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Israeli soldiers harass students on US campus

Students had erected a mock wall – representing Israel’s barrier in the occupied West Bank – in the school’s Anteater Plaza and were handing out flyers with information about life under Israeli military rule. Student groups MEChA and the Black Student Union also volunteered to help.

On the first day, two of the soldiers carried Israeli flags and wore shirts identifying their support for the Israeli army, while the others disguised their intent: at least one person wore a traditional Palestinian checkered scarf, while others claimed to be from Palestinian cities and attempted to speak with the students in Arabic.

Some feigned naivety about the issue, while secretly recording responses.

This tactic is reminiscent of Israeli soldiers who dress up as Palestinians – so-called mistaravim – in order to act as provocateurs at demonstrations or to carry out extrajudicial executions in the occupied West Bank.

The next day the group returned, this time they all wore clothes that more honestly identified who they were.

Over four days in total, the group of soldiers showed up to the mock wall. They hurled racial and gender insults while one woman aggressively filmed the activists’ faces and conversations.

They told Daniel Carnie, a member of Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine, that he is “not a real Jew” and told him to take off his Jewish skullcap.

A 30 May letter to UC Irvine Chancellor Howard Gillman, signed by Palestine Legal attorney Liz Jackson on behalf of a coalition of civil rights groups, describes what happened at the mock wall.

According to the letter, when the students began a chant that compared Israel’s wall to the US wall at the Mexican border, one of the soldiers shouted, “We want the Mexicans!”

And when a Black student asked one of the hostile members of Reservists on Duty to leave, he called her an “18-year-old punk-ass bitch,” then followed her around shouting at her.

The letter alleges that a “male soldier taunted a female demonstrating at the wall in a sexually threatening tone, saying in Arabic, ‘You want me to stick it in you, don’t you.’”

“These soldiers do not just use propaganda, they use intimidation tactics like taking video footage,” Ghiyath Alazzah, a member of Students for Justice in Palestine at UC Irvine, wrote in an email to other SJP groups on the West Coast.

Alazzah also accused the soldiers of “using hidden microphones, attempting to incite to violence by using extremely racist and sexist obscenities in Arabic, English and Hebrew, and even going so far as to physically grab a student.”

“We are sending this email to you to warn you all that your campus may be targeted next,” Alazzah wrote.

Administrators watch passively

School administrators witnessed the confrontations, but did not intervene.

Dean of students Rameen Talesh was one of the administrators present during the week’s activities, according to Carnie and Alazzah.

Carnie told The Electronic Intifada that students asked Talesh to stop Reservists on Duty from harassing them, but Talesh said there was nothing he could do.

But advocates for the students say that the accumulation of racist speech and harassing behavior created an environment of intimidation that was grounds for the school to intervene.

“Here, there was overwhelming evidence that foreign military agents engaged in sustained harassment of Palestinian students, and other students of color perceived to be allies of Palestinian students,” Palestine Legal’s Jackson wrote to Chancellor Gillman.

Jackson alleges that the school violated its obligations under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, as well as its own policies, by standing by passively: “Administrators cannot act with deliberate indifference to a hostile climate of severe or pervasive harassment targeting students based on their race or national origin.”

On the night of 10 May, Reservists on Duty held their panel discussion.

SJP members came to the event with the intent to ask challenging questions.

During the event, a woman who had been filming the students during the preceding days lunged at one of the students with her fists up, according to Carnie and Alazzah. She was restrained by an administrator and then the SJP students broke out into a chant before they were asked to leave.

Part of this altercation can be seen in the video above.

The next day, 11 May, Jackson’s letter states, the same woman who had nearly attacked a student, returned to Anteater Plaza and shoved a sign out of the hands of a student protester, hitting the student in the face with the sign.

According to Jackson, these two physical assaults were also grounds for intervention, yet administrators took no action.

Alazzah was informed on 16 May that his group was under investigation for allegedly disrupting the question-and-answer portion of the discussion with Reservists on Duty.

The university confirmed to the The Electronic Intifada that members of its staff were present during some of the week’s incidents. A spokesperson wrote that administrators are “reviewing reports of that week from all interested parties and will take action, as appropriate.”

A year of pressure

The investigation is taking place after a year of heavy pressure from Israel advocacy groups, including the Amcha Initiative, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights, Hillel, StandWithUs and the Israeli consulate, to crack down on Palestine activism on campus.

On 30 May this year, Hillel of Orange County wrote to Chancellor Gillman.

Emphasizing that SJP and an earlier incarnation of the Palestine solidarity group have been investigated three times since 2010, the letter strongly suggests that the university’s disciplinary process had yet to be effective.

Last year, UC Irvine investigated SJP after students from several groups protested a film screening sponsored by pro-Israel organizations.

That investigation cleared SJP members of accusations they had harassed and intimidated participants, but found that it was “more likely than not” that the student protest outside the venue had generated enough noise to disrupt the viewing of a film about Israeli soldiers.

The students were given a warning and required to host an educational program. Israel advocacy groups expressed unhappiness that the penalty was not more severe.

Hillel also invoked a UC Irvine policy document titled “Higher Ground.”

Published in October 2016, after the university cleared SJP, “Higher Ground” attempts to integrate the UC Regents’ “principles against intolerance,” which were approved in March 2016.

The UC Regents is the governing body for the entire University of California system. The regents produced the “principles against intolerance” in response to heavy pressure from pro-Israel groups, which wanted the regents to adopt the controversial US State Department definition of anti-Semitism. That definition conflates criticism of Israel with anti-Jewish bigotry.

The UC Regents rejected that definition and removed a sentence equating anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism.

The “principles,” which are unenforceable themselves, did however specify a prohibition against “anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism” – a weaker formulation than Israel advocacy groups wanted.

But pro-Israel groups have since sought to use this formulation as a basis for going after Palestine activism.

UC Irvine’s “Higher Ground” document appears to be a direct capitulation to this agenda.

Silencing criticism

In an 18 July 2016 email to Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, co-founder of the anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim group Amcha Initiative, UC Irvine’s associate chancellor Michael Arias, wrote: “Following up on your suggestions, Chancellor Gillman plans to ask [UC Irvine’s] Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture and Inclusion to undertake a review of existing policies to confirm they are consistent” with the “principles against intolerance.”

Arias promised Rossman-Benjamin the university would “revise as necessary” any of its policies.

The following month, Gillman asked Douglas M. Haynes, a university vice provost, to conduct the assessment.

In October, Haynes produced “Higher Ground,” which critics say reproduces the misperception that anti-Zionist activities exclude Jewish students.

According to Palestine Legal’s Jackson, the document “conflates anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, discards the UC’s commitment to free speech and excludes the interests of Palestinians and other vulnerable communities.”

After “Higher Ground” was published, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights and StandWithUs, two Israel lobby groups that have spearheaded efforts to silence Palestine activism, wrote to Haynes to applaud the report.

They also sent Haynes a “white paper” supposedly meant to help UC Irvine understand and recognize “anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism.”

Their paper claims that anti-Semitism today is mostly expressed in “coded” ways, but points the administration back to the State Department’s definition as a guide. That controversial definition, which Israel lobby groups have urged institutions and governments around the world to adopt, claims that “demonizing” Israel, holding Israel to a “double standard” and “delegitimizing” Israel are forms of anti-Semitism.

It also alleges that “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination and denying Israel the right to exist” are anti-Semitic. This would potentially categorize advocacy for a one-state solution founded on equal rights in a democratic non-sectarian state that grants full citizenship to Israelis and Palestinians as a form of anti-Semitism.

Last month, Haynes spoke at a conference hosted by the Academic Engagement Network, a group founded to counter support for Palestinian rights on college campuses.

On 6 June, Haynes responded to Jackson’s letter to Gillman. Haynes asserted that the administration’s priorities align with the “principles against intolerance.” Haynes’ letter also makes allusions to balancing students’ First Amendment rights while maintaining “safety and security” and enforcing “civil discourse.”

According to Haynes, the university is still “reviewing the May 10th incident,” presumably a reference to the Reservists on Duty panel.

Hold them accountable

Palestine Legal’s Liz Jackson believes UC Irvine does indeed have a discrimination problem, but it is students advocating for Palestinian rights who have been the targets.

According to Jackson, the harassment students faced from the Israeli soldiers “is just the latest example of UC Irvine’s discrimination problem.”

Jackson accuses the administration of “ignoring harassment complaints by Palestinian and other students of color, and meanwhile singling out these same students for discriminatory treatment because of their viewpoint in favor of Palestinian rights.”

Some of those students have filed a complaint asking the university to investigate the pervasive harassment they say they face based on race and national origin.

“We must hold UC Irvine accountable for this discrimination,” said Jackson.

 

UN blames Palestinians for electricity crisis Israel caused in Gaza

A senior UN official is blaming Palestinians for the severe suffering Israel is inflicting on residents of the Gaza Strip with its decision to drastically curtail electricity supplies to the territory where most households already have no more than about three hours of power each day.

Robert Piper, the UN humanitarian coordinator in the occupied Palestinian territories, acknowledged on Wednesday that without immediate action the electricity crisis will bring about the “collapse of vital life-saving, health, water, sanitation and municipal services.”

Health services, including vital surgeries, have already faced severe cuts and disruptions since the crisis worsened in April.

UN parrots Netanyahu

But Piper is echoing the Israeli line that Palestinians themselves are to blame.

His statement calls “upon the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Israel to put the welfare of Gaza’s residents first and to take the necessary measures to avoid further suffering” – as if all these bodies are equal in their power and responsibility.

Piper adds: “Early this week, the Israeli cabinet agreed to a reduction in the supply of electricity to the Gaza Strip, following a decision by the Palestinian Authority to reduce its monthly payments for that supply by 30% ”

Piper warns that “[i]f, as a result of the Palestinian Authority’s instructions, this decision is implemented the situation will become catastrophic.”

Electricity would then go down to about two hours per day for most people in Gaza.

But Piper’s absurd formulation that the Palestinian Authority is giving “instructions” to a vastly more powerful military occupier follows the line put out by Benjamin Netanyahu.

On Tuesday, the Israeli prime minister claimed that the power crisis in Gaza was an “internal Palestinian matter” resulting from “an argument between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.”

“Hamas demands that the PA pay for electricity and the PA refuse to pay,” Netanyahu said.

Palestinians protest against electricity shortages in Gaza City in January, one of the ongoing and worsening effects of Israel’s 10-year blockade of the Gaza Strip. Ashraf Amra APA images

Israel is responsible

There is a dispute between Hamas, which rules the interior of Gaza, on the one hand, and the Palestinian Authority, led by Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, on the other.

But the PA’s request to Israel to cut Gaza’s electricity supply is part of Abbas’ broader ongoing effort to pressure the population in Gaza and force Hamas out of power.

This is a continuation of the siege policy implemented by Israel that began 10 years ago, when Hamas took complete control over Gaza. Hamas’ move foiled a US-backed coup by militias aligned with Abbas, that was meant to deprive Hamas of the power it had won as the victor in Palestinian Authority elections the year before.

But the events of 2007 left Palestinians living under Israeli occupation divided between Abbas’ Western-backed PA in the West Bank and Hamas in besieged Gaza.

None of this changes the fact that Israel, as the occupying power in Gaza, is legally fully responsible for the welfare of the population there.

Israel claims that it is no longer the occupying power in Gaza since it withdrew its settlers and soldiers from the interior of the territory in 2005.

But this position has been rejected by the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the United States and the European Union, which all maintain that Gaza remains occupied because Israel still exercises “effective control” over the territory despite the redeployment of its forces to the perimeter.

In a statement in May, Piper himself acknowledged that Israel is the “occupying power” in Gaza – a fact curiously omitted from his statement on Wednesday.

The Fourth Geneva Convention, which protects the rights of civilians under military occupation, requires Israel to use all means at its disposal to ensure adequate medical services, public health and other basic necessities of life.

The convention is explicit that relief provided by other sources “shall in no way relieve the occupying power of any of its responsibilities” to ensure public health, medical care and hygiene.

Breaches of the convention and other violations of the laws applicable to armed conflict are war crimes under the the founding statute of the International Criminal Court.

Shocking UN complicity

While it is hardly surprising that Israel tries to shirk these responsibilities, it is shocking that a senior UN relief official is assisting Israel to evade its obligations by blaming the victims.

Sadly, this is only the latest example of the UN’s blatant anti-Palestinian bias and complicity in Israel’s abuses, occupation and the siege of Gaza.

Last year, The Electronic Intifada revealed that UN officials received legal advice that the UN-backed “Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism” is illegal and violates the very “right to life” of the Palestinian people.

The UN-brokered agreement was supposedly meant to facilitate reconstruction after Israel’s devastating 2014 assault on Gaza, but only reinforced and gave a UN stamp of approval to Israel’s control over the lives of the territory’s two million people.

Blackmail

Egypt’s military regime, which supplies some electricity to Gaza, is reportedly offering to provide more in exchange for Hamas handing over wanted men, a blackmail attempt that uses the lives of Palestinian civilians as bargaining chips.

“Israel is not just a service provider, responding neutrally to a client’s request,” Gisha, an Israeli human rights group that monitors the blockade of Gaza, reminded Israeli officials this week. “Given its extensive control over life in the Strip, Israel is responsible for enabling normal life for its residents.”

It ought to be UN officials who are clearly warning Israel to abide by its legal obligations and calling for accountability if it refuses to do so.

Robert Piper has chosen instead to help Israel cover up its crimes.

Exclusive: US deploys long-range artillery system to southern Syria for first time

Most glorious Day of century: Feb. 15, 2003. Most depressing Day: Mar.18, 2003

Feb. 15, 2003 will stay as the Day the entire world demonstrated against war, specifically, against the pre-emptive invasion of Iraq by Bush Jr and British Blair.

Against a war that UN secretary general Kofi Anan labelled illegal, Not approved by the UN council.

When actor Glover chanted: Not in my name.

Millions in 720 cities and in 72 countries took to the streets and squares, even in Antarctica.

3 million in Madrid, 1.5 million in London, and same number in New York and Paris…

Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu lambasted Bush Jr. and Blair for their foolish decision to go to war.

And Blair to claim that all these millions do Not represent democracy on the march

And British Foreign Affair Alistair Cook  stated in the Parliament that Saddam has no weapons of mass destruction, and whatever chemical and biological weapons Iraq have are British surpluses during the war against Iran (1981-88). He resigned and the entire Parliament members applauded him, in standing ovation. Yet, the parliament voted for the war

On March 18 2003, “Shock and Awe” war tactics made 600,000 Iraqis causalities and 1.2 million children made orphans. And detained millions of Iraqis who would form Daesh (Isis) later on

Fallujah was buried under nuclear contaminated bombs. A decade later, thousands of babies were born deformed.

Millions of Egyptians invested Tahrir Square and the police force had to retreat vacate the place. It was a show that was repeated on 2011 to depose Moubarak

Except of the Egyptians who kept demonstrating for weeks, the rest of the world went under deep depression: If all these millions of demonstrators could Not sway decisions in “democratic” State, what could?

They failed to resume the marches every week until the concept of democracy sticks in the heads of the politicians

 

Yes, Native Americans Were the Victims of Genocide

Saturday, June 04, 2016 By Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, History News Network | Op-Ed

This paper, written under the title, “U.S. Settler-Colonialism and Genocide Policies,” was delivered at the Organization of American Historians 2015 Annual Meeting in St. Louis, MO on April 18, 2015.

US policies and actions related to Indigenous peoples, though often termed “racist” or “discriminatory,” are rarely depicted as what they are: classic cases of imperialism and a particular form of colonialism — settler colonialism.

As anthropologist Patrick Wolfe writes, “The question of genocide is never far from discussions of settler colonialism. Land is necessary for life “[1] The history of the United States is a history of settler colonialism.

The extension of the United States from sea to shining sea was the intention and design of the country’s founders. “Free” land was the magnet that attracted European settlers.

After the war for independence but preceding the writing of the US Constitution, the Continental Congress produced the Northwest Ordinance. This was the first law of the incipient republic, revealing the motive for those desiring independence.

It was the blueprint for gobbling up the British-protected Indian Territory (“Ohio Country”) on the other side of the Appalachians and Alleghenies. Britain had made settlement there illegal with the Proclamation of 1763.

In 1801, President Jefferson aptly described the new settler state’s intentions for horizontal and vertical continental expansion, stating: “However our present interests may restrain us within our own limits, it is impossible not to look forward to distant times, when our rapid multiplication will expand itself beyond those limits and cover the whole northern, if not the southern continent, with a people speaking the same language, governed in similar form by similar laws.

This vision of manifest destiny found form a few years later in the Monroe Doctrine, signaling the intention of annexing or dominating former Spanish colonial territories in the Americas and the Pacific, which would be put into practice during the rest of the century.

The form of colonialism that the Indigenous peoples of North America have experienced was modern from the beginning: the expansion of European corporations, backed by government armies, into foreign areas, with subsequent expropriation of lands and resources.

Settler colonialism requires a genocidal policy. Native nations and communities, while struggling to maintain fundamental values and collectivity, have from the beginning resisted modern colonialism using both defensive and offensive techniques, including the modern forms of armed resistance of national liberation movements and what now is called terrorism. In every instance they have fought and continue to fight for survival as peoples.

The objective of US colonialist authorities was to terminate their existence as peoples — not as random individuals. This is the very definition of modern genocide as contrasted with premodern instances of extreme violence that did not have the goal of extinction.

The United States as a socioeconomic and political entity is a result of this centuries-long and ongoing colonial process. Modern Indigenous nations and communities are societies formed by their resistance to colonialism, through which they have carried their practices and histories. It is breathtaking, but no miracle, that they have survived as peoples.

Settler-colonialism requires violence or the threat of violence to attain its goals, which then forms the foundation of the United States’ system.

People do not hand over their land, resources, children, and futures without a fight, and that fight is met with violence. In employing the force necessary to accomplish its expansionist goals, a colonizing regime institutionalizes violence.

The notion that settler-indigenous conflict is an inevitable product of cultural differences and misunderstandings, or that violence was committed equally by the colonized and the colonizer, blurs the nature of the historical processes. Euro-American colonialism, an aspect of the capitalist economic globalization, had from its beginnings a genocidal tendency.

So, what constitutes genocide?  (The Turkish government is still debating on the nuance of its Armenian genocide?)

My colleague on the panel, Gary Clayton Anderson, in his recent book, “Ethnic Cleansing and the Indian,” argues: “Genocide will never become a widely accepted characterization for what happened in North America, because large numbers of Indians survived and because policies of mass murder on a scale similar to events in central Europe, Cambodia, or Rwanda were never implemented.”[2] There are fatal errors in this assessment.

The term “genocide” was coined following the Shoah, or Holocaust, and its prohibition was enshrined in the United Nations convention presented in 1948 and adopted in 1951: the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

The convention is not retroactive but is applicable to US-Indigenous relations since 1988, when the US Senate ratified it. The genocide convention is an essential tool for historical analysis of the effects of colonialism in any era, and particularly in US history.

In the convention, any one of five acts is considered genocide if “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”:

(a) killing members of the group;

(b) causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

(d) imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(e) forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.[3]

The followings acts are punishable:

(a) Genocide;

(b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;

(c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;

(d) Attempt to commit genocide;

(e) Complicity in genocide.

The term “genocide” is often incorrectly used, such as in Dr. Anderson’s assessment, to describe extreme examples of mass murder, the death of vast numbers of people, as, for instance in Cambodia. What took place in Cambodia was horrific, but it does not fall under the terms of the Genocide Convention, as the Convention specifically refers to a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, with individuals within that group targeted by a government or its agents because they are members of the group or by attacking the underpinnings of the group’s existence as a group being met with the intent to destroy that group in whole or in part.

The Cambodian government committed crimes against humanity, but not genocide. Genocide is not an act simply worse than anything else, rather a specific kind of act.

The term, “ethnic cleansing,” is a descriptive term created by humanitarian interventionists to describe what was said to be happening in the 1990s wars among the republics of Yugoslavia. It is a descriptive term, not a term of international humanitarian law.

Although clearly the Holocaust was the most extreme of all genocides, the bar set by the Nazis is not the bar required to be considered genocide. The title of the Genocide convention is the “Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide,” so the law is about preventing genocide by identifying the elements of government policy, rather than only punishment after the fact. Most importantly, genocide does not have to be complete to be considered genocide.

US history, as well as inherited Indigenous trauma, cannot be understood without dealing with the genocide that the United States committed against Indigenous peoples. From the colonial period through the founding of the United States and continuing in the twentieth century, this has entailed torture, terror, sexual abuse, massacres, systematic military occupations, removals of Indigenous peoples from their ancestral territories, forced removal of Native American children to military-like boarding schools, allotment, and a policy of termination.

Within the logic of settler-colonialism, genocide was the inherent overall policy of the United States from its founding, but there are also specific documented policies of genocide on the part of US administrations that can be identified in at least four distinct periods: the Jacksonian era of forced removal; the California gold rush in Northern California; during the Civil War and in the post Civil War era of the so-called Indian Wars in the Southwest and the Great Plains; and the 1950s termination period; additionally, there is the overlapping period of compulsory boarding schools, 1870s to 1960s.

The Carlisle boarding school, founded by US Army officer Richard Henry Pratt in 1879, became a model for others established by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). Pratt said in a speech in 1892, “A great general has said that the only good Indian is a dead one. In a sense, I agree with the sentiment, but only in this: that all the Indian there is in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him and save the man.”

Cases of genocide carried out as policy may be found in historical documents as well as in the oral histories of Indigenous communities. An example from 1873 is typical, with General William T. Sherman writing, “We must act with vindictive earnestness against the Sioux, even to their extermination, men, women and children . . . during an assault, the soldiers can not pause to distinguish between male and female, or even discriminate as to age.”[4]

The so-called “Indian Wars” technically ended around 1880, although the Wounded Knee massacre occurred a decade later. Clearly an act with genocidal intent, it is still officially considered a “battle” in the annals of US military genealogy. Congressional Medals of Honor were bestowed on twenty of the soldiers involved.

A monument was built at Fort Riley, Kansas, to honor the soldiers killed by friendly fire. A battle streamer was created to honor the event and added to other streamers that are displayed at the Pentagon, West Point, and army bases throughout the world. L. Frank Baum, a Dakota Territory settler later famous for writing The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, edited the Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer at the time.

Five days after the sickening event at Wounded Knee, on January 3, 1891, he wrote, “The Pioneer has before declared that our only safety depends upon the total extermination of the Indians. Having wronged them for centuries we had better, in order to protect our civilization, follow it up by one or more wrong and wipe these untamed and untamable creatures from the face of the earth.”

Whether 1880 or 1890, most of the collective land base that Native Nations secured through hard fought for treaties made with the United States was lost after that date.

After the end of the Indian Wars, came allotment, another policy of genocide of Native nations as nations, as peoples, the dissolution of the group. Taking the Sioux Nation as an example, even before the Dawes Allotment Act of 1884 was implemented, and with the Black Hills already illegally confiscated by the federal government, a government commission arrived in Sioux territory from Washington, DC, in 1888 with a proposal to reduce the Sioux Nation to six small reservations, a scheme that would leave nine million acres open for Euro-American settlement.

The commission found it impossible to obtain signatures of the required three-fourths of the nation as required under the 1868 treaty, and so returned to Washington with a recommendation that the government ignore the treaty and take the land without Sioux consent. The only means to accomplish that goal was legislation, Congress having relieved the government of the obligation to negotiate a treaty.

Congress commissioned General George Crook to head a delegation to try again, this time with an offer of $1.50 per acre. In a series of manipulations and dealings with leaders whose people were now starving, the commission garnered the needed signatures.

The great Sioux Nation was broken into small islands soon surrounded on all sides by European immigrants, with much of the reservation land a checkerboard with settlers on allotments or leased land.[5] Creating these isolated reservations broke the historical relationships between clans and communities of the Sioux Nation and opened areas where Europeans settled. It also allowed the Bureau of Indian Affairs to exercise tighter control, buttressed by the bureau’s boarding school system.

The Sun Dance, the annual ceremony that had brought Sioux together and reinforced national unity, was outlawed, along with other religious ceremonies. Despite the Sioux people’s weak position under late-nineteenth-century colonial domination, they managed to begin building a modest cattle-ranching business to replace their former bison-hunting economy. In 1903, the US Supreme Court ruled, in Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock, that a March 3, 1871, appropriations rider was constitutional and that Congress had “plenary” power to manage Indian property.

The Office of Indian Affairs could thus dispose of Indian lands and resources regardless of the terms of previous treaty provisions. Legislation followed that opened the reservations to settlement through leasing and even sale of allotments taken out of trust. Nearly all prime grazing lands came to be occupied by non-Indian ranchers by the 1920s.

By the time of the New Deal–Collier era and nullification of Indian land allotment under the Indian Reorganization Act, non-Indians outnumbered Indians on the Sioux reservations three to one. However, “tribal governments” imposed in the wake of the Indian Reorganization Act proved particularly harmful and divisive for the Sioux.”[6] 

Concerning this measure, the late Mathew King, elder traditional historian of the Oglala Sioux (Pine Ridge), observed: “The Bureau of Indian Affairs drew up the constitution and by-laws of this organization with the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. This was the introduction of home rule. . . .

The traditional people still hang on to their Treaty, for we are a sovereign nation. We have our own government.”[7] “Home rule,” or neocolonialism, proved a short-lived policy, however, for in the early 1950s the United States developed its termination policy, with legislation ordering gradual eradication of every reservation and even the tribal governments.[8] At the time of termination and relocation, per capita annual income on the Sioux reservations stood at $355, while that in nearby South Dakota towns was $2,500.

Despite these circumstances, in pursuing its termination policy, the Bureau of Indian Affairs advocated the reduction of services and introduced its program to relocate Indians to urban industrial centers, with a high percentage of Sioux moving to San Francisco and Denver in search of jobs.[9]

The situations of other Indigenous Nations were similar.

Pawnee Attorney Walter R. Echo-Hawk writes:

In 1881, Indian landholdings in the United States had plummeted to 156 million acres. By 1934, only about 50 million acres remained (an area the size of Idaho and Washington) as a result of the General Allotment Act of 1887. During World War II, the government took 500,000 more acres for military use. Over one hundred tribes, bands, and Rancherias relinquished their lands under various acts of Congress during the termination era of the 1950s. By 1955, the indigenous land base had shrunk to just 2.3 percent of its [size at the end of the Indian wars].[10]

According to the current consensus among historians, the wholesale transfer of land from Indigenous to Euro-American hands that occurred in the Americas after 1492 is due less to British and US American invasion, warfare, refugee conditions, and genocidal policies in North America than to the bacteria that the invaders unwittingly brought with them.

Historian Colin Calloway is among the proponents of this theory writing, “Epidemic diseases would have caused massive depopulation in the Americas whether brought by European invaders or brought home by Native American traders.”[11] Such an absolutist assertion renders any other fate for the Indigenous peoples improbable. This is what anthropologist Michael Wilcox has dubbed “the terminal narrative.”

Professor Calloway is a careful and widely respected historian of Indigenous North America, but his conclusion articulates a default assumption. The thinking behind the assumption is both ahistorical and illogical in that Europe itself lost a third to one-half of its population to infectious disease during medieval pandemics.

The principle reason the consensus view is wrong and ahistorical is that it erases the effects of settler colonialism with its antecedents in the Spanish “Reconquest” and the English conquest of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. By the time Spain, Portugal, and Britain arrived to colonize the Americas, their methods of eradicating peoples or forcing them into dependency and servitude were ingrained, streamlined, and effective.

Whatever disagreement may exist about the size of precolonial Indigenous populations, no one doubts that a rapid demographic decline occurred in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, its timing from region to region depending on when conquest and colonization began.

Nearly all the population areas of the Americas were reduced by 90 percent following the onset of colonizing projects, decreasing the targeted Indigenous populations of the Americas from a one hundred million to ten million. Commonly referred to as the most extreme demographic disaster — framed as natural — in human history, it was rarely called genocide until the rise of Indigenous movements in the mid-twentieth century forged new questions.

US scholar Benjamin Keen acknowledges that historians “accept uncritically a fatalistic ‘epidemic plus lack of acquired immunity’ explanation for the shrinkage of Indian populations, without sufficient attention to the socioeconomic factors . . . which predisposed the natives to succumb to even slight infections.”[12] Other scholars agree. Geographer William M. Denevan, while not ignoring the existence of widespread epidemic diseases, has emphasized the role of warfare, which reinforced the lethal impact of disease.

There were military engagements directly between European and Indigenous nations, but many more saw European powers pitting one Indigenous nation against another or factions within nations, with European allies aiding one or both sides, as was the case in the colonization of the peoples of Ireland, Africa and Asia, and was also a factor in the Holocaust.

Other killers cited by Denevan are overwork in mines, frequent outright butchery, malnutrition and starvation resulting from the breakdown of Indigenous trade networks, subsistence food production and loss of land, loss of will to live or reproduce (and thus suicide, abortion, and infanticide), and deportation and enslavement.[13] Anthropologist Henry Dobyns has pointed to the interruption of Indigenous peoples’ trade networks.

When colonizing powers seized Indigenous trade routes, the ensuing acute shortages, including food products, weakened populations and forced them into dependency on the colonizers, with European manufactured goods replacing Indigenous ones. Dobyns has estimated that all Indigenous groups suffered serious food shortages one year in four. In these circumstances, the introduction and promotion of alcohol proved addictive and deadly, adding to the breakdown of social order and responsibility.[14] These realities render the myth of “lack of immunity,” including to alcohol, pernicious.

Historian Woodrow Wilson Borah focused on the broader arena of European colonization, which also brought severely reduced populations in the Pacific Islands, Australia, Western Central America, and West Africa.[15] Sherburne Cook — associated with Borah in the revisionist Berkeley School, as it was called — studied the attempted destruction of the California Indians. Cook estimated 2,245 deaths among peoples in Northern California — the Wintu, Maidu, Miwak, Omo, Wappo, and Yokuts nations — in late eighteenth-century armed conflicts with the Spanish while some 5,000 died from disease and another 4,000 were relocated to missions.

Among the same people in the second half of the nineteenth century, US armed forces killed 4,000, and disease killed another 6,000. Between 1852 and 1867, US citizens kidnapped 4,000 Indian children from these groups in California. Disruption of Indigenous social structures under these conditions and dire economic necessity forced many of the women into prostitution in goldfield camps, further wrecking what vestiges of family life remained in these matriarchal societies.

Historians and others who deny genocide emphasize population attrition by disease, weakening Indigenous peoples ability to resist. In doing so they refuse to accept that the colonization of America was genocidal by plan, not simply the tragic fate of populations lacking immunity to disease. If disease could have done the job, it is not clear why the United States found it necessary to carry out unrelenting wars against Indigenous communities in order to gain every inch of land they took from them — along with the prior period of British colonization, nearly three hundred years of eliminationist warfare.

In the case of the Jewish Holocaust, no one denies that more Jews died of starvation, overwork, and disease under Nazi incarceration than died in gas ovens or murdered by other means, yet the acts of creating and maintaining the conditions that led to those deaths clearly constitute genocide. And no one recites the terminal narrative associated with Native Americans, or Armenians, or Bosnian.

Not all of the acts iterated in the genocide convention are required to exist to constitute genocide; any one of them suffices. In cases of United States genocidal policies and actions, each of the five requirements can be seen.

First, Killing members of the group: The genocide convention does not specify that large numbers of people must be killed in order to constitute genocide, rather that members of the group are killed because they are members of the group. Assessing a situation in terms of preventing genocide, this kind of killing is a marker for intervention.

Second, Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group: such as starvation, the control of food supply and withholding food as punishment or as reward for compliance, for instance, in signing confiscatory treaties. As military historian John Grenier points out in his First Way of War:

For the first 200 years of our military heritage, then, Americans depended on arts of war that contemporary professional soldiers supposedly abhorred: razing and destroying enemy villages and fields; killing enemy women and children; raiding settlements for captives; intimidating and brutalizing enemy noncombatants; and assassinating enemy leaders. . . . In the frontier wars between 1607 and 1814, Americans forged two elements — unlimited war and irregular war — into their first way of war.[16]

Grenier argues that not only did this way of war continue throughout the 19th century in wars against the Indigenous nations, but continued in the 20th century and currently in counterinsurgent wars against peoples in Latin America, the Caribbean and Pacific, Southeast Asia, Middle and Western Asia and Africa.

Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part: Forced removal of all the Indigenous nations east of the Mississippi to Indian Territory during the Jackson administration was a calculated policy intent on destroying those peoples ties to their original lands, as well as declaring Native people who did not remove to no longer be Muskogee, Sauk, Kickapoo, Choctaw, destroying the existence of up to half of each nation removed.

Mandatory boarding schools, Allotment and Termination — all official government policies–also fall under this category of the crime of genocide. The forced removal and four year incarceration of the Navajo people resulted in the death of half their population.

Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group: Famously, during the Termination Era, the US government administrated Indian Health Service made the top medical priority the sterilization of Indigenous women. In 1974, an independent study by one the few Native American physicians, Dr. Connie Pinkerton-Uri, Choctaw/Cherokee, found that one in four Native women had been sterilized without her consent. Pnkerton-Uri’s research indicated that the Indian Health Service had “singled out full-blooded Indian women for sterilization procedures.”

At first denied by the Indian Health Service, two years later, a study by the U.S. General Accounting Office found that 4 of the 12 Indian Health Service regions sterilized 3,406 Native women without their permission between 1973 and 1976. The GAO found that 36 women under age 21 had been forcibly sterilized during this period despite a court-ordered moratorium on sterilizations of women younger than 21.

Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group: Various governmental entities, mostly municipalities, counties, and states, routinely removed Native children from their families and put them up for adoption. In the Native resistance movements of the 1960s and 1970s, the demand to put a stop to the practice was codified in the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978.

However, the burden of enforcing the legislation lay with Tribal Government, but the legislation provided no financial resources for Native governments to establish infrastructure to retrieve children from the adoption industry, in which Indian babies were high in demand. Despite these barriers to enforcement, the worst abuses had been curbed over the following three decades. But, on June 25, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling drafted by Justice Samuel Alito, used provisions of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) to say that a child, widely known as Baby Veronica, did not have to live with her biological Cherokee father.

The high court’s decision paved the way for Matt and Melanie Capobianco, the adoptive parents, to ask the South Carolina Courts to have the child returned to them. The court gutted the purpose and intent of the Indian Child Welfare Act, missing the concept behind the ICWA, the protection of cultural resource and treasure that are Native children; it’s not about protecting so-called traditional or nuclear families. It’s about recognizing the prevalence of extended families and culture.[17]

So, why does the Genocide Convention matter? Native nations are still here and still vulnerable to genocidal policy. This isn’t just history that predates the 1948 Genocide Convention. But, the history is important and needs to be widely aired, included in public school texts and public service announcements.

The Doctrine of Discovery is still law of the land. From the mid-fifteenth century to the mid-twentieth century, most of the non-European world was colonized under the Doctrine of Discovery, one of the first principles of international law Christian European monarchies promulgated to legitimize investigating, mapping, and claiming lands belonging to peoples outside Europe. It originated in a papal bull issued in 1455 that permitted the Portuguese monarchy to seize West Africa. Following Columbus’s infamous exploratory voyage in 1492, sponsored by the king and queen of the infant Spanish state, another papal bull extended similar permission to Spain.

Disputes between the Portuguese and Spanish monarchies led to the papal-initiated Treaty of Tordesillas (1494), which, besides dividing the globe equally between the two Iberian empires, clarified that only non-Christian lands fell under the discovery doctrine.[18] This doctrine on which all European states relied thus originated with the arbitrary and unilateral establishment of the Iberian monarchies’ exclusive rights under Christian canon law to colonize foreign peoples, and this right was later seized by other European monarchical colonizing projects.

The French Republic used this legalistic instrument for its nineteenth- and twentieth-century settler colonialist projects, as did the newly independent United States when it continued the colonization of North America begun by the British.

In 1792, not long after the US founding, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson claimed that the Doctrine of Discovery developed by European states was international law applicable to the new US government as well. In 1823 the US Supreme Court issued its decision in Johnson v. McIntosh.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Marshall held that the Doctrine of Discovery had been an established principle of European law and of English law in effect in Britain’s North American colonies and was also the law of the United States. ( Israel still applies the British administrative colonial detention law on Palestinians)

The Court defined the exclusive property rights that a European country acquired by dint of discovery: “Discovery gave title to the government, by whose subjects, or by whose authority, it was made, against all other European governments, which title might be consummated by possession.” Therefore, European and Euro-American “discoverers” had gained real-property rights in the lands of Indigenous peoples by merely planting a flag.

Indigenous rights were, in the Court’s words, “in no instance, entirely disregarded; but were necessarily, to a considerable extent, impaired.” The court further held that Indigenous “rights to complete sovereignty, as independent nations, were necessarily diminished.” Indigenous people could continue to live on the land, but title resided with the discovering power, the United States. The decision concluded that Native nations were “domestic, dependent nations.”

The Doctrine of Discovery is so taken for granted that it is rarely mentioned in historical or legal texts published in the Americas. The UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples, which meets annually for two weeks, devoted its entire 2012 session to the doctrine.[19] But few US citizens are aware of the precarity of the situation of Indigenous Peoples in the United States.

Note: Israel is founded on settlers genocide and displacement of Palestinians. Boycott Settlements products and services.

Sanction all Israeli settlement goods and services, Amnesty demands

Human rights organizations are finally catching up with the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign to make Israel pay a price for its crimes against humanity.

On Wednesday, Amnesty International said that all states “must ban Israeli settlement products to help end half a century of violations against Palestinians.”

“The international community must ban the import of all goods produced in illegal Israeli settlements and put an end to the multimillion dollar profits that have fueled mass human rights violations against Palestinians,” Amnesty stated.

The group announced it was launching a campaign to mark this week’s 50th anniversary of Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, to urge governments to take this long overdue step.

Lawns and swimming pools

For decades, the world has stood by as Israel has destroyed Palestinians’ homes and plundered their land and natural resources for profit,” Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s secretary general, said. “While the Palestinian economy has been stunted by 50 years of abusive policies, a thriving multimillion dollar settlement enterprise has been built out of the systematic oppression of the Palestinian population.”

Shetty described a “discriminatory and criminal settlement policy that enables Israeli settlers to live on stolen land in homes with irrigated lawns and swimming pools, while Palestinian communities on their doorstep are deprived of access to enough clean water or electricity to cover their basic needs.”

“Israel has made it abundantly clear that maintaining and expanding settlements takes priority over respect for international law,” Shetty added. “It’s time for the world to send a clear message that it will no longer tolerate the Israeli authorities’ blatant disregard for international law.”

Amnesty’s statement comes more than a year after Human Rights Watch called on businesses to end all activities in or with Israeli settlements.

Human Rights Watch also urged governments to withhold aid to Israel.

Amnesty’s position arguably goes further, by urging governments to ban the importation of settlement goods outright.

This is in line with a growing consensus among international law experts and jurists that trade with Israeli settlements violates international law.

But campaigners face strong opposition from governments that continue to support trade with settlements.

European complicity

The 28-member European Union, Israel’s largest trading partner, has imposed minimal requirements that goods from settlements be accurately labeled.

But the EU’s top envoy in Tel Aviv last year declared that settlement products were still “welcome” in European markets.

Emboldened by such complicity, Israel continues to aggressively expand its colonies on stolen Palestinian land, all of which are illegal under international law.

“It is utterly shocking that, since the occupation began 50 years ago, there has been virtually total impunity for the decades of war crimes, crimes against humanity and human rights violations committed in the occupied Palestinian territories,” Amnesty’s Shetty said.

The group’s endorsement of a total ban on settlement goods is a welcome, if belated, step in bringing Israel and the governments complicit with such crimes to account.

Why we should compare Trump to Hitler

Comparing dictators to Hitler, or fascists to Nazis, is often criticised as intellectually lazy, inaccurate and even dangerous.

However, over the past year parallels drawn between the rise of Adolf Hitler and Donald Trump have been numerous.

A 1922 article from the New York Times archive resurfaced in February 2015, which massively underestimated Hitler’s capacity for destruction, dismissing much of his campaign promises as political rhetoric.

Many drew comparisons with the response to Trump’s victory, after which people were hopeful that Trump cynically uses nationalism and xenophobic anti-immigration in order to gain votes, but will be tempered from acting on his more brutal promises.

Some of the descriptions of Hitler and the rise of Nazi populism seemed very familiar…

Another condition favourable to the outburst of the movement is the widespread discontent with the existing state of affairs among all classes in the towns and cities under the increasing economic pressure.

He is a man of the ‘common people’ and hence, has the makings of a ‘popular hero’ appealing to all classes.

His program consists chiefly of half a dozen negative ideas clothed in generalities

He probably does not know himself just what he wants to accomplish.

He talks rough, shaggy, sound horse sense, and according to public opinion, a strong, active leader equipped with horse sense is the need of the hour.

In particular, one image of a sign in the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, which describes 14 early signs of fascism, went viral after acting attorney general Sally Q. Yates was fired.

Timothy Snyder, Yale professor of history and author of On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, released this video explaining the value of comparison.

He explains how comparing Trump to Hitler can be useful, despite key differences.

Obviously, comparing Trump to Hitler does not necessarily imply that Trump is going to perpetrate a genocide.

Nevertheless, without a proper consideration of history we are doomed to repeat its mistakes.

Transcript:

So the way to start the discussion about comparisons is to point out that Americans are extremely lazy about history. I mean that’s one way in which were definitely number one among major nations.

And one of the ways we’re lazy about history is that as soon as anyone suggests that the past might be useful, then we say “but wait it’s not exactly the same and therefore I’m just going to discard it.”

In that way in two or three seconds we give ourselves an excuse not to think about history.

The premise of the book “On Tyranny” is not that Hitler is just like Trump or Trump is just like Hitler. The premise is that democratic republics usually fail and it’s useful for us to see how they fail.

One of the ways a democratic republic can fail is Germany in 1933. There are plenty of other examples in the book, also from the left wing Czechoslovakia in 1948 becoming communist.

The point of the book is that these things really happened over and over again and that intelligent people, no less intelligent than us, experienced them and left a record for us to learn from. (And they were far more cultured and read abundantly and discussed at length and met)

So what I’m trying to do in the book is to help us to learn from that record so we don’t have events like Germany in 1933 or Czechoslovakia in 1948.

Just saying “Hitler’s not like Trump“ or ”Trump is not like Hitler” isn’t going to save us.

Learning for the past though, could.

Early signs of fascism, went viral after acting attorney general Sally Q. Yates was fired.

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adonis49

adonis49

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