako.

Yet they risk becoming tragic scapegoats unless we act now.

More than ever, thousands of women, men, and children are arriving at Europe’s doorstep — hungry, exhausted, sick

Only hoping that someone soon will just open one door, and the nightmare they’re fleeing from will be over.

But harsh weather is setting in, and the prospect of a chilling winter of death isn’t moving governments to act.

On the contrary, they’re building more and bigger fences to keep refugees out.

Now we, people, remain the key source of hope for those trapped by Europe’s shameful walls.

From the Slovenian forests to the Greek Islands, to the streets of London and Berlin, teachers, fishermen, pensioners and the young, including many Avaaz members, have stepped in to throw a lifeline to tens of thousands of refugees —

the unsung heroes of this unfolding tragedy.

And over the last 5 months, our community has funded private rescue operations at sea that have saved thousands of lives, set up a project that has seen thousands of Avaazers offer assistance, and even homes, to people fleeing war.

We also built a 1.2 million strong campaign, which helped push world leaders to offer sanctuary to hundreds of thousands.

Now the recent attacks have made this a much harder battle. But this is what we can do if we raise enough:

  • Help the UN Refugee Agency provide the buses and vans needed to offer transport and protection to thousands of the most vulnerable refugees stranded along Europe’s borders, and take them from arrival points and no man´s land to safe reception or transit centres.
  • Launch a targeted campaign to ensure Greece provides safe and legal access to refugees through the land border as the best way of stopping the drownings.
  • Ramp up the pressure on EU governments to ensure they immediately deliver on, and scale up, their promise to relocate and host refugees across Europe.
  • Run nimble campaign actions to counter fear-mongering and hatred against refugees.


Air Force hires civilian drone pilots for combat patrols; critics question legality

Funny: The supplier of Reaper drones, General Atomics, also supply the pilots

No need anymore for pilots or soldiers: Just contract out these skilled personnel from the equipment contractor.

The Air Force has hired civilian defense contractors to fly MQ-9 Reaper drones to help track suspected militants and other targets in global hot spots, a previously undisclosed expansion in the privatization of once-exclusively military functions.

For the first time, civilian pilots and crews now operate what the Air Force calls “combat air patrols,” daily round-the-clock flights above areas of military operations to provide video and collect other sensitive intelligence.

Contractors control two Reaper patrols a day, but the Air Force plans to expand that to 10 a day by 2019. Each patrol involves up to four drones.

W.J. Hennigan. Contact Reporter. Nov. 27, 2015

Civilians are not allowed to pinpoint targets with lasers or fire missiles. They operate only Reapers that provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, known as ISR, said Air Force Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle, head of Air Combat Command.

“There are limitations on it,” he said. The contractors “are not combatants.”

Nonetheless, the contracts have generated controversy within the military.

Critics, including some military lawyers, contend that civilians are now part of what the Air Force calls the “kill chain,” a process that starts with surveillance and ends with a missile launch. That could violate laws barring civilians from taking part in armed conflict.

The use of contractors reflects in part the Pentagon’s growing problem in recruiting, training and retaining military drone pilots for the intensifying air war against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. It is several hundred short of its goal of 1,281 pilots.

The contractors are Aviation Unmanned, a small, 3-year-old company based in Addison, Texas, and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., a far-larger firm based in Poway, outside San Diego, that is the only supplier of armed drones to the Pentagon.

A redacted Air Force document approving the classified contract with Aviation Unmanned notes that the “lack of appropriately cleared and currently qualified MQ-9 pilots is a major concern.”

The five-page document, dated Aug. 24, says the company will provide pilots and sensor operators for government-owned Reapers to help respond to “recent increased terrorist activities.”

A similar document, dated April 15, approved a classified contract to lease a General Atomics-owned Reaper and ground control station for a year and to hire the pilots, sensor operators and other crew members needed to fly and maintain it.

The Reaper “is needed immediately” for surveillance and reconnaissance, the document states.

Both documents black out the cost, as well as most details of the missions and sensors involved.

The Reaper is a larger, heavier and more powerful version of the better-known Predator. Both are made by General Atomics.

The Pentagon requires the Air Force to fly 60 combat air patrols with Predators and Reapers each day. They plan to ramp up to 90 patrols a day by 2019.

Most are controlled from ground stations at Creech Air Force Base, near Las Vegas, command hub for Pentagon drone operations in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and elsewhere around the globe.

An Air Force spokesman denied that the use of contractor pilots blurs traditional lines of military responsibility in a combat zone.

“Planning and execution of these missions will be carried out under the same oversight currently provided for military aircrews, and the resulting sensor information will be collected, analyzed, transmitted and stored as appropriate by the same military intelligence units,” the spokesman, Benjamin Newell, wrote in an email.

General Atomics employees also provide logistics support, software maintenance, flight operations support, aircraft repair, ground control and other work on most Air Force drones. The company was paid more than $700 million over the last two years for those services, according to Air Force records.

A General Atomics spokeswoman, Kimberly Kasitz, said the privately owned company had no comment for this article.

Aviation Unmanned executives did not respond to repeated phone messages and emails over the last week.

The little-known Aviation Unmanned was founded by a former Reaper pilot and instructor, and it provides aircraft, training and operations in support of commercial and government contracts, according to its website.

The Pentagon’s reliance on contractors is a relatively recent phenomenon.  (Not that recent: Remember the Contra in Nicaragua))

In 1991, the vast U.S.-led force that pushed Iraq’s troops out of neighboring Kuwait in the Persian Gulf War was nearly 100% military personnel.

That changed dramatically as the Pentagon cut its force, and weapons systems became more sophisticated. By 2010, the number of contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan had surpassed the number of U.S. military personnel and federal civilian employees, records show.

The use of drones began in 1995 when the Pentagon used a Predator to gather intelligence during the Balkan wars. Their success persuaded Air Force commanders and intelligence officials to embrace the new technology.

Today, nearly every airstrike or special forces ground raid in Iraq and Syria relies on live video or data from electro-optical infrared cameras, wide-area radars and other high-tech sensors on drones.

How fully civilians should participate is a matter of intense debate in the Air Force.

A lengthy article in the 2013 Air Force Law Review, a publication of the judge advocate general’s office, contended that over-reliance on contractors in a combat zone risks violating international law that prohibits direct civilian participation in hostilities.

It cites a Predator missile attack that killed 15 civilians in central Afghanistan in February 2010. Although the military piloted and operated the drone, the decision to fire a Hellfire missile “was largely based upon intelligence analysis conducted and reported by a civilian contractor.”

“It is imperative that Defense Department contractors not get too close to the tip of the spear,” the author, Maj. Keric D. Clanahan, warned.

The combat air patrols flown by drones involve six steps in the kill chain: Find the target, map the location, track its movements, aim a laser to pinpoint it, fire the missile and assess the damage.

“The more closely related an activity is to the kill chain, the greater the likelihood the activity should be barred from contractor performance,” he wrote. The article urged the Pentagon to “only allow military personnel to serve as aircraft pilots and … sensor operators.”

In an interview, retired Air Force Gen. David A. Deptula, who was deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, said he did not believe contractors are in danger of crossing the line into a combatant’s role. (Living under a Gen. illusion?)

“Weapons deployment only involves less than 2%” of drone missions,” he said. Most flights provide aerial surveillance or intercept and analyze electronic emissions from the ground.

But William D. Hartung, director of the arms and security project at the Center for International Policy, a left-leaning think tank in Washington, warned that there is a thin line between tracking an individual or vehicle and firing a deadly missile.

“The best way to avoid this slippery slope is to prohibit any use of contractors to fly any mission involving drones,” he said. “Military aircraft should be flown by military personnel, period.”

Mary Ellen O’Connell, a professor of international law at the University of Notre Dame, also expressed alarm at the growing civilian role.

Military drones should be flown only by those who “wear a uniform [and] are trained in the law of armed conflict




December 2015

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