• THAT I MAY KNOW HIM![PHP.3:10]

    DIFFERENTIATING SIN DOESN'T DECREASE NOR INCREASE OUR HOPE!

    I want to state again that most of us that are committed to the fight against the wrongs in church and society, aren't saints nor perfect. LIKE I'VE ALWAYS SAID ABOUT MYSELF,I MAY BE WORSE THAN YOU READING ME. The only difference perhaps is the determination to do the right thing, and also not to be a hindrance to sincere truth seekers.

    I tried to follow how I am led,and this time it's the ever popular subject of sin. But strangely enough, we are starting by separating between the main types of sin.

    The verified truth is that every sin earns death. Every sin makes the sinner guilty before God (Romans 6:23).

    However, the Bible does describe different types of sin. And theologians have divided these types of sins into involuntary and voluntary sins.

    Now,an involuntary sin is a sin that we commit because of the weakness of our flesh or because we are ignorant of a law that we are breaking. Simply put, these sins are not done deliberately.

    While,on the other hand, voluntary sin is done by those of us who know what we are doing is wrong, but we do it anyway. This type of sin is done intentionally.

    We may have to read Matthew 11:21-24; and John 19:11; on our own. But with two other scriptures we are going to establish the difference in a much simpler way:
    Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. (1Ti 1: 13)

    Here Paul agreed to his ignorance of the law that made him do what he did.

    For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, (Heb 10: 26)

    Here, Paul establish deliberate sin and its consequences. Though the scriptures make a point that ALL SINS ARE EQUAL,the same scriptures made a case for some sins easier to forgive than others.

    Involuntary sins: weakness or ignorance
    Since we all have a sinful nature, every action we take is tainted with sin. Isaiah said, “All our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). We often sin without realizing it. The psalmist says, “Who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults” (Psalm 19:12). Through our own weakness or ignorance of God’s law, we fall into this type of sin daily. Praise God that he rescues us by forgiving us through Jesus!

    Read Romans 7:15-25.

    Here the apostle Paul talks about how he struggled with this type of sin.

    Yet we will not be exonerated from these types without some consequences. This is because a true believer can steps to avoid sins of weakness or ignorance;
    There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (1Co 10: 13)


    But the dangers of deliberate sin is different.
    To know something is wrong and to do it anyway is dangerous, spiritually. The apostle Paul says, “If you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13).

    In an attempt to justify sinful behavior, some will say, “God hates the sin but loves the sinner.” Unfortunately, this is a confusion of law and gospel. The law says that God hates sin and the sinner (Psalm 5:5). We need to hear this message to lead us to repentance. The gospel says that God loves the world and me because of Christ Jesus (John 3:16). We need to hear this message when the law has done its work in our heart and convicted us of sin.

    Read Psalm 32:5 and Hebrews 10:26-31.

    Thus,there is no TRUTH in “God hates the sin but loves the sinner”;
    Read also Hab.1:13

    We are coming back to talk about sin proper.

    It should be our prayer never to cross God's boundaries,Amen!
    THAT I MAY KNOW HIM![PHP.3:10] πŸš₯πŸš₯πŸš₯πŸš₯πŸš₯πŸš₯πŸš₯πŸš₯πŸš₯πŸš₯πŸš₯πŸš₯πŸš₯πŸš₯πŸš₯πŸš₯ DIFFERENTIATING SIN DOESN'T DECREASE NOR INCREASE OUR HOPE! πŸ›οΈπŸ›οΈπŸ›οΈπŸ›οΈπŸ›οΈπŸ›οΈπŸ›οΈπŸ›οΈπŸ›οΈπŸ›οΈπŸ›οΈπŸ›οΈπŸ›οΈπŸ›οΈπŸ›οΈπŸ›οΈ I want to state again that most of us that are committed to the fight against the wrongs in church and society, aren't saints nor perfect. LIKE I'VE ALWAYS SAID ABOUT MYSELF,I MAY BE WORSE THAN YOU READING ME. The only difference perhaps is the determination to do the right thing, and also not to be a hindrance to sincere truth seekers. I tried to follow how I am led,and this time it's the ever popular subject of sin. But strangely enough, we are starting by separating between the main types of sin. The verified truth is that every sin earns death. Every sin makes the sinner guilty before God (Romans 6:23). However, the Bible does describe different types of sin. And theologians have divided these types of sins into involuntary and voluntary sins. Now,an involuntary sin is a sin that we commit because of the weakness of our flesh or because we are ignorant of a law that we are breaking. Simply put, these sins are not done deliberately. While,on the other hand, voluntary sin is done by those of us who know what we are doing is wrong, but we do it anyway. This type of sin is done intentionally. We may have to read Matthew 11:21-24; and John 19:11; on our own. But with two other scriptures we are going to establish the difference in a much simpler way: Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. (1Ti 1: 13) Here Paul agreed to his ignorance of the law that made him do what he did. For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, (Heb 10: 26) Here, Paul establish deliberate sin and its consequences. Though the scriptures make a point that ALL SINS ARE EQUAL,the same scriptures made a case for some sins easier to forgive than others. Involuntary sins: weakness or ignorance Since we all have a sinful nature, every action we take is tainted with sin. Isaiah said, “All our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). We often sin without realizing it. The psalmist says, “Who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults” (Psalm 19:12). Through our own weakness or ignorance of God’s law, we fall into this type of sin daily. Praise God that he rescues us by forgiving us through Jesus! Read Romans 7:15-25. Here the apostle Paul talks about how he struggled with this type of sin. Yet we will not be exonerated from these types without some consequences. This is because a true believer can steps to avoid sins of weakness or ignorance; There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (1Co 10: 13) But the dangers of deliberate sin is different. To know something is wrong and to do it anyway is dangerous, spiritually. The apostle Paul says, “If you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13). In an attempt to justify sinful behavior, some will say, “God hates the sin but loves the sinner.” Unfortunately, this is a confusion of law and gospel. The law says that God hates sin and the sinner (Psalm 5:5). We need to hear this message to lead us to repentance. The gospel says that God loves the world and me because of Christ Jesus (John 3:16). We need to hear this message when the law has done its work in our heart and convicted us of sin. Read Psalm 32:5 and Hebrews 10:26-31. Thus,there is no TRUTH in “God hates the sin but loves the sinner”; Read also Hab.1:13 We are coming back to talk about sin proper. It should be our prayer never to cross God's boundaries,AmenπŸ™‡πŸ™!
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  • TOWARDS THE PERFECT MAN{JAMES 1;4}

    TEMPTATION IS NOT A SIN. THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT HOLDS NO WATER,!

    This is a short exhortation for those of us who blame the devil for our own lust.
    When talking about what Satan doesn't want us to know about him,we mentioned this. Something embarrassing, really very embarrassing took place today,but I won't talk about it yet,as the facts aren't clear for now.

    Let's be serious,if Satan was to be given a chance by God to defend himself,many of us believers (even titled skullcaps church leaders) would be awfully guilty.

    I'm not excluding myself, but it does hurt and so shameful when Christians use the phrase*The devil made me do it!* Of course it isn't the devil...you(me) did it with our eyes open.
    13. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
    14. But every man is tempted, when he is DRAWN AWAY OF HIS OWN LUST, AND ENTICED.
    15. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. (Jas 1: 13-15)

    Remember we said that Satan always tries to pass himself of as God.He wants you to think that he is all powerful. But you remember that when Christ Jesus died upon that Cross, the Bible says that Satan was defeated? In fact, I love this verse.1 John 3:8 says: “For this purpose, the Son of God was manifested, that He might (notice) destroy the works of the devil.” So, when Christ Jesus died upon that Cross, HE defeated Satan. But not only did He defeat the devil, HE also disarmed the devil and his minions. In fact, we read in Colossians 2:15, “And having spoiled,” - and that word “spoiled” means “disarmed” - “having disarmed principalities and powers, He (that is Christ Jesus) made a show of them openly, and He triumphed over them.” So, here's what happened when Christ Jesus died upon that Cross: He stripped the devil and his minions(demons)of their authority. They have no more power over you. You see, [the devil] has been defeated. I mean, yes, we have been [set free], as children of God. Now we are free not only from the penalty of sin, but we're free from the power of sin. Satan has no more authority over your life. You have been set free from the power and the authority of the devil.

    IT MEANS THAT THE DEVIL CAN'T’ MAKE YOU BELIEVE ANYTHING. HE CAN'T’ MAKE YOU DO ANYTHING, OK? All THAT HE CAN DO IS TEMPT YOU. AND REMEMBER, TEMPTATION IS NEVER SIN. IT'S A CHOICE WE MAKE TO EMBRACE THAT TEMPTATION [that] BECOMES SIN. But all that he can do is knock at the door of your heart. He can't open that door and barge in. He can't twist your arm and make you do what you will and don’t want to do. Why? Because he's been disarmed. He lost his power, and he lost his authority over you. You have been set free from the tyranny of the evil one. That's pretty good news. Agreed? In fact, we'll just take it a step farther and say it this way: You know? The devil can only do in your life what God permits him to do? Did you hear me? The devil doesn't have free rein over you. Why? Because of what Christ Jesus did upon the cross and our relationship with Him. You see, God limits what the devil can do in your life. You say, “How do you know that?” Well, remember the story in Job chapter one? God gives us one of those beautiful behind-the-scenes glimpse into the spiritual world. Remember, the Bible reminds us that Satan came into the presence of God. He asked God for permission to tempt Job, and God gave Satan permission. But He put certain limits on what Satan could and could not do.
    Why, because God our Creator knows our limits. AND FOR GOD TO ALLOW SATAN COME CLOSE TO US, HE IS COUNTING ON US TO SHAME SATAN BY REMAINING STEADFAST, AND MIND YOU THERE'S A REWARD FOR IT AS WE SAW IN JOB

    So,when you come crying*the devil made me do it,we are only trying to wrongly justify our actions and cast aspersions on our God... let's read James again;
    13. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
    14. But every man is tempted, when he is DRAWN AWAY OF HIS OWN LUST, AND ENTICED.

    You think the devil would let us go when we place ourselves as easy targets for him...of course not. When we deliberately go to places where we shouldn't be found. For instance, couples still courting in a private compromising position in the night alone.
    Even a Christian worker signing 7:30 am when he actually got to the office by 9am, because he partied all night. We know so many ways we deliberately or probably ignorantly place ourselves in temptations way. When we fall... don't call Satan,he didn't do it,but CALL CHRIST JESUS FOR MERCY IMMEDIATELY, before satan makes a mincemeat of you and turn it into your culture.a

    HEAVENLY FATHER,I PRAY FOR US TO YELLING SATAN MADE US DO IT WHEN WE GOOF, BUT RATHER TO ACCEPT OUR FAILURES AND COME KNOCKING ON THE DOOR OF YOUR MERCIES THAT FAILETH NOT,AND THE STRENGTH TO RESIST TEMPTATIONS OF WHATSOEVER KIND,AMEN
    TOWARDS THE PERFECT MAN{JAMES 1;4} πŸš₯πŸš₯πŸš₯πŸš₯πŸš₯πŸš₯πŸš₯πŸš₯πŸš₯πŸš₯πŸš₯πŸš₯πŸš₯πŸš₯πŸš₯πŸš₯ TEMPTATION IS NOT A SIN. THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT HOLDS NO WATER,! πŸ›οΈπŸ›οΈπŸ›οΈπŸ›οΈπŸ›οΈπŸ›οΈπŸ›οΈπŸ›οΈπŸ›οΈπŸ›οΈπŸ›οΈπŸ›οΈπŸ›οΈπŸ›οΈπŸ›οΈπŸ›οΈ This is a short exhortation for those of us who blame the devil for our own lust. When talking about what Satan doesn't want us to know about him,we mentioned this. Something embarrassing, really very embarrassing took place today,but I won't talk about it yet,as the facts aren't clear for now. Let's be serious,if Satan was to be given a chance by God to defend himself,many of us believers (even titled skullcaps church leaders) would be awfully guilty. I'm not excluding myself, but it does hurt and so shameful when Christians use the phrase*The devil made me do it!* Of course it isn't the devil...you(me) did it with our eyes open. 13. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: 14. But every man is tempted, when he is DRAWN AWAY OF HIS OWN LUST, AND ENTICED. 15. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. (Jas 1: 13-15) Remember we said that Satan always tries to pass himself of as God.He wants you to think that he is all powerful. But you remember that when Christ Jesus died upon that Cross, the Bible says that Satan was defeated? In fact, I love this verse.1 John 3:8 says: “For this purpose, the Son of God was manifested, that He might (notice) destroy the works of the devil.” So, when Christ Jesus died upon that Cross, HE defeated Satan. But not only did He defeat the devil, HE also disarmed the devil and his minions. In fact, we read in Colossians 2:15, “And having spoiled,” - and that word “spoiled” means “disarmed” - “having disarmed principalities and powers, He (that is Christ Jesus) made a show of them openly, and He triumphed over them.” So, here's what happened when Christ Jesus died upon that Cross: He stripped the devil and his minions(demons)of their authority. They have no more power over you. You see, [the devil] has been defeated. I mean, yes, we have been [set free], as children of God. Now we are free not only from the penalty of sin, but we're free from the power of sin. Satan has no more authority over your life. You have been set free from the power and the authority of the devil. IT MEANS THAT THE DEVIL CAN'T’ MAKE YOU BELIEVE ANYTHING. HE CAN'T’ MAKE YOU DO ANYTHING, OK? All THAT HE CAN DO IS TEMPT YOU. AND REMEMBER, TEMPTATION IS NEVER SIN. IT'S A CHOICE WE MAKE TO EMBRACE THAT TEMPTATION [that] BECOMES SIN. But all that he can do is knock at the door of your heart. He can't open that door and barge in. He can't twist your arm and make you do what you will and don’t want to do. Why? Because he's been disarmed. He lost his power, and he lost his authority over you. You have been set free from the tyranny of the evil one. That's pretty good news. Agreed? In fact, we'll just take it a step farther and say it this way: You know? The devil can only do in your life what God permits him to do? Did you hear me? The devil doesn't have free rein over you. Why? Because of what Christ Jesus did upon the cross and our relationship with Him. You see, God limits what the devil can do in your life. You say, “How do you know that?” Well, remember the story in Job chapter one? God gives us one of those beautiful behind-the-scenes glimpse into the spiritual world. Remember, the Bible reminds us that Satan came into the presence of God. He asked God for permission to tempt Job, and God gave Satan permission. But He put certain limits on what Satan could and could not do. Why, because God our Creator knows our limits. AND FOR GOD TO ALLOW SATAN COME CLOSE TO US, HE IS COUNTING ON US TO SHAME SATAN BY REMAINING STEADFAST, AND MIND YOU THERE'S A REWARD FOR IT AS WE SAW IN JOB So,when you come crying*the devil made me do it,we are only trying to wrongly justify our actions and cast aspersions on our God... let's read James again; 13. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: 14. But every man is tempted, when he is DRAWN AWAY OF HIS OWN LUST, AND ENTICED. You think the devil would let us go when we place ourselves as easy targets for him...of course not. When we deliberately go to places where we shouldn't be found. For instance, couples still courting in a private compromising position in the night alone. Even a Christian worker signing 7:30 am when he actually got to the office by 9am, because he partied all night. We know so many ways we deliberately or probably ignorantly place ourselves in temptations way. When we fall... don't call Satan,he didn't do it,but CALL CHRIST JESUS FOR MERCY IMMEDIATELY, before satan makes a mincemeat of you and turn it into your culture.a HEAVENLY FATHER,I PRAY FOR US TO YELLING SATAN MADE US DO IT WHEN WE GOOF, BUT RATHER TO ACCEPT OUR FAILURES AND COME KNOCKING ON THE DOOR OF YOUR MERCIES THAT FAILETH NOT,AND THE STRENGTH TO RESIST TEMPTATIONS OF WHATSOEVER KIND,AMENπŸ™‡πŸ™
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  • When Israel Bombed AP’s Gaza Office

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    ***

    Wednesday was Nakba Day—the day commemorating the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians with the creation of Israel, in 1948—but there was another anniversary worth remembering. The day a foreign country bombed the offices of a major U.S. press outlet, accusing it, without evidence, of harboring terrorists. And a significant portion of the US media spun the story to support the foreign country.

    On May 15, 2021, as part of its “Operation Guardian of the Walls” military campaign in Gaza, Israel bombed the Associated Press offices’ building, based on the still evidence-free claim that the AP headquarters “housed Hamas”. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the week prior, IDF bombed two other office buildings that “housed more than a dozen international and local media outlets.”



    Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) gave the tenants of the al-Jalaa Building in Gaza—which included AP, other news agencies including Al-Jazeera, and residential homes—a stern warning. IDF informed them they had one hour to evacuate their homes before the building would be bombed by Israeli missiles. Sixty minutes and three Israeli missiles later, the 12-story building was leveled to the ground.

    The IDF posted a short vague statement that provided no evidence for their claim the building was being used by terrorists but made sure to repeat the term “Hamas terror organization” four times, in just four sentences—five times if you count “Hamas military intelligence” in the headline.



    The AP’s CEO at the time, Gary Pruitt, said the news agency had been in the building for 15 years and “we have had no indication Hamas was in the building or active in the building.”

    So could Israel have been lying? Well, retired US Army colonel and former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, Lawrence Wilkerson seems to think so.



    Let me let me preface these remarks with I never, never, ever believe Israeli figures. I’ve been in the government too long to know that the Israelis are patent liars in their intelligence community, in their propaganda community, certainly, and in their leadership. They are inveterate liars. Let me say that again. They are liars. So you can’t believe anything that comes out of Jerusalem. It’s all propaganda.

    The fact that Israel lied to the international press just one week prior about a fake ground invasion, to trick Hamas into giving up their positions, doesn’t help Israel’s case. On the contrary, it clearly shows that Israel puts military victory over truth, and has no respect for the press.



    Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus claimed that “Hamas used the building for a military intelligence office and weapons development” but “could not provide evidence” to back up the claims without “compromising” intelligence efforts.

    This “trust me I have the evidence” bullshit is reminiscent of the false narrative that fueled the 2003 Iraq War and the more recent Trump/Russia hoax. Such a pathetic cover story is enough to make most conservatives cringe but ultimately, many conservatives were tricked into celebrating anti-American terrorism—the bombing of civilian infrastructure that housed an American news outlet.

    A pro-Israel disinformation campaign, attempting to justify the bombing, began at the Washington Free Beacon before spreading across conservative media. The Republican-aligned Beacon has a history of lying and smear campaigns. It was founded by Bil Kristol, famous for helping the Bush admin lie America into the disastrous Iraq War. It went on to fund the Fusion GPS anti-Trump research that would later, under Democrat tutelage, hire Christopher Steele, a crucial source of the Trump/Russia investigation hoax, and more recently, the Beacon reported the Jewish girl “Stabbed in the Eye” hoax as fact.

    On the same day of the AP building bombing, the Beacon published an “exclusive” to defend IDF’s missile attack on the American press in Gaza. It cited two sources: (1) a Twitter post of Beacon contributor Noah Pollak, and (2) an old article published seven years prior in 2014 by Matti Friedman, a former AP reporter, and former IDF soldier.

    Pollack’s Twitter post cited an anonymous source he described as, “a well-placed friend in the IDF,” claiming that the AP office building “contained multiple Hamas operations & offices including weapons manufacturing and military intelligence,” adding that, “The building also housed an Islamic Jihad office. And AP’s local reporters knew about it.”



    “This info will come out soon,” he said.



    Yes, that’s right. He said, “This info will come out soon.” Over three years later now, “this info” supporting his claims still hasn’t come out.

    That alone is enough to completely discredit Pollak. But he’d already proven himself uncredible. He ran the Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI) (another “clown show” created by Kristol) which even the President of the Anti-Defanation League—not exactly an anti-Israel organization—called “misleading, distorted, inaccurate”. He was also caught leading an astroturfed pro-Israel counterprotest on a college campus. (Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?)

    Nevertheless, Pollak’s completely unsubstantiated claims were published immediately by the usual suspects—Fox News, Newsmax, New York Post, etc. The Republican party-aligned outlets also followed the Beacon’s lead, citing its second source, Friedman’s 2014 article.

    Like Pollak, Friedman also had a “well-placed friend” who “suggests there were indeed Hamas offices” in the AP building.




    Oh boy, another anonymous “friend”! Despite sounding so sure of his “intimately familiar with military decision-making” friend’s secret information, Friedman also wrote on Twitter that “Contrary to what I’ve seen attributed to me today, I didn’t write [in 2014] that Hamas operated out of the same building, and don’t know if that’s true”.




    The media citing Friedman typically omitted this. And I couldn’t help but notice that the media sharing his 2014 piece in The Atlantic accusing the AP of bias, and the piece itself failed to mention his own bias—his years of service in the IDF, and his “slightly rosier view of the IDF”, according to The Times of Israel.

    Now pause for just a moment to ponder how insane it is—even if all of Friedman’s disputed 2014 claims were true—to rely on an article written in 2014 by an IDF vet, who worked at AP in 2006-2011, to justify the IDF bombing Associated Press in 2021, for which the IDF itself provided no evidence to justify.

    This is the following 2014 excerpt that made the media rounds after the 2021 bombing:

    “The AP staff in Gaza City would witness a rocket launch right beside their office, endangering reporters and other civilians nearby—and the AP wouldn’t report it, not even in AP articles about Israeli claims that Hamas was launching rockets from residential areas. (This happened.) Hamas fighters would burst into the AP’s Gaza bureau and threaten the staff—and the AP wouldn’t report it. (This also happened.) Cameramen waiting outside Shifa Hospital in Gaza City would film the arrival of civilian casualties and then, at a signal from an official, turn off their cameras when wounded and dead fighters came in, helping Hamas maintain the illusion that only civilians were dying. (This too happened; the information comes from multiple sources with firsthand knowledge of these incidents.)”

    AP’s Director of Media Relations Paul Colford said Friedman’s story was “filled with distortions, half-truths and inaccuracies”, arguing that Israel challenged the AP with as many dangerous obstacles as Hamas and that AP covered both sides of the conflict.

    [Friedman’s] arguments have been filled with distortions, half-truths and inaccuracies…

    Like other media covering this story, we dealt with numerous obstacles, including Hamas intimidation, Israeli military censorship, anti-media incitement on both sides of the border, Hamas rocket fire and intense Israeli airstrikes that made it dangerous and difficult to get around Gaza during the fighting.

    Courageous AP staffers worked around the clock in Gaza, often at the risk of great personal harm. Intense Israeli airstrikes literally shook the high-rise building housing the AP’s office. Two AP employees were ultimately killed in Gaza, and a third critically wounded and maimed. Our body of work included images and stories about Hamas rocket fire from civilian areas, the suffering of the residents of southern Israel living under the threat of rocket, mortar and tunnel-based attacks, Hamas’ summary executions of suspected collaborators, the fears of Gazans to criticize the group, Hamas’ use of civilian areas for cover and the devastation wreaked on Gazan civilians by Israeli airstrikes and artillery attacks.

    Colford confirmed that armed militants entered AP’s offices in the early days of the 2008-2009 Gaza War to intimidate AP but said that AP did not give in to the intimidation.

    Regarding a few specific issues that Mr. Friedman has raised most recently:

    The AP published numerous photos and TV footage of rockets being launched from Gaza City. AP’s Josef Federman and Hamza Hendawi collaborated on an investigation into Hamas’ use of civilian areas for rocket launches, comparing maps obtained from Israeli military intelligence to facts on the ground.

    In the early days of the war, armed militants entered the AP’s offices in Gaza to complain about a photo showing the location of a specific rocket launch. The AP immediately contacted Hamas, which insisted the men did not represent the group. The photo was not withdrawn and the men were never heard from again. Subsequent videos similarly showed rocket launches from within the urban area. Such intimidation is common in trouble spots. The AP does not report many interactions with militias, armies, thugs or governments. These incidents are part of the challenge of getting out the news — and generally not themselves news.

    The Beacon’s “exclusive” was just the beginning. The “trust us we have secret evidence” disinformation campaign continued as the pro-Israel media eagerly forwarded another empty Israeli government claim, from a nameless “senior diplomatic source”, who told the Jerusalem Post of “smoking gun” evidence that Hamas was using the same Gaza building as AP.

    “We showed [the US] the smoking gun proving Hamas worked out of that building,” a senior diplomatic source said. “I understand they found the explanation satisfactory.”

    What evidence? Who exactly did they “show”? I guess we’ll never know!

    If there’s a satisfactory explanation for why IDF bombed an American news agency, you’d think Israel and the US might want to make that known. But they haven’t.

    Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu repeated the claim of secret “smoking gun” evidence on CBS’s Face the Nation, saying, “We share with our American friends all that intelligence”.

    Hmmm. Netanyahu and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken appear friendly…

    But no, Blinken said he “had not seen any evidence”.

    When asked the next day if he’d received any evidence, Blinken didn’t quite confirm receiving anything. He said, “Um…uh…it’s my understanding that uh, we’ve uh, uh received uh, some further information through, uh, uh intelligence channels.” The only thing he actually confirmed was that it’s “not something that [he] can comment on.”

    WAPO: Yesterday you said the US requested an explanation from Israel about its bombing of a high rise building containing U.S. and foreign media offices. Have you received anything? And what’s your assessment of that?

    BLINKEN: Um. We uh. Did uh. Seek uh. Further information from, uh, Israel on this question. Uh, it’s my understanding that uh, we’ve uh, uh received uh, some further information through, uh, uh intelligence channels. And that’s not something that, that I can comment on.



    Click here to watch the video

    The following month, in June 2021, Israel’s Channel 12 news reported that IDF Lieutenant-General Aviv Kohavi said that the AP’s journalists drank coffee with Hamas each morning in the building’s cafeteria, whether they knew it or not. The AP called the comments “patently false”, noting “there was not even a cafeteria in the building”. Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz told AP that the IDF General was speaking figuratively. However, Gantz, like all the Israeli officials before him, offered AP no evidence to support IDF’s bombing of the news agencies.

    Gantz said Israel has shared its intelligence with the U.S. government. But he indicated that Israel has no intention of making the information public, saying it did not want to divulge its sources.

    As usual, the propaganda was not limited to conservative media. The Democrat Party-aligned television network CNN platformed IDF Spokesperson, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus. Asked, “Can you show us the evidence?” Cornicus replied, “That’s in process, and I’m sure that, in due time, that information will be presented.”

    It’s due time to come to grips with the reality that there is no evidence to justify the attack. Israel bombed an American news agency (with an American bomb), and the American government continues to cover for Israel and continues to fund continued death and destruction in Gaza.

    *

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    All images in this article are from the author
    When Israel Bombed AP’s Gaza Office All Global Research articles can be read in 51 languages by activating the Translate Website button below the author’s name (only available in desktop version). To receive Global Research’s Daily Newsletter (selected articles), click here. Click the share button above to email/forward this article to your friends and colleagues. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter and subscribe to our Telegram Channel. Feel free to repost and share widely Global Research articles. Global Research Wants to Hear From You! *** Wednesday was Nakba Day—the day commemorating the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians with the creation of Israel, in 1948—but there was another anniversary worth remembering. The day a foreign country bombed the offices of a major U.S. press outlet, accusing it, without evidence, of harboring terrorists. And a significant portion of the US media spun the story to support the foreign country. On May 15, 2021, as part of its “Operation Guardian of the Walls” military campaign in Gaza, Israel bombed the Associated Press offices’ building, based on the still evidence-free claim that the AP headquarters “housed Hamas”. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the week prior, IDF bombed two other office buildings that “housed more than a dozen international and local media outlets.” Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) gave the tenants of the al-Jalaa Building in Gaza—which included AP, other news agencies including Al-Jazeera, and residential homes—a stern warning. IDF informed them they had one hour to evacuate their homes before the building would be bombed by Israeli missiles. Sixty minutes and three Israeli missiles later, the 12-story building was leveled to the ground. The IDF posted a short vague statement that provided no evidence for their claim the building was being used by terrorists but made sure to repeat the term “Hamas terror organization” four times, in just four sentences—five times if you count “Hamas military intelligence” in the headline. The AP’s CEO at the time, Gary Pruitt, said the news agency had been in the building for 15 years and “we have had no indication Hamas was in the building or active in the building.” So could Israel have been lying? Well, retired US Army colonel and former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, Lawrence Wilkerson seems to think so. Let me let me preface these remarks with I never, never, ever believe Israeli figures. I’ve been in the government too long to know that the Israelis are patent liars in their intelligence community, in their propaganda community, certainly, and in their leadership. They are inveterate liars. Let me say that again. They are liars. So you can’t believe anything that comes out of Jerusalem. It’s all propaganda. The fact that Israel lied to the international press just one week prior about a fake ground invasion, to trick Hamas into giving up their positions, doesn’t help Israel’s case. On the contrary, it clearly shows that Israel puts military victory over truth, and has no respect for the press. Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus claimed that “Hamas used the building for a military intelligence office and weapons development” but “could not provide evidence” to back up the claims without “compromising” intelligence efforts. This “trust me I have the evidence” bullshit is reminiscent of the false narrative that fueled the 2003 Iraq War and the more recent Trump/Russia hoax. Such a pathetic cover story is enough to make most conservatives cringe but ultimately, many conservatives were tricked into celebrating anti-American terrorism—the bombing of civilian infrastructure that housed an American news outlet. A pro-Israel disinformation campaign, attempting to justify the bombing, began at the Washington Free Beacon before spreading across conservative media. The Republican-aligned Beacon has a history of lying and smear campaigns. It was founded by Bil Kristol, famous for helping the Bush admin lie America into the disastrous Iraq War. It went on to fund the Fusion GPS anti-Trump research that would later, under Democrat tutelage, hire Christopher Steele, a crucial source of the Trump/Russia investigation hoax, and more recently, the Beacon reported the Jewish girl “Stabbed in the Eye” hoax as fact. On the same day of the AP building bombing, the Beacon published an “exclusive” to defend IDF’s missile attack on the American press in Gaza. It cited two sources: (1) a Twitter post of Beacon contributor Noah Pollak, and (2) an old article published seven years prior in 2014 by Matti Friedman, a former AP reporter, and former IDF soldier. Pollack’s Twitter post cited an anonymous source he described as, “a well-placed friend in the IDF,” claiming that the AP office building “contained multiple Hamas operations & offices including weapons manufacturing and military intelligence,” adding that, “The building also housed an Islamic Jihad office. And AP’s local reporters knew about it.” “This info will come out soon,” he said. Yes, that’s right. He said, “This info will come out soon.” Over three years later now, “this info” supporting his claims still hasn’t come out. That alone is enough to completely discredit Pollak. But he’d already proven himself uncredible. He ran the Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI) (another “clown show” created by Kristol) which even the President of the Anti-Defanation League—not exactly an anti-Israel organization—called “misleading, distorted, inaccurate”. He was also caught leading an astroturfed pro-Israel counterprotest on a college campus. (Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?) Nevertheless, Pollak’s completely unsubstantiated claims were published immediately by the usual suspects—Fox News, Newsmax, New York Post, etc. The Republican party-aligned outlets also followed the Beacon’s lead, citing its second source, Friedman’s 2014 article. Like Pollak, Friedman also had a “well-placed friend” who “suggests there were indeed Hamas offices” in the AP building. Oh boy, another anonymous “friend”! Despite sounding so sure of his “intimately familiar with military decision-making” friend’s secret information, Friedman also wrote on Twitter that “Contrary to what I’ve seen attributed to me today, I didn’t write [in 2014] that Hamas operated out of the same building, and don’t know if that’s true”. The media citing Friedman typically omitted this. And I couldn’t help but notice that the media sharing his 2014 piece in The Atlantic accusing the AP of bias, and the piece itself failed to mention his own bias—his years of service in the IDF, and his “slightly rosier view of the IDF”, according to The Times of Israel. Now pause for just a moment to ponder how insane it is—even if all of Friedman’s disputed 2014 claims were true—to rely on an article written in 2014 by an IDF vet, who worked at AP in 2006-2011, to justify the IDF bombing Associated Press in 2021, for which the IDF itself provided no evidence to justify. This is the following 2014 excerpt that made the media rounds after the 2021 bombing: “The AP staff in Gaza City would witness a rocket launch right beside their office, endangering reporters and other civilians nearby—and the AP wouldn’t report it, not even in AP articles about Israeli claims that Hamas was launching rockets from residential areas. (This happened.) Hamas fighters would burst into the AP’s Gaza bureau and threaten the staff—and the AP wouldn’t report it. (This also happened.) Cameramen waiting outside Shifa Hospital in Gaza City would film the arrival of civilian casualties and then, at a signal from an official, turn off their cameras when wounded and dead fighters came in, helping Hamas maintain the illusion that only civilians were dying. (This too happened; the information comes from multiple sources with firsthand knowledge of these incidents.)” AP’s Director of Media Relations Paul Colford said Friedman’s story was “filled with distortions, half-truths and inaccuracies”, arguing that Israel challenged the AP with as many dangerous obstacles as Hamas and that AP covered both sides of the conflict. [Friedman’s] arguments have been filled with distortions, half-truths and inaccuracies… Like other media covering this story, we dealt with numerous obstacles, including Hamas intimidation, Israeli military censorship, anti-media incitement on both sides of the border, Hamas rocket fire and intense Israeli airstrikes that made it dangerous and difficult to get around Gaza during the fighting. Courageous AP staffers worked around the clock in Gaza, often at the risk of great personal harm. Intense Israeli airstrikes literally shook the high-rise building housing the AP’s office. Two AP employees were ultimately killed in Gaza, and a third critically wounded and maimed. Our body of work included images and stories about Hamas rocket fire from civilian areas, the suffering of the residents of southern Israel living under the threat of rocket, mortar and tunnel-based attacks, Hamas’ summary executions of suspected collaborators, the fears of Gazans to criticize the group, Hamas’ use of civilian areas for cover and the devastation wreaked on Gazan civilians by Israeli airstrikes and artillery attacks. Colford confirmed that armed militants entered AP’s offices in the early days of the 2008-2009 Gaza War to intimidate AP but said that AP did not give in to the intimidation. Regarding a few specific issues that Mr. Friedman has raised most recently: The AP published numerous photos and TV footage of rockets being launched from Gaza City. AP’s Josef Federman and Hamza Hendawi collaborated on an investigation into Hamas’ use of civilian areas for rocket launches, comparing maps obtained from Israeli military intelligence to facts on the ground. In the early days of the war, armed militants entered the AP’s offices in Gaza to complain about a photo showing the location of a specific rocket launch. The AP immediately contacted Hamas, which insisted the men did not represent the group. The photo was not withdrawn and the men were never heard from again. Subsequent videos similarly showed rocket launches from within the urban area. Such intimidation is common in trouble spots. The AP does not report many interactions with militias, armies, thugs or governments. These incidents are part of the challenge of getting out the news — and generally not themselves news. The Beacon’s “exclusive” was just the beginning. The “trust us we have secret evidence” disinformation campaign continued as the pro-Israel media eagerly forwarded another empty Israeli government claim, from a nameless “senior diplomatic source”, who told the Jerusalem Post of “smoking gun” evidence that Hamas was using the same Gaza building as AP. “We showed [the US] the smoking gun proving Hamas worked out of that building,” a senior diplomatic source said. “I understand they found the explanation satisfactory.” What evidence? Who exactly did they “show”? I guess we’ll never know! If there’s a satisfactory explanation for why IDF bombed an American news agency, you’d think Israel and the US might want to make that known. But they haven’t. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu repeated the claim of secret “smoking gun” evidence on CBS’s Face the Nation, saying, “We share with our American friends all that intelligence”. Hmmm. Netanyahu and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken appear friendly… But no, Blinken said he “had not seen any evidence”. When asked the next day if he’d received any evidence, Blinken didn’t quite confirm receiving anything. He said, “Um…uh…it’s my understanding that uh, we’ve uh, uh received uh, some further information through, uh, uh intelligence channels.” The only thing he actually confirmed was that it’s “not something that [he] can comment on.” WAPO: Yesterday you said the US requested an explanation from Israel about its bombing of a high rise building containing U.S. and foreign media offices. Have you received anything? And what’s your assessment of that? BLINKEN: Um. We uh. Did uh. Seek uh. Further information from, uh, Israel on this question. Uh, it’s my understanding that uh, we’ve uh, uh received uh, some further information through, uh, uh intelligence channels. And that’s not something that, that I can comment on. Click here to watch the video The following month, in June 2021, Israel’s Channel 12 news reported that IDF Lieutenant-General Aviv Kohavi said that the AP’s journalists drank coffee with Hamas each morning in the building’s cafeteria, whether they knew it or not. The AP called the comments “patently false”, noting “there was not even a cafeteria in the building”. Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz told AP that the IDF General was speaking figuratively. However, Gantz, like all the Israeli officials before him, offered AP no evidence to support IDF’s bombing of the news agencies. Gantz said Israel has shared its intelligence with the U.S. government. But he indicated that Israel has no intention of making the information public, saying it did not want to divulge its sources. As usual, the propaganda was not limited to conservative media. The Democrat Party-aligned television network CNN platformed IDF Spokesperson, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus. Asked, “Can you show us the evidence?” Cornicus replied, “That’s in process, and I’m sure that, in due time, that information will be presented.” It’s due time to come to grips with the reality that there is no evidence to justify the attack. Israel bombed an American news agency (with an American bomb), and the American government continues to cover for Israel and continues to fund continued death and destruction in Gaza. * Note to readers: Please click the share button above. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter and subscribe to our Telegram Channel. Feel free to repost and share widely Global Research articles. All images in this article are from the author
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  • Pre-emptive Nuclear War: The Role of Israel in Triggering an Attack on Iran
    Chapter III of "The Globalization of War" by Michel Chossudovsky


    Firmly All Global Research articles can be read in 51 languages by activating the Translate Website button below the author’s name.

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    Author’s Introduction and Update

    In a recent article entitled “A Planned US-Israeli Attack on Iran is Contemplated” I focussed on how Israel’s criminal attack on the People of Palestine could evolve towards an extended Middle East War.

    At the time of writing, US-NATO war ships –including two aircraft carriers, combat planes, not to mention a nuclear submarine– are deployed in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Red Sea, all of which are intended to confront what both Western politicians and the media casually describe as “Palestine’s Aggression against the Jewish State”.

    “Israel ranks” as “the 4th strongest military” after Russia, the U.S and China. Ask yourself: Why on earth would Israel need the support of U.S. aircraft carriers to lead a genocide against the Palestinians who are fighting for their lives with limited military capabilities.

    Is the U.S. intent upon triggering a broader war?

    “U.S. Warns Hezbollah, Iran. It Will intervene if they Escalate”

    Who is “Escalating”? The Pentagon has already intimated that it will attack Iran and Lebanon, “If they Escalate”. Is the Pentagon Seeking to Trigger one or more “False Flags”?



    Times of Israel, November 9, 2023

    Also of significance (less than 4 months prior to October 7, 2023) is the adoption on June 27, 2023 of the US Congress Resolution (H. RES. 559) which Accuses Iran of Possessing Nuclear Weapons. H.RES 559 allows the use of force against Iran, intimating that Iran has Nuclear Weapons.

    Whereas Iran is tagged (without a shred of evidence) as a Nuclear Power by the U.S. Congress, Washington fails to acknowledge that Israel is an undeclared nuclear power.





    The article below was first published in my book entitled “The Globalization of War. America’s Long War against Humanity” (2015).

    I remain indebted to the former Prime Minister of Malaysia Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad who took the initiative of launching my book in Kuala Lumpur. (image right).

    Firmly committed to “the criminalization of war”, Tun Mahathir is a powerful voice in support of Palestine.

    The article below (Chapter III of “Globalization of War”) provides analysis in a historical perspective of U.S. war plans directed against Iran.

    Numerous “war theater scenarios” for an all-out attack on Iran have been contemplated.

    Dangerous Crossroads in our History

    The current and ongoing US-NATO military deployment in The Middle East — casually presented by the media as a means to coming to the rescue of Israel– is the pinnacle of U.S. war preparations extending over a period of more than 20 years.

    Contemplated by the Pentagon in 2005 was a scenario whereby an attack by Israel would be conducted on behalf of Washington:

    “An attack by Israel could, however, be used as “the trigger mechanism” which would unleash an all-out war against Iran, as well as retaliation by Iran directed against Israel.” (quoted from text below)

    At the outset of Bush’s second term

    “Vice President Dick Cheney had hinted, in no uncertain terms, that Iran was “right at the top of the list” of the “rogue enemies” of America, and that Israel would, so to speak, “be doing the bombing for us” (Ibid)

    The article also focusses on the dangers of a US-Israel nuclear attack against Iran which has been contemplated by the Pentagon since 2004.

    The US Israel “Partnership”: “Signed” Military Agreement

    Amply documented, the U.S. Military and Intelligence apparatus is firmly behind Israel’s genocide. In the words of Lt General Richard Clark:

    Americans Troops are “prepared to die for the Jewish State”.

    What should be understood by this statement is that the US and Israel have a longstanding Military “Partnership” as well as (Jerusalem Post) a “Signed” Military Agreement (classified) regarding Israel’s attack on Gaza.

    Lt. General Richard Clark is U.S. Third Air Force Commander, among the highest-ranking military officers in the U.S. Armed Forces. While he refers to Juniper Cobra, “a joint military exercise that has been conducted for almost a decade”, his statement points to a much broader “signed” military-intelligence agreement (classified) with Israel which no doubt includes the extension of the Israeli-US bombing of Gaza to the broader Middle East.

    While this so-called “signed” military agreement remains classified (not in the public domain), it would appear that Biden is obeying the orders of the perpetrators of this diabolical military agenda.

    Does President Biden have the authority (under this “Signed” Agreement with Israel) to save the lives of innocent civilians including the children of Palestine:

    Q (Inaudible) Gaza ceasefire, Mr. President?

    THE PRESIDENT: Pardon me?

    Q What are the chances of a Gaza ceasefire?

    THE PRESIDENT: None. No possibility.

    White House Press Conference, November 9, 2023

    Lt. General Clark confirms that:

    “U.S. troops could be put under Israeli commanders in the battlefield”, which suggests that the genocide is implemented by Netanyahu on behalf of the United States.

    Everything indicates that the US military and intelligence apparatus are behind Israel’s criminal bombing and invasion of Gaza.

    We stand firmly in Solidarity with Palestine and the People of the Middle East.

    It is my intent and sincere hope that my writings (including the text below) will contribute to “Revealing the Truth” as well “Reversing the Tide of Global Warfare”.

    Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, November 17, 2023, March 10, 2024

    Pre-emptive Nuclear War:

    The Role of Israel in Triggering an Attack on Iran

    by

    Michel Chossudovsky



    Introduction

    While one can conceptualize the loss of life and destruction resulting from present-day wars including Iraq and Afghanistan, it is impossible to fully comprehend the devastation which might result from a Third World War, using “new technologies” and advanced weapons, until it occurs and becomes a reality.

    The international community has endorsed nuclear war in the name of world peace. “Making the world safer” is the justification for launching a military operation which could potentially result in a nuclear holocaust.”

    The stockpiling and deployment of advanced weapons systems directed against Iran started in the immediate wake of the 2003 bombing and invasion of Iraq. From the outset, these war plans were led by the U.S. in liaison with NATO and Israel.

    Following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration identified Iran and Syria as the next stage of “the road map to war”. U.S. military sources intimated at the time that an aerial attack on Iran could involve a large scale deployment comparable to the U.S. “shock and awe” bombing raids on Iraq in March 2003:

    American air strikes on Iran would vastly exceed the scope of the 1981 Israeli attack on the Osiraq nuclear center in Iraq, and would more resemble the opening days of the 2003 air campaign against Iraq.1

    “Theater Iran Near Term” (TIRANNT)

    Code named by U.S. military planners as TIRANNT, “Theater Iran Near Term”, simulations of an attack on Iran were initiated in May 2003 “when modelers and intelligence specialists pulled together the data needed for theater-level (meaning large-scale) scenario analysis for Iran.”2

    The scenarios identified several thousand targets inside Iran as part of a “Shock and Awe” Blitzkrieg:

    The analysis, called TIRANNT, for “Theater Iran Near Term,” was coupled with a mock scenario for a Marine Corps invasion and a simulation of the Iranian missile force. U.S. and British planners conducted a Caspian Sea war game around the same time. And Bush directed the U.S. Strategic Command to draw up a global strike war plan for an attack against Iranian weapons of mass destruction. All of this will ultimately feed into a new war plan for “major combat operations” against Iran that military sources confirm now [April 2006] exists in draft form.

    … Under TIRANNT, Army and U.S. Central Command planners have been examining both near-term and out-year scenarios for war with Iran, including all aspects of a major combat operation, from mobilization and deployment of forces through postwar stability operations after regime change.3

    Different “theater scenarios” for an all-out attack on Iran had been contemplated:

    The U.S. army, navy, air force and marines have all prepared battle plans and spent four years building bases and training for “Operation Iranian Freedom”. Admiral Fallon, the new head of U.S. Central Command, has inherited computerized plans under the name TIRANNT (Theatre Iran Near Term).4

    In 2004, drawing upon the initial war scenarios under TIRANNT, Vice President Dick Cheney instructed U.S. Strategic Command (U.S.STRATCOM) to draw up a “contingency plan” of a large scale military operation directed against Iran “to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States” on the presumption that the government in Tehran would be behind the terrorist plot. The plan included the pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state:

    The plan includes a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons. Within Iran there are more than four hundred fifty major strategic targets, including numerous suspected nuclear-weapons-program develop- ment sites. Many of the targets are hardened or are deep underground and could not be taken out by conventional weapons, hence the nuclear option. As in the case of Iraq, the response is not conditional on Iran actually being involved in the act of ter- rorism directed against the United States. Several senior Air Force officers involved in the planning are reportedly appalled at the implications of what they are doing –that Iran is being set up for an unprovoked nuclear attack– but no one is prepared to dam- age his career by posing any objections.5

    The Military Road Map: “First Iraq, then Iran”

    The decision to target Iran under TIRANNT was part of the broader process of military planning and sequencing of military operations. Already under the Clinton administration (1995), U.S. Central Command (U.S.CENTCOM) had formulated “in war theater plans” to invade first Iraq and then Iran. Access to Middle East oil was the stated strategic objective:

    The broad national security interests and objectives expressed in the President’s National Security Strategy (NSS) and the Chairman’s National Military Strategy (NMS) form the foundation of the United States Central Command’s theater strategy. The NSS directs implementation of a strategy of dual containment of the rogue states of Iraq and Iran as long as those states pose a threat to U.S. interests, to other states in the region, and to their own citizens. Dual containment is designed to maintain the balance of power in the region without depending on either Iraq or Iran. U.S.CENTCOM’s theater strategy is interest-based and threat-focused. The purpose of U.S. engagement, as espoused in the NSS, is to protect the United States’ vital interest in the region – uninterrupted, secure U.S./Allied access to Gulf oil.6

    The war on Iran was viewed as part of a succession of military operations. According to (former) NATO Commander General Wesley Clark, the Pentagon’s military road-map consisted of a sequence of countries:

    [The] Five-year campaign plan [includes]… a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan.6 (For further details, see Chapter I)

    The Role of Israel

    There has been much debate regarding the role of Israel in initiating an attack against Iran.

    Israel is part of a military alliance. Tel Aviv is not a prime mover. It does not have a separate and distinct military agenda.

    Israel is integrated into the “war plan for major combat operations” against Iran formulated in 2006 by U.S. Strategic Command (U.S.STRATCOM). In the context of large scale military operations, an uncoordinated unilateral military action by one coalition partner, namely Israel, is from a military and strategic point almost an impossibility. Israel is a de facto member of NATO. Any action by Israel would require a “green light” from Washington.

    An attack by Israel could, however, be used as “the trigger mechanism” which would unleash an all-out war against Iran, as well as retaliation by Iran directed against Israel.

    In this regard, there are indications going back to the Bush administration that Washington had indeed contemplated the option of an initial (U.S. backed) attack by Israel rather than an outright U.S.-led military operation directed against Iran.

    The Israeli attack –although led in close liaison with the Pentagon and NATO– would have been presented to public opinion as a unilateral decision by Tel Aviv. It would then have been used by Washington to justify, in the eyes of World opinion, a military intervention of the U.S. and NATO with a view to “defending Israel”, rather than attacking Iran. Under existing military cooperation agreements, both the U.S. and NATO would be “obligated” to “defend Israel” against Iran and Syria.

    It is worth noting, in this regard, that at the outset of Bush’s second term, (former) Vice President Dick Cheney had hinted, in no uncertain terms, that Iran was “right at the top of the list” of the “rogue enemies” of America, and that Israel would, so to speak, “be doing the bombing for us”, without U.S. military involvement and without us putting pressure on them “to do it.”8

    According to Cheney:

    One of the concerns people have is that Israel might do it without being asked. …Given the fact that Iran has a stated policy that their objective is the destruction of Israel, the Israelis might well decide to act first, and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterwards.9

    Commenting the Vice President’s assertion, former National Security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski in an interview on PBS, confirmed with some apprehension, yes: Cheney wants Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to act on America’s behalf and “do it” for us:

    Iran I think is more ambiguous. And there the issue is certainly not tyranny; it’s nuclear weapons. And the vice president today in a kind of a strange parallel statement to this declaration of freedom hinted that the Israelis may do it and in fact used language which sounds like a justification or even an encouragement for the Israelis to do it.10

    What we are dealing with is a process of joint U.S.-NATO-Israel military planning. An operation to bomb Iran has been in the active planning stage since 2004. Officials in the Defense Department, under Bush and Obama, have been working assiduously with their Israeli military and intelligence counterparts, carefully identifying targets inside Iran. In practical military terms, any action by Israel would have to be planned and coordinated at the highest levels of the U.S. led coalition.

    Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Vice President Dick Cheney discuss a vision of peace for Israel and Palestine as they conduct a press briefing in Jerusalem, Israel, March 19, 2002.

    Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Vice President Dick Cheney discuss a vision of peace for Israel and Palestine as they conduct a press briefing in Jerusalem, Israel, March 19, 2002. “It is our hope that the current violence and terrorism will be replaced by reconciliation and the rebuilding of mutual trust,” said the Vice President. (Source)

    An attack by Israel against Iran would also require coordinated U.S.-NATO logistical support, particularly with regard to Israel’s air defense system, which since January 2009 is fully integrated into that of the U.S. and NATO.11

    Israel’s X band radar system established in early 2009 with U.S. technical support has “integrate[d] Israel’s missile defenses with the U.S. global missile [Space-based] detection network, which includes satellites, Aegis ships on the Mediterranean, Persian Gulf and Red Sea, and land-based Patriot radars and interceptors.”12

    What this means is that Washington ultimately calls the shots. The U.S. rather than Israel controls the air defense system:

    This is and will remain a U.S. radar system,’ Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said.

    ‘So this is not something we are giving or selling to the Israelis and it is something that will likely require U.S. personnel on-site to operate.13

    The U.S. military oversees Israel’s Air Defense system, which is integrated into the Pentagon’s global system. In other words, Israel cannot launch a war against Iran without Washington’s consent. Hence the importance of the so-called “Green Light” legislation in the U.S. Congress sponsored by the Republican party under House Resolution 1553, which explicitly supported an Israeli attack on Iran:

    The measure, introduced by Texas Republican Louie Gohmert and 46 of his colleagues, endorses Israel’s use of “all means necessary” against Iran “including the use of military force.” … “We’ve got to get this done. We need to show our support for Israel. We need to quit playing games with this critical ally in such a difficult area”.14

    In practice, the proposed legislation serves as a “Green Light” to the White House and the Pentagon rather than to Israel. It constitutes a rubber stamp to a U.S. sponsored war on Iran which uses Israel as a convenient military launch pad. It also serves as a justification to wage war with a view to defending Israel.

    In this context, Israel could indeed provide the pretext to wage war, in response to alleged Hamas or Hezbollah attacks and/or the triggering of hostilities on the border of Israel with Lebanon. What is crucial to understand is that a minor “incident” could be used as a pretext to spark off a major military operation against Iran.

    Known to U.S. military planners, Israel (rather than the U.S.A) would be the first target of military retaliation by Iran. Broadly speaking, Israelis would be the victims of the machinations of both Washington and their own government. It is, in this regard, absolutely crucial that Israelis forcefully oppose any action by the Netanyahu government to attack Iran.

    Global Warfare: The Role of U.S. Strategic Command (U.S.STRATCOM)

    In January 2005, at the outset of the military deployment and build-up directed against Iran, U.S.STRATCOM was identified as “the lead Combatant Command for integration and synchronization of DoD-wide efforts in combating weapons of mass destruction.”15 What this means is that the coordination of a large scale attack on Iran, including the various scenarios of escalation in and beyond the broader Middle East Central Asian region would be coordinated by U.S.STRATCOM. (See Chapter I).

    Confirmed by military documents as well as official statements, both the U.S. and Israel contemplate the use of nuclear weapons directed against Iran. In 2006, U.S. Strategic Command (U.S.STRATCOM) announced it had achieved an operational capability for rapidly striking targets around the globe using nuclear or conventional weapons. This announcement was made after the conduct of military simulations pertaining to a U.S. led nuclear attack against a fictional country.16

    Continuity in Relation to the Bush-Cheney Era

    President Obama has largely endorsed the doctrine of pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons formulated by the previous administration. Under the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, the Obama administration confirmed “that it is reserving the right to use nuclear weapons against Iran” for its non-compliance with U.S. demands regarding its alleged (nonexistent) nuclear weapons program.17 The Obama administration has also intimated that it would use nukes in the case of an Iranian response to an Israeli attack on Iran. Israel has also drawn up its own “secret plans” to bomb Iran with tactical nuclear weapons:

    Israeli military commanders believe conventional strikes may no longer be enough to annihilate increasingly well-defended enrichment facilities. Several have been built beneath at least 70ft of concrete and rock. However, the nuclear-tipped bunker-busters would be used only if a conventional attack was ruled out and if the United States declined to intervene, senior sources said.18

    Obama’s statements on the use of nuclear weapons against Iran and North Korea are consistent with post-9/11 U.S. nuclear weapons doctrine, which allows for the use of tactical nuclear weapons in the conventional war theater.

    Through a propaganda campaign which has enlisted the support of “authoritative” nuclear scientists, mini-nukes are upheld as an instrument of peace, namely a means to combating “Islamic terrorism” and instating Western style “democracy” in Iran. The low-yield nukes have been cleared for “battlefield use”. They are slated to be used against Iran and Syria in the next stage of America’s “War on Terrorism” alongside conventional weapons:

    Administration officials argue that low-yield nuclear weapons are needed as a credible deterrent against rogue states. [Iran, Syria, North Korea] Their logic is that existing nuclear weapons are too destructive to be used except in a full-scale nuclear war. Potential enemies realize this, thus they do not consider the threat of nuclear retaliation to be credible. However, low-yield nuclear weapons are less destructive, thus might conceivably be used. That would make them more effective as a deterrent.19

    The preferred nuclear weapon to be used against Iran are tactical nuclear weapons (Made in America), namely bunker buster bombs with nuclear warheads (for example, B61-11), with an explosive capacity between one third to six times a Hiroshima bomb.

    The B61-11 is the “nuclear version” of the “conventional” BLU 113. or Guided Bomb Unit GBU-28. It can be delivered in much same way as the conventional bunker buster bomb.20 While the U.S. does not contemplate the use of strategic thermonuclear weapons against Iran, Israel’s nuclear arsenal is largely composed of thermonuclear bombs which are deployed and could be used in a war with Iran. Under Israel’s Jericho III missile system with a range between 4,800 km to 6,500 km, all Iran would be within reach.

    Radioactive Fallout

    The issue of radioactive fallout and contamination, while casually dismissed by U.S.-NATO military analysts, would be devastating, potentially affecting a large area of the broader Middle East (including Israel) and Central Asian region.

    In an utterly twisted logic, nuclear weapons are presented as a means to building peace and preventing “collateral damage”. Iran’s nonexistent nuclear weapons are a threat to global security, whereas those of the U.S. and Israel are instruments of peace “harmless to the surrounding civilian population.”

    “The Mother of All Bombs” (MOAB) Slated to be Used against Iran?

    Of military significance within the U.S. conventional weapons arsenal is the 21,500-pound “monster weapon” nicknamed the “mother of all bombs” The GBU-43/B or Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb (MOAB) was categorized “as the most powerful non-nuclear weapon ever designed” with the the largest yield in the U.S. conventional arsenal. The MOAB was tested in early March 2003 before being deployed to the Iraq war theater. According to U.S. military sources, the Joint Chiefs of Staff had advised the government of Saddam Hussein prior to launching the 2003 that the “mother of all bombs” was to be used against Iraq. (There were unconfirmed reports that it had been used in Iraq).

    The U.S. Department of Defense already confirmed in 2009 that it intends to use the “Mother of All Bombs” (MOAB) against Iran. The MOAB is said to be ”ideally suited to hit deeply buried nuclear facilities such as Natanz or Qom in Iran”21. The truth of the matter is that the MOAB, given its explosive capacity, would result in significant civilian casualties. It is a conventional “killing machine” with a nuclear type mushroom cloud.



    The procurement of four MOABs was commissioned in October 2009 at the hefty cost of $58.4 million, ($14.6 million for each bomb). This amount includes the costs of development and testing as well as integration of the MOAB bombs onto B-2 stealth bombers. This procurement is directly linked to war preparations in relation to Iran. The notification was contained in a ninety-three-page “reprograming memo” which included the following instructions:

    “The Department has an Urgent Operational Need (UON) for the capability to strike hard and deeply buried targets in high threat environments. The MOAB [Mother of All Bombs] is the weapon of choice to meet the requirements of the UON [Urgent Operational Need].” It further states that the request is endorsed by Pacific Command (which has responsibility over North Korea) and Central Command (which has responsibility over Iran).23

    The Pentagon is planning on a process of extensive destruction of Iran’s infrastructure and mass civilian casualties through the combined use of tactical nukes and monster conventional mushroom cloud bombs, including the MOAB and the larger GBU-57A/B or Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP), which surpasses the MOAB in terms of explosive capacity.

    The MOP is described as “a powerful new bomb aimed squarely at the underground nuclear facilities of Iran and North Korea. The gargantuan bomb–longer than eleven persons standing shoulder-to-shoulder or more than twenty feet base to nose”.24

    These are WMDs in the true sense of the word. The not so hidden objective of the MOAB and MOP, including the American nickname used to casually describe the MOAB (“Mother of all Bombs”), is “mass destruction” and mass civilian casualties with a view to instilling fear and despair.

    State of the Art Weaponry: “War Made Possible Through New Technologies”

    The process of U.S. military decision making in relation to Iran is supported by Star Wars, the militarization of outer space and the revolution in communications and information systems. Given the advances in military technology and the development of new weapons systems, an attack on Iran could be significantly different in terms of the mix of weapons systems, when compared to the March 2003 Blitzkrieg launched against Iraq. The Iran operation is slated to use the most advanced weapons systems in support of its aerial attacks. In all likelihood, new weapons systems will be tested.

    The 2000 Project for the New American Century (PNAC) document entitled Rebuilding American Defenses, outlined the mandate of the U.S. military in terms of large scale theater wars, to be waged simultaneously in different regions of the World: “Fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars”. (See Chapter I)



    This formulation is tantamount to a global war of conquest by a single imperial superpower.

    The PNAC document also called for the transformation of U.S. forces to exploit the “revolution in military affairs”, namely the implementation of “war made possible through new technologies”.25 The latter consists in developing and perfecting a state of the art global killing machine based on an arsenal of sophisticated new weaponry, which would eventually replace the existing paradigms.

    Thus, it can be foreseen that the process of transformation will in fact be a two-stage process: first of transition, then of more thoroughgoing transformation. The breakpoint will come when a preponderance of new weapons systems begins to enter service, perhaps when, for example, unmanned aerial vehicles begin to be as numerous as manned aircraft. In this regard, the Pentagon should be very wary of making large investments in new programs –tanks, planes, aircraft carriers, for example– that would commit U.S. forces to current paradigms of warfare for many decades to come.26

    The war on Iran could indeed mark this crucial break-point, with new space-based weapons systems being applied with a view to disabling an enemy which has significant conventional military capabilities including more than half a million ground forces.

    Electromagnetic Weapons

    Electromagnetic weapons could be used to destabilize Iran’s communications systems, disable electric power generation, undermine and destabilize command and control, government infrastructure, transportation, energy, etc. Within the same family of weapons, environmental modifications techniques (ENMOD) (weather warfare) developed under the HAARP program could also be applied.27 These weapons systems are fully operational. In this context, the U.S. Air Force document AF 2025 explicitly acknowledged the military applications of weather modification technologies:

    Weather modification will become a part of domestic and international security and could be done unilaterally. … It could have offensive and defensive applications and even be used for deterrence purposes. The ability to generate precipitation, fog, and storms on earth or to modify space weather, improve communications through ionospheric modification (the use of ionospheric mirrors), and the production of artificial weather all are a part of an integrated set of technologies which can provide substantial increase in U.S., or degraded capability in an adversary, to achieve global awareness, reach, and power.28

    Electromagnetic radiation enabling “remote health impairment” might also be envisaged in the war theater.29 In turn, new uses of biological weapons by the U.S. military might also be envisaged as suggested by the PNAC: “[A]dvanced forms of biological warfare that can ‘target’ specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool.”30

    Iran’s Military Capabilities: Medium and Long-range Missiles

    Iran has advanced military capabilities, including medium and long-range missiles capable of reaching targets in Israel and the Gulf States. Hence the emphasis by the U.S.-NATO Israel alliance on the use of nuclear weapons, which are slated to be used either pre-emptively or in response to an Iranian retaliatory missile attack.

    In November 2006, Iran tests of surface missiles two were marked by precise planning in a carefully staged operation. According to a senior American missile expert, “the Iranians demonstrated up-to-date missile-launching technology which the West had not known them to possess.”31 Israel acknowledged that “the Shehab-3, whose 2,000-km range brings Israel, the Middle East and Europe within reach”.32

    According to Uzi Rubin, former head of Israel’s anti-ballistic missile program, “the intensity of the military exercise was unprecedented… It was meant to make an impression – and it made an impression.”33

    The 2006 exercises, while creating a political stir in the U.S. and Israel, did not in any way modify U.S.-NATO-Israeli resolve to wage war on Iran.

    Tehran has confirmed in several statements that it will respond if it is attacked. Israel would be the immediate object of Iranian missile attacks as confirmed by the Iranian government. The issue of Israel’s air defense system is therefore crucial. U.S. and allied military facilities in the Gulf states, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Iraq could also be targeted by Iran.

    Iran’s Ground Forces

    While Iran is encircled by U.S. and allied military bases, the Islamic Republic has significant military capabilities. What is important to acknowledge is the sheer size of Iranian forces in terms of personnel (army, navy, air force) when compared to U.S. and NATO forces serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Confronted with a well-organized insurgency, coalition forces are already overstretched in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Would these forces be able to cope if Iranian ground forces were to enter the existing battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan? The potential of the Resistance movement to U.S. and allied occupation would inevitably be affected.

    Iranian ground forces are of the order of 700,000 of which 130,000 are professional soldiers, 220,000 are conscripts and 350,000 are reservists.34 There are 18,000 personnel in Iran’s Navy and 52,000 in the Air Force. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, “the Revolutionary Guards has an estimated 125,000 personnel in five branches: Its own Navy, Air Force, and Ground Forces; and the Quds Force (Special Forces).”

    According to the CISS, Iran’s Basij paramilitary volunteer force controlled by the Revolu- tionary Guards “has an estimated 90,000 active-duty full-time uniformed members, 300,000 reservists, and a total of 11 million men that can be mobilized if need be”35, In other words, Iran can mobilize up to half a million regular troops and several million militia. Its Quds special forces are already operating inside Iraq.

    U.S. Military and Allied Facilities Surrounding Iran

    For several years now, Iran has been conducting its own war drills and exercises. While its Air Force has weaknesses, its intermediate and long-range missiles are fully operational. Iran’s military is in a state of readiness. Iranian troop concentrations are currently within a few kilometers of the Iraqi and Afghan borders, and within proximity of Kuwait. The Iranian Navy is deployed in the Persian Gulf within proximity of U.S. and allied military facilities in the United Arab Emirates.

    It is worth noting that in response to Iran’s military build-up, the U.S. has been transferring large amounts of weapons to its non-NATO allies in the Persian Gulf including Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

    While Iran’s advanced weapons do not measure up to those of the U.S. and NATO, Iranian forces would be in a position to inflict substantial losses to coalition forces in a conventional war theater, on the ground in Iraq or Afghanistan. Iranian ground troops and tanks in December 2009 crossed the border into Iraq without being confronted or challenged by allied forces and occupied a disputed territory in the East Maysan oil field.

    Even in the event of an effective Blitzkrieg, which targets Iran’s military facilities, its communications systems etc., through massive aerial bombing, using cruise missiles, conventional bunker buster bombs and tactical nuclear weapons, a war with Iran, once initiated, could eventually lead into a ground war. This is something which U.S. military planners have no doubt contemplated in their simulated war scenarios.

    An operation of this nature would result in significant military and civilian casualties, particularly if nuclear weapons are used.

    Within a scenario of escalation, Iranian troops could cross the border into Iraq and Afghanistan.

    In turn, military escalation using nuclear weapons could lead us into a World War III scenario, extending beyond the Middle-East – Central Asian region.

    In a very real sense, this military project, which has been on the Pentagon’s drawing board for more than ten years, threatens the future of humanity.

    Our focus in this chapter has been on war preparations. The fact that war preparations are in an advanced state of readiness does not imply that these war plans will be carried out.

    The U.S.-NATO-Israel alliance realizes that the enemy has significant capabilities to respond and retaliate. This factor in itself has been crucial in the decision by the U.S. and its allies to postpone an attack on Iran.

    Another crucial factor is the structure of military alliances. Whereas NATO has become a formidable force, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which constitutes an alliance between Russia and China and a number of former Soviet Republics has been significantly weakened.

    The ongoing U.S. military threats directed against China and Russia are intended to weaken the SCO and discourage any form of military action on the part of Iran’s allies in the case of a U.S. NATO Israeli attack.

    Video Interview: Michel Chossudovsky and Caroline Mailloux

    November 2023 Interview

    Notes

    1. See Target Iran – Air Strikes, Globalsecurity.org, undated.

    2. William Arkin, Washington Post, April 16, 2006.

    3. Ibid.

    4. New Statesman, February 19, 2007.

    5. Philip Giraldi, Deep Background,The American Conservative August 2005.

    6. U.S.CENTCOM, http://www.milnet.com/milnet/pentagon/centcom/chap1/stratgic.htm#U.S.Policy, link no longer active,

    archived at http://tinyurl.com/37gafu9.

    7. General Wesley Clark, for further details see Chapter I.

    8. See Michel Chossudovsky, Planned U.S.-Israeli Attack on Iran, Global Research, May 1, 2005.

    9. Dick Cheney, quoted from an MSNBC Interview, January 2005.

    10. According to Zbigniew Brzezinski.

    11. Michel Chossudovsky, Unusually Large U.S. Weapons Shipment to Israel: Are the U.S. and Israel Planning a Broader Middle East War? Global Research, January 11, 2009.

    12. Defense Talk.com, January 6, 2009.

    13. Quoted in Israel National News, January 9, 2009.

    14. Webster Tarpley, Fidel Castro Warns of Imminent Nuclear War; Admiral Mullen Threatens Iran; U.S.-Israel versus Iran-Hezbollah Confrontation Builds On, Global Research, August 10, 2010.

    15. Michel Chossudovsky, Nuclear War against Iran, Global Research, January 3, 2006.

    16. David Ruppe, Pre-emptive Nuclear War in a State of Readiness: U.S. Command Declares Global Strike Ca- pability, Global Security Newswire, December 2, 2005.

    17. U.S. Nuclear Option on Iran Linked to Israeli Attack Threat – IPS ipsnews.net, April 23, 2010.

    18. Revealed: Israel plans nuclear strike on Iran – Times Online, January 7, 2007.

    19. Opponents Surprised By Elimination of Nuke Research Funds, Defense News, November 29, 2004.

    20. See Michel Chossudovsky, “Tactical Nuclear Weapons” against Afghanistan?, Global Research, December 5, 2001. See also http://www.thebulletin.org/article_nn.php?art_ofn=jf03norris.

    21. Jonathan Karl, Is the U.S. Preparing to Bomb Iran? ABC News, October 9, 2009.

    22. Ibid.

    23. ABC News, op cit, emphasis added. To consult the reprogramming request (pdf) click here.

    24. See Edwin Black, “Super Bunker-Buster Bombs Fast-Tracked for Possible Use Against Iran and North Korea Nuclear Programs”, Cutting Edge, September 21, 2009.

    25. See Project for a New American Century, Rebuilding America’s Defenses Washington DC, September 2000, pdf.

    26. Ibid, emphasis added.

    27. See Michel Chossudovsky, “Owning the Weather” for Military Use, Global Research, September 27, 2004. 28. Air
    Force 2025 Final Report, See also U.S. Air Force: Weather as a Force Multiplier: Owning the Weather in 2025, AF2025
    v3c15-1.

    29. See Mojmir Babacek, Electromagnetic and Informational Weapons:, Global Research, August 6, 2004.

    30. Project for a New American Century, op cit., p. 60.

    31. See Michel Chossudovsky, Iran’s “Power of Deterrence” Global Research, November 5, 2006.

    32. Debka, November 5, 2006.

    33. www.cnsnews.com November 3, 2006.

    34. See Islamic Republic of Iran Army – Wikipedia.

    Featured image is from The Libertarian Institute

    The Globalization of War: America’s “Long War” against Humanity

    Michel Chossudovsky

    The “globalization of war” is a hegemonic project. Major military and covert intelligence operations are being undertaken simultaneously in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia and the Far East. The U.S. military agenda combines both major theater operations as well as covert actions geared towards destabilizing sovereign states.

    ISBN Number: 978-0-9879389-0-9

    Year: 2015
    Pages: 240 Pages
    Price: $9.40

    Click here to order.
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    https://www.globalresearch.ca/pre-emptive-nuclear-war-the-role-of-israel-in-triggering-an-attack-on-iran/5840256


    https://telegra.ph/Nuclear-war-03-10
    Pre-emptive Nuclear War: The Role of Israel in Triggering an Attack on Iran Chapter III of "The Globalization of War" by Michel Chossudovsky Firmly All Global Research articles can be read in 51 languages by activating the Translate Website button below the author’s name. To receive Global Research’s Daily Newsletter (selected articles), click here. Click the share button above to email/forward this article to your friends and colleagues. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter and subscribe to our Telegram Channel. Feel free to repost and share widely Global Research articles. Author’s Introduction and Update In a recent article entitled “A Planned US-Israeli Attack on Iran is Contemplated” I focussed on how Israel’s criminal attack on the People of Palestine could evolve towards an extended Middle East War. At the time of writing, US-NATO war ships –including two aircraft carriers, combat planes, not to mention a nuclear submarine– are deployed in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Red Sea, all of which are intended to confront what both Western politicians and the media casually describe as “Palestine’s Aggression against the Jewish State”. “Israel ranks” as “the 4th strongest military” after Russia, the U.S and China. Ask yourself: Why on earth would Israel need the support of U.S. aircraft carriers to lead a genocide against the Palestinians who are fighting for their lives with limited military capabilities. Is the U.S. intent upon triggering a broader war? “U.S. Warns Hezbollah, Iran. It Will intervene if they Escalate” Who is “Escalating”? The Pentagon has already intimated that it will attack Iran and Lebanon, “If they Escalate”. Is the Pentagon Seeking to Trigger one or more “False Flags”? Times of Israel, November 9, 2023 Also of significance (less than 4 months prior to October 7, 2023) is the adoption on June 27, 2023 of the US Congress Resolution (H. RES. 559) which Accuses Iran of Possessing Nuclear Weapons. H.RES 559 allows the use of force against Iran, intimating that Iran has Nuclear Weapons. Whereas Iran is tagged (without a shred of evidence) as a Nuclear Power by the U.S. Congress, Washington fails to acknowledge that Israel is an undeclared nuclear power. The article below was first published in my book entitled “The Globalization of War. America’s Long War against Humanity” (2015). I remain indebted to the former Prime Minister of Malaysia Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad who took the initiative of launching my book in Kuala Lumpur. (image right). Firmly committed to “the criminalization of war”, Tun Mahathir is a powerful voice in support of Palestine. The article below (Chapter III of “Globalization of War”) provides analysis in a historical perspective of U.S. war plans directed against Iran. Numerous “war theater scenarios” for an all-out attack on Iran have been contemplated. Dangerous Crossroads in our History The current and ongoing US-NATO military deployment in The Middle East — casually presented by the media as a means to coming to the rescue of Israel– is the pinnacle of U.S. war preparations extending over a period of more than 20 years. Contemplated by the Pentagon in 2005 was a scenario whereby an attack by Israel would be conducted on behalf of Washington: “An attack by Israel could, however, be used as “the trigger mechanism” which would unleash an all-out war against Iran, as well as retaliation by Iran directed against Israel.” (quoted from text below) At the outset of Bush’s second term “Vice President Dick Cheney had hinted, in no uncertain terms, that Iran was “right at the top of the list” of the “rogue enemies” of America, and that Israel would, so to speak, “be doing the bombing for us” (Ibid) The article also focusses on the dangers of a US-Israel nuclear attack against Iran which has been contemplated by the Pentagon since 2004. The US Israel “Partnership”: “Signed” Military Agreement Amply documented, the U.S. Military and Intelligence apparatus is firmly behind Israel’s genocide. In the words of Lt General Richard Clark: Americans Troops are “prepared to die for the Jewish State”. What should be understood by this statement is that the US and Israel have a longstanding Military “Partnership” as well as (Jerusalem Post) a “Signed” Military Agreement (classified) regarding Israel’s attack on Gaza. Lt. General Richard Clark is U.S. Third Air Force Commander, among the highest-ranking military officers in the U.S. Armed Forces. While he refers to Juniper Cobra, “a joint military exercise that has been conducted for almost a decade”, his statement points to a much broader “signed” military-intelligence agreement (classified) with Israel which no doubt includes the extension of the Israeli-US bombing of Gaza to the broader Middle East. While this so-called “signed” military agreement remains classified (not in the public domain), it would appear that Biden is obeying the orders of the perpetrators of this diabolical military agenda. Does President Biden have the authority (under this “Signed” Agreement with Israel) to save the lives of innocent civilians including the children of Palestine: Q (Inaudible) Gaza ceasefire, Mr. President? THE PRESIDENT: Pardon me? Q What are the chances of a Gaza ceasefire? THE PRESIDENT: None. No possibility. White House Press Conference, November 9, 2023 Lt. General Clark confirms that: “U.S. troops could be put under Israeli commanders in the battlefield”, which suggests that the genocide is implemented by Netanyahu on behalf of the United States. Everything indicates that the US military and intelligence apparatus are behind Israel’s criminal bombing and invasion of Gaza. We stand firmly in Solidarity with Palestine and the People of the Middle East. It is my intent and sincere hope that my writings (including the text below) will contribute to “Revealing the Truth” as well “Reversing the Tide of Global Warfare”. Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, November 17, 2023, March 10, 2024 Pre-emptive Nuclear War: The Role of Israel in Triggering an Attack on Iran by Michel Chossudovsky Introduction While one can conceptualize the loss of life and destruction resulting from present-day wars including Iraq and Afghanistan, it is impossible to fully comprehend the devastation which might result from a Third World War, using “new technologies” and advanced weapons, until it occurs and becomes a reality. The international community has endorsed nuclear war in the name of world peace. “Making the world safer” is the justification for launching a military operation which could potentially result in a nuclear holocaust.” The stockpiling and deployment of advanced weapons systems directed against Iran started in the immediate wake of the 2003 bombing and invasion of Iraq. From the outset, these war plans were led by the U.S. in liaison with NATO and Israel. Following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration identified Iran and Syria as the next stage of “the road map to war”. U.S. military sources intimated at the time that an aerial attack on Iran could involve a large scale deployment comparable to the U.S. “shock and awe” bombing raids on Iraq in March 2003: American air strikes on Iran would vastly exceed the scope of the 1981 Israeli attack on the Osiraq nuclear center in Iraq, and would more resemble the opening days of the 2003 air campaign against Iraq.1 “Theater Iran Near Term” (TIRANNT) Code named by U.S. military planners as TIRANNT, “Theater Iran Near Term”, simulations of an attack on Iran were initiated in May 2003 “when modelers and intelligence specialists pulled together the data needed for theater-level (meaning large-scale) scenario analysis for Iran.”2 The scenarios identified several thousand targets inside Iran as part of a “Shock and Awe” Blitzkrieg: The analysis, called TIRANNT, for “Theater Iran Near Term,” was coupled with a mock scenario for a Marine Corps invasion and a simulation of the Iranian missile force. U.S. and British planners conducted a Caspian Sea war game around the same time. And Bush directed the U.S. Strategic Command to draw up a global strike war plan for an attack against Iranian weapons of mass destruction. All of this will ultimately feed into a new war plan for “major combat operations” against Iran that military sources confirm now [April 2006] exists in draft form. … Under TIRANNT, Army and U.S. Central Command planners have been examining both near-term and out-year scenarios for war with Iran, including all aspects of a major combat operation, from mobilization and deployment of forces through postwar stability operations after regime change.3 Different “theater scenarios” for an all-out attack on Iran had been contemplated: The U.S. army, navy, air force and marines have all prepared battle plans and spent four years building bases and training for “Operation Iranian Freedom”. Admiral Fallon, the new head of U.S. Central Command, has inherited computerized plans under the name TIRANNT (Theatre Iran Near Term).4 In 2004, drawing upon the initial war scenarios under TIRANNT, Vice President Dick Cheney instructed U.S. Strategic Command (U.S.STRATCOM) to draw up a “contingency plan” of a large scale military operation directed against Iran “to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States” on the presumption that the government in Tehran would be behind the terrorist plot. The plan included the pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state: The plan includes a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons. Within Iran there are more than four hundred fifty major strategic targets, including numerous suspected nuclear-weapons-program develop- ment sites. Many of the targets are hardened or are deep underground and could not be taken out by conventional weapons, hence the nuclear option. As in the case of Iraq, the response is not conditional on Iran actually being involved in the act of ter- rorism directed against the United States. Several senior Air Force officers involved in the planning are reportedly appalled at the implications of what they are doing –that Iran is being set up for an unprovoked nuclear attack– but no one is prepared to dam- age his career by posing any objections.5 The Military Road Map: “First Iraq, then Iran” The decision to target Iran under TIRANNT was part of the broader process of military planning and sequencing of military operations. Already under the Clinton administration (1995), U.S. Central Command (U.S.CENTCOM) had formulated “in war theater plans” to invade first Iraq and then Iran. Access to Middle East oil was the stated strategic objective: The broad national security interests and objectives expressed in the President’s National Security Strategy (NSS) and the Chairman’s National Military Strategy (NMS) form the foundation of the United States Central Command’s theater strategy. The NSS directs implementation of a strategy of dual containment of the rogue states of Iraq and Iran as long as those states pose a threat to U.S. interests, to other states in the region, and to their own citizens. Dual containment is designed to maintain the balance of power in the region without depending on either Iraq or Iran. U.S.CENTCOM’s theater strategy is interest-based and threat-focused. The purpose of U.S. engagement, as espoused in the NSS, is to protect the United States’ vital interest in the region – uninterrupted, secure U.S./Allied access to Gulf oil.6 The war on Iran was viewed as part of a succession of military operations. According to (former) NATO Commander General Wesley Clark, the Pentagon’s military road-map consisted of a sequence of countries: [The] Five-year campaign plan [includes]… a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan.6 (For further details, see Chapter I) The Role of Israel There has been much debate regarding the role of Israel in initiating an attack against Iran. Israel is part of a military alliance. Tel Aviv is not a prime mover. It does not have a separate and distinct military agenda. Israel is integrated into the “war plan for major combat operations” against Iran formulated in 2006 by U.S. Strategic Command (U.S.STRATCOM). In the context of large scale military operations, an uncoordinated unilateral military action by one coalition partner, namely Israel, is from a military and strategic point almost an impossibility. Israel is a de facto member of NATO. Any action by Israel would require a “green light” from Washington. An attack by Israel could, however, be used as “the trigger mechanism” which would unleash an all-out war against Iran, as well as retaliation by Iran directed against Israel. In this regard, there are indications going back to the Bush administration that Washington had indeed contemplated the option of an initial (U.S. backed) attack by Israel rather than an outright U.S.-led military operation directed against Iran. The Israeli attack –although led in close liaison with the Pentagon and NATO– would have been presented to public opinion as a unilateral decision by Tel Aviv. It would then have been used by Washington to justify, in the eyes of World opinion, a military intervention of the U.S. and NATO with a view to “defending Israel”, rather than attacking Iran. Under existing military cooperation agreements, both the U.S. and NATO would be “obligated” to “defend Israel” against Iran and Syria. It is worth noting, in this regard, that at the outset of Bush’s second term, (former) Vice President Dick Cheney had hinted, in no uncertain terms, that Iran was “right at the top of the list” of the “rogue enemies” of America, and that Israel would, so to speak, “be doing the bombing for us”, without U.S. military involvement and without us putting pressure on them “to do it.”8 According to Cheney: One of the concerns people have is that Israel might do it without being asked. …Given the fact that Iran has a stated policy that their objective is the destruction of Israel, the Israelis might well decide to act first, and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterwards.9 Commenting the Vice President’s assertion, former National Security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski in an interview on PBS, confirmed with some apprehension, yes: Cheney wants Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to act on America’s behalf and “do it” for us: Iran I think is more ambiguous. And there the issue is certainly not tyranny; it’s nuclear weapons. And the vice president today in a kind of a strange parallel statement to this declaration of freedom hinted that the Israelis may do it and in fact used language which sounds like a justification or even an encouragement for the Israelis to do it.10 What we are dealing with is a process of joint U.S.-NATO-Israel military planning. An operation to bomb Iran has been in the active planning stage since 2004. Officials in the Defense Department, under Bush and Obama, have been working assiduously with their Israeli military and intelligence counterparts, carefully identifying targets inside Iran. In practical military terms, any action by Israel would have to be planned and coordinated at the highest levels of the U.S. led coalition. Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Vice President Dick Cheney discuss a vision of peace for Israel and Palestine as they conduct a press briefing in Jerusalem, Israel, March 19, 2002. Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Vice President Dick Cheney discuss a vision of peace for Israel and Palestine as they conduct a press briefing in Jerusalem, Israel, March 19, 2002. “It is our hope that the current violence and terrorism will be replaced by reconciliation and the rebuilding of mutual trust,” said the Vice President. (Source) An attack by Israel against Iran would also require coordinated U.S.-NATO logistical support, particularly with regard to Israel’s air defense system, which since January 2009 is fully integrated into that of the U.S. and NATO.11 Israel’s X band radar system established in early 2009 with U.S. technical support has “integrate[d] Israel’s missile defenses with the U.S. global missile [Space-based] detection network, which includes satellites, Aegis ships on the Mediterranean, Persian Gulf and Red Sea, and land-based Patriot radars and interceptors.”12 What this means is that Washington ultimately calls the shots. The U.S. rather than Israel controls the air defense system: This is and will remain a U.S. radar system,’ Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said. ‘So this is not something we are giving or selling to the Israelis and it is something that will likely require U.S. personnel on-site to operate.13 The U.S. military oversees Israel’s Air Defense system, which is integrated into the Pentagon’s global system. In other words, Israel cannot launch a war against Iran without Washington’s consent. Hence the importance of the so-called “Green Light” legislation in the U.S. Congress sponsored by the Republican party under House Resolution 1553, which explicitly supported an Israeli attack on Iran: The measure, introduced by Texas Republican Louie Gohmert and 46 of his colleagues, endorses Israel’s use of “all means necessary” against Iran “including the use of military force.” … “We’ve got to get this done. We need to show our support for Israel. We need to quit playing games with this critical ally in such a difficult area”.14 In practice, the proposed legislation serves as a “Green Light” to the White House and the Pentagon rather than to Israel. It constitutes a rubber stamp to a U.S. sponsored war on Iran which uses Israel as a convenient military launch pad. It also serves as a justification to wage war with a view to defending Israel. In this context, Israel could indeed provide the pretext to wage war, in response to alleged Hamas or Hezbollah attacks and/or the triggering of hostilities on the border of Israel with Lebanon. What is crucial to understand is that a minor “incident” could be used as a pretext to spark off a major military operation against Iran. Known to U.S. military planners, Israel (rather than the U.S.A) would be the first target of military retaliation by Iran. Broadly speaking, Israelis would be the victims of the machinations of both Washington and their own government. It is, in this regard, absolutely crucial that Israelis forcefully oppose any action by the Netanyahu government to attack Iran. Global Warfare: The Role of U.S. Strategic Command (U.S.STRATCOM) In January 2005, at the outset of the military deployment and build-up directed against Iran, U.S.STRATCOM was identified as “the lead Combatant Command for integration and synchronization of DoD-wide efforts in combating weapons of mass destruction.”15 What this means is that the coordination of a large scale attack on Iran, including the various scenarios of escalation in and beyond the broader Middle East Central Asian region would be coordinated by U.S.STRATCOM. (See Chapter I). Confirmed by military documents as well as official statements, both the U.S. and Israel contemplate the use of nuclear weapons directed against Iran. In 2006, U.S. Strategic Command (U.S.STRATCOM) announced it had achieved an operational capability for rapidly striking targets around the globe using nuclear or conventional weapons. This announcement was made after the conduct of military simulations pertaining to a U.S. led nuclear attack against a fictional country.16 Continuity in Relation to the Bush-Cheney Era President Obama has largely endorsed the doctrine of pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons formulated by the previous administration. Under the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, the Obama administration confirmed “that it is reserving the right to use nuclear weapons against Iran” for its non-compliance with U.S. demands regarding its alleged (nonexistent) nuclear weapons program.17 The Obama administration has also intimated that it would use nukes in the case of an Iranian response to an Israeli attack on Iran. Israel has also drawn up its own “secret plans” to bomb Iran with tactical nuclear weapons: Israeli military commanders believe conventional strikes may no longer be enough to annihilate increasingly well-defended enrichment facilities. Several have been built beneath at least 70ft of concrete and rock. However, the nuclear-tipped bunker-busters would be used only if a conventional attack was ruled out and if the United States declined to intervene, senior sources said.18 Obama’s statements on the use of nuclear weapons against Iran and North Korea are consistent with post-9/11 U.S. nuclear weapons doctrine, which allows for the use of tactical nuclear weapons in the conventional war theater. Through a propaganda campaign which has enlisted the support of “authoritative” nuclear scientists, mini-nukes are upheld as an instrument of peace, namely a means to combating “Islamic terrorism” and instating Western style “democracy” in Iran. The low-yield nukes have been cleared for “battlefield use”. They are slated to be used against Iran and Syria in the next stage of America’s “War on Terrorism” alongside conventional weapons: Administration officials argue that low-yield nuclear weapons are needed as a credible deterrent against rogue states. [Iran, Syria, North Korea] Their logic is that existing nuclear weapons are too destructive to be used except in a full-scale nuclear war. Potential enemies realize this, thus they do not consider the threat of nuclear retaliation to be credible. However, low-yield nuclear weapons are less destructive, thus might conceivably be used. That would make them more effective as a deterrent.19 The preferred nuclear weapon to be used against Iran are tactical nuclear weapons (Made in America), namely bunker buster bombs with nuclear warheads (for example, B61-11), with an explosive capacity between one third to six times a Hiroshima bomb. The B61-11 is the “nuclear version” of the “conventional” BLU 113. or Guided Bomb Unit GBU-28. It can be delivered in much same way as the conventional bunker buster bomb.20 While the U.S. does not contemplate the use of strategic thermonuclear weapons against Iran, Israel’s nuclear arsenal is largely composed of thermonuclear bombs which are deployed and could be used in a war with Iran. Under Israel’s Jericho III missile system with a range between 4,800 km to 6,500 km, all Iran would be within reach. Radioactive Fallout The issue of radioactive fallout and contamination, while casually dismissed by U.S.-NATO military analysts, would be devastating, potentially affecting a large area of the broader Middle East (including Israel) and Central Asian region. In an utterly twisted logic, nuclear weapons are presented as a means to building peace and preventing “collateral damage”. Iran’s nonexistent nuclear weapons are a threat to global security, whereas those of the U.S. and Israel are instruments of peace “harmless to the surrounding civilian population.” “The Mother of All Bombs” (MOAB) Slated to be Used against Iran? Of military significance within the U.S. conventional weapons arsenal is the 21,500-pound “monster weapon” nicknamed the “mother of all bombs” The GBU-43/B or Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb (MOAB) was categorized “as the most powerful non-nuclear weapon ever designed” with the the largest yield in the U.S. conventional arsenal. The MOAB was tested in early March 2003 before being deployed to the Iraq war theater. According to U.S. military sources, the Joint Chiefs of Staff had advised the government of Saddam Hussein prior to launching the 2003 that the “mother of all bombs” was to be used against Iraq. (There were unconfirmed reports that it had been used in Iraq). The U.S. Department of Defense already confirmed in 2009 that it intends to use the “Mother of All Bombs” (MOAB) against Iran. The MOAB is said to be ”ideally suited to hit deeply buried nuclear facilities such as Natanz or Qom in Iran”21. The truth of the matter is that the MOAB, given its explosive capacity, would result in significant civilian casualties. It is a conventional “killing machine” with a nuclear type mushroom cloud. The procurement of four MOABs was commissioned in October 2009 at the hefty cost of $58.4 million, ($14.6 million for each bomb). This amount includes the costs of development and testing as well as integration of the MOAB bombs onto B-2 stealth bombers. This procurement is directly linked to war preparations in relation to Iran. The notification was contained in a ninety-three-page “reprograming memo” which included the following instructions: “The Department has an Urgent Operational Need (UON) for the capability to strike hard and deeply buried targets in high threat environments. The MOAB [Mother of All Bombs] is the weapon of choice to meet the requirements of the UON [Urgent Operational Need].” It further states that the request is endorsed by Pacific Command (which has responsibility over North Korea) and Central Command (which has responsibility over Iran).23 The Pentagon is planning on a process of extensive destruction of Iran’s infrastructure and mass civilian casualties through the combined use of tactical nukes and monster conventional mushroom cloud bombs, including the MOAB and the larger GBU-57A/B or Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP), which surpasses the MOAB in terms of explosive capacity. The MOP is described as “a powerful new bomb aimed squarely at the underground nuclear facilities of Iran and North Korea. The gargantuan bomb–longer than eleven persons standing shoulder-to-shoulder or more than twenty feet base to nose”.24 These are WMDs in the true sense of the word. The not so hidden objective of the MOAB and MOP, including the American nickname used to casually describe the MOAB (“Mother of all Bombs”), is “mass destruction” and mass civilian casualties with a view to instilling fear and despair. State of the Art Weaponry: “War Made Possible Through New Technologies” The process of U.S. military decision making in relation to Iran is supported by Star Wars, the militarization of outer space and the revolution in communications and information systems. Given the advances in military technology and the development of new weapons systems, an attack on Iran could be significantly different in terms of the mix of weapons systems, when compared to the March 2003 Blitzkrieg launched against Iraq. The Iran operation is slated to use the most advanced weapons systems in support of its aerial attacks. In all likelihood, new weapons systems will be tested. The 2000 Project for the New American Century (PNAC) document entitled Rebuilding American Defenses, outlined the mandate of the U.S. military in terms of large scale theater wars, to be waged simultaneously in different regions of the World: “Fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars”. (See Chapter I) This formulation is tantamount to a global war of conquest by a single imperial superpower. The PNAC document also called for the transformation of U.S. forces to exploit the “revolution in military affairs”, namely the implementation of “war made possible through new technologies”.25 The latter consists in developing and perfecting a state of the art global killing machine based on an arsenal of sophisticated new weaponry, which would eventually replace the existing paradigms. Thus, it can be foreseen that the process of transformation will in fact be a two-stage process: first of transition, then of more thoroughgoing transformation. The breakpoint will come when a preponderance of new weapons systems begins to enter service, perhaps when, for example, unmanned aerial vehicles begin to be as numerous as manned aircraft. In this regard, the Pentagon should be very wary of making large investments in new programs –tanks, planes, aircraft carriers, for example– that would commit U.S. forces to current paradigms of warfare for many decades to come.26 The war on Iran could indeed mark this crucial break-point, with new space-based weapons systems being applied with a view to disabling an enemy which has significant conventional military capabilities including more than half a million ground forces. Electromagnetic Weapons Electromagnetic weapons could be used to destabilize Iran’s communications systems, disable electric power generation, undermine and destabilize command and control, government infrastructure, transportation, energy, etc. Within the same family of weapons, environmental modifications techniques (ENMOD) (weather warfare) developed under the HAARP program could also be applied.27 These weapons systems are fully operational. In this context, the U.S. Air Force document AF 2025 explicitly acknowledged the military applications of weather modification technologies: Weather modification will become a part of domestic and international security and could be done unilaterally. … It could have offensive and defensive applications and even be used for deterrence purposes. The ability to generate precipitation, fog, and storms on earth or to modify space weather, improve communications through ionospheric modification (the use of ionospheric mirrors), and the production of artificial weather all are a part of an integrated set of technologies which can provide substantial increase in U.S., or degraded capability in an adversary, to achieve global awareness, reach, and power.28 Electromagnetic radiation enabling “remote health impairment” might also be envisaged in the war theater.29 In turn, new uses of biological weapons by the U.S. military might also be envisaged as suggested by the PNAC: “[A]dvanced forms of biological warfare that can ‘target’ specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool.”30 Iran’s Military Capabilities: Medium and Long-range Missiles Iran has advanced military capabilities, including medium and long-range missiles capable of reaching targets in Israel and the Gulf States. Hence the emphasis by the U.S.-NATO Israel alliance on the use of nuclear weapons, which are slated to be used either pre-emptively or in response to an Iranian retaliatory missile attack. In November 2006, Iran tests of surface missiles two were marked by precise planning in a carefully staged operation. According to a senior American missile expert, “the Iranians demonstrated up-to-date missile-launching technology which the West had not known them to possess.”31 Israel acknowledged that “the Shehab-3, whose 2,000-km range brings Israel, the Middle East and Europe within reach”.32 According to Uzi Rubin, former head of Israel’s anti-ballistic missile program, “the intensity of the military exercise was unprecedented… It was meant to make an impression – and it made an impression.”33 The 2006 exercises, while creating a political stir in the U.S. and Israel, did not in any way modify U.S.-NATO-Israeli resolve to wage war on Iran. Tehran has confirmed in several statements that it will respond if it is attacked. Israel would be the immediate object of Iranian missile attacks as confirmed by the Iranian government. The issue of Israel’s air defense system is therefore crucial. U.S. and allied military facilities in the Gulf states, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Iraq could also be targeted by Iran. Iran’s Ground Forces While Iran is encircled by U.S. and allied military bases, the Islamic Republic has significant military capabilities. What is important to acknowledge is the sheer size of Iranian forces in terms of personnel (army, navy, air force) when compared to U.S. and NATO forces serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. Confronted with a well-organized insurgency, coalition forces are already overstretched in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Would these forces be able to cope if Iranian ground forces were to enter the existing battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan? The potential of the Resistance movement to U.S. and allied occupation would inevitably be affected. Iranian ground forces are of the order of 700,000 of which 130,000 are professional soldiers, 220,000 are conscripts and 350,000 are reservists.34 There are 18,000 personnel in Iran’s Navy and 52,000 in the Air Force. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, “the Revolutionary Guards has an estimated 125,000 personnel in five branches: Its own Navy, Air Force, and Ground Forces; and the Quds Force (Special Forces).” According to the CISS, Iran’s Basij paramilitary volunteer force controlled by the Revolu- tionary Guards “has an estimated 90,000 active-duty full-time uniformed members, 300,000 reservists, and a total of 11 million men that can be mobilized if need be”35, In other words, Iran can mobilize up to half a million regular troops and several million militia. Its Quds special forces are already operating inside Iraq. U.S. Military and Allied Facilities Surrounding Iran For several years now, Iran has been conducting its own war drills and exercises. While its Air Force has weaknesses, its intermediate and long-range missiles are fully operational. Iran’s military is in a state of readiness. Iranian troop concentrations are currently within a few kilometers of the Iraqi and Afghan borders, and within proximity of Kuwait. The Iranian Navy is deployed in the Persian Gulf within proximity of U.S. and allied military facilities in the United Arab Emirates. It is worth noting that in response to Iran’s military build-up, the U.S. has been transferring large amounts of weapons to its non-NATO allies in the Persian Gulf including Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. While Iran’s advanced weapons do not measure up to those of the U.S. and NATO, Iranian forces would be in a position to inflict substantial losses to coalition forces in a conventional war theater, on the ground in Iraq or Afghanistan. Iranian ground troops and tanks in December 2009 crossed the border into Iraq without being confronted or challenged by allied forces and occupied a disputed territory in the East Maysan oil field. Even in the event of an effective Blitzkrieg, which targets Iran’s military facilities, its communications systems etc., through massive aerial bombing, using cruise missiles, conventional bunker buster bombs and tactical nuclear weapons, a war with Iran, once initiated, could eventually lead into a ground war. This is something which U.S. military planners have no doubt contemplated in their simulated war scenarios. An operation of this nature would result in significant military and civilian casualties, particularly if nuclear weapons are used. Within a scenario of escalation, Iranian troops could cross the border into Iraq and Afghanistan. In turn, military escalation using nuclear weapons could lead us into a World War III scenario, extending beyond the Middle-East – Central Asian region. In a very real sense, this military project, which has been on the Pentagon’s drawing board for more than ten years, threatens the future of humanity. Our focus in this chapter has been on war preparations. The fact that war preparations are in an advanced state of readiness does not imply that these war plans will be carried out. The U.S.-NATO-Israel alliance realizes that the enemy has significant capabilities to respond and retaliate. This factor in itself has been crucial in the decision by the U.S. and its allies to postpone an attack on Iran. Another crucial factor is the structure of military alliances. Whereas NATO has become a formidable force, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which constitutes an alliance between Russia and China and a number of former Soviet Republics has been significantly weakened. The ongoing U.S. military threats directed against China and Russia are intended to weaken the SCO and discourage any form of military action on the part of Iran’s allies in the case of a U.S. NATO Israeli attack. Video Interview: Michel Chossudovsky and Caroline Mailloux November 2023 Interview Notes 1. See Target Iran – Air Strikes, Globalsecurity.org, undated. 2. William Arkin, Washington Post, April 16, 2006. 3. Ibid. 4. New Statesman, February 19, 2007. 5. Philip Giraldi, Deep Background,The American Conservative August 2005. 6. U.S.CENTCOM, http://www.milnet.com/milnet/pentagon/centcom/chap1/stratgic.htm#U.S.Policy, link no longer active, archived at http://tinyurl.com/37gafu9. 7. General Wesley Clark, for further details see Chapter I. 8. See Michel Chossudovsky, Planned U.S.-Israeli Attack on Iran, Global Research, May 1, 2005. 9. Dick Cheney, quoted from an MSNBC Interview, January 2005. 10. According to Zbigniew Brzezinski. 11. Michel Chossudovsky, Unusually Large U.S. Weapons Shipment to Israel: Are the U.S. and Israel Planning a Broader Middle East War? Global Research, January 11, 2009. 12. Defense Talk.com, January 6, 2009. 13. Quoted in Israel National News, January 9, 2009. 14. Webster Tarpley, Fidel Castro Warns of Imminent Nuclear War; Admiral Mullen Threatens Iran; U.S.-Israel versus Iran-Hezbollah Confrontation Builds On, Global Research, August 10, 2010. 15. Michel Chossudovsky, Nuclear War against Iran, Global Research, January 3, 2006. 16. David Ruppe, Pre-emptive Nuclear War in a State of Readiness: U.S. Command Declares Global Strike Ca- pability, Global Security Newswire, December 2, 2005. 17. U.S. Nuclear Option on Iran Linked to Israeli Attack Threat – IPS ipsnews.net, April 23, 2010. 18. Revealed: Israel plans nuclear strike on Iran – Times Online, January 7, 2007. 19. Opponents Surprised By Elimination of Nuke Research Funds, Defense News, November 29, 2004. 20. See Michel Chossudovsky, “Tactical Nuclear Weapons” against Afghanistan?, Global Research, December 5, 2001. See also http://www.thebulletin.org/article_nn.php?art_ofn=jf03norris. 21. Jonathan Karl, Is the U.S. Preparing to Bomb Iran? ABC News, October 9, 2009. 22. Ibid. 23. ABC News, op cit, emphasis added. To consult the reprogramming request (pdf) click here. 24. See Edwin Black, “Super Bunker-Buster Bombs Fast-Tracked for Possible Use Against Iran and North Korea Nuclear Programs”, Cutting Edge, September 21, 2009. 25. See Project for a New American Century, Rebuilding America’s Defenses Washington DC, September 2000, pdf. 26. Ibid, emphasis added. 27. See Michel Chossudovsky, “Owning the Weather” for Military Use, Global Research, September 27, 2004. 28. Air Force 2025 Final Report, See also U.S. Air Force: Weather as a Force Multiplier: Owning the Weather in 2025, AF2025 v3c15-1. 29. See Mojmir Babacek, Electromagnetic and Informational Weapons:, Global Research, August 6, 2004. 30. Project for a New American Century, op cit., p. 60. 31. See Michel Chossudovsky, Iran’s “Power of Deterrence” Global Research, November 5, 2006. 32. Debka, November 5, 2006. 33. www.cnsnews.com November 3, 2006. 34. See Islamic Republic of Iran Army – Wikipedia. Featured image is from The Libertarian Institute The Globalization of War: America’s “Long War” against Humanity Michel Chossudovsky The “globalization of war” is a hegemonic project. Major military and covert intelligence operations are being undertaken simultaneously in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia and the Far East. The U.S. military agenda combines both major theater operations as well as covert actions geared towards destabilizing sovereign states. ISBN Number: 978-0-9879389-0-9 Year: 2015 Pages: 240 Pages Price: $9.40 Click here to order. Related Articles from our Archives https://www.globalresearch.ca/pre-emptive-nuclear-war-the-role-of-israel-in-triggering-an-attack-on-iran/5840256 https://telegra.ph/Nuclear-war-03-10
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  • The WHO Pandemic Agreement: A Guide
    By David Bell, Thi Thuy Van Dinh March 22, 2024 Government, Society 30 minute read
    The World Health Organization (WHO) and its 194 Member States have been engaged for over two years in the development of two ‘instruments’ or agreements with the intent of radically changing the way pandemics and other health emergencies are managed.

    One, consisting of draft amendments to the existing International health Regulations (IHR), seeks to change the current IHR non-binding recommendations into requirements or binding recommendations, by having countries “undertake” to implement those given by the WHO in future declared health emergencies. It covers all ‘public health emergencies of international concern’ (PHEIC), with a single person, the WHO Director-General (DG) determining what a PHEIC is, where it extends, and when it ends. It specifies mandated vaccines, border closures, and other directives understood as lockdowns among the requirements the DG can impose. It is discussed further elsewhere and still under negotiation in Geneva.

    A second document, previously known as the (draft) Pandemic Treaty, then Pandemic Accord, and more recently the Pandemic Agreement, seeks to specify governance, supply chains, and various other interventions aimed at preventing, preparing for, and responding to, pandemics (pandemic prevention, preparedness and response – PPPR). It is currently being negotiated by the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB).

    Both texts will be subject to a vote at the May 2024 World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, Switzerland. These votes are intended, by those promoting these projects, to bring governance of future multi-country healthcare emergencies (or threats thereof) under the WHO umbrella.

    The latest version of the draft Pandemic Agreement (here forth the ‘Agreement’) was released on 7th March 2024. However, it is still being negotiated by various committees comprising representatives of Member States and other interested entities. It has been through multiple iterations over two years, and looks like it. With the teeth of the pandemic response proposals in the IHR, the Agreement looks increasingly irrelevant, or at least unsure of its purpose, picking up bits and pieces in a half-hearted way that the IHR amendments do not, or cannot, include. However, as discussed below, it is far from irrelevant.

    Historical Perspective

    These aim to increase the centralization of decision-making within the WHO as the “directing and coordinating authority.” This terminology comes from the WHO’s 1946 Constitution, developed in the aftermath of the Second World War as the world faced the outcomes of European fascism and the similar approaches widely imposed through colonialist regimes. The WHO would support emerging countries, with rapidly expanding and poorly resourced populations struggling under high disease burdens, and coordinate some areas of international support as these sovereign countries requested it. The emphasis of action was on coordinating rather than directing.

    In the 80 years prior to the WHO’s existence, international public health had grown within a more directive mindset, with a series of meetings by colonial and slave-owning powers from 1851 to manage pandemics, culminating in the inauguration of the Office Internationale d’Hygiene Publique in Paris in 1907, and later the League of Nations Health Office. World powers imposed health dictates on those less powerful, in other parts of the world and increasingly on their own population through the eugenics movement and similar approaches. Public health would direct, for the greater good, as a tool of those who wish to direct the lives of others.

    The WHO, governed by the WHA, was to be very different. Newly independent States and their former colonial masters were ostensibly on an equal footing within the WHA (one country – one vote), and the WHO’s work overall was to be an example of how human rights could dominate the way society works. The model for international public health, as exemplified in the Declaration of Alma Ata in 1978, was to be horizontal rather than vertical, with communities and countries in the driving seat.

    With the evolution of the WHO in recent decades from a core funding model (countries give money, the WHO decides under the WHA guidance how to spend it) to a model based on specified funding (funders, both public and increasingly private, instruct the WHO on how to spend it), the WHO has inevitably changed to become a public-private partnership required to serve the interests of funders rather than populations.

    As most funding comes from a few countries with major Pharma industrial bases, or private investors and corporations in the same industry, the WHO has been required to emphasize the use of pharmaceuticals and downplay evidence and knowledge where these clash (if it wants to keep all its staff funded). It is helpful to view the draft Agreement, and the IHR amendments, in this context.

    Why May 2024?

    The WHO, together with the World Bank, G20, and other institutions have been emphasizing the urgency of putting the new pandemic instruments in place earnestly, before the ‘next pandemic.’ This is based on claims that the world was unprepared for Covid-19, and that the economic and health harm would be somehow avoidable if we had these agreements in place.

    They emphasize, contrary to evidence that Covid-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2) origins involve laboratory manipulation, that the main threats we face are natural, and that these are increasing exponentially and present an “existential” threat to humanity. The data on which the WHO, the World Bank, and G20 base these claims demonstrates the contrary, with reported natural outbreaks having increased as detection technologies have developed, but reducing in mortality rate, and in numbers, over the past 10 to 20 years..

    A paper cited by the World Bank to justify urgency and quoted as suggesting a 3x increase in risk in the coming decade actually suggests that a Covid-19-like event would occur roughly every 129 years, and a Spanish-flu repetition every 292 to 877 years. Such predictions are unable to take into account the rapidly changing nature of medicine and improved sanitation and nutrition (most deaths from Spanish flu would not have occurred if modern antibiotics had been available), and so may still overestimate risk. Similarly, the WHO’s own priority disease list for new outbreaks only includes two diseases of proven natural origin that have over 1,000 historical deaths attributed to them. It is well demonstrated that the risk and expected burden of pandemics is misrepresented by major international agencies in current discussions.

    The urgency for May 2024 is clearly therefore inadequately supported, firstly because neither the WHO nor others have demonstrated how the harms accrued through Covid-19 would be reduced through the measures proposed, and secondly because the burden and risk is misrepresented. In this context, the state of the Agreement is clearly not where it should be as a draft international legally binding agreement intended to impose considerable financial and other obligations on States and populations.

    This is particularly problematic as the proposed expenditure; the proposed budget is over $31 billion per year, with over $10 billion more on other One Health activities. Much of this will have to be diverted from addressing other diseases burdens that impose far greater burden. This trade-off, essential to understand in public health policy development, has not yet been clearly addressed by the WHO.

    The WHO DG stated recently that the WHO does not want the power to impose vaccine mandates or lockdowns on anyone, and does not want this. This begs the question of why either of the current WHO pandemic instruments is being proposed, both as legally binding documents. The current IHR (2005) already sets out such approaches as recommendations the DG can make, and there is nothing non-mandatory that countries cannot do now without pushing new treaty-like mechanisms through a vote in Geneva.

    Based on the DG’s claims, they are essentially redundant, and what new non-mandatory clauses they contain, as set out below, are certainly not urgent. Clauses that are mandatory (Member States “shall”) must be considered within national decision-making contexts and appear against the WHO’s stated intent.

    Common sense would suggest that the Agreement, and the accompanying IHR amendments, be properly thought through before Member States commit. The WHO has already abandoned the legal requirement for a 4-month review time for the IHR amendments (Article 55.2 IHR), which are also still under negotiation just 2 months before the WHA deadline. The Agreement should also have at least such a period for States to properly consider whether to agree – treaties normally take many years to develop and negotiate and no valid arguments have been put forward as to why these should be different.

    The Covid-19 response resulted in an unprecedented transfer of wealth from those of lower income to the very wealthy few, completely contrary to the way in which the WHO was intended to affect human society. A considerable portion of these pandemic profits went to current sponsors of the WHO, and these same corporate entities and investors are set to further benefit from the new pandemic agreements. As written, the Pandemic Agreement risks entrenching such centralization and profit-taking, and the accompanying unprecedented restrictions on human rights and freedoms, as a public health norm.

    To continue with a clearly flawed agreement simply because of a previously set deadline, when no clear population benefit is articulated and no true urgency demonstrated, would therefore be a major step backward in international public health. Basic principles of proportionality, human agency, and community empowerment, essential for health and human rights outcomes, are missing or paid lip-service. The WHO clearly wishes to increase its funding and show it is ‘doing something,’ but must first articulate why the voluntary provisions of the current IHR are insufficient. It is hoped that by systematically reviewing some key clauses of the agreement here, it will become clear why a rethink of the whole approach is necessary. The full text is found below.

    The commentary below concentrates on selected draft provisions of the latest publicly available version of the draft agreement that seem to be unclear or potentially problematic. Much of the remaining text is essentially pointless as it reiterates vague intentions to be found in other documents or activities which countries normally undertake in the course of running health services, and have no place in a focused legally-binding international agreement.

    REVISED Draft of the negotiating text of the WHO Pandemic Agreement. 7th March, 2024

    Preamble

    Recognizing that the World Health Organization…is the directing and coordinating authority on international health work.

    This is inconsistent with a recent statement by the WHO DG that the WHO has no interest or intent to direct country health responses. To reiterate it here suggests that the DG is not representing the true position regarding the Agreement. “Directing authority” is however in line with the proposed IHR Amendments (and the WHO’s Constitution), under which countries will “undertake” ahead of time to follow the DG’s recommendations (which thereby become instructions). As the HR amendments make clear, this is intended to apply even to a perceived threat rather than actual harm.

    Recalling the constitution of the World Health Organization…highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.

    This statement recalls fundamental understandings of public health, and is of importance here as it raises the question of why the WHO did not strongly condemn prolonged school closures, workplace closures, and other impoverishing policies during the Covid-19 response. In 2019, WHO made clear that these dangers should prevent actions we now call ‘lockdowns’ from being imposed.

    Deeply concerned by the gross inequities at national and international levels that hindered timely and equitable access to medical and other Covid-19 pandemic-related products, and the serious shortcomings in pandemic preparedness.

    In terms of health equity (as distinct from commodity of ‘vaccine’ equity), inequity in the Covid-19 response was not in failing to provide a vaccine against former variants to immune, young people in low-income countries who were at far higher risk from endemic diseases, but in the disproportionate harm to them of uniformly-imposed NPIs that reduced current and future income and basic healthcare, as was noted by the WHO in 2019 Pandemic Influenza recommendations. The failure of the text to recognize this suggests that lessons from Covid-19 have not informed this draft Agreement. The WHO has not yet demonstrated how pandemic ‘preparedness,’ in the terms they use below, would have reduced impact, given that there is poor correlation between strictness or speed of response and eventual outcomes.

    Reiterating the need to work towards…an equitable approach to mitigate the risk that pandemics exacerbate existing inequities in access to health services,

    As above – in the past century, the issue of inequity has been most pronounced in pandemic response, rather than the impact of the virus itself (excluding the physiological variation in risk). Most recorded deaths from acute pandemics, since the Spanish flu, were during Covid-19, in which the virus hit mainly sick elderly, but response impacted working-age adults and children heavily and will continue to have effect, due to increased poverty and debt; reduced education and child marriage, in future generations.

    These have disproportionately affected lower-income people, and particularly women. The lack of recognition of this in this document, though they are recognized by the World Bank and UN agencies elsewhere, must raise real questions on whether this Agreement has been thoroughly thought through, and the process of development been sufficiently inclusive and objective.

    Chapter I. Introduction

    Article 1. Use of terms

    (i) “pathogen with pandemic potential” means any pathogen that has been identified to infect a human and that is: novel (not yet characterized) or known (including a variant of a known pathogen), potentially highly transmissible and/or highly virulent with the potential to cause a public health emergency of international concern.

    This provides a very wide scope to alter provisions. Any pathogen that can infect humans and is potentially highly transmissible or virulent, though yet uncharacterized means virtually any coronavirus, influenza virus, or a plethora of other relatively common pathogen groups. The IHR Amendments intend that the DG alone can make this call, over the advice of others, as occurred with monkeypox in 2022.

    (j) “persons in vulnerable situations” means individuals, groups or communities with a disproportionate increased risk of infection, severity, disease or mortality.

    This is a good definition – in Covid-19 context, would mean the sick elderly, and so is relevant to targeting a response.

    “Universal health coverage” means that all people have access to the full range of quality health services they need, when and where they need them, without financial hardship.

    While the general UHC concept is good, it is time a sensible (rather than patently silly) definition was adopted. Society cannot afford the full range of possible interventions and remedies for all, and clearly there is a scale of cost vs benefit that prioritizes certain ones over others. Sensible definitions make action more likely, and inaction harder to justify. One could argue that none should have the full range until all have good basic care, but clearly the earth will not support ‘the full range’ for 8 billion people.

    Article 2. Objective

    This Agreement is specifically for pandemics (a poorly defined term but essentially a pathogen that spreads rapidly across national borders). In contrast, the IHR amendments accompanying it are broader in scope – for any public health emergencies of international concern.

    Article 3. Principles

    2. the sovereign right of States to adopt, legislate and implement legislation

    The amendments to the IHR require States to undertake to follow WHO instructions ahead of time, before such instruction and context are known. These two documents must be understood, as noted later in the Agreement draft, as complementary.

    3. equity as the goal and outcome of pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, ensuring the absence of unfair, avoidable or remediable differences among groups of people.

    This definition of equity here needs clarification. In the pandemic context, the WHO emphasized commodity (vaccine) equity during the Covid-19 response. Elimination of differences implied equal access to Covid-19 vaccines in countries with large aging, obese highly vulnerable populations (e.g. the USA or Italy), and those with young populations at minimal risk and with far more pressing health priorities (e.g. Niger or Uganda).

    Alternatively, but equally damaging, equal access to different age groups within a country when the risk-benefit ratio is clearly greatly different. This promotes worse health outcomes by diverting resources from where they are most useful, as it ignores heterogeneity of risk. Again, an adult approach is required in international agreements, rather than feel-good sentences, if they are going to have a positive impact.

    5. …a more equitable and better prepared world to prevent, respond to and recover from pandemics

    As with ‘3’ above, this raises a fundamental problem: What if health equity demands that some populations divert resources to childhood nutrition and endemic diseases rather than the latest pandemic, as these are likely of far higher burden to many younger but lower-income populations? This would not be equity in the definition implied here, but would clearly lead to better and more equal health outcomes.

    The WHO must decide whether it is about uniform action, or minimizing poor health, as these are clearly very different. They are the difference between the WHO’s commodity equity, and true health equity.

    Chapter II. The world together equitably: achieving equity in, for and through pandemic prevention, preparedness and response

    Equity in health should imply a reasonably equal chance of overcoming or avoiding preventable sickness. The vast majority of sickness and death is due to either non-communicable diseases often related to lifestyle, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus, undernutrition in childhood, and endemic infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDS. Achieving health equity would primarily mean addressing these.

    In this chapter of the draft Pandemic Agreement, equity is used to imply equal access to specific health commodities, particularly vaccines, for intermittent health emergencies, although these exert a small fraction of the burden of other diseases. It is, specifically, commodity-equity, and not geared to equalizing overall health burden but to enabling centrally-coordinated homogenous responses to unusual events.

    Article 4. Pandemic prevention and surveillance

    2. The Parties shall undertake to cooperate:

    (b) in support of…initiatives aimed at preventing pandemics, in particular those that improve surveillance, early warning and risk assessment; .…and identify settings and activities presenting a risk of emergence and re-emergence of pathogens with pandemic potential.

    (c-h) [Paragraphs on water and sanitation, infection control, strengthening of biosafety, surveillance and prevention of vector-born diseases, and addressing antimicrobial resistance.]

    The WHO intends the Agreement to have force under international law. Therefore, countries are undertaking to put themselves under force of international law in regards to complying with the agreement’s stipulations.

    The provisions under this long article mostly cover general health stuff that countries try to do anyway. The difference will be that countries will be assessed on progress. Assessment can be fine if in context, less fine if it consists of entitled ‘experts’ from wealthy countries with little local knowledge or context. Perhaps such compliance is best left to national authorities, who are more in use with local needs and priorities. The justification for the international bureaucracy being built to support this, while fun for those involved, is unclear and will divert resources from actual health work.

    6. The Conference of the Parties may adopt, as necessary, guidelines, recommendations and standards, including in relation to pandemic prevention capacities, to support the implementation of this Article.

    Here and later, the COP is invoked as a vehicle to decide on what will actually be done. The rules are explained later (Articles 21-23). While allowing more time is sensible, it begs the question of why it is not better to wait and discuss what is needed in the current INB process, before committing to a legally-binding agreement. This current article says nothing not already covered by the IHR2005 or other ongoing programs.

    Article 5. One Health approach to pandemic prevention, preparedness and response

    Nothing specific or new in this article. It seems redundant (it is advocating a holistic approach mentioned elsewhere) and so presumably is just to get the term ‘One Health’ into the agreement. (One could ask, why bother?)

    Some mainstream definitions of One Health (e.g. Lancet) consider that it means non-human species are on a par with humans in terms of rights and importance. If this is meant here, clearly most Member States would disagree. So we may assume that it is just words to keep someone happy (a little childish in an international document, but the term ‘One Health’ has been trending, like ‘equity,’ as if the concept of holistic approaches to public health were new).

    Article 6. Preparedness, health system resilience and recovery

    2. Each Party commits…[to] :

    (a) routine and essential health services during pandemics with a focus on primary health care, routine immunization and mental health care, and with particular attention to persons in vulnerable situations

    (b) developing, strengthening and maintaining health infrastructure

    (c) developing post-pandemic health system recovery strategies

    (d) developing, strengthening and maintaining: health information systems

    This is good, and (a) seems to require avoidance of lockdowns (which inevitably cause the harms listed). Unfortunately other WHO documents lead one to assume this is not the intent…It does appear therefore that this is simply another list of fairly non-specific feel-good measures that have no useful place in a new legally-binding agreement, and which most countries are already undertaking.

    (e) promoting the use of social and behavioural sciences, risk communication and community engagement for pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.

    This requires clarification, as the use of behavioral science during the Covid-19 response involved deliberate inducement of fear to promote behaviors that people would not otherwise follow (e.g. Spi-B). It is essential here that the document clarifies how behavioral science should be used ethically in healthcare. Otherwise, this is also a quite meaningless provision.

    Article 7. Health and care workforce

    This long Article discusses health workforce, training, retention, non-discrimination, stigma, bias, adequate remuneration, and other standard provisions for workplaces. It is unclear why it is included in a legally binding pandemic agreement, except for:

    4. [The Parties]…shall invest in establishing, sustaining, coordinating and mobilizing a skilled and trained multidisciplinary global public health emergency workforce…Parties having established emergency health teams should inform WHO thereof and make best efforts to respond to requests for deployment…

    Emergency health teams established (within capacity etc.) – are something countries already do, when they have capacity. There is no reason to have this as a legally-binding instrument, and clearly no urgency to do so.

    Article 8. Preparedness monitoring and functional reviews

    1. The Parties shall, building on existing and relevant tools, develop and implement an inclusive, transparent, effective and efficient pandemic prevention, preparedness and response monitoring and evaluation system.

    2. Each Party shall assess, every five years, with technical support from the WHO Secretariat upon request, the functioning and readiness of, and gaps in, its pandemic prevention, preparedness and response capacity, based on the relevant tools and guidelines developed by WHO in partnership with relevant organizations at international, regional and sub-regional levels.

    Note that this is being required of countries that are already struggling to implement monitoring systems for major endemic diseases, including tuberculosis, malaria, HIV, and nutritional deficiencies. They will be legally bound to divert resources to pandemic prevention. While there is some overlap, it will inevitably divert resources from currently underfunded programs for diseases of far higher local burdens, and so (not theoretically, but inevitably) raise mortality. Poor countries are being required to put resources into problems deemed significant by richer countries.

    Article 9. Research and development

    Various general provisions about undertaking background research that countries are generally doing anyway, but with an ’emerging disease’ slant. Again, the INB fails to justify why this diversion of resources from researching greater disease burdens should occur in all countries (why not just those with excess resources?).

    Article 10. Sustainable and geographically diversified production

    Mostly non-binding but suggested cooperation on making pandemic-related products available, including support for manufacturing in “inter-pandemic times” (a fascinating rendering of ‘normal’), when they would only be viable through subsidies. Much of this is probably unimplementable, as it would not be practical to maintain facilities in most or all countries on stand-by for rare events, at cost of resources otherwise useful for other priorities. The desire to increase production in ‘developing’ countries will face major barriers and costs in terms of maintaining quality of production, particularly as many products will have limited use outside of rare outbreak situations.

    Article 11. Transfer of technology and know-how

    This article, always problematic for large pharmaceutical corporations sponsoring much WHO outbreak activities, is now watered down to weak requirements to ‘consider,’ promote,’ provide, within capabilities’ etc.

    Article 12. Access and benefit sharing

    This Article is intended to establish the WHO Pathogen Access and Benefit-Sharing System (PABS System). PABS is intended to “ensure rapid, systematic and timely access to biological materials of pathogens with pandemic potential and the genetic sequence data.” This system is of potential high relevance and needs to be interpreted in the context that SARS-CoV-2, the pathogen causing the recent Covid-19 outbreak, was highly likely to have escaped from a laboratory. PABS is intended to expand the laboratory storage, transport, and handling of such viruses, under the oversight of the WHO, an organization outside of national jurisdiction with no significant direct experience in handling biological materials.

    3. When a Party has access to a pathogen [it shall]:

    (a) share with WHO any pathogen sequence information as soon as it is available to the Party;

    (b) as soon as biological materials are available to the Party, provide the materials to one or more laboratories and/or biorepositories participating in WHO-coordinated laboratory networks (CLNs),

    Subsequent clauses state that benefits will be shared, and seek to prevent recipient laboratories from patenting materials received from other countries. This has been a major concern of low-and middle-income countries previously, who perceive that institutions in wealthy countries patent and benefit from materials derived from less-wealthy populations. It remains to be seen whether provisions here will be sufficient to address this.

    The article then becomes yet more concerning:

    6. WHO shall conclude legally binding standard PABS contracts with manufacturers to provide the following, taking into account the size, nature and capacities of the manufacturer:

    (a) annual monetary contributions to support the PABS System and relevant capacities in countries; the determination of the annual amount, use, and approach for monitoring and accountability, shall be finalized by the Parties;

    (b) real-time contributions of relevant diagnostics, therapeutics or vaccines produced by the manufacturer, 10% free of charge and 10% at not-for-profit prices during public health emergencies of international concern or pandemics, …

    It is clearly intended that the WHO becomes directly involved in setting up legally binding manufacturing contracts, despite the WHO being outside of national jurisdictional oversight, within the territories of Member States. The PABS system, and therefore its staff and dependent entities, are also to be supported in part by funds from the manufacturers whom they are supposed to be managing. The income of the organization will be dependent on maintaining positive relationships with these private entities in a similar way in which many national regulatory agencies are dependent upon funds from pharmaceutical companies whom their staff ostensibly regulate. In this case, the regulator will be even further removed from public oversight.

    The clause on 10% (why 10?) products being free of charge, and similar at cost, while ensuring lower-priced commodities irrespective of actual need (the outbreak may be confined to wealthy countries). The same entity, the WHO, will determine whether the triggering emergency exists, determine the response, and manage the contracts to provide the commodities, without direct jurisdictional oversight regarding the potential for corruption or conflict of interest. It is a remarkable system to suggest, irrespective of political or regulatory environment.

    8. The Parties shall cooperate…public financing of research and development, prepurchase agreements, or regulatory procedures, to encourage and facilitate as many manufacturers as possible to enter into standard PABS contracts as early as possible.

    The article envisions that public funding will be used to build the process, ensuring essentially no-risk private profit.

    10. To support operationalization of the PABS System, WHO shall…make such contracts public, while respecting commercial confidentiality.

    The public may know whom contracts are made with, but not all details of the contracts. There will therefore be no independent oversight of the clauses agreed between the WHO, a body outside of national jurisdiction and dependent of commercial companies for funding some of its work and salaries, and these same companies, on ‘needs’ that the WHO itself will have sole authority, under the proposed amendments to the IHR, to determine.

    The Article further states that the WHO shall use its own product regulatory system (prequalification) and Emergency Use Listing Procedure to open and stimulate markets for the manufacturers of these products.

    It is doubtful that any national government could make such an overall agreement, yet in May 2024 they will be voting to provide this to what is essentially a foreign, and partly privately financed, entity.

    Article 13. Supply chain and logistics

    The WHO will become convenor of a ‘Global Supply Chain and Logistics Network’ for commercially-produced products, to be supplied under WHO contracts when and where the WHO determines, whilst also having the role of ensuring safety of such products.

    Having mutual support coordinated between countries is good. Having this run by an organization that is significantly funded directly by those gaining from the sale of these same commodities seems reckless and counterintuitive. Few countries would allow this (or at least plan for it).

    For this to occur safely, the WHO would logically have to forgo all private investment, and greatly restrict national specified funding contributions. Otherwise, the conflicts of interest involved would destroy confidence in the system. There is no suggestion of such divestment from the WHO, but rather, as in Article 12, private sector dependency, directly tied to contracts, will increase.

    Article 13bis: National procurement- and distribution-related provisions

    While suffering the same (perhaps unavoidable) issues regarding commercial confidentiality, this alternate Article 13 seems far more appropriate, keeping commercial issues under national jurisdiction and avoiding the obvious conflict of interests that underpin funding for WHO activities and staffing.

    Article 14. Regulatory systems strengthening

    This entire Article reflects initiatives and programs already in place. Nothing here appears likely to add to current effort.

    Article 15. Liability and compensation management

    1. Each Party shall consider developing, as necessary and in accordance with applicable law, national strategies for managing liability in its territory related to pandemic vaccines…no-fault compensation mechanisms…

    2. The Parties…shall develop recommendations for the establishment and implementation of national, regional and/or global no-fault compensation mechanisms and strategies for managing liability during pandemic emergencies, including with regard to individuals that are in a humanitarian setting or vulnerable situations.

    This is quite remarkable, but also reflects some national legislation, in removing any fault or liability specifically from vaccine manufacturers, for harms done in pushing out vaccines to the public. During the Covid-19 response, genetic therapeutics being developed by BioNtech and Moderna were reclassified as vaccines, on the basis that an immune response is stimulated after they have modified intracellular biochemical pathways as a medicine normally does.

    This enabled specific trials normally required for carcinogenicity and teratogenicity to be bypassed, despite raised fetal abnormality rates in animal trials. It will enable the CEPI 100-day vaccine program, supported with private funding to support private mRNA vaccine manufacturers, to proceed without any risk to the manufacturer should there be subsequent public harm.

    Together with an earlier provision on public funding of research and manufacturing readiness, and the removal of former wording requiring intellectual property sharing in Article 11, this ensures vaccine manufacturers and their investors make profit in effective absence of risk.

    These entities are currently heavily invested in support for WHO, and were strongly aligned with the introduction of newly restrictive outbreak responses that emphasized and sometimes mandated their products during the Covid-19 outbreak.

    Article 16. International collaboration and cooperation

    A somewhat pointless article. It suggests that countries cooperate with each other and the WHO to implement the other agreements in the Agreement.

    Article 17. Whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches

    A list of essentially motherhood provisions related to planning for a pandemic. However, countries will legally be required to maintain a ‘national coordination multisectoral body’ for PPPR. This will essentially be an added burden on budgets, and inevitably divert further resources from other priorities. Perhaps just strengthening current infectious disease and nutritional programs would be more impactful. (Nowhere in this Agreement is nutrition discussed (essential for resilience to pathogens) and minimal wording is included on sanitation and clean water (other major reasons for reduction in infectious disease mortality over past centuries).

    However, the ‘community ownership’ wording is interesting (“empower and enable community ownership of, and contribution to, community readiness for and resilience [for PPPR]”), as this directly contradicts much of the rest of the Agreement, including the centralization of control under the Conference of Parties, requirements for countries to allocate resources to pandemic preparedness over other community priorities, and the idea of inspecting and assessing adherence to the centralized requirements of the Agreement. Either much of the rest of the Agreement is redundant, or this wording is purely for appearance and not to be followed (and therefore should be removed).

    Article 18. Communication and public awareness

    1. Each Party shall promote timely access to credible and evidence-based information …with the aim of countering and addressing misinformation or disinformation…

    2. The Parties shall, as appropriate, promote and/or conduct research and inform policies on factors that hinder or strengthen adherence to public health and social measures in a pandemic, as well as trust in science and public health institutions and agencies.

    The key word is as appropriate, given that many agencies, including the WHO, have overseen or aided policies during the Covid-19 response that have greatly increased poverty, child marriage, teenage pregnancy, and education loss.

    As the WHO has been shown to be significantly misrepresenting pandemic risk in the process of advocating for this Agreement and related instruments, its own communications would also fall outside the provision here related to evidence-based information, and fall within normal understandings of misinformation. It could not therefore be an arbiter of correctness of information here, so the Article is not implementable. Rewritten to recommend accurate evidence-based information being promoted, it would make good sense, but this is not an issue requiring a legally binding international agreement.

    Article 19. Implementation and support

    3. The WHO Secretariat…organize the technical and financial assistance necessary to address such gaps and needs in implementing the commitments agreed upon under the Pandemic Agreement and the International Health Regulations (2005).

    As the WHO is dependent on donor support, its ability to address gaps in funding within Member States is clearly not something it can guarantee. The purpose of this article is unclear, repeating in paragraphs 1 and 2 the earlier intent for countries to generally support each other.

    Article 20. Sustainable financing

    1. The Parties commit to working together…In this regard, each Party, within the means and resources at its disposal, shall:

    (a) prioritize and maintain or increase, as necessary, domestic funding for pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, without undermining other domestic public health priorities including for: (i) strengthening and sustaining capacities for the prevention, preparedness and response to health emergencies and pandemics, in particular the core capacities of the International Health Regulations (2005);…

    This is silly wording, as countries obviously have to prioritize within budgets, so that moving funds to one area means removing from another. The essence of public health policy is weighing and making such decisions; this reality seems to be ignored here through wishful thinking. (a) is clearly redundant, as the IHR (2005) already exists and countries have agreed to support it.

    3. A Coordinating Financial Mechanism (the “Mechanism”) is hereby established to support the implementation of both the WHO Pandemic Agreement and the International Health Regulations (2005)

    This will be in parallel to the Pandemic Fund recently commenced by the World Bank – an issue not lost on INB delegates and so likely to change here in the final version. It will also be additive to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, and other health financing mechanisms, and so require another parallel international bureaucracy, presumably based in Geneva.

    It is intended to have its own capacity to “conduct relevant analyses on needs and gaps, in addition to tracking cooperation efforts,” so it will not be a small undertaking.

    Chapter III. Institutional and final provisions

    Article 21. Conference of the Parties

    1. A Conference of the Parties is hereby established.

    2. The Conference of the Parties shall keep under regular review, every three years, the implementation of the WHO Pandemic Agreement and take the decisions necessary to promote its effective implementation.

    This sets up the governing body to oversee this Agreement (another body requiring a secretariat and support). It is intended to meet within a year of the Agreement coming into force, and then set its own rules on meeting thereafter. It is likely that many provisions outlined in this draft of the Agreement will be deferred to the COP for further discussion.

    Articles 22 – 37

    These articles cover the functioning of the Conference of Parties (COP) and various administrative issues.

    Of note, ‘block votes’ will be allowed from regional bodies (e.g. the EU).

    The WHO will provide the secretariat.

    Under Article 24 is noted:

    3. Nothing in the WHO Pandemic Agreement shall be interpreted as providing the Secretariat of the World Health Organization, including the WHO Director-General, any authority to direct, order, alter or otherwise prescribe the domestic laws or policies of any Party, or to mandate or otherwise impose any requirements that Parties take specific actions, such as ban or accept travellers, impose vaccination mandates or therapeutic or diagnostic measures, or implement lockdowns.

    These provisions are explicitly stated in the proposed amendments to the IHR, to be considered alongside this agreement. Article 26 notes that the IHR is to be interpreted as compatible, thereby confirming that the IHR provisions including border closures and limits on freedom of movement, mandated vaccination, and other lockdown measures are not negated by this statement.

    As Article 26 states: “The Parties recognize that the WHO Pandemic Agreement and the International Health Regulations should be interpreted so as to be compatible.”

    Some would consider this subterfuge – The Director-General recently labeled as liars those who claimed the Agreement included these powers, whilst failing to acknowledge the accompanying IHR amendments. The WHO could do better in avoiding misleading messaging, especially when this involves denigration of the public.

    Article 32 (Withdrawal) requires that, once adopted, Parties cannot withdraw for a total of 3 years (giving notice after a minimum of 2 years). Financial obligations undertaken under the agreement continue beyond that time.

    Finally, the Agreement will come into force, assuming a two-thirds majority in the WHA is achieved (Article 19, WHO Constitution), 30 days after the fortieth country has ratified it.

    Further reading:

    WHO Pandemic Agreement Intergovernmental Negotiating Board website:

    https://inb.who.int/

    International Health Regulations Working Group website:

    https://apps.who.int/gb/wgihr/index.html

    On background to the WHO texts:

    Amendments to WHO’s International Health Regulations: An Annotated Guide
    An Unofficial Q&A on International Health Regulations
    On urgency and burden of pandemics:

    https://essl.leeds.ac.uk/downloads/download/228/rational-policy-over-panic

    Disease X and Davos: This is Not the Way to Evaluate and Formulate Public Health Policy
    Before Preparing for Pandemics, We Need Better Evidence of Risk
    Revised Draft of the negotiating text of the WHO Pandemic Agreement:

    Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
    For reprints, please set the canonical link back to the original Brownstone Institute Article and Author.

    Authors

    David Bell
    David Bell, Senior Scholar at Brownstone Institute, is a public health physician and biotech consultant in global health. He is a former medical officer and scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO), Programme Head for malaria and febrile diseases at the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) in Geneva, Switzerland, and Director of Global Health Technologies at Intellectual Ventures Global Good Fund in Bellevue, WA, USA.

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    Thi Thuy Van Dinh
    Dr. Thi Thuy Van Dinh (LLM, PhD) worked on international law in the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Subsequently, she managed multilateral organization partnerships for Intellectual Ventures Global Good Fund and led environmental health technology development efforts for low-resource settings.

    View all posts
    Your financial backing of Brownstone Institute goes to support writers, lawyers, scientists, economists, and other people of courage who have been professionally purged and displaced during the upheaval of our times. You can help get the truth out through their ongoing work.

    https://brownstone.org/articles/the-who-pandemic-agreement-a-guide/

    https://www.minds.com/donshafi911/blog/the-who-pandemic-agreement-a-guide-1621719398509187077
    The WHO Pandemic Agreement: A Guide By David Bell, Thi Thuy Van Dinh March 22, 2024 Government, Society 30 minute read The World Health Organization (WHO) and its 194 Member States have been engaged for over two years in the development of two ‘instruments’ or agreements with the intent of radically changing the way pandemics and other health emergencies are managed. One, consisting of draft amendments to the existing International health Regulations (IHR), seeks to change the current IHR non-binding recommendations into requirements or binding recommendations, by having countries “undertake” to implement those given by the WHO in future declared health emergencies. It covers all ‘public health emergencies of international concern’ (PHEIC), with a single person, the WHO Director-General (DG) determining what a PHEIC is, where it extends, and when it ends. It specifies mandated vaccines, border closures, and other directives understood as lockdowns among the requirements the DG can impose. It is discussed further elsewhere and still under negotiation in Geneva. A second document, previously known as the (draft) Pandemic Treaty, then Pandemic Accord, and more recently the Pandemic Agreement, seeks to specify governance, supply chains, and various other interventions aimed at preventing, preparing for, and responding to, pandemics (pandemic prevention, preparedness and response – PPPR). It is currently being negotiated by the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB). Both texts will be subject to a vote at the May 2024 World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, Switzerland. These votes are intended, by those promoting these projects, to bring governance of future multi-country healthcare emergencies (or threats thereof) under the WHO umbrella. The latest version of the draft Pandemic Agreement (here forth the ‘Agreement’) was released on 7th March 2024. However, it is still being negotiated by various committees comprising representatives of Member States and other interested entities. It has been through multiple iterations over two years, and looks like it. With the teeth of the pandemic response proposals in the IHR, the Agreement looks increasingly irrelevant, or at least unsure of its purpose, picking up bits and pieces in a half-hearted way that the IHR amendments do not, or cannot, include. However, as discussed below, it is far from irrelevant. Historical Perspective These aim to increase the centralization of decision-making within the WHO as the “directing and coordinating authority.” This terminology comes from the WHO’s 1946 Constitution, developed in the aftermath of the Second World War as the world faced the outcomes of European fascism and the similar approaches widely imposed through colonialist regimes. The WHO would support emerging countries, with rapidly expanding and poorly resourced populations struggling under high disease burdens, and coordinate some areas of international support as these sovereign countries requested it. The emphasis of action was on coordinating rather than directing. In the 80 years prior to the WHO’s existence, international public health had grown within a more directive mindset, with a series of meetings by colonial and slave-owning powers from 1851 to manage pandemics, culminating in the inauguration of the Office Internationale d’Hygiene Publique in Paris in 1907, and later the League of Nations Health Office. World powers imposed health dictates on those less powerful, in other parts of the world and increasingly on their own population through the eugenics movement and similar approaches. Public health would direct, for the greater good, as a tool of those who wish to direct the lives of others. The WHO, governed by the WHA, was to be very different. Newly independent States and their former colonial masters were ostensibly on an equal footing within the WHA (one country – one vote), and the WHO’s work overall was to be an example of how human rights could dominate the way society works. The model for international public health, as exemplified in the Declaration of Alma Ata in 1978, was to be horizontal rather than vertical, with communities and countries in the driving seat. With the evolution of the WHO in recent decades from a core funding model (countries give money, the WHO decides under the WHA guidance how to spend it) to a model based on specified funding (funders, both public and increasingly private, instruct the WHO on how to spend it), the WHO has inevitably changed to become a public-private partnership required to serve the interests of funders rather than populations. As most funding comes from a few countries with major Pharma industrial bases, or private investors and corporations in the same industry, the WHO has been required to emphasize the use of pharmaceuticals and downplay evidence and knowledge where these clash (if it wants to keep all its staff funded). It is helpful to view the draft Agreement, and the IHR amendments, in this context. Why May 2024? The WHO, together with the World Bank, G20, and other institutions have been emphasizing the urgency of putting the new pandemic instruments in place earnestly, before the ‘next pandemic.’ This is based on claims that the world was unprepared for Covid-19, and that the economic and health harm would be somehow avoidable if we had these agreements in place. They emphasize, contrary to evidence that Covid-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2) origins involve laboratory manipulation, that the main threats we face are natural, and that these are increasing exponentially and present an “existential” threat to humanity. The data on which the WHO, the World Bank, and G20 base these claims demonstrates the contrary, with reported natural outbreaks having increased as detection technologies have developed, but reducing in mortality rate, and in numbers, over the past 10 to 20 years.. A paper cited by the World Bank to justify urgency and quoted as suggesting a 3x increase in risk in the coming decade actually suggests that a Covid-19-like event would occur roughly every 129 years, and a Spanish-flu repetition every 292 to 877 years. Such predictions are unable to take into account the rapidly changing nature of medicine and improved sanitation and nutrition (most deaths from Spanish flu would not have occurred if modern antibiotics had been available), and so may still overestimate risk. Similarly, the WHO’s own priority disease list for new outbreaks only includes two diseases of proven natural origin that have over 1,000 historical deaths attributed to them. It is well demonstrated that the risk and expected burden of pandemics is misrepresented by major international agencies in current discussions. The urgency for May 2024 is clearly therefore inadequately supported, firstly because neither the WHO nor others have demonstrated how the harms accrued through Covid-19 would be reduced through the measures proposed, and secondly because the burden and risk is misrepresented. In this context, the state of the Agreement is clearly not where it should be as a draft international legally binding agreement intended to impose considerable financial and other obligations on States and populations. This is particularly problematic as the proposed expenditure; the proposed budget is over $31 billion per year, with over $10 billion more on other One Health activities. Much of this will have to be diverted from addressing other diseases burdens that impose far greater burden. This trade-off, essential to understand in public health policy development, has not yet been clearly addressed by the WHO. The WHO DG stated recently that the WHO does not want the power to impose vaccine mandates or lockdowns on anyone, and does not want this. This begs the question of why either of the current WHO pandemic instruments is being proposed, both as legally binding documents. The current IHR (2005) already sets out such approaches as recommendations the DG can make, and there is nothing non-mandatory that countries cannot do now without pushing new treaty-like mechanisms through a vote in Geneva. Based on the DG’s claims, they are essentially redundant, and what new non-mandatory clauses they contain, as set out below, are certainly not urgent. Clauses that are mandatory (Member States “shall”) must be considered within national decision-making contexts and appear against the WHO’s stated intent. Common sense would suggest that the Agreement, and the accompanying IHR amendments, be properly thought through before Member States commit. The WHO has already abandoned the legal requirement for a 4-month review time for the IHR amendments (Article 55.2 IHR), which are also still under negotiation just 2 months before the WHA deadline. The Agreement should also have at least such a period for States to properly consider whether to agree – treaties normally take many years to develop and negotiate and no valid arguments have been put forward as to why these should be different. The Covid-19 response resulted in an unprecedented transfer of wealth from those of lower income to the very wealthy few, completely contrary to the way in which the WHO was intended to affect human society. A considerable portion of these pandemic profits went to current sponsors of the WHO, and these same corporate entities and investors are set to further benefit from the new pandemic agreements. As written, the Pandemic Agreement risks entrenching such centralization and profit-taking, and the accompanying unprecedented restrictions on human rights and freedoms, as a public health norm. To continue with a clearly flawed agreement simply because of a previously set deadline, when no clear population benefit is articulated and no true urgency demonstrated, would therefore be a major step backward in international public health. Basic principles of proportionality, human agency, and community empowerment, essential for health and human rights outcomes, are missing or paid lip-service. The WHO clearly wishes to increase its funding and show it is ‘doing something,’ but must first articulate why the voluntary provisions of the current IHR are insufficient. It is hoped that by systematically reviewing some key clauses of the agreement here, it will become clear why a rethink of the whole approach is necessary. The full text is found below. The commentary below concentrates on selected draft provisions of the latest publicly available version of the draft agreement that seem to be unclear or potentially problematic. Much of the remaining text is essentially pointless as it reiterates vague intentions to be found in other documents or activities which countries normally undertake in the course of running health services, and have no place in a focused legally-binding international agreement. REVISED Draft of the negotiating text of the WHO Pandemic Agreement. 7th March, 2024 Preamble Recognizing that the World Health Organization…is the directing and coordinating authority on international health work. This is inconsistent with a recent statement by the WHO DG that the WHO has no interest or intent to direct country health responses. To reiterate it here suggests that the DG is not representing the true position regarding the Agreement. “Directing authority” is however in line with the proposed IHR Amendments (and the WHO’s Constitution), under which countries will “undertake” ahead of time to follow the DG’s recommendations (which thereby become instructions). As the HR amendments make clear, this is intended to apply even to a perceived threat rather than actual harm. Recalling the constitution of the World Health Organization…highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition. This statement recalls fundamental understandings of public health, and is of importance here as it raises the question of why the WHO did not strongly condemn prolonged school closures, workplace closures, and other impoverishing policies during the Covid-19 response. In 2019, WHO made clear that these dangers should prevent actions we now call ‘lockdowns’ from being imposed. Deeply concerned by the gross inequities at national and international levels that hindered timely and equitable access to medical and other Covid-19 pandemic-related products, and the serious shortcomings in pandemic preparedness. In terms of health equity (as distinct from commodity of ‘vaccine’ equity), inequity in the Covid-19 response was not in failing to provide a vaccine against former variants to immune, young people in low-income countries who were at far higher risk from endemic diseases, but in the disproportionate harm to them of uniformly-imposed NPIs that reduced current and future income and basic healthcare, as was noted by the WHO in 2019 Pandemic Influenza recommendations. The failure of the text to recognize this suggests that lessons from Covid-19 have not informed this draft Agreement. The WHO has not yet demonstrated how pandemic ‘preparedness,’ in the terms they use below, would have reduced impact, given that there is poor correlation between strictness or speed of response and eventual outcomes. Reiterating the need to work towards…an equitable approach to mitigate the risk that pandemics exacerbate existing inequities in access to health services, As above – in the past century, the issue of inequity has been most pronounced in pandemic response, rather than the impact of the virus itself (excluding the physiological variation in risk). Most recorded deaths from acute pandemics, since the Spanish flu, were during Covid-19, in which the virus hit mainly sick elderly, but response impacted working-age adults and children heavily and will continue to have effect, due to increased poverty and debt; reduced education and child marriage, in future generations. These have disproportionately affected lower-income people, and particularly women. The lack of recognition of this in this document, though they are recognized by the World Bank and UN agencies elsewhere, must raise real questions on whether this Agreement has been thoroughly thought through, and the process of development been sufficiently inclusive and objective. Chapter I. Introduction Article 1. Use of terms (i) “pathogen with pandemic potential” means any pathogen that has been identified to infect a human and that is: novel (not yet characterized) or known (including a variant of a known pathogen), potentially highly transmissible and/or highly virulent with the potential to cause a public health emergency of international concern. This provides a very wide scope to alter provisions. Any pathogen that can infect humans and is potentially highly transmissible or virulent, though yet uncharacterized means virtually any coronavirus, influenza virus, or a plethora of other relatively common pathogen groups. The IHR Amendments intend that the DG alone can make this call, over the advice of others, as occurred with monkeypox in 2022. (j) “persons in vulnerable situations” means individuals, groups or communities with a disproportionate increased risk of infection, severity, disease or mortality. This is a good definition – in Covid-19 context, would mean the sick elderly, and so is relevant to targeting a response. “Universal health coverage” means that all people have access to the full range of quality health services they need, when and where they need them, without financial hardship. While the general UHC concept is good, it is time a sensible (rather than patently silly) definition was adopted. Society cannot afford the full range of possible interventions and remedies for all, and clearly there is a scale of cost vs benefit that prioritizes certain ones over others. Sensible definitions make action more likely, and inaction harder to justify. One could argue that none should have the full range until all have good basic care, but clearly the earth will not support ‘the full range’ for 8 billion people. Article 2. Objective This Agreement is specifically for pandemics (a poorly defined term but essentially a pathogen that spreads rapidly across national borders). In contrast, the IHR amendments accompanying it are broader in scope – for any public health emergencies of international concern. Article 3. Principles 2. the sovereign right of States to adopt, legislate and implement legislation The amendments to the IHR require States to undertake to follow WHO instructions ahead of time, before such instruction and context are known. These two documents must be understood, as noted later in the Agreement draft, as complementary. 3. equity as the goal and outcome of pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, ensuring the absence of unfair, avoidable or remediable differences among groups of people. This definition of equity here needs clarification. In the pandemic context, the WHO emphasized commodity (vaccine) equity during the Covid-19 response. Elimination of differences implied equal access to Covid-19 vaccines in countries with large aging, obese highly vulnerable populations (e.g. the USA or Italy), and those with young populations at minimal risk and with far more pressing health priorities (e.g. Niger or Uganda). Alternatively, but equally damaging, equal access to different age groups within a country when the risk-benefit ratio is clearly greatly different. This promotes worse health outcomes by diverting resources from where they are most useful, as it ignores heterogeneity of risk. Again, an adult approach is required in international agreements, rather than feel-good sentences, if they are going to have a positive impact. 5. …a more equitable and better prepared world to prevent, respond to and recover from pandemics As with ‘3’ above, this raises a fundamental problem: What if health equity demands that some populations divert resources to childhood nutrition and endemic diseases rather than the latest pandemic, as these are likely of far higher burden to many younger but lower-income populations? This would not be equity in the definition implied here, but would clearly lead to better and more equal health outcomes. The WHO must decide whether it is about uniform action, or minimizing poor health, as these are clearly very different. They are the difference between the WHO’s commodity equity, and true health equity. Chapter II. The world together equitably: achieving equity in, for and through pandemic prevention, preparedness and response Equity in health should imply a reasonably equal chance of overcoming or avoiding preventable sickness. The vast majority of sickness and death is due to either non-communicable diseases often related to lifestyle, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus, undernutrition in childhood, and endemic infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDS. Achieving health equity would primarily mean addressing these. In this chapter of the draft Pandemic Agreement, equity is used to imply equal access to specific health commodities, particularly vaccines, for intermittent health emergencies, although these exert a small fraction of the burden of other diseases. It is, specifically, commodity-equity, and not geared to equalizing overall health burden but to enabling centrally-coordinated homogenous responses to unusual events. Article 4. Pandemic prevention and surveillance 2. The Parties shall undertake to cooperate: (b) in support of…initiatives aimed at preventing pandemics, in particular those that improve surveillance, early warning and risk assessment; .…and identify settings and activities presenting a risk of emergence and re-emergence of pathogens with pandemic potential. (c-h) [Paragraphs on water and sanitation, infection control, strengthening of biosafety, surveillance and prevention of vector-born diseases, and addressing antimicrobial resistance.] The WHO intends the Agreement to have force under international law. Therefore, countries are undertaking to put themselves under force of international law in regards to complying with the agreement’s stipulations. The provisions under this long article mostly cover general health stuff that countries try to do anyway. The difference will be that countries will be assessed on progress. Assessment can be fine if in context, less fine if it consists of entitled ‘experts’ from wealthy countries with little local knowledge or context. Perhaps such compliance is best left to national authorities, who are more in use with local needs and priorities. The justification for the international bureaucracy being built to support this, while fun for those involved, is unclear and will divert resources from actual health work. 6. The Conference of the Parties may adopt, as necessary, guidelines, recommendations and standards, including in relation to pandemic prevention capacities, to support the implementation of this Article. Here and later, the COP is invoked as a vehicle to decide on what will actually be done. The rules are explained later (Articles 21-23). While allowing more time is sensible, it begs the question of why it is not better to wait and discuss what is needed in the current INB process, before committing to a legally-binding agreement. This current article says nothing not already covered by the IHR2005 or other ongoing programs. Article 5. One Health approach to pandemic prevention, preparedness and response Nothing specific or new in this article. It seems redundant (it is advocating a holistic approach mentioned elsewhere) and so presumably is just to get the term ‘One Health’ into the agreement. (One could ask, why bother?) Some mainstream definitions of One Health (e.g. Lancet) consider that it means non-human species are on a par with humans in terms of rights and importance. If this is meant here, clearly most Member States would disagree. So we may assume that it is just words to keep someone happy (a little childish in an international document, but the term ‘One Health’ has been trending, like ‘equity,’ as if the concept of holistic approaches to public health were new). Article 6. Preparedness, health system resilience and recovery 2. Each Party commits…[to] : (a) routine and essential health services during pandemics with a focus on primary health care, routine immunization and mental health care, and with particular attention to persons in vulnerable situations (b) developing, strengthening and maintaining health infrastructure (c) developing post-pandemic health system recovery strategies (d) developing, strengthening and maintaining: health information systems This is good, and (a) seems to require avoidance of lockdowns (which inevitably cause the harms listed). Unfortunately other WHO documents lead one to assume this is not the intent…It does appear therefore that this is simply another list of fairly non-specific feel-good measures that have no useful place in a new legally-binding agreement, and which most countries are already undertaking. (e) promoting the use of social and behavioural sciences, risk communication and community engagement for pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. This requires clarification, as the use of behavioral science during the Covid-19 response involved deliberate inducement of fear to promote behaviors that people would not otherwise follow (e.g. Spi-B). It is essential here that the document clarifies how behavioral science should be used ethically in healthcare. Otherwise, this is also a quite meaningless provision. Article 7. Health and care workforce This long Article discusses health workforce, training, retention, non-discrimination, stigma, bias, adequate remuneration, and other standard provisions for workplaces. It is unclear why it is included in a legally binding pandemic agreement, except for: 4. [The Parties]…shall invest in establishing, sustaining, coordinating and mobilizing a skilled and trained multidisciplinary global public health emergency workforce…Parties having established emergency health teams should inform WHO thereof and make best efforts to respond to requests for deployment… Emergency health teams established (within capacity etc.) – are something countries already do, when they have capacity. There is no reason to have this as a legally-binding instrument, and clearly no urgency to do so. Article 8. Preparedness monitoring and functional reviews 1. The Parties shall, building on existing and relevant tools, develop and implement an inclusive, transparent, effective and efficient pandemic prevention, preparedness and response monitoring and evaluation system. 2. Each Party shall assess, every five years, with technical support from the WHO Secretariat upon request, the functioning and readiness of, and gaps in, its pandemic prevention, preparedness and response capacity, based on the relevant tools and guidelines developed by WHO in partnership with relevant organizations at international, regional and sub-regional levels. Note that this is being required of countries that are already struggling to implement monitoring systems for major endemic diseases, including tuberculosis, malaria, HIV, and nutritional deficiencies. They will be legally bound to divert resources to pandemic prevention. While there is some overlap, it will inevitably divert resources from currently underfunded programs for diseases of far higher local burdens, and so (not theoretically, but inevitably) raise mortality. Poor countries are being required to put resources into problems deemed significant by richer countries. Article 9. Research and development Various general provisions about undertaking background research that countries are generally doing anyway, but with an ’emerging disease’ slant. Again, the INB fails to justify why this diversion of resources from researching greater disease burdens should occur in all countries (why not just those with excess resources?). Article 10. Sustainable and geographically diversified production Mostly non-binding but suggested cooperation on making pandemic-related products available, including support for manufacturing in “inter-pandemic times” (a fascinating rendering of ‘normal’), when they would only be viable through subsidies. Much of this is probably unimplementable, as it would not be practical to maintain facilities in most or all countries on stand-by for rare events, at cost of resources otherwise useful for other priorities. The desire to increase production in ‘developing’ countries will face major barriers and costs in terms of maintaining quality of production, particularly as many products will have limited use outside of rare outbreak situations. Article 11. Transfer of technology and know-how This article, always problematic for large pharmaceutical corporations sponsoring much WHO outbreak activities, is now watered down to weak requirements to ‘consider,’ promote,’ provide, within capabilities’ etc. Article 12. Access and benefit sharing This Article is intended to establish the WHO Pathogen Access and Benefit-Sharing System (PABS System). PABS is intended to “ensure rapid, systematic and timely access to biological materials of pathogens with pandemic potential and the genetic sequence data.” This system is of potential high relevance and needs to be interpreted in the context that SARS-CoV-2, the pathogen causing the recent Covid-19 outbreak, was highly likely to have escaped from a laboratory. PABS is intended to expand the laboratory storage, transport, and handling of such viruses, under the oversight of the WHO, an organization outside of national jurisdiction with no significant direct experience in handling biological materials. 3. When a Party has access to a pathogen [it shall]: (a) share with WHO any pathogen sequence information as soon as it is available to the Party; (b) as soon as biological materials are available to the Party, provide the materials to one or more laboratories and/or biorepositories participating in WHO-coordinated laboratory networks (CLNs), Subsequent clauses state that benefits will be shared, and seek to prevent recipient laboratories from patenting materials received from other countries. This has been a major concern of low-and middle-income countries previously, who perceive that institutions in wealthy countries patent and benefit from materials derived from less-wealthy populations. It remains to be seen whether provisions here will be sufficient to address this. The article then becomes yet more concerning: 6. WHO shall conclude legally binding standard PABS contracts with manufacturers to provide the following, taking into account the size, nature and capacities of the manufacturer: (a) annual monetary contributions to support the PABS System and relevant capacities in countries; the determination of the annual amount, use, and approach for monitoring and accountability, shall be finalized by the Parties; (b) real-time contributions of relevant diagnostics, therapeutics or vaccines produced by the manufacturer, 10% free of charge and 10% at not-for-profit prices during public health emergencies of international concern or pandemics, … It is clearly intended that the WHO becomes directly involved in setting up legally binding manufacturing contracts, despite the WHO being outside of national jurisdictional oversight, within the territories of Member States. The PABS system, and therefore its staff and dependent entities, are also to be supported in part by funds from the manufacturers whom they are supposed to be managing. The income of the organization will be dependent on maintaining positive relationships with these private entities in a similar way in which many national regulatory agencies are dependent upon funds from pharmaceutical companies whom their staff ostensibly regulate. In this case, the regulator will be even further removed from public oversight. The clause on 10% (why 10?) products being free of charge, and similar at cost, while ensuring lower-priced commodities irrespective of actual need (the outbreak may be confined to wealthy countries). The same entity, the WHO, will determine whether the triggering emergency exists, determine the response, and manage the contracts to provide the commodities, without direct jurisdictional oversight regarding the potential for corruption or conflict of interest. It is a remarkable system to suggest, irrespective of political or regulatory environment. 8. The Parties shall cooperate…public financing of research and development, prepurchase agreements, or regulatory procedures, to encourage and facilitate as many manufacturers as possible to enter into standard PABS contracts as early as possible. The article envisions that public funding will be used to build the process, ensuring essentially no-risk private profit. 10. To support operationalization of the PABS System, WHO shall…make such contracts public, while respecting commercial confidentiality. The public may know whom contracts are made with, but not all details of the contracts. There will therefore be no independent oversight of the clauses agreed between the WHO, a body outside of national jurisdiction and dependent of commercial companies for funding some of its work and salaries, and these same companies, on ‘needs’ that the WHO itself will have sole authority, under the proposed amendments to the IHR, to determine. The Article further states that the WHO shall use its own product regulatory system (prequalification) and Emergency Use Listing Procedure to open and stimulate markets for the manufacturers of these products. It is doubtful that any national government could make such an overall agreement, yet in May 2024 they will be voting to provide this to what is essentially a foreign, and partly privately financed, entity. Article 13. Supply chain and logistics The WHO will become convenor of a ‘Global Supply Chain and Logistics Network’ for commercially-produced products, to be supplied under WHO contracts when and where the WHO determines, whilst also having the role of ensuring safety of such products. Having mutual support coordinated between countries is good. Having this run by an organization that is significantly funded directly by those gaining from the sale of these same commodities seems reckless and counterintuitive. Few countries would allow this (or at least plan for it). For this to occur safely, the WHO would logically have to forgo all private investment, and greatly restrict national specified funding contributions. Otherwise, the conflicts of interest involved would destroy confidence in the system. There is no suggestion of such divestment from the WHO, but rather, as in Article 12, private sector dependency, directly tied to contracts, will increase. Article 13bis: National procurement- and distribution-related provisions While suffering the same (perhaps unavoidable) issues regarding commercial confidentiality, this alternate Article 13 seems far more appropriate, keeping commercial issues under national jurisdiction and avoiding the obvious conflict of interests that underpin funding for WHO activities and staffing. Article 14. Regulatory systems strengthening This entire Article reflects initiatives and programs already in place. Nothing here appears likely to add to current effort. Article 15. Liability and compensation management 1. Each Party shall consider developing, as necessary and in accordance with applicable law, national strategies for managing liability in its territory related to pandemic vaccines…no-fault compensation mechanisms… 2. The Parties…shall develop recommendations for the establishment and implementation of national, regional and/or global no-fault compensation mechanisms and strategies for managing liability during pandemic emergencies, including with regard to individuals that are in a humanitarian setting or vulnerable situations. This is quite remarkable, but also reflects some national legislation, in removing any fault or liability specifically from vaccine manufacturers, for harms done in pushing out vaccines to the public. During the Covid-19 response, genetic therapeutics being developed by BioNtech and Moderna were reclassified as vaccines, on the basis that an immune response is stimulated after they have modified intracellular biochemical pathways as a medicine normally does. This enabled specific trials normally required for carcinogenicity and teratogenicity to be bypassed, despite raised fetal abnormality rates in animal trials. It will enable the CEPI 100-day vaccine program, supported with private funding to support private mRNA vaccine manufacturers, to proceed without any risk to the manufacturer should there be subsequent public harm. Together with an earlier provision on public funding of research and manufacturing readiness, and the removal of former wording requiring intellectual property sharing in Article 11, this ensures vaccine manufacturers and their investors make profit in effective absence of risk. These entities are currently heavily invested in support for WHO, and were strongly aligned with the introduction of newly restrictive outbreak responses that emphasized and sometimes mandated their products during the Covid-19 outbreak. Article 16. International collaboration and cooperation A somewhat pointless article. It suggests that countries cooperate with each other and the WHO to implement the other agreements in the Agreement. Article 17. Whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches A list of essentially motherhood provisions related to planning for a pandemic. However, countries will legally be required to maintain a ‘national coordination multisectoral body’ for PPPR. This will essentially be an added burden on budgets, and inevitably divert further resources from other priorities. Perhaps just strengthening current infectious disease and nutritional programs would be more impactful. (Nowhere in this Agreement is nutrition discussed (essential for resilience to pathogens) and minimal wording is included on sanitation and clean water (other major reasons for reduction in infectious disease mortality over past centuries). However, the ‘community ownership’ wording is interesting (“empower and enable community ownership of, and contribution to, community readiness for and resilience [for PPPR]”), as this directly contradicts much of the rest of the Agreement, including the centralization of control under the Conference of Parties, requirements for countries to allocate resources to pandemic preparedness over other community priorities, and the idea of inspecting and assessing adherence to the centralized requirements of the Agreement. Either much of the rest of the Agreement is redundant, or this wording is purely for appearance and not to be followed (and therefore should be removed). Article 18. Communication and public awareness 1. Each Party shall promote timely access to credible and evidence-based information …with the aim of countering and addressing misinformation or disinformation… 2. The Parties shall, as appropriate, promote and/or conduct research and inform policies on factors that hinder or strengthen adherence to public health and social measures in a pandemic, as well as trust in science and public health institutions and agencies. The key word is as appropriate, given that many agencies, including the WHO, have overseen or aided policies during the Covid-19 response that have greatly increased poverty, child marriage, teenage pregnancy, and education loss. As the WHO has been shown to be significantly misrepresenting pandemic risk in the process of advocating for this Agreement and related instruments, its own communications would also fall outside the provision here related to evidence-based information, and fall within normal understandings of misinformation. It could not therefore be an arbiter of correctness of information here, so the Article is not implementable. Rewritten to recommend accurate evidence-based information being promoted, it would make good sense, but this is not an issue requiring a legally binding international agreement. Article 19. Implementation and support 3. The WHO Secretariat…organize the technical and financial assistance necessary to address such gaps and needs in implementing the commitments agreed upon under the Pandemic Agreement and the International Health Regulations (2005). As the WHO is dependent on donor support, its ability to address gaps in funding within Member States is clearly not something it can guarantee. The purpose of this article is unclear, repeating in paragraphs 1 and 2 the earlier intent for countries to generally support each other. Article 20. Sustainable financing 1. The Parties commit to working together…In this regard, each Party, within the means and resources at its disposal, shall: (a) prioritize and maintain or increase, as necessary, domestic funding for pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, without undermining other domestic public health priorities including for: (i) strengthening and sustaining capacities for the prevention, preparedness and response to health emergencies and pandemics, in particular the core capacities of the International Health Regulations (2005);… This is silly wording, as countries obviously have to prioritize within budgets, so that moving funds to one area means removing from another. The essence of public health policy is weighing and making such decisions; this reality seems to be ignored here through wishful thinking. (a) is clearly redundant, as the IHR (2005) already exists and countries have agreed to support it. 3. A Coordinating Financial Mechanism (the “Mechanism”) is hereby established to support the implementation of both the WHO Pandemic Agreement and the International Health Regulations (2005) This will be in parallel to the Pandemic Fund recently commenced by the World Bank – an issue not lost on INB delegates and so likely to change here in the final version. It will also be additive to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, and other health financing mechanisms, and so require another parallel international bureaucracy, presumably based in Geneva. It is intended to have its own capacity to “conduct relevant analyses on needs and gaps, in addition to tracking cooperation efforts,” so it will not be a small undertaking. Chapter III. Institutional and final provisions Article 21. Conference of the Parties 1. A Conference of the Parties is hereby established. 2. The Conference of the Parties shall keep under regular review, every three years, the implementation of the WHO Pandemic Agreement and take the decisions necessary to promote its effective implementation. This sets up the governing body to oversee this Agreement (another body requiring a secretariat and support). It is intended to meet within a year of the Agreement coming into force, and then set its own rules on meeting thereafter. It is likely that many provisions outlined in this draft of the Agreement will be deferred to the COP for further discussion. Articles 22 – 37 These articles cover the functioning of the Conference of Parties (COP) and various administrative issues. Of note, ‘block votes’ will be allowed from regional bodies (e.g. the EU). The WHO will provide the secretariat. Under Article 24 is noted: 3. Nothing in the WHO Pandemic Agreement shall be interpreted as providing the Secretariat of the World Health Organization, including the WHO Director-General, any authority to direct, order, alter or otherwise prescribe the domestic laws or policies of any Party, or to mandate or otherwise impose any requirements that Parties take specific actions, such as ban or accept travellers, impose vaccination mandates or therapeutic or diagnostic measures, or implement lockdowns. These provisions are explicitly stated in the proposed amendments to the IHR, to be considered alongside this agreement. Article 26 notes that the IHR is to be interpreted as compatible, thereby confirming that the IHR provisions including border closures and limits on freedom of movement, mandated vaccination, and other lockdown measures are not negated by this statement. As Article 26 states: “The Parties recognize that the WHO Pandemic Agreement and the International Health Regulations should be interpreted so as to be compatible.” Some would consider this subterfuge – The Director-General recently labeled as liars those who claimed the Agreement included these powers, whilst failing to acknowledge the accompanying IHR amendments. The WHO could do better in avoiding misleading messaging, especially when this involves denigration of the public. Article 32 (Withdrawal) requires that, once adopted, Parties cannot withdraw for a total of 3 years (giving notice after a minimum of 2 years). Financial obligations undertaken under the agreement continue beyond that time. Finally, the Agreement will come into force, assuming a two-thirds majority in the WHA is achieved (Article 19, WHO Constitution), 30 days after the fortieth country has ratified it. Further reading: WHO Pandemic Agreement Intergovernmental Negotiating Board website: https://inb.who.int/ International Health Regulations Working Group website: https://apps.who.int/gb/wgihr/index.html On background to the WHO texts: Amendments to WHO’s International Health Regulations: An Annotated Guide An Unofficial Q&A on International Health Regulations On urgency and burden of pandemics: https://essl.leeds.ac.uk/downloads/download/228/rational-policy-over-panic Disease X and Davos: This is Not the Way to Evaluate and Formulate Public Health Policy Before Preparing for Pandemics, We Need Better Evidence of Risk Revised Draft of the negotiating text of the WHO Pandemic Agreement: Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License For reprints, please set the canonical link back to the original Brownstone Institute Article and Author. Authors David Bell David Bell, Senior Scholar at Brownstone Institute, is a public health physician and biotech consultant in global health. He is a former medical officer and scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO), Programme Head for malaria and febrile diseases at the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) in Geneva, Switzerland, and Director of Global Health Technologies at Intellectual Ventures Global Good Fund in Bellevue, WA, USA. View all posts Thi Thuy Van Dinh Dr. Thi Thuy Van Dinh (LLM, PhD) worked on international law in the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Subsequently, she managed multilateral organization partnerships for Intellectual Ventures Global Good Fund and led environmental health technology development efforts for low-resource settings. View all posts Your financial backing of Brownstone Institute goes to support writers, lawyers, scientists, economists, and other people of courage who have been professionally purged and displaced during the upheaval of our times. You can help get the truth out through their ongoing work. https://brownstone.org/articles/the-who-pandemic-agreement-a-guide/ https://www.minds.com/donshafi911/blog/the-who-pandemic-agreement-a-guide-1621719398509187077
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    The WHO Pandemic Agreement: A Guide ⋆ Brownstone Institute
    The commentary below concentrates on selected draft provisions of the latest publicly available version of the draft agreement that seem to be unclear or potentially problematic.
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  • Israeli occupation forces are committing the actual rapes of Palestinians in Gaza

    Lawyer behind 'Hamas rape' claims exposed as fraud
    Employees of Israeli ministries claim that Cochav Elkayam-Levy has spread fake news and sought to make millions off her false claims about Hamas carrying out mass rapes on 7 October


    Israeli officials have "dissociated themselves" from a lawyer who has played a vital role in promoting false claims that Hamas carried out systematic rape and sexual abuse on 7 October, Yedioth Ahronoth reported on 24 March.

    The Israeli newspaper reported claims by Israeli ministry officials that lawyer Cochav Elkayam-Levy had produced inaccurate research, spread false stories about Hamas atrocities, and sought to collect millions of dollars in donations for a so-called ‘civic commission’ of which she is the only member.

    Elkayam-Levy, who is the head of the Deborah Institute and a lecturer in the Department of International Relations at the Hebrew University, was among the first to spread false claims that Hamas had carried out systematic rape during Operation Al-Aqsa Flood.

    As The Grayzone detailed, Elkayam-Levy presented images of female Kurdish fighters killed in Syria while claiming they were Jewish Israeli women who had been killed and raped by Hamas fighters at the Nova Music Festival on 7 October.

    The Grayzone further noted that Elkayam-Levy gained significant public attention in December after being interviewed by CNN's Jake Tapper and meeting with members of the White House National Security Council and Assistant to the President and Director of the Gender Policy Council Jennifer Klein in Washington.

    "People disassociated themselves from her because her research is inaccurate," explained an official in one of the government offices speaking with Yedioth Ahronoth. "After all, the whole story is that they [Palestinians] want to accuse us of spreading fake news, and her methodology was neither good nor accurate."

    Elkayam-Levy spread the story in the international press "about the pregnant woman who had her stomach cut open – a story that was proven to be untrue," one official complained. "It's no joke. Little by little, professionals began to distance themselves from her because she is unreliable."

    She also created a ‘civilian commission’ to investigate alleged Hamas atrocities. While the commission's name suggests it was a government-established body, it consisted only of Elkayam-Levy herself.

    She then solicited millions of dollars in donations for the fake commission, claiming a budget of $8 million, including $1.5 million for administrative fees, was needed.

    "Rahm Emanuel, the US ambassador to Japan, donated money to her. She took donations from many people and started asking for money for lectures," said the same official in the government office.

    The critical report from Yeditoh Ahronoth comes just days after Elkayam-Levy was given the Israel Prize for her efforts to ‘raise awareness’ about alleged Hamas atrocities on 7 October.

    The Israeli government has sought to use seemingly neutral third parties, including the volunteer rescue services, ZAKA and United Hatzalah, to spread propaganda regarding the events of 7 October.

    These groups have fabricated wild tales of Hamas crimes in an effort to justify Israel's ongoing Genocide in Gaza.

    https://thecradle.co/articles-id/24093
    Israeli occupation forces are committing the actual rapes of Palestinians in Gaza Lawyer behind 'Hamas rape' claims exposed as fraud Employees of Israeli ministries claim that Cochav Elkayam-Levy has spread fake news and sought to make millions off her false claims about Hamas carrying out mass rapes on 7 October Israeli officials have "dissociated themselves" from a lawyer who has played a vital role in promoting false claims that Hamas carried out systematic rape and sexual abuse on 7 October, Yedioth Ahronoth reported on 24 March. The Israeli newspaper reported claims by Israeli ministry officials that lawyer Cochav Elkayam-Levy had produced inaccurate research, spread false stories about Hamas atrocities, and sought to collect millions of dollars in donations for a so-called ‘civic commission’ of which she is the only member. Elkayam-Levy, who is the head of the Deborah Institute and a lecturer in the Department of International Relations at the Hebrew University, was among the first to spread false claims that Hamas had carried out systematic rape during Operation Al-Aqsa Flood. As The Grayzone detailed, Elkayam-Levy presented images of female Kurdish fighters killed in Syria while claiming they were Jewish Israeli women who had been killed and raped by Hamas fighters at the Nova Music Festival on 7 October. The Grayzone further noted that Elkayam-Levy gained significant public attention in December after being interviewed by CNN's Jake Tapper and meeting with members of the White House National Security Council and Assistant to the President and Director of the Gender Policy Council Jennifer Klein in Washington. "People disassociated themselves from her because her research is inaccurate," explained an official in one of the government offices speaking with Yedioth Ahronoth. "After all, the whole story is that they [Palestinians] want to accuse us of spreading fake news, and her methodology was neither good nor accurate." Elkayam-Levy spread the story in the international press "about the pregnant woman who had her stomach cut open – a story that was proven to be untrue," one official complained. "It's no joke. Little by little, professionals began to distance themselves from her because she is unreliable." She also created a ‘civilian commission’ to investigate alleged Hamas atrocities. While the commission's name suggests it was a government-established body, it consisted only of Elkayam-Levy herself. She then solicited millions of dollars in donations for the fake commission, claiming a budget of $8 million, including $1.5 million for administrative fees, was needed. "Rahm Emanuel, the US ambassador to Japan, donated money to her. She took donations from many people and started asking for money for lectures," said the same official in the government office. The critical report from Yeditoh Ahronoth comes just days after Elkayam-Levy was given the Israel Prize for her efforts to ‘raise awareness’ about alleged Hamas atrocities on 7 October. The Israeli government has sought to use seemingly neutral third parties, including the volunteer rescue services, ZAKA and United Hatzalah, to spread propaganda regarding the events of 7 October. These groups have fabricated wild tales of Hamas crimes in an effort to justify Israel's ongoing Genocide in Gaza. https://thecradle.co/articles-id/24093
    THECRADLE.CO
    Lawyer behind 'Hamas rape' claims exposed as fraud
    Employees of Israeli ministries claim that Cochav Elkayam-Levy has spread fake news and sought to make millions off her false claims about Hamas carrying out mass rapes on 7 October
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  • The Silent Shame of Health Institutions
    J.R. Bruning
    For how much longer will health policy ignore multimorbidity, that looming, giant elephant in the room, that propagates and amplifies suffering? For how much longer will the ‘trend’ of increasing diagnoses of multiple health conditions, at younger and younger ages be rendered down by government agencies to better and more efficient services, screening modalities, and drug choices?

    Multimorbidity, the presence of many chronic conditions, is the silent shame of health policy.

    All too often chronic conditions overlap and accumulate. From cancer, to diabetes, to digestive system diseases, to high blood pressure, to skin conditions in cascades of suffering. Heartbreakingly, these conditions commonly overlap with mental illnesses or disorders. It’s increasingly common for people to be diagnosed with multiple mental conditions, such as having anxiety and depression, or anxiety and schizophrenia.

    Calls for equity tend to revolve around medical treatment, even as absurdities and injustices accrue.

    Multimorbidity occurs a decade earlier in socioeconomically deprived communities. Doctors are diagnosing multimorbidity at younger and younger ages.

    Treatment regimens for people with multiple conditions necessarily entail a polypharmacy approach – the prescribing of multiple medications. One condition may require multiple medications. Thus, with multimorbidity comes increased risk of adverse outcomes and polyiatrogenesis – ‘medical harm caused by medical treatments on multiple fronts simultaneously and in conjunction with one another.’

    Side effects, whether short-term or patients’ concerns about long-term harm, are the main reason for non-adherence to prescribed medications.

    So ‘equity’ which only implies drug treatment doesn’t involve equity at all.

    Poor diets may be foundational to the Western world’s health crisis. But are governments considering this?

    The antinomies are piling up.

    We are amid a global epidemic of metabolic syndrome. Insulin resistance, obesity, elevated triglyceride levels and low levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and elevated blood pressure haunt the people queuing up to see doctors.

    Research, from individual cases to clinical trials, consistently show that diets containing high levels of ultra-processed foods and carbohydrates amplify inflammation, oxidative stress, and insulin resistance. What researchers and scientists are also identifying, at the cellular level, in clinical and medical practice, and at the global level – is that insulin resistance, inflammation, oxidative stress, and nutrient deficiencies from poor diets not only drive metabolic illness, but mental illnesses, compounding suffering.

    There is also ample evidence that the metabolic and mental health epidemic that is driving years lost due to disease, reducing productivity, and creating mayhem in personal lives – may be preventable and reversible.

    Doctors generally recognise that poor diets are a problem. Ultra-processed foods are strongly associated with adult and childhood ill health. Ultra-processed foods are

    ‘formulations of ingredients, mostly of exclusive industrial use, typically created by series of industrial techniques and processes (hence ‘ultra-processed’).’

    In the USA young people under age 19 consume on average 67% of their diet, while adults consume around 60% of their diet in ultra-processed food. Ultra-processed food contributes 60% of UK children’s calories; 42% of Australian children’s calories and over half the dietary calories for children and adolescents in Canada. In New Zealand in 2009-2010, ultra-processed foods contributed to the 45% (12 months), 42% (24 months), and 51% (60 months) of energy intake to the diets of children.

    All too frequently, doctors are diagnosing both metabolic and mental illnesses.

    What may be predictable is that a person is likely to develop insulin resistance, inflammation, oxidative stress, and nutrient deficiencies from chronic exposure to ultra-processed food. How this will manifest in a disease or syndrome condition is reflective of a human equivalent of quantum entanglement.

    Cascades, feedback loops, and other interdependencies often leave doctors and patients bouncing from one condition to another, and managing medicine side effects and drug-drug relationships as they go.

    In New Zealand it is more common to have multiple conditions than a single condition. The costs of having two NCDs simultaneously is typically superadditive and ‘more so for younger adults.’

    This information is outside the ‘work programme’ of the top echelons in the Ministry of Health:

    Official Information Act (OIA) requests confirm that the Ministries’ Directors General who are responsible for setting policy and long-term strategy aren’t considering these issues. The problem of multimorbidity and the overlapping, entangled relationship with ultra-processed food is outside of the scope of the work programme of the top directorates in our health agency.

    New Zealand’s Ministry of Health’s top deputy directors general might be earning a quarter of a million dollars each, but they are ignorant of the relationship of dietary nutrition and mental health. Nor are they seemingly aware of the extent of multimorbidity and the overlap between metabolic and mental illnesses.

    Neither the Public Health Agency Deputy Director-General – Dr Andrew Old, nor the Deputy Director-General Evidence, Research and Innovation, Dean Rutherford, nor the Deputy Director-General of Strategy Policy and Legislation, Maree Roberts, nor the Clinical, Community and Mental Health Deputy Director-General Robyn Shearer have been briefed on these relationships.

    If they’re not being briefed, policy won’t be developed to address dietary nutrition. Diet will be lower-order.

    The OIA request revealed that New Zealand’s Ministry of Health ‘does not widely use the metabolic syndrome classification.’ When I asked ‘How do you classify, or what term do you use to classify the cluster of symptoms characterised by central obesity, dyslipidemia, hypertension, and insulin resistance?’, they responded:

    ‘The conditions referred to are considered either on their own or as part of a broader cardiovascular disease risk calculation.’

    This is interesting. What if governments should be calculating insulin resistance first, in order to then calculate a broader cardiovascular risk? What if insulin resistance, inflammation, and oxidative stress are appearing at younger and younger ages, and ultra-processed food is the major driver?

    Pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes are driven by too much blood glucose. Type 1 diabetics can’t make insulin, while Type 2 diabetics can’t make enough to compensate for their dietary intake of carbohydrates. One of insulin’s (many) jobs is to tuck away that blood glucose into cells (as fat) but when there are too many dietary carbohydrates pumping up blood glucose, the body can’t keep up. New Zealand practitioners use the HbA1c blood test, which measures the average blood glucose level over the past 2-3 months. In New Zealand, doctors diagnose pre-diabetes if HbA1c levels are 41-49 nmol/mol, and diabetes at levels of 50 nmol/mol and above.

    Type 2 diabetes management guidelines recommend that sugar intake should be reduced, while people should aim for consistent carbohydrates across the day. The New Zealand government does not recommend paleo or low-carbohydrate diets.

    If you have diabetes you are twice as likely to have heart disease or a stroke, and at a younger age. Prediabetes, which apparently 20% of Kiwis have, is also high-risk due to, as the Ministry of Health states: ‘increased risk of macrovascular complications and early death.’

    The question might become – should we be looking at insulin levels, to more sensitively gauge risk at an early stage?

    Without more sensitive screens at younger ages these opportunities to repivot to avoid chronic disease are likely to be missed. Currently, Ministry of Health policies are unlikely to justify the funding of tests for insulin resistance by using three simple blood tests: fasting insulin, fasting lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides), and fasting glucose – to estimate where children, young people, and adults stand on the insulin resistance spectrum when other diagnoses pop up.

    Yet insulin plays a powerful role in brain health.

    Insulin supports neurotransmitter function and brain energy, directly impacting mood and behaviours. Insulin resistance might arrive before mental illness. Harvard-based psychiatrist Chris Palmer recounts in the book Brain Energy, a large 15,000-participant study of young people from age 0-24:

    ‘Children who had persistently high insulin levels (a sign of insulin resistance) beginning at age nine were five times more likely to be at risk for psychosis, meaning they were showing at least some worrisome signs, and they were three times for likely to already be diagnosed with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia by the time they turned twenty-four. This study clearly demonstrated that insulin resistance comes first, then psychosis.’

    Psychiatrist Georgia Ede suggests that high blood glucose and high insulin levels act like a ‘deadly one-two punch’ for the brain, triggering waves of inflammation and oxidative stress. The blood-brain barrier becomes increasingly resistant to chronic high insulin levels. Even though the body might have higher blood insulin, the same may not be true for the brain. As Ede maintains, ‘cells deprived of adequate insulin ‘sputter and struggle to maintain normal operations.’

    Looking at the relationship between brain health and high blood glucose and high insulin simply might not be on the programme for strategists looking at long-term planning.

    Nor are Directors General in a position to assess the role of food addiction. Ultra-processed food has addictive qualities designed into the product formulations. Food addiction is increasingly recognised as pervasive and difficult to manage as any substance addiction.

    But how many children and young people have insulin resistance and are showing markers for inflammation and oxidative stress – in the body and in the brain? To what extent do young people have both insulin resistance and depression resistance or ADHD or bipolar disorder?

    This kind of thinking is completely outside the work programme. But insulin levels, inflammation, and oxidative stress may not only be driving chronic illness – but driving the global mental health tsunami.

    Metabolic disorders are involved in complex pathways and feedback loops across body systems, and doctors learn this at medical school. Patterns and relationships between hormones, the brain, the gastrointestinal system, kidneys, and liver; as well as problems with joints and bone health, autoimmunity, nerves, and sensory conditions evolve from and revolve around metabolic health.

    Nutrition and diet are downplayed in medical school. What doctors don’t learn so much – the cognitive dissonance that they must accept throughout their training – is that metabolic health is commonly (except for some instances) shaped by the quality of dietary nutrition. The aetiology of a given condition can be very different, while the evidence that common chronic and mental illnesses are accompanied by oxidative stress, inflammation, and insulin resistance are primarily driven by diet – is growing stronger and stronger.

    But without recognising the overlapping relationships, policy to support healthy diets will remain limp.

    What we witness are notions of equity that support pharmaceutical delivery – not health delivery.

    What also inevitably happens is that ‘equity’ focuses on medical treatment. When the Ministry of Health prefers to atomise the different conditions or associate them with heart disease – they become single conditions to treat with single drugs. They’re lots of small problems, not one big problem, and insulin resistance is downplayed.

    But just as insulin resistance, inflammation, and oxidative stress send cascading impacts across body systems, systemic ignorance sends cascading effects across government departments tasked with ‘improving, promoting, and protecting health.’

    It’s an injustice. The literature solidly points to lower socio-economic status driving much poorer diets and increased exposures to ultra-processed food, but the treatments exclusively involve drugs and therapy.

    Briefings to Incoming Ministers with the election of new Governments show how ignorance cascades across responsible authorities.

    Health New Zealand, Te Whatu Ora’s November 2023 Briefing to the new government outlined the agency’s obligations. However, the ‘health’ targets are medical, and the agency’s focus is on infrastructure, staff, and servicing. The promotion of health, and health equity, which can only be addressed by addressing the determinants of health, is not addressed.

    The Māori Health Authority and Health New Zealand Joint Briefing to the Incoming Minister for Mental Health does not address the role of diet and nutrition as a driver of mental illness and disorder in New Zealand. The issue of multimorbidity, the related problem of commensurate metabolic illness, and diet as a driver is outside scope. When the Briefing states that it is important to address the ‘social, cultural, environmental and economic determinants of mental health,’ without any sound policy footing, real movement to address diet will not happen, or will only happen ad hoc.

    The Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission, Te Hiringa Mahara’s November 2023 Briefing to Incoming Ministers that went to the Ministers for Health and Mental Health might use the term ‘well-being’ over 120 times – but was silent on the related and overlapping drivers of mental illness which include metabolic or multimorbidity, nutrition, or diet.

    Five years earlier, He Ara Ora, New Zealand’s 2018 Mental Health and Addiction enquiry had recognised that tāngata whaiora, people seeking wellness, or service users, also tend to have multiple health conditions. The enquiry recommended that a whole of government approach to well-being, prevention, and social determinants was required. Vague nods were made to diet and nutrition, but this was not sufficiently emphasised as to be a priority.

    He Ara Ora was followed by 2020 Long-term pathway to mental well-being viewed nutrition as being one of a range of factors. No policy framework strategically prioritised diet, nutrition, and healthy food. No governmental obligation or commitment was built into policy to improve access to healthy food or nutrition education.

    Understanding the science, the relationships, and the drivers of the global epidemic, is ‘outside the work programmes’ of New Zealand’s Ministry of Health and outside the scope of all the related authorities. There is an extraordinary amount of data in the scientific literature, so many case studies, cohort studies, and clinical trials. Popular books are being written, however government agencies remain ignorant.

    In the meantime, doctors must deal with the suffering in front of them without an adequate toolkit.

    Doctors and pharmacists are faced with a Hobson’s choice of managing multiple chronic conditions and complex drug cocktails, in patients at younger and younger ages. Ultimately, they are treating a patient whom they recognise will only become sicker, cost the health system more, and suffer more.

    Currently there is little support for New Zealand medical doctors (known as general practitioners, or GPs) in changing practices and recommendations to support non-pharmaceutical drug treatment approaches. Their medical education does not equip them to recognise the extent to which multiple co-existing conditions may be alleviated or reversed. Doctors are paid to prescribe, to inject, and to screen, not to ameliorate or reverse disease and lessen prescribing. The prescribing of nutrients is discouraged and as doctors do not have nutritional training, they hesitate to prescribe nutrients.

    Many do not want to risk going outside treatment guidelines. Recent surges in protocols and guidelines for medical doctors reduce flexibility and narrow treatment choices for doctors. If they were to be reported to the Medical Council of New Zealand, they would risk losing their medical license. They would then be unable to practice.

    Inevitably, without Ministry of Health leadership, medical doctors in New Zealand are unlikely to voluntarily prescribe non-drug modalities such as nutritional options to any meaningful extent, for fear of being reported.

    Yet some doctors are proactive, such as Dr Glen Davies in Taupo, New Zealand. Some doctors are in a better ‘place’ to work to alleviate and reverse long-term conditions. They may be later in their career, with 10-20 years of research into metabolism, dietary nutrition, and patient care, and motivated to guide a patient through a personal care regime which might alleviate or reverse a patient’s suffering.

    Barriers include resourcing. Doctors aren’t paid for reversing disease and taking patients off medications.

    Doctors witness daily the hopelessness felt by their patients in dealing with chronic conditions in their short 15-minute consultations, and the vigilance required for dealing with adverse drug effects. Drug non-compliance is associated with adverse effects suffered by patients. Yet without wrap-around support changing treatments, even if it has potential to alleviate multiple conditions, to reduce symptoms, lower prescribing and therefore lessen side effects, is just too uncertain.

    They saw what happened to disobedient doctors during Covid-19.

    Given such context, what are we to do?

    Have open public discussions about doctor-patient relationships and trust. Inform and overlay such conversations by drawing attention to the foundational Hippocratic Oath made by doctors, to first do no harm.

    Questions can be asked. If patients were to understand that diet may be an underlying driver of multiple conditions, and a change in diet and improvement in micronutrient status might alleviate suffering – would patients be more likely to change?

    Economically, if wrap-around services were provided in clinics to support dietary change, would less harm occur to patients from worsening conditions that accompany many diseases (such as Type 2 diabetes) and the ever-present problem of drug side-effects? Would education and wrap-around services in early childhood and youth delay or prevent the onset of multimorbid diagnoses?

    Is it more ethical to give young people a choice of treatment? Could doctors prescribe dietary changes and multinutrients and support change with wrap-around support when children and young people are first diagnosed with a mental health condition – from the clinic, to school, to after school? If that doesn’t work, then prescribe pharmaceutical drugs.

    Should children and young people be educated to appreciate the extent to which their consumption of ultra-processed food likely drives their metabolic and mental health conditions? Not just in a blithe ‘eat healthy’ fashion that patently avoids discussing addiction. Through deeper policy mechanisms, including cooking classes and nutritional biology by the implementation of nourishing, low-carbohydrate cooked school lunches.

    With officials uninformed, it’s easy to see why funding for Green Prescriptions that would support dietary changes have sputtered out. It’s easy to understand why neither the Ministry of Health nor Pharmac have proactively sourced multi-nutrient treatments that improve resilience to stress and trauma for low-income young people. Why there’s no discussion on a lower side-effect risk for multinutrient treatments. Why are there no policies in the education curriculum diving into the relationship between ultra-processed food and mental and physical health? It’s not in the work programme.

    There’s another surfacing dilemma.

    Currently, if doctors tell their patients that there is very good evidence that their disease or syndrome could be reversed, and this information is not held as factual information by New Zealand’s Ministry of Health – do doctors risk being accused of spreading misinformation?

    Government agencies have pivoted in the past 5 years to focus intensively on the problem of dis- and misinformation. New Zealand’s disinformation project states that

    Disinformation is false or modified information knowingly and deliberately shared to cause harm or achieve a broader aim.
    Misinformation is information that is false or misleading, though not created or shared with the direct intention of causing harm.
    Unfortunately, as we see, there is no division inside the Ministry of Health that reviews the latest evidence in the scientific literature, to ensure that policy decisions correctly reflect the latest evidence.

    There is no scientific agency outside the Ministry of Health that has flexibility and the capacity to undertake autonomous, long-term monitoring and research in nutrition, diet, and health. There is no independent, autonomous, public health research facility with sufficient long-term funding to translate dietary and nutritional evidence into policy, particularly if it contradicted current policy positions.

    Despite excellent research being undertaken, it is highly controlled, ad hoc, and frequently short-term. Problematically, there is no resourcing for those scientists to meaningfully feedback that information to either the Ministry of Health or to Members of Parliament and government Ministers.

    Dietary guidelines can become locked in, and contradictions can fail to be chewed over. Without the capacity to address errors, information can become outdated and misleading. Government agencies and elected members – from local councils all the way up to government Ministers, are dependent on being informed by the Ministry of Health, when it comes to government policy.

    When it comes to complex health conditions, and alleviating and reversing metabolic or mental illness, based on different patient capacity – from socio-economic, to cultural, to social, and taking into account capacity for change, what is sound, evidence-based information and what is misinformation?

    In the impasse, who can we trust?

    Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
    For reprints, please set the canonical link back to the original Brownstone Institute Article and Author.

    Author

    J.R. Bruning is a consultant sociologist (B.Bus.Agribusiness; MA Sociology) based in New Zealand. Her work explores governance cultures, policy and the production of scientific and technical knowledge. Her Master’s thesis explored the ways science policy creates barriers to funding, stymying scientists’ efforts to explore upstream drivers of harm. Bruning is a trustee of Physicians & Scientists for Global Responsibility (PSGR.org.nz). Papers and writing can be found at TalkingRisk.NZ and at JRBruning.Substack.com and at Talking Risk on Rumble.

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    https://brownstone.org/articles/the-silent-shame-of-health-institutions/
    The Silent Shame of Health Institutions J.R. Bruning For how much longer will health policy ignore multimorbidity, that looming, giant elephant in the room, that propagates and amplifies suffering? For how much longer will the ‘trend’ of increasing diagnoses of multiple health conditions, at younger and younger ages be rendered down by government agencies to better and more efficient services, screening modalities, and drug choices? Multimorbidity, the presence of many chronic conditions, is the silent shame of health policy. All too often chronic conditions overlap and accumulate. From cancer, to diabetes, to digestive system diseases, to high blood pressure, to skin conditions in cascades of suffering. Heartbreakingly, these conditions commonly overlap with mental illnesses or disorders. It’s increasingly common for people to be diagnosed with multiple mental conditions, such as having anxiety and depression, or anxiety and schizophrenia. Calls for equity tend to revolve around medical treatment, even as absurdities and injustices accrue. Multimorbidity occurs a decade earlier in socioeconomically deprived communities. Doctors are diagnosing multimorbidity at younger and younger ages. Treatment regimens for people with multiple conditions necessarily entail a polypharmacy approach – the prescribing of multiple medications. One condition may require multiple medications. Thus, with multimorbidity comes increased risk of adverse outcomes and polyiatrogenesis – ‘medical harm caused by medical treatments on multiple fronts simultaneously and in conjunction with one another.’ Side effects, whether short-term or patients’ concerns about long-term harm, are the main reason for non-adherence to prescribed medications. So ‘equity’ which only implies drug treatment doesn’t involve equity at all. Poor diets may be foundational to the Western world’s health crisis. But are governments considering this? The antinomies are piling up. We are amid a global epidemic of metabolic syndrome. Insulin resistance, obesity, elevated triglyceride levels and low levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and elevated blood pressure haunt the people queuing up to see doctors. Research, from individual cases to clinical trials, consistently show that diets containing high levels of ultra-processed foods and carbohydrates amplify inflammation, oxidative stress, and insulin resistance. What researchers and scientists are also identifying, at the cellular level, in clinical and medical practice, and at the global level – is that insulin resistance, inflammation, oxidative stress, and nutrient deficiencies from poor diets not only drive metabolic illness, but mental illnesses, compounding suffering. There is also ample evidence that the metabolic and mental health epidemic that is driving years lost due to disease, reducing productivity, and creating mayhem in personal lives – may be preventable and reversible. Doctors generally recognise that poor diets are a problem. Ultra-processed foods are strongly associated with adult and childhood ill health. Ultra-processed foods are ‘formulations of ingredients, mostly of exclusive industrial use, typically created by series of industrial techniques and processes (hence ‘ultra-processed’).’ In the USA young people under age 19 consume on average 67% of their diet, while adults consume around 60% of their diet in ultra-processed food. Ultra-processed food contributes 60% of UK children’s calories; 42% of Australian children’s calories and over half the dietary calories for children and adolescents in Canada. In New Zealand in 2009-2010, ultra-processed foods contributed to the 45% (12 months), 42% (24 months), and 51% (60 months) of energy intake to the diets of children. All too frequently, doctors are diagnosing both metabolic and mental illnesses. What may be predictable is that a person is likely to develop insulin resistance, inflammation, oxidative stress, and nutrient deficiencies from chronic exposure to ultra-processed food. How this will manifest in a disease or syndrome condition is reflective of a human equivalent of quantum entanglement. Cascades, feedback loops, and other interdependencies often leave doctors and patients bouncing from one condition to another, and managing medicine side effects and drug-drug relationships as they go. In New Zealand it is more common to have multiple conditions than a single condition. The costs of having two NCDs simultaneously is typically superadditive and ‘more so for younger adults.’ This information is outside the ‘work programme’ of the top echelons in the Ministry of Health: Official Information Act (OIA) requests confirm that the Ministries’ Directors General who are responsible for setting policy and long-term strategy aren’t considering these issues. The problem of multimorbidity and the overlapping, entangled relationship with ultra-processed food is outside of the scope of the work programme of the top directorates in our health agency. New Zealand’s Ministry of Health’s top deputy directors general might be earning a quarter of a million dollars each, but they are ignorant of the relationship of dietary nutrition and mental health. Nor are they seemingly aware of the extent of multimorbidity and the overlap between metabolic and mental illnesses. Neither the Public Health Agency Deputy Director-General – Dr Andrew Old, nor the Deputy Director-General Evidence, Research and Innovation, Dean Rutherford, nor the Deputy Director-General of Strategy Policy and Legislation, Maree Roberts, nor the Clinical, Community and Mental Health Deputy Director-General Robyn Shearer have been briefed on these relationships. If they’re not being briefed, policy won’t be developed to address dietary nutrition. Diet will be lower-order. The OIA request revealed that New Zealand’s Ministry of Health ‘does not widely use the metabolic syndrome classification.’ When I asked ‘How do you classify, or what term do you use to classify the cluster of symptoms characterised by central obesity, dyslipidemia, hypertension, and insulin resistance?’, they responded: ‘The conditions referred to are considered either on their own or as part of a broader cardiovascular disease risk calculation.’ This is interesting. What if governments should be calculating insulin resistance first, in order to then calculate a broader cardiovascular risk? What if insulin resistance, inflammation, and oxidative stress are appearing at younger and younger ages, and ultra-processed food is the major driver? Pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes are driven by too much blood glucose. Type 1 diabetics can’t make insulin, while Type 2 diabetics can’t make enough to compensate for their dietary intake of carbohydrates. One of insulin’s (many) jobs is to tuck away that blood glucose into cells (as fat) but when there are too many dietary carbohydrates pumping up blood glucose, the body can’t keep up. New Zealand practitioners use the HbA1c blood test, which measures the average blood glucose level over the past 2-3 months. In New Zealand, doctors diagnose pre-diabetes if HbA1c levels are 41-49 nmol/mol, and diabetes at levels of 50 nmol/mol and above. Type 2 diabetes management guidelines recommend that sugar intake should be reduced, while people should aim for consistent carbohydrates across the day. The New Zealand government does not recommend paleo or low-carbohydrate diets. If you have diabetes you are twice as likely to have heart disease or a stroke, and at a younger age. Prediabetes, which apparently 20% of Kiwis have, is also high-risk due to, as the Ministry of Health states: ‘increased risk of macrovascular complications and early death.’ The question might become – should we be looking at insulin levels, to more sensitively gauge risk at an early stage? Without more sensitive screens at younger ages these opportunities to repivot to avoid chronic disease are likely to be missed. Currently, Ministry of Health policies are unlikely to justify the funding of tests for insulin resistance by using three simple blood tests: fasting insulin, fasting lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides), and fasting glucose – to estimate where children, young people, and adults stand on the insulin resistance spectrum when other diagnoses pop up. Yet insulin plays a powerful role in brain health. Insulin supports neurotransmitter function and brain energy, directly impacting mood and behaviours. Insulin resistance might arrive before mental illness. Harvard-based psychiatrist Chris Palmer recounts in the book Brain Energy, a large 15,000-participant study of young people from age 0-24: ‘Children who had persistently high insulin levels (a sign of insulin resistance) beginning at age nine were five times more likely to be at risk for psychosis, meaning they were showing at least some worrisome signs, and they were three times for likely to already be diagnosed with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia by the time they turned twenty-four. This study clearly demonstrated that insulin resistance comes first, then psychosis.’ Psychiatrist Georgia Ede suggests that high blood glucose and high insulin levels act like a ‘deadly one-two punch’ for the brain, triggering waves of inflammation and oxidative stress. The blood-brain barrier becomes increasingly resistant to chronic high insulin levels. Even though the body might have higher blood insulin, the same may not be true for the brain. As Ede maintains, ‘cells deprived of adequate insulin ‘sputter and struggle to maintain normal operations.’ Looking at the relationship between brain health and high blood glucose and high insulin simply might not be on the programme for strategists looking at long-term planning. Nor are Directors General in a position to assess the role of food addiction. Ultra-processed food has addictive qualities designed into the product formulations. Food addiction is increasingly recognised as pervasive and difficult to manage as any substance addiction. But how many children and young people have insulin resistance and are showing markers for inflammation and oxidative stress – in the body and in the brain? To what extent do young people have both insulin resistance and depression resistance or ADHD or bipolar disorder? This kind of thinking is completely outside the work programme. But insulin levels, inflammation, and oxidative stress may not only be driving chronic illness – but driving the global mental health tsunami. Metabolic disorders are involved in complex pathways and feedback loops across body systems, and doctors learn this at medical school. Patterns and relationships between hormones, the brain, the gastrointestinal system, kidneys, and liver; as well as problems with joints and bone health, autoimmunity, nerves, and sensory conditions evolve from and revolve around metabolic health. Nutrition and diet are downplayed in medical school. What doctors don’t learn so much – the cognitive dissonance that they must accept throughout their training – is that metabolic health is commonly (except for some instances) shaped by the quality of dietary nutrition. The aetiology of a given condition can be very different, while the evidence that common chronic and mental illnesses are accompanied by oxidative stress, inflammation, and insulin resistance are primarily driven by diet – is growing stronger and stronger. But without recognising the overlapping relationships, policy to support healthy diets will remain limp. What we witness are notions of equity that support pharmaceutical delivery – not health delivery. What also inevitably happens is that ‘equity’ focuses on medical treatment. When the Ministry of Health prefers to atomise the different conditions or associate them with heart disease – they become single conditions to treat with single drugs. They’re lots of small problems, not one big problem, and insulin resistance is downplayed. But just as insulin resistance, inflammation, and oxidative stress send cascading impacts across body systems, systemic ignorance sends cascading effects across government departments tasked with ‘improving, promoting, and protecting health.’ It’s an injustice. The literature solidly points to lower socio-economic status driving much poorer diets and increased exposures to ultra-processed food, but the treatments exclusively involve drugs and therapy. Briefings to Incoming Ministers with the election of new Governments show how ignorance cascades across responsible authorities. Health New Zealand, Te Whatu Ora’s November 2023 Briefing to the new government outlined the agency’s obligations. However, the ‘health’ targets are medical, and the agency’s focus is on infrastructure, staff, and servicing. The promotion of health, and health equity, which can only be addressed by addressing the determinants of health, is not addressed. The Māori Health Authority and Health New Zealand Joint Briefing to the Incoming Minister for Mental Health does not address the role of diet and nutrition as a driver of mental illness and disorder in New Zealand. The issue of multimorbidity, the related problem of commensurate metabolic illness, and diet as a driver is outside scope. When the Briefing states that it is important to address the ‘social, cultural, environmental and economic determinants of mental health,’ without any sound policy footing, real movement to address diet will not happen, or will only happen ad hoc. The Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission, Te Hiringa Mahara’s November 2023 Briefing to Incoming Ministers that went to the Ministers for Health and Mental Health might use the term ‘well-being’ over 120 times – but was silent on the related and overlapping drivers of mental illness which include metabolic or multimorbidity, nutrition, or diet. Five years earlier, He Ara Ora, New Zealand’s 2018 Mental Health and Addiction enquiry had recognised that tāngata whaiora, people seeking wellness, or service users, also tend to have multiple health conditions. The enquiry recommended that a whole of government approach to well-being, prevention, and social determinants was required. Vague nods were made to diet and nutrition, but this was not sufficiently emphasised as to be a priority. He Ara Ora was followed by 2020 Long-term pathway to mental well-being viewed nutrition as being one of a range of factors. No policy framework strategically prioritised diet, nutrition, and healthy food. No governmental obligation or commitment was built into policy to improve access to healthy food or nutrition education. Understanding the science, the relationships, and the drivers of the global epidemic, is ‘outside the work programmes’ of New Zealand’s Ministry of Health and outside the scope of all the related authorities. There is an extraordinary amount of data in the scientific literature, so many case studies, cohort studies, and clinical trials. Popular books are being written, however government agencies remain ignorant. In the meantime, doctors must deal with the suffering in front of them without an adequate toolkit. Doctors and pharmacists are faced with a Hobson’s choice of managing multiple chronic conditions and complex drug cocktails, in patients at younger and younger ages. Ultimately, they are treating a patient whom they recognise will only become sicker, cost the health system more, and suffer more. Currently there is little support for New Zealand medical doctors (known as general practitioners, or GPs) in changing practices and recommendations to support non-pharmaceutical drug treatment approaches. Their medical education does not equip them to recognise the extent to which multiple co-existing conditions may be alleviated or reversed. Doctors are paid to prescribe, to inject, and to screen, not to ameliorate or reverse disease and lessen prescribing. The prescribing of nutrients is discouraged and as doctors do not have nutritional training, they hesitate to prescribe nutrients. Many do not want to risk going outside treatment guidelines. Recent surges in protocols and guidelines for medical doctors reduce flexibility and narrow treatment choices for doctors. If they were to be reported to the Medical Council of New Zealand, they would risk losing their medical license. They would then be unable to practice. Inevitably, without Ministry of Health leadership, medical doctors in New Zealand are unlikely to voluntarily prescribe non-drug modalities such as nutritional options to any meaningful extent, for fear of being reported. Yet some doctors are proactive, such as Dr Glen Davies in Taupo, New Zealand. Some doctors are in a better ‘place’ to work to alleviate and reverse long-term conditions. They may be later in their career, with 10-20 years of research into metabolism, dietary nutrition, and patient care, and motivated to guide a patient through a personal care regime which might alleviate or reverse a patient’s suffering. Barriers include resourcing. Doctors aren’t paid for reversing disease and taking patients off medications. Doctors witness daily the hopelessness felt by their patients in dealing with chronic conditions in their short 15-minute consultations, and the vigilance required for dealing with adverse drug effects. Drug non-compliance is associated with adverse effects suffered by patients. Yet without wrap-around support changing treatments, even if it has potential to alleviate multiple conditions, to reduce symptoms, lower prescribing and therefore lessen side effects, is just too uncertain. They saw what happened to disobedient doctors during Covid-19. Given such context, what are we to do? Have open public discussions about doctor-patient relationships and trust. Inform and overlay such conversations by drawing attention to the foundational Hippocratic Oath made by doctors, to first do no harm. Questions can be asked. If patients were to understand that diet may be an underlying driver of multiple conditions, and a change in diet and improvement in micronutrient status might alleviate suffering – would patients be more likely to change? Economically, if wrap-around services were provided in clinics to support dietary change, would less harm occur to patients from worsening conditions that accompany many diseases (such as Type 2 diabetes) and the ever-present problem of drug side-effects? Would education and wrap-around services in early childhood and youth delay or prevent the onset of multimorbid diagnoses? Is it more ethical to give young people a choice of treatment? Could doctors prescribe dietary changes and multinutrients and support change with wrap-around support when children and young people are first diagnosed with a mental health condition – from the clinic, to school, to after school? If that doesn’t work, then prescribe pharmaceutical drugs. Should children and young people be educated to appreciate the extent to which their consumption of ultra-processed food likely drives their metabolic and mental health conditions? Not just in a blithe ‘eat healthy’ fashion that patently avoids discussing addiction. Through deeper policy mechanisms, including cooking classes and nutritional biology by the implementation of nourishing, low-carbohydrate cooked school lunches. With officials uninformed, it’s easy to see why funding for Green Prescriptions that would support dietary changes have sputtered out. It’s easy to understand why neither the Ministry of Health nor Pharmac have proactively sourced multi-nutrient treatments that improve resilience to stress and trauma for low-income young people. Why there’s no discussion on a lower side-effect risk for multinutrient treatments. Why are there no policies in the education curriculum diving into the relationship between ultra-processed food and mental and physical health? It’s not in the work programme. There’s another surfacing dilemma. Currently, if doctors tell their patients that there is very good evidence that their disease or syndrome could be reversed, and this information is not held as factual information by New Zealand’s Ministry of Health – do doctors risk being accused of spreading misinformation? Government agencies have pivoted in the past 5 years to focus intensively on the problem of dis- and misinformation. New Zealand’s disinformation project states that Disinformation is false or modified information knowingly and deliberately shared to cause harm or achieve a broader aim. Misinformation is information that is false or misleading, though not created or shared with the direct intention of causing harm. Unfortunately, as we see, there is no division inside the Ministry of Health that reviews the latest evidence in the scientific literature, to ensure that policy decisions correctly reflect the latest evidence. There is no scientific agency outside the Ministry of Health that has flexibility and the capacity to undertake autonomous, long-term monitoring and research in nutrition, diet, and health. There is no independent, autonomous, public health research facility with sufficient long-term funding to translate dietary and nutritional evidence into policy, particularly if it contradicted current policy positions. Despite excellent research being undertaken, it is highly controlled, ad hoc, and frequently short-term. Problematically, there is no resourcing for those scientists to meaningfully feedback that information to either the Ministry of Health or to Members of Parliament and government Ministers. Dietary guidelines can become locked in, and contradictions can fail to be chewed over. Without the capacity to address errors, information can become outdated and misleading. Government agencies and elected members – from local councils all the way up to government Ministers, are dependent on being informed by the Ministry of Health, when it comes to government policy. When it comes to complex health conditions, and alleviating and reversing metabolic or mental illness, based on different patient capacity – from socio-economic, to cultural, to social, and taking into account capacity for change, what is sound, evidence-based information and what is misinformation? In the impasse, who can we trust? Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License For reprints, please set the canonical link back to the original Brownstone Institute Article and Author. Author J.R. Bruning is a consultant sociologist (B.Bus.Agribusiness; MA Sociology) based in New Zealand. Her work explores governance cultures, policy and the production of scientific and technical knowledge. Her Master’s thesis explored the ways science policy creates barriers to funding, stymying scientists’ efforts to explore upstream drivers of harm. Bruning is a trustee of Physicians & Scientists for Global Responsibility (PSGR.org.nz). Papers and writing can be found at TalkingRisk.NZ and at JRBruning.Substack.com and at Talking Risk on Rumble. View all posts Your financial backing of Brownstone Institute goes to support writers, lawyers, scientists, economists, and other people of courage who have been professionally purged and displaced during the upheaval of our times. You can help get the truth out through their ongoing work. https://brownstone.org/articles/the-silent-shame-of-health-institutions/
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    The Silent Shame of Health Institutions ⋆ Brownstone Institute
    There is no scientific agency outside the Ministry of Health that has flexibility and the capacity to undertake autonomous, long-term monitoring and research in nutrition, diet and health.
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  • ISIS claims responsibility for attack at Moscow-area concert venue that left at least 60 dead
    CNN — normal
    ISIS has claimed responsibility for an attack at a popular concert hall complex near Moscow Friday after assailants stormed the venue with guns and incendiary devices, killing at least 60 people and injuring 145.

    The terror group took responsibility for the attack in a short statement published by ISIS-affiliated news agency Amaq on Telegram on Friday. It did not provide evidence to support the claim.

    Video footage from the Crocus City Hall shows the vast complex, which is home to both the music hall and a shopping center, on fire with smoke billowing into the air. State-run RIA Novosti reported the armed individuals “opened fire with automatic weapons” and “threw a grenade or an incendiary bomb, which started a fire.” They then “allegedly fled in a white Renault car,” the news agency said.

    State media Russia 24 reported the roof of the venue has partially collapsed.

    The fire had been brought largely under control more than six hours later. “There are still some pockets of fire, but the fire has been mostly eliminated,” Moscow governor Andrey Vorobyov said on Telegram.

    The deadliest terror attack on Moscow in decades, Friday’s assault came less than a week after President Vladimir Putin won a stage-managed election by an overwhelming majority to secure another term in office, tightening his grip on the country he has ruled since the turn of the century.

    With attention focused on the country’s war with neighboring Ukraine, Putin had trumpeted a message of national security before Russians went to the polls.

    The carnage broke out before a concert by the band Picnic, according to Russia 24.

    “Unidentified people in camouflage broke into Crocus City Hall and started shooting before the start of the concert,” the Prosecutor General’s Office said, cited by TASS.

    This screen grab from video shows armed men inside the Crocus City Hall concert venue in Moscow region, Russia. CNN can not verify whether these are the armed attackers or Russian authorities moving in.
    Video footage showed panic as the attack unfolded, with crowds of people huddling together, screaming and ducking behind cushioned seats as gunshots started echoing in the vast hall. One group sheltering next to a large wall of windows outside the concert venue were forced to break them to escape the gunfire, video obtained by CNN shows.

    Footage geolocated by CNN shows an armed individual starting at least one fire inside the venue. The individual is seen carrying something in their hand and, as they walk off-screen, a bright flash of light from a large flame is seen in the video.

    A SWAT team was called to the area and more than 70 ambulance teams and doctors assisted victims.

    One hundred and forty-five people have been hospitalized, TASS reported. Sixty people are in a “serious condition.”

    According to the Kremlin, Putin was informed about the attack and is being kept updated on measures on the ground.

    The president on Saturday wished those injured in the attack a speedy recovery, the state-run RIA-Novosti news agency said. He also “conveyed his gratitude to the doctors,” RIA added.

    Around 100 people were evacuated from the building by firefighters, TASS reported.

    Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin called the attack a “terrible tragedy.”

    “My condolences to the loved ones of the victims. I gave orders to provide all necessary assistance to everyone who suffered during the incident,” Sobyanin said in a statement.

    Sobyanin said on Telegram that he was canceling all sports, cultural and other public events in Moscow this weekend.

    Picnic’s manager told state media that the performers were unharmed.

    Shaman, the band’s singer, said he would pay for the funerals of the victims and treatment for those injured.

    “We are all one big family. And in a family there is no such thing as somebody else’s grief,” the singer, known for his nationalistic views, said in a video posted on the Russian social media network Vkontakte to his more than 600,000 followers.

    “My people, any troubles and misfortunes have always united our country. They have made Russia tougher and stronger. It will not be possible to frighten and break us this time either.”

    ISIS claims responsibility for Moscow attack that killed 40

    02:51 - Source: CNN
    US had warned of potential attack

    Earlier this month, the US embassy in Russia said it was “monitoring reports that extremists have imminent plans to target large gatherings in Moscow,” including concerts. The embassy warned US citizens to avoid large gatherings. On Friday, following reports of the Crocus City Hall attack, it advised US citizens not to travel to Russia.

    Starting in November, there has been a steady stream of intelligence that ISIS-K was determined to attack in Russia, according to two sources familiar with the information.

    ISIS-K stands for ISIS-Khorasan, the terror organization’s affiliate that is active in Afghanistan and the surrounding region.

    US National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said the US government had had information about a planned terrorist attack in Moscow – potentially targeting large gatherings, to include concerts – and that this is what prompted the State Department to issue the public advisory.

    “The US government also shared this information with Russian authorities in accordance with its longstanding ‘duty to warn’ policy,” Watson said.

    In a speech Tuesday, Putin had blasted the American warnings as “provocative,” saying “these actions resemble outright blackmail and the intention to intimidate and destabilize our society.”

    In March alone, Russian authorities had thwarted several ISIS-related incidents, according to RIA. On March 3, RIA reported that six ISIS members were killed in a counter-terrorist operation in the Ingush Karabulak; on March 7, it said security services had uncovered and “neutralized” a cell of the banned organization Vilayat Khorasan in the Kaluga region, whose members were planning an attack on a synagogue in Moscow; and on March 20, it said the commander of an ISIS combat group had been detained.

    A US official said Friday that Washington had no reason to doubt ISIS’ claim that it was responsible for the latest attack.

    International response

    Ukraine, which has been embroiled in a war with Russia for more than two years, denied any involvement in the attack.

    “Ukraine has never resorted to the use of terrorist methods,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak wrote, in part, in a post on X. He said he believed Russia would use the attack to justify the ongoing conflict and scale up operations as part of “military propaganda” in Ukraine.

    United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres late Friday condemned “in the strongest possible terms today’s terrorist attack” according to a statement released by his deputy spokesperson, Farhan Haq.

    “The secretary-general conveys his deep condolences to the bereaved families and the people and the government of the Russian Federation. He wishes those injured a speedy recovery,” the statement said.

    In a separate statement, the UN Security Council called the attack “heinous and cowardly.”

    Chinese leader Xi Jinping offered his condolences to Putin on Saturday “over the serious terrorist attack that caused heavy casualties,” according to a report from Chinese state media.

    French President Emmanuel Macron also condemned the attack. “France expresses its solidarity with the victims, their loved ones and all the Russian people,” the Elysee Palace said, AFP and Reuters reported.

    India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman both also denounced the attack.

    CNN’s Eva Rothenberg, Paul Murphy and Hannah Strange contributed to this reporting.

    https://www.cnn.com/2024/03/22/europe/crocus-moscow-shooting/index.html
    ISIS claims responsibility for attack at Moscow-area concert venue that left at least 60 dead CNN — normal ISIS has claimed responsibility for an attack at a popular concert hall complex near Moscow Friday after assailants stormed the venue with guns and incendiary devices, killing at least 60 people and injuring 145. The terror group took responsibility for the attack in a short statement published by ISIS-affiliated news agency Amaq on Telegram on Friday. It did not provide evidence to support the claim. Video footage from the Crocus City Hall shows the vast complex, which is home to both the music hall and a shopping center, on fire with smoke billowing into the air. State-run RIA Novosti reported the armed individuals “opened fire with automatic weapons” and “threw a grenade or an incendiary bomb, which started a fire.” They then “allegedly fled in a white Renault car,” the news agency said. State media Russia 24 reported the roof of the venue has partially collapsed. The fire had been brought largely under control more than six hours later. “There are still some pockets of fire, but the fire has been mostly eliminated,” Moscow governor Andrey Vorobyov said on Telegram. The deadliest terror attack on Moscow in decades, Friday’s assault came less than a week after President Vladimir Putin won a stage-managed election by an overwhelming majority to secure another term in office, tightening his grip on the country he has ruled since the turn of the century. With attention focused on the country’s war with neighboring Ukraine, Putin had trumpeted a message of national security before Russians went to the polls. The carnage broke out before a concert by the band Picnic, according to Russia 24. “Unidentified people in camouflage broke into Crocus City Hall and started shooting before the start of the concert,” the Prosecutor General’s Office said, cited by TASS. This screen grab from video shows armed men inside the Crocus City Hall concert venue in Moscow region, Russia. CNN can not verify whether these are the armed attackers or Russian authorities moving in. Video footage showed panic as the attack unfolded, with crowds of people huddling together, screaming and ducking behind cushioned seats as gunshots started echoing in the vast hall. One group sheltering next to a large wall of windows outside the concert venue were forced to break them to escape the gunfire, video obtained by CNN shows. Footage geolocated by CNN shows an armed individual starting at least one fire inside the venue. The individual is seen carrying something in their hand and, as they walk off-screen, a bright flash of light from a large flame is seen in the video. A SWAT team was called to the area and more than 70 ambulance teams and doctors assisted victims. One hundred and forty-five people have been hospitalized, TASS reported. Sixty people are in a “serious condition.” According to the Kremlin, Putin was informed about the attack and is being kept updated on measures on the ground. The president on Saturday wished those injured in the attack a speedy recovery, the state-run RIA-Novosti news agency said. He also “conveyed his gratitude to the doctors,” RIA added. Around 100 people were evacuated from the building by firefighters, TASS reported. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin called the attack a “terrible tragedy.” “My condolences to the loved ones of the victims. I gave orders to provide all necessary assistance to everyone who suffered during the incident,” Sobyanin said in a statement. Sobyanin said on Telegram that he was canceling all sports, cultural and other public events in Moscow this weekend. Picnic’s manager told state media that the performers were unharmed. Shaman, the band’s singer, said he would pay for the funerals of the victims and treatment for those injured. “We are all one big family. And in a family there is no such thing as somebody else’s grief,” the singer, known for his nationalistic views, said in a video posted on the Russian social media network Vkontakte to his more than 600,000 followers. “My people, any troubles and misfortunes have always united our country. They have made Russia tougher and stronger. It will not be possible to frighten and break us this time either.” ISIS claims responsibility for Moscow attack that killed 40 02:51 - Source: CNN US had warned of potential attack Earlier this month, the US embassy in Russia said it was “monitoring reports that extremists have imminent plans to target large gatherings in Moscow,” including concerts. The embassy warned US citizens to avoid large gatherings. On Friday, following reports of the Crocus City Hall attack, it advised US citizens not to travel to Russia. Starting in November, there has been a steady stream of intelligence that ISIS-K was determined to attack in Russia, according to two sources familiar with the information. ISIS-K stands for ISIS-Khorasan, the terror organization’s affiliate that is active in Afghanistan and the surrounding region. US National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said the US government had had information about a planned terrorist attack in Moscow – potentially targeting large gatherings, to include concerts – and that this is what prompted the State Department to issue the public advisory. “The US government also shared this information with Russian authorities in accordance with its longstanding ‘duty to warn’ policy,” Watson said. In a speech Tuesday, Putin had blasted the American warnings as “provocative,” saying “these actions resemble outright blackmail and the intention to intimidate and destabilize our society.” In March alone, Russian authorities had thwarted several ISIS-related incidents, according to RIA. On March 3, RIA reported that six ISIS members were killed in a counter-terrorist operation in the Ingush Karabulak; on March 7, it said security services had uncovered and “neutralized” a cell of the banned organization Vilayat Khorasan in the Kaluga region, whose members were planning an attack on a synagogue in Moscow; and on March 20, it said the commander of an ISIS combat group had been detained. A US official said Friday that Washington had no reason to doubt ISIS’ claim that it was responsible for the latest attack. International response Ukraine, which has been embroiled in a war with Russia for more than two years, denied any involvement in the attack. “Ukraine has never resorted to the use of terrorist methods,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak wrote, in part, in a post on X. He said he believed Russia would use the attack to justify the ongoing conflict and scale up operations as part of “military propaganda” in Ukraine. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres late Friday condemned “in the strongest possible terms today’s terrorist attack” according to a statement released by his deputy spokesperson, Farhan Haq. “The secretary-general conveys his deep condolences to the bereaved families and the people and the government of the Russian Federation. He wishes those injured a speedy recovery,” the statement said. In a separate statement, the UN Security Council called the attack “heinous and cowardly.” Chinese leader Xi Jinping offered his condolences to Putin on Saturday “over the serious terrorist attack that caused heavy casualties,” according to a report from Chinese state media. French President Emmanuel Macron also condemned the attack. “France expresses its solidarity with the victims, their loved ones and all the Russian people,” the Elysee Palace said, AFP and Reuters reported. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman both also denounced the attack. CNN’s Eva Rothenberg, Paul Murphy and Hannah Strange contributed to this reporting. https://www.cnn.com/2024/03/22/europe/crocus-moscow-shooting/index.html
    WWW.CNN.COM
    ISIS claims responsibility for attack in busy Moscow-area concert venue that left at least 40 dead | CNN
    At least 40 people were killed and more than 100 were injured after armed attackers stormed a popular concert venue complex near Moscow and opened fire, according to preliminary information from the Federal Security Service in Russia, state media TASS reported.
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  • Avi Shlaim: ‘Three Worlds – Memoirs of an Arab – Jew’
    This beautiful, inspiring, elegiac book is the story of the author’s journey – a journey from Baghdad to Israel in 1950, aged five, and from Israel to England. But Avi Schlaim’s journey was at different levels. It was geographical and it was cultural. It also became a political journey to his own position today.

    His personal experiences illustrate a bigger story of the Jewish exodus from Iraq to Israel in 1950 following the creation of Israel in 1948. His story and his words speak more eloquently than any reviewer can, and so for the most part, I quote directly from his memoir.

    The book is “a glimpse into the lost and rich world of the Iraqi-Jewish community”. Perhaps, coming from what he describes as a prosperous, privileged family, he may see the past through rose-tinted glasses. But his memories are precious.

    “We belonged to a branch of the global Jewish community that is now almost extinct. We were Arab-Jews. We lived in Baghdad and were well integrated into Iraqi society. We spoke Arabic at home, our social customs were Arab, our lifestyle was Arab, our cuisine was exquisitely Middle Eastern and my parents’ music was an attractive blend of Arabic and Jewish…We in the Jewish community had much more in common, linguistically and culturally, with our Iraqi compatriots than with our European co-religionists.

    Of all the Jewish communities in the Ottoman Empire, the one in Mesopotamia was the most integrated into local society, the most Arabised in its culture and the most prosperous… When the British created the Kingdom of Iraq…the Jews were the backbone of the Iraqi economy”

    Jewish lineage in Mesopotamia stretched as far back as Babylonian times, pre-dating the rise of Islam by a millenium.

    “Their influence was evident in every branch of Iraqi culture, from literature and music to journalism and banking. Banks – with the exception of government owned banks – and all the big markets remained closed on the Sabbath and the other Jewish holy days.” By the 1880s there were 55 synagogues in Baghdad.

    He describes how in Iraq there was a long tradition of religious tolerance and harmony. “The Jews were neither newcomers nor aliens in Iraq. They were certainly not intruders”. By the time of the First World War, Jews constituted one third of the population of Baghdad.

    He contrasts Europe and the Middle East. “Unlike Europe the Middle East did not have a ‘Jewish Question’. “Iraq’s Jews did not live in ghettos, nor did they experience the violent repression, persecution and genocide that marred European history. There were of course exceptions, notably the infamous pogrom against Jews in June 1941, for which the actions of British imperialism must take substantial responsibility.

    By 1941, antisemitism in Baghdad was on the increase but was more a foreign import than a home grown product. There was a violent pogrom against the Jewish community named the farhud. The Jews were seen as friends of the British. 179 Jews were murdered and several hundred injured. It was completely unexpected and unprecedented. There had been no other attack against the Jews for centuries. Avi gives many examples of Muslims assisting their Jewish neighbours.

    And yet he writes: “The overall picture, however, was one of religious tolerance, cosmopolitanism, peaceful co-existence and fruitful interaction.”

    The critical moment was the creation of Israel. “As a result of the Arab defeat, there was a backlash against the Jews throughout the Arab world. “What had been a pillar of Iraqi society was increasingly perceived as a sinister fifth column”, with Islamic fundamentalists and Arab nationalists identifying the Jews in their countries with the hated Zionist enemy.

    Palestinians “were the main victims of the Zionist project. More than half their number became refugees and the name Palestine was wiped off the map. But there was another category of victims, less well known and much less talked about: the Jews of the Arab lands”.

    The sub-title of the book refers to ‘Arab-Jews’. “The hyphen is significant. Critics of the term Arab-Jew see it as… conflating two separate identities. As I see it, the hyphen unites: an Arab can also be a Jew and a Jew can also be an Arab…We are told that there is a clash of cultures, an unbridgeable gulf between Muslims and Jews… The story of my family in Iraq -and that of many forgotten families like mine – points to a dramatically different picture. It harks back to an era of a more pluralist Middle East with greater religious tolerance and a political culture of mutual respect and co-operation.”

    Yet the Zionists portray the Jews as the victims of endemic Arab persecution and this is used to justify the atrocious treatment of the Palestinians. Thus the narrative of the ‘Jewish Nakba’ to create a ‘false symmetry between the fate of two communities. This narrative is not history; it is the propaganda of the victors.”

    On 29th November 1947 the General Assembly of the United Nations voted for the partition of mandate Palestine into two states: one Arab, one Jewish. The General Council of the Iraqi Jewish community sent a telegram to the UN opposing the partition resolution and the creation of a Jewish state. “Like my family, the majority of Iraqi Jews saw themselves as Iraqi first and Jewish second; they feared that the creation of a Jewish state would undermine their position in Iraq… The distinction between Jews and Zionists, so crucial to interfaith harmony in the Arab world, was rapidly breaking down”.

    Iraq’s participation in the war for Palestine fuelled tensions between Muslims and Jews. Iraqi Jews were widely suspected of being secret supporters of Israel. With the defeat of Palestine a wave of hostility towards Israel and the Jews living in their midst swept through the Arab world. Demonstrators marched through the streets of Baghdad shouting “Death to the Jews.” And the government needing a scapegoat did not simply respond to public anger but actively whipped up public hysteria and suspicion against the Jews.

    At this point official persecution against the Jews began. In July 1948 a law was passed making Zionism a criminal offence punishable by death or a minimum sentence of seven years in prison. Jews were fired from government jobs and from the railways, post office and telegraph department, Jewish merchants were denied import and export licences, restrictions placed on Jewish banks to trade in foreign currency, young Jews were barred from admission to colleges of education and the entire community was put under surveillance.

    The number of Jewish immigrants leaving Iraq to the end of 1953 numbered almost 125,000 out of a total of 135,000. The Jewish presence going back well over 2,000 years was destroyed.

    And yet for all this the mass exodus did not occur till 1950/1951 in what was known as the ‘Big Aliyah”. The majority of Iraqi Jews did not want to leave Iraq and had no affinity with Zionism. Most who emigrated to Israel did so only after a wave of five bombings of Jewish targets in Baghdad. It has long been argued that the bombings were instigated by Israel and the Zionists to spark a mass flight of Iraqi Jews to Israel, needed as they were to do many of the menial jobs and to boost numbers in the army.

    The author makes a forensic examination of the evidence – based on examination of documents and on interviews – and concluded that three out of the five bombings were carried out by the Zionist underground in Baghdad, a fourth – the bombing of the Mas’uda Shemtob synagogue, which was the only one that resulted in fatalities – was the result of Zionist bribery and there was one carried out by a far right wing, anti-Jewish Iraqi nationalist group.

    When the Iraqi Jews arrived in Israel, their experience fell short of the Zionist myth. At the airport in Israel, many were sprayed with DDT pesticides “to disinfect them as if they were animals.” They were then taken to squalid and unsanitary transit camps. Some camps were surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by policemen. The immigration and settlement authorities had no understanding of their customs and culture. “They thought of them as backward and primitive and expected them to take their place at the bottom of the social hierarchy and be grateful for whatever they were given… The lens through which the new immigrants were viewed was the same colonialist lens through which the Ashkenazi establishment viewed the Palestinians.”

    “We were Jews from an Arab country that was still officially at war with Israel. European Jews.. looked down on us as socially and culturally inferior. They despised the Arabic language…I was an Iraqi boy in a land of Europeans.”

    For his grandmothers, Iraq was the beloved homeland while Israel was the place of exile. “Migration to Israel is usually described as Aliyah or ascent. For us the move from Iraq to Israel was decidedly a Yeridah, a descent down the economic and social ladder. Not only did we lose our property and possessions; we also our lost our strong sense of identity as proud Iraqi Jews as we were relegated to the margins of Israeli society.” The experience was to break his father.

    “The unstated aims of the official policy for schools were to undermine our Arab-Jewish identity… A systematic process was at work to delegitimise our heritage and erase our cultural roots” It was a clash of cultures. The Mizrahim were earmarked to be the proletariat – the fodder to support the country’s industrial and agricultural development. As one author put it, “We left Iraq as Jews and arrived in Israel as Iraqis.” They were clearly, to borrow from current jargon, “the wrong kind of Israeli”.

    His journey was a political one too. His message and his warnings are unequivocally universalist. “The Holocaust stands out as an archetype of a crime against humanity. For me as a Jew and an Israeli therefore the Holocaust teaches us to resist the dehumanising of any people, including the Palestinian ‘victims of victims’, because dehumanising a people can easily result, as it did in Europe in the 1940s, in crimes against humanity.”

    He had previously argued that it was only after the 1967 war that Israel became a colonial power, oppressing the Palestinians in the occupied territories. However, “a deeper analysis… led me to the conclusion that Israel had been created by a settler-colonial movement. The years 1948 and 1967 were merely milestones in the relentless systematic takeover of the whole of Palestine… Since Zionism was an avowedly settler-colonial movement from the outset, the building of civilian settlements on occupied land was only a new stage in the long march… The most crucial turning point was not the war of 1967 but the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.”

    And more: “the two-state solution is dead or, to be more accurate, it was never born… The outcome I have come to favour is one democratic state… with equal rights for all its citizens regardless of ethnicity or religion.” He is absolutely right in my view.

    His family’s story “serves as a corrective to the Zionist narrative which views Arabs and Jews as congenitally incapable of dwelling together in peace and doomed to permanent conflict and discord… My experience as a young boy and that of the whole Jewish community in Iraq, suggests there is nothing inevitable or pre-ordained about Arab-Jewish antagonism… Remembering the past can help us to envisage a better future… Arab-Jewish co-existence is not something that my family imagined in our minds; we experienced it, we touched it.”

    Optimistic? Yes, perhaps over-optimistic. But towards the end of this masterpiece, Avi Schlaim justifies his message. “Recalling the era of cosmopolitanism and co-existence that some Jews, like my family, enjoyed in Arab countries before 1948 offers a glimmer of hope… It’s the best model we have for a better future.”


    https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/article/avi-shlaim-three-worlds-memoirs-of-an-arab-jew/
    Avi Shlaim: ‘Three Worlds – Memoirs of an Arab – Jew’ This beautiful, inspiring, elegiac book is the story of the author’s journey – a journey from Baghdad to Israel in 1950, aged five, and from Israel to England. But Avi Schlaim’s journey was at different levels. It was geographical and it was cultural. It also became a political journey to his own position today. His personal experiences illustrate a bigger story of the Jewish exodus from Iraq to Israel in 1950 following the creation of Israel in 1948. His story and his words speak more eloquently than any reviewer can, and so for the most part, I quote directly from his memoir. The book is “a glimpse into the lost and rich world of the Iraqi-Jewish community”. Perhaps, coming from what he describes as a prosperous, privileged family, he may see the past through rose-tinted glasses. But his memories are precious. “We belonged to a branch of the global Jewish community that is now almost extinct. We were Arab-Jews. We lived in Baghdad and were well integrated into Iraqi society. We spoke Arabic at home, our social customs were Arab, our lifestyle was Arab, our cuisine was exquisitely Middle Eastern and my parents’ music was an attractive blend of Arabic and Jewish…We in the Jewish community had much more in common, linguistically and culturally, with our Iraqi compatriots than with our European co-religionists. Of all the Jewish communities in the Ottoman Empire, the one in Mesopotamia was the most integrated into local society, the most Arabised in its culture and the most prosperous… When the British created the Kingdom of Iraq…the Jews were the backbone of the Iraqi economy” Jewish lineage in Mesopotamia stretched as far back as Babylonian times, pre-dating the rise of Islam by a millenium. “Their influence was evident in every branch of Iraqi culture, from literature and music to journalism and banking. Banks – with the exception of government owned banks – and all the big markets remained closed on the Sabbath and the other Jewish holy days.” By the 1880s there were 55 synagogues in Baghdad. He describes how in Iraq there was a long tradition of religious tolerance and harmony. “The Jews were neither newcomers nor aliens in Iraq. They were certainly not intruders”. By the time of the First World War, Jews constituted one third of the population of Baghdad. He contrasts Europe and the Middle East. “Unlike Europe the Middle East did not have a ‘Jewish Question’. “Iraq’s Jews did not live in ghettos, nor did they experience the violent repression, persecution and genocide that marred European history. There were of course exceptions, notably the infamous pogrom against Jews in June 1941, for which the actions of British imperialism must take substantial responsibility. By 1941, antisemitism in Baghdad was on the increase but was more a foreign import than a home grown product. There was a violent pogrom against the Jewish community named the farhud. The Jews were seen as friends of the British. 179 Jews were murdered and several hundred injured. It was completely unexpected and unprecedented. There had been no other attack against the Jews for centuries. Avi gives many examples of Muslims assisting their Jewish neighbours. And yet he writes: “The overall picture, however, was one of religious tolerance, cosmopolitanism, peaceful co-existence and fruitful interaction.” The critical moment was the creation of Israel. “As a result of the Arab defeat, there was a backlash against the Jews throughout the Arab world. “What had been a pillar of Iraqi society was increasingly perceived as a sinister fifth column”, with Islamic fundamentalists and Arab nationalists identifying the Jews in their countries with the hated Zionist enemy. Palestinians “were the main victims of the Zionist project. More than half their number became refugees and the name Palestine was wiped off the map. But there was another category of victims, less well known and much less talked about: the Jews of the Arab lands”. The sub-title of the book refers to ‘Arab-Jews’. “The hyphen is significant. Critics of the term Arab-Jew see it as… conflating two separate identities. As I see it, the hyphen unites: an Arab can also be a Jew and a Jew can also be an Arab…We are told that there is a clash of cultures, an unbridgeable gulf between Muslims and Jews… The story of my family in Iraq -and that of many forgotten families like mine – points to a dramatically different picture. It harks back to an era of a more pluralist Middle East with greater religious tolerance and a political culture of mutual respect and co-operation.” Yet the Zionists portray the Jews as the victims of endemic Arab persecution and this is used to justify the atrocious treatment of the Palestinians. Thus the narrative of the ‘Jewish Nakba’ to create a ‘false symmetry between the fate of two communities. This narrative is not history; it is the propaganda of the victors.” On 29th November 1947 the General Assembly of the United Nations voted for the partition of mandate Palestine into two states: one Arab, one Jewish. The General Council of the Iraqi Jewish community sent a telegram to the UN opposing the partition resolution and the creation of a Jewish state. “Like my family, the majority of Iraqi Jews saw themselves as Iraqi first and Jewish second; they feared that the creation of a Jewish state would undermine their position in Iraq… The distinction between Jews and Zionists, so crucial to interfaith harmony in the Arab world, was rapidly breaking down”. Iraq’s participation in the war for Palestine fuelled tensions between Muslims and Jews. Iraqi Jews were widely suspected of being secret supporters of Israel. With the defeat of Palestine a wave of hostility towards Israel and the Jews living in their midst swept through the Arab world. Demonstrators marched through the streets of Baghdad shouting “Death to the Jews.” And the government needing a scapegoat did not simply respond to public anger but actively whipped up public hysteria and suspicion against the Jews. At this point official persecution against the Jews began. In July 1948 a law was passed making Zionism a criminal offence punishable by death or a minimum sentence of seven years in prison. Jews were fired from government jobs and from the railways, post office and telegraph department, Jewish merchants were denied import and export licences, restrictions placed on Jewish banks to trade in foreign currency, young Jews were barred from admission to colleges of education and the entire community was put under surveillance. The number of Jewish immigrants leaving Iraq to the end of 1953 numbered almost 125,000 out of a total of 135,000. The Jewish presence going back well over 2,000 years was destroyed. And yet for all this the mass exodus did not occur till 1950/1951 in what was known as the ‘Big Aliyah”. The majority of Iraqi Jews did not want to leave Iraq and had no affinity with Zionism. Most who emigrated to Israel did so only after a wave of five bombings of Jewish targets in Baghdad. It has long been argued that the bombings were instigated by Israel and the Zionists to spark a mass flight of Iraqi Jews to Israel, needed as they were to do many of the menial jobs and to boost numbers in the army. The author makes a forensic examination of the evidence – based on examination of documents and on interviews – and concluded that three out of the five bombings were carried out by the Zionist underground in Baghdad, a fourth – the bombing of the Mas’uda Shemtob synagogue, which was the only one that resulted in fatalities – was the result of Zionist bribery and there was one carried out by a far right wing, anti-Jewish Iraqi nationalist group. When the Iraqi Jews arrived in Israel, their experience fell short of the Zionist myth. At the airport in Israel, many were sprayed with DDT pesticides “to disinfect them as if they were animals.” They were then taken to squalid and unsanitary transit camps. Some camps were surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by policemen. The immigration and settlement authorities had no understanding of their customs and culture. “They thought of them as backward and primitive and expected them to take their place at the bottom of the social hierarchy and be grateful for whatever they were given… The lens through which the new immigrants were viewed was the same colonialist lens through which the Ashkenazi establishment viewed the Palestinians.” “We were Jews from an Arab country that was still officially at war with Israel. European Jews.. looked down on us as socially and culturally inferior. They despised the Arabic language…I was an Iraqi boy in a land of Europeans.” For his grandmothers, Iraq was the beloved homeland while Israel was the place of exile. “Migration to Israel is usually described as Aliyah or ascent. For us the move from Iraq to Israel was decidedly a Yeridah, a descent down the economic and social ladder. Not only did we lose our property and possessions; we also our lost our strong sense of identity as proud Iraqi Jews as we were relegated to the margins of Israeli society.” The experience was to break his father. “The unstated aims of the official policy for schools were to undermine our Arab-Jewish identity… A systematic process was at work to delegitimise our heritage and erase our cultural roots” It was a clash of cultures. The Mizrahim were earmarked to be the proletariat – the fodder to support the country’s industrial and agricultural development. As one author put it, “We left Iraq as Jews and arrived in Israel as Iraqis.” They were clearly, to borrow from current jargon, “the wrong kind of Israeli”. His journey was a political one too. His message and his warnings are unequivocally universalist. “The Holocaust stands out as an archetype of a crime against humanity. For me as a Jew and an Israeli therefore the Holocaust teaches us to resist the dehumanising of any people, including the Palestinian ‘victims of victims’, because dehumanising a people can easily result, as it did in Europe in the 1940s, in crimes against humanity.” He had previously argued that it was only after the 1967 war that Israel became a colonial power, oppressing the Palestinians in the occupied territories. However, “a deeper analysis… led me to the conclusion that Israel had been created by a settler-colonial movement. The years 1948 and 1967 were merely milestones in the relentless systematic takeover of the whole of Palestine… Since Zionism was an avowedly settler-colonial movement from the outset, the building of civilian settlements on occupied land was only a new stage in the long march… The most crucial turning point was not the war of 1967 but the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.” And more: “the two-state solution is dead or, to be more accurate, it was never born… The outcome I have come to favour is one democratic state… with equal rights for all its citizens regardless of ethnicity or religion.” He is absolutely right in my view. His family’s story “serves as a corrective to the Zionist narrative which views Arabs and Jews as congenitally incapable of dwelling together in peace and doomed to permanent conflict and discord… My experience as a young boy and that of the whole Jewish community in Iraq, suggests there is nothing inevitable or pre-ordained about Arab-Jewish antagonism… Remembering the past can help us to envisage a better future… Arab-Jewish co-existence is not something that my family imagined in our minds; we experienced it, we touched it.” Optimistic? Yes, perhaps over-optimistic. But towards the end of this masterpiece, Avi Schlaim justifies his message. “Recalling the era of cosmopolitanism and co-existence that some Jews, like my family, enjoyed in Arab countries before 1948 offers a glimmer of hope… It’s the best model we have for a better future.” https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/article/avi-shlaim-three-worlds-memoirs-of-an-arab-jew/
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  • Avi Shlaim: ‘Three Worlds – Memoirs of an Arab – Jew’
    This beautiful, inspiring, elegiac book is the story of the author’s journey – a journey from Baghdad to Israel in 1950, aged five, and from Israel to England. But Avi Schlaim’s journey was at different levels. It was geographical and it was cultural. It also became a political journey to his own position today.

    His personal experiences illustrate a bigger story of the Jewish exodus from Iraq to Israel in 1950 following the creation of Israel in 1948. His story and his words speak more eloquently than any reviewer can, and so for the most part, I quote directly from his memoir.

    The book is “a glimpse into the lost and rich world of the Iraqi-Jewish community”. Perhaps, coming from what he describes as a prosperous, privileged family, he may see the past through rose-tinted glasses. But his memories are precious.

    “We belonged to a branch of the global Jewish community that is now almost extinct. We were Arab-Jews. We lived in Baghdad and were well integrated into Iraqi society. We spoke Arabic at home, our social customs were Arab, our lifestyle was Arab, our cuisine was exquisitely Middle Eastern and my parents’ music was an attractive blend of Arabic and Jewish…We in the Jewish community had much more in common, linguistically and culturally, with our Iraqi compatriots than with our European co-religionists.

    Of all the Jewish communities in the Ottoman Empire, the one in Mesopotamia was the most integrated into local society, the most Arabised in its culture and the most prosperous… When the British created the Kingdom of Iraq…the Jews were the backbone of the Iraqi economy”

    Jewish lineage in Mesopotamia stretched as far back as Babylonian times, pre-dating the rise of Islam by a millenium.

    “Their influence was evident in every branch of Iraqi culture, from literature and music to journalism and banking. Banks – with the exception of government owned banks – and all the big markets remained closed on the Sabbath and the other Jewish holy days.” By the 1880s there were 55 synagogues in Baghdad.

    He describes how in Iraq there was a long tradition of religious tolerance and harmony. “The Jews were neither newcomers nor aliens in Iraq. They were certainly not intruders”. By the time of the First World War, Jews constituted one third of the population of Baghdad.

    He contrasts Europe and the Middle East. “Unlike Europe the Middle East did not have a ‘Jewish Question’. “Iraq’s Jews did not live in ghettos, nor did they experience the violent repression, persecution and genocide that marred European history. There were of course exceptions, notably the infamous pogrom against Jews in June 1941, for which the actions of British imperialism must take substantial responsibility.

    By 1941, antisemitism in Baghdad was on the increase but was more a foreign import than a home grown product. There was a violent pogrom against the Jewish community named the farhud. The Jews were seen as friends of the British. 179 Jews were murdered and several hundred injured. It was completely unexpected and unprecedented. There had been no other attack against the Jews for centuries. Avi gives many examples of Muslims assisting their Jewish neighbours.

    And yet he writes: “The overall picture, however, was one of religious tolerance, cosmopolitanism, peaceful co-existence and fruitful interaction.”

    The critical moment was the creation of Israel. “As a result of the Arab defeat, there was a backlash against the Jews throughout the Arab world. “What had been a pillar of Iraqi society was increasingly perceived as a sinister fifth column”, with Islamic fundamentalists and Arab nationalists identifying the Jews in their countries with the hated Zionist enemy.

    Palestinians “were the main victims of the Zionist project. More than half their number became refugees and the name Palestine was wiped off the map. But there was another category of victims, less well known and much less talked about: the Jews of the Arab lands”.

    The sub-title of the book refers to ‘Arab-Jews’. “The hyphen is significant. Critics of the term Arab-Jew see it as… conflating two separate identities. As I see it, the hyphen unites: an Arab can also be a Jew and a Jew can also be an Arab…We are told that there is a clash of cultures, an unbridgeable gulf between Muslims and Jews… The story of my family in Iraq -and that of many forgotten families like mine – points to a dramatically different picture. It harks back to an era of a more pluralist Middle East with greater religious tolerance and a political culture of mutual respect and co-operation.”

    Yet the Zionists portray the Jews as the victims of endemic Arab persecution and this is used to justify the atrocious treatment of the Palestinians. Thus the narrative of the ‘Jewish Nakba’ to create a ‘false symmetry between the fate of two communities. This narrative is not history; it is the propaganda of the victors.”

    On 29th November 1947 the General Assembly of the United Nations voted for the partition of mandate Palestine into two states: one Arab, one Jewish. The General Council of the Iraqi Jewish community sent a telegram to the UN opposing the partition resolution and the creation of a Jewish state. “Like my family, the majority of Iraqi Jews saw themselves as Iraqi first and Jewish second; they feared that the creation of a Jewish state would undermine their position in Iraq… The distinction between Jews and Zionists, so crucial to interfaith harmony in the Arab world, was rapidly breaking down”.

    Iraq’s participation in the war for Palestine fuelled tensions between Muslims and Jews. Iraqi Jews were widely suspected of being secret supporters of Israel. With the defeat of Palestine a wave of hostility towards Israel and the Jews living in their midst swept through the Arab world. Demonstrators marched through the streets of Baghdad shouting “Death to the Jews.” And the government needing a scapegoat did not simply respond to public anger but actively whipped up public hysteria and suspicion against the Jews.

    At this point official persecution against the Jews began. In July 1948 a law was passed making Zionism a criminal offence punishable by death or a minimum sentence of seven years in prison. Jews were fired from government jobs and from the railways, post office and telegraph department, Jewish merchants were denied import and export licences, restrictions placed on Jewish banks to trade in foreign currency, young Jews were barred from admission to colleges of education and the entire community was put under surveillance.

    The number of Jewish immigrants leaving Iraq to the end of 1953 numbered almost 125,000 out of a total of 135,000. The Jewish presence going back well over 2,000 years was destroyed.

    And yet for all this the mass exodus did not occur till 1950/1951 in what was known as the ‘Big Aliyah”. The majority of Iraqi Jews did not want to leave Iraq and had no affinity with Zionism. Most who emigrated to Israel did so only after a wave of five bombings of Jewish targets in Baghdad. It has long been argued that the bombings were instigated by Israel and the Zionists to spark a mass flight of Iraqi Jews to Israel, needed as they were to do many of the menial jobs and to boost numbers in the army.

    The author makes a forensic examination of the evidence – based on examination of documents and on interviews – and concluded that three out of the five bombings were carried out by the Zionist underground in Baghdad, a fourth – the bombing of the Mas’uda Shemtob synagogue, which was the only one that resulted in fatalities – was the result of Zionist bribery and there was one carried out by a far right wing, anti-Jewish Iraqi nationalist group.

    When the Iraqi Jews arrived in Israel, their experience fell short of the Zionist myth. At the airport in Israel, many were sprayed with DDT pesticides “to disinfect them as if they were animals.” They were then taken to squalid and unsanitary transit camps. Some camps were surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by policemen. The immigration and settlement authorities had no understanding of their customs and culture. “They thought of them as backward and primitive and expected them to take their place at the bottom of the social hierarchy and be grateful for whatever they were given… The lens through which the new immigrants were viewed was the same colonialist lens through which the Ashkenazi establishment viewed the Palestinians.”

    “We were Jews from an Arab country that was still officially at war with Israel. European Jews.. looked down on us as socially and culturally inferior. They despised the Arabic language…I was an Iraqi boy in a land of Europeans.”

    For his grandmothers, Iraq was the beloved homeland while Israel was the place of exile. “Migration to Israel is usually described as Aliyah or ascent. For us the move from Iraq to Israel was decidedly a Yeridah, a descent down the economic and social ladder. Not only did we lose our property and possessions; we also our lost our strong sense of identity as proud Iraqi Jews as we were relegated to the margins of Israeli society.” The experience was to break his father.

    “The unstated aims of the official policy for schools were to undermine our Arab-Jewish identity… A systematic process was at work to delegitimise our heritage and erase our cultural roots” It was a clash of cultures. The Mizrahim were earmarked to be the proletariat – the fodder to support the country’s industrial and agricultural development. As one author put it, “We left Iraq as Jews and arrived in Israel as Iraqis.” They were clearly, to borrow from current jargon, “the wrong kind of Israeli”.

    His journey was a political one too. His message and his warnings are unequivocally universalist. “The Holocaust stands out as an archetype of a crime against humanity. For me as a Jew and an Israeli therefore the Holocaust teaches us to resist the dehumanising of any people, including the Palestinian ‘victims of victims’, because dehumanising a people can easily result, as it did in Europe in the 1940s, in crimes against humanity.”

    He had previously argued that it was only after the 1967 war that Israel became a colonial power, oppressing the Palestinians in the occupied territories. However, “a deeper analysis… led me to the conclusion that Israel had been created by a settler-colonial movement. The years 1948 and 1967 were merely milestones in the relentless systematic takeover of the whole of Palestine… Since Zionism was an avowedly settler-colonial movement from the outset, the building of civilian settlements on occupied land was only a new stage in the long march… The most crucial turning point was not the war of 1967 but the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.”

    And more: “the two-state solution is dead or, to be more accurate, it was never born… The outcome I have come to favour is one democratic state… with equal rights for all its citizens regardless of ethnicity or religion.” He is absolutely right in my view.

    His family’s story “serves as a corrective to the Zionist narrative which views Arabs and Jews as congenitally incapable of dwelling together in peace and doomed to permanent conflict and discord… My experience as a young boy and that of the whole Jewish community in Iraq, suggests there is nothing inevitable or pre-ordained about Arab-Jewish antagonism… Remembering the past can help us to envisage a better future… Arab-Jewish co-existence is not something that my family imagined in our minds; we experienced it, we touched it.”

    Optimistic? Yes, perhaps over-optimistic. But towards the end of this masterpiece, Avi Schlaim justifies his message. “Recalling the era of cosmopolitanism and co-existence that some Jews, like my family, enjoyed in Arab countries before 1948 offers a glimmer of hope… It’s the best model we have for a better future.”


    https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/article/avi-shlaim-three-worlds-memoirs-of-an-arab-jew/
    Avi Shlaim: ‘Three Worlds – Memoirs of an Arab – Jew’ This beautiful, inspiring, elegiac book is the story of the author’s journey – a journey from Baghdad to Israel in 1950, aged five, and from Israel to England. But Avi Schlaim’s journey was at different levels. It was geographical and it was cultural. It also became a political journey to his own position today. His personal experiences illustrate a bigger story of the Jewish exodus from Iraq to Israel in 1950 following the creation of Israel in 1948. His story and his words speak more eloquently than any reviewer can, and so for the most part, I quote directly from his memoir. The book is “a glimpse into the lost and rich world of the Iraqi-Jewish community”. Perhaps, coming from what he describes as a prosperous, privileged family, he may see the past through rose-tinted glasses. But his memories are precious. “We belonged to a branch of the global Jewish community that is now almost extinct. We were Arab-Jews. We lived in Baghdad and were well integrated into Iraqi society. We spoke Arabic at home, our social customs were Arab, our lifestyle was Arab, our cuisine was exquisitely Middle Eastern and my parents’ music was an attractive blend of Arabic and Jewish…We in the Jewish community had much more in common, linguistically and culturally, with our Iraqi compatriots than with our European co-religionists. Of all the Jewish communities in the Ottoman Empire, the one in Mesopotamia was the most integrated into local society, the most Arabised in its culture and the most prosperous… When the British created the Kingdom of Iraq…the Jews were the backbone of the Iraqi economy” Jewish lineage in Mesopotamia stretched as far back as Babylonian times, pre-dating the rise of Islam by a millenium. “Their influence was evident in every branch of Iraqi culture, from literature and music to journalism and banking. Banks – with the exception of government owned banks – and all the big markets remained closed on the Sabbath and the other Jewish holy days.” By the 1880s there were 55 synagogues in Baghdad. He describes how in Iraq there was a long tradition of religious tolerance and harmony. “The Jews were neither newcomers nor aliens in Iraq. They were certainly not intruders”. By the time of the First World War, Jews constituted one third of the population of Baghdad. He contrasts Europe and the Middle East. “Unlike Europe the Middle East did not have a ‘Jewish Question’. “Iraq’s Jews did not live in ghettos, nor did they experience the violent repression, persecution and genocide that marred European history. There were of course exceptions, notably the infamous pogrom against Jews in June 1941, for which the actions of British imperialism must take substantial responsibility. By 1941, antisemitism in Baghdad was on the increase but was more a foreign import than a home grown product. There was a violent pogrom against the Jewish community named the farhud. The Jews were seen as friends of the British. 179 Jews were murdered and several hundred injured. It was completely unexpected and unprecedented. There had been no other attack against the Jews for centuries. Avi gives many examples of Muslims assisting their Jewish neighbours. And yet he writes: “The overall picture, however, was one of religious tolerance, cosmopolitanism, peaceful co-existence and fruitful interaction.” The critical moment was the creation of Israel. “As a result of the Arab defeat, there was a backlash against the Jews throughout the Arab world. “What had been a pillar of Iraqi society was increasingly perceived as a sinister fifth column”, with Islamic fundamentalists and Arab nationalists identifying the Jews in their countries with the hated Zionist enemy. Palestinians “were the main victims of the Zionist project. More than half their number became refugees and the name Palestine was wiped off the map. But there was another category of victims, less well known and much less talked about: the Jews of the Arab lands”. The sub-title of the book refers to ‘Arab-Jews’. “The hyphen is significant. Critics of the term Arab-Jew see it as… conflating two separate identities. As I see it, the hyphen unites: an Arab can also be a Jew and a Jew can also be an Arab…We are told that there is a clash of cultures, an unbridgeable gulf between Muslims and Jews… The story of my family in Iraq -and that of many forgotten families like mine – points to a dramatically different picture. It harks back to an era of a more pluralist Middle East with greater religious tolerance and a political culture of mutual respect and co-operation.” Yet the Zionists portray the Jews as the victims of endemic Arab persecution and this is used to justify the atrocious treatment of the Palestinians. Thus the narrative of the ‘Jewish Nakba’ to create a ‘false symmetry between the fate of two communities. This narrative is not history; it is the propaganda of the victors.” On 29th November 1947 the General Assembly of the United Nations voted for the partition of mandate Palestine into two states: one Arab, one Jewish. The General Council of the Iraqi Jewish community sent a telegram to the UN opposing the partition resolution and the creation of a Jewish state. “Like my family, the majority of Iraqi Jews saw themselves as Iraqi first and Jewish second; they feared that the creation of a Jewish state would undermine their position in Iraq… The distinction between Jews and Zionists, so crucial to interfaith harmony in the Arab world, was rapidly breaking down”. Iraq’s participation in the war for Palestine fuelled tensions between Muslims and Jews. Iraqi Jews were widely suspected of being secret supporters of Israel. With the defeat of Palestine a wave of hostility towards Israel and the Jews living in their midst swept through the Arab world. Demonstrators marched through the streets of Baghdad shouting “Death to the Jews.” And the government needing a scapegoat did not simply respond to public anger but actively whipped up public hysteria and suspicion against the Jews. At this point official persecution against the Jews began. In July 1948 a law was passed making Zionism a criminal offence punishable by death or a minimum sentence of seven years in prison. Jews were fired from government jobs and from the railways, post office and telegraph department, Jewish merchants were denied import and export licences, restrictions placed on Jewish banks to trade in foreign currency, young Jews were barred from admission to colleges of education and the entire community was put under surveillance. The number of Jewish immigrants leaving Iraq to the end of 1953 numbered almost 125,000 out of a total of 135,000. The Jewish presence going back well over 2,000 years was destroyed. And yet for all this the mass exodus did not occur till 1950/1951 in what was known as the ‘Big Aliyah”. The majority of Iraqi Jews did not want to leave Iraq and had no affinity with Zionism. Most who emigrated to Israel did so only after a wave of five bombings of Jewish targets in Baghdad. It has long been argued that the bombings were instigated by Israel and the Zionists to spark a mass flight of Iraqi Jews to Israel, needed as they were to do many of the menial jobs and to boost numbers in the army. The author makes a forensic examination of the evidence – based on examination of documents and on interviews – and concluded that three out of the five bombings were carried out by the Zionist underground in Baghdad, a fourth – the bombing of the Mas’uda Shemtob synagogue, which was the only one that resulted in fatalities – was the result of Zionist bribery and there was one carried out by a far right wing, anti-Jewish Iraqi nationalist group. When the Iraqi Jews arrived in Israel, their experience fell short of the Zionist myth. At the airport in Israel, many were sprayed with DDT pesticides “to disinfect them as if they were animals.” They were then taken to squalid and unsanitary transit camps. Some camps were surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by policemen. The immigration and settlement authorities had no understanding of their customs and culture. “They thought of them as backward and primitive and expected them to take their place at the bottom of the social hierarchy and be grateful for whatever they were given… The lens through which the new immigrants were viewed was the same colonialist lens through which the Ashkenazi establishment viewed the Palestinians.” “We were Jews from an Arab country that was still officially at war with Israel. European Jews.. looked down on us as socially and culturally inferior. They despised the Arabic language…I was an Iraqi boy in a land of Europeans.” For his grandmothers, Iraq was the beloved homeland while Israel was the place of exile. “Migration to Israel is usually described as Aliyah or ascent. For us the move from Iraq to Israel was decidedly a Yeridah, a descent down the economic and social ladder. Not only did we lose our property and possessions; we also our lost our strong sense of identity as proud Iraqi Jews as we were relegated to the margins of Israeli society.” The experience was to break his father. “The unstated aims of the official policy for schools were to undermine our Arab-Jewish identity… A systematic process was at work to delegitimise our heritage and erase our cultural roots” It was a clash of cultures. The Mizrahim were earmarked to be the proletariat – the fodder to support the country’s industrial and agricultural development. As one author put it, “We left Iraq as Jews and arrived in Israel as Iraqis.” They were clearly, to borrow from current jargon, “the wrong kind of Israeli”. His journey was a political one too. His message and his warnings are unequivocally universalist. “The Holocaust stands out as an archetype of a crime against humanity. For me as a Jew and an Israeli therefore the Holocaust teaches us to resist the dehumanising of any people, including the Palestinian ‘victims of victims’, because dehumanising a people can easily result, as it did in Europe in the 1940s, in crimes against humanity.” He had previously argued that it was only after the 1967 war that Israel became a colonial power, oppressing the Palestinians in the occupied territories. However, “a deeper analysis… led me to the conclusion that Israel had been created by a settler-colonial movement. The years 1948 and 1967 were merely milestones in the relentless systematic takeover of the whole of Palestine… Since Zionism was an avowedly settler-colonial movement from the outset, the building of civilian settlements on occupied land was only a new stage in the long march… The most crucial turning point was not the war of 1967 but the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.” And more: “the two-state solution is dead or, to be more accurate, it was never born… The outcome I have come to favour is one democratic state… with equal rights for all its citizens regardless of ethnicity or religion.” He is absolutely right in my view. His family’s story “serves as a corrective to the Zionist narrative which views Arabs and Jews as congenitally incapable of dwelling together in peace and doomed to permanent conflict and discord… My experience as a young boy and that of the whole Jewish community in Iraq, suggests there is nothing inevitable or pre-ordained about Arab-Jewish antagonism… Remembering the past can help us to envisage a better future… Arab-Jewish co-existence is not something that my family imagined in our minds; we experienced it, we touched it.” Optimistic? Yes, perhaps over-optimistic. But towards the end of this masterpiece, Avi Schlaim justifies his message. “Recalling the era of cosmopolitanism and co-existence that some Jews, like my family, enjoyed in Arab countries before 1948 offers a glimmer of hope… It’s the best model we have for a better future.” https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/article/avi-shlaim-three-worlds-memoirs-of-an-arab-jew/
    WWW.JEWISHVOICEFORLABOUR.ORG.UK
    Avi Shlaim: ‘Three Worlds – Memoirs of an Arab – Jew’
    Graham Bash reviews this groundbreaking personal and political memoir by Avi Shlaim in which he laments the lost world of…
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  • Bombs, guns, treasure: What Israel wants, the US gives
    Connor Echols12 March, 2024
    GettyImages-164224706.jpg
    This article was co-published with Responsible Statecraft

    Close watchers of Israel’s war in Gaza have faced a question in recent months: If the US is rushing weapons to Israel, then why hasn’t the public heard of any arms sales besides two relatively small transfers late last year?

    The Washington Post delivered an answer last week. Reporter John Hudson revealed that the Biden administration has approved over 100 smaller weapons packages for Israel since 7 October that fell under the $25 million threshold for formally notifying Congress - and thus the public - about the transfers.

    In total, these mini-sales could add up to more than $1 billion worth of US military aid.

    The decision to deliver US aid in smaller packages is far from unusual. The US government has done so in the past for practical and nefarious purposes alike; only about 2% of weapons transfers occur above the threshold to notify Congress, according to former officials.

    "When a US-made bomb slams into Gaza, there's a real chance that it started the day in an American facility, managed by American soldiers and governed by American law"

    But what is abnormal is the fact that many of those weapons were likely pre-positioned on Israeli territory before the war. Unlike other countries, Israel has a stockpile of American weapons on its soil to which it has privileged access.

    When a US-made bomb slams into Gaza, there’s a real chance that it started the day in an American facility, managed by American soldiers and governed by American law.

    “It’s clear that it’s been a major source of arms for Israel,” said Josh Paul, a former State Department official who resigned in protest of US support for Israel’s war. Unfortunately, Paul added, “it’s an opaque process, so it’s hard to say exactly what weapons they’re getting” from the stockpile.

    RELATED

    Analysis

    Giorgio Cafiero

    This cache of arms is just a small piece of the puzzle. Taken as a whole, US efforts to shield Israel from human rights restrictions and guarantee its access to continued military aid go further than for any other country, according to experts and former senior US officials.

    These advantages include modified human rights vetting, special access to US weapons, and a veto on American arms sales to Israel’s neighbours. Up to this point, the State Department hasn’t carried out a formal assessment of Israel’s compliance with the law in its Gaza war.

    Experts claim these arms transfer cutouts have continued or, in some areas, been expanded since Israel launched its campaign in Gaza, which has left over 31,000 Palestinians dead and much of the strip’s population in famine or famine-like conditions. Even last month, as war crime accusations mounted, the US reportedly gave Israel at least 1,000 precision-guided munitions and artillery shells.

    Unlike other countries, Israel has a stockpile of American weapons on its soil to which it has privileged access. [Getty]
    “The bottom line is that either you have human rights standards and legal standards or you don't,” Paul said. When US officials fail to hold Israel accountable for alleged abuses, “it not only creates an exception for Israel, but it also undermines your diplomacy with other countries,” he told Responsible Statecraft/The New Arab.

    "I have serious concerns that the continued transfer of weapons to Israel is facilitating indiscriminate bombing that may violate international humanitarian law," Rep. Joaquin Castro told Responsible Statecraft/ The New Arab in a statement. "Congress needs to push the Biden administration to hold Benjamin Netanyahu accountable for any use of U.S. security assistance that violates international law."

    State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told Responsible Statecraft/The New Arab that all transfers to Israel since 7 October have followed US law and policy, including notifications to Congress.

    “We have followed the procedures Congress itself has specified to keep members well-informed and regularly brief members even when formal notification is not a legal requirement,” Miller said in a statement, adding that claims that the US has cut up weapons packages in order to avoid public scrutiny are “unequivocally false”.

    The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

    "US efforts to shield Israel from human rights restrictions and guarantee its access to continued military aid go further than for any other country"

    Exceptions make the rules

    When a Middle Eastern country asks the US for weapons, American officials’ minds go straight to Israel. Would Tel Aviv approve of the transfer? Could new fighter jets give Egypt an edge over Israel on the battlefield if their peace deal fell apart? Would Israeli officials come around if we offer them better weapons to sweeten the pot?

    This line of reasoning doesn’t have anything to do with the personal opinions of US officials. In fact, US law explicitly states that the US must give Israel a “qualitative military edge” over its neighbours to counter a threat from “any individual state or possible coalition of states or [...] non-state actors”.

    US partners are starkly aware of - and unhappy about - this reality, according to a former senior US military official in Cairo who requested anonymity to speak freely about his experience.

    Egyptian officials would sometimes request high-tech weapons just to “watch us squirm and come up with some way to say ‘no’ without saying the Israelis won't approve it,” the former official recalled.

    RELATED

    Analysis

    Hanna Davis

    “This is another place where it’s very explicit that Israel has a special status that no other country enjoys,” said John Ramming-Chappell of the Center for Civilians in Conflict.

    This qualitative advantage is enforced by the quantitative side. Since World War II, Israel is far and away the largest recipient of US military aid. Washington’s funding for the Israeli military, which now totals $3.8 billion per year, makes up about 16% of its total budget, according to the Congressional Research Service. Israel, which can spend part of its US aid on Israeli weapons, gets this cash in an interest-bearing account in New York, making it one of only two states that get a multimillion-dollar tip on top of baseline US support.

    When it comes to human rights, Israel also gets special protections. Take the Leahy law, a statute that prevents specific units of foreign militaries from receiving US aid if American officials have evidence they’ve committed “gross violations of human rights”.

    For most countries, Leahy vetting happens before aid is disbursed. Israel gets the equipment first, and the ensuing vetting process looks different than for other countries. Lower-level State Department officials have found multiple cases in which Israeli units should lose access to American weapons under US law, but those cases are consistently blocked by higher-ups in government who usually don’t weigh in on such cases for other countries, according to Paul.

    The result is that, unlike Egypt and other US partners in the Middle East, no Israeli unit has ever been sanctioned under the Leahy law despite numerous credible allegations of human rights abuses, a fact that the statute’s namesake has loudly railed against.

    Over 30,000 Palestinians have been killed since October in Israel's war on Gaza. [Getty]
    The State Department has previously justified this disparity by pointing to Israel’s judicial system, which US officials believe is capable of handling human rights violations internally.

    In recent weeks, congressional attention has focused on whether Israel is violating a US law that prevents countries from receiving American weapons if they block US humanitarian aid in whole or in part. While the statute has rarely been enforced, the Biden administration promised to hold states accountable to the law in a recent memorandum.

    At this point, many experts and lawmakers believe Israel is in clear violation of this law given how little aid now enters Gaza. Yet the White House has still not offered a reason - or a formal waiver - to justify its failure to enforce its own commitment.

    "Given the evidence that Israel is intentionally blocking the passage of humanitarian aid to Gaza, the Biden administration has an obligation to enforce Humanitarian Aid Corridor Act and move towards limitations on further offensive aid to Israel as long as the aid blockade continues," Rep. Castro told Responsible Statecraft/The New Arab.

    "US law explicitly states that America must give Israel a 'qualitative military edge' over its neighbours"

    'As supportive as possible'

    When the White House moved to expedite weapons transfers to Israel after 7 October, it faced an unusual problem. The president already had more than enough authority to make this happen, but officials wanted to signal that they were being “as supportive as possible”.

    The solution was to further loosen laws around US arms transfers, according to Paul, who still worked in government at the time.

    “It's not that those were things that we'd been previously thinking about,” Paul said. “The previous position within government had been [that] Israel already has more than you could possibly want in terms of authorities and funding.”

    RELATED

    In-depth

    Jessica Buxbaum

    Now, the Senate’s supplemental spending package for Israel has provisions that would dramatically expand the secretive US stockpile on Israeli soil while loosening public reporting requirements about transfers from it. A bill with similar changes passed the House as well, signalling broad support for the proposal in Congress.

    Alongside already existing loopholes, these new restrictions weaken America’s case that it is committed to protecting human rights on the world stage, according to Ramming-Chappell.

    “The exceptional status that Israel enjoys in US arms transfer policy and law, when taken in conjunction with the devastating effects of Israel’s current campaign in Gaza, really undermines US leadership and claims to moral authority in the international sphere,” he said.

    Connor Echols is a reporter for Responsible Statecraft. He was previously an associate editor at the Nonzero Foundation, where he co-wrote a weekly foreign policy newsletter.

    Follow him on Twitter: @connor_echols

    https://www.newarab.com/analysis/bombs-guns-treasure-what-israel-wants-us-gives


    https://telegra.ph/Bombs-guns-treasure-What-Israel-wants-the-US-gives-03-20
    Bombs, guns, treasure: What Israel wants, the US gives Connor Echols12 March, 2024 GettyImages-164224706.jpg This article was co-published with Responsible Statecraft Close watchers of Israel’s war in Gaza have faced a question in recent months: If the US is rushing weapons to Israel, then why hasn’t the public heard of any arms sales besides two relatively small transfers late last year? The Washington Post delivered an answer last week. Reporter John Hudson revealed that the Biden administration has approved over 100 smaller weapons packages for Israel since 7 October that fell under the $25 million threshold for formally notifying Congress - and thus the public - about the transfers. In total, these mini-sales could add up to more than $1 billion worth of US military aid. The decision to deliver US aid in smaller packages is far from unusual. The US government has done so in the past for practical and nefarious purposes alike; only about 2% of weapons transfers occur above the threshold to notify Congress, according to former officials. "When a US-made bomb slams into Gaza, there's a real chance that it started the day in an American facility, managed by American soldiers and governed by American law" But what is abnormal is the fact that many of those weapons were likely pre-positioned on Israeli territory before the war. Unlike other countries, Israel has a stockpile of American weapons on its soil to which it has privileged access. When a US-made bomb slams into Gaza, there’s a real chance that it started the day in an American facility, managed by American soldiers and governed by American law. “It’s clear that it’s been a major source of arms for Israel,” said Josh Paul, a former State Department official who resigned in protest of US support for Israel’s war. Unfortunately, Paul added, “it’s an opaque process, so it’s hard to say exactly what weapons they’re getting” from the stockpile. RELATED Analysis Giorgio Cafiero This cache of arms is just a small piece of the puzzle. Taken as a whole, US efforts to shield Israel from human rights restrictions and guarantee its access to continued military aid go further than for any other country, according to experts and former senior US officials. These advantages include modified human rights vetting, special access to US weapons, and a veto on American arms sales to Israel’s neighbours. Up to this point, the State Department hasn’t carried out a formal assessment of Israel’s compliance with the law in its Gaza war. Experts claim these arms transfer cutouts have continued or, in some areas, been expanded since Israel launched its campaign in Gaza, which has left over 31,000 Palestinians dead and much of the strip’s population in famine or famine-like conditions. Even last month, as war crime accusations mounted, the US reportedly gave Israel at least 1,000 precision-guided munitions and artillery shells. Unlike other countries, Israel has a stockpile of American weapons on its soil to which it has privileged access. [Getty] “The bottom line is that either you have human rights standards and legal standards or you don't,” Paul said. When US officials fail to hold Israel accountable for alleged abuses, “it not only creates an exception for Israel, but it also undermines your diplomacy with other countries,” he told Responsible Statecraft/The New Arab. "I have serious concerns that the continued transfer of weapons to Israel is facilitating indiscriminate bombing that may violate international humanitarian law," Rep. Joaquin Castro told Responsible Statecraft/ The New Arab in a statement. "Congress needs to push the Biden administration to hold Benjamin Netanyahu accountable for any use of U.S. security assistance that violates international law." State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told Responsible Statecraft/The New Arab that all transfers to Israel since 7 October have followed US law and policy, including notifications to Congress. “We have followed the procedures Congress itself has specified to keep members well-informed and regularly brief members even when formal notification is not a legal requirement,” Miller said in a statement, adding that claims that the US has cut up weapons packages in order to avoid public scrutiny are “unequivocally false”. The White House did not respond to a request for comment. "US efforts to shield Israel from human rights restrictions and guarantee its access to continued military aid go further than for any other country" Exceptions make the rules When a Middle Eastern country asks the US for weapons, American officials’ minds go straight to Israel. Would Tel Aviv approve of the transfer? Could new fighter jets give Egypt an edge over Israel on the battlefield if their peace deal fell apart? Would Israeli officials come around if we offer them better weapons to sweeten the pot? This line of reasoning doesn’t have anything to do with the personal opinions of US officials. In fact, US law explicitly states that the US must give Israel a “qualitative military edge” over its neighbours to counter a threat from “any individual state or possible coalition of states or [...] non-state actors”. US partners are starkly aware of - and unhappy about - this reality, according to a former senior US military official in Cairo who requested anonymity to speak freely about his experience. Egyptian officials would sometimes request high-tech weapons just to “watch us squirm and come up with some way to say ‘no’ without saying the Israelis won't approve it,” the former official recalled. RELATED Analysis Hanna Davis “This is another place where it’s very explicit that Israel has a special status that no other country enjoys,” said John Ramming-Chappell of the Center for Civilians in Conflict. This qualitative advantage is enforced by the quantitative side. Since World War II, Israel is far and away the largest recipient of US military aid. Washington’s funding for the Israeli military, which now totals $3.8 billion per year, makes up about 16% of its total budget, according to the Congressional Research Service. Israel, which can spend part of its US aid on Israeli weapons, gets this cash in an interest-bearing account in New York, making it one of only two states that get a multimillion-dollar tip on top of baseline US support. When it comes to human rights, Israel also gets special protections. Take the Leahy law, a statute that prevents specific units of foreign militaries from receiving US aid if American officials have evidence they’ve committed “gross violations of human rights”. For most countries, Leahy vetting happens before aid is disbursed. Israel gets the equipment first, and the ensuing vetting process looks different than for other countries. Lower-level State Department officials have found multiple cases in which Israeli units should lose access to American weapons under US law, but those cases are consistently blocked by higher-ups in government who usually don’t weigh in on such cases for other countries, according to Paul. The result is that, unlike Egypt and other US partners in the Middle East, no Israeli unit has ever been sanctioned under the Leahy law despite numerous credible allegations of human rights abuses, a fact that the statute’s namesake has loudly railed against. Over 30,000 Palestinians have been killed since October in Israel's war on Gaza. [Getty] The State Department has previously justified this disparity by pointing to Israel’s judicial system, which US officials believe is capable of handling human rights violations internally. In recent weeks, congressional attention has focused on whether Israel is violating a US law that prevents countries from receiving American weapons if they block US humanitarian aid in whole or in part. While the statute has rarely been enforced, the Biden administration promised to hold states accountable to the law in a recent memorandum. At this point, many experts and lawmakers believe Israel is in clear violation of this law given how little aid now enters Gaza. Yet the White House has still not offered a reason - or a formal waiver - to justify its failure to enforce its own commitment. "Given the evidence that Israel is intentionally blocking the passage of humanitarian aid to Gaza, the Biden administration has an obligation to enforce Humanitarian Aid Corridor Act and move towards limitations on further offensive aid to Israel as long as the aid blockade continues," Rep. Castro told Responsible Statecraft/The New Arab. "US law explicitly states that America must give Israel a 'qualitative military edge' over its neighbours" 'As supportive as possible' When the White House moved to expedite weapons transfers to Israel after 7 October, it faced an unusual problem. The president already had more than enough authority to make this happen, but officials wanted to signal that they were being “as supportive as possible”. The solution was to further loosen laws around US arms transfers, according to Paul, who still worked in government at the time. “It's not that those were things that we'd been previously thinking about,” Paul said. “The previous position within government had been [that] Israel already has more than you could possibly want in terms of authorities and funding.” RELATED In-depth Jessica Buxbaum Now, the Senate’s supplemental spending package for Israel has provisions that would dramatically expand the secretive US stockpile on Israeli soil while loosening public reporting requirements about transfers from it. A bill with similar changes passed the House as well, signalling broad support for the proposal in Congress. Alongside already existing loopholes, these new restrictions weaken America’s case that it is committed to protecting human rights on the world stage, according to Ramming-Chappell. “The exceptional status that Israel enjoys in US arms transfer policy and law, when taken in conjunction with the devastating effects of Israel’s current campaign in Gaza, really undermines US leadership and claims to moral authority in the international sphere,” he said. Connor Echols is a reporter for Responsible Statecraft. He was previously an associate editor at the Nonzero Foundation, where he co-wrote a weekly foreign policy newsletter. Follow him on Twitter: @connor_echols https://www.newarab.com/analysis/bombs-guns-treasure-what-israel-wants-us-gives https://telegra.ph/Bombs-guns-treasure-What-Israel-wants-the-US-gives-03-20
    WWW.NEWARAB.COM
    Bombs, guns, treasure: What Israel wants, the US gives
    In-depth: Israel's exceptional status in US arms policy and law ensures that unending military aid is shielded from scrutiny over human rights abuses.
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  • https://mondoweiss.net/2024/03/doctors-justify-genocide-in-a-prestigious-journal/
    https://mondoweiss.net/2024/03/doctors-justify-genocide-in-a-prestigious-journal/
    MONDOWEISS.NET
    Doctors justify genocide in a prestigious journal
    The Journal of the American Medical Association published four letters rife with racist anti-Palestinian tropes. The prestigious platform created the appearance of intellectualism and expertise, but it’s all just racism with a ribbon on it.
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  • Bombs, guns, treasure: What Israel wants, the US gives
    Connor Echols12 March, 2024
    GettyImages-164224706.jpg
    This article was co-published with Responsible Statecraft

    Close watchers of Israel’s war in Gaza have faced a question in recent months: If the US is rushing weapons to Israel, then why hasn’t the public heard of any arms sales besides two relatively small transfers late last year?

    The Washington Post delivered an answer last week. Reporter John Hudson revealed that the Biden administration has approved over 100 smaller weapons packages for Israel since 7 October that fell under the $25 million threshold for formally notifying Congress - and thus the public - about the transfers.

    In total, these mini-sales could add up to more than $1 billion worth of US military aid.

    The decision to deliver US aid in smaller packages is far from unusual. The US government has done so in the past for practical and nefarious purposes alike; only about 2% of weapons transfers occur above the threshold to notify Congress, according to former officials.

    "When a US-made bomb slams into Gaza, there's a real chance that it started the day in an American facility, managed by American soldiers and governed by American law"

    But what is abnormal is the fact that many of those weapons were likely pre-positioned on Israeli territory before the war. Unlike other countries, Israel has a stockpile of American weapons on its soil to which it has privileged access.

    When a US-made bomb slams into Gaza, there’s a real chance that it started the day in an American facility, managed by American soldiers and governed by American law.

    “It’s clear that it’s been a major source of arms for Israel,” said Josh Paul, a former State Department official who resigned in protest of US support for Israel’s war. Unfortunately, Paul added, “it’s an opaque process, so it’s hard to say exactly what weapons they’re getting” from the stockpile.

    RELATED

    Analysis

    Giorgio Cafiero

    This cache of arms is just a small piece of the puzzle. Taken as a whole, US efforts to shield Israel from human rights restrictions and guarantee its access to continued military aid go further than for any other country, according to experts and former senior US officials.

    These advantages include modified human rights vetting, special access to US weapons, and a veto on American arms sales to Israel’s neighbours. Up to this point, the State Department hasn’t carried out a formal assessment of Israel’s compliance with the law in its Gaza war.

    Experts claim these arms transfer cutouts have continued or, in some areas, been expanded since Israel launched its campaign in Gaza, which has left over 31,000 Palestinians dead and much of the strip’s population in famine or famine-like conditions. Even last month, as war crime accusations mounted, the US reportedly gave Israel at least 1,000 precision-guided munitions and artillery shells.

    Unlike other countries, Israel has a stockpile of American weapons on its soil to which it has privileged access. [Getty]
    “The bottom line is that either you have human rights standards and legal standards or you don't,” Paul said. When US officials fail to hold Israel accountable for alleged abuses, “it not only creates an exception for Israel, but it also undermines your diplomacy with other countries,” he told Responsible Statecraft/The New Arab.

    "I have serious concerns that the continued transfer of weapons to Israel is facilitating indiscriminate bombing that may violate international humanitarian law," Rep. Joaquin Castro told Responsible Statecraft/ The New Arab in a statement. "Congress needs to push the Biden administration to hold Benjamin Netanyahu accountable for any use of U.S. security assistance that violates international law."

    State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told Responsible Statecraft/The New Arab that all transfers to Israel since 7 October have followed US law and policy, including notifications to Congress.

    “We have followed the procedures Congress itself has specified to keep members well-informed and regularly brief members even when formal notification is not a legal requirement,” Miller said in a statement, adding that claims that the US has cut up weapons packages in order to avoid public scrutiny are “unequivocally false”.

    The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

    "US efforts to shield Israel from human rights restrictions and guarantee its access to continued military aid go further than for any other country"

    Exceptions make the rules

    When a Middle Eastern country asks the US for weapons, American officials’ minds go straight to Israel. Would Tel Aviv approve of the transfer? Could new fighter jets give Egypt an edge over Israel on the battlefield if their peace deal fell apart? Would Israeli officials come around if we offer them better weapons to sweeten the pot?

    This line of reasoning doesn’t have anything to do with the personal opinions of US officials. In fact, US law explicitly states that the US must give Israel a “qualitative military edge” over its neighbours to counter a threat from “any individual state or possible coalition of states or [...] non-state actors”.

    US partners are starkly aware of - and unhappy about - this reality, according to a former senior US military official in Cairo who requested anonymity to speak freely about his experience.

    Egyptian officials would sometimes request high-tech weapons just to “watch us squirm and come up with some way to say ‘no’ without saying the Israelis won't approve it,” the former official recalled.

    RELATED

    Analysis

    Hanna Davis

    “This is another place where it’s very explicit that Israel has a special status that no other country enjoys,” said John Ramming-Chappell of the Center for Civilians in Conflict.

    This qualitative advantage is enforced by the quantitative side. Since World War II, Israel is far and away the largest recipient of US military aid. Washington’s funding for the Israeli military, which now totals $3.8 billion per year, makes up about 16% of its total budget, according to the Congressional Research Service. Israel, which can spend part of its US aid on Israeli weapons, gets this cash in an interest-bearing account in New York, making it one of only two states that get a multimillion-dollar tip on top of baseline US support.

    When it comes to human rights, Israel also gets special protections. Take the Leahy law, a statute that prevents specific units of foreign militaries from receiving US aid if American officials have evidence they’ve committed “gross violations of human rights”.

    For most countries, Leahy vetting happens before aid is disbursed. Israel gets the equipment first, and the ensuing vetting process looks different than for other countries. Lower-level State Department officials have found multiple cases in which Israeli units should lose access to American weapons under US law, but those cases are consistently blocked by higher-ups in government who usually don’t weigh in on such cases for other countries, according to Paul.

    The result is that, unlike Egypt and other US partners in the Middle East, no Israeli unit has ever been sanctioned under the Leahy law despite numerous credible allegations of human rights abuses, a fact that the statute’s namesake has loudly railed against.

    Over 30,000 Palestinians have been killed since October in Israel's war on Gaza. [Getty]
    The State Department has previously justified this disparity by pointing to Israel’s judicial system, which US officials believe is capable of handling human rights violations internally.

    In recent weeks, congressional attention has focused on whether Israel is violating a US law that prevents countries from receiving American weapons if they block US humanitarian aid in whole or in part. While the statute has rarely been enforced, the Biden administration promised to hold states accountable to the law in a recent memorandum.

    At this point, many experts and lawmakers believe Israel is in clear violation of this law given how little aid now enters Gaza. Yet the White House has still not offered a reason - or a formal waiver - to justify its failure to enforce its own commitment.

    "Given the evidence that Israel is intentionally blocking the passage of humanitarian aid to Gaza, the Biden administration has an obligation to enforce Humanitarian Aid Corridor Act and move towards limitations on further offensive aid to Israel as long as the aid blockade continues," Rep. Castro told Responsible Statecraft/The New Arab.

    "US law explicitly states that America must give Israel a 'qualitative military edge' over its neighbours"

    'As supportive as possible'

    When the White House moved to expedite weapons transfers to Israel after 7 October, it faced an unusual problem. The president already had more than enough authority to make this happen, but officials wanted to signal that they were being “as supportive as possible”.

    The solution was to further loosen laws around US arms transfers, according to Paul, who still worked in government at the time.

    “It's not that those were things that we'd been previously thinking about,” Paul said. “The previous position within government had been [that] Israel already has more than you could possibly want in terms of authorities and funding.”

    RELATED

    In-depth

    Jessica Buxbaum

    Now, the Senate’s supplemental spending package for Israel has provisions that would dramatically expand the secretive US stockpile on Israeli soil while loosening public reporting requirements about transfers from it. A bill with similar changes passed the House as well, signalling broad support for the proposal in Congress.

    Alongside already existing loopholes, these new restrictions weaken America’s case that it is committed to protecting human rights on the world stage, according to Ramming-Chappell.

    “The exceptional status that Israel enjoys in US arms transfer policy and law, when taken in conjunction with the devastating effects of Israel’s current campaign in Gaza, really undermines US leadership and claims to moral authority in the international sphere,” he said.

    Connor Echols is a reporter for Responsible Statecraft. He was previously an associate editor at the Nonzero Foundation, where he co-wrote a weekly foreign policy newsletter.

    Follow him on Twitter: @connor_echols

    https://www.newarab.com/analysis/bombs-guns-treasure-what-israel-wants-us-gives
    Bombs, guns, treasure: What Israel wants, the US gives Connor Echols12 March, 2024 GettyImages-164224706.jpg This article was co-published with Responsible Statecraft Close watchers of Israel’s war in Gaza have faced a question in recent months: If the US is rushing weapons to Israel, then why hasn’t the public heard of any arms sales besides two relatively small transfers late last year? The Washington Post delivered an answer last week. Reporter John Hudson revealed that the Biden administration has approved over 100 smaller weapons packages for Israel since 7 October that fell under the $25 million threshold for formally notifying Congress - and thus the public - about the transfers. In total, these mini-sales could add up to more than $1 billion worth of US military aid. The decision to deliver US aid in smaller packages is far from unusual. The US government has done so in the past for practical and nefarious purposes alike; only about 2% of weapons transfers occur above the threshold to notify Congress, according to former officials. "When a US-made bomb slams into Gaza, there's a real chance that it started the day in an American facility, managed by American soldiers and governed by American law" But what is abnormal is the fact that many of those weapons were likely pre-positioned on Israeli territory before the war. Unlike other countries, Israel has a stockpile of American weapons on its soil to which it has privileged access. When a US-made bomb slams into Gaza, there’s a real chance that it started the day in an American facility, managed by American soldiers and governed by American law. “It’s clear that it’s been a major source of arms for Israel,” said Josh Paul, a former State Department official who resigned in protest of US support for Israel’s war. Unfortunately, Paul added, “it’s an opaque process, so it’s hard to say exactly what weapons they’re getting” from the stockpile. RELATED Analysis Giorgio Cafiero This cache of arms is just a small piece of the puzzle. Taken as a whole, US efforts to shield Israel from human rights restrictions and guarantee its access to continued military aid go further than for any other country, according to experts and former senior US officials. These advantages include modified human rights vetting, special access to US weapons, and a veto on American arms sales to Israel’s neighbours. Up to this point, the State Department hasn’t carried out a formal assessment of Israel’s compliance with the law in its Gaza war. Experts claim these arms transfer cutouts have continued or, in some areas, been expanded since Israel launched its campaign in Gaza, which has left over 31,000 Palestinians dead and much of the strip’s population in famine or famine-like conditions. Even last month, as war crime accusations mounted, the US reportedly gave Israel at least 1,000 precision-guided munitions and artillery shells. Unlike other countries, Israel has a stockpile of American weapons on its soil to which it has privileged access. [Getty] “The bottom line is that either you have human rights standards and legal standards or you don't,” Paul said. When US officials fail to hold Israel accountable for alleged abuses, “it not only creates an exception for Israel, but it also undermines your diplomacy with other countries,” he told Responsible Statecraft/The New Arab. "I have serious concerns that the continued transfer of weapons to Israel is facilitating indiscriminate bombing that may violate international humanitarian law," Rep. Joaquin Castro told Responsible Statecraft/ The New Arab in a statement. "Congress needs to push the Biden administration to hold Benjamin Netanyahu accountable for any use of U.S. security assistance that violates international law." State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told Responsible Statecraft/The New Arab that all transfers to Israel since 7 October have followed US law and policy, including notifications to Congress. “We have followed the procedures Congress itself has specified to keep members well-informed and regularly brief members even when formal notification is not a legal requirement,” Miller said in a statement, adding that claims that the US has cut up weapons packages in order to avoid public scrutiny are “unequivocally false”. The White House did not respond to a request for comment. "US efforts to shield Israel from human rights restrictions and guarantee its access to continued military aid go further than for any other country" Exceptions make the rules When a Middle Eastern country asks the US for weapons, American officials’ minds go straight to Israel. Would Tel Aviv approve of the transfer? Could new fighter jets give Egypt an edge over Israel on the battlefield if their peace deal fell apart? Would Israeli officials come around if we offer them better weapons to sweeten the pot? This line of reasoning doesn’t have anything to do with the personal opinions of US officials. In fact, US law explicitly states that the US must give Israel a “qualitative military edge” over its neighbours to counter a threat from “any individual state or possible coalition of states or [...] non-state actors”. US partners are starkly aware of - and unhappy about - this reality, according to a former senior US military official in Cairo who requested anonymity to speak freely about his experience. Egyptian officials would sometimes request high-tech weapons just to “watch us squirm and come up with some way to say ‘no’ without saying the Israelis won't approve it,” the former official recalled. RELATED Analysis Hanna Davis “This is another place where it’s very explicit that Israel has a special status that no other country enjoys,” said John Ramming-Chappell of the Center for Civilians in Conflict. This qualitative advantage is enforced by the quantitative side. Since World War II, Israel is far and away the largest recipient of US military aid. Washington’s funding for the Israeli military, which now totals $3.8 billion per year, makes up about 16% of its total budget, according to the Congressional Research Service. Israel, which can spend part of its US aid on Israeli weapons, gets this cash in an interest-bearing account in New York, making it one of only two states that get a multimillion-dollar tip on top of baseline US support. When it comes to human rights, Israel also gets special protections. Take the Leahy law, a statute that prevents specific units of foreign militaries from receiving US aid if American officials have evidence they’ve committed “gross violations of human rights”. For most countries, Leahy vetting happens before aid is disbursed. Israel gets the equipment first, and the ensuing vetting process looks different than for other countries. Lower-level State Department officials have found multiple cases in which Israeli units should lose access to American weapons under US law, but those cases are consistently blocked by higher-ups in government who usually don’t weigh in on such cases for other countries, according to Paul. The result is that, unlike Egypt and other US partners in the Middle East, no Israeli unit has ever been sanctioned under the Leahy law despite numerous credible allegations of human rights abuses, a fact that the statute’s namesake has loudly railed against. Over 30,000 Palestinians have been killed since October in Israel's war on Gaza. [Getty] The State Department has previously justified this disparity by pointing to Israel’s judicial system, which US officials believe is capable of handling human rights violations internally. In recent weeks, congressional attention has focused on whether Israel is violating a US law that prevents countries from receiving American weapons if they block US humanitarian aid in whole or in part. While the statute has rarely been enforced, the Biden administration promised to hold states accountable to the law in a recent memorandum. At this point, many experts and lawmakers believe Israel is in clear violation of this law given how little aid now enters Gaza. Yet the White House has still not offered a reason - or a formal waiver - to justify its failure to enforce its own commitment. "Given the evidence that Israel is intentionally blocking the passage of humanitarian aid to Gaza, the Biden administration has an obligation to enforce Humanitarian Aid Corridor Act and move towards limitations on further offensive aid to Israel as long as the aid blockade continues," Rep. Castro told Responsible Statecraft/The New Arab. "US law explicitly states that America must give Israel a 'qualitative military edge' over its neighbours" 'As supportive as possible' When the White House moved to expedite weapons transfers to Israel after 7 October, it faced an unusual problem. The president already had more than enough authority to make this happen, but officials wanted to signal that they were being “as supportive as possible”. The solution was to further loosen laws around US arms transfers, according to Paul, who still worked in government at the time. “It's not that those were things that we'd been previously thinking about,” Paul said. “The previous position within government had been [that] Israel already has more than you could possibly want in terms of authorities and funding.” RELATED In-depth Jessica Buxbaum Now, the Senate’s supplemental spending package for Israel has provisions that would dramatically expand the secretive US stockpile on Israeli soil while loosening public reporting requirements about transfers from it. A bill with similar changes passed the House as well, signalling broad support for the proposal in Congress. Alongside already existing loopholes, these new restrictions weaken America’s case that it is committed to protecting human rights on the world stage, according to Ramming-Chappell. “The exceptional status that Israel enjoys in US arms transfer policy and law, when taken in conjunction with the devastating effects of Israel’s current campaign in Gaza, really undermines US leadership and claims to moral authority in the international sphere,” he said. Connor Echols is a reporter for Responsible Statecraft. He was previously an associate editor at the Nonzero Foundation, where he co-wrote a weekly foreign policy newsletter. Follow him on Twitter: @connor_echols https://www.newarab.com/analysis/bombs-guns-treasure-what-israel-wants-us-gives
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    Bombs, guns, treasure: What Israel wants, the US gives
    In-depth: Israel's exceptional status in US arms policy and law ensures that unending military aid is shielded from scrutiny over human rights abuses.
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  • Weekly Briefing: Now everyone hates Israel
    The unbelievable onslaught on a captive people in Gaza has at last cracked the conscience of the American Jewish community and sent American Zionists into complete crisis.

    Philip WeissMarch 17, 2024
    Chuck Schumer's historic speech to the Senate on March 14, 2024, stating that Netanyahu must go if Israel is not going to become a "pariah" state. Screenshot.
    Chuck Schumer’s historic speech to the Senate on March 14, 2024, stating that Netanyahu must go if Israel is not going to become a “pariah” state. Screenshot.
    This was a huge week in American Jewish political history.

    First, the director of a movie about Auschwitz, Jonathan Glazer, accepted an Oscar in a speech saying that his Jewishness should not be used to justify the slaughter of Gazans.

    Right now, we stand here as men who refute their Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation which has led to conflict for so many innocent people. Whether the victims of October 7 in Israel or the ongoing attack on Gaza — all the victims of this dehumanization, how do we resist?

    In saying “We,” Glazer spoke for his producer Len Blavatnik, a billionaire who stood silently behind him, and who just months ago had joined the Harvard donor revolt over alleged antisemitic — actually pro-Palestinian speech — on campus. A revolt that forced the resignation of the Harvard president.

    Glazer’s speech was followed four days later by the “momentous speech” by New York Senator Chuck Schumer, who, speaking as a Jew, called on Netanyahu to hold new elections because his rightwing policies are hurting Israel. “As a lifelong supporter of Israel, it has become clear to me, the Netanyahu coalition no longer fits the needs of Israel,” said Schumer.

    The Gaza slaughter figured largely. Schumer fears that the massive civilian death toll in Gaza, which causes him “anguish,” will cause Israel to become a “pariah” nation.

    In coalition with far-right extremists like Ministers Smotrich and Ben-Gvir, and as a result, [Netanyahu] has been too willing to tolerate the civilian toll in Gaza, which is pushing support for Israel worldwide to historic lows. Israel cannot survive if it becomes a pariah.

    The first thing to observe about both speeches is that Palestinian lives are finally counting in American politics. The unbelievable onslaught on a captive people that caused Susan Abulhawa to somehow get in there and come out to say there’s a holocaust in Gaza that language cannot describe has at last registered in American politics.

    And just as Joe Biden said last week that Netanyahu “cannot have another 30,000 Palestinians dead”– as if the first 30,000 were mere table stakes — the genocide is also cracking the conscience of the American Jewish community.

    Schumer is “a bellwether for the Jewish community, who has refrained from sharp criticism of the Israeli government” (as J Street put it)– and his speech has great significance.

    American Zionists are in utter crisis. They see that Israel is a state in the eyes of the world. They see that you cannot force the hand of the U.S. president in support of the genocide, out of concern for his political donations, and topple Ivy League presidents who have not been supportive enough of Israel — without grave consequences.

    Schumer acted out of pure desperation. Biden may lose Michigan if the Jewish community cannot pivot and come out against genocide. He sees Israel becoming a “pariah” state.

    There is now no difference between right-wing and left-wing Zionists inside the Democratic Party. They have all now gathered around the Schumer/Biden delusion that if you just get rid of Netanyahu, Israel will be able to curb the slaughter, pursue the two-state solution, and save the Jewish state.

    So, Zionism is entering an unending public crisis. Because Netanyahu won’t go. Or if he does go, he will be replaced by others who are equally or almost as warmongering and who will do nothing to end the occupation. And Israel will just continue to be a pariah state. And the tsunami of boycotts, long predicted by Israel lovers, will really be upon us. Even Schumer said that the U.S. must restrict aid to Israel if it cannot stop slaughtering civilians.

    This is a crisis of Jewish identity. Schumer cited Jewish tradition and conscience as the impulse for his speech. “What horrifies so many Jews especially is our sense that Israel is falling short of upholding these distinctly Jewish values that we hold so dear. We must be better than our enemies, lest we become them.”

    However cynical you are about Jewish values and conscience — and I’m as cynical as they come — his speech represents a great wake-up call for Jews who care about human rights to take on the genocide-enablers in the U.S. Jewish community. Despite the love Schumer expressed for Israel and the mythologies he espoused about its creation and democracy, his speech is historic on this ground.

    Because as more than one critic of Schumer’s said this week, he is giving permission to others. The most powerful Jewish politician in U.S. history is saying, As a Jew I tell America, Israel is doing wrong. Yes, everyone hates Israel now.

    Schumer has opened the doors on the Jewish discussion that I and others in the anti-Zionist community have long sought: How can we support a discriminatory, brutal state in our name over there when we absolutely oppose religious nationalism and persecution of minorities here?

    Anti-Zionists will win this argument. Because the Jewish state will not be able to transform itself to suit American liberal values. And regardless of the political arrangements in coming years in Israel/Palestine — partition into two states, or one state — Israel’s move to pariah status is so well advanced now by its own actions that no Zionist will ultimately be able to save its racist apartheid constitution. And idealistic Jews here will help transform that land.

    In directing Israelis what to do– go have another election!– Schumer exposed a great secret of Zionism: It is an international Jewish ideology that will always cause confusion about national interest. Schumer could well argue that he was justified in directing Israelis because Israel interferes in our politics all the time, as Netanyahu did in 2015 on the Iran deal. “Imagine if some foreign leader who was ostensibly an ally of the United States, came here and gave an address before Congress that threw the American president under the bus on their key policy item of the times,” a New York liberal Zionist said in praising Schumer’s speech. “Can you imagine it?”

    I can imagine just that because Schumer himself admitted that he voted against the Iran deal because it was in Israel’s interest not the American one.

    So Zionism has always been a huge asterisk on American Jewish liberal values. This week that asterisk began to fall apart.

    Thanks for reading,

    Phil


    https://mondoweiss.net/2024/03/weekly-briefing-now-everyone-hates-israel/
    Weekly Briefing: Now everyone hates Israel The unbelievable onslaught on a captive people in Gaza has at last cracked the conscience of the American Jewish community and sent American Zionists into complete crisis. Philip WeissMarch 17, 2024 Chuck Schumer's historic speech to the Senate on March 14, 2024, stating that Netanyahu must go if Israel is not going to become a "pariah" state. Screenshot. Chuck Schumer’s historic speech to the Senate on March 14, 2024, stating that Netanyahu must go if Israel is not going to become a “pariah” state. Screenshot. This was a huge week in American Jewish political history. First, the director of a movie about Auschwitz, Jonathan Glazer, accepted an Oscar in a speech saying that his Jewishness should not be used to justify the slaughter of Gazans. Right now, we stand here as men who refute their Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation which has led to conflict for so many innocent people. Whether the victims of October 7 in Israel or the ongoing attack on Gaza — all the victims of this dehumanization, how do we resist? In saying “We,” Glazer spoke for his producer Len Blavatnik, a billionaire who stood silently behind him, and who just months ago had joined the Harvard donor revolt over alleged antisemitic — actually pro-Palestinian speech — on campus. A revolt that forced the resignation of the Harvard president. Glazer’s speech was followed four days later by the “momentous speech” by New York Senator Chuck Schumer, who, speaking as a Jew, called on Netanyahu to hold new elections because his rightwing policies are hurting Israel. “As a lifelong supporter of Israel, it has become clear to me, the Netanyahu coalition no longer fits the needs of Israel,” said Schumer. The Gaza slaughter figured largely. Schumer fears that the massive civilian death toll in Gaza, which causes him “anguish,” will cause Israel to become a “pariah” nation. In coalition with far-right extremists like Ministers Smotrich and Ben-Gvir, and as a result, [Netanyahu] has been too willing to tolerate the civilian toll in Gaza, which is pushing support for Israel worldwide to historic lows. Israel cannot survive if it becomes a pariah. The first thing to observe about both speeches is that Palestinian lives are finally counting in American politics. The unbelievable onslaught on a captive people that caused Susan Abulhawa to somehow get in there and come out to say there’s a holocaust in Gaza that language cannot describe has at last registered in American politics. And just as Joe Biden said last week that Netanyahu “cannot have another 30,000 Palestinians dead”– as if the first 30,000 were mere table stakes — the genocide is also cracking the conscience of the American Jewish community. Schumer is “a bellwether for the Jewish community, who has refrained from sharp criticism of the Israeli government” (as J Street put it)– and his speech has great significance. American Zionists are in utter crisis. They see that Israel is a state in the eyes of the world. They see that you cannot force the hand of the U.S. president in support of the genocide, out of concern for his political donations, and topple Ivy League presidents who have not been supportive enough of Israel — without grave consequences. Schumer acted out of pure desperation. Biden may lose Michigan if the Jewish community cannot pivot and come out against genocide. He sees Israel becoming a “pariah” state. There is now no difference between right-wing and left-wing Zionists inside the Democratic Party. They have all now gathered around the Schumer/Biden delusion that if you just get rid of Netanyahu, Israel will be able to curb the slaughter, pursue the two-state solution, and save the Jewish state. So, Zionism is entering an unending public crisis. Because Netanyahu won’t go. Or if he does go, he will be replaced by others who are equally or almost as warmongering and who will do nothing to end the occupation. And Israel will just continue to be a pariah state. And the tsunami of boycotts, long predicted by Israel lovers, will really be upon us. Even Schumer said that the U.S. must restrict aid to Israel if it cannot stop slaughtering civilians. This is a crisis of Jewish identity. Schumer cited Jewish tradition and conscience as the impulse for his speech. “What horrifies so many Jews especially is our sense that Israel is falling short of upholding these distinctly Jewish values that we hold so dear. We must be better than our enemies, lest we become them.” However cynical you are about Jewish values and conscience — and I’m as cynical as they come — his speech represents a great wake-up call for Jews who care about human rights to take on the genocide-enablers in the U.S. Jewish community. Despite the love Schumer expressed for Israel and the mythologies he espoused about its creation and democracy, his speech is historic on this ground. Because as more than one critic of Schumer’s said this week, he is giving permission to others. The most powerful Jewish politician in U.S. history is saying, As a Jew I tell America, Israel is doing wrong. Yes, everyone hates Israel now. Schumer has opened the doors on the Jewish discussion that I and others in the anti-Zionist community have long sought: How can we support a discriminatory, brutal state in our name over there when we absolutely oppose religious nationalism and persecution of minorities here? Anti-Zionists will win this argument. Because the Jewish state will not be able to transform itself to suit American liberal values. And regardless of the political arrangements in coming years in Israel/Palestine — partition into two states, or one state — Israel’s move to pariah status is so well advanced now by its own actions that no Zionist will ultimately be able to save its racist apartheid constitution. And idealistic Jews here will help transform that land. In directing Israelis what to do– go have another election!– Schumer exposed a great secret of Zionism: It is an international Jewish ideology that will always cause confusion about national interest. Schumer could well argue that he was justified in directing Israelis because Israel interferes in our politics all the time, as Netanyahu did in 2015 on the Iran deal. “Imagine if some foreign leader who was ostensibly an ally of the United States, came here and gave an address before Congress that threw the American president under the bus on their key policy item of the times,” a New York liberal Zionist said in praising Schumer’s speech. “Can you imagine it?” I can imagine just that because Schumer himself admitted that he voted against the Iran deal because it was in Israel’s interest not the American one. So Zionism has always been a huge asterisk on American Jewish liberal values. This week that asterisk began to fall apart. Thanks for reading, Phil https://mondoweiss.net/2024/03/weekly-briefing-now-everyone-hates-israel/
    MONDOWEISS.NET
    Weekly Briefing: Now everyone hates Israel
    The unbelievable onslaught on a captive people in Gaza has at last cracked the conscience of the American Jewish community and sent American Zionists into complete crisis.
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  • ‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 164: Israeli army storms al-Shifa again, aid reaches Jabalia for first time in months
    Leila WarahMarch 19, 2024
    Palestinians gather in front of UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) building to receive flour in Jabalia, Gaza City, March 17, 2024. (Photo: Ashraf Amra/APA Images)
    Palestinians gather in front of UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) building to receive flour in Jabalia, Gaza City, March 17, 2024. (Photo: Ashraf Amra/APA Images)
    Casualties

    31,726 + killed* and at least 73,792 wounded in the Gaza Strip.
    435+ Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.**
    Israel revises its estimated October 7 death toll down from 1,400 to 1,147.
    591 Israeli soldiers killed since October 7, and at least 3,221 injured.***
    *Gaza’s Ministry of Health confirmed this figure on its Telegram channel. Some rights groups put the death toll number closer to 40,000 when accounting for those presumed dead.

    ** The death toll in the West Bank and Jerusalem is not updated regularly. According to the PA’s Ministry of Health on March 17, this is the latest figure.

    *** This figure is released by the Israeli military, showing the soldiers whose names “were allowed to be published.”

    Key Developments

    Gaza Health Ministry: Israeli military storms al-Shifa Hospital for the fourth time, killing and wounding a number of people.
    30,000 people in al-Shifa Hospital ordered to evacuate to Khan Younis.
    Palestinian Prisoners Society: Thirteenth Palestinian prisoner dies in Israeli custody since October 7.
    UK charity Oxfam accuses Israel of “actively hindering” aid operations in Gaza.
    PRCS provides mental support groups for traumatized Palestinian children, medics.
    IPC: 1.1 million people, about half of Gaza, face “imminent” famine.
    Nineteen aid trucks arrive in Jabalia without being blocked or fired on by Israeli forces in months.
    UNICEF chief Catherine Russell: Airdrops and maritime deliveries are “a drop in a bucket” compared to the scale of humanitarian need.
    UNICEF: one in three babies under the age of two in northern Gaza suffers from acute malnutrition.
    Gaza Health Ministry: Israeli attacks killed 81 Palestinians and wounded 116 in Gaza during the last 24 hours.
    Biden reportedly shouts and swears upon learning Michigan and Georgia poll numbers dropped over handling of Gaza war, according to NBC News.
    Israeli army storms al-Shifa’ hospital…again

    In the early hours of Monday morning, Israeli forces stormed al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza with tanks and heavy gunfire. There have already been a “number of martyrs and wounded” in the ongoing Israeli onslaught, which began around 2:00 a.m.

    Gaza’s Ministry of Health said about 30,000 people, including displaced civilians, wounded patients, and medical staff, are trapped inside the complex. Sniper bullets and quadcopters target anyone who tries to move.

    A fire also broke out at the entrance to the hospital, and cases of suffocation occurred among the displaced women and children inside.

    Less than two hours after the attack began, the Israeli military announced that it was conducting a “precise operation” in the al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, claiming that Hamas was using the medical facility to “conduct and promote terrorist activity.”

    “We know that senior Hamas terrorists have regrouped inside the [al-Shifa] Hospital and are using it to command attacks against Israel,” Israeli military spokesperson Daniel Hagari said in a video posted on X.

    The Israeli military used similar unverified claims to justify three prior attacks on the medical complex, killing dozens of Palestinians.

    Hagari added in his English video statement that the Israeli military would be conducting a “humanitarian effort” during the planned assault, providing food and water. At the same time, he emphasized that there is “no obligation” for patients and medical staff to evacuate the hospital.

    However, in Arabic, Israeli military’s spokesman Avichay Adraee called on Palestinians to evacuate the hospital and its surrounding area on X: “In order to maintain your security, you must immediately evacuate the area to the west and then cross Al-Rashid (Al-Bahr) Street to the south to the humanitarian area in Al-Mawasi.”

    Al-Mawasi, a “humanitarian zone” in western Khan Younis, is a severely overcrowded strip of land in the west of the Gaza Strip, serving as one of Gaza’s few designated safe areas despite being subjected to Israeli fire.

    According to Gaza-based Al Jazeera correspondent Hani Mahmoud, “leaflets dropped by the Israeli military told people inside al-Shifa Hospital, its vicinity and the entire residential blocks surrounding the medical complex to evacuate immediately.”

    “People are caught up between whether to leave and trust the statement or stay where they are. We are talking about thousands of Palestinians who have been sheltering inside the complex since the start of the war,” Mahmoud continued.

    “In early December, the Israeli military made a list of allegations and stormed al-Shifa Hospital, destroyed the vast majority of its property, and severely damaged major buildings and medical equipment inside the hospital. About 250 people were arrested from inside the hospital,” Mahmoud said.

    The Times of Israel, citing the Israeli military, reports that the army has taken control of al-Shifa Hospital and detained 80 people since the most recent attack began.

    “The crimes of the [Israeli] occupation will not create any image of victory for Netanyahu and his Nazi army,” Hamas said, as cited by Al Jazeera. “The crimes of the occupation express confusion and loss of hope of achieving a military achievement.”

    In a joint statement, Palestinian factions said targeting hospitals “is a continuation of the war of extermination waged by the occupation against the Palestinian people and a flagrant violation of all international conventions and laws,” reported Al Jazeera.

    Gaza’s Health Ministry has described the assault as a “massacre against the sick, the wounded, the displaced,” and has called on all international institutions to immediately stop the invasion.

    “What the occupation forces are doing is a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law,” the Ministry continued. “The Israeli occupation is still using its fabricated narratives to deceive the world and justify the storming of the al-Shifa Medical Complex.”

    ‘Babies don’t even have the energy to cry’

    Meanwhile, Palestinians in the besieged enclave are still being starved by Israel’s ongoing blockade, especially those living in the north, where Israeli forces have repeatedly blocked the entry of aid.

    In a new report, UK charity Oxfam has accused Israel of “actively hindering” aid operations in Gaza, defying orders by the International Court of Justice to prevent genocide in the besieged Palestinian enclave.

    Oxfam outlined seven ways Israel prevents the delivery of aid, including by only opening two crossings into Gaza, imposing a dysfunctional inspection system that keeps supplies help up, and cracking down on humanitarian missions.

    “The ICJ order should have shocked Israeli leaders to change course, but since then, conditions in Gaza have actually worsened,” said Sally Abi Khalil, Oxfam’s Middle East and North Africa Director.

    One in three babies under the age of two in northern Gaza is suffering from acute malnutrition, according to UNICEF.

    Catherine Russell, the executive director of the UN’s children’s agency, says acute malnutrition is when “the body starts to consume itself as it has nothing else, and it’s a painful, painful death for children. I have been in wards where babies are suffering from malnutrition. The whole ward is absolutely quiet because the babies don’t even have the energy to cry.”

    “If we can get therapeutic feeding to them, they can survive, but often, they are stunted for life, and stunted means your cognitive ability is impacted as well, so it is a lifelong challenge for these children — if they survive,” she continued in an interview with CBS News.

    While some aid is being airdropped or delivered by sea, experts, NGOs, and residents say it is nowhere near enough to meet the needs of millions of Palestinians. Russell says that the aid coming in through airdrops and a maritime route is “a drop in a bucket in both cases.”

    “We have so little access right now and it’s very challenging. We are also facing very great bureaucratic challenges moving trucks in by land, which is by far the most efficient and effective way to get aid in,” she added.

    “If things are dual use, sometimes they get rejected. So, we can’t get plastic pipes in, we can’t get some medical kits in if they have little scissors. It’s almost Kafkaesque, sometimes trying to figure out how to get things into this bureaucratic mess.”

    Similarly, displaced Palestinian Zahr Saqr, told Al Jazeera, “The situation is so bad that no one can imagine it, and the ship, even if it helps, will be a drop in the ocean, because the entire region is in need of aid, and people are competing to take aid from the shore.”

    Airdrops have caused chaos and killed several people by falling pallets when parachutes failed to open.

    “We keep waiting for aid. This is not a solution, whether by ship or by plane. We saw planes dropping aid and people fighting over it. There are some children who drowned in the sea for aid,” Wael Miqdad, a Khan Younis resident, said.

    The UN warns that nearly 600,000 people are on the brink of famine.

    “The living situation is very bad. We cannot eat, or drink, and aid is very scarce. They told us there is aid in the south, but it is very scarce,” Iman Wadi, another displaced Palestinian, told Al Jazeera.

    “Israeli authorities are not only failing to facilitate the international aid effort but are actively hindering it. We believe that Israel is failing to take all measures within its power to prevent genocide,” Abi Khalil continued.

    Israel has created “the perfect storm for humanitarian collapse and only the state of Israel can fix it,” she added.

    Over a million Gazans face “imminent famine” as aid reaches Jabalia

    On Sunday evening, Al Jazeera cameras captured a convoy of 19 aid trucks entering the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza. The trucks were carrying flour, rice, and other foodstuffs on their way to a UNRWA distribution center.

    The delivery marks the first convoys to travel from the south to the north of the Gaza Strip without incident in four months.

    The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), the body responsible for assessing and monitoring famine, said that about half of Gaza is facing “imminent” famine.

    “Between mid-March and mid-July, in the most likely scenario and under the assumption of an escalation of the conflict including a ground offensive in Rafah, half of the population of the Gaza Strip (1.11 million people) is expected to face catastrophic conditions (IPC Phase 5), the most severe level in the IPC Acute Food Insecurity scale,” the IPC said in a statement. “This is an increase of 530,000 people (92 percent) compared to the previous analysis.”

    The IPC also said that the rest of Gaza will likely face “a risk of famine” in July 2024 in the event of a “worst-case scenario.”

    “The southern governorates of Deir al-Balah and Khan Younis, and the Governorate of Rafah, are classified in IPC Phase 4 (Emergency),” the IPC said.

    Long way to go until Israeli military goals are achieved

    The Netanyahu administration shows no intention of ending its war on Gaza anytime soon, despite a growing choir of voices, including Israeli allies, calling for the end of the ongoing assault.

    Israeli military Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi said in a press statement that much has been achieved during a “multi-front and complex war,” but that it will take time to achieve more, according to Al Jazeera.

    “We still have a long way to go until the war goals are achieved,” he said.

    Halevi also said the army continues to plan operations in “areas where we have not yet operated,” in reference to Rafah in southern Gaza, where more than 1.5 million Palestinians are sheltering.

    “The military is preparing for offenses in the additional areas and together with the political echelon we will decide on the timing and the appropriate conditions,” he said.

    “We are determined to act wherever Hamas is building its strength. It is wrong to leave Hamas brigades and Hamas battalions functioning.”

    However, former military commander Yitzhak Brick says Israel has already lost its war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

    “You can’t lie to many people for a long time,” Yitzhak Brick said in an article in Israel’s Maariv newspaper, as reported by Al Jazeera. “What is happening in the Gaza Strip and against Hezbollah in Lebanon will blow up in our faces sooner or later.”

    Brick said the Israeli home front “is not prepared for a regional war, which will be thousands of times more difficult and serious than the war in the Gaza Strip.”

    Biden fears upcoming elections

    U.S. President Joe Biden’s endless support for Israel’s genocide in Gaza has jeopardized his chances of winning elections in 2024, reportedly sending him into a frenzy.

    Biden began to shout and swear after learning that his poll numbers in the battleground states of Michigan and Georgia had dropped over his handling of the Gaza war, according to NBC News.

    The report cited a lawmaker familiar with the private meeting in January at the White House, where the scene played out.

    He believed he had been doing what was right despite the political fallout, Biden told the group, according to the lawmaker.

    When asked about the episode, White House spokesman Andrew Bates said: “President Biden makes national security decisions based on the country’s national security needs alone — no other factor.”

    In a post on X, Amnesty International reminded President Biden that Israel used U.S.-made munitions to kill more than 30,000 people in Gaza and called on the President to demand a ceasefire and stop the transfers of arms to Israel.

    On Sunday, during a shamrock ceremony at the White House, the U.S. President said he agreed with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar on the need for a truce deal in Gaza, still offering no plans to put material pressure on Israel.

    “The Taoiseach [Irish leader] and I agree about the urgent need to increase humanitarian aid in Gaza and reach a ceasefire deal that brings hostages home and moves toward a two-state solution, which is the only path for lasting peace and security,” Biden said, according to CNN.

    Varadkar says the Irish have such empathy for the Palestinian people because: “We see our history in their eyes, a story of displacement, of dispossession, a national identity questioned and denied, forced emigration, discrimination, and now hunger,” he said.

    The Irish leader, who has previously criticized U.S. arms transfers to Israel, said he “was not shocked” that Washington has decided to continue arming Israel.


    https://mondoweiss.net/2024/03/operation-al-aqsa-flood-day-164-israeli-army-storms-al-shifa-again-aid-reaches-jabalia/
    ‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 164: Israeli army storms al-Shifa again, aid reaches Jabalia for first time in months Leila WarahMarch 19, 2024 Palestinians gather in front of UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) building to receive flour in Jabalia, Gaza City, March 17, 2024. (Photo: Ashraf Amra/APA Images) Palestinians gather in front of UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) building to receive flour in Jabalia, Gaza City, March 17, 2024. (Photo: Ashraf Amra/APA Images) Casualties 31,726 + killed* and at least 73,792 wounded in the Gaza Strip. 435+ Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.** Israel revises its estimated October 7 death toll down from 1,400 to 1,147. 591 Israeli soldiers killed since October 7, and at least 3,221 injured.*** *Gaza’s Ministry of Health confirmed this figure on its Telegram channel. Some rights groups put the death toll number closer to 40,000 when accounting for those presumed dead. ** The death toll in the West Bank and Jerusalem is not updated regularly. According to the PA’s Ministry of Health on March 17, this is the latest figure. *** This figure is released by the Israeli military, showing the soldiers whose names “were allowed to be published.” Key Developments Gaza Health Ministry: Israeli military storms al-Shifa Hospital for the fourth time, killing and wounding a number of people. 30,000 people in al-Shifa Hospital ordered to evacuate to Khan Younis. Palestinian Prisoners Society: Thirteenth Palestinian prisoner dies in Israeli custody since October 7. UK charity Oxfam accuses Israel of “actively hindering” aid operations in Gaza. PRCS provides mental support groups for traumatized Palestinian children, medics. IPC: 1.1 million people, about half of Gaza, face “imminent” famine. Nineteen aid trucks arrive in Jabalia without being blocked or fired on by Israeli forces in months. UNICEF chief Catherine Russell: Airdrops and maritime deliveries are “a drop in a bucket” compared to the scale of humanitarian need. UNICEF: one in three babies under the age of two in northern Gaza suffers from acute malnutrition. Gaza Health Ministry: Israeli attacks killed 81 Palestinians and wounded 116 in Gaza during the last 24 hours. Biden reportedly shouts and swears upon learning Michigan and Georgia poll numbers dropped over handling of Gaza war, according to NBC News. Israeli army storms al-Shifa’ hospital…again In the early hours of Monday morning, Israeli forces stormed al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza with tanks and heavy gunfire. There have already been a “number of martyrs and wounded” in the ongoing Israeli onslaught, which began around 2:00 a.m. Gaza’s Ministry of Health said about 30,000 people, including displaced civilians, wounded patients, and medical staff, are trapped inside the complex. Sniper bullets and quadcopters target anyone who tries to move. A fire also broke out at the entrance to the hospital, and cases of suffocation occurred among the displaced women and children inside. Less than two hours after the attack began, the Israeli military announced that it was conducting a “precise operation” in the al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, claiming that Hamas was using the medical facility to “conduct and promote terrorist activity.” “We know that senior Hamas terrorists have regrouped inside the [al-Shifa] Hospital and are using it to command attacks against Israel,” Israeli military spokesperson Daniel Hagari said in a video posted on X. The Israeli military used similar unverified claims to justify three prior attacks on the medical complex, killing dozens of Palestinians. Hagari added in his English video statement that the Israeli military would be conducting a “humanitarian effort” during the planned assault, providing food and water. At the same time, he emphasized that there is “no obligation” for patients and medical staff to evacuate the hospital. However, in Arabic, Israeli military’s spokesman Avichay Adraee called on Palestinians to evacuate the hospital and its surrounding area on X: “In order to maintain your security, you must immediately evacuate the area to the west and then cross Al-Rashid (Al-Bahr) Street to the south to the humanitarian area in Al-Mawasi.” Al-Mawasi, a “humanitarian zone” in western Khan Younis, is a severely overcrowded strip of land in the west of the Gaza Strip, serving as one of Gaza’s few designated safe areas despite being subjected to Israeli fire. According to Gaza-based Al Jazeera correspondent Hani Mahmoud, “leaflets dropped by the Israeli military told people inside al-Shifa Hospital, its vicinity and the entire residential blocks surrounding the medical complex to evacuate immediately.” “People are caught up between whether to leave and trust the statement or stay where they are. We are talking about thousands of Palestinians who have been sheltering inside the complex since the start of the war,” Mahmoud continued. “In early December, the Israeli military made a list of allegations and stormed al-Shifa Hospital, destroyed the vast majority of its property, and severely damaged major buildings and medical equipment inside the hospital. About 250 people were arrested from inside the hospital,” Mahmoud said. The Times of Israel, citing the Israeli military, reports that the army has taken control of al-Shifa Hospital and detained 80 people since the most recent attack began. “The crimes of the [Israeli] occupation will not create any image of victory for Netanyahu and his Nazi army,” Hamas said, as cited by Al Jazeera. “The crimes of the occupation express confusion and loss of hope of achieving a military achievement.” In a joint statement, Palestinian factions said targeting hospitals “is a continuation of the war of extermination waged by the occupation against the Palestinian people and a flagrant violation of all international conventions and laws,” reported Al Jazeera. Gaza’s Health Ministry has described the assault as a “massacre against the sick, the wounded, the displaced,” and has called on all international institutions to immediately stop the invasion. “What the occupation forces are doing is a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law,” the Ministry continued. “The Israeli occupation is still using its fabricated narratives to deceive the world and justify the storming of the al-Shifa Medical Complex.” ‘Babies don’t even have the energy to cry’ Meanwhile, Palestinians in the besieged enclave are still being starved by Israel’s ongoing blockade, especially those living in the north, where Israeli forces have repeatedly blocked the entry of aid. In a new report, UK charity Oxfam has accused Israel of “actively hindering” aid operations in Gaza, defying orders by the International Court of Justice to prevent genocide in the besieged Palestinian enclave. Oxfam outlined seven ways Israel prevents the delivery of aid, including by only opening two crossings into Gaza, imposing a dysfunctional inspection system that keeps supplies help up, and cracking down on humanitarian missions. “The ICJ order should have shocked Israeli leaders to change course, but since then, conditions in Gaza have actually worsened,” said Sally Abi Khalil, Oxfam’s Middle East and North Africa Director. One in three babies under the age of two in northern Gaza is suffering from acute malnutrition, according to UNICEF. Catherine Russell, the executive director of the UN’s children’s agency, says acute malnutrition is when “the body starts to consume itself as it has nothing else, and it’s a painful, painful death for children. I have been in wards where babies are suffering from malnutrition. The whole ward is absolutely quiet because the babies don’t even have the energy to cry.” “If we can get therapeutic feeding to them, they can survive, but often, they are stunted for life, and stunted means your cognitive ability is impacted as well, so it is a lifelong challenge for these children — if they survive,” she continued in an interview with CBS News. While some aid is being airdropped or delivered by sea, experts, NGOs, and residents say it is nowhere near enough to meet the needs of millions of Palestinians. Russell says that the aid coming in through airdrops and a maritime route is “a drop in a bucket in both cases.” “We have so little access right now and it’s very challenging. We are also facing very great bureaucratic challenges moving trucks in by land, which is by far the most efficient and effective way to get aid in,” she added. “If things are dual use, sometimes they get rejected. So, we can’t get plastic pipes in, we can’t get some medical kits in if they have little scissors. It’s almost Kafkaesque, sometimes trying to figure out how to get things into this bureaucratic mess.” Similarly, displaced Palestinian Zahr Saqr, told Al Jazeera, “The situation is so bad that no one can imagine it, and the ship, even if it helps, will be a drop in the ocean, because the entire region is in need of aid, and people are competing to take aid from the shore.” Airdrops have caused chaos and killed several people by falling pallets when parachutes failed to open. “We keep waiting for aid. This is not a solution, whether by ship or by plane. We saw planes dropping aid and people fighting over it. There are some children who drowned in the sea for aid,” Wael Miqdad, a Khan Younis resident, said. The UN warns that nearly 600,000 people are on the brink of famine. “The living situation is very bad. We cannot eat, or drink, and aid is very scarce. They told us there is aid in the south, but it is very scarce,” Iman Wadi, another displaced Palestinian, told Al Jazeera. “Israeli authorities are not only failing to facilitate the international aid effort but are actively hindering it. We believe that Israel is failing to take all measures within its power to prevent genocide,” Abi Khalil continued. Israel has created “the perfect storm for humanitarian collapse and only the state of Israel can fix it,” she added. Over a million Gazans face “imminent famine” as aid reaches Jabalia On Sunday evening, Al Jazeera cameras captured a convoy of 19 aid trucks entering the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza. The trucks were carrying flour, rice, and other foodstuffs on their way to a UNRWA distribution center. The delivery marks the first convoys to travel from the south to the north of the Gaza Strip without incident in four months. The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), the body responsible for assessing and monitoring famine, said that about half of Gaza is facing “imminent” famine. “Between mid-March and mid-July, in the most likely scenario and under the assumption of an escalation of the conflict including a ground offensive in Rafah, half of the population of the Gaza Strip (1.11 million people) is expected to face catastrophic conditions (IPC Phase 5), the most severe level in the IPC Acute Food Insecurity scale,” the IPC said in a statement. “This is an increase of 530,000 people (92 percent) compared to the previous analysis.” The IPC also said that the rest of Gaza will likely face “a risk of famine” in July 2024 in the event of a “worst-case scenario.” “The southern governorates of Deir al-Balah and Khan Younis, and the Governorate of Rafah, are classified in IPC Phase 4 (Emergency),” the IPC said. Long way to go until Israeli military goals are achieved The Netanyahu administration shows no intention of ending its war on Gaza anytime soon, despite a growing choir of voices, including Israeli allies, calling for the end of the ongoing assault. Israeli military Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi said in a press statement that much has been achieved during a “multi-front and complex war,” but that it will take time to achieve more, according to Al Jazeera. “We still have a long way to go until the war goals are achieved,” he said. Halevi also said the army continues to plan operations in “areas where we have not yet operated,” in reference to Rafah in southern Gaza, where more than 1.5 million Palestinians are sheltering. “The military is preparing for offenses in the additional areas and together with the political echelon we will decide on the timing and the appropriate conditions,” he said. “We are determined to act wherever Hamas is building its strength. It is wrong to leave Hamas brigades and Hamas battalions functioning.” However, former military commander Yitzhak Brick says Israel has already lost its war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. “You can’t lie to many people for a long time,” Yitzhak Brick said in an article in Israel’s Maariv newspaper, as reported by Al Jazeera. “What is happening in the Gaza Strip and against Hezbollah in Lebanon will blow up in our faces sooner or later.” Brick said the Israeli home front “is not prepared for a regional war, which will be thousands of times more difficult and serious than the war in the Gaza Strip.” Biden fears upcoming elections U.S. President Joe Biden’s endless support for Israel’s genocide in Gaza has jeopardized his chances of winning elections in 2024, reportedly sending him into a frenzy. Biden began to shout and swear after learning that his poll numbers in the battleground states of Michigan and Georgia had dropped over his handling of the Gaza war, according to NBC News. The report cited a lawmaker familiar with the private meeting in January at the White House, where the scene played out. He believed he had been doing what was right despite the political fallout, Biden told the group, according to the lawmaker. When asked about the episode, White House spokesman Andrew Bates said: “President Biden makes national security decisions based on the country’s national security needs alone — no other factor.” In a post on X, Amnesty International reminded President Biden that Israel used U.S.-made munitions to kill more than 30,000 people in Gaza and called on the President to demand a ceasefire and stop the transfers of arms to Israel. On Sunday, during a shamrock ceremony at the White House, the U.S. President said he agreed with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar on the need for a truce deal in Gaza, still offering no plans to put material pressure on Israel. “The Taoiseach [Irish leader] and I agree about the urgent need to increase humanitarian aid in Gaza and reach a ceasefire deal that brings hostages home and moves toward a two-state solution, which is the only path for lasting peace and security,” Biden said, according to CNN. Varadkar says the Irish have such empathy for the Palestinian people because: “We see our history in their eyes, a story of displacement, of dispossession, a national identity questioned and denied, forced emigration, discrimination, and now hunger,” he said. The Irish leader, who has previously criticized U.S. arms transfers to Israel, said he “was not shocked” that Washington has decided to continue arming Israel. https://mondoweiss.net/2024/03/operation-al-aqsa-flood-day-164-israeli-army-storms-al-shifa-again-aid-reaches-jabalia/
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    ‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 164: Israeli army storms al-Shifa again, aid reaches Jabalia for first time in months
    Over a million people in Gaza face “imminent” famine as UNRWA aid trucks arrive in northern Gaza for the first time in months. Meanwhile, the Israeli army’s Chief of Staff says “a long way to go” until Israel’s military objectives are achieved.
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