Reflections on the Brussels Attack

26 Mar

 

[Prefatory Note: A much abbreviated version of this post was published in Al Jazeera English on March 24, 2016. Although the essential analysis is the same, the reasoning here is greatly elaborated. The themes addressed and the policies proposed are advanced in a tentative spirit. Debate and reflection are urgently needed with respect to the political violence that is being unleashed in various forms in the West and non-West.]

 

This latest terrorist outrage for which ISIS claimed responsibility exhibits the new face of 21st century warfare for which there are no front

lines, no path to military victory, and acute civilian vulnerability. As such, it represents a radical challenge to our traditional understanding of warfare, and unless responses are shaped by these realities, it could drive Western democracies step by step into an enthused political embrace and revived actuality of fascist politics. Already the virulence of the fascist virus dormant in every body politic in the West has disclosed its potency in the surprisingly robust Trump/Cruz run to become the Republican candidate in the next American presidential election.

 

Perhaps, the most important dimension of this 21st century pattern of warfare, especially as it is playing out in the Middle East, is the will and capacity of violent extremists to extend the battlefield to those perceived to be their enemies, and to rely on acutely alienated Europeans and North Americans to undertake the suicidal bloody tasks. The British Independent struck the right note in its commentary, almost alone among media commentary that went beyond condolences, denunciations, and statements of resolve to defeat and destroy ISIS. It included a quote from the ISIS statement claiming responsibility for the Brussels attack: : ‘Let France and all nations following its path know that they will continue to be at the top of the target list for the Islamic State and that the scent of death will not leave their nostrils as long as they partake part in the crusader campaign … [with] their strikes against Muslims in the lands of the Caliphate with their jets.’ … ISIS also released an undated video today threatening to attack France if it continued intervention in Iraq and Syria. ‘As long as you keep bombing you will not live in peace. You will even fear traveling to the market,’ said one of the militants, identified as ‘Abu Maryam the Frenchman.'” It follows this statement with the report that there have been 11,111 air strikes launched by Western and Gulf states against targets in Syria and Iraq, causing massive casualties, human displacement, and great devastation, especially in areas controlled by ISIS. Evidently, given the Belgian attack, for ISIS European unity if accepted as a given, making France as a

locater of an epicenter, but Europe as a whole as circumscribing one crucial combat zone

 

Noticing this reality is not meant to diminish or offer a rationalization for the barbarism involved in the Brussels attacks, as well as the earlier Paris attacks, but it does make clear that intervening in the Middle East, and conceivably elsewhere in the Global South, no longer ensures that the intervening societies will remain outside the combat zone and continue to enjoy what might be called ‘battlefield impunity.’ By and large the sustained violence of the major anti-colonial wars, even the long Vietnam War, were confined to the colonized society, at most affecting its geographic neighbors. In the 1970s and 1980s there were sporadic signs of such a tactical shift: the IRA extended their struggle in Northern Ireland to Britain, and the PLO via airplane hijacking, Libyan explosions in a German disco frequented by American soldiers, and the PLO Munich attack on Israeli Olympic athletes also prefigured efforts to strike back at foreign hostile sources believed to be responsible for the failure to achieve political goals. ISIS seems more sophisticated in the execution of such operations, has the advantages of home grown adherents willing to engage in suicide missions that is often accompanied by a religious motivation that validates the most extremist disregard of civilian innocence.

 

As in any armed confrontation, it is essential to take account of innovative features and opt for policies that seem to offer the most hope of success. So far the public Western responses have failed to appreciate what is the true novelty and challenge associated with the adoption by ISIS of these tactics involving mega-terrorism in the homeland of their Western adversaries as asymmetric ways of extending the battlefield.

 

 

The Attack

 

The attacks of March 22 in Belgium occurred in the departure area of the international airport located in the town of Zaventem, seven miles from Brussels and in the Maelbeek metro station in the heart of the city, nearby the headquarters of European Union. Reports indicate over 30 persons were killed and as many as 250 wounded. The timing of the attack made the motivation at first seem like revenge for the capture a few days earlier in Brussels of Salah Abdelslam, the accused mastermind of the Paris attack of November 13, 2015. It hardly matters whether this line of interpretation is accurate or not. It is known for sure that there are clear links between the Paris events and what took place in Brussels, and the scale of the operation depended on weeks, if not months, of planning and preparation.

 

The essence of the event is one more deeply distressing challenge to the maintenance of domestic public order in democratic space as the conflict that becomes ever more horrible, with ominous overtones for the future of human security in urban environments throughout the world. The hysterical surge of xenophobia is one expression of fear and hate as American politicians debate closing off national access to all Muslims and Europeans pay a large ransom Turkey to confine Syrian refugees within their borders. We are not supposed to notice that recent terrorist acts are mainly the work of those living, and often born, within the society closing its doors to outsiders, moves likely to deepen the angry alienation of those insiders whose ethnic and religious identity makes them targets of suspicion and discrimination.

 

So far, the official statements of the political leaders have adhered to familiar anti-terrorist lines, disclosing little indication of an understanding of the distinctive realities of the events and how best to cope with the various challenges being posed. For instance, the Prime Minister of Belgium described the attacks as “blind, violent, cowardly,” and added a Belgian promise of the resolve needed to defeat ISIS and the threat it poses. François Hollande of France, never missing an opportunity to utter the obvious irrelevance, simply vowed “to relentlessly fight terrorism, both internationally and internally.” And using the occasion for the recovery of European unity so visibly weakened by the recent dangerous tensions generated in bitter conflicts over fiscal policy and the search for a common policy on migrants, Hollande added, “Through the Brussels attack, it is the whole of Europe that is hit.” Whether such appeals to unity will lead anywhere beyond flags lowered and empathetic rhetoric seems doubtful. What should be evident now is that it that not only Europe that is under constant threat, and understandably troubled by the prospect of future attacks, worrying aloud about such menacing relatively soft targets as nuclear power plants. It is virtually the entire world that has become vulnerable to violent disruption from these contradictory sources of intervention and terrorism.

 

 

President Obama offered sensitive condolences to the bereaved families of the victims and expressed solidarity with Europe on the basis of “our shared commitment to defeat the scourge of terrorism.” Again it is disappointing that there is not more understanding displayed that this is a kind of war in which the violence on both sides profoundly violates the security and sovereignty of the other. Until this awareness emerges, we will continue to expect that ‘legitimate violence’ is properly limited to the territories of non-Western societies as it was in the colonial era, and insist that retaliatory strikes constitute terrorism, that is, ‘illegitimate violence.’

What is so far missing from these responses is both a conceptual sensitivity to the originality and nature of the threat and a related willingness to engage in the kind of minimal self-scrutiny that is responsive to the ISIS statement that appears to express its motivation. It is not a matter of giving credence to such a rationalization for criminality, but rather finding out how best to realize what might be described as ‘enlightened self-interest’ in view of the disturbing surrounding circumstances, which might well begin with a review of the compatibility of domestic racism and interventionary diplomacy with the ethics, law, and values of this post-colonial era.

 

From this perspective the iconic conservative magazine, The Economist, does far better than political leaders by at least emphasizing nonviolent steps that can be taken to improve preventive law enforcement. The magazine points out that the significance of the Brussels attack should be interpreted from a crucial policy perspective: the current limitations of national intelligence services to take preventive action that would alone protect society by identifying and removing threats in advance. The Economist correctly stresses that it has become more important than ever to maximize international efforts to share all intelligence pertaining to the activities of violent extremists, although it too avoids a consideration of root causes that can alone restore normalcy and achieve human security.

 

This shift from reactive to preventive approaches to defending the domestic social order represents a fundamental reorientation toward the nature of security threats, and how to minimize their escalating lethality. There are three novel aspects of this type of postmodern warfare: striking fear into the whole of society; creating a huge opening for repressive and irresponsible demagogues in targeted societies; and mindlessly unleashing excessive amounts of reactive force in distant countries that tends to spread the virus of violent extremism throughout the planet more than it eradicates it. As has been widely observed, there is no way to know whether drones and air strikes kill more dangerous adversaries than have the effect of actually expanding the ranks of the terrorists by way of alienation and increased recruitment.

 

It is not yet sufficiently appreciated that the state terror spread by drones and missiles extends to the entire civilian society of a city or even country under attack, making it extremely misleading to treat the lethal impact as properly measured by counting the dead. People living in targeted communities or states all live in dread once a missile from afar has struck, an anxiety aggravated by the realization that those targeted have no way to strike back. The United States reliance on drone warfare in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa has recklessly set a precedent that future generations in the West and elsewhere may come to regret deeply. Unlike nuclear weaponry, there is no likely equivalent for drones to a regime of non-proliferation and there is nothing similar to the doctrine of deterrence to discourage use, and even these instruments of nuclear management, although successful in avoiding the worst, are far from acceptable.

 

 

This New War

 

These deeper overlooked aspects of the Brussels attack that need to be grasped with humility, and responded to by summoning the moral and political imagination to identify what works and what fails in this new era that places such a high priority on atrocity prevention as an explanation of the most widespread, growing, and intense forms of human insecurity.

 

First, and most significantly, this is an encounter between two sides that ignores boundaries, is not properly equated with traditional warfare between states, and is being waged by new types of hybrid political actors. On one side is a confusing combination of transnational networks of Islamic extremists and in one instance (ISIS) a self-proclaimed territorial caliphate retaliating against the most sensitive civilian targets in the West, thereby adopting a doctrine that explicitly proclaims a strategy exalting crimes against humanity. On the other side, is a coalition of states led by the United States, which has foreign bases and navies spread around the world that seeks to destroy ISIS and kindred jihadists wherever they are found with scant regard for the sovereignty of foreign countries. The United States has long ceased to be a normal state defined by territorial borders, and for more than half a century has acted as ‘a global state’ whose writ the entirety of land, sea, and air of the planet.

 

Secondly, it is crucial to acknowledge that Western drones and paramilitary special forces operating in more than a hundred states is an inherently imprecise and often indiscriminate form of state violence that spreads its own versions of terror among civilian populations in various countries in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. It is time to admit that civilians in the West and the Global South are both victims of terror in this kind of warfare, which will continue to fuel the kind of mutual hatred and fervent self-righteousness toward the enemy that offers a frightening pretext for what now seems destined to be a condition of perpetual war.

 

What has totally changed, and is beginning to traumatize the West, is the retaliatory capacities and strategy of these non-Western, non-state and quasi-state adversaries. The colonial, and even post-colonial patterns of intervention were all one-sided with the combat zone reliably confined to the distant other, thereby avoiding any threat to the security and serenity of Western societies. Now that the violence is reciprocal, if asymmetrical (that is, each side employs tactics corresponding to its technological and imaginative capabilities) the balance of forces has fundamentally changed, and so must our thinking and acting, if we are to break the circle of violence and ever again live in secure peace. The stakes are high. Either break with obsolete conceptions of warfare or discover a diplomacy that can accommodate the rough and tumble of the 21st century.

 

Whether a creative and covert diplomacy can emerge from this tangled web that somehow exchanges an end terrorism from above for an end to terrorism from below is the haunting question that hangs over the human future. If this radical conceptual leap is to be made, it is not likely to result from the initiative of government bureaucracies, but rather from intense pressures mounted by the beleaguered peoples of the world.

 

Part of what is required, strangely enough given the borderless compulsion of the digital age and the dynamics of economic globalization, is a return to the security structures of the Westphalian framework of territorial sovereign states. Perhaps, these structures never actually prevailed in the past, given the maneuvers of geopolitical actors and the hierarchical relations of colonial systems and regional empires, but their ideal was the shared constitutional basis of world order. With the advent of the global battlefield this ideal must now become the existential foundation of relations among states, stressing the inviolability of norms of non-intervention in a new territorially based global security system. This will not overnight solve the problem, and certainly only indirectly overcomes the internal challenges posed by alienated minorities.

 

Obviously, this recommended approach could adversely affect the international protection of human rights and weaken global procedures of sanctuary for those displaced by civil strife, impoverishment, and climate change. These issues deserve concerted attention, but the immediate priority is the restoration of minimum order without which no consensual and normatively acceptable political order can persist. And this can only happen, if at all, by de facto or de jure arrangements that renounce all forms of terror, whether the work of states or radical movements.

 

23 Responses to “Reflections on the Brussels Attack”

  1. Gendzier, Irene L March 26, 2016 at 9:44 am #

    Dear Richard, Thank you again for this essay- which dares to touch on essential aspects of the current state of dread that are routinely ignored. I think the most consistently underexamined dimensions of western, and specifically US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan= are the civilian casualties that are among the consequences of the total dislocation, social, political and economic, that results. Include in this category as well, the impact of these wars on US troops, that are hidden from public view. Would it not make a difference if people here knew? Irene

    Sent from my iPad

    • Richard Falk March 26, 2016 at 10:40 am #

      Dear Irene: I agree completely. The claimed refusal of the Pentagon to collect
      statistics on civilian casualties is indicative of the disregard of one of the
      root causes of retaliatory violence. I hope you are fine..Richard

  2. adamh2 March 26, 2016 at 10:37 am #

    Hi Richard,

    Can we reprint this on Mondoweiss?

    Thanks,

    Adam

    On Saturday, March 26, 2016, Global Justice in the 21st Century wrote:

    > Richard Falk posted: ” [Prefatory Note: A much abbreviated version of > this post was published in Al Jazeera English on March 24, 2016. Although > the essential analysis is the same, the reasoning here is greatly > elaborated. The themes addressed and the policies proposed are ” >

  3. ray032 March 26, 2016 at 10:50 am #

    Richard, once again, in your uniquely astute way, tell it like it is. I am so pleased to see this latest article since the same general ideas have preoccupied my thoughts since the Brussels bombing, but you have put them in a more coherent form.

    Prior to this post appearing in my email notification, I posted this to my Facebook news feed:
    Western Populations are being subjected to intense media coverage of Europeans being bombed in Brussels, inducing even more fear and panic. The same news media remain silent on even worse destruction of other people because they are not white Europeans. Total silence as Western governments praise the Lord and pass the ammunition. This will do us no good.

    In 1978 I wrote a response to a May 2, 1978, Ottawa Citizen column by Special Correspondent Joseph Kraft headed, “Radicals in Check – Islamic Revival No Threat To West.”

    It was not published, but with the benefit of 38 years hindsight, the world is only now seeing the unfolding details.

    TIME LINE OF HISTORY
    https://ray032.com/2011/05/12/time-line-of-recent-history/

    The 3 pages of the reply at the bottom of the article can be magnified and read.

    In my view, what the secular, non-religious news media are publishing and projecting these days, are these General Views in the Revelation of the details.

    And the nations were angry, and your wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that you should give reward to your servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear your name, small and great; and should destroy them which destroy the earth.
    Revelation 11:18

    Therefore rejoice, you heavens, and you that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has but a short time.
    Revelation 12:12

    Everyone can see the Nations are angry and getting angrier. The leaders of the world are telling us ISIS is the embodiment of the devil described in Revelation 12:12

    The nominally Christian West gives lip service to Christ, but they don’t really believe.
    Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
    And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
    For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.
    Hebrews 2:14-16

    The media is manipulating that fear into a frenzy!

  4. Gene Schulman March 26, 2016 at 12:46 pm #

    Richard,

    As always you are correct. However, in order to accomplish such order you have to have governments and a ruling class that wants to save lives and maintain order. These have gone missing, and the masses will suffer the consequences. I have never felt so pessimistic in my long life.

    Gene

  5. rehmat1 March 26, 2016 at 2:48 pm #

    If the ISIS claimed the responsibility for the Brussels attacks – that means it’s a CIA-Mossad-MI6 false flag operation because they gave birth to ISIS/ISIL and still nourishing it.

    Israel’s minister of science, technology and space, Ofir Akunis, commenting on the Tuesday’s Brussels twin terrorist attacks said it’s biblical G-d’s revenge for the Brussels-based European Union’s antisemite decision to boycott Israeli goods made by illegal Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank.

    “Many in Europe have preferred to occupy themselves with the folly of condemning Israel, labeling products, and boycotts. In this time, underneath the nose of the continent’s citizens, thousands of extremist Islamic terror cells have grown,” Akunis wrote on Facebook.

    In other words, Akunis is admitting that Brussels bombing was in retaliation for European Union’s boycott of Israeli goods. One may not agree with my deduction – but Israeli minister’s off-hand comments were very revealing about the current schizophrenic political mindset in Tel Aviv.

    Akunis, a minister of world’s biggest terrorist entity then warned Europeans saying: “Focus your attention on ‘Islamic terrorism’ to prevent further attack.”

    It’s the same advice Akunis boss Netanyahu gave to the world when he attended the Paris March, uninvited last year.

    https://rehmat1.com/2016/03/24/israeli-minister-g-d-punished-brussels/

  6. ray032 March 27, 2016 at 7:37 am #

    Complementing this article: The European jihadi union

    It took four months for Salah Abdeslam – one of the alleged commando members on Paris 11.13 – to be captured in Brussels after a shootout. He never escaped to Syria; he never moved away from his known digs in Molenbeek.

    It took only four days for the next plot twist — a coordinated jihadi attack at Brussels airport and a metro station only 500 meters away from the EU headquarters.

    Under a blowback scenario, this was largely predictable. Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders had even warned during the weekend attacks were imminent. More worrying is the leak that Belgian secret services — as well as Western intel agencies — had “precise” info about the risk of an attack at the airport and a probable attack on the metro.

    Even more significantly, and before the arrest of Abdeslam, none other than neo-Ottoman Sultan Erdogan, leader of a key “NATO ally”, had seen the writing on the wall; “There is no reason why the bomb that exploded in Ankara cannot explode in Brussels, in any other European city.” Erdogan was, of course, drawing a nasty, false connection between Kurds and Salafi-jihadis, yet he sounded like he was delivering a mix of prophecy and threat.

    Walking Dead Schengen

    Europe once again has been drowned in the same old warped litany. Two jihadi suicide brothers. An expert ISIS/ISIL/Daesh bomb maker — who may have manufactured the suicide vests used in Paris, loaded with Triacetone Triperoxide (TATP). An evaded airport bomber leaving a will on his laptop. A mysterious rifle found near one of the blown-up jihadis. No passports were found — at least not yet; instead, an incriminating ISIS/ISIL/Daesh flag.

    A tsunami of police has congested the streets of European capitals to “ease public anxiety” and “act as a deterrent” — as if this show of force would enforce anything other than fear.

    The US State Department — truthful to its spectacular record of inanity — blurted out that ISIS/ISIL/Daesh is “under pressure”. US diplomats might as well have placed a call to “NATO ally” Erdogan, for whom the fake “Caliphate” at a minimum can be used as a pre-positioned, actionable asset in the Middle East chessboard.

    Reams of EU politicos distilled their best crocodile tears over Zegna suits lamenting “an attack on democratic Europe” — an attack, by the way, perpetrated by born and bred EU citizens who became jihadi transformers in the proxy war in Syria heavily supported by assorted EU members.

    Ratings for the latest EU show — the savage bickering over the “security challenge” to Fortress Europe — went through the roof. Across many a EU capital, clock towers avidly “celebrated”, in unison, the demonization of refugees and the decapitation of multiculturalism……………………………………………………………………..
    http://www.sott.net/article/315166-Pepe-Escobar-The-European-jihadi-union

    • rehmat1 March 27, 2016 at 9:12 am #

      In December 2011, Mossad paid a visit to Belgium city of Liege, killing three people and injuring another 75. The lone gunman identified by police as Nordine Amrani killed himself before arrest. The Zionist press turned Nordine Amrani into: Nordine = Nur deen, a Muslim name – Amrani = Imran, the father of prophet Moses in Holy Qur’an.

      In December 2011, Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center had demanded that John Kerry fire his Jewish ambassador to Belgium, Howard Gutman, for blaming Israel for fuelling anti-Semitism in Europe and the Muslim world.

      Belgium has a history of accusing young Muslims of terrorism. For example, on November 14, 2014, Assim Abbasi, 22, son of a Pakistani diplomat was accused of planning to attack the Jewish staff at Israeli embassy in Brussels with a cricket bat.

      https://rehmat1.com/2016/03/23/cia-mossad-behind-brussels-twin-terrorist-attacks/

      • ray032 March 27, 2016 at 11:43 am #

        Every domestic terrorist the FBI ever caught was led to the act, encouraged, the illegal materials provided by an “undercover” agent and when the patsy presses the button of the dud, he’s arrested. It stands to reason undercover agents must act more militant than the militants.

        I read Meir Dagan, then Head of Mossad, was speaking in private to an exclusive group of wealthy Israelis saying Mossad undertakes 3 digits + operations every month. Every month!

        Only God and Mossad know what they do in the Middle East and this world with 1000+ operations EVERY MONTH.

        It would make sense they would stage many false flag operations to keep the Arabs killing each other instead of Jews. Or to make Islam look really bad in the larger world.

        Here’s a story that did make it public.
        Bombshell: Israeli intelligence posed as CIA to recruit terror group for covert war on Iran
        http://mondoweiss.net/2012/01/bombshell-israeli-intelligence-posed-as-cia-to-recruit-terror-group-for-covert-war-on-iran/

        My constant prayer these days, is God will fulfill this prophecy, “It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his Lord.
        If they have called the Master of the House Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?

        >>>Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.<<<

        What I tell you in darkness, that you speak in light: and what you hear in the ear, that you preach upon the housetops.

        And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
        Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
        But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
        Fear ye not therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows."
        Matthew 10:26

      • rehmat1 March 27, 2016 at 6:17 pm #

        @rayo32 – Here is another amazing story reported by Jewish Daily Forward on Sunday: Some of Mossad’s top hitmen were ex-Nazi SS officers who were used to kill Jewish scientists helping Arab governments on rocket projects.

        https://rehmat1.com/2016/03/28/otto-skorzeny-mossads-nazi-hitman/

      • Gene Schulman March 28, 2016 at 12:02 am #

        I can’t speak for God’s intervention, but Pepe is usually right when he analyzes such situations:

        http://www.sott.net/article/315166-Pepe-Escobar-The-European-jihadi-union

  7. ray032 March 28, 2016 at 4:03 am #

    It didn’t take long for something secret, hidden or covered to be made known. This is the latest from Jonathan Cook in Nazareth:

    France’s tax subsidy on ‘gifts’ to Israeli army

    28 March 2016

    This is astounding. A senior French politician has revealed that the tax laws of France entitle a citizen to make a charitable, tax-deductible donation to the Israeli army. As the French politician Nathalie Goulet observes: “This represents a tax benefit by the French taxpayer for the benefit of a foreign army.”

    Or put more bluntly still, French citizens are being encouraged through the tax system to subsidise an illegal, belligerent occupation of the Palestinians by the Israeli army. It underscores the sheer hypocrisy of the French government as it claims to be trying to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through “peace-making” at the United Nations.

    Maybe one should not be too surprised. After all, the United States and most European countries, including the UK and France, make donations to the Jewish National Fund tax-deductible, even though one of the JNF’s primary activities has been concealing war crimes committed by the Israeli army during the 1948 and 1967 wars: by planting and maintaining forests over more than 500 Palestinian communities that were destroyed by Israel after their inhabitants had been forcibly expelled.

    The thickly planted pine forests not only provide year-round cover of the sites of destruction, but in the state’s early years ensured that any Palestinian refugee who managed to return to his or her village would find no place to rebuild their home.

    Why are these facts not more widely known. Both because the media make no effort to expose these abuses of taxpayers’ money, and because the rare politician who speaks out, like Goulet, is quickly terrorised back into silence.

    Below is an English translation, provided by John Whitbeck, of the original article, which can be found here.

    Nathalie Goulet, a Senator for the UDI [centrist] party representing the Orne [a French department], announced on Friday that she had received death threats on social networks after she expressed astonishment regarding a 60% tax reduction available to French taxpayers who make a gift to the Israeli army.

    On March 10, the Senator had posed a written question to the secretary of state [a junior minister] in charge of the budget, Christian Eckert, to draw his attention to the existence of tax reductions when gifts are made to the Israeli army. In her written question, Nathalie Goulet underlined that this represented “a tax benefit by the French taxpayer for the benefit of a foreign army.”

    Here is the full text of the written question no. 20545 of Mrs. Nahalie Goulet:

    “Mrs. Nathalie Goulet draws the attention of the secretary of state in the Ministry of Finance in charge of the budget to the current regulation which permits French citizens who make gifts to the Israeli army (Tsahal) to deduct their gifts and give themselves a 60% tax reduction, within the limit of 20% of their taxable income. This represents a tax benefit by the French taxpayer for the benefit of a foreign army.”

    The minister has not yet responded to the question of the Senator, who is also vice-president of the foreign affairs, defense and armed forces commission of the Senate. On the other hand, Nathalie Goulet declared Friday to Agence France-Presse that she had received anonymous death threats on social networks.

    Questioned Friday by Ouest-France [a prominent regional newspaper] during a visit in the Orne, the Senator refused to comment on the subject, saying: “I won’t talk about it.”

    http://www.jonathan-cook.net/blog/2016-03-28/frances-tax-subsidy-on-gifts-to-israeli-army/

  8. Rene March 28, 2016 at 5:46 am #

    Dear professor,

    I wish I wouldv been one of your students. What an amazing insight and wealth of knowledge, brought in an unusual erudite manner. I really enjoy these articles. You hit the nail on the head more than once. The lack of info what my European ledares do in Syria etc is of an arrogance unrivalled. 20 years ago we had Norman Schwarzkopf parading in knee high black horse riding boots, showing pictures of the days bombardements. Today, there is a large silence what our military is doing. This is very distubring indeed.

    A side note on the trolls: just ignore them, ban them but dont give them an inch. It is a waste of time. They want to hold a monologue, not engage in a discussion.

    From The Netherlands,

    Yours,

    Rene

    • Richard Falk March 28, 2016 at 1:29 pm #

      Thanks, Rene, I appreciate your good advice, and will do my best to follow it. And thank for your encouraging words about the blog!

  9. Beau Oolayforos March 28, 2016 at 1:23 pm #

    Dear Professor Falk,

    What ever happened to “Shock and Awe”? It used to sound like a really fun video game, where the whole Eastern Establishment could vicariously saddle up & ride on to Baghdad. Those 6,000 and more civilian deaths, just as a first installment, seemed an inconvenient detail – that would be 200 Brussels attacks in an area the size of…Belgium?

    Now, more than a million deaths later, we are utterly flabbergasted that somebody wants revenge. They are “cowards”, completely unlike our own intrepid warriors who sit in air-conditioned cubicles, sip on cokes, and manipulate drones – video games again, drones operating drones, at a safe distance from the unimaginable suffering they cause.

    Hardly anyone outside of Arlington pretends any more that drone- or air-strikes are “surgical” or “pin-point” – the evidence is too overwhelming. You’re dreaming, but it’s a good dream & I hope you’re right, that a cessation of terrorism from above could get us relief from the other kind – it seems an echo of Chomsky’s comment that the best way to reduce terrorism in this world is for the USG to stop practicing it.

    I fear, though, that the peace process, if there is one, will be long and dilatory, as the bodies continue to burn, and at the end of which someone like Wolfowitz, Cheney, or Bolton shakes hands with an ISIS guy, as they smile for the cameras and accept their Nobel Peace Prize.

    • Richard Falk March 28, 2016 at 1:30 pm #

      In our historical period, ‘seeing through a glass darkly’ is about the best we can do
      by way of interpreting the present and depicting future prospects.

      • ray032 March 28, 2016 at 3:28 pm #

        Maybe, if people laid up in their hearts ‘seeing through a glass darkly’ in it’s total context, 1st individually, then extending to the collectivity, we may make some progress as a species.

        Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
        And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all Faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing.
        And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profits me nothing.

        Love suffers long, and is kind; love does not envy; love vaunts not itself, is not puffed up,
        Does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil;
        Rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the Truth;
        Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

        Love never fails: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
        For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

        But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
        When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

        For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
        And now abides Faith, Hope, Love, these three; but the greatest of these is Love.
        1Corinthians 13

  10. ray032 March 30, 2016 at 8:21 am #

    Richard, I took the Time to visit Aaron’s Blog ‘FALKUNCENSORED” to see how it is developing? When as you’d expect, Fred, Ira and Harvey are the only commentators so far. There disdain for you, and calling me and all others who respect your Intelligence & Integrity as “your lemmings.” so much for no personal attacks!

    But I do have to give Aaron credit for re-posting on his Blog a link that led me to this very interesting video Aaron describes like this: “I can’t believe that you or anyone can believe the hundreds of lies in Christopher Bollyn’s video link you sent. One long unsubstantiated anti-Semitic monologue!!”

    I posted it to my Public Facebook news feed with this intro: What’s on my mind? I just watched this 30 minute talk by someone who did his research, because I paused the video several times to verify what Mr. Bollyn said and the search results confirmed the facts in his presentation.

    Now I’m usually not a conspiracy theorist, but there is just too much information and co-incidence in this video to dismiss it without question?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XesDfL7Lxvss like this, “

    • ray032 March 30, 2016 at 8:23 am #

      Sorry, wrong link.

    • Richard Falk March 30, 2016 at 3:27 pm #

      I feel that the Comments section here has benefitted from their departure, and have received
      considerable feedback to this effect. It is far more appropriate for such Israeli partisans to
      share their views with one another, although I suspect they will continue to look over our shoulder
      as their motivation seems almost exclusively to be shielding Israel from censure, and even mild
      criticism, however justified by facts and law.

  11. Gene Schulman March 31, 2016 at 3:50 am #

    Richard,

    Since you didn’t even know your own post was reprinted at Counterpunch yesterday, you probably missed this one by Lawrence Davidson, too, in today’s edition.

    I hope people don’t mistake David Shulman for a relative of mine. Davidson misspells the name.

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/03/31/what-drives-us-policy-toward-israel/print/

  12. rehmat1 March 31, 2016 at 5:35 am #

    Dr. Falk – Remember your open letter to Ban Ki-moon in which you said: “While I was special rapporteur for Palestine, you chose to attack me in public on several occasions. Now Israel has turned its fire on you.”

    Well that has come true. Ki-moon has apologized to Israel for calling City of Jerusalem being OCCUPIED. Could it be the dude never heard of UNGA Res. 181 and UNSC Res. 478 on the international status of Jerusalem?

    https://rehmat1.com/2016/03/31/ki-moon-does-teshuvah-on-jerusalem/

  13. ray032 April 2, 2016 at 12:41 pm #

    In terms of news events and lack of humanity in killing our fellow humans, this is to carry on until Richard posts a new article.

    This comes from Haaretz, within Israel, Today. I have been chastised because I saw fascist elements on the rise in Israel for a long Time. This Haaretz writer tells it like it is, better than the general concepts I saw in my mind.

    Inside the Mind of the Budding Fascist

    In the neofascist Israeli consciousness, the Palestinians are like cockroaches. Even when they lie on the ground, helpless, their heads must be crushed with a slipper, or punctured by a bullet.

    Along the way to full, official fascism — especially fascism based on religious, ethnic or racial identity — a society must experience two critical stages.

    The first is the complete dehumanization of “the “Other” — that is, members of a different religion, nation or race. In the mind of the budding fascist, they must cease to be human beings. They must instead be turned into animals without rights, dangerous objects, natural threats. Or, in contemporary language, they must be turned into “two-legged animals” and “wild beasts” from the jungle beyond the fence. This makes it easier for the nascent fascist to subjugate and abuse them, to deprive them of their rights and property and ultimately to kill them like pests.

    Last week Israeli society proved it passed this stage with flying colors. The dehumanization of the Palestinian “other” is complete. In the neofascist Israeli consciousness, the Palestinians are like cockroaches. Even when they lie on the ground, helpless, their heads must be crushed with a slipper, or punctured by a bullet. Such is the fate of the cockroach.

    But the act of the soldier-murderer in Hebron was not the proof of the completion of the first stage. It was only the last in a long, bloody series of similar acts. (I know, he hasn’t been tried yet. It’s wrong to call him a murderer already. I’m only applying to him what I’ve learned from the saints in the right wing. They bestow terms such as “murderer” and “terrorist” on Palestinians without waiting for an investigation, trial or verdict. So why can’t I?)…………………………………………………………………………………….

    http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.711887

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